The Evangelist’s Task
Starting with the assumptions that the evangelist is for today and that Titus was an evangelist, I want to attempt to lay a Biblical framework from which we can hang a broader understanding of the ministry of the evangelist. Ephesians 4 shows us the place, source, and purpose of the ministry. No role of the church can function properly without the recognition that the body of Christ is one body and God has appointed some men to serve that body in leadership capacities.The evangelist cannot operate outside the bounds and oversight of that body. He must exercise his ministry for the benefit of the church and within its protective shelter.
The source of all the leadership gifts, including the evangelist, is the gifting of Christ. The evangelist must be someone gifted by God, through His Holy Spirit, according to the gifts of Christ. The evangelist must build his ministry on the gifting of God, for it is a ministry that requires supernatural power to perform. It is not sufficient for the evangelist to have excellent oratorical skills or an understanding of how to motivate people to make decisions. The evangelist must be gifted of God and fully dependent on the Holy Spirit in all his ministry endeavors.
The purpose of leadership in the church, including the ministry of the evangelist, is to completely equip the saints to be doing the work of the ministry and to help bring them to full maturity in
- The evangelist is to give the church the tools and training to go out and do the work God has called them to do. The evangelist is not just doing ministry, he is training others to do ministry.
- He is to labor to build up the church into greater imitation of Christ. His ministry is to help bring the congregation to maturity in Christ, unity of faith and knowledge of Jesus. The ultimate aim is that through the evangelist’s ministry each believer looks more and more likeChrist. Jesus is the yardstick, and the goal is to bring believers farther and farther up that measuring stick so they will measure up to the full standard of Christ.
- The evangelist is to work so that Christians are enabled to stand firm in the midst of false doctrine.
In the end the purpose of the evangelist’s ministry is to help guide believers into closer imitation of Christ, fully submitted to His calling, directing and working.
If Titus is an evangelist, then the book of Titus gives the most detailed job description available for the evangelist. Not all the specifics of Titus’ ministry will apply to each circumstance, but
the general principles give some direction in how to pattern a modern evangelistic ministry after the Biblical model. Titus 1:5 tells us that Titus was left at Crete to do two things: set in order
those things that were wanting and ordain elders in every city.
Titus was to straighten up those things that were lacking in the church. The ministry was not mature, so the evangelist was sent in to help guide the church into full maturity. The evangelist was sent to specifically address those things which were lacking in the ministry. Part of the evangelist’s responsibility is to directly confront necessary issues in a church and to train the body how to stand against those things as they come up again.
Titus was also to ordain elders in every city. Titus was specifically charged to provide leadership for each church in the cities of Crete. Part of a fuller model for the evangelist would include those times in which his function is to help provide leadership for a congregation whether it be in between pastors, in church splits or in new congregations just getting started. This does not suggest that the evangelist holds a position over that of the pastor. There is absolutely no Biblical basis for the evangelist to assume authority over the pastor. They evangelist’s ministry may at times involve giving direction in a church that is needing a pastor and at other times working alongside a pastor, providing him with counsel and input. At no point does the evangelist supersede or replace the office of the pastor.
Titus 2 begins with the instruction “speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.” The proclamations of the evangelist must be those things which highlight the beauty of the truths of the Word. The specific list of things in Titus 2:2-6, 9-10 and 3:2 gives a striking instruction of practical piety that covers all age groups and the essential duties of Christian living. If the evangelist proclaims these things, and if Christians do them, true doctrine will be surrounded with beauty and grace.
Titus 2:7-8 instructs the evangelist to be an example of good works, right doctrine and sound speech. To fight vehemently for truth the evangelist must be the example of all that he is preaching. His itinerant nature does not eliminate his need to be an example to the believers, nor does it remove the need that he be practicing the truth he so boldly proclaims. His good works should be worthy of imitation and his doctrine should be unmixed with the false doctrines of the world. The doctrines of the Word must be proclaimed in a dignified way that shows great respect to the truth of God. He should speak to build up believers and in a manner that is beyond condemnation. His private conversations should be as God honoring as his public sermons. In all of the evangelists life he should be a man worthy of imitation.
The evangelist’s ministry is one of proclaiming the truths of the Word of God. This seems to be the most obvious facet of ministry, but it seems to me that many evangelists do not really proclaim the truths of the Word. The evangelist must be careful to ensure his preaching is not merely cliches or truisms, but is the clear exposition of God’s Word unmixed with personal agendas or hobbyhorses.
- He is to be faithfully exegeting the Word, accurately proclaiming what God has said. (Titus 2:15)
- The evangelist is to plead for obedience to the Word. (Titus 2:15)
- The evangelist is also to directly confront error or sin, so that those who are violating theWord know it is they who have sinned and they must change their habits or live in disobedience to God. This rebuking must take place both publicly and privately. The evangelist cannot shy away from exposing the evilness of sin. (Titus 1:13)
- His preaching is to be done with authority, taking the God given right to command believers to do these things. The evangelist must give the Word of God as a mandate to be obeyed, not merely a suggestion to follow if it suits the hearers fancy. (Titus 2:15)
- All these things are to be done such a way that no man can hold him in low esteem for not doing his duty or practicing what is preached. The evangelist must be very careful that he donothing that will give occasion for someone to slander or demean the ministry. (Titus 2:8)
The evangelist also must have an evangelistic role. Titus 3:8 commands the evangelist to be constantly and confidently asserting our awful condition prior to Christ, the kindness and love of God, our inability to redeem ourselves, the working of God to save us and the results and responsibilities of being saved. The evangelist cannot water down the doctrines of salvation, but must have complete confidence that God’s Word is right and sufficient to save the wickedest sinner and hardest skeptic. In doing this, the evangelist must be very careful to avoid those debates which are unprofitable and empty. Hobby horses make for interesting preaching and bring loud amens in some churches, but they produce no eternal fruit. Debates over minutia are fascinating and mind stretching, but they lead no one into salvation or greater imitation of Christ. Carefully stay away from empty debates while engaging in those discussions which are profitable for the salvation of men.
Some other principles of evangelistic ministry that seem evident from Titus’ ministry but are not explicitly stated in Scriptures need to be mentioned as well.
- He was itinerant. That seems to be fairly obvious considering he traveled with Paul. However, what is also apparent from his itinerancy is that his ministry style was not to “blowin, blow up and blow out” but to come alongside a church for a period of weeks and months while providing real assistance to that congregation.
- His ministry in churches was specific. Titus did not go to a church just to perform a genericministry. He went to perform a function specific and tailored for each individual church.
- The ministry of the evangelist is one that is subordinate to the church. In the New Testament,the evangelist was directed by the apostles after being first ordained by the church to go out under the apostles. The evangelist cannot presume to minister outside the accountability and approval of the local congregation. He must go out as an extension of a local congregation tominister in and alongside other local congregations.
I see no Biblical reason to suggest the role of the evangelist ceased with the apostolic era. The ministry of the evangelist is not one that ceased to be needed after the first century. The need of the evangelist’s ministry has continued throughout church history. At times this need has waned and at other times it has grown, but the essential service that a Biblical evangelist provides has never stopped being necessary to the body of Christ.