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World Congress on Evangelism, 1966
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METHODS OF GROUP EVANGELISM
C. E. Autrey

Several types of group evangelism are being used in America. I shall present three of them briefly and discuss but one. They are:

1. The individual church revival
2. Area crusades or city—wide crusades
3. The simultaneous crusade 

Preparation is vital to all of these group efforts. While preparation is a bit different for each type, in the main it consists of spiritual and organizational preparation. The success of any kind of group evangelism is determined largely by preparation.

Spiritual preparation is essential. Lead people to pray, for results will come only to those who pray. Have people write on a card the names of those for whom they pledge to pray. Pledge them also to pray daily for the revival as a whole. Have them pray in groups. For this the neighborhood prayer meeting is effective. Have all day and all night prayer meetings. Assign prayer partners to young people. Have each praying person enlist five or more Christians outside of the area where the revival is being held to join in prayer for that particular revival.

Create a deep spiritual concern. This is vital (Isaiah 66:8).

Promote complete surrender. If we would see revival we must first of all surrender ourselves to God. We must be open to promptings of the Holy Spirit. We must place everything on the altar, including our life, our talents, our money (Matthew 19:21).

Promote daily Bible reading. Wherever and whenever the Bible is read and studied, revival fires will burn. The Bible is a book of life and reveals God to be the source of life. The Bible was given to us. by God and tells us about His relationship to man and about man’s proper relationship to man.

Organizational preparation is vital also. Take a census wherever possible, for we must know who and where the people are. Publicity is also essential for all types of revival meetings. It creates expectancy. It advertises the great spiritual values of the crusade. If the average business used the same kind and amount of publicity as the average church, it would soon be bankrupt. Publicity has always been necessary. John Wesley believed in and practiced thorough advertising and that in a day when publicity was little known and used.

It is essential to conduct big rallies in preparation for the coming revival services, whether the revival is to be a citywide effort or whether it is to be a simultaneous crusade.

At least one other general item of preparation and performance should be mentioned. Evangelistic singing is an essential part in revival, and not just a preliminary part of the service. It is not an effort to prepare people for the main feature. Evangelistic singing is an actual part of the worship experience. The purpose of revival singing is to prepare people’s hearts to hear God speak, and very often He speaks to them during the song service. A stirring song service brightens the atmosphere and assimilates the motley crowd into a congregation of worshippers. When an evangelistic team first comes before an audience, it is never a congregation. It is always a crowd, and it remains a crowd until it is integrated by the singing into a worshipping congregation.

The area crusade is a cooperative effort by all the churches in a given area to see revival. Together they select a team and a central place for the crusade and then prepare for the event.

Such meetings are usually held in stadiums because tents and auditoriums may be too small to accommodate the crowds. Three things will help to assure big attendance and phenomenal results. They are:

1. Organization. This means setting up a steering committee comprised of chairmen of various committees, such as the attendance, budget, prayer meeting, youth committee, et cetera. Constant promotion and direction of these committees is essential if they are to function, if preparation is to be thorough, and if results are to be realized.

2. Involvement of the people in prayer.

3. Proper publicity.

A simultaneous crusade is a cooperative effort in a given area in which all churches conduct revivals at the same time, each, individual church conducting its own meetings. If there are fifty churches in the area, each church will conduct revival services simultaneously for two weeks or more. This method has some distinct advantages.

1. The publicity is effective. All churches pool their money and a central committee plans and purchases the publicity. This procedure helps small and financially weak churches to have the same publicity as larger and more wealthy churches.

2. It provides fifty preaching places instead of just one and thus makes more meeting places accessible to more people.

3. This method guarantees excellent overall attendance. In America fifty churches will have a total attendance of 10,000 to 17,000 persons each week night and 40,000 or more on Sunday. These figures might obtain any place in the world where Protestant churches are strong. The total number of first—time decisions at a simultaneous crusade will often exceed those at an area crusade in the same community. Between 1954 and 1964, Southern Baptists have won to Christ and baptized 4,334,000; the major group method employed has been the simultaneous crusade.

4. This method is suited to the average preacher. Only a few hundred preachers at present are capable of conducting an area crusade, but almost any evangelist and pastor may effectively conduct a simultaneous crusade. In the Southern Baptist Convention most simultaneous crusades are conducted by pastor-evangelists.

In September of 1965 two staff members of the Division of Evangelism of the Southern Baptist Convention took 102 preachers to New Zealand to conduct a simultaneous crusade with the Baptist Union of New Zealand. This crusade resulted in 1,969 conversions and 2,118 other decisions, a percentage of one decision for every eight New Zealand Baptists. The same method was used in Australia in 1964 with equally good results.

The daily clinic on evangelism held for participating pastors, evangelists, and song leaders during the simultaneous crusade is one of the fine features of this type of revival. There is discussion of some vital phase of evangelism each day at the luncheon period followed by a time of prayer for the crusade. Instruction and encouragement are given daily.

In my opinion all Protestants should use all the various group methods and should do so in cooperation with each other. Billy Graham has shown us that Protestant groups can indeed cooperate in evangelism with great advantage to all, and without surrendering any of their vital convictions. Such cooperation helps eliminate prejudice and jealousy, the archenemies of evangelism.


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Last Revised: 10/25/06
Expiration: indefinite

Wheaton College 2006