What is Evangelism?

Evangelism is…

No really think about! When you think of evangelism what do you think of?

There are probably all kinds of thoughts in your mind about what evangelism is.  If you’re anything like me, you probably have past experiences of evangelism flooding into your brain.  Maybe a door-to-door campaign; handing out tracts; street evangelism; or a series of revival meetings. These are certainly our common experiences of evangelism in the church, but is this how we would define evangelism?  Better yet, is this how the bible would define evangelism?

Over the next couple of days we are going to look at this topic of evangelism by asking the following questions:

  • What is the work of evangelism?
  • What is the message of evangelism?
  • Why do we do the work of evangelism?
  • How do we do the work of evangelism?

First of all, what is evangelism


  • An act of communication with a view toward conversion (J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God).
  • Preaching or proclaiming the Gospel in relation to man’s fallen need.

A few word pictures for evangelism in the NT will help us to better grasp what the bible teaches about evangelism.

Picture 1: We are heralds of a message

  • κηρυξ &  κερυγμα are common Greek word in the NT for preachers and preaching.  These words could also be rendered a Herald & Heralding.
  • This means that Evangelism is an act of communicating, not simply how we live.
  • Our action may detract from our opportunities to evangelize, but by themselves they are never enough to be called evangelism.

Picture 2: We are stewards of a message

  • 1 Cor 4:1-7
  • A steward takes care of and preserves something.
  • As stewards we must make sure that the Gospel message, which is intended to be delivered to all, remains protected from outside influences.
  • We are kind of like a Museum curator whose job it is to allow children learn from history, while at the same time protecting important artifacts.  We must allow all to hear the Gospel, but as stewards we must also protect it.
  • We must never become expedition in our evangelism. That’s not what stewards do, and its not what evangelism is.

Picture 3: We are ambassadors for the King

  • 2 Cor 5:18-20

    All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

  • An ambassador does not have legislative or executive power.  He doesn’t make or enforce policy. Similarly, in Evangelism we simply represent God and the ultimate results are up to him.
  • This means that Evangelism is not defined by the effects achieved.  The question is NOT “where souls saved?’  The question IS “were we faithful to the task God gave us?” “Did we faithfully represent the King?”
  • Furthermore, as ambassador we represent the King at every moment.  When you are at work… when you are disciplining you kids… when you are talking with customer service on the phone… you get the idea.

Evangelism is not an event. It’s not a rally.  It’s not a church program.  Evangelism is communicating the Gospel with a view toward conversion.