a billy graham center archives exhibit
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Accepting Christ was to be only the first step in a life in which faith deepened, hope grew and Christian love was strengthened.
 
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"Dear Friend, Your decision for Jesus Christ was an extremely important step. May God bless you and help you in your new life in Christ." First line from the booklet, Your Decision, a bible study booklet given to every inquirer at the crusade who accepted Jesus Christ as savior. 1957. From Collection 1, Box 2, Folder 10.

 One common complaint against visiting evangelists in the past was that they led people to Christ but did not do enough to connect them with a church and help start in the Christian life. The BGEA had struggled with this and through the 50s, under the guidance of another organization, the Navigators, was developing a more systematic method for dealing with inquirers. When inquirers came forward at the end of an evangelistic service, there needs to be someone there to talk with them about the decision they have made for Christ. If they are new converts, they need to receive training in Christian belief and to be connected to a local church where they can grow in their faith. The whole process of providing this assistance is called counseling and follow-up.

Since 1950, the Navigators, a Christian organization that emphasized personal evangelism, one-to-one discipling, and Scripture memorization, had been in charge of counseling and developing a standard methodology for the work. By the time of the New York crusade, the system was in place and in fact the New York Crusade was one of the last at which large numbers of Navigators assisted on an organizational basis. The BGEA staff had learned the methods and could continue on their own. Charlie Riggs transferred over to the BGEA from the Navigators in 1952. He served as administrative director over the entire New York Crusade, but he had a special interest in counseling and follow-up and continued to head up this aspect of the BGEA’s ministry for the next three decades.

Approximately 6,000 individuals were recruited from local churches and given a nine week training course on how to talk to inquirers, how to respond to the wide range of spiritual questions and personal problems they might want to talk about and how to lead them to make a decision for Jesus Christ. They also gathered personal information that would later be passed on to a church near to the inquirer, so that he or she would hear from a church in their area which would encourage them in leading a Christian life. Each person who indicated to a counselor that he has accepted Christ as savior received a Bible study booklet on salvation. When he or she completed that and mailed it back to the Crusade office, they would receive the next booklet in the series (four in all) intended to teach tem basic Christian doctrines and start them on a life of Bible study and prayer. After a convert had talked to a counselor, he or she was referred to an advisor, who was a minister or someone with considerable experience in Christian work, who talked with the new Christian to make sure he or she understood what happened and to answer any questions they might still have.

The inquirer cards were sent to participating churches, who were encouraged to send out their pastors and laity to meet with the inquirers. There were many links at which the system could fail, however. A study done six months after the crusade showed that of the inquirers who were questioned, 75% were never contacted by a church.

Click below for items on Counseling
item 78: from Collection 7, box 5, folder 2
item 79: from Collection 1, box 2, folder 10
item 80: from Collection 492, audio tape T10
Counseling room
Decision card
William Drury
item 81: from Collection 16, New York City Crusade, 1957, procedure book II
item 82: from Collection 1, box 2, folder 10
item 83: from Collection 16, New York City Crusade, 1957, procedure book II
Spanish letter
Decision booklet
Counseling procedures
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© 2005 Wheaton College and © 2005 BGEA