Chapter Two - Method of the Evangelist
Going back to the definition of an evangelist as examined in Chapter One, an evangelist is “a preacher of the gospel.” According to the very definition of evangelist, the evangelist’s method of getting out the gospel is preaching. There are some evangelists who play instruments and/or sing (for instance, this author and his wife sing). Others are known for entertainment reasons (dirt biking, kick boxing, etc…). Many times people will push and prod men to go into evangelism who have a certain skill that makes them “stand out” and bring in a big crowd. But by the very meaning of evangelist, if one is to truly be an “evangelist”, he must be a “preacher (not entertainer or singer) of the gospel.” This preaching is accomplished through: personal evangelism, mass evangelism, and local church evangelism. Throughout church history, these have been the three general methods of evangelists preaching the gospel.
The first method the evangelist uses in preaching the gospel is personal evangelism. Personal evangelism, or “soulwinning”, is what every Christian should be doing already. Every believer in Christ is to proclaim the gospel to all people. Here are a few scriptures that command the saved to preach the gospel.
- “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15
- “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” – Matthew 28:19-20
- (Jesus commanded His disciples to teach believers “all things whatsoever I have commanded you” which would logically include Jesus’ command in this same verse to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations….” So, “preaching the gospel” was not just for Jesus’ apostles nor is it just for preachers today. Every believer must obey “all things whatsoever” Jesus commanded His disciples including soulwinning.)
- “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
- “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” – Proverbs 11:30
Personal evangelism can include passing out tracts and going “house to house” (Acts 20:20). The emphasis, though, is preaching the gospel on a face to face/one on one basis. As seen in the case with Evangelist Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:29-39, evangelists will be led by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to individuals. This is personal evangelism.
- “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” – Acts 8:26-29, 35
This was all orchestrated by the Holy Spirit out in the middle of the desert for one person. Who did God choose for the job? An evangelist by the name of Philip. (Philip was called “the evangelist” in Acts 21:8 because of his full-time evangelizing or preaching the gospel in Acts 8.) Philip preached Jesus unto the eunuch. This was preaching the gospel. This was personal evangelism. And this was done through the gift of the evangelist.
Evangelist John R. Rice related the time he first heard Evangelist Gipsy Smith. After the service, Dr. Rice hailed a taxi and tried to lead the taxi driver to the Lord. The driver said that he had just received Christ through another man’s witness. Gipsy Smith had slipped out the side door of the auditorium, found this taxi driver, witnessed to him, and was able to lead him to the Lord. This is a wonderful illustration of two evangelists both active in personal evangelism!
Another method of the evangelist in preaching the gospel is mass evangelism. By mass evangelism, we mean preaching the gospel to an entire city, town, or province. Instead of just presenting the gospel to an individual on a one on one basis, the evangelist preaches the gospel to a mass gathering of people at once. Mass evangelism can also be seen in Evangelist Philip’s ministry in Acts 8.
- “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” – Acts 8:5-8
Notice that “the people with one accord gave heed” and that “there was great joy in that city.” This was mass evangelism. Later in verse 40, we read, “But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.” Philip was preaching to entire cities as he passed through to Caesarea.
Mass evangelism has been done throughout history in different ways. Evangelist George Whitefield was not at liberty to preach in the local churches so he preached to whole towns out in the open air. His preaching, along with pastors like Jonathan Edwards, led to the spiritual awakening of America. Evangelists like D. L. Moody, R. A. Torrey, Billy Sunday, and John R. Rice are known for having great city-wide campaigns, and they led scores of souls to Christ.
Another type of mass evangelism can be seen in the life of Evangelist John R. Rice. In his early years, Dr. Rice would go into various towns in Texas, set up a tent, and hold nightly services to the public for weeks. Those who got saved from those meetings started the first fundamental church for that town.
By the way, it is very important to Scripturally defend mass evangelism against those who have taken the local church too far. In the next point, we will see how evangelists can “preach the gospel” in a local church setting, but there are those who take the local church further than Christ Himself does. For instance, I know of a young evangelist who was trying to hold an extended meeting in a rented building. Another preacher got onto this evangelist for not having a local church to back the meeting. However, according to Scripture the evangelist was wholly justified. There is no biblical evidence to back man’s tradition of evangelists needing local church support before they hold meetings. The church at Jerusalem, for instance, did not reject nor give the “okay” for Philip to preach to the various cities or to the Ethiopian eunuch. God sent Philip; not Philip’s local church. Of course, we see the Lord sending Paul and Barnabus out of the church in Antioch in Acts 13:2, but again the Bible says, “the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabus and Saul….” God’s Word does not say the local church called, sent, nor sanctioned the two preachers. That was not their call, and for far too long man’s tradition has become law over God’s law. If evangelists could not preach unless they were backed by local churches, England would never have experienced revival under the Wesleys and America would have never experienced revival under George Whitefield. Why? The churches in mass rejected those evangelists. Yet, because these men listened to God and not the churches, the Wesleys and Whitefield held outdoor meetings wherein many were saved and the churches revived. As a result, many beautiful hymns came from the Wesleys, the Baptists greatly multiplied under Methodist Whitefield here in America (even if he did not want them to :), and God prepared the American colonies to be spiritually prepared for their War of Independence against the unbeatable juggernaut Great Britain.
Local Church Evangelism
The evangelist will also preach the gospel through local church evangelism. From Ephesians 4:8, we learn that Christ “gave gifts unto men”, and in verse 11, we find that “evangelists” were one of those gifts. Ephesians 4:12 states why pastors and evangelists were given by Christ.
- “For the perfecting of the saints… for the edifying of the body of Christ” – Ephesians 4:12
Notice that the evangelist’s preaching the gospel perfects and edifies the saved. This means that an evangelist’s ministry should also be to and through the local church. The evangelist preaches the gospel to sinners and revives the saints through local church meetings. These meetings through the years have been commonly called “revivals.”
At this point, we also need to defend the evangelist’s ministry to the local church. Evidently, there are those who teach that evangelists are only for lost souls. Once I was preaching on “the gift of the evangelist” to a mass gathering of preachers in the Philippines. As I was introduced, a host of people got up and left. I did not know why so I just continued with my teaching on evangelism. In the Philippines, many of the churches do not have windows or doors so the people were just standing around outside talking to each other, but still able to hear me. After a little bit, an elderly man beckoned to the people outside to return inside. After the meeting, this elderly man, who evidently was or had been the pastor of the people who originally left, came straight up to me and apologized for leaving. He explained that he had taught many of these people for years that the evangelist was only to preach to lost souls. Saved people were to leave and not listen to evangelists. However, the Lord allowed him to hear the different Bible verses I gave in support of evangelists, and the Lord pricked this elderly preacher’s heart. This great, kind man invited me back the next year to teach and preach to his people! For far too long, there has been little research and teaching from the Bible on the evangelist. However, there is so much to learn, and I hope that you, dear reader, will continue to read and research what the Bible teaches about evangelists. The evangelist has been replaced in many local churches with itinerant pastors (which is unbiblical as we will notice later from the Bible) and lay preachers. Yet, Christ’s gift (we stress Christ’s) cannot be replaced by man’s methods and traditions. Christ Himself, our Head, stated that evangelists are needed “For the perfecting of the saints… for the edifying of the body of Christ….” We must stop contradicting our Lord, Master, Shepherd, and King. What Christ says, goes. Our local churches need evangelists to preach to them revival truths.
To wrap up chapters 1 and 2, evangelist means “preacher of the gospel.” His method for getting out the gospel is preaching. An evangelist accomplishes this preaching of the gospel through personal evangelism, mass evangelism, and local church evangelism.