According to the ISAE, there are three senses in which the term "evangelical" is used today:
- All Christians who affirm a few key doctrines and practical emphases. From British historian David Bebbington, a more concise (and probably accurate) rendering of Alister McGrath's six points: conversionism, the belief that lives need to be changed; activism, the expression of the gospel in effort; biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible; and crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
- An organic group of movements denoting a "style" as much as a set of beliefs. Groups as disparate as black Baptists and Dutch Reformed Churches, Mennonites and Pentecostals, Catholic charismatics and Southern Baptists all come under the evangelical umbrella.<
- The self-ascribed label for a coalition that arose during the Second World War. This group came into being as a reaction against the perceived anti-intellectual, separates and belligerent nature of the fundamentalist movement in the 1920s and 1930s. Importantly, its core personalities (like Carl Henry and Billy Graham), institutions (Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College), and organizations (such as the National Association of Evangelicals and Youth for Christ) have played a pivotal role in giving the wider movement a sense of cohesion that extends beyond "card-carrying" evangelicals.