Evangelism
Overview
 
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

.

Christians who specialize in evangelism are known as evangelists whether they are in their home communities or living as missionaries in the field.
Some Christian traditions consider evangelists to be in a leadership position; they may be found preaching to large meetings or in governance roles.
Christian groups who actively encourage evangelism are sometimes known as evangelistic or evangelist.
Encyclopedia
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

.

Christians who specialize in evangelism are known as evangelists whether they are in their home communities or living as missionaries in the field.
Some Christian traditions consider evangelists to be in a leadership position; they may be found preaching to large meetings or in governance roles.
Christian groups who actively encourage evangelism are sometimes known as evangelistic or evangelist. The scriptures do not use the word evangelism, but evangelist is used in Acts 21:8, Ephesians 4:11, and 2 Timothy 4:5.

The communication of Christian faith to new geographical areas and cultures is often referred to as evangelization, or specifically, world evangelization.

Etymology

The word evangelist comes from the Koine Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 word (transliterated as "euangelion") via Latinised "Evangelium", as used in the canonical titles of the four Gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

s, authored by Matthew
Matthew the Evangelist
Matthew the Evangelist was, according to the Bible, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus and one of the four Evangelists.-Identity:...

, Mark
Mark the Evangelist
Mark the Evangelist is the traditional author of the Gospel of Mark. He is one of the Seventy Disciples of Christ, and the founder of the Church of Alexandria, one of the original four main sees of Christianity....

, Luke
Luke the Evangelist
Luke the Evangelist was an Early Christian writer whom Church Fathers such as Jerome and Eusebius said was the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles...

, and John
John the Evangelist
Saint John the Evangelist is the conventional name for the author of the Gospel of John...

 (also known as the Four Evangelists
Four Evangelists
In Christian tradition the Four Evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the authors attributed with the creation of the four Gospel accounts in the New Testament that bear the following titles:*Gospel according to Matthew*Gospel according to Mark...

). The Greek word originally meant a reward for good news given to the messenger ( = "good", = "I bring a message"; the word angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

 is of the same root) and later "good news".

The verb form of euangelion, euangelizo (transliterated "evangelism"), was used rarely in Greek literature outside the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, making its meaning more difficult to ascertain. Parallel texts of the Gospels of Luke and Mark reveal a synonymous relationship between the verb euangelizo and a Greek verb "kerusso" which means "to proclaim".

Proselytism

While evangelism is usually regarded as converting non-Christians to Christianity, this is not always the proper usage of the word. If converting to Christianity includes services or material benefits it is called proselytism. Different denominations follow different theological interpretations which reflect upon the point of who is doing the actual conversion being the Evangelist or the Holy Spirit or both. Calvinists only believe the soul is converted if the Holy Spirit is effective in the act.

Catholic
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 missionary work in Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 is commonly seen as evangelism, not proselytism. Archbishop Kondrusiewicz openly stated
"that proselytism is absolutely unacceptable and cannot constitute a strategy for the development of our structures either in Russia or in any other country in the world."
Especially regarding claims by Orthodox church that spreading the faith and receiving converts amounts to proselytism Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition , and after 1904 called the Supreme...

 issued document called "Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelisation" which states that evangelism is "an inalienable right and duty, an expression of religious liberty ...", document added that "The incorporation of new members into the Church is not the expansion of a power group, but rather entrance into the network of friendship with Christ which connects heaven and earth, different continents and age. It is entrance into the gift of communion with Christ...."

Origin

In recent history, certain Bible passages have been used to promote evangelism. William Carey
William Carey
William Carey was an English Baptist missionary and a Reformed Baptist minister, known as the "father of modern missions." Carey was one of the founders of the Baptist Missionary Society...

, in a book entitled, 'An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens' popularised a quotation, where, according to the Bible, during his last days on earth Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 commanded his eleven disciples (the apostles) as follows:
However, recent scholarship by Chris Wright and others has suggested that such activity is promoted by the entire Bible, or at least the wider term 'mission', although the meaning of the word 'mission' and its relationship to 'evangelism' is disputed amongst Christians.

Reception and Controversies

Evangelism is not always received positively. People who are not interested in converting to Christianity may find such interventions by religious preachers and their respective movements to be patronizing and bothersome. Saint Stephen
Saint Stephen
Saint Stephen The Protomartyr , the protomartyr of Christianity, is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches....

 was one of the first evangelists to be killed by people who rejected his words.

Modern methods

Dramas such as Heaven's Gates, Hell's Flames
Heaven's Gates, Hell's Flames
Heaven's Gates, Hell's Flames is a touring evangelistic drama that has been performed worldwide. The tagline on the official website asks, "Where will you be when reality strikes?"....

have gained enormous popularity since the 1980s. These dramas typically depict fictional characters who die and learn whether they will go to heaven or hell. Other entertainment-based Christian evangelism events include sporting exhibitions, wherein professional athletes entertain crowds. At some point a gospel presentation is usually given.

In the 1970s, The Power Team
The Power Team
The Power Team is a group of Christian Evangelists, based in Dallas, Texas, who incorporate their preaching with displays of strength and martial arts skills. They were founded in the late 1970s by John Jacobs...

 spawned an entire genre of Christian entertainment based on strong-man exploits mixed with a Christian message and usually accompanied by an opportunity to respond with a prayer for salvation.

The Christian music industry
Christian music industry
The Christian music industry is a small part of the larger music industry, that focuses on traditional Gospel music, Southern Gospel music, Contemporary Christian music, and alternative Christian music. It is sometimes called the gospel music industry, although this designation is not a limitation...

 has also played a significant role in modern evangelism. Rock
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

 (and other genres) concerts in which the artist(s) exhort non-believing attendees to pray a prayer for salvation have become common, and just as common are concerts that are focused on activity not necessarily on prayer and conversion, thus forming an environment that is not driven by conversion, but instead relaying of a message.

Evangelists

Sometimes, the regular minister of a church is called a preacher in a way that other groups would typically use the term pastor
Pastor
The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr." or often "Ps"....

. The evangelist in some churches is one that travels from town to town and from church to church, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many Christians of various theological perspectives would call themselves "evangelists" because they are spreaders of the gospel. Many churches believe one of their major functions is to function as evangelists to spread the evangelist belief that Jesus is savior of humanity.

The title of evangelist is often associated with those who lead large meetings like those of Billy Graham, possibly in tents or existing church buildings, or those who address the public in street corner preaching, which targets listeners who happen to pass nearby. It can also be done in small groups or even on a one-to-one basis, but actually it is simply one who spreads the gospel. Increasingly, the internet enables anyone to become an Internet evangelist.

Missionary work

The New Testament urges believers to speak the gospel clearly, fearlessly, graciously, and respectfully whenever an opportunity presents itself (see Colossians 4:2–6, Ephesians 6:19–20, and I Peter 3:15).

Throughout most of its history, Christianity has been spread evangelistically, though the extent of evangelism has varied significantly between Christian communities, and denominations. Evangelism, apologetics
Apologetics
Apologetics is the discipline of defending a position through the systematic use of reason. Early Christian writers Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, "speaking in defense") is the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of reason. Early Christian writers...

 and apostolic ministry often go hand in hand. An ἀπόστολος (apostolos) is literally "one who is sent" and refers to the missionary calling of being sent into the world. An example of an interplay between Evangelism and Apologetics can be seen in the USA when upon door to door Evangelism the prospect is an unbeliever and challenges the Evangelist wherein the Evangelist then follows into the role of the Apologist in defense of their faith with the hope that Evangelism may be restarted. Since missionaries often travel to areas or people groups where Jesus is not yet known, they frequently take on an evangelistic role. But the apostolic or missionary calling is not necessarily the same (and it is a misnomer and misinterpretation to equate them), as there are many who serve in missionary, church planting, and ministry development roles who have an apostolic calling or serve in an apostolic role but whose primary duty is not evangelism.

See also

  • Bible
    Bible
    The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

  • Catholic action
    Catholic Action
    Catholic Action was the name of many groups of lay Catholics who were attempting to encourage a Catholic influence on society.They were especially active in the nineteenth century in historically Catholic countries that fell under anti-clerical regimes such as Spain, Italy, Bavaria, France, and...

  • Catholic charismatics
  • Charismatic renewal
  • Emmanuel Community
    Emmanuel Community
    The Emmanuel Community is a Catholic association of the faithful, of Pontifical right, founded in 1976 by Pierre Goursat and Martine Lafitte-Catta, starting from a prayer group, belonging to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.-Aims:...

  • Evangelical Catholic
  • Evangelical environmentalism
    Evangelical environmentalism
    Evangelical environmentalism is an environmental movement in the United States in which some Evangelicals have emphasized biblical mandates concerning humanity's role as steward and subsequent responsibility for the caretaking of Creation...

  • Evangelicalism
    Evangelicalism
    Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

  • Fidesco
    Fidesco International
    Founded in 1981 by the Emmanuel Community, following a meeting in the Vatican with African bishops, Fidesco is an NGO for international solidarity which sends volunteers to countries in the South to put their professional skills at the service of development projects, to help local populations or...

  • Good news (Christianity)
  • Internet evangelist
  • Missionary
    Missionary
    A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

  • Open-air preaching
    Open-air preaching
    Open-air preaching, street preaching or public preaching is the act of publicly proclaiming a religious message to crowds of people in open places...

  • Romans Road
  • Theology
    Theology
    Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

  • Worldwide Faith Missions
    Worldwide Faith Missions
    Worldwide Faith Missions is a non-governmental international Christian relief and development church missionary organization based in the United States of America with mission branches in India, Burma , and Thailand. It is a part of the worldwide missions church movement.- History:Worldwide Faith...

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