There is minor difference between the pioneer and the evangelist!
Both pioneer and evangelist are sent to speak about the good news. For example, although pioneers aren’t mentioned as such in the bible, we could describe St Paul as one, as he took the gospel to places where it had not yet been heard (Romans 15 vs 20).
Similarities between the pioneer and the evangelist
Both carry the good news. At first, the pioneer will act more like an evangelist if they are from outside of the community to which they carry their message.
Both evangelist and pioneer will seek out a ‘person of peace’. That is, someone well known in the local community who is warm and welcoming of the gospel and its bearers. Even if the person of peace does not yet know Jesus for themselves. The person of peace acts as someone who helps introduce the evangelist/pioneer to the rest of the community. In turn, which makes it easier to share the gospel message. Read Luke 10 vs 1-23 to see this in action.
Differences between a pioneer and an evangelist
The pioneer after this differs from the evangelist in that the evangelist will, like the story of the 72, move on. The evangelist stays for a brief time and always with the intention of moving on once the seed has been sown. The person of peace may then take on some sort of spiritual leadership role within the community. Or those who have heard the message will take a single small, or large, step towards Jesus.
The heart of the evangelist is to cast wide the seed of the gospel, not worrying too much on which kind of ground it falls… very much like the parable of the sower in Matthew 13.
The evangelist is always eager to find someone new to tell.
The pioneer is a little different. After spending a time with a community, they will stay there. There will learn how the community does things. They may help the community to develop a sense of identity such as those pioneers on new housing estates.
The pioneer looks for where God is at work already in a community and then seeks to reveal it. She then stays and helps the people in that context to explore faith and express it in a way that is right for them. As such, the pioneer who begins as an evangelist becomes a person of peace in that community. We use words like incarnational ministry to describe such pioneers.
Some pioneers may arise from the community themselves. Brought to faith by God, they are already the people of peace and evangelists, wrapped up into one.
The heart of the pioneer is to see a worshipping community. Though they do not start with knowing exactly what that might look like at the beginning.
Neither pioneer nor evangelist must be an ordained person. Pioneers also have a spark of the entrepreneur about them. They see possibilities that might come out of a community which may combine things already present, or be truly innovative, in ways which will help that community. It isn’t unusual to meet pioneers who were at one time, or still are, business owners.