I hear that you are teaching against evangelists leading churches. Several of my friends have expressed concern that you are advocating the abolition of evangelists. Is this true?
No, not at all. I have always taught that evangelists play a significant and God-ordained role in church leadership (Ephesians 4:11, 2 Timothy 4:1-5). It is true that I believe the Bible teaches that mature churches should be overseen by elders. This does not, however, nullify the role of the preacher! (I am a preacher myself, and have been an evangelist for many years. I am not in favor of abolishing my role)!
True, some elders have the gift of preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17), and so it is conceivable that some churches may not require an extra evangelist. But that is only because someone else is fulfilling the role. God does not always distribute his didactic (teaching) gifts (see Ephesians 4) on a one-to-one basis. That is, some men have multiple gifts, and in some cases, it is not easy to determine whether a man is primarily an elder or a teacher or an evangelist.
Churches without a strong preacher will suffer accordingly. Evangelists are essential, especially in the church-planting phase--in the early years. But even in mature churches where elderships have been established, there will always be a need for those who preach the word.
Also true, if an evangelist feels that he alone is called to "lead" a church of thousands as though the other leadership gifts were somehow less important, he will put himself under intense pressure--which could damage his family, his faith, and his health. It would be too much responsibility for one person to shoulder. In such cases, he should step back--but not necessarily step down. It's not "all or nothing"/"either-or." It's "both-and." Churches need evangelists to lead and elders to lead. The buck stops with the elders, yet this biblical fact should not diminish the evangelist's effectiveness. It should enhance it!
Prayerfully, in more established situations shepherds and evangelists will work together harmoniously. Once again, no: it is absolutely not true that I am against evangelists. We must respect what the Lord has said about this vital leadership role.
For more, see the 4-part audio series on New Testament Leadership.
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