The Work of an Evangelist

by Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.

I got to thinking about evangelists and evangelism in general. An evangelist (Gr. euaggelistes) is a preacher of good news (the gospel - Gr. euaggelion) and evangelism is what an evangelist does – preaches that good news. An evangelist preaches the gospel to the world to save it from sin. Philip was an evangelist (Acts 21:8) who preached to the lost of the world (Acts 8). Timothy was an evangelist (II Timothy 4:5), who seemed to primarily preach to the church (II Timothy 4:1-4). A part of the work of an evangelist is "equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12 NASB). In short, the work of an evangelist is to preach the gospel both to the lost of the world around him and to fellow Christians in or out of the congregation of which he is a member. He is to do it in season and out of season. One fellow said that means "when they like and when they don't like it."

An evangelist who works with a church full-time needs to understand what his work is and what it is not. His work is preaching the gospel. Preaching the gospel requires study on his part, both what the Bible text says and how to refute what is being taught contrary to the Bible. Also, he has a responsibility to his family. All that takes time. That does not leave a whole lot of time for other things, like recreation and community service. Yes, even evangelists need some recreation time and may do some community service – but that is not his work. It should occupy a relatively small amount of his time. The fact that such extra-curricular activities may give him "contacts" is no excuse for spending an inordinate amount of time in such activity. One cannot effectively teach that which he has not studied.

He is not a hired public relations man, nor is he a "church manager." He is not a "community organizer" nor "brotherhood organizer." He is not a professional preacher nor the CEO of the church. Nor is he a hired servant of the church. He is one who, because of his ability and dedication, has decided to devote his life to publicly preaching the gospel. He will preach it whether supported by a church of not. He may enter into a partnership (fellowship) agreement with a congregation concerning what Paul calls "giving and receiving" (Philippians 4:15) – that being that the church will have fellowship (financially support or provide wages) with him in the gospel. While he is under the oversight of the elders where he preaches, they are not his "boss" in the sense that one is the employee of a person or company. They are not his "boss" in the sense they can tell him what he can and cannot preach. He has to answer to God for that. Of course, they can request that he cover some topic and he will do so out of respect for them. They can and should work together, as partners, to see that the church is fed a balanced spiritual diet. But the elders do not have the right to try to micro manage his preaching, not should he allow it. He must remain free under God to preach the whole counsel of God as he understands it. If he should misunderstand it and preach his misunderstanding, the elders have not only the right, but the obligation to correct him – and if need be dissolve their partnership.