Why is differentiating between evangelism and missions important?
I think it's important because it's easy to lose missions if you define everything as evangelism.
I'm troubled when a pastor says, "Everybody is a missionary," unless he defines what missionaries do as something other than that. If everybody is doing missions, then very likely missions is going to be lost.
So here's the distinction I'm making:
Evangelism is speaking to anyone anywhere the gospel. You don't have to succeed at it. Evangelism is happening even if somebody is not getting saved. But you need to say it.
So saying the gospel to anyone is evangelism. It could your mother or your father. It could be a Christian, but usually we think of it as somebody who is not a Christian.
Missions is doing that by crossing a culture. It usually involves learning a language, learning new cultural things where there is no church in which people are doing evangelism of those in that culture. They don't have any access to the gospel.
And there are thousands of those. If you go to joshuaproject.net you'll see a list of about 16,000 people groups in the world. And I think the recent listing I saw was something over 6,000 where the church either is totally missing or exists so weakly that there isn't a self-sustaining base from which evangelism can happen.
So evangelism is speaking the gospel to everyone, especially those in your culture. Missions is realizing there are cultures and linguistic groups that don't have anybody in them to do that.
And therefore we must make a special effort to learn languages, learn cultures, do all of the anthropological, methodological thought that is necessary in order to be effective culture-crossers to plant a church there who would then do evangelism.