What's in it for the evangelists? The answer will break your heart.
Have you ever been asked to do something that involved either a lot of work or dragging you out of your comfort zone? I'm sure the first thing on your mind was something along the lines of, "What's in it for me? It better be worth it..." I know it crosses my mind from time to time. I entertained the idea years ago of doing amateur boxing. Then I did the homework and saw that not only does it take a lot of hard work and dedication to train, not only are you going to take a beating even if you're a good fighter, not only do you not make any money, but you have to pay for a boxing license! So you have to pay and work hard to get beat up and not make a dime out of it. I politely shoved the idea into the trash can of my mind after learning that because I found nothing that would be rewarding to me for putting in the work.
Evangelism is an awful lot like amateur boxing, we work hard and don't get any earthly reward for it. Evangelism is a tough task that both involves a lot of work and drags us out of our comfort zone, which is why there are so few who do it. It even appears in some ways that it's only for an elite few who are called. Now for all intents and purposes (not intensive purposes) I will refer to Christians who evangelize as evangelists. I need to clarify because evangelists don't generally like being called that, but the rest of the world calls them that anyway.
Why is evangelism is such a tough calling that only a few do it? Here are a few reasons:
You're going out into the sinful world and exposing their darkness, that makes people angry. This includes professing Christians who's sin is exposed. We have to listen to insults and curse words and let it roll off our backs like nothing's wrong. Have you ever had someone get in your face and speak horrible things right in front of everyone, then call the police on you? Most evangelists who have a family wouldn't dare make mention of having a wife or kids, and certainly wouldn't dream of bringing them out with them. We have to double check to make sure we're not being followed by an angry sinner when we leave. We have to make sure someone knows where we are in case anything happens to us while we're evangelizing.
Every Christian who doesn't evangelize thinks you're damaging the Gospel in one way or another. There's an endless list of accusations evangelists have been told. I've been sat down by my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and told I'm damaging the Gospel and hindering its progress. I'm constantly told my preaching only turns people away from Jesus, which we all know isn't true. I've had members of my family refuse to talk to me ever again even against the entire family's wishes because I told him the truth about their soul. I've been driven our of churches because people in the congregation didn't like me preaching outside the church, they even made false accusations and spread rumors about me. Of course we all know their motive is to justify their lack of responsibility taken.
Evangelism is one of the loneliest ministries one can do for all the same reasons already mentioned. Yeah, sure, I've had people come and go throughout the years, but I was ultimately alone for 4 years straight without a single soul by my side. Yeah, sure, there were Christians who were very nice to me and love my courage, but when I invited them to join me for evangelism I was met with either silence or excuses.
Aside from the few lucky evangelists who have mission support, most evangelists don't make a dime doing what they do. They also generally have a wife and kids, which means they have a full time job. Most evangelists are willing to force their evangelism into the margins of their life no matter how narrow. We will get up early in the morning if that's our only chance in the day, we'll stay out late, we'll travel as far as we need to get a crowd of people who will listen. We pay for our own Gospel tracts, if we give out prizes, it's out of our own pocket. If we get a booth at an event, it's on our own dime generally. Not every evangelist is rich, nor are all of them poor either, but we don't have infinity resources.
Get the picture? Evangelism is tough and Christians don't make it any less tough. I had plans to take a mission trip to Louisville, KY back in May. The mission was simple, I was going to teach evangelism to churches in the area. I contacted 15 different churches and every single one rejected me either due to lack of resources to help me or just told me to get lost. I had the courage to contact a few megachurches who I won't name openly, (*cough cough Northside *cough cough Southeast...) They both treated me like I was out of my mind for offering a free evangelism class. They told me that they have it very well covered, well of course they believe they're covered as long as the numbers look good and the bills are paid. I'm from that area and I know that between those 2 churches there are at least 15,000 people who attend, yet in my 25 years of living there not a single person from those churches has ever approached me about the Gospel. In fact, there wasn't a single Christian to ever approach me in public about the Gospel, only a couple of Mormons and one Jehovah's Witness. 15,000+ people in these churches and I have no recollection of a person sharing their faith openly! So yeah guys, you need help. You need a lot of help because your concert hall isn't doing anybody any good.
I have news for you: Evangelism isn't about growing your church. Evangelism is about your church transforming the community around you!
As a Christian, you have been bought and paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. Why do we share the Gospel? If there's nothing in it for us other than loneliness and rejection by this world, why do we do it? The same reason God sent Jesus to save us, He showed us incredible mercy. He owes us nothing, we owe Him our lives, at the very least our gratitude. If you're born again, it's because God saved you and a Christian somewhere in your life has taken the chance to share this lifesaving message with you. They gained nothing from it, but you sure did!
Therefore, if you see me or any of my fellow evangelists preaching and you think to yourself, "They need to stop making Jesus look bad..." if you think we get a kick out of making people angry, if you think we're surrounded by this entourage of adoring fans, if you think I'm approaching your church offering a way to make your church bigger and increase your offering revenue, please understand what we're going through. I really don't care what you think of me, but please understand my motives for evangelism are purely to see lost souls saved, even if it means a lifetime of trouble.
We are still on this earth because God has called every single on of us to seek and save that which is lost. Don't waste your time only trying to build yourself up, the world needs you. Don't worry, you don't have to do it alone, Set The Captives Free Ministries is in your corner.