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Evangelism and Pastoral Care

We often think of evangelism and pastoral care as very different practices pulling in very different directions.  "She's a born evangelist but he's pastorally sensitive" we say.  And the thought of a "pastorally sensitive evangelist" sounds as likely as a "compassionate traffic warden."

But speaking as someone with a heart for both let me outline four ways I think these giftings belong together and help each other:

1) Evangelism must be an overflow of the heart or else it's a dead work.  The evangelist should at least be able to pastor his or her own heart.  And as they equip the saints for their evangelistic works (Ephesians 4:11-12) it mustn't be an appeal to simply redouble outreach efforts.  It needs to be the stoking of gospel fires.  If an evangelist doesn't know how to stir hearts for these works of service they can't be an evangelist.

2) Pastoral care must aim for an outwardly focussed definition of spiritual health.  Comfort in affliction is for the sake of passing on that comfort (2 Cor 1).  The goal of pastoral care cannot be individual happiness or a smoother functioning lifestyle.  The goal is to declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness (1 Pet 2:9) such that we say along with the man of John 9, "I once was blind but now I see."  Pastoral care that stops short of evangelism fails to be true pastoral care because true flourishing as a disciple involves disciple-making.

3)  There's nothing like evangelism for experiencing the wonders of the gospel in your own soul.  Many's the time I've spoken gospel truth to an unbeliever and been struck forcibly by the beauty of the gospel.  Paul wrote to Philemon: "Be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ." (v6)  The nature of the gospel - as the overflow of the triune God's abundant life - means that this gospel will not have its full effect in our hearts until we find it spilling over to others.

4) When the church is nurturing thousands upon thousands who find freedom from depression, self-harm, eating disorders, addictions, etc, etc, it demonstrates the power of the gospel to a broken world.  If we proclaim and live out gospel solutions to the pressing problems of the day the world will see the grace  of Jesus in action.  I believe that pursuing gospel care in these areas will have profound evangelistic impact.

Can you think of other areas where evangelism and pastoral care can help each other?


0 thoughts on “Evangelism and Pastoral Care

  1. John B

    In 1 Timothy 4, Paul speaks of the searing of conscience. And in Ephesians 4 he speaks of darkened understanding, hardness of heart, and callousness. Paul uses all of these metaphors to describe desensitivity to the psychic pain that the Holy Spirit uses to create the conviction of sin, which is the precondition necessary for repentance. Living in besetting sin over a period of time places a man beyond feeling and anesthetizes the conscience. Pastoral counseling by the presbyters in the church is a means ordained by God for awakening the sleeping conscience.

    Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3, that having a good conscience depends upon actually doing good.

    Although we can rightly speak conceptually of an Ordo salutis, it is often not so orderly as it sounds. Evangelism and the pastoral care of souls form an inseparable partnership in the ministry of reconciliation.

  2. Dave K

    This is great.

    Pastoral care is an amazing witness to the world as you say

    Encouraging someone suffering/doubting etc is probably often to get them to focus on other people and God's mission rather than themselves.

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