The Four Evangelists

In Christianity, evangelism or witnessing is the act of preaching the gospel with the intention of sharing the message and teachings of Jesus Christ. It is sometimes associated with Christian missions.

Christians who specialize in evangelism are often known as evangelists, whether they are in their home communities or living as missionaries in the field, although some Christian traditions refer to such people as missionaries in either case. Some Christian traditions consider evangelists to be in a leadership position; they may be found preaching to large meetings or in governance roles. In addition, Christian groups who encourage evangelism are sometimes known as evangelistic or evangelist.


Main article: The gospel

The word evangelist comes from the Koine Greek word εὐανγέλιον (transliterated as euangelion) via Latinised evangelium as used in the canonical titles of the Four Gospels, authored by (or attributed to) Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (also known as the Four Evangelists). The Greek word εὐαγγέλιον originally meant a reward given to the messenger for good news (εὔ = "good", ἀνγέλλω = "I bring a message"; the word "angel" comes from the same root) and later "good news" itself.

The verb form of euangelion,[1] (translated as "evangelism"), occurs rarely in older Greek literature outside the New Testament, making its meaning more difficult to ascertain. Parallel texts of the Gospels of Luke and Mark reveal a synonymous relationship between the verb euangelizo (εὑαγγελίζω) and a Greek verb kerusso (κηρύσσω), which means "to proclaim".[2]


See also: Approaches to evangelism

Billy Graham in Düsseldorf (1954)

Evangelism can include preaching or distributing bibles, tracts, newspapers and/or magazines, by the media, street evangelists, etc.[3][4][5] The Bible records that Jesus sent out his disciples to evangelize by visiting peoples homes in pairs of two believers (cf. Luke 10:1–12).[6] In the same text, Jesus mentioned that few people were willing to evangelize, despite there being many people who would be receptive to his Gospel message.[7]

The child evangelism movement is a Christian evangelism movement that originated in the 20th century. It focuses on the 4/14 Window which centers on evangelizing children between the ages of 4 and 14 years old.[8] Beginning in the 1970s, a group of Christian athletes known as The Power Team spawned an entire genre of Christian entertainment based on strong-man exploits mixed with a Christian message and usually accompanied by an opportunity to respond with a prayer for salvation.[9] New opportunities for evangelism have been provided in recent decades by increased travel opportunities and by instant communications over the internet.[10]

Instant chalk board drawings (while storytelling), using bright poster chalk on large boards, along with ventriloquism and humor, have also been used in schools and churches and at beaches and river banks. In the 90's (and now in the 2000's) Geoffrey Moran of Australia uses these "old school" methods as they are now new again for both children and adults. Ventriloquism is also returning to radio in the Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy style.

World Youth Day, an evangelistic event, in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2013.

Missionary work

Further information: Christian mission


Main article: New evangelization


In 1831, the Presbyterian Mission Agency was founded by the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.[11]


Passion Conferences, a music and evangelism festival at Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, in 2013

Further information: Evangelicalism

Various evangelical mission organizations have specialized in evangelism throughout history. In 1792, BMS World Mission was founded in Kettering, England by William Carey.[12][13] In 1814, the American Baptist International Ministries was founded by the American Baptist Churches USA in United States.[14] In 1865, OMF International was founded by Hudson Taylor in England.[15] In 1893, in Lagos in Nigeria, SIM was founded by Walter Gowans, Rowland Bingham, and Thomas Kent.[16] Samuel E. Hill, John H. Nicholson, and William J. Knights founded Gideons International, an organization which distributes free Bibles to hotels, motels, hospitals, military bases, prisons, schools, and universities, in Janesville in Wisconsin, United States, in 1899.[17]

In 1922, Canadian evangelical evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the Foursquare Church, was the first woman to use radio to reach a wider audience in the United States.[18] In 1951, producer Dick Ross and Baptist evangelist Billy Graham founded the film production company World Wide Pictures, which would make videos of his preaching and Christian films.[19]

In 1960, more than half of the Protestant American missionaries were evangelical.[20] American and European Pentecostal missionaries are also numerous, Pentecostalism can develop independently by non-foreign residents in various regions of the world, notably in Africa, South America, and Asia.[21] Youth with a Mission was founded in 1960 in United States by Loren Cunningham and his wife Darlene.[22][23]

The Christian Broadcasting Network was founded in 1961 in Virginia Beach, United States, by Baptist minister Pat Robertson.[24]

In 1974, Billy Graham and the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization organized the First International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne.[25] In 2004, South Korea became the second-largest source of missionaries in the world, after the United States and ahead of England.[26][27]

In July 1999, TopChrétien, an evangelical Christian web portal and social network, was launched by Éric Célérier, pastor of the Assemblies of God of France and Estelle Martin.[28] In January 2007, GodTube, a site for sharing videos related to Christianity, especially evangelical, was founded by Christopher Wyatt of Plano, Texas in the United States, then a student at Dallas Theological Seminary.[29]

In 2007, there were over 10,000 Baptist missionaries in overseas missions around the world.[30]


Some consider evangelism to be proselytising, while others argue it is merely free speech.[31][32][33] The fact that evangelicals speak about their faith in public is sometimes criticized by the media and it is often associated with proselytism.[32] According to the evangelicals, freedom of religion and freedom of expression allow them to discuss their faith like they would discuss other topics.[33]

Christian films made by American evangelical production companies are also regularly associated with proselytism.[34][35] According to Sarah-Jane Murray, screenwriting teacher at the US Film and Christian Television Commission United, Christian films are works of art, not proselytism.[36] For Hubert de Kerangat, communications manager at SAJE Distribution, a distributor of these American Christian films in France, if Christian films are considered proselytism, all films are a form of proselytism, since films of all genres could each be said to carry a message.[37]

See also


  1. ^ The 7 Principles of an Evangelistic Life, p. 32, Douglas M. Cecil, Moody Publishers
  2. ^ Bible as a Second Language Archived 2008-12-01 at the Wayback Machine, webpage, retrieved November 5, 2008
  3. ^ Roswith Gerloff, Afe Adogame, Klaus Hock, Christianity in Africa and the African Diaspora: The Appropriation of a Scattered Heritage, Continuum, UK, 2011, p. 190
  4. ^ George Thomas Kurian, James D. Smith III, The Encyclopedia of Christian Literature, Volume 2, Scarecrow Press, US, 2010, p. 95
  5. ^ Martin I. Klauber, Scott M. Manetsch, Erwin W. Lutzer, The Great Commission: Evangelicals and the History of World Missions, B&H Publishing Group, US, 2008, p. 123
  6. ^ Rainer, Thom S. (1989). Evangelism in the twenty-first century: the critical issues. H. Shaw Publishers. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-87788-238-1.
  7. ^ Muzorewa, Abel Tendekayi (1 December 2005). Evangelism That Decolonizes the Soul: Partnership with Christ. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-59752-445-2.
  8. ^ Luis Bush (June 18, 2013). "4/14 Window - a Golden Age of Opportunity" (PDF). 4/14 Movement. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-14.
  9. ^ "Coming on strong: Power Team lifts weights and spirits". 30 July 2004.
  10. ^ Dulles SJ, Avery. Evangelization for the Third Millennium (Kindle Locations 781-782). Paulist Press.
  11. ^ Parker, Michael (2012). "History of World Mission". Presbyterian Historical Society. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  12. ^ Robert E. Johnson, A Global Introduction to Baptist Churches, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2010, p. 99
  13. ^ J. Gordon Melton and Martin Baumann, Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, ABC-CLIO, US, 2010, p. 292
  14. ^ George Thomas Kurian, Mark A. Lamport, Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States, Volume 5, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2016, p. 63
  15. ^ Mark A. Lamport, Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South, Volume 2, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2018, p. 148
  16. ^ J. Gordon Melton and Martin Baumann, Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, ABC-CLIO, USA, 2010, p. 2738
  17. ^ George Thomas Kurian, Mark A. Lamport, Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States, Volume 5, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2016, p. 962
  18. ^ Christopher H. Sterling, Biographical Encyclopedia of American Radio, Routledge, USA, 2013, p. 253
  19. ^ John Lyden, The Routledge Companion to Religion and Film, Taylor & Francis, Abingdon-on-Thames, 2009, p. 82
  20. ^ Samuel S. Hill, Charles H. Lippy, Charles Reagan Wilson, Encyclopedia of Religion in the South, Mercer University Press, USA, 2005, p. 304
  21. ^ Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity, Cambridge University Press, Royaume-Uni, 2013, p. 175
  22. ^ Brian Stiller, Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century, Thomas Nelson, USA, 2015, p. 22
  23. ^ Erwin Fahlbusch, Geoffrey William Bromiley, The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 3 , Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, USA, 2003, p. 584
  24. ^ Randall Herbert Balmer, Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism: Revised and expanded edition, Baylor University Press, USA, 2004, p. 157
  25. ^ Mark A. Lamport, Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South, Volume 2, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2018, p. 451
  26. ^ NORIMITSU ONISHI, Korean Missionaries Carrying Word to Hard-to-Sway Places,, USA, 1er novembre 2004
  27. ^ Quentin J. Schultze, Robert Herbert Woods Jr., Understanding Evangelical Media: The Changing Face of Christian Communication, InterVarsity Press, USA, 2009, p. 244
  28. ^ Michel Béghin, Ce jour-là, le 15 juillet 1999, naît le Top Chrétien Archived 2021-10-04 at the Wayback Machine,, Switzerland, February 15, 2015
  29. ^ Heidi Campbell, When Religion Meets New Media, Routledge, Abingdon-on-Thames, 2010, p. 191
  30. ^ William H. Brackney, Historical Dictionary of the Baptists, Scarecrow Press, USA, 2009, p. 391
  31. ^ La Croix, "Le pape François dénonce la confusion entre évangélisation et prosélytisme à l'approche du mois missionnaire extraordinaire", France, August 1, 2019.
  32. ^ a b Jean-Paul Willaime et Flora Genoux, "Pour les évangéliques, l'idée reste qu'être croyant, cela doit se voir",, France, February 3, 2012.
  33. ^ a b Loup Besmond de Senneville, "Les Protestants évangéliques revendiquent d'avoir le droit de dire leur foi",, France, January 25, 2015.
  34. ^ Barry Hertz, "Miracles from Heaven: Religious film has an insulting and forced message", The Globe and Mail, Canada, April 18, 2014.
  35. ^ Nick Schager, "Film Review: 'Overcomer'", Variety, US, August 22, 2019.
  36. ^ Carl Hoover, "Has Hollywood finally found religion? Faith-based films here to stay", Waco Tribune-Herald, US, April 18, 2014.
  37. ^ Thomas Imbert, "SAJE Distribution : rencontre avec ce distributeur centré sur la foi",, France, January 9, 2019.