Doubling as pastor/evangelist

The wall that separates a sensitive pastor from a successful evangelist is not so formidable as some might imagine.

Walter Pearson

Many outstanding ministers have blended the skills of the evangelist with those of the pastor. They creatively infuse the worship services with all the positive elements of an evangelistic crusade. The combination has the potential to enhance the spiritual lives of church members regardless of the particular demographic profile of the congregation. This rare breed includes ministers whose peculiar talent mix enables them to double as pastor/evangelists genuine "switch hitters" who are able to wear one title and then another, depending on what the situation requires.

The wall that separates a sensitive pastor from a successful evangelist is not so formidable as some might imagine. There are qualities that both pastors and evangelists ought to possess. Each must have a genuine love for people and be able to demonstrate God's love for their fellow beings. Additionally, they must be able to see the big picture. "The Lord has need of all kinds of skillful workmen. 'And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ' (Eph. 4:11, 12). . . . Each worker in every branch of work in the Lord's vineyard must have a head and a heart sanctified through the truth to enable him to see not merely the part of the work which is under his supervision, but its relation to the great whole. When the workers are consecrated to God they will reveal the love of God for their brethren who work under the unseen, divine Master Worker. 'We are labourers together with God' (1 Cor. 3:9)."*

One key to mastering these related gifts is to understand an important difference: one gift requires the flexibility of a diplomat, while the other assumes a high level of certainty and the unflagging persistence of a field general.

The congregation of yesteryear either preferred or was willing to accept a relatively dogmatic leadership style. The district pastor was often the most well-educated person in the congregation. Accordingly, that person wielded an inordinate amount of influence within and without the church. That authority was rarely challenged.

The paradigm shift

The paradigm has obviously changed. Not only is the pastor less likely to be counted the greatest within the congregation in terms of experience and educational accomplishments, but increasingly talents and gifts that are germane to the success of the organization are recognized among the members of a congregation. The pastor/ local church administrator had better learn quickly to enlist the assistance of members with various gifts. A successful pastor will seek to identify, involve, train, and empower new leaders. These divergent gifts will usually add to the corporate strength of the church body, but they will also produce occasional friction. The pastor will need to be competent at conflict management and consensus building. Superlative diplomatic skills will complement natural leadership abilities.

The game plan changes when the clarion call to evangelism is heard. The evangelistic crusade and, to a lesser extent, evangelistic flavor within the church program demand giving the trumpet "a certain sound." The leader given to equivocation is not normally suited for the direct confrontation with the archenemy in his traditional territory. Neither is equivocation the element that has characteristically driven evangelistic preaching. In the fierce battle that ensues when the Lord's army seeks to rout the enemy and claim its turf, there is little to be gained from the spirit of compromise that is perfectly appropriate in a pastor's efforts to build bridges between individuals and groups.

Negotiation is the stuff of which treaties are made. It is almost always out of place when the battle is joined. Preparedness, certainty, and confidence are the hallmarks of a successful leader in this spiritual warfare.

The leader who would do well both as a pastor and as an evangelist will need to learn the necessity and efficacy of adaptation. The autocratic district pastor will probably encounter as many difficulties as the leader of an evangelistic team who insists on a consensus management model. It can be something like putting on a baseball uniform to play football. Equipment and skills that are perfectly suited for their intended spheres are disastrous when they're used in the wrong setting.


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Walter Pearson

February 1997

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