The Role of the Evangelist
Submitted by J. Mark Jordan
Enfolded in the middle of the word, evangelist, is angel, a God-commissioned messenger. Evangelists spread the Good News. They dig out, shape up, and deliver the raw material for all other ministries in the church to operate. We can attribute the phenomenal growth of the United Pentecostal Church International, from 126 passionate pioneers in 1916 to over 10,000 licensed ministers, 45,000 congregations, and 4 million constituents worldwide to dedicated evangelists and to those who “do the work of an evangelist” (see 2 Timothy 4:5).
Every victorious army relies on scouts and rangers to provide intelligence for the troops to move forward. The first wave then confronts the enemy outposts, establishes beachheads, and clears the way for the advancing lines of soldiers to overcome the opposition and occupy the land. In conducting spiritual warfare, evangelists engage the enemy and initiate the outreach to souls who are caught in the web of sin. Their boldness, compassion, and skillful use of the Word of God invades the kingdom of darkness and rescues lost souls from Satan’s clutches. Without them, the church loses its arm of growth. It is time to acknowledge the vital role of evangelists in the UPCI.
« Evangelists enjoy a rich biblical heritage. You cannot read the Book of Acts without noting the evangelistic efforts of the early church to reach the world with the Gospel. Philip’s outreach to the Samaritans in Acts 8; the Apostle Peter’s unprecedented visit to the Gentiles in Acts 10; and the Apostle Paul’s open intention to broaden the parameters of evangelism to Cyprus, Pamphylia, Antioch, Lystra, Derbe and on and on—all testify to the significance of evangelism. Also, evangelism was not confined to the leadership of the church. Ananias, Aquila, Pricilla, and many others did evangelistic work. Indeed, the work of the entire New Testament rests upon the foundation of evangelism.
« Evangelists refocus the church’s vision from maintenance to outreach. Local churches often grow so encumbered with the mundane, the daily grind and servicing the individual needs of the people, that they fail to remember that the world needs Jesus. The evangelist shakes up their priorities and gets them to elevate their vision to the “regions beyond” once again. He not only motivates them to outreach, he can provide training and techniques to get the job done effectively.
« Evangelists revitalize the church’s passion for souls. Successful churches greatly emphasize discipleship, as well they should, but they need to refuel and re-fire their desire to see the lost saved. Evangelism is the precursor to discipleship. The birth of new spiritual babies in the church brings joy and purpose to the congregation. Most importantly, it affirms the mission of Jesus who proclaimed that He was come to “seek and save that which was lost.”
« Evangelists connect with the hearts of the unchurched. While the pastor’s specific job is to shepherd and nourish the saints, the evangelist gears his message for the lost. He speaks the language of the lost, so they can understand the truth of the Word. He chooses his subject, crafts his wording, and aims laser-like attention directly to the needs of people who may not have a clue about Jesus. He can connect to people in a way that those in other ministries cannot.
« Evangelists bring a fresh perspective to the preached Word of God. Although the evangelist may use the same verses and deal with the same topics as the pastor, his marked difference in preaching galvanizes the church into action. Traditionally, we associate revival with evangelism. The true purpose of evangelism is to reach the lost, but that effort is enhanced when the church experiences new life and a reenergized sense of mission. The evangelist stirs up the gift of God within the saints.
« Evangelists possess a purpose distinct from church administration. The outreach programs of many churches become stale and ineffective over time. Outsiders tend to wall off the message of church people whom they suspect are merely emissaries of the church. Evangelists do not represent the institution of the church per se, but the love and power of Jesus Christ. They deliver a spark, a fire, and a sensitivity to the felt needs of people. This fresh, personal approach often succeeds where programmed efforts are rebuffed.
The United Pentecostal Church International must acknowledge, celebrate, and employ the vital services that evangelists provide for the church at large. We not only recognize their special giftings, but also, we affirm the integral part they play in the five-fold ministry. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11 NKJV). Moreover, the church has been established by Jesus Christ to fully support the ministry—including evangelists! Those who administrate the resources of the church must keep evangelists in mind. Their role is scriptural, their ministry is vital, and their employment is the lifeline to the church!