AskDefine | Define evangelism

Dictionary Definition

evangelism n : zealous preaching and advocacy of the gospel

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Sharing news of something in order to convince someone to join or otherwise accept it. The process of evangelizing.

Extensive Definition

see also Evangelical Evangelism is the Christian practice of proselytization. The intention of most evangelism is to effect eternal salvation to those who do not follow the Christian God; others believe it is to inform others about the Kingdom of God. Evangelism is done in obedience to the Great Commission, a command from Jesus to his disciples to proselytize, as recorded in the New Testament. Christians who specialize in evangelism are known as evangelists, whether in their home communities or as missionaries. Some Christian traditions consider evangelists to be in a leadership position, and they may be found preaching to large meetings, and in governance roles. Christian groups who actively encourage evangelism are sometimes known as evangelistic or evangelist.
The communication of Christian faith to new geographical areas and cultures is often referred to as evangelization, or specifically, world evangelization.

Etymology of evangelism and evangelist

The word evangelist comes from the Koine Greek word (transliterated as "euangelion") via Latin "Evangelium", as used in the canonical titles of the four Gospels, authored by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (also known as the Four Evangelists). The Greek word originally meant a reward for good news given to the messenger ( = "good", = "I bring a message"; the word angel is of the same root) and later "good news". The latter term gives rise to the word "Gospel".
Our modern word "Gospel" comes from the old English word, "Godspell." In old English "spell" meant "word" (we carry this meaning also in our word "spelling"). So in other words "Godspell" meant, "God word" or "Word of God." Therefore the Gospel is the good news found in the Word of God.

Evangelism or 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
On the other hand, converting Christians (e.g., Orthodox) who are not churchgoers to another Christian denomination is commonly seen as evangelism, not proselytism.
Catholic missionary work in Russia 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 CDF issued document called "Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization" 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 ..."

Reasons for Evangelism

According to the Christian Bible, during his last days on earth Jesus commanded his disciples as follows:
Other translations render the phrase “teach all nations” in the above quotation as “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus is also quoted in the Gospel of Mark saying
These are two main passages of the New Testament from God that commands everyone who believes in Christ Jesus to preach the Gospel.


Sometimes, the regular minister of a church is called a preacher in a way that other groups would typically use the term pastor. 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 on the street. 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 Web enables anyone to become an Internet evangelist.
The term is also used in a non-religious sense to describe an individual who takes up a cause and convinces others to it (see technology evangelist). Guy Kawasaki, an author and venture capitalist, describes evangelists as individuals who promote a particular product. At Apple Computer, he was part of a team of Apple evangelists that convinced programmers to develop software on the Macintosh Platform. In The Human Fabric (Aviri, 2004), Bijoy Goswami describes the "Evangelist" as one of three core energies in people and society.

Perspectives on evangelism

seealso Approaches to evangelism Though there is some controversy concerning missionary activity and possible implications of "cultural imperialism", Christian D. T. Niles characterised evangelism as "… one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread." Many modern TV "evangelists" are prone to scandal, like Jimmy Swaggart and several were under investigation in 2007 by the U.S. congress for their lavish lifestyles. Like any religious leaders, they are also capable of great harm, like Jim Jones and the famous religion-inspired Guyana massacre.
Ray Comfort is, by some definitions, an evangelist best known for his sermon "Hell's Best Kept Secret" and his ministries of Living Waters and Way of the Master, formed with Kirk Cameron.

Evangelism and missions

Throughout most of its history, Christianity has been spread evangelistically, though the extent of evangelism has varied significantly between Christian communities and denominations. Evangelism and apostolic ministry often go hand in hand. As mentioned earlier, evangelism comes from the Ancient Greek εὐαγγέλιον (evangelion) meaning good news, often translated gospel; thus an evangelist is one who shares the "good news". An ἀπόστολος (apostolos) is literally "one who goes" and refers to the missionary calling. 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.


evangelism in Czech: Evangelizace
evangelism in German: Evangelisation
evangelism in Spanish: Evangelización
evangelism in French: Expansion du christianisme du Ve siècle au XVe siècle
evangelism in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Evangelisation
evangelism in Hebrew: אוונגליזם
evangelism in Dutch: Evangelisatie
evangelism in Japanese: 福音伝道
evangelism in Norwegian: Evangelisering
evangelism in Polish: Ewangelizacja
evangelism in Portuguese: Evangelização
evangelism in Simple English: Evangelism
evangelism in Slovak: Evanjelizácia
evangelism in Finnish: Evankeliointi
evangelism in Turkish: Evanjelizm
evangelism in Chinese: 傳福音
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1