This post is part of a series looking at Fivefold Ministry. This post focuses on the office of the evangelist and considers the role they should play in the church. You can find links to the rest of the series at the end of this post.
The evangelist invokes images of street preaching, hellfire and brimstone full ‘turn or burn’ messages, and slick TV presentations requesting money delivered by shifty men in white suits. But is this the biblical picture of the office of the evangelist?
What is the evangelist?
The word ‘evangelist’ (Greek euangelistēs) means ‘bringer of good news’. The evangelist functions as a herald, which historically, was someone who makes announcements or proclamations. Kings would have heralds who went out on the road ahead of them, declaring the king’s impending arrival and telling stories of the king’s power, wealth and might. This is the role of the evangelist, telling all who would listen about King Jesus.
Therefore we can define the evangelistic ministry as ‘revealing King Jesus to those who don’t know Him, through words, works and wonders’. In the same way that heralds would go before an incoming king, announcing to all who would hear the King’s achievements and greatness, the evangelist performs the same role – and equips others to do it as well. It is more than preaching – but it does involve preaching!
How does the office of evangelist serve a church?
The evangelist will serve a church broadly in a number of ways:
- Resourcing the church outwards towards nonbelievers
- Cultivating outreach focus
- Developing passionate heralds
- Encouraging gospel declaration
- Demonstrating the message
- Inviting radical reorientation
- Cultivating wholehearted commitment
- Perpetuating catalytic witnesses
Developing passionate heralds
In line with the mandate of the Ephesians 4 fivefold ministries, the evangelist identifies, develops, and deploys evangelistic gifts in others. The evangelist will disciple others and help them grow in sharing the good news of the Kingdom of God with those who don’t know Christ.
Encouraging gospel declaration
Simply put, the evangelist ensures that the declaration of the gospel of the kingdom is central to the function of the church. They will train the church the ways that best do that within their culture, using whatever symbols, stories and examples are most effective in ensuring the gospel is clear, accessible, and compelling. Evangelists motivate the church to be vocal.
Demonstrating the message
Evangelists live to see conversions happen as non-believers are engaged with outside the walls of the church in a myriad of ways, and see for themselves what the God who loves them is really like. This means evangelism, to the evangelist, is not just about words, but also works and wonders – actions and lifestyle.
Inviting radical reorientation
Evangelists are not simply interested in communicating information that is intellectually or emotionally stimulating. They are seeking a response from nonbelievers – a response of repentance and reorientation to allegiance to Christ.
Cultivating wholehearted commitment
This sense of radical priority is not just for nonbelievers; it is for believers as well. Evangelists seem to want everyone to be an evangelist – or at least, do the work of an evangelist! They seek to see believers commit themselves fully to the Lordship of Christ, which also means his mission of demonstrating the gospel of the Kingdom. Evangelists provoke the complacent and half-hearted.
Perpetuating catalytic witnesses
Evangelists show and tell; they will equip others to reach the lost, as they themselves are reaching the lost. In this sense, the converts of an evangelist often carry passion and fire themselves. They’ve seen and tasted that God is good, and so are witnesses with zeal. Evangelists will bring people into the cause of God’s mission, exhorting them to continue bringing gospel transformation to the lives of all those around.
The Office of Evangelist amongst the Fivefold
We’ve seen how evangelists work within a local church, but how do they impact other fivefold cultures?
- An evangelist partners with an apostle by prioritising salvation, focusing the mission on the first step in bringing about God’s big picture – winning worshippers.
- An evangelist partners with prophets by ensuring there is not spiritual withdrawal or mystical monasticism, but instead, demonstrating that the heart of God is communicated by words and actions to those who have yet to embrace it.
- An evangelist partners with pastors by showing them there are more sheep who need care and counsel, as well as bringing the lost sheep in.
- An evangelist partners with teachers by focusing on gospel needs – reminding them of real-life teaching needs and the importance of unpacking the Gospel.
Without healthy evangelistic influence that brings in a passion, compassion and energy to reach the lost with the authentic gospel, a church will become driven to see growth and become seeker-sensitive, or it will become inward-looking and self-serving which results in its ministries becoming aimed at serving those who already saved.
The Office of the Evangelist: Summary
The office of the evangelist exists to ensure the church is communicating the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom to those who have yet to respond to it. Without that passion, the church will atrophy and diminish, whilst thinking it is simply ‘maturing’.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He proclaimed freedom and liberation, forgiveness for all sinners, and salvation for the lost. Signs and wonders endorsed his ministry. He opened the doors that prevented people from approaching the Father and shared the good news of the Kingdom continually. These traits are embodied by the ministry of the evangelist.
You can read fuller descriptions about each fivefold ministry definition, and resulting cultures they create, in the following posts:
- Fivefold ministry: what it is and why it matters
- What are the signs that help us recognise a fivefold minister?
- What about apostles?
- What about prophets?
- What about evangelists?
- What about pastors?
- What about teachers?
- Fivefold ministry and church government
- Cultivating APEST Leadership
Each fivefold ministry is essential for any healthy, mature church. Do you know how strong your church in each of them? Are you strong in some, and weak in others? Do you know why? How did you test to see? To help churches like yours answer these questions and discover their fivefold health, I designed a FREE Fivefold ministry test for churches.
To find out more, and take the Fivefold Ministry test, click HERE.