So, after a lot of thought, here's what "Evangelist" means to us:
Philip was an Evangelist. He was one of the Grecian Jews, known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom, wait on tables, making it possible for the word of God to spread (Acts 6). During the persecution of the church after Stephen's death, Philip "proclaimed the Christ" in Samaria (breaking that barrier) and "told the good news about Jesus" to a eunich from Ethiopia (breaking that barrier); all his proclamation and telling leading to "great joy" and "rejoicing" (Acts 8). He then disappears from the limelight for years.
Now, what makes Philip an Evangelist? Am I importing the title onto him? By all mean, no.
The word "Evangelist" (in the Greek: "euaggelistes" if you're Greek and wonder how to say that in your mother tongue) appears in the Bible only 3 times and only once as a title given to a specific person. Can you guess who that specific person was?
"Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. (Acts 21:8)" He's mentioned in passing as Paul was passing through Caesarea (Acts 21). He was "the evangelist."
You might be wondering, at this point, if Philip was "the evangelist," how the title was passed on to Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Rick Warren, and you and me. Maybe it has to do with the other two mentions (see how we're building a definitional picture from Scripture? Start with Scripture and then account for common assumptions): Ephesians 4:11 and 2 Timothy 4:5.
Ephesians 4:11 won't get you there, at least, not necessarily. As Paul builds his cosmic theology of the Church and unfolds the beautiful theology of our union with Christ, he touches on some of the gifts Christ has given to us: apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers and, yes, evangelists. These people are Christ's gift to the church.
But some were given to be Evangelists, not all. "He walks among us, but is not one of us" (do you know the quote without cheating?). But I'm going to come out on Thursday and say that we're all supposed to be Evangelists, in one sense of the word.
Will I be contradicting God's Word? If not, why not?
The answer will have to wait for "Manana, manana, manana is soon enough for me." Thanks, Peggy Lee.