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Within Christianity, evangelism ministry is any ministry whose chief aim is to win converts to Christ. Different Christian denominations go about evangelism ministry in very different ways. A minister who is involved primarily in evangelistic ministry is called an evangelist. In addition to vocational evangelists, many churches encourage their lay-people to become involved in evangelistic ministry by sharing their faith with others.
Bringers of Good News
In the Bible, the word evangelist comes from the Greek word "evangelion," which means "to bring good news." While evangelistic ministries use a wide range of methodologies, they all focus on one basic task: proclaiming the gospel -- or "good news." Christian denominations differ in their exact definition of what proclaiming the gospel entails, but all evangelism -- regardless of the denomination -- is designed to draw people to follow Christ.
For many, the terms evangelist or evangelism bring to mind images of mass evangelism such as the Rev. Billy Graham crusades of the 1950s - early 2000s or . Some evangelists continue to conduct their ministries as traveling, itinerant ministers or to hold community or city-wide crusades outdoors in large tents or in stadiums. These events are geared towards presenting the evangelists' message to many people in one sitting. In recent decades, evangelists such as Joyce Meyer and Jesse Duplantis have also made increasing use of radio and television to reach out to larger audiences. The advent of social media has given birth to entirely new forms of evangelism ministry. Today anyone -- a denomination, an evangelist or a lay person -- can reach out to unprecedented numbers of people with the gospel message through Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media.
Marketing and Preaching
Many mainline Christian denominations, such as Methodists and Episcopalians, approach evangelism from a marketing standpoint. In their view, evangelism should be geared towards inviting people to church and presenting the church in a way that encourages newcomers to visit a church and continue attending. Evangelical and Pentecostal denominations tend to associate evangelism with preaching to people in hopes of seeing an inner, personal conversion in the hearers. In either case, evangelism is seen as a means of bringing about church growth. In many cases, there is also a fundraising aspect to evangelistic efforts. This may be direct, as in churches taking up offerings during evangelistic meetings, or indirect as the growth that results from evangelism is expected to naturally increase a church's giving base.
Many churches encourage their members to engage in sharing their faith with others, often called "witnessing." Some churches have somewhat formal evangelism ministries, in which they teach members how to share their faith and send them out to speak to others. Other churches simply encourage their members to engage in "friendship evangelism," in which they seek to share their faith with those whom they already have friendships or relationships. Regardless of the method used, personal evangelism is also considered evangelism ministry.
- Baptist Convention of New England: What is Evangelism?
- Founders Ministries: The Biblical Evangelist
- Dallas Baptist Theological Seminary: The Biblical Role of the Evangelist
- Western Reformed Seminary: Definition of Evangelism
- Union University: The Work of the Evangelist
- SBC Voices: Rethinking the Ministry of the Evangelists
- Episcopal Cafe: Focused on Marketing
- Blue Letter Bible: Lexicon: εὐαγγελιστής
- Youthpastor.com: Evangelism: Methods of Evangelistic Contact
Dell Markey is a full-time journalist. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business.