17 Feb God’s Plan: An Evangelist & Eldership Team
God’s plan is for evangelists and elders to work as a team to build His churches and advance the Gospel.
We find clear teachings and examples in God’s Word that elders and evangelists are to serve as partners in building God’s churches. After the resurrection of Christ, God used both roles to build His churches and advance the Gospel. Let’s take a look at a few examples of this partnership in scripture.
When Jesus came to see Peter after His resurrection, He urged Peter to shepherd His sheep and feed His flock:
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17)
Peter later became an elder, and he urged others among God’s people to become elders (1 Peter 5:1-4). Earlier on, Peter also preached the Gospel and served as an evangelist, as we see in Acts 2:14-41. As God used Peter as both an evangelist and an elder, so He will use both elders and evangelists to build His churches.
In John 10:11-18, Jesus pointed out that He Himself was a shepherd. In scripture, shepherds are also identified as elders. Just as Jesus was both a preacher and a shepherd, we also need preachers and elders to lead us today! We need leaders to inspire us in sharing the Gospel, and we need leaders to shepherd us in loving one one another and in growing spiritually.
When the apostle Paul became an evangelist he and Barnabas went out together to preach, win disciples, and plant churches (Acts 13-14:20). Whenever they started a new church, they soon came back to appoint elders:
They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch,
strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. (Acts 14:21-23)
Paul also encouraged his fellow evangelists to appoint elders (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9).
So what does all this teach us? It shows us that God’s plan is for evangelists and elders to work together to advance the Gospel and strengthen His churches. Evangelists focus much of their attention on advancing the Gospel, although they also work to build a stronger, more loving church. Elders focus most deeply on building a loving, stronger church, although they are also concerned with advancing the Gospel. Both roles share in two important missions, but they each pay special attention in specific areas. Both roles are vital, and they work best when they serve in partnership with each other. When evangelists and elders work in harmony, as a team, God’s church grows in numbers and in maturity and love.
Elders and evangelists, let us commit to working together as a warm, wise, and supportive team. As we do so, God’s church will grow in faith, righteousness, and love, and will advance the Gospel in great ways!