What is the DIfference Between an Evangelist & Apostle? Part 2

Open door

[This is part of a series called “What is the difference between an evangelist and an apostle?” check out the other posts here]

In response to my post about the difference between and apostle and evangelist, Bob Mullins had this to say,

So then an apostle starts new things… with what? Paul went to new territories & started churches amongst pagans…. so how did they become followers of Jesus if not by hearing the Gospel evangelistically from Paul ? I think you have these two gifts confused. An Evangelist causes the church to grow out…by winning people to Christ…but lack the ability to mature them….the apostle establishes them and puts authority & leadership in place that enables them (now the church) to grow up….apostles usually operate in all of the five-fold ministries mentioned in Eph 4.

I think Bob brings up a great point here and I agree with much of what he says, but I have a few things I would push back on.

Some people are apostolic and evangelistic

When Bob asks “how did they become followers of Jesus if not by hearing the gospel evangelistically from Paul?” I would say that of course Paul was acting as an evangelist in these settings. Paul was an evangelist and an apostle. We see the evangelist very clearly in Acts 17 and we see the apostle, well, everywhere.

Every calling in the five fold has to act inside of and use the other functions many times. Just because you are an apostle doesn’t mean you don’t ever have to shepherd or teach or be prophetic. But my point in calling is that we tend to have one or two primary callings that we are to focus our energy towards. I may be a good teacher of the word but my ability to start new communities or my burden for the extension of the Kingdom is just that much greater. As part of a team or community I need to be released to focus on the apostolic with most of my time. Paul had to evangelize the people and that was right. He was obviously very gifted at it as we see throughout Acts. This doesn’t mean that being an apostle and evangelist are the same. It just means Paul acted in both during his ministry.

Apostles open the door, while evangelists fill the room

Apostles open the door to new communities and people. They are the primary extenders. They are the ones that kick the door open, crack the iceberg, and make the space. They are the ones that say in the meeting, “we have to start caring about these people and creatively find a way to reach them!” They are the ones that might even take the first step into making relationships with that new group. They break the tension many times.

But the evangelists fill the room. When the door is cracked in a community and relational ways are made with people, evangelists come in and take it to the next level. They get the spiritual conversations going, they end up leading people to Christ that others just have relationships with.

For example, an apostolic person may make an inroad with a street in a neighborhood, or with a group of guys playing basketball at the gym, but the evangelistic people will start joining them and take those relationships to the next level.

I am not saying that evangelists don’t start new communities and that apostles can’t lead people to faith. I am saying that the impulse of the apostolic is to get a new community going, while the impulse of the evangelist is to lead people to faith. Apostles are burdened with extension of the kingdom and evangelists are burdened with conversion and seeing people come to faith. They both have the value for both, but one is more of a burden.

Apostles don’t operate in all the gifts all the time

Every believer if they are committed to the mission of God and following Jesus will have to act in all the five fold callings at different times.

Apostolic: you will have to start something new or care about extending the community

Prophetic: you will have to call the community back to God’s heart or urge them forward into it.

Evangelistic: you will have to lead people to Christ.

Shepherd: you will have to counsel and care for the body

Teacher: you will have to teach the word of God.

But to suggest that apostles are super human or more “gifted” than the other people on earth is preposterous. Many apostles are not shepherds by calling and if they do not have called shepherds helping them, the ministry will explode. Being a called apostle by God does not make you gifted in the other four callings. No way.

But being an apostle does require to you to have to act in the other four at differing times; especially at the beginning of a ministry when it is first planted. This may be where Bob was aiming. But as the ministry matures and more people join in, it is the role of the apostle to call others into the proper places and fill out the roles. They need to empower others to step up and into the their callings. The apostle should never do them all!

How does this help you understand the five-fold ministry better? Leave a response and I may just respond!

[This is part of a series called “What is the difference between an evangelist and an apostle?” check out the other posts here]

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About Beau Crosetto

Beau is the author of "Beyond Awkward: when talking about Jesus is outside your comfort zone". He is called by God is to raise up and release people that want to start new ministries (apostolic) as well as people that want to share their faith (evangelists). He currently is the Greater Los Angeles Director for Greek InterVarsity and in charge of specifically seeing new Greek (fraternity & sorority) InterVarsity chapters start on college campuses. Beau is married to Kristina and they have three kids: Noah (7), Sophia (5) and Wesley (3).


  1. Hi Beau, I’ve been wondering lately if it’s just the A.P.E. gifts that are under-represented in church leadership. With such enormous emphasis on teaching (usually in the form of public speaking), I’m skeptical that “shepherding” is really being done well (if at all) in our public gatherings. Surely a “Shepherd” gifting might not just be displayed in handshakes and hugs, but in facilitation, and setting up environments for participation and relationship development. My experience of participatory church services (what we call “church in a circle”) have shown me what skillful “shepherding” can look like – and it’s not something I’ve seen often in conventional church services.

    Just a thought.

    Blessings in your writing and ministry,

    – Kathleen

    • I am sure the shepherding gift needs development. All of them do. That is great that you are seeing that and wanting to develop it more. We need more of those people activated well!

  2. Hey Beau,

    I wonder if this conversation is getting a little muddled because of the difference between typologies (APEST) and missiology (how the church pursues mission in a particular context. Typologies are useful leadership tools. They simplify. They focus action. Missiology is complex and contextual. There is overlap of course, but I’d say that the APEST typology is a good tool but I think it breaks down if expected to carry the full theological weight missiology needs to fill in.

    Just a thought.


    • What is an example of what you are trying to say? What do you mean by “missiology filling the rest in”? I think APEST is helpful to know how to create a team so the full body of Christ is moving in mission. I see missiology as the big umbrella and calling for the church. We are all sent. But inside that we need to carry out our callings as sent people and I think APEST is helpful as one tool. We all have different “sent” roles to play…APEST.

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