What is an Evangelist?
What is an evangelist? The word evangelism describes those many processes and ministries which enable people to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
The word ‘evangelism’ describes the loving words and actions that enable men, women, young people and children to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
This work of evangelism cannot be separated from the whole of God’s mission, since the Christian vocation to live in community with God must always include doing the work of God and working for God’s purposes. This is why thegreat commission at the end of Matthew’s gospel asks us to ‘make disciples’ (Mathew 28.19). A disciple is someone who follows the call of Christ and participates in God’s purposes for the world. Hence the missionary church seeks to live and share the gospel in such a way that others join in Christian community, and dedicate their lives to God’s mission in the world.
The chief Evangelist is God. Just as the church is called to share in all God’s mission, so it is called to share in the ministry of evangelism. And we do it in lots of different and complementary ways. But for most people today becoming a Christian will be like a journey. The ministry of evangelism is therefore best understood as helping people make the journey. Although this journey will take many forms, the church needs to develop particular attitudes, activities and ministries if it is going to be faithful to the calling to make disciples. In most situations this ministry of evangelism will involve the ministry of an evangelist: this is someone who is called and equipped by God to take a particular role in helping others come to know and serve Christ within his church.
An Evangelist is someone who –
- Comes from the church and is fed by the church;
- Goes where the church isn’t;
- Proclaims and lives the gospel;
- Interprets the church to the world and the world to the church;
- Encourages all to play their part in God’s ministry of evangelism.
An Evangelist is therefore someone who, though fed by the centre, is most likely to be involved at the edge. This is what it means to go where the church isn’t. The evangelist will be a joyful and provocative presence at the beginning of journeys, or at least at that place where people’s journeys towards God intersect with God’s journey towards them. The Evangelist is a messenger and a guide. The Evangelist is a presence, a proclaimer, a storyteller, a translator, a sign. Trying to see the world through the eyes of God, the evangelist is the one who sees Christ in others and who longs for them to see Christ in themselves.
For many the word evangelism still conjures up negative images of coercion and manipulation. Some Christians evangelise in ways that seem far removed from the joy and generosity that characterised the life of Christ. But within the College of Evangelists we believe that what we are called to share is the abundant life that is shown us in Christ, and that is available to all by the Holy Spirit and within the household of God’s church. This is evangelism and it is the way God’s church and God’s kingdom grows.