The Work of an Evangelist

There are many congregations today among the Churches of Christ that are now employing an evangelist in a full-time capacity as the minister or the preacher of the local congregation. In many of these congregations the evangelist has become nothing short of what the denominational world has termed a one-man pastor . That he has become such is seen in the fact that he does nearly all of the teaching in a given congregation (if not all of it), and that he is looked to as the spiritual leader of that congregation. Many times he is placed above the elders in terms of respect for him and in seeking advice from him, and has gained a position of prominence in the local congregation that an evangelist should really never occupy, and is holding an office in the local congregation which an evangelist should never occupy.

Through the years, much discussion and debate has occurred between sincere brethren; some holding the view that it is entirely scriptural for an evangelist to do all of the teaching in a local congregation, and others holding that such a practice is entirely unscriptural. In attempting to uphold their beliefs, some brethren, on both sides of the issue, have taken positions which can neither be sanctioned nor defended by the scriptures. Rather than engage in a discussion on the real core of the issue, it has often occurred that brethren have spent their time quibbling about the petty side. issues which have arisen to cloud the minds of those who were seeking the truth. In some instances, the things discussed amounted to nothing more than foolish and unlearned questions which gender strifes, 2 Tim.2:23. In view of this, it is the intention of this study to dig down to the very core of the question and examine it in the light of God s word. The strife and division which have ravaged the body of Christ should motivate each of us to study the matter with an open mind, and to put forth an honest and determined effort to unite together upon the teaching of the New Testament With a sincere desire toward reaching this result, your attention is invited to the discussion of these matters.

Matters Which Are Not The Issue

Since matters have arisen in past discussions, which have no bearing on the real issue, it is worth our time to clear away several things that form no part of this question.

First, the issue is not whether an evangelist can be supported by a local congregation. The scriptures plainly teach that a local congregation can support an evangelist In Gal.6:6, Paul writes: Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. The word communicate means to share with others, communicate, distribute, or be partaker (Strong s Exhaustive Concordance). Since an evangelist teaches others in the word, it is plainly seen that he can be supported by a local congregation.

Second, the issue is not whether an evangelist can work with a local congregation. The New Testament abounds with examples of evangelists coming into a local congregation in order to perform a scriptural work there. In 1 Tim. 1:3, Paul writes to Timothy and says: As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine. Furthermore, we read in Titus 1:5 that Titus was left by Paul on the island of Crete to work in the local congregations there. To Titus, Paul writes: For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee. Of course, it will be necessary to discuss, at a more suitable place in this study, the exact nature of the work of Timothy and Titus at these two localities, but for our present purpose it is clearly seen that an evangelist can work within the local congregation.

Third, the issue is not how long an evangelist can spend in laboring with a local congregation. The Bible does not give a specific, maximum time period when the evangelist must leave or be guilty of violating the will of God. There are brethren who hold the opinion that it is entirely unscriptural for an evangelist to spend more than three years working in a given-congregation. No doubt they have taken this position because of Paul s tenure at Ephesus, mentioned as three years in Acts 20:31. But it is unlikely that Paul spent three full years at Ephesus, for Acts 19:8-10 seems to indicate that it was only a period of two years and three months. The actual time he spent there may have been rounded off to be three full years, much the same as we do today when speaking of periods of time, but regardless of the length of his stay at Ephesus, the length of time that an evangelist may work with a particular congregation is not set down in scripture so as to form a binding example.

Fourth, the issue is not how much support an evangelist can be given for himself and his family. This, of course, will vary according to the financial needs that he has, the area of a given country in which he is living, and the ability of a given congregation to provide his support. Whatever his needs may be, the Bible teaches that he should be given a living . In 1 Cor. 9:14, Paul writes: Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. When support is not possible it may be that an evangelist will be obligated to do what Paul did at Ephesus, when he spake the following words to the elders of that congregation in Acts 20:30-34: I have coveted no man s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. Or again, it may well be that in a given situation an evangelist, like Paul did at Thessalonica, would be wise to earn a living with his own hands at secular work. In 2 Then. 3:8, Paul gave his reason for so doing when he said: Neither did we eat any man s bread for nought; but wrought with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you. So the question of how much support an evangelist can receive is not an issue at all, and it is sad to see petty issues, such as the four just mentioned, occupy the minds of those who are supposed to be seeking the truth in regard to the work of an evangelist. Brethren, let us cease troubling one another with petty things, and avoid foolish and unlearned questions, which gender strife.

What Is The Issue?

If the aforementioned matters are no part of the issue in question, then what is the issue? The real issue is stated in the very title given to this discussion, namely, his WORK! It is not whether he can be supported, but rather what is he being supported to do? It is not whether he can work with a local congregation, but rather what is his work in that congregation? It is not how long he may work in a local congregation, but rather what is the work that requires him to stay? It is not how much support he can receive, or whether he receives any support at all, but rather what is he doing? This is the very test to make when examining the use of an evangelist in any congregation.

In 2 Tim. 4:1-5, Paul wrote to an evangelist named Timothy, and although he did not give, in this scripture alone, a complete list of an evangelist s work, he did give some idea as to what his work should involve. Paul, realizing that his days on earth were fast fleeting away, gave this solemn charge to Timothy in the following words: I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

These are some of the instructions that the aged Paul gave to a young man named Timothy, who was an evangelist of .Jesus Christ. But, as to the complete work of an evangelist, it is exemplified in the book of Acts, and fully outlined in the books of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. The latter three books are mentioned because Timothy and Titus were evangelists, and when Paul wrote to them in these epistles he was therein instructing them in regard to their duties and responsibilities. In view then of the importance of the contents of these three books to the subject under consideration, it is well worth the time to examine them and learn the things which Paul outlined for them to do as evangelists. Let the reader bear in mind that whatever their duties and responsibilities are declared to be in these books, the same duties and responsibilities rest upon the modern day evangelist.

The Work Of An Evangelist

(1) Charge some to teach no other doctrine and not to give heed to fables and endless genealogies: (1 Tim. 1:34)

As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith; so do.

Notice that Timothy was not left in Ephesus to take over the pulpit and become the minister of that congregation. In fact, Paul said that he left Timothy there, implying that he himself had been working there as well. Other duties seemed to have claimed the attention of Paul in Macedonia, and Timothy was left behind to continue a specific work which had not yet been accomplished. There is no comfort in this passage for those who seek to make Timothy the minister of that congregation, for no hint of such permanent work there is given.

(2) Put the brethren in remembrance of things they had already been taught:
(1 Tim. 4:6)

If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

Part of an evangelist s work is to bring us into remembrance of things we have already been taught As Peter said when he wrote 2 Pet. 3:1, to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance. Notice also that if Timothy did these things he would be a good minister of Jesus Christ and not the good minister at Ephesus.

(3) Be an example of what a believer in Jesus should be: (1 Tim. 4:12)

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

The life of an evangelist must be a complete example of what a believer in
Jesus should practice. How can he expect others to listen to the doctrine of
Christ if his own life does not adorn that doctrine in open display?

(4) Give attendance to reading, exhortation, and doctrine: (1 Tim. 4:13)

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

The specific work that Paul had left Timothy to perform would certainly require an effort in these three areas. In fact, they form a vital part of the work of any evangelist since his main function is to preach the word.

(5) Take heed unto himself and to the doctrine: (1 Tim. 4:16)

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Though some people would tell us that doctrine is not essential and that what one believes is of no great importance, Paul held a completely opposite view. He first instructs Timothy to take heed unto himself. An evangelist is certainly not in a position to help others until he has first applied the doctrine to his own life. Second, he tells him to take heed unto the doctrine and to continue in it. It is important for any Christian, and especially for an evangelist who is teaching the doctrine to others, to make sure that he keeps himself within the doctrine of Christ; lest he lose his own soul and ruin the souls of those who hear him and become persuaded to obey what he teaches.

(6) Rebuke those who sin before the entire congregation: (1 Tim. 5:20)

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

I doubt that this is practiced today to the extent that Paul meant for it to be, but an evangelist has the authority given him and the responsibility resting upon him to, if necessary, rebuke someone for their sin, even in company of all the brethren. Paul himself had to face this same responsibility when Peter sinned at Antioch in Syria. The sin of Peter had spread among many of the Jewish brethren, even contaminating Barnabas, and since it was spreading publicly throughout the congregation, Paul had to rebuke Peter publicly for it, Gal 2:11-14. In most cases it may well be best to rebuke someone in private, and this course should be followed when possible, but when the sin of a person is spreading to others in the congregation it must be handled publicly.

(7) Additional instructions concerning his manner of life; particularly in regard to the love of money: (1 Tim. 6:10-12)

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

The love of money, as Paul said, has caused many to err from the faith; hence the warning to Timothy. An evangelist cannot covet wealth and discharge his duties at the same time. He is bearing a message which must not be watered down for sake of gain, and which is so important for the world to hear that be dare not get entangled with the pursuit of wealth. Consequently, Paul instructs him in the things he should follow, namely, righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and meekness.

(8) Not be ashamed of the testimony of Christ, but a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel: (2 Tim. 1:8)

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.

The precious testimony of Jesus Christ is such a glorious message that Paul reminds him never to be ashamed of it. Furthermore, even though an evangelist is not to pursue afflictions, yet if they arise because of the testimony of Jesus, he is to partake of them without shame.

(9) Hold fast the form of sound words which he had heard from Paul: (2 Tim. 1:13)

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

This exhortation is akin to that previously given by Paul in 1 Tim. 4:16. (See number 5) The words he had heard from Paul were the words of eternal life and, as such, were not to be held loosely, but rather held fast.

(10) Instruct other faithful men so that they will be able to teach others the word: (2 Tim.2:2)

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

An evangelist who is not training other men to teach by giving them instruction in the word is neglecting a vital part of his work. The gospel spreads and the church grows by the teaching of the word, and without faithful men who can teach others, the cause of Christ is severely hampered.

(11) Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ: (2 Tim. 2:3)

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Whatever troubles and afflictions may come to the soldier of Jesus Christ, an evangelist is to endure them. Paul goes on to say in verse ten of this chapter that he endures all things for the elect s sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

(12) Study (give diligence) to show himself approved unto God: 2 Tim. 2:15)

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The most vital part of an evangelist s work is the teaching of the word. Unless he studies (gives diligence) he will fail in his efforts to present the truth, defend the faith, and stop the mouths of false teachers.

(13) Avoid foolish and unlearned questions which cause strife: (2 Tim. 2:23-26)

But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

In all cases where a question, by being discussed or debated, will bring about understanding, unity, and peace, an evangelist should eagerly engage in such discussions. But where the question is foolish and will cause nothing but strife and discord, it should be avoided. Paul instructs an evangelist to be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, and to instruct others in meekness. Such departures from these principles of proper conduct have resulted in strife and contention throughout the brotherhood of Christ, and much of the blame must be laid at the feet of evangelists who have not given heed unto these instructions by Paul. It is sheer hypocrisy for an evangelist to boast of his loyalty to the doctrine of Christ, when he has not been loyal to the instructions which Paul mentions in this passage. Brethren, 2 Tim. 2:23-26 is part of the doctrine of Christ, and it is time to give it proper place in our lives!

(14) Preach the word, reprove, rebuke, and exhort: (2 Tim. 4:2)

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

The four things which Paul lists here as duties of an evangelist do not require elaboration, but the last words of Paul s instruction do demand a closer observation. In those words he tells how the preaching, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting are to be done. They are to be done with all longsuffering and doctrine. First, longsuffering is demanded. An evangelist is not to fly off the handle at every little situation that arises. Second, the doctrine of Christ is to be applied when preaching, rebuking, reproving, and exhorting. Paul did not say to slander a person or group of people when doing these things. He said to use the doctrine and be long-suffering when so doing. We ve had too many evangelists who wanted to do the four things mentioned first. but not apply longsuffering and doctrine when doing those things. The contention and division that exists in the Church today is present, in part, because of this neglect.

(15) Ordain elders and set things in order in the churches: (Tit. 1:5)

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.

Far from being the minister of any of the congregations on the island of Crete, Titus was instead to set them in order and ordain elders in every city in which a congregation existed. This was the cause for which he had been left on the island by Paul.

(16) Speak the things that become sound doctrine: (Tit. 2:1)

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.

The word become means comely or proper . There is a certain manner of life that will become or make comely the doctrine of Christ. Paul tells the evangelist to speak these things to the disciples, and, in the verses immediately following this one, he instructs Titus to teach the aged men, aged women, young women, young men and servants the various things which, if practiced, will become or beautify the doctrine of Christ

The aforementioned things are all involved in the work of an evangelist that Paul outlined to Timothy and Titus in these epistles. In addition to these things, we learn from the book of Acts that an evangelist is to preach the gospel to regions which have not yet heard the message of Christ s salvation (Acts 8:5), establish new congregations (Acts 14:23), ordain elders in each congregation (Acts 16:4-5), and work with weaker congregations in order to strengthen them (Acts 16:4-5 & Acts 18:27-28). All of these duties combine to make up the work of an evangelist. But, if it be urged that an evangelist can serve as the minister or the preacher for a local congregation, as some urge today, how then can an evangelist carry out the work which has been instructed by Paul? It cannot be denied that Timothy and Titus were instructed to do all these things, and neither can it be denied that an evangelist who is tied down to a local pulpit will find it impossible to comply with all these instructions. It is therefore an obvious conclusion that Timothy and Titus did not serve as the minister or the preacher for any congregation. Let those who support this practice find either Timothy or Titus so doing.

Is The Evangelist An Officer In The Local Congregation?

This question is of great importance to the subject under consideration. If he is an officer in the local congregation, then any congregation, when fully developed, must have him as a permanent part of its organization. Furthermore, if he is a part of the organization of the local congregation, our ultimate task is similar to that pertaining to elders and deacons. We would then be required to not only work toward ordaining elders and deacons in every congregation, but also toward ordaining an evangelist to serve in every congregation. However, the office of an evangelist is not an office or work within the local congregation, but rather an office within the church universal. In arriving at this conclusion, the following reasons are submitted:

First, he is not addressed in Paul s letter to the church at Philippi. In Phil 1:1, Paul writes, Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. The only two groups of ordained officers in the local church are specifically named by Paul in the greeting of this epistle, namely, bishops and deacons. Where is the minister or the preacher at Philippi? It is obvious that he was not there, for the congregation there was fully developed, having within it the only two offices to which men were ordained.

Second, bishops are set apart and ordained to rule and shepherd the congregation in which they were made overseers by the Holy Spirit. Hence, we read Paul s instructions to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28, telling them to take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. You will notice that there was but one flock over which they had been made overseers by the Holy Spirit, not several flocks. Thus, their work, as it pertained to overseeing and shepherding, was with but one flock or congregation. But is this true of an evangelist? Can he perform the work of an evangelist in only one flock? On the contrary, his work, as we have already studied, will demand his presence in several different congregations, and even in places where there are no congregations. From this fact alone we can come to no other conclusion than the one which has been affirmed; he is an officer in the church universal.

Finally, this fact is made even clearer when one considers the work of an apostle and the sphere of his work, and compares it to the work of an evangelist. As an apostle, was Paul an officer in any local congregation? Was he the apostle in the church at Ephesus? The answer is that he was not. It is true that he was an apostle to the church in Ephesus, but he was not the apostle in the sense of being ordained to that office in the congregation. In like manner, Timothy was an evangelist to the church in Ephesus, but he was not ordained to be the evangelist or the minister in that congregation. His office, like that of the apostleship, was in the church universal, and still is!

How Is The Local Congregation To Be Taught?

If the evangelist is not an office in the local congregation and is not a permanent fixture there, how is the local congregation to be taught? The New Testament gives us two specific ways in which this may be done.

First, if a congregation has reached the point where it has an eldership, the elders should be teaching it. When Paul listed the qualifications of an elder, he said in 1 Tim. 3:2, apt to teach. Any elder who cannot teach the church is not qualified to be an elder. There are some, however, who believe the elder can fulfill this qualification by not addressing the assembly of the church, but by simply teaching privately as an individual to the members. But this idea is certainly not the only idea expressed in the words apt to teach . These words are a general statement that the elder must be capable of teaching, and if we examine other scriptures which relate to the elder s responsibility as a teacher, we shall discover that he must be able to teach both publicly and privately. In Acts 20:28, he is told to feed the flock . The word feed means to shepherd the flock, and part of the work of a shepherd is to provide food for the flock. Now, a shepherd will no doubt be required to give individual attention to a sheep but he will also be required to feed the flock as a whole. The same is true of God s shepherds, the elders. Their duties of feeding, leading, teaching, etc., will require them to work in a one on one situation as well as in group situations. Consequently, they must be able to teach the entire congregation in its assemblies.
In 1 Thess. 5:12, we learn that the elders at Thessalonica admonished the disciples there. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you. The only ones who would be over you in the Lord would be the elders, and notice that these elders admonished the brethren. In addition to this, Heb. 13:7 carries a similar thought in regard to elders teaching the church. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. Again we see that those who were ruling (the elders) had been speaking the word of God to the church. Finally, in Titus 1:9, Paul lets the elders know what their responsibilities will be if they desire the office. Of them he says, Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. This responsibility might be carried out before the assembly or in private with an individual, and it is very clearly seen that an elder must possess a great knowledge of the scriptures and be able to impart it unto others. His tool in this passage is sound doctrine.

Second, the church is to be taught by a plurality of men who are gifted or qualified to teach. Within the ranks of the local congregation there should be developed, by and by, men who are capable of teaching the church. That the early church had such men cannot be doubted. We learn in 1 Cor. 14:31, that Corinth had such a plurality of teachers. Paul said to them, For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. The same thing was true of the congregation in Antioch, for we read in Acts 13:1, Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. The plan of God, then, for teaching the local congregation is with a plurality of elders who are apt to teach, and by other faithful men in the congregation who have the knowledge and ability to edify the church.

While the plan of God is for a plurality of teachers to assist the elders in teaching, there has arisen an abuse which needs to be corrected. There are some who hold the opinion that any male member should be able to fill the pulpit in a teaching capacity. This idea is simply not true. Not all men have the ability to impart knowledge adequately to others, and this was Paul s argument when he wrote in 1 Cor. 12:17, If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? Again, in verse 29, he asks these questions, Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? The answer is obvious. Are we right then in insisting that all men teach the church when all are not teachers? Certainly not! Now, let it be stated that all men should be given the opportunity to teach if they are capable, but before just anyone is put into the pulpit, it ought to be made certain that he can edify the congregation. There has been too much half-way teaching in the past. The church needs men who are gifted, who study and know the scriptures, and who will make the effort to edify the congregation. The church or flock must be fed, and it will not do for someone to dump scraps out for the church to feed upon. Those who will not study, who simply sit down an hour or two before the assembly in order to work up a quick lesson have no business teaching the church.

Additional Comments On The Issue

Having examined how the local congregation should be taught, and having examined the work of an evangelist, let us notice what is happening among some Churches of Christ today in regard to the use of an evangelist. In some congregations, the Evangelist is being called the minister or the preacher of that particular local congregation and is being used in an unscriptural manner. The Bible teaches that a minister is a servant and that every member of the church is a servant and has a ministry. In Mark 10:43-44, the words minister and servant are used interchangeably. Jesus said, But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. Every Christian (women included) is a minister in the sense that be or she is a servant. And not only are they ministers, but the Bible teaches in Rev. 1:6 that they are also kings and priests. In this scripture John writes, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. In view of the fact that all Christians are kings and priests, is it right to single out one individual and make him the king or the priest of a given congregation? We have pointed out to our Catholic friends and others that the office of the priest is unscriptural, but are we willing to repeat the same mistake in regard to the minister as an office in the local congregation? Upon the same authority that a man is set aside to be the minister he can also, by that same authority, be set aside to be the priest. If not, why not? The office of the minister or the preacher is opposed for exactly the same reason as the office of the priest ; both are simply unscriptural and not found in the will of Christ.

The evangelist is being unscripturally used in many congregations today. He is being hired by a local congregation to do the teaching, even where there are qualified elders and teachers who are capable of doing this work, and should be doing it. Because of this, many elders have lost respect in the church, for if a member has a problem he takes it to the minister, thus, the elders become a mere figurehead in the local church. Not only this, but the presence of the minister makes it impossible for other brethren to speak and teach as they should. Without these men gaining the opportunity to teach, there is no way to qualify them for work as elders, evangelists, and teachers.

In many congregations the minister is expected to visit the sick, call on members who are out of duty, handle false teachers who may arise from time to time, etc. Whose responsibility is it to visit the sick? Is it the responsibility of the minister only? It is essentially the responsibility of any member, for Jesus said in Matt 25:36, I was sick, and ye visited me. The force of this statement applies to all Christians, for Jesus did not say, I was sick, and your minister visited me. We cannot hire our visiting done for us! Not only that, but it is unreasonable for a preacher of the word to be tied down to hospital visits. You may recall, in Acts 6:2, when the congregation at Jerusalem had been neglecting the widows and word finally reached the ears of the apostles, that they made the following statement about the matter: It is not reason that we leave the word of God, and serve tables. Now, an evangelist is in much the same situation as they. It is true that he has a personal responsibility to visit the sick, widows, etc., (the same as every other Christian) but it is not reasonable for him to leave the word of God and serve tables. it is a shame, but congregations today are tying down evangelists to perform such tasks, while the world is dying without the gospel of Christ.
Whose responsibility is it to call on out of duty members? Paul said, in Gal 6:1, Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Are evangelists the only ones who are spiritual? God forbid! Brethren, we are either carnal or spiritual, and, if spiritual, the passage applies to all of us. Notice that Paul said brethren, meaning that this is a task for all to perform. It must not be hired work for someone else.

One of the most serious results of this minister-system is that it cripples the church, both within the local congregation and within the church universal. It does so in many ways. It first cripples the local church by causing members to be slack in doing personal work. They have hired the minister to do it for them so they feel no need to personally teach others. Not only this, but it thwarts the development of teachers in the local congregation because they have no opportunity (or very limited opportunity) to teach the congregation. This crippling effect also takes its toll on developing elders, for they must be apt to teach .

Insofar as its ill effects on the church universal are concerned, it prevents the work of beginning new congregations from occurring as rapidly as it should because there are not enough evangelists to work in this area or phase of evangelizing. It is sadly the case today that many larger congregations, who can afford to support an evangelist, have tied him down to a local pulpit as their minister so that he is not free to completely do the work of an evangelist. Past and present practice has shown that even when new congregations are established, and elders and deacons are ordained, the evangelist who started the work will remain behind as the minister and become a permanent officer in that church. While others await the coming of the gospel message, the minister stays on in the congregation which has been set in order . This leaves a congregation which does not take advantage of the elders and teachers in its midst. Many times it happens that an evangelist will eventually leave that congregation by going to another church which already has elders and deacons, to take over the pulpit duties in that congregation as its minister. In most cases, the congregation to which he went has lost its preacher and is looking for another one. Then, the congregation from which he has recently moved, hires another preacher to take his place, and a new and unscriptural office of the minister or the preacher is created. The whole process is an endless cycle of preachers exchanging pulpits. Brethren, these are not fictional situations; they are facts that happen constantly.

There are many congregations without the services of capable elders and teachers, and these are the congregations which need an evangelist to work with them in a scriptural capacity. However, many times their needs are neglected by other congregations because, although they could support an evangelist to work in that needy congregation, they keep him to do their work and their teaching, and will not free him to help the congregations who are truly in need.

Many good evangelists are tied down to their respective pulpits in churches which do not really need them, while the small, struggling congregations are completely neglected and dry up for lack of aid. It is a shame to see these small congregations who do not yet have elders and teachers, barely holding their own, and yet, the larger congregations who could help by sending an evangelist, keep that support for themselves by supporting a man (minister) to do their work for them. They have tied down an evangelist to the pulpit, created an office in the local congregation, and will not free him to do the real work for which he is called of God.

In addition to this problem, those who have created the office of the minister in the local congregation are not developing new preachers and teachers as they should; consequently, they have gone to the seminary-system of training preachers. A vast amount of money is spent to build colleges and preacher schools to train professional ministers . But what is the finished product of these schools? Are they producing men who fully do the work which Timothy and Titus were charged to do, or have the schools been training men to be the minister of a congregation? Perhaps the question will be answered most accurately by examining a common use being made of the men who are so trained . As soon as a congregation loses its minister , have they not many times contacted a particular school in order to find a minister for their congregation? Sadly, this is often the case. There is an endless cycle of men who are trained to fill local pulpits as the minister . In so doing, we have departed from the idea that the local church is capable of training and producing the Lord s evangelists, elders, deacons, and teachers.

Let it be clearly understood that opposition is not directed toward evangelists who are doing a scriptural work in a local congregation. What is opposed is the office being created in local congregations and fed with seminary pastors . Where congregations are weak or needy, the evangelist has a scriptural right and responsibility to come in and work with that congregation and set things in order, Tit. 1:5. But when congregations have sound elders who can feed the flock, and are surrounded with individuals who can also teach, the work of an evangelist is not permanently needed in that congregation; especially in the manner in which he is being used today.

So, the issue is not whether an evangelist can be supported by a congregation; whether he can work in a local congregation; how long he can stay in a congregation; nor how much support that he can receive in his work. The issue is: What is he doing in that congregation? If he is setting things in order so that it can stand alone; if he is committing the word to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also; if, in short, he is doing the work of an evangelist, he has a right to exist for the time being as a part of that local work. But when he is filling an office in a local church which has been filled and vacated by various preachers through the years, he is not performing the work of an evangelist. This is the issue! With these remarks, the reader is left to meditate upon what has been presented. It is hoped that these comments will bring about a greater understanding of the subject in question, and a greater desire on the part of all who read this to work together in a scriptural order of evangelism and teaching.