Evangelical and Ecumenical

William C. Brownson

READ : Ephesians 4:1-16

There is one body and one Spirit. (verse 4)

QUESTION: Can a Christian be both “evangelical” and “ecumenical”? (from Northern Ireland)

Evangelical comes from the Greek word for “gospel.” To be evangelical is to be centered on the biblical gospel. Evangelicals focus on the themes of sin and salvation, guilt and grace. Their great theme is Jesus Christ: incarnate, crucified, risen, returning. Evangelicals are committed to bring the gospel to every person on earth, believing that everyone needs Christ and that there is no salvation apart from him.

The word ecumenical comes from a Greek root meaning the whole “inhabited world.” Christians who are ecumenical in outlook are concerned about all the branches of the church. In a narrower sense, ecumenical believers are interested in working toward greater unity among denominations and churches.

Some believers are committed to evangelism but care little for the ecumenical movement. And some who promote ecumenical concerns do not seem concerned to share the gospel. But every Christian is commanded in Scripture to seek both the evangelizing of the world and the unity of the church, and these concerns are closely related. It is a church one-in-the-Spirit that bears a powerful, convincing witness in the world. Evangelical and ecumenical are both good words. Jesus wants us to prize and promote our oneness in him even as we preach his gospel.


Lord, may we seek unity within and opportunity without.