An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Evangelism, Evangelist

From the Greek euangelion, "good news." An evangelist is one who tells the story of Jesus. The epistle to the Ephesians (4:11) names evangelists after apostles and prophets in the list of ministers in the NT church. Little else is said about evangelists or evangelism except that Philip was an evangelist (Acts 21:8), and Paul urged Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist" (2 Tm 4:5).

Later, in the early church, the word "evangelist" was used to describe the writer of a gospel and eventually considered an office. An evangelist is primarily someone who presents God's message to make known the good news of the life, suffering, and death of Jesus. The evangelist presents the importance and significance of the good news for the people of the evangelist's own time and cultural situation. Therefore, the message of specific evangelists can differ from what others have said, even though they are all presenting the good news. The term "evangelist" is now often used to refer to someone who is dedicated to evangelism or missionary work. The 1988 Lambeth Conference summarized evangelism simply as "the making of new Christians." It also asked each province and diocese of the Anglican Communion to make the closing years of this millennium a "Decade of Evangelism" with a renewed and united emphasis on making Christ known to the people of his world. The General Convention of 1991 designated the 1990s a "'Decade of Evangelism,' during which we will reclaim and affirm our baptismal call to evangelism and will endeavor, with other Christian denominations, to reach every unchurched person in the nine Provinces of the Episcopal Church with the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Evangelism is virtually synonymous with mission.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.