Some have proposed that we need overseeing evangelists who have charge of, or responsibility for, more than their local congregation or church. Some go so far as to say this is required biblically. Is there a biblical basis, or scriptural requirement, for having overseeing evangelists? Other than the apostle Paul sending out Timothy or Titus to certain congregations to help them out, I don't see any requirement for this kind of role in the church (especially since there are no more apostles). Am I missing something here? —David A. Poole (Orlando)

This is a reasonable question, given the wide spectrum of opinions about church governance. I think you have identified a key question: whether the paradigm of the apostles and their representatives translates directly to the modern church situation.

If you have heard the series New Testament Leadership, or read the paper on Church Polity (at this website, along with a few other articles related to your question), you know my thinking on the subject.

In my view, it is appropriate that external leadership be provided when a church has just been established, or if it is not prepared to make decisions, or is at an impasse, and requests help from outside. But the N.T. already stipulates a class of local leader called the overseer (elder, shepherd). The overseers are the ones who, naturally, oversee the local church—not someone removed from the local situation.

The evangelist is a church planter. Unless I am greatly mistaken, he is the most evangelistic Christian worker, by definition. In church cultures where this is not the case—and, typically, where he views himself as tasked with making the congregation evangelistic—the church is not likely to mature. After all, evangelism is one crucial aspect of Christian discipleship, but it is hardly the only one.