Evangelist: Look what they have done with our word!

Headlines today: “Adobe evangelist tells Apple: ‘Go screw yourself'”

I was thinking, maybe the church should ask the business world to give back some of our words because its pretty obvious they dont know the meaning behind the word “evangelist.” Or maybe the Adobe evangelist was just having a bad day.

Wikipedia: The word evangelist comes from the Koine Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (transliterated as “euangelion”) via Latin “Evangelium”, as used in the canonical titles of the four Gospels, authored by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (also known as the Four Evangelists). The Greek word εὐαγγέλιον originally meant a reward for good news given to the messenger (εὔ = “good”, ἀγγέλλω = “I bring a message”; the word angel is of the same root) and later “good news”.
OK – I guess it was never a church word to start with and maybe the word is in a healthier state now than a few decades ago. Who knows? Although sometimes I worry that the business world has taken the word “professional” so far into their own domain that the church will probably never retrieve it.

Guy Kawasaki did a good job as an “Apple evangelist” when he had that role. He is no longer with Apple but he is still passing out good news about new products and innovations. I met him a few years ago in Las Vegas and he immediately gave me a handful of stickers promoting some new website or application, cant remember what. But Guy was a pretty good evangelist in the business sense of the word. He has some thoughts on “The Art of Evangelism”

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)

7 Comments

  • When I worked with Sun Microsystems in 03-04, one of my colleagues was a “Java evangelist”. It wasn’t his main role, but one of the things he did was tell people how how much trouble and expense they’d be spared if they would invite Java technology into their life.
    Also in the 90s I heard a uni lecturer use the term of himself when he was encouraging students to enrol in his subject. So it’s not a new thing.
    I often use the story “an evangelist rang me”, talking about a telemarketer, my reaction to her and her gospel, and its implications for evangelism today.

  • Uh, Andrew, you know it’s really not our word to begin with. εὐαγγέλιον was co-opted by the early church to poke a finger in the eye of the Caesar cult. Whenever news of Caesar was delivered it was “good news” and you didn’t want to use the term otherwise unless you had no fear of being considered guilty of treason.

  • Mathew, Mark Luke and John was called the evangelists because they were the one spreading the good news. The good news in their times is like advertising. Advertising whatever beliefs they have. Same as in the business world today. They have evangelists in which we can also call sales man or the ones in charge for advertising.

  • I travel with a real evangelist for the true good news, and I think that using the word is an afront to those who are truly serving in this gift. Maybe it’s time for evangelists to get some good press, so the world won’t confuse us with the “apple evangelist” and others

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