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How to Become an Evangelist

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Evangelism is the Christian term for spreading the "good news" that Jesus died to save all people from sin. To make this your day job, you have to be a Christian, and you must be willing to preach the word full-time. Unlike the megachurch pastors who appear on TV, the financial rewards for evangelists are often slight.

The Calling

"Evangelist" isn't a position in church hierarchy like the job of a bishop or deacon. It's more a description of a particular minister's duties. In Christian belief, evangelism is the "great commission" to share the faith and convert nonbelievers. A church may send out an evangelist to invite people to church functions, hold services in jails or even preach on street corners.

Becoming a Minister

Any Christian who feels called by God to share his faith can devote himself to being an evangelist. You may find more doors open to you if you have some official standing, such as being a minister in your church. The exact procedures for becoming a minister will vary from sect to sect, as will the official credentials you can earn.

For example, the Evangelical Church Alliance identified two kinds of credentialed minister, Licensed and Ordained. The difference is that licensed ministers cannot perform weddings. The ECA lists the requirements to become a minister:

  • Agree with the ECA tenets of faith.
  • Accept the ECA code of ethics.
  • Complete Bible studies at an approved educational institution.
  • Have two years of experience as a minister for a license, or four years for ordination.

It's also possible to find ministries that will ordain you online.

An Evangelist's Skill Set

Neither your credentials nor your enthusiasm for the calling will help if you don't have the skills for the job. Knowing scripture and understanding the tenets of your church are a must if you want to persuade people. Skill at public speaking is essential too. It helps to have a sense of "evangelism etiquette" – knowing when it's appropriate to evangelize and when to bide your time. Some churches say evangelists should apply many of the techniques common to professional salespeople to spread the gospel. If the passion for the mission is there, you may be able to learn the skills you lack.

The Evangelist Life

There's no typical evangelist or evangelical lifestyle. Some 21st century evangelists are phenomenally successful and prominent, with books, TV shows and political influence. Even they, however, may be struggling financially. As a start-up evangelist, you may have a salary for your church, or you may rely heavily on donations from people in your ministry. Becoming an evangelist is one of those careers you shouldn't pursue for the bottom line, but only for fulfillment.