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Blog , Missions

The Difference Between Missionaries & Evangelists


Written by julia.oates

I came to the realization a few weeks ago that many people don’t understand the difference between missionaries and evangelists, so I decided to research the differences between the two and wanted to share what I found.

What is the difference between missionary and evangelist? A missionary is sent out from a church or missions organization to a different country and culture to spread the Gospel, whereas an evangelist is called to serve God’s Word and the message of salvation within the local church.

To better understand, here are 3 main differences and an in-depth description of a missionary and evangelist.

3 Differences Between Missionaries & Evangelists

While missionaries and evangelists both share the Gospel, the way they share and who they share it to is very different. Here are three main differences:

  1. Missionaries are overseas and evangelists are in their own country
  2. Missionaries have to learn a new language and culture
  3. Evangelist preach, typically to large crowds of people with the Gospel message

Now that you know the differences, here is a description of a missionary and evangelist jobs:

Comparing What Missionaries & Evangelists Do


  • Shares Gospel Overseas in a new culture.
  • Sent out from their church or missions organization.
  • Perform ministries, such as education & healthcare.


  • Shares Gospel in their country.
  • Spread the message of Jesus Christ by preaching.
  • Try to convert people into receiving salvation.

Now, let’s look at the specifics of what missionaries and evangelists do and examples of both.

What is a Missionary?

A missionary is someone sent out from a church or a local missionary to live in a new culture to bring the people there the message of the Gospel. They are called by God to leave their home and journey to a new country.

Missionaries work to fulfill the Great Commission Jesus gave in Matthew 28:18-20, which says,

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

They long for every nation to know who Jesus is and receive salvation. They make disciples and train them as to how to live out their faith.

Missionaries typically use their ministries as a form of outreach within their community. Here are examples of ministry missionaries do:

  • Education for children & college for young adults
  • Creating a local business to help the economy & provide jobs
  • Training pastors
  • Human trafficking prevention, rescue, and healing programs

Missionaries use ministry as a way to share the Gospel. They are brave people who are willing to lay down their life for the sake of the Gospel.

Examples of missionaries can be found in the Bible. One of the most famous examples is Paul.

Paul – A Biblical Example of A Missionary

Paul was a follower of Jesus whose mission was to reach the Gentiles and to disciple churches. His three missionary journeys can be found in the book of Acts.

Paul’s first missionary journey took him to Cryus, the Asai Minor, Iconium, and Lystra. While in the Asia Minor, Paul started preaching in synagogues and his message wasn’t well received by the Jews.

On the following Sabbath, Paul and Barnabas returned to the same synagogue and Acts 13:45 says, “When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.”

Since Paul could no longer share his message with the Jews, he shifted and began preaching to the Gentiles. The persecution against him from the Jews became so bad that he was forced to leave.

Later on his journey, Paul was in Lystra when he healed a man who lame. Jews came and stoned him and brought his body outside of the city to leave him to die.

Paul survived and journeyed back to Antioch. Acts 14:27 says, “On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”

You can read about Paul’s other two missionary journeys in Acts.

Paul traveled over 10,000 miles to reach people with the message of the Gospel. Persecution and being stoned did not stop him from sharing the message of Jesus Christ. His life is an example to missionaries today on how to lay your own life down and serve God with everything you have.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8 – Paul the Apostle

What is an Evangelist?

An evangelist is a person who preaches the Gospel. They are called by Christ to serve Him by preaching. Their goal is to preach the Gospel in an effective way that people can understand and ultimately lead them to salvation.

They are gathering the harvest that Jesus speaks about in Luke 10:2, which says,

And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

Evangelists work to share the Good News to people within their culture. They are dedicated to sharing how Jesus Christ died for our sins and providing people with the opportunity to hear this story.

Billy Graham – Modern Day Example of an Evangelist

Billy Graham is one of the most well known American evangelists. His simple message of sin and salvation touched the lives of billions of people. It’s estimated that over 2 billion people heard his preaching.

During the early years of his career, he served on staff at Youth in Christ and two years later, became the President of North-Western Bible College in Saint Paul Minnesota.

He is famous for his crusades which took place from 1947-2005. During 1949, he held a three-week crusade in Los Angeles. This crusade is when the media began talking about him. Graham said, “Suddenly, what a clergyman was saying was in the headlines everywhere, and so was the box score of commitments to Christ each night.”

From there he took his crusades all over the US and into parts of Canada and South America. He had 417 crusades in all.

The crusades were revival meetings. They took place in stadiums, under tents, or in parks. They always ended the same way, with an altar call for people to come forward and dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ and accept salvation.

Billy Graham passed away in February of 2018. His legacy lives on to this day. He started the magazine Christianity Today, wrote 33 books, and was on television and radio shows all across America during his lifetime. He is remembered for his fiery preaching and simple way of presenting the Gospel. He dedicated his life to sharing the Gospel.

God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ’I love you.’

Billy Graham

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