Bible Question:

What is the difference between an elder and an evangelist? What is the difference between them in a non-denomination church/ministry?

Bible Answer:

We will define the terms in the context of their New Testament usage since the terms have been distorted in our modern culture. In fact, some churches do not have elders. In the early church, the term elder referred to a godly leader of the Christian church. An elder was a male (1 Tim. 3:2) who had to satisfy high standards of spiritual maturity as outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Their spiritual maturity was given to them by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28). The Holy Spirit literally made them elders by imparting unusual spiritual maturity and giving the spiritual gifts of teaching (Rom. 12:7) and leading (Rom. 12:8). Their primary function was to lead the church and teach the scriptures. Each church had many elders and not just one individual who led the church.

In contrast with the biblical standard, modern day elders are sometimes organizers who view their role as following business principles and watching the money. Their knowledge of the scriptures is sometimes limited and sometimes they lack the ability to teach effectively. For more information visit Recovering The Pattern of Biblical Leadership.

Evangelists are men and women who have a God-given spiritual gift that enables them to share the good news about Jesus Christ in an extraordinary way (Eph 4:11). They have a special ability that is given to them by the Holy Spirit. The scriptures tell us that Philip, one of the seven deacons in Acts 6:5, was also an evangelist (Acts 21:8).


An elder can also be an evangelist. May the Lord bless you.

Suggested Links:

Patterns of Godly Leadership
God's Design for the Church
What do we do with spiritual gifts?
Searching For God