Christians believe that God gives spiritual gifts to each believer in order to further his ministry on earth. Along with other spiritual gifts, such as mercy and prophecy, the gift of evangelism is highly valued in the church. Evangelism, which means literally "to bring good news," is the ability of a believer to compellingly share his faith with others with the aim of their religious conversion. This gift can take many forms but has been popularized by the exhortations of television evangelists, or televangelists.
There are certain traits shared by almost all evangelists; however, a person can have those traits (such as religious fervor and good public speaking skills) but not actually have the gift of evangelism. Genuine passion for sharing the faith, compassion for the "lost" (those not of the faith), a desire to provide compelling answers to religious questions and a strong interest in being out "with the people" -- instead of in the church -- are all traits commonly found in those with the gift of evangelism. These individuals are also likely to be honest, sincere, relationship-focused and influential, and they usually look for opportunities to share their faith.
The gift of evangelism includes specific talents that are generally used in the conversion of others. For example, individuals bearing the gift of evangelism have a keen sense of timing. They are able to choose just the right moment to turn the conversation with an unsaved person toward religion or to drop a tidbit of spiritual truth. They can also usually talk to just about anyone, including total strangers and those they have known for only a short while, and can adapt their "pitch" to suit the needs of different individuals.
The popular image of evangelism is a Christian preacher loudly and passionately exhorting the masses to repent and be saved, but the gift of evangelism is much more fluid than that. It can appear in a soft-spoken young woman or an elderly man in a nursing home. Evangelism can also take many forms. It may take the form of a youth group leader discussing God with teenagers or of a middle-aged woman sharing her faith in her living room with a book club. Many evangelists turn to visitation programs in jails, homeless shelters and orphanages, while others go door-to-door or invite others into their home.
The ardor that accompanies the gift of evangelism may cause evangelists to stumble in their spiritual journey in several ways. Those with this gift are often so dedicated to their work and to helping others find the right path that they may become impatient or discouraged when they experience delays or setbacks. Additionally, evangelists are sometimes so passionate about what they are saying that they forget to listen to the other person -- pushing the "lost soul" even further from faith.
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