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 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 may 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. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesian 4:11-16, ESV.
On Saturday we began to look at what God gave the church according to Ephesians 4:11. We observed that the gifts of the apostle and prophet continue to serve the church not through active officers, but the written New Testament. Today we consider the third gift: the evangelist. When I was a young boy it was quite common for churches, including my church, to hold a ‘revival’ meeting each year. A traveling ‘evangelist’ would preach, and a gifted musician would sing. In one instance, the evangelist’s wife sang and was also a ventriloquist. I still have an album of her singing with her handheld partner!
These traveling preachers, singers, and ventriloquists provide a special ministry to the church and have brought forth much fruit for the kingdom of God. However, they are not evangelists in the sense of the word as used in Ephesians 4:11. The word ‘evangelist’ there shares the same root as the word ‘gospel’. Paul is describing men especially gifted to proclaim the good news and start churches. They take the gospel to unreached places. We tend to call them missionaries. Thus, unlike the apostles and prophets whose ministry ceased with the completion of the writing of the New Testament, the evangelist-missionary remains. They go where the gospel has not gone before, leading people to faith in Christ and gathering them together to form churches.
We need to pray that God would gift the church with more of these missionary-evangelists. Too much of the world remains unreached with the good news. We should also support those who are called to this work. It costs a good deal of money to take the gospel to a people group in China. We need to pray and give. We also need to go. Perhaps God is calling you or your children or grandchildren to this work!
I am praying today that God will gift His church with more and more evangelist-missionary so that the entire world will hear the good news of Jesus. Please join me in this prayer.