man-on-the-street interviewer queried, “What is an evangelist?”, of
passers-by. “Do you know what the word means?” he asked further on
seeing their blank expressions.
that huge animal that used to ravage Africa that is now extinct and doesn’t
exist any more”, was one reply. At the door to a large church, one saint
responded, “Wasn’t Evangelist one of the twelve apostles just like Shadrach,
Meshach and Abednego?”
of the “evangelist” by some and all-inclusive use of the word by others
has resulted in much ignorance and confusion about the evangelistic mission
of the church.
“evangelist” is a bearer of the “evangel”, the good news
of the gospel of Christ.
Body of Christ, His Church, was given the commission to “go to all the
world” and to “disciple all peoples”. His last command is our
are given to the church, Ephesians 4:10-13, along with other leaders, apostles,
prophets, pastors and teachers, to lead the church in its development to the
full maturity of Christ-likeness that pleases the Father.
2000 used the simplified definition of an evangelist as one who shares the good
news, and urges a response, and does this within the life of the church. Evangelists
may consider their ministry to be outside the church organizationally and practically
because congregations have exhibited little interest or passion for evangelists.
This results in a kind of default lone-rangerism that detours biblical evangelism.
what can a local church congregation do to work with its Evangelist? Here are
twelve practical suggestions that ought be considered.
church is alert to the spiritual giftedness of its members. While all disciples
may witness and share the gospel with others, not all are evangelists, just
as all believers may offer shepherding comfort and care, though not all are
Evangelist is especially gifted of the Spirit to bring others to spiritual birth
with particularly effective results. Both in success and in struggle, the true
evangelist’s attitude and focus will be clear. A sense of urgency and passion
about the winning of others to the Lord is not worked up, but abides as part
of the character of the true evangelist.
church affirms the evangelist’s gifts, agreeing with the fruitfulness and benefiting
from the ministry.
evangelist who begins in the local congregation ought be encouraged by the interest,
enthusiasm and thoughtfulness of his church family. Thoughtfulness to remember
the evangelist and their family, like occasions of his birthday, anniversary,
program start, etc., with a phone call, note, visit or other contact says much
to encourage and lift the spirit of the Lord’s servant. To express the congregation’s
care and concern, affection and appreciation, encourages the evangelist to persevere
in exercising God’s gift.
for the Lord’s work can mean education and training to grasp the lessons that
others have rendered. Churches can see that gifted evangelists are able to get
their education. Additionally, churches offer open doors for trial efforts of
the evangelist who is establishing themselves in winning others to Christ. Opportunities
to grow in service with the evangelist’s giftedness will seal the calling of
the evangelist, and aid in sharpening the skills, tools and capacities for further
was to the church that the Spirit said, “separate unto me Paul and Barnabas”
as the early missionary journeys began. The church should guide the God-called
and God-gifted person with encouragement and training to the consecration to
this special work. Laying on of hands means ordination and validation of their
calling. It is the seal of allowance (or release of “loosing” them)
as heaven has already done.
congregational credentialing may be formalized or practical and serves as a
fellowship tie (or “binding” affiliation) that strengthens both the
evangelist and the congregation.
support of the evangelist is a strong statement and follows naturally when the
identification and validation steps have encouraged them. Some receive financial
gifts of support from individuals in the congregation, occasional offerings,
or some are included, like other missionaries, in the annual support budgets
of the church. Some are placed on church staff salaries, though serving outside,
to represent the church’s world-wide witness.
meetings within the organized church structures to fellowship, to support, to
assist and to challenge the evangelist will build understanding and lead to
natural accountability. Evangelist and church ought agree on goals of ministry
and then, follow up carefully. The church is able to ask the hard questions
of purity of life and doctrine, honesty and disclosures, reality and pride – –
examine the results in the prayerful, sympathetic spirit of being fellow soldiers
of the cross as an extension of His Body.
and Correct them!
need the caring community when they struggle and when loss occurs. They also
need correction from a loving community covenanting together to walk worthy
of the high calling of His service. The church can urge repentance, support
change and offer counsel in a fellowship that maintains expectations and standards
with grace and dignity for stedfastness through the ups and downs of ministry
them and Honor them!
church is admonished to “hold them (leaders and advisers) lovingly in highest
regard because of their work”. Acknowledgment of the evangelist with information
about their ministry activities will help the congregation to grasp this concept.
Celebrate with them and pray with them as they steer their way. Let them know
the congregation cares and prayerfully follows their works to glorify the Lord.
strategies within the prayer life of the church to include the evangelist and
their ministry. Pray regularly and consistently, but also at special events;
generally, but also specifically as ministry demands dictate; continually, but
thoroughly; publicly, but also in small groups and private devotional prayers;
urgently with passion and spiritual insight.
gifts of the evangelist should be used in the activities and life of the local
church congregation. Whether in public meetings, classes or announced programs,
or, in the individual calling, training for witnessing, affinity groups, etc.,
the evangelist can bring fruitful, productive evangelistic results within their
own congregation. So, open doors for the evangelist within the church. Place
their gifts in service. Use them to stir the evangelistic fervor of others and
round out the ministry of the congregation.
the evangelist be part of the ministry team of the congregation. Participate
with the evangelist whenever possible and to the extent that you are able. Being
present is a big encouragement by itself. Be a backer, especially as evangelists
try new things and new types of approach to the outsiders.
to others about the effectiveness of the evangelist in bringing others to trust
in Christ. Your witness to other believers and other churches will help to spread
the insight of using God-gifted evangelists to stir the church to the evangelistic
mandate we all share. Give the evangelist the high reputation of God’s favor
for His ministry well done!
When Jesus taught
his disciples about the end result, He said, “Lift up your eyes and look
on the fields for they are white already to harvest.” John 4:35 The next
verse points out that “both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice
together”. This speaks of the bond of unity in purpose, calling and ministry.
the church congregation and the itinerating evangelist rejoice together in God’s
special place and mission for both.
R. Corts is former President of the Billy Graham Evaneglistic Association and
now serves with Campus Crusade for Christ.