Why Mass Evangelism?
Reprinted with permission from The Office of The Evangelist, copyright 2014 by Michael Lusk.
Evangelists are like eagles – they are made for the open air!
Are the “glory days” over?
Evangelists throughout the Church Age, in various moments of history and various locations, could have looked at their surroundings and been convinced that they were, perhaps, born out of due time. The enemy and yes, even fellow believers, have no doubt often attempted to infuse the evangelist with doubt, questioning whether times had changed. “Maybe the ‘glory days’ are gone; the ‘golden age’ of evangelism is over.”
Thank God for those who ignored the negative voices of their day.
I, too, have heard the voice of opposition, in varied forms, seeking to call into question the efficacy of my evangelistic methods or the likelihood of the success of my endeavors. I remember one occasion in particular, very early on in my ministry. A close member of my family interrogated me, casting doubt on my calling and questioning how I could ever expect to get ahead in life by following such an unrealistic fantasy. “How many Billy Grahams can there be?” he demanded. On another occasion, just as my wife and I were making ready to move to the mission field in Argentina, my own grandfather remarked to my grandmother (in front of us, no less), “They won’t make it two weeks down there!” Grandma, though typically gentle and kind-hearted, quickly and aggressively put him in his place. She reminded him that we had a real calling from God; we were going in obedience, not just on a whim. Grandpa had spouted off, but was quick to come around in our support.
If you are an evangelist, seek counsel from your comrades in arms. When you are on the front lines of evangelism, disregard the voices of those who criticize from the ease of their inactivity. A wise man once noted, “Nothing is more abundant or of lesser value than the opinions of people who are not successful.”
Never allow anyone to convince you that the office of the evangelist is gone or that evangelists are on the endangered species list. Jesus Christ Himself – not any man, mission board, or denomination – is the One who established the office of the evangelist in His Body. No matter what statistics, tastes, or modern trends may assert, the office of the evangelist is alive and well, and will endure until Christ’s return, because He was the One who instituted it.
Historical trends show ebbs and flows, crests and troughs, in regard to the Gospel’s acceptance in given regions and nations. That does not necessarily mean that the evangelists have failed in their task; it indicates that there are many who simply will not repent and believe. Jerusalem was destroyed, even though the apostles and Jesus Himself exercised their ministries there, because the people failed to repent and believe the Gospel (see Luke 19:41-44).
Mass public evangelism
One of the most controversial topics regarding evangelism is the argument over mass, public evangelism, or what has been commonly called “crusade evangelism”. Large essays have been written to defend the position held by those on both sides of the discussion.
Some critics have argued, “Not many people get saved that way. Only a small percentage of active, church-attending Christians accepted Christ in a mass, public event.” The assertion that few people convert in evangelistic crusades is a relative statement. It is akin to saying, “Not many people get their news by internet” in a country where only 10% of homes have a computer. If the number of computers per capita were increased, so would the number of people who receive their news through that means.
The number of people converted in mass outreaches is proportional to the number of those events being conducted. If more mass Gospel outreaches are conducted, a greater amount of people will find Jesus in that way.
Others say, “Evangelistic crusades are out-dated and out of style.” Certainly, our specific methods are always open for review. A strategy that works well in one time and place may not perform equally in another. Culture-based methods can and must change; however, biblical models are transcendent and timeless.
Mass evangelism is not a modern strategy; it is a biblical model. We see it repeatedly in Jesus Christ’s ministry. Then, we see the continued success of the same model in the Book of Acts. Peter’s preaching on the day of Pentecost where 3,000 people were added to the Church is a fitting example (Acts 2), as is Philip’s campaign in Samaria (Acts 8).
What is the purpose of a mass outreach? The main objective, of course, is the salvation of people. But there are other benefits of public evangelism campaigns that may not be so apparent – benefits that can long outlast the event itself.
- They bridge the gap between various local churches and pastors, creating interaction and dialogue that might not otherwise occur.
- They bring believers together to refocus on the Gospel and the Great Commission.
- They produce a sense of unity and shared identity among believers.
- They create a fresh momentum that energizes believers in their own personal walk and daily witness.
- They encourage church members to find creative ways to share their faith and make true disciples.
- They place the message of Christ before the public eye in a way that is hard to ignore.
- They foment a greater sense of respect for and renewed perception of the Church by the general public, allowing the Church to enjoy greater prominence in the mainstream of society.