What Is The Difference Between An Evangelist And A Pastor?

What Is The Difference Between

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. (Ephesians 4:11)

What Is The Difference Between An Evangelist And A Pastor?

The pattern of the New Testament organization of the church was simplistic in its design. While modern religion has created a vast array of offices with confusing titles, the Holy Spirit originally set forth a clear blueprint of how God wanted the church of Christ to be designed. The apostle Paul reminds the saints in the church at Ephesus of the divine pattern when he writes that God gave some men to serve as apostles (Peter, Barnabas, Paul), some prophets (Agabus), some evangelists (Philip), and some pastors (Peter) and teachers. These were men who would equip the saints for the work of ministry and the building up of the local congregations. Each one had a peculiar work to accomplish according to their placement and the purpose of their calling. In the modern school of religion, there is the frequent use of the term pastor to refer to a preacher or a minister in charge of a Christian church or congregation. Another term attached to the idea of a pastor is where they are ordained or not but in many cases does not suggest an ordination. In the Roman Catholic Church, the man called a pastor is an ordained priest. Actually, the English word ‘pastor’ appears once in the Bible in the text of Ephesians 4:11.

What is the difference between a pastor and an evangelist? In the minds of many people, there is no difference but the Bible makes a distinction and a clarification between a pastor and an evangelist that has been lost in religious circles today. The term pastor in the original language of the Bible is the Greek word ‘Poimaino’ meaning “to feed” or “to shepherd.”  A pastor was also called an ‘elder,’ or ‘bishop’ or ‘shepherd.’ The role of a pastor was to feed the flock, guide the flock and to shepherd the people of God. Paul explained to Timothy and Titus that an elder or pastor had to have specific qualifications to fulfill the role of being a pastor. To serve as a pastor the man (excludes women) must be blameless, the husband of one wife, believing children, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; with a number of other qualities that distinguish him as a spiritual leader including not being a novice. An evangelist is a man (excludes women) who are not required to be married or have children but must take heed to himself and to his teaching in his work of spreading the gospel. His work is preaching and teaching the word of God. The scriptures make a clear distinction between a man who is a pastor and a man who is an evangelist who is a proclaimer of good news as a preacher and minister of the gospel of Christ. The Bible never refers to an evangelist with the title of pastor or “Reverend.” Nowhere in the New Testament church did any disciple call another by the term of Reverend. The only place it is found in scripture is when the term is used of God Himself. No preacher is called Father or Clergyman.

It is startling to the religious mind to see how easy the Bible is to understand when taken for the face value of Biblical proof. If a man calls himself a pastor, where is the scripture that gives him that right? If he is serving as an elder or bishop or overseer, he can be called an elder. When a preacher calls himself a pastor or when people refer to the preacher (young or old) as a pastor they are not calling things by Bible terms. John would suggest in the final chapter of the book of the Revelation that this would be adding to the word of God. The distinctions of a pastor and an evangelist are defined by their qualities and their work. Not everyone can be a pastor as strict guidelines are given in scripture concerning their qualifications. When a man takes on the role of preaching the gospel of Christ as a proclaimer of truth, he may be called an evangelist or preacher as seen in his role. The denominational use of the pastor is not a Biblical approach to the word of God. As the saying of old reminds the Bible student, “Let the Bible speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.”

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9 Responses to What Is The Difference Between An Evangelist And A Pastor?

  1. Vangie says:

    So you are saying women can not be Evangelist?

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  2. Emmanuel Tetteh Korle says:

    God bless you great insight

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  3. kenb38 says:

    I am confused. Is the person who stands in your pulpit an Elder or an Evangelist?

    Who are the people who should be on the church “payroll”?

    1 Timothy 5

    :3 Honor widows who are really widows.

    :16 If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.

    :17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor,
    especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.

    :18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox
    while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

    :19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder
    except from two or three witnesses.

    :20 Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all,
    that the rest also may fear.

    Ox and Laborer are “book ended” by the term Elder.

    In my view; every church that let’s a man who stands in the pulpit, to allow himself to call himself an evangelist; has effectively voided out the definition and responsibility of elders and usurped their authority.

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    • heatonkent says:

      Good question. The “payroll” as you mention is not restricted but it is limited. As you point out from 1 Timothy 5, widows (certain qualifications) can be “enrolled in the number” and cared for financially by the church. Men who serve in the capacity of shepherds (also called bishops, elders, and overseers) can be financially supported by the church. The evangelist (preacher) can be supported by the local congregation from the “payroll.” The church at Philippi supported the apostle Paul – Philippians 1:5; 4:15-17. Other churches supported Paul at different times – 2 Corinthians 11:8-9. Paul preached all over the Roman world and he was never a pastor (shepherd, bishop, and overseer). Peter, on the other hand, was not only an apostle but he was also a preacher who served as an elder – 1 Peter 5:1-4. The common use of “pastor” to reflect any man who stands in the pulpit to preach is not found in the Bible. Paul was never a pastor or elder (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6) but he was an outstanding preacher. Peter was a preacher who served as a pastor (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). Thanks for the question and for being part of the blog.

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  4. kenb38 says:

    A preacher is a herald; one who gives a proclamation or message.
    Noah is referred to as a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet 2:5). Solomon calls himself a preacher (Ecc. 1:1). Jonah was a preacher (Jon 3:2). Peter, James, John, Timothy, Paul and others were preachers. Paul said that he was ordained a preacher and an apostle, and a teacher (1 Tim. 2:7).

    Comparing that verse with 1 Cor. 12:29 and Eph. 4:11, we learn that Paul served in three different “offices” or capacities. He served as preacher, apostle, and teacher.

    A preacher is also called an evangelist. This word appears in Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11 and in 2 Tim. 4:5. It means a messenger of good, and indicates a public proclaimer. A preacher is a minister of the gospel (Acts 6:4; 21:8).

    In 2 Tim. 4:1-5 Paul tells Timothy to “preach the word,” to “do the work of an evangelist,” and to “make full proof of thy ministry.” It is true that all Christians are to be ministers of Christ, or servants of Christ, but all Christians are not ministers of the word of God in the sense that preachers are.

    A pastor (Eph. 4:11) is the same as an elder or bishop, and in this verse is distinguished from the evangelist or preacher. A pastor is a shepherd, one who tends a flock. Israel had its spiritual leaders who were called pastors (Jer. 2:8; 3:15; 10:21; 23:1, etc.).

    In the New Testament every church, when fully organized, had a plurality of pastors to oversee the local flock. Pastors guide as well as feed the flock; Acts 20:28, indicates that this was the service committed to elders (overseers or bishops); Also in 1 Pet. 5:1, 2 they tend the flock . . . exercising the oversight.

    These flock-tenders are also called elders and “the presbytery.” These flock-tenders, or elders, are referred to as bishops or overseers in Acts 20:28 and Phil. 1:1. They are pastors (shepherds) because of their care for the flock, in tending, guiding, feeding and watching.

    If a preacher of a given church is also selected by that church as one of the elders, then the said preacher is also a pastor. But he is never “the” pastor in the sense of being a one-man overseer. He may serve with others, along side other men, as a pastor or as an elder in a church.

    Obviously Simon Peter was both a preacher and an elder (1 Pet. 5:1-4). He was also an apostle (Matt. 10:2). All preachers are not pastors any more than all pastors are preachers. According to the “qualifications” for elders laid down in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1, Peter could have been selected as an elder while the apostle Paul could not. Paul had no wife, no family, etc.

    I believe that it’s obvious that all Apostles were preachers. Many verses indicate that Barnabas, Timothy, Titus and others were apostles – as Apostolic assistants fully representing Paul’s Apostolic authority. Actually putting them in a class above preachers and above pastors but not actually equal to the 13 Apostles.
    Many believe, with the absense of original Apostles – the gift of Apostle was divided into preachers – proclaiming the gospel to the lost (saving the lost); and pastors – overseeing the flock and teaching (the epistles – so to speak).

    A preacher is not a pastor or elder unless he meets the Bible specifications and unless he is appointed as such by the local congregation. We have the record of Timothy preaching at Ephesus (1 and 2 Timothy), but there is no record of him ever being an elder. Paul preached three years at Ephesus (Acts 20:31) and was never called a pastor.

    The denominational concept of making “the preacher” of a church “the pastor” of that church (or “the elder” of that church) is foreign to the teachings of the Scriptures. A preacher (evangelist) and the elders (pastors) are distinctly different appointments and should not be confused as being one and the same. See again Eph. 4:11-12.

    They are different “offices” in name and different “offices” in function. The pastors oversee the work of the local church, all of it! A preacher (under the oversight of the pastors) does his own work of preaching publicly (outside the assembly of believers – evangelizes – preaches to unbelievers) and from house to house (Acts 20:20).

    Not only do the denominations confuse the preacher-pastor position with reference to name, but also with reference to function.

    Some of our brethren are very particular to use the names correctly but are confused as to their work or function.

    I have run into situations where the local churches expect the preacher to do the work of the pastors (with regards to discipline problems, visiting the sick, taking care of new converts, etc) while the elders drop down to the next notch and perform the work the deacons ought to be doing (benevolence, counting money, keeping books, caring for the property, etc.).

    This results in the preacher doing the work of the pastors, the pastors doing the work of the deacons, and the frustrated deacons doing nothing but twiddling their fingers!

    This is a most solemn matter, and each congregation should seriously re-evaluate its practices regarding preachers, pastors, and deacons!

    So. Who stands in the pulpit of the local church?

    Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. (teaching the word – feeding – from the pupit, classrooms, homes, ect.) 1 Timothy 5:17

    … so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. John 6:27

    “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” John 21; 15 & 17

    “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and He will feed them; He will feed them Himself and be their shepherd. Ezekiel 34:23

    “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. John 10:11

    But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd; one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. John 10:12
    In the overwhelming number of churches — Isn’t the preacher/evangelist,- just a hireling!? And the ‘so-called’ elders, want it this way!

    Therefore, take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28

    The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. 1 Peter 5:1-4

    The first responsibility of an elder: — feeding God’s flock! After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus instructed His apostles to teach new disciples obedience to His commands (Matt. 28:20).
    The earliest record of church history shows how carefully this was observed as the believers “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching….” (Acts 2:42).

    Paul’s parting words to the elders at Ephesus in Acts 20 as he was looking back, he reminds them:
    “I Have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (vs. 27), then exhorts them to follow his example; “Take heed . . . to feed the church of God” (vs. 28).
    (Notice — he didn’t say hire — or tell — the evangelist to do this job! — Notice also in this passage the he did not call on the evangelist or deacons!)

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  5. OGINNI MOSES says:

    I’m blessed by this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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