How do gatherers compare to evangelists? Is one better than the other for church planting or discipleship?
An evangelist is a gifted person Jesus has given to the church (Ephesians 4:11-16). Evangelists are men and women who incessantly share the gospel. They cannot help it; they must tell people about Jesus.
A gatherer is a person who connects with Jesus’ mission with great passion and personal integrity. His passion brings people into the church.
Evangelists and gatherers are focused on the same outcome – helping people who do not know Jesus Christ come to know Him. This is where they are most similar.
They are also similar in that they know how to build or plant churches, putting the gospel and subsequently churches where they are not.
However, evangelists and gatherers are different in three fundamental ways. First, evangelists tend not to self-identify as evangelists. They simply do not see themselves as such in the context of the local church.
Gatherers, on the other hand, do regularly self-identify with the work. When I notice a gatherer, speak with him and cast vision, he typically responds, “Yes, I can do that. Love to.”
Second, evangelists keep moving. If an evangelist speaks to an individual who does not receive the message, the evangelist moves on to the next person. He does not hang around to continue the conversation. Gatherers, by training and by nature, continue to work in the same harvest field. They keep a regular contact with the people targeted to bring into the church.
Finally, evangelists do not tend to hang around in local churches. There are many reasons for this transience, and I am not making a judgment, just an observation as to how they function.
Gatherers, by contrast, are not “vocational” as church planters, so are not lured away to another plant. Gatherers are those who live in their city or town or region and continue to work there for Jesus.
Excerpted from Gathering to Movement, pp58-60.
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