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Missionary vs. Evangelist: What's the Difference?

By Harlon Moss & Janet White || Updated on May 23, 2024
A missionary is someone sent on a religious mission, often to promote Christianity in foreign lands, while an evangelist actively seeks to convert others to Christianity, typically within their own country.

Key Differences

A missionary is typically someone who travels to different regions, often overseas, to spread their religious beliefs, particularly Christianity. They focus on long-term commitment, including teaching, community building, and social services. Evangelists, on the other hand, primarily focus on spreading the Christian gospel through preaching and outreach, often within their own cultural context. While missionaries may engage in evangelistic activities, their role is broader and includes community engagement and development.
Missionaries often immerse themselves in new cultures, learning the local language and customs to effectively communicate their message. This immersion can lead to establishing schools, hospitals, and other community services. Evangelists usually focus on public speaking, media, and personal interactions to share their message, often relying on their charisma and public platforms to reach a wide audience.
Missionaries may spend years or even their entire lives in a single mission field, developing deep relationships with the communities they serve. They might work in remote or underdeveloped areas where Christianity is not well-known. Evangelists typically operate on a more short-term or itinerant basis, traveling to various locations to hold revival meetings, crusades, or evangelistic campaigns.
The training and skills required for missionaries often include cross-cultural communication, language acquisition, and understanding of local social and political contexts. Evangelists usually focus on oratory skills, theological knowledge, and techniques for engaging and converting individuals.
Missionaries can sometimes face resistance or hostility due to cultural and religious differences, requiring them to be sensitive and adaptive. Evangelists, while also facing opposition, often engage in more confrontational or persuasive methods to challenge existing beliefs and encourage conversion.
Both missionaries and evangelists aim to spread Christianity but do so in different contexts and through varied methods, reflecting the diverse ways the Christian message can be communicated and received.

Comparison Chart

Primary Focus

Long-term religious mission, often overseas
Active preaching and conversion efforts

Typical Location

Foreign countries, remote or underserved areas
Own country or diverse locations


Community building, education, social services
Public speaking, media, personal outreach

Commitment Duration

Long-term, often years or lifetime
Short-term, itinerant

Skills Required

Cross-cultural communication, language skills
Oratory skills, theological knowledge

Potential Challenges

Cultural and religious resistance, adaptation
Confrontation, persuasive engagement

Missionary and Evangelist Definitions


Someone sent on a religious mission, particularly to promote Christianity in foreign lands.
The missionary spent years in Africa building schools and teaching the local children.


A person who seeks to convert others to Christianity, often through public speaking.
The evangelist held a revival meeting that attracted thousands.


A person who spreads their faith by integrating into new communities.
As a missionary, she learned the local language to better communicate with the villagers.


An individual who uses media and public platforms for religious outreach.
The evangelist’s television show reached a wide audience every Sunday.


Someone who combines religious teaching with community service.
The missionary helped dig wells to provide clean water for the community.


A charismatic preacher dedicated to spreading religious beliefs.
The evangelist's powerful sermons inspired many to join the church.


A religious envoy sent to convert and support people in need.
The missionary's work included both preaching and providing medical aid.


A person focused on conversion through direct and persuasive methods.
The evangelist's crusade led to numerous conversions and baptisms.


One who is sent on a mission, especially one sent to do religious or charitable work in a territory or foreign country.


Often Evangelist Any of the authors of the four Gospels in the New Testament, traditionally identified by the names Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.


One who attempts to persuade or convert others to a particular program, doctrine, or set of principles; a propagandist.


One who practices evangelism, especially a Protestant preacher or missionary.


Of or relating to missions or missionaries.


One who promulgates or promotes something enthusiastically.


Engaged in the activities of a mission or missionary.


(Christianity) An itinerant or special preacher, especially a revivalist, who conducts services in different cities or locations, now often televised.


Tending to propagandize or use insistent persuasion
Missionary fervor.


(Bible) A writer of a gospel, especially the four New Testament Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), usually capitalized (Evangelist).


One who is sent on a mission.


(primitive Church) A person who first brought the gospel to a city or region.


(religion) A person who travels attempting to spread a religion or creed.
A missionary was just trying to convert me to his religion.


(Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) A patriarch.


(pejorative) A religious messenger.


(by extension) A person marked by extreme enthusiasm for or support of any cause, particularly with regard to religion.


(uncountable) The missionary position for sexual intercourse.


(technology) A person hired to promote a particular technology.
Developer envangelist


Sexual intercourse in the missionary position.


Product Manager and as a Developer Evangelist''' in the Mid-Atlantic district.


Relating to a (religious) mission.


A bringer of the glad tidings of Church and his doctrines.
The Apostles, so far as they evangelized, might claim the title though there were many evangelists who were not Apostles.


One who is sent on a mission; especially, one sent to propagate religion.


A preacher of the Christian gospel


Of or pertaining to missions; as, a missionary meeting; a missionary fund.


(when capitalized) any of the spiritual leaders who are assumed to be authors of the Gospels in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John


Someone who attempts to convert others to a particular doctrine or program


Someone who actively preaches the Christian gospel.
As an evangelist, he traveled across the country spreading the message of faith.


Someone sent on a mission--especially a religious or charitable mission to a foreign country


An individual dedicated to long-term service in a different culture.
The missionary established a healthcare clinic in the remote village.


What is an evangelist?

An evangelist is someone who actively seeks to convert others to Christianity through preaching and outreach.

Where do evangelists typically work?

Evangelists often work within their own country but can also travel to various locations for campaigns.

What is a missionary?

A missionary is someone sent on a religious mission to promote Christianity, often in foreign countries.

Do evangelists focus on preaching?

Yes, evangelists primarily focus on preaching and direct efforts to convert individuals.

Are missionaries involved in long-term commitments?

Yes, missionaries usually have long-term commitments, sometimes lasting years or a lifetime.

Where do missionaries typically work?

Missionaries typically work in foreign countries, remote areas, or underserved communities.

Can missionaries work in their home country?

Yes, but they are more commonly associated with foreign missions.

Do evangelists face opposition?

Yes, evangelists can face opposition, especially when challenging existing beliefs.

Do missionaries focus on community service?

Yes, missionaries often engage in community building, education, and social services.

Are evangelists involved in short-term efforts?

Evangelists often engage in short-term, itinerant preaching and outreach activities.

What skills do evangelists need?

Evangelists need oratory skills, theological knowledge, and persuasive techniques.

What skills do missionaries need?

Missionaries need cross-cultural communication, language skills, and an understanding of local contexts.

Can evangelists work overseas?

Yes, evangelists can work overseas, but they typically operate within their own cultural context.

What is the main goal of a missionary?

The main goal of a missionary is to spread Christianity and support communities through long-term engagement.

Are evangelists usually independent or part of an organization?

Evangelists can be independent or part of religious organizations, depending on their approach and resources.

Do missionaries face cultural resistance?

Yes, missionaries can face cultural and religious resistance, requiring sensitivity and adaptation.

What is the main goal of an evangelist?

The main goal of an evangelist is to convert individuals to Christianity through preaching and outreach.

Do missionaries establish institutions?

Yes, missionaries often establish schools, hospitals, and other community institutions.

Do evangelists use media for outreach?

Yes, evangelists frequently use media, such as television, radio, and online platforms, for outreach.

Are missionaries usually part of a specific church organization?

Yes, missionaries are often sent and supported by specific church organizations or missions groups.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Co-written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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