What is an evangelist?
An evangelist is a person who is reaching out to new people with the Gospel, is trained by the district or by a local ministry according to district-established or mutually agreed upon training guidelines, and is not an ordained or commissioned minister of the LCMS.
Why do we have evangelists and what are they doing?
The Texas District has seen an influx of lay leaders engaged in mission during the past few years. As momentum for church planting and Gospel outreach have increased, both men and women have been reaching out in their communities with the love and Good News of Jesus. Examples of an evangelist ministry include:
- Lay-organized Vacation Bible Schools in neighborhoods from Dallas to San Antonio to Del Rio to the Big Bend Region;
- Outreach in refugee apartment complexes to Muslim women by a former Muslim woman;
- Establishing home Bible studies in neighborhoods;
- Street outreach to homeless youth;
- Evangelistic outreach in oil boom communities;
- Hosting ESL classes, becoming language partners, and connecting with international students and refugees;
- Spearheading disaster response efforts that help share the Gospel; and
- Starting neighborhood “coffee houses” to show Christ’s love to neighbors
What motivated the development of evangelist training?
In addition to seeing a surge of laypeople who are serious about devoting time, energy and resources to reaching others with the Gospel, Texas District MMFs also heard the desire for instruction and training from lay people engaged in outreach.
Are evangelists being developed in other places?
Even though the culture seems to be drifting away from the church in the United States, the Christian faith is multiplying in the global south. Lay movements, led by evangelists in places like the Lutheran Church in Ethiopia, are sharing the Gospel with family, friends and communities.
Has this ever been done before?
Historically, the LCMS deployed evangelists not only in the international mission field, but also for outreach efforts in United States.
Where does the LCMS stand on the development of evangelists?
Just a few years ago, the LCMS Task Force that evaluated the Licensed Lay Deacon ministry recommended a renewed emphasis on lay training and the development of the role of evangelist. Recommendation 7 of the 2013 Resolution 4-06A Task Force Report to the Synod stated:
District lay training programs are to be commended with thanksgiving for the many willing lay servants who seek further theological education and desire to serve in various capacities in their congregations. The task force recommends that a major emphasis in lay training programs be placed on the role of evangelist and the task of outreach in the increasingly diverse and challenging world of the U.S. (p.24)
At the 2016 LCMS convention, resolution 13-01A, “To Extol and Equip the Blessed Partnership between the Royal Priesthood and the Office of the Public Ministry,” was adopted. It resolved, in part:
That The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod give thanks for district, university, and college-based lay training programs and the many willing lay servants who have sought to further their theological education and desire to serve in the work and mission of the Lord’s Church; and be it further
Resolved, That such lay training programs continue their work and include a major emphasis on evangelism and the task of outreach, as well as mercy, education, visitation, and so forth in our increasingly diverse and challenging cultural context; and be it further
Resolved, That congregations and districts be encouraged to identify individuals for special training in and attention to evangelism and outreach; and be it further
Resolved, That congregations and districts be encouraged to facilitate lay training on both local and district levels and to establish new opportunities for lay people to make use of their gifts in evangelism and service to the church; and be it further
Resolved, That districts be encouraged to provide assistance and support for lay training (Proceedings of the 66th Regular Convention, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, 235-236).
Resolution 13-02A, “To Regularize Status of Licensed Lay Deacons Involved in Word and Sacrament Ministry,” was also adopted. It stated in part:
Resolved, That district presidents may continue to recruit, train, and credential new deacons for general varieties of service in the church that do not include public preaching and administration of the Sacraments (Proceedings of the 66th Regular Convention, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, 238).
What is the Texas District doing in response to these resolutions?
The Texas District LCMS is piloting an evangelist training coursework. After consulting with several congregations and receiving written course modules from a number of district pastors, a beta training program has been initiated. “Evangelist 101” consists of basic catechesis and lessons that help the evangelist engage the community with the Gospel.
The hope is to develop four training courses and, in partnership with churches and networks, to deploy a growing number of servant-leaders who will forge relationships and reach communities with the saving message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
Who will teach these courses?
After the initial training course is established, the hope is to train trainers in order to multiply the development of evangelists throughout Texas District communities.
Is outreach by laypeople rooted in the Scriptures and Confessions?
The apostle Peter said to followers of Christ in 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV). This verse is foundational to what the church calls “the priesthood of all believers.” As the Lutheran Confessions state, “The keys [the office of the keys, the authority to forgive sins] were given to the church and not merely to certain individuals” (Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, 68).
The Confessions laud the Christian life, a life that glorifies God and blesses others with His love and grace. The Augsburg Confession summarized what true Christian perfection is: “Honestly to fear God and at the same time to have great faith and to trust that for Christ’s sake we have a gracious God; to ask of God, and assuredly to expect from him, help in all things which are to be borne in connection with our callings; meanwhile to be diligent in the performance of good works for others and to attend to our calling” (AC XXXVII, 49).
The Large Catechism describes how the Holy Christian Church, the community of Christian people, is used by the Holy Spirit to spread the blessings of faith: “By it [the Holy Spirit] creates and increases sanctification, causing it daily to grow and become strong in faith and in the fruits of the Spirit” (LC, Part 2, 53).
Dr. Martin Luther, as quoted in the Formula of Concord, extols the life of faith in God’s people: “Oh, faith is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, so that it is impossible for it not to be constantly doing what is good…This the Holy Spirit works by faith, and therefore without any coercion a man is willing and desirous to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything for the love of God and to his glory, who has been so gracious to him” (FC, Solid Declaration, Article IV, 10-12).
Who can I contact if I am interested or have additional questions?
If you have any questions about the lay-evangelist training efforts, please contact Rev. Dr. Yohannes Mengsteab.
Please complete the training application, sign, and mail to:
Office of the President
Texas District, LCMS
7900 East Hwy 290
Austin, TX 78724