1. I am NOT saying that people should not ever travel to any special events and evangelize. I AM saying that the majority of your efforts should be focused in your area in conjunction with your local church. There is Biblical warrant for traveling to evangelize; perhaps the best example is Philip in Acts 8. However, Philip understood the role of the local church and was committed to it since he served it as a deacon (Acts 6).
I AM also saying that we need to make a serious effort to identify sound local churches and encourage those who are interested to attend them. We also need to be much more deliberate in referring people to good local churches.
2. I am NOT saying there is no role for a traveling evangelist. I AM saying that even the traveling evangelist has a responsibility to be directly accountable to the local church. I am currently training a man who wants to become a traveling evangelist who plans on taking six months on the road and six months off. When he is not on the road he is planning on serving his local church in the area of evangelism and in other ways. One cannot have real accountability without face time.
I AM also saying that if you spend more time on the road than serving and living in your church, there may be a problem. Additionally, the role of the traveling evangelist ought to be to build the visible church in the areas he is preaching. Where are the evangelists, who like Leonard Ravenhill, stayed in an area after many were converted there, and served them until they could find a pastor (a period of several years)?
3. Some who read what I have written disagree with me and that is fine. Sometimes we have a tendency to find loopholes in the argument that someone puts forward so that we can find an exception. If we can find an exception, then we can marginalize the argument and not listen to any of the concerns that are raised even if those concerns are valid. Not only is this immature, it is spiritually dangerous.
I am not the authority on Biblical evangelism. No one, including the evangelist you respect the most, is. Jesus is the Lord of the Harvest and God's Word is our standard. Nothing else. If my essay causes you to evaluate what you are doing from a Biblical perspective, then that is what I was aiming for. If you find that you are wrong, the answer is not to defend yourself because it would mean changing something you like to do. The answer is to repent and change the way you do things. If you find you are in the right, praise God. But in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Ask for more than your own opinion on this.
4. Writing on this stuff is a calculated risk. I risk offending friends who I love dearly, some of whom I have trained to do evangelism years ago. I risk offending financial supporters of our ministry. I risk people who I have personally trained to do the exact opposite of what I am proposing here. I risk my own small platform in the street evangelism community. This is a risk I am willing to take for the sake of the glory of God in the church (Eph. 3:21) and for the sake of truth. If this means that people accuse me of losing my zeal for evangelism, or becoming compromised, then that is something I am willing to live with because my conscience is held captive to the Word of God. I will mourn the loss of friends, but I cannot soft peddle truth just so people will like me.
Commit to the local church. Bury yourself there and be content to never be heard from again just so long as Jesus is famous and the local church is strong.