Billy Graham Center Archives


The Archives Bulletin Board

Every month, this Bulletin Board will highlight a new document or set of documents that are available in the Archives. These are intended solely for the edification of our viewers and cannot be copied or otherwise reused without permission. Come on over and have a look!

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Archival Film Festival 2015

In 2015, the Archival Bulletin Board is turning onto a silver screen. Each month of the year we will be displaying a rare film from our vault, all featuring some aspect of the history of Christian evangelism.

Thanks to Bruce Knowlton of Wheaton College's Academic and Media Technology for his invaluable help in putting together this film festival.

Now Showing

May 2015: Donald McGavran's last lecture
t0 his Advanced Church Growth Class, 1979

This month's selection in our year-long archival film festival is the March 9, 1979 video recording of Donald McGavran's final lecture (59:07 minutes) to the students in his Advanced Church Growth course at Fuller Theological Seminary. (Click here or on the frame captures above or below to view the video; it may take a few moments for the video file to load and begin playing.) The primary focus of his presentation is on the question "What is evangelization?" and the value of precision in measuring evangelization. In addition, he initially addresses several preliminary topics, including Chinese associations as an example of a potential audience for evangelization in the US, "patient endurance" in missions, the tendency to deify some secondary or auxiliary aspect of missions activity (Christian education, development, medicine, language learning, transition to national leadership), and the need for certainty about the essential issues in missiology and practice.

McGavran began each class session with prayer that was a powerful expression of McGavran's love of Christ and his strong evangelistic calling, as well as eloquence and knowledge of the Bible and church history. (Also see the Archives' web page that features audio files and transcripts of each of McGavran's prayers.) The following is the transcript of his prayer recorded on this video:

On this last day of this course, Lord, we give You thanks that You have called us to Your service in a day when the Gospel is being proclaimed in a new way, with more vigor, and new hope, and new effectiveness. Grant us, good Lord, wisdom and courage sufficient for these days. And grant that we serve honestly and intelligently. Deliver us from complaining. Make us sensitive to the leadings of Your Holy Spirit that we may play our part well in the revival and extension of Your church and the tremendous improvement of life which it is Your purpose to bring about. In Christ's blessed name we pray. Amen.

He taught the Advanced Church Growth course to a group of experienced missionaries and church leaders; this video includes comments and responses from students who appear with McGavran. The class covered both theories and the actual situation of the church in many countries and regions of the world. Most of the lectures in the series span sixty minutes, but several are somewhat shorter at fifty minutes. (These videos were originally digitized in a special project for a theological seminary as a resource for its church growth students. We hope to eventually make all of them available on the Archives web site to be a resource for new generations of students and researchers, lay persons, evangelists, and church planters.)

Donald McGavran was, with his wife Mary, a missionary to India for thirty years. He was also a scholar, author, teacher and pioneer in the development of church growth theory when he returned to the United States in 1956. He spent the last decades of his life developing and winning acceptance for church growth as a theory and an academic discipline. But for him it was never an isolated field of scholarly study, but rather a means of equipping the Christian church to spread the Good News of the salvation available through Jesus Christ. McGavran died in 1990.

This video, V29 in Collection 178, which is further described along with the entire collection of McGavran's papers in the online collection guide. (Also see the first class lecture.) A number of other collections in the BGC Archives also have documents by or about McGavran, who was a key leader in the Church Growth Movement and was especially known for his Homogeneous Unit Principle.

Click here or on the frame captures above or below to view the video; it may take a few moments for the video file to load and begin playing.

Click here to see all the films in the Film Festival thus far.


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Last Revised: 05/01/15
Expiration: indefinite

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