I have spent much time considering the purpose of and reason for the five leaders that are listed in Ephesians 4:11
Eph 4:11, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.”
Because I am presently serving as Interim Pastor, and have invited Evangelist Eric Fuller to preach a revival at the church where I am serving, my thoughts have been focusing on the difference between the roles and responsibilities of a pastor and that of an evangelist.
First of all, it is amazing that both are included as leaders in Christ’s church according to Ephesians 4. But equally interesting is how they compliment each other in the work of the local church.
The pastor’s primary call is to pastor or shepherd his flock. His ministry is therefore first to the people and second to the lost. The evangelist’s primary call is to evangelize the lost outside the church. His ministry is therefore first to the lost and second to the people within the church. Implications of the differences are remarkable to consider.
Both come at the Great Commission from two different sides of the equation. The pastor comes at his task looking at the church members first. The evangelist comes at his calling looking at the lost outside the church first. Yet even so, neither is exonerated from exercising aspects of the other’s ministry.
The pastor is called to “Do the work of an evangelist” in 2 Timothy 4:5, even though he may not feel like evangelism is in his gift set. The New Testament is not so direct with the follow-up ministry of the evangelist. There are instances where there is no possible follow-up between the evangelist and the new convert in the New Testament. However, the many churches that were established through the ministry of the Apostle Paul should encourage the evangelist to work with those that are saved as much as possible beyond their conversion to Christ. The fact that Paul returned to those places where the gospel was received in Acts 14 provides the evangelist an example of the priority of follow-up ministry after his work.
Christ in His foreknowledge and divine insight gave two leaders within His local church that look at the Great Commission from two separate angles. Their approach comes with their unique gifting and with different roles within the church.
Both pastors and evangelists are needed for a well-balanced church—Christ knew this! Neither pastor nor evangelist should look down upon the ministry focus of the other. Both are needed for a balanced church.
Already in the New Testament the ministry of the pastor and that of the evangelist led to a schism. Whereas Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered” (1 Cor 3 6), it was not long before there were several subgroups of people in conflict over the priority of their roles:
1 Cor 1:12, “Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’”
While this schism is inevitable, it is not necessary to encourage it or to nurture it. Each is a valid part of the Great Commission mandate, and each has a place in the leadership gifts of Jesus Christ to His church. Paul showed that both evangelists and pastors work as one, and should be content with their roles according to their own labor:
1 Cor 3:6-8, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”