by Will Graham
(Editor’s note: This is the 1st post in an 8-part series called “What’s Your Evangelism Style?“)
Crusade evangelism doesn’t work. People have too many other things going on. It’s too impersonal. Inquirers slip through the cracks. It was just fine in Billy’s day, but not anymore.
Amazingly, and disappointingly, many have come to the mistaken belief that mass evangelism is no longer effective. There are all kinds of excuses, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that it works. I know, because it’s my life.
I’ve dedicated myself to Crusade-style evangelism, and I’ve seen miracle after miracle as people who were spiritually dead and hopeless have found a new life in Jesus Christ.
As with anything, if done poorly, there is little chance of success. However, when mass evangelism is done well, it’s an incredible tool for bringing many into a saving relationship with Jesus. There are three major components to successful outreaches:
- Preparation: As far as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) is concerned, it’s a bit of an off-base to even use the term “mass evangelism.” The reason I say this is because our focus is one-on-one evangelism, but on a large scale. We don’t just hold an event and pray that people show up. Rather, we spend months working in a community, cultivating the unity of the churches, praying, training people, and encouraging local Christians to invite their friends, neighbors and loved ones. Many only see the large arena, but they don’t see the grassroots work and impact that is taking place behind the scenes as Christians pray and make personal invitations to those around them.
- Often, believers try to reach others through what we sometimes call “lifestyle evangelism.” We figure that we’ll do a lot of really good things, people will notice, and that will somehow lead them to Christ. Please don’t misunderstand me – it’s important to live in such a way that people realize that there’s something different about you, but the Bible clearly says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17). Crusades, and even the training we do in advance of Crusades, opens the door for the proclamation of the gospel, and people respond.
- The job isn’t over when that person comes forward and gives his or her life to Christ. Not by a long shot. Proper follow up is vital. We record that person’s information, and after a Crusade, we maintain an office in a community for several months. We won’t leave until we know that each one of those who responded has been in communication with a local church. The beautiful thing is that most often, the person was brought by a friend, so he or she has built-in support and is ready to seamlessly enter a church and grow in his or her new-found faith.
Using this model, we’ve seen thousands come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ over the last year alone.
Of course, the new relationships with Jesus are the most eternally important, but there are other positive outcomes to Crusade evangelism as well. For instance, there is consistently a new-found unity of churches. As denominational lines are crossed and the name of Jesus is proclaimed first and foremost, churches realize they can work together. Often, this leads to years of effective city-wide ministry long after the original evangelistic outreach has finished.
Another great advantage is that Crusade evangelism translates into one-on-one evangelism. As local Christians are trained, they begin to see and understand how easy it is to lead others around them to Christ. The Crusade is just a starting point as the gospel continues to be proclaimed throughout a community for a generation.
Friends, I pray that you, your church, and your community have not given up on Crusade evangelism. It has been, and continues to be, a vital tool for reaching the lost.