Recently I shared 5 Reflections on the Life and Ministry of Billy Graham. A friend responded to that post via email, and we had a helpful discussion about how to do mass evangelism well. When I talk about “mass evangelism,” I’m thinking about youth camps, school focused ministries, prison ministries, and even evangelistic crusades. Like any approach to gospel ministry, mass evangelism can be done poorly and it can be done well. The following 5 rules describe a faithful approach to mass evangelism.
- The evangelist shares the true gospel. The evangelist must explain the holiness of God, the sinfulness of humans, the person and work of Christ, as well as the necessity to repent and believe. Personal testimony and engaging stories may be included in the message, but the heart of the message cannot be personal testimony or engaging stories. Rather, the heart of every evangelistic message must be the gospel itself.
- The evangelist talks about the cost of discipleship. Especially in the context of mass evangelism, the evangelist must resist the temptation to fall into decisionism. Decisionism is the (common) idea that simply making a decision and praying a prayer secures eternity in heaven for a sinner. Every evangelist must call people to count the cost, take up their cross, and die to sin.
- The evangelist is not emotionally manipulative. In the New Testament, the apostles never ended a message with, “Every eye closed, every head bowed.” Peter didn’t ask for a show of hands on the day of Pentecost. Paul didn’t plant folks to walk the aisle at the Areopagus. A faithful evangelist renounces all underhanded ways and relies on the power of God (2 Corinthians 4:1-6).
- The evangelist intentionally plans for discipleship. The Great Commission is a call to make disciples, not manufacture decisions. Jesus’ singular command in Matthew 28 is making disciples which involves teaching people to obey everything Jesus taught. There is no place for evangelistic ministry that only cares about decisions. Faithful evangelism involves plans for discipleship.
- The evangelist has a serious plan to connect new believers to a local church. Any approach to missions or evangelism must include the one institution Jesus promised to build (Matthew 16). Plans may vary, but a faithful evangelist will recognize the necessity of connecting new believers to a local church. Simply preaching and leaving is not faithful mass evangelism.