Team Essentials: Evangelist

By Alan Hirsch

I am absolutely convinced that there has never been a genuine missional movement—the kind that has both exponential growth as well as transformational impact across a wide domain—that does not have APEST ministry. APEST, which stands for Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd and Teacher, comes from Ephesians 4, and I strongly believe movements need all five APEST functions active and engaged in order to make any lasting impact for the cause of Jesus. Below is a description of the Evangelist component of the APEST model.

The Evangelist

Passionate communicator of organizational message, recruiter

At their core, the evangelistic aspects of the church relate to their unique status as people whose very existence is brought about through living the message of the gospel. Evangelism is essentially the task of getting the message out and getting a positive response from the audience. In many ways, the evangelistic function is the church’s inbuilt marketing department.

The evangelistic function exists to:

Communicate. The evangelistic function enhances the capacities of the whole church to be able to communicate the unfolding story of the Church in compelling, accessible and understandable ways.

Elicit responses. It also elicits a response from the audience—effectively “closing the deal.”

Invitational culture. Related to the “taste and see” aspect of the previous function, an evangelistic culture invites people to experience what the Church is pointing toward.

Sneezing the movement message. Evangelism involves the infectious sharing of the movement’s core message. This is done both inside and outside the community of faith. The message itself must remain compellingly related to real existential human issues so as to retain its infectious and timeless nature. The message is viral and can readily be passed on. A church without an evangelistic function is definitely on its way to death because the gospel is what brings new life.

Cultural relevance. Evangelism makes rich use of popular culture to find the keys into the heart of the immediately surrounding culture.

Presenting the value proposition. Sales and promotion do not cheapen but rather highlight the irreplaceable importance of the function for movemental forms of church.

Branding. This involves the management of how the organization is being perceived and experienced. The evangelistic functions will need to include the issue of branding and brand consistency.

Valuing the individual. Evangelism takes individual people very seriously. Each person is a vital part of a network in the broader society.

Catalytic witness. Because of this external focus, evangelism is an essential catalyst for people movement. It is therefore witness to the Good News.

Recruiting to the cause. Sociologically speaking, evangelism is all about recruitment to the cause. Cultivating an innate evangelistic sensibility therefore requires making sure that the message is transmitted well and is received by the recipients in ways that draw them into the saving story of Jesus.

The role of the evangelistic person

The whole Church, and all Christians, are to be involved in extending the message of the Church. But some are called to embody and exemplify evangelism in the community. These are the evangelists. Evangelistic people are:

Exceptional recruiters. The most obvious outcome of the ministry of evangelists is that people are enlisted to the cause of Christ. In other words, the Church grows. Evangelists have the capacity to get significant buy-in from their hearers. They are persuasive, infectious people with appealing personalities. In terms of the diffusion of ideas and the spread of movements, they are the persuaders—people with significant negotiation skills. They tend to have an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say and makes others want to agree with them. For this reason, evangelists are agents of conversion.

Social connectors. It stands to reason that evangelists are great socializers—the kind of people who can link the rest of us up with the world. “They have a special gift for bringing the world together,” as Malcolm Gladwell puts it. They have a capacity to make connections with people in a way that demonstrates social and emotional intelligence. In many ways, their function is therefore genuinely priestly, in that they mediate between God and people as well as between people and people. Evangelists also have an affinity for the gospel that makes them adept at applying it to people’s unique experience and circumstance.

Good news people. This is the obvious function of evangelistic people, but their sharing of good news is an inextricable part of their capacity to understand people and make connections. They really are positive, good news people. Not only do they have strong relational affinity, but they also have a great capacity to translate the gospel into the prevailing culture in ways that make a lot of sense. This too is an intrinsic aspect of priestly ministry: mediating the knowledge of God, sharing good news and inviting people to join the story. Outside the organized faith community, evangelists tend to be entrepreneurs, excellent communicators, motivators, marketers and enthusiastic storytellers.

This content is an excerpt from Hirsch’s latest book, 5Q: Reactivating the Original Intelligence and Capacity of the Body of Christ. Order the book to learn more about the APEST model.

Published September 5, 2017

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Alan Hirsch

Alan is co-founder and associate faculty for the M.A. in Missional Church Movements at Wheaton College (Illinois). He is also adjunct professor at Asbury Seminary, Fuller Seminary, George Fox Seminary, among others, and he teaches frequently throughout Australia, Europe, and the United States. He is series editor for Baker Books’ Shapevine series , IVP’s Forge line, and is an associate editor of Leadership Journal.