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“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5) 

I’ve been in pastoral ministry in some capacity for nearly 30 years by God’s grace. And, as I get older, I increasingly appreciate the pastoral letters of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus more and more.  A close international church planter friend of mine has helped me by suggesting that these letters are more than just pastoral letters; they’re letters for the work of church planting.  

The church I serve has had its ups and downs over its history (nearly 60 years). When I first arrived 24 years ago, we were on the heels of a church split and suffering from mission drift. We knew that God’s heart was for the nations, but we had a hard time trusting each other, let alone reaching out to the world. So, most of my first decade here was spent (rightly!) being patient with them, caring for them, and helping them be reminded of God’s heart. 

In that season, 2 Timothy 4:5 came in heavy.  

Be sober-minded? Check.  

Endure suffering?  Check (sort of).   

Do the work of an evangelist? Whoops.  

I needed to engage my own heart about the ministry of engaging those outside the church with good news. Like many of you probably feel, I realized that we could burn our ministry wheels week in and week out and have little interaction with those outside church life. I knew something in my life had to give. This compulsion to “do the work of an evangelist” wasn’t just a divine suggestion. It was meant for people like me.  

For me, it started at a pastor’s gathering. We heard something of the significant needs that existed in our community. While some pastors were discussing whether those needs were real (that’s another post), I knew that God was using this to move me out.   

So, I took a class. I had to humble myself and see that I didn’t have all the answers to this question. Our community offers a program through the local Chamber of Commerce and Community Foundation that helps people get exposure to the issues facing our community in the non-profit world, education, city/county government, economic development, healthcare, and other issues. This opened my eyes to some needs. I was starting to understand what contextualization looked like in my community. 

I started volunteering my time in youth mentoring. I was connected to a student and would work alongside teachers to get to know students who needed positive role models in their lives. After a while, I was invited back to the community program to see what happens from a facilitator standpoint.  

Eventually, I was asked to be a facilitator. I remember one of them saying: “On paper, I should hate you and everything you stand for, but I cannot deny you live what you believe.”  It was a start. 

Throughout these intervening years, God has allowed me to continue to make progress in reaching out to others. Our church’s elders allowed me to have a non-traditional office arrangement to develop relationships in public places. My work in the community leadership program has opened conversations about why a pastor is doing such work. I’ve had better insights for pastoring people who come from different backgrounds. And now, we even require our interns to have a place of engagement in the world for the good of our community.   

You might wonder what some next steps and low-hanging applications might be. Let me offer some practical “next steps”. 

  • Grab lunch or coffee with a community leader and ask what challenges your community faces. 
  • Visit your local Chamber of Commerce and find a way to plug in. Our Chamber offers a monthly breakfast to talk about our community. If your church isn’t a member, consider joining. 
  • Pray Luke 10:2 over your community. As I’ve done this, Jesus has shown me that the harvest is now, and I’m meant to be a part of it. 
  • Pray publicly in your Sunday services for aspects of your community. Last Sunday, for instance, we prayed for local community corrections, that God would bring healing and rehabilitation to those in prison and perseverance for workers in this field.   
  • Study Luke 15 to see God’s heart toward the lost. 
  • Learn the names of people in the places you frequent, being ready for an opportunity that the Spirit may give you. 

Finally, don’t let this intimidate you. Our Master is full of grace. He understands our work. He’s ready to come near you and help you as you reorient your life to follow Him more profoundly. He is worth it. Center in Him and see that He’s compelling you outward. How might you center your life on Jesus and “do the work of an evangelist?”   

According to our Master, the fields are white unto harvest, so “Let’s go!”   

Phil Auxier is a pastor at Crestview Bible Church in Hutchinson, Kansas, where he’s served in some capacity since 2000. He loves the local church and loves seeing her thrive on the mission. He blogs at

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