What are the types of Christian ministries to which you can be called? In the first article in this theme we looked at apostle and prophet, offices listed in Ephesians 4:11,12 commonly referred to as the five-fold ministry. (If you missed it, read it by clicking here: Mission Calling) We also raised a question as to whether those in the list are the only ministries for calling? We will visit that question later, so first, let’s continue to look at the list of five-fold Christian ministries concentrating on the evangelist for this article.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ so that we many no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” Ephesians 4:11-14 ESV. The entirety of the passage states the purpose of the “giving” of these ministries. It is to build the body of Christ until we are unified, mature, and not given to other doctrines. That clearly has not happened and so the need for these ministries is still very prevalent. (There are those that say that apostles and prophets have been done away with, but I would again refer you to the first article at Mission Calling. These articles at this time don’t have space to deal with the scope of that discussion and I would ask you to simply look at the context of this passage.)
By short recap, the term apostle simply means sent ones. Eleven of the original twelve apostles (excepting Judas) were sent and went to other territories, peoples and countries preaching the gospel and bringing believers together in community. Today, we generally call these folks missionaries. A prophet speaks forth in edification and even sometimes into the future (See Acts 21:10).
So what is an evangelist? This is an interesting term derived from the word that means good news. This passage is referring to the office of a person speaking the good news. Yet, everyone is called to speak the good news of our Savior, Jesus Christ. So, what makes the office different? We can learn a little about this office because Philip is called the evangelist. (Acts 21:8. 9) Philip was one of the seven (along with Stephen and some others) that were chosen to take care of the affairs of the church in Acts 6:5. This differentiates him from Philip, one of the original twelve apostles.
As an evangelist, Philip traveled from city to city proclaiming the Christ (Acts 8:5). He baptized many, cast out devils, and healed the lame. With his testimony, signs followed and many believed. Philip is also well known for the story of the Ethiopian eunuch that desired to know the meaning of Isaiah. Directed by the angel of the Lord, Philip came to the Ethiopian, shared the meaning of scripture and baptized the Ethiopian. It does not appear that Philip planted churches, but because of Philip’s testimony of the Jesus to the Samaritans, Peter and John followed and taught the people as well.
So, what is an evangelist? It is a person who shares the good news of Jesus. In today’s Christianity, we call evangelists those ministers who often travel and proclaim Jesus as Savior. We also often refer to ministers on television as television evangelists because they proclaim Jesus as Savior. Their main task is to lead a person to an understanding of salvation and the invitation to become a child of God. These modern terms for evangelists are as good as any. The proclamation can be made on television or in the church or in the streets, but the main driving passion of an evangelist is simply to proclaim the good news.
Clearly, ministries overlap. It is not necessary that a minister who is an apostle think only of planting churches and not evangelizing. At no time do you see anyone in the Bible say, “Ooops, sorry, that’s not my job, I can’t plant a church, I’m an evangelist. That’s not my job.” In fact, Timothy, called an apostle by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:6 is explicitly told to do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5). So, while it is important to understand the offices to which you may be called so that we can understand the calling itself, it is also important not to place too much emphasis on one task as opposed to another.
Next week, we look at shepherd and teacher. As always I invite you to subscribe for free to receive an update of any new postings and/or to comment below. If you desire prayer and direction in your calling, I am available to help you as God directs.