Crusade evangelism is a strategy that has been used since the First Great Awakening in mid-1700’s. It began in England and American where popular preachers gathered together large crowds of people, and preached the Gospel to them.
Some of the leading evangelists to use this strategy include D. L. Moody, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Charles Finney, Billy Sunday, and in more recent years, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Luis Palau, and Greg Laurie. And should we include Tim Tebow’s dad in there as well? Check out the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association.
Without a doubt, millions of people around the world have heard the Gospel and received eternal life as a result of these crusades. They are, and continue to be, a meaningful and effective way of spreading the good news about Jesus Christ.
Crusade Evangelism Statistics
And yet, in a 1990 interview with PBS, Billy Graham himself stated his believe that only about 25% of those who come forward at one of his events actually became Christians. In recent years, studies have shown that only 6% of people who “come forward” at an evangelistic crusade are any different in their beliefs or behavior one year later. Of course, it is estimated that Billy Graham preached to more than 200 million people, and 6% of 200 million is still 12 million. That’s significant.
In recent decades, ministries that are involved in crusade evangelism have tried to increase the long-term effectiveness of their efforts by engaging local churches and ministries to perform follow-up discipleship with those who come forward at a crusade. They recognized, rightly, that the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 calls for discipleship, not just evangelism. It calls for people to learn about Jesus and follow Him; not just pray a prayer or make a decision about Jesus. This is a step in the right direction.
Moving Toward Relational Evangelism
But if crusade evangelists are taking a step in “the right direction,” what is the direction they are stepping toward? They are moving toward relational evangelism, recognizing that big tent, big event evangelism does not achieve the long-term results which comes only through long-term relationships with other people. And so they have tried to take the relational emphasis of effective evangelism and tack it on to the tail end of their events.
But if they recognize that relational evangelism is more effective, then why not dump crusade evangelism altogether, and just focus on training people in relational evangelism? We’ll look at more of this tomorrow.
I don’t want to be pedantic, but either your maths is bad or I’m misunderstanding.
6% of 200 million is indeed 12 million. But the 200 million was the number he preached to, and 6% is the percentage of those who came forward. The maths would only add up if 100% of people came forward. Am I understanding your figures correctly?
A quick Google search suggested about 3-4% of attendees would come forward, so if you factor that into the maths, you get:
Converts = 200 million x 6% x 4% = 480,000 or approx 0.5 million
I find that figure unbelievably low, but that’s the maths. What do you think?
Jeremy Myers says
Well, the quote from Billy Graham was hard to understand. I wasn’t sure if he was talking about 6% of the 25% that came forward, or 6% of the total people who attended a crusade. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and went with 6% of 200 million.
So here is how I understood it:
200 million attended
25% of 200 million “came forward”
6% of 200 million actually converted
But as it turns out, there is an easier way of doing this.
I did some more research, and found that in 2002 the BGEA report that “3.2 million have responded to an invitation at a Billy Graham Crusade to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior (Source). He stopped doing crusades in 2005, so we can add to these numbers bit, but I doubt it goes much past 3.5 million. Let’s give him 4 million, just to be generous.
ME Hess says
No one has ever received eternal life as a result of the crusades. If they received salvation when they were in that location because of the Word of God that was preached, it was because the Holy Spirit penetrated their hearts with the truth. No one else leads anyone to the Lord. The Bible says that, unless the Spirit draws a person, he/she will not come. Preachers plead, threaten, cajole, but the Spirit opens the heart at the right time for that individual
My spouse went forward at a B. G. crusade and dropped out for 20 years from any desire to gather with Christians or live an obedient life. I, too, prayed an abracadabra prayer to supposedly get saved, and had to spend 33 years in search of true faith in what Christ did on the cross for me.
All my confidence and peace is now in HIM—not as a result of altar calls, repeated refrains of “Just as I Am without one plea. . .” Many more people will be in hell because they trusted their walk to the “altar” or their prayer in a religious crusade as they supposedly “gave their life/heart to Christ”—as if those defiled items were a choice gift to give the Savior, who gave His all for them.
Salvation is all trust in Christ’s work—not feelings, tears, prayers, baptism, etc.; otherwise it never took place! We regret those decades of trusting in what we did on X date, but we now have true peace, all as a result of the Lord’s waiting until we released all confidence in ourselves. It’s a tragedy that B.G. gradually turned to a false gospel that counted numbers from quickie conversions and “decisions” and reportedly said that belief in Christ is not the only way to heaven.
It was a heady, appealing way that led masses to think that salvation is just an assent to the words that the preacher supplied for them as they stood around the podium. Altar calls and “pray the prayer for salvation were never done in the Bible. Sadly, the chilling words, “I never knew you” from the Lord will be the result for masses of people who said a prayer at a crusade and then went back to their former lifestyles. According to 2 John, those are the marks of false conversions.
Sorry but the prayer does not save them, its their heart when they pray it. Nothing wrong with sinners prayer if person is told that its whats in their heart that saves them and confessing Christ as Lord.
The point is that a prayer contributes nothing to salvation, but many people believe it does. Otherwise, why are they even relying on a prayer that someone else supplies? The moment he/she adds something to the work of Christ, rather than simply accepting what He did—trusting it totally for salvation, he/she is not saved. Believing that a prayer is part of salvation is like thinking that Typhoid Mary should have been allowed to keep serving her meals and spreading the disease. As sinners, we are contaminated. The Bible says we are DEAD in our sin. (Eph. 2:1) Would you want a corpse supplying anything?
We are only able to believe as we respond to the light God sheds on His Word, so the answer is to simply receive it and believe it, as He awakens us from our spiritual death as non-believers. The seed receives the nutrients and the rain, and that is the way it springs to life.
What you are doing is trusting your heart and feelings for salvation instead of trusting the Lord and HIS work. That is the huge, potentially damning error in Roman Road evangelism tactics. What does God say about trusting the human heart?
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jer. 17:9 [also Rom. 16:18]
“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” Eph. 4:18
Unregenerate hearts don’t produce knowledge: Prov. 15:7
Godless hearts are of little worth. Prov. 10:20
Do you really want to trust your heart to tell you the truth about your salvation? Satan is the great deceiver who will always give credit to someone other than Christ Jesus for salvation. “Pray a prayer. Go forward. Tell everyone that you are saved. Depend on your baptism. DO, DO, DO. That kind of preaching is totally foreign to the Bible.
Trust in the LORD for true assurance that finds its resting place in the precious blood of Jesus.
“That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first TRUSTED IN CHRIST. IN WHOM ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: IN WHOM also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” Eph. 1:12-15
Faith in a prayer is not saving faith. Faith in Christ—in all HE is, in all HE has done, and in all HE will do–is what saves. That kind of trust is found in the Word of God and is available to all who will open their hands and drop all their own man-made methods and simply receive what God has provided at His own expense.
David James says
So what do you suggest people say to God when they ask Him to forgive and save them?
Thank you for your comment about the sinner’s prayer. It is a good question many people have.
The prayer in Luke 18:13 was not a magic abracadabra that earned salvation for this man. What saved him was his desperate look to Christ after realizing that he could do nothing, himself, to gain eternal life. He had no peace, no assurance. Only when a person has exhausted all reliance on self, is he/she ready to be saved. If a person holds one iota of thought that the words of a prayer, or any other act of his own can save him, he isn’t ready to be saved. Yet, probably millions of people have grasped the sinner’s prayer as if it is a quick magic fix!
Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart THE LORD WILL NOT HEAR ME.” Therefore, it was not this man’s words that saved him. It was his heartfelt recognition of his own sin and his reliance on the Son of God that received God’s attention and His salvation–not his prayer.
So, if the sinner’s prayer is repeated as the magic words to convince God that He should save us, then we have insulted God by disparaging His Son’s death for us, as if His blood was not sufficient to save. Imagine how this enrages God! Therefore, if the prayer doesn’t save, why parrot the sinner’s prayer at all?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him HATH everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Where does that verse say something more than “believe” is necessary?
The human heart is frustrated at not providing the solution. That’s why Satan tries to muddy the Gospel. He tries to chop off the NE from the word DONE and reduce salvation to DO. Thank God, Jesus accomplished what we could never do!
P.S. Confessing Jesus as Lord is the natural outflow from the rebirth, but it is meaningless if it is done by someone who has not really been born again. Even unclean spirits profess. (Mark 3:11)
Whether it is twelve million or 480,000 I still wonder how these numbers hold up. I have never known any believer who claimed to have become a believer in any “crusade”.
I do remember a “hippy” friend in the 70’s who, with a group of other “Jesus people”, spent a Sunday afternoon at the beach with the “five spiritual laws”. They reported that over two hundred people “got saved” in something like three hours. Of course, no one knew anything about any of those people.
One friend went to a Billy Graham crusade years ago to “see what was happening” and said that other people he knew went for the same reason. I wonder how many of the twelve million (or 480,000) “converts” thought they were actually following Jesus a year or two later.
Jeremy Myers says
I get in to this tomorrow a tiny bit. The BGEA recognized this problem in the mid 1990’s, and began to try to get people who came forward to get plugged in to local churches for ongoing discipleship.
I have friends who have been pastors for over 50 years, they both came to the Lord in a Billy Graham crusade in New Zealand
I certainly know, and know of, people who made decisions at Billy Graham crusades and stayed believers, and it is generally accepted that his 1959 crusade n Sydney had a big and lasting impact. I think we can recognise the good he did while also querying his methods and results.
Jeremy Myers says
Absolutely. I want to be very careful here, because I think he did a lot of good, and so is his son, Franklin Graham. We support various aspects of his ministry.
Tom Griner says
Are Gospel Crusades Effective?
For those of us who do crusade evangelism the answer is, “Yes, of
course they are effective.” But it is not an unreasonable question to ask,
“How are they effective?” Especially in the light of those who discount
their worth on the grounds of some statistic touting the low number of
decisions for Christ that actually became infolded into a local church.
For instance, some of these statistics have reported that only 5
percent or less of those making a confession for Christ in certain American
crusades ever become part of a local church.
Also, in a recent missions newsletter that I read, the writer made
this statement, “Of the hundreds of thousands who make decisions for
Christ in the evangelistic crusades in the third world nations (like Africa),
only a tiny fraction end up regularly attending any church.” The article
then cited statistics where 1 million were said to have received Christ
with only one-tenth of 1 percent being found in a local church ninety days
after the meetings. From this perspective, the article then drew the
conclusion that the “meager” results of crusades compared to the great cost
in time, energy, and money represented a failed stewardship of God’s
I can understand what’s being said here, but as one who has held
evangelistic crusades in various parts of the world, I know there is more to
the story than that reflected in these statistics or this mission’s article. My
experience tells a different story. After our crusades it is not uncommon
that a new church might be formed, or for the existing churches to swell
twice their size with new members.
I think that the reason some gospel events might lack in fruit is that
a watered-down version of the gospel is being preached—a version that
doesn’t really save. In our meetings we preach repentance and the cross of
Christ calling the people to make a whole-hearted commitment to Jesus
as Lord and Savior. We don’t give them a feel-good sugarcoated gospel.
138 WOUNDED CONTINENT
We don’t beg them to come to Christ for what they can get. We extol the
cost of truly following the Lord. They often run to our altar calls with tears
streaming down their faces. The results are genuine salvation. These new
converts are then encouraged to fill out a follow-up card. Within days,
trained local counselors visit each one to pray with them and to explain
further this new life in Jesus. The results are often strong new converts.
Besides new church members, there are other valuable benefits from
a gospel crusade. For one thing the gospel is preached in public. The atmosphere
is saturated with the message of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from
the dead. The place is plowed and seeded with the Word of God. And no one,
this side of heaven, can fully measure the results. Only God knows the fruit
that may come up in a year, or for that matter, in three years.
I think of David Livingston, the great missionary to Africa, who had
what seemed to be little fruit during his missionary journey. His heart is
buried in Blantyre, a town in Malawi, just a short distance from where we
have held crusades in Chipata, Zambia. Who knows if our reaping in Chipata
may have been in answer to David Livingston’s prayer and the fruit of the
gospel he sowed years before. After all, the Scripture says, “Some reap
where others have sown.”
On another note, how can one measure the significance of a
communit-wide event where churches and pastors come together in unity
to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord? The Scriptures say:
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to
dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the
head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron,
running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the
dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion;
for there the LORD commanded the blessing—life
As the churches work, pray and praise together, the community
experiences a unified expression of the body of Christ. The impact of the
gospel is multiplied, changing the hearts of men and consequently the
moral climate of the township. There is blessing.
Then, the manifestation of signs, wonders, and miracles are a lasting
testimony to the love of Jesus. For those who witness them and for those
who receive them, there is joy:
“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and
preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one
accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and
seeing the miracles, which he did. For unclean spirits,
crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were
possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were
healed. And there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:4–8)
Are gospel crusades effective? The answer is a resounding yes. They
are a first step in answering the call of the Lord to go into all the world and
make disciples: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the
world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew
Jeremy Myers says
I tried reading this comment, but the formatting makes it very difficult. Can you summarize your basic idea in a new comment for me?
Matthew Craig says
Sounds like the gap is churches. What about those who don’t get connected to a church? What bout churches that don’t make the gospel clear or follow up well? Maybe we need to rethink the strategy and put more effort in building up local churches. Maybe the model of church-based mission revealed in Acts needs to be revived. Just think, instead of a crusade with all the machinery that goes with it as a one time event…replaced with dozens of churches daily proclaiming the gospel, building relationships, and discipling whole families. Don’t get me wrong, lots of good has happened through crusade type events but maybe the paradigm needs to shift if we are going to meet the challenges of our post-modern world.
Barry in Canada says
I was browsing the web and wondering about the effectiveness of crusade evangelism in Canada.
I’ve been pioneering a long slow church-plant here. We’ve gained a few in our three year journey and are seeing people mature in their faith. Yet we remain few in number. So we’re always praying and wondering, “God, what would it take to reach the unsaved in our situation?” “Would a crusade be a tool that He would use to call them to Himself? By the way, the unsaved here live in the midst of a historically religious community which is predominantly Catholic, Orthodox, and now also Sikh and Muslim.
I personally have never held a crusade but often wondered if God would use me that way.
I really appreciate your passion Tom. Perhaps you could fire me a line and God knows where things will go from there.
And hey Jeremy, thanks for hosting the discussion!
Barry in Canada
LaVere Soper says
Tom I have been a missionary in Europe, Africa, India, and the Far East for 35 years.
There are some things I would love to discuss with you and get your opinion.
Would be willing to communicate “just a little”, I would really appreciate it.
Tom Griner says
Hey Jeremy, thanks for your dialogue. Or you saying the post is to long? Please feel free to delete it if is our of the bounds. I appreciate people getting to the point myself. I am passionate about this subject so have given an apologetic for my response. Since this topic is not theory to me but life experience, my brief synopsis would be “of course Mass Evangelism” is effective.
Jeremy Myers says
No, no. It’s not too long. I read through it, but the paragraph breaks and sentence breaks were missing, and so I had trouble following the comment.
Tom Griner says
Sorry for the misspellings.
Tom Griner says
For those of us who do crusade evangelism the answer is, “Yes, of course they are effective.” But it is not an unreasonable question to ask, “How are they effective?” Especially in the light of those who discount their worth on the grounds of some statistic touting the low number of decisions for Christ that actually became infolded into a local church. For instance, some of these statistics have reported that only 5 percent or less of those making a confession for Christ in certain American crusades ever become part of a local church. Also, in a recent missions newsletter that I read, the writer made this statement, “Of the hundreds of thousands who make decisions for Christ in the evangelistic crusades in the third world nations (like Africa), only a tiny fraction end up regularly attending any church.” The article then cited statistics where 1 million were said to have received Christ with only one-tenth of 1 percent being found in a local church ninety days after the meetings. From this perspective, the article then drew the conclusion that the “meager” results of crusades compared to the great cost in time, energy, and money represented a failed stewardship of God’s resources. I can understand what’s being said here, but as one who has held evangelistic crusades in various parts of the world, I know there is more to the story than that reflected in these statistics or this mission’s article.
My experience tells a different story. After our crusades it is not uncommon that a new church might be formed, or for the existing churches to swell twice their size with new members. I think that the reason some gospel events might lack in fruit is that a watered-down version of the gospel is being preached—a version that doesn’t really save. In our meetings we preach repentance and the cross of Christ calling the people to make a whole-hearted commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior. We don’t give them a feel-good sugarcoated gospel. We don’t beg them to come to Christ for what they can get. We extol the cost of truly following the Lord. They often run to our altar calls with tears streaming down their faces. The results are genuine salvation. These new converts are then encouraged to fill out a follow-up card. Within days, trained local counselors visit each one to pray with them and to explain further this new life in Jesus. The results are often strong new converts. Besides new church members, there are other valuable benefits from a gospel crusade. For one thing the gospel is preached in public. The atmosphere is saturated with the message of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead. The place is plowed and seeded with the Word of God. And no one, this side of heaven, can fully measure the results. Only God knows the fruit that may come up in a year, or for that matter, in three years. I think of David Livingston, the great missionary to Africa, who had what seemed to be little fruit during his missionary journey. His heart is buried in Blantyre, a town in Malawi, just a short distance from where we have held crusades in Chipata, Zambia. Who knows if our reaping in Chipata may have been in answer to David Livingston’s prayer and the fruit of the gospel he sowed years before. After all, the Scripture says, “Some reap where others have sown.”
On another note, how can one measure the significance of a community-wide event where churches and pastors come together in unity to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord? The Scriptures say: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forevermore.” (Psalm133:1–3) As the churches work, pray and praise together, the community experiences a unified expression of the body of Christ. The impact of the gospel is multiplied, changing the hearts of men and consequently the moral climate of the township. There is blessing. Then, the manifestation of signs, wonders, and miracles are a lasting testimony to the love of Jesus. For those who witness them and for those who receive them, there is joy: “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles, which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:4–8) Are gospel crusades effective? The answer is a resounding yes. They are a first step in answering the call of the Lord to go into all the world and make disciples: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew24:14).
I hear what you are saying, and I guess that the answer to “is crusade evangelism effective?” is “Yes”. But the question of just how effective remains. In a world of infinite resources, the expenditure of many hundreds of millions of dollars for a few thousand real converts would be ok. But in a world of limited resources (ie the real world), where millions of people are dying of hunger even in American cities, perhaps a more cost effective approach is called for. Just saying that maybe if we actually used those hundreds of millions of dollars to meet the needs of widows and orphans to show them the love of Jesus, maybe that would be even more effective.
Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry
Jeremy Myers says
You make good points. There certainly are good results from Evangelism Crusades. I guess I was just arguing that personal evangelism might in the long run be even more effective, especially when we help people understand that they don’t need all the polish of the stage production put on by evangelism crusades, but can simply love people in their neighborhood.
So yes, crusades are effective. There is no denying it. But I think that relationship evangelism could be more effective, and helps more people get involved in evangelism.
I would indeed agree with that. No matter the style of evangelism, crusade, one on one, or whatever, non of it has much lasting value unless it points to a deeper relationship with Christ, and leads to a relationship with His body in this world, the church. God bless,
Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry
Tom Griner says
The little article I posted is ( I think) a good response to how effective city evangelism is. I was just in Mazabuka Africa (Nov. 2011) doing a crusade (You can see a little high-lite on our website). The first people I meet when I came into town were two men who had been saved 12 years ago in open air meetings from another town. One was a pastor. In yet another crusade meeting in Nakonde Zambia, I meet a young man who was pastoring a church of about 300 who was saved and called to the ministry in one of my meetings. The Bible Gospel Church of Africa whose Bishop is Peter Ndholvu was catapulted forward from his involvement in one of our crusades. Anyway, this is what I am saying. From my vantage point I see great fruit. I am there on the ground. And, from the number of people who confess Jesus for the first time in a meeting, we estimate it costs us about $3. I don’t think millions of people are dying of hunger in the USA. But they are in the rest of the world. That is why we raise money to feed and educate thousands of vulnerable children in Africa. Check it out, http://www.fhafrica.org. So, we preach, we feed and we educate. We are bringing Scripture to life.
Thanks for the response. I did not mean to say millions were dying of hunger in America, but that millions of people are dying of hunger, and some of them are in America. I have not heard of your organization, but I will look into it. My experiences have only been with those crusades with millions of dollars in overhead costs. None of them have offered a per soul cost as far as I can see, but I am guessing their cost is much more than $3/person. I would be interested in knowing what percentage of people making first time confessions become and stay involved in churches. From what you say, it sounds like your organization is doing some really great things both with direct personal impact and with crusade-style preaching.
Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry
Tom Griner says
I must read more closely. That makes sense. So, in answer to your question, church attendance is high after the meetings, maybe 50% but depending on the follow up of each church, it may or may not last. This is were we need the relational connection. For some, this is a process that might take years before they are full converted. So, open air evangelism has a place in reaching the masses as a prophetic voice, but as I think you believe, nothing can take the place of relationship evangelism as the solid ground game of the Church.
Tom Griner says
Now that is said very well. Thanks for the chat.
Jeremy Myers says
Tom and FedEx,
Great discussion! I learned a lot from your exchange.
Micael Grenholm says
To prove effectiveness in evangelism by statistics is quite hard. The main problem with advocating relational evangelism instead of “crusade” evangelism or street evangelism is that it’s extremely hard to get how many percent of people who meets relational evangelism accept the Lord. So while we mock Billy Graha for “only” bringing 6% to the Lord, the results in relational evangelism may be even lower. How do we know that it should be more than 6%? Jesus preached to a lot of people, still after His resurrection only 120 persons gathered to pray in the upper room.
Instead of staring at statistics, I would like us to look at Scripture. And indeed Jesus gathered large crowds and preached to them. Over and over again. He also built relations with disciples. He confirmed the message with signs and wonders. And He loved people and cared for their needs. My proposal is that we do the same. Let’s not act like “crusades” and relations are something that compete against each other but that complement each other. To gather large crowds and preach the Gospel to them is Biblical, so whoever mocks that type of evangelism actually mocks the way Jesus did evangelism. And as Paul said, we should preach the Gospel in words, deeds and in the power of signs and wonders (Rom 15:18-19). That’s effective.
Jeremy Myers says
I was not saying that Crusade Evangelism was wrong or unbiblical. I am only saying that given the cost in time and money, it may not be the most effective means of evangelism, especially when we recognize that most of those who “come forward” at a crusade do not become fully-devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
Ev Rubens Cunha says
Regarding your answer, I again see some misconceptions that show me you probably don’t have much experience with Crusade Evangelism. I don’t say that in a critical manner, but to suggest that you keep an open mind and have some experiences of your own with ministries that are making a difference through Crusade Evangelism. To address your statements:
1. Cost in time and money per soul saved: This is a good evaluation standard for the industry and commerce, God’s Kingdom runs on a different logic. Jesus Himself said that one soul is more valuable than the whole world (Mk 8:36), still, if you want to take this approach, I can tell you of our ministry: the cost “per soul saved” is much less than that of most church outreaches.
2. You said “we recognize” that most coming forward do not become fully devoted followers of Christ: I don’t recognize that. In my experience, this is absolutely a false statement. My experience of 20 years of crusade evangelism tells me the opposite.
In a world with 7 Billion people, in which over 40% are among unreached or almost unreached people groups, mass evangelism aligned with strategic church planting stands as one of the most effective ways to fulfill the Great Commission in our generation. If gathering crowds was effective for Jesus and the Apostles, and is not effective for you, then you probably should change the way you are doing it.
Jeremy Myers says
I do actually have experience with Crusade Evangelism. I have worked with BGEA and the Louis Palau. I also did the preaching in some Crusade Evangelism in India over the course of several weeks, to crowds of 10,000.
And Jesus did a lot more than just gather crowds. In fact, remember, He often taught in a way to turn the crowds away (John 6) because He knew they were just coming for free food and a show.
And yes, the Kingdom of God does not work on a marketing mindset, which is why the smallness and intimacy of one-on-one and small group evangelism is often what we see in Scripture, as well as big group evangelism.
Ev Rubens Cunha says
Good to know you have been involved with Crusade Evangelism.
You said “the Kingdom of God does not work on a marketing mindset” – but this is exactly the point of your article. You are arguing that Crusade Evangelism is not worth the time and money invested BASED on the return you supposedly didn’t have for your investment. My argument is: we should not use industry/marketing evaluation standards for God’s Kingdom and even if we did, my experience is that Crusade Evangelism will give you one of the best “ROI” you can get.
Regarding small groups: as I mentioned before, Crusade Evangelism and Relational Evangelism do not exclude each other and none is better that the other. We are all working together to win the lost and God will manifest His manifold wisdom through the different callings and gifts in the Body. All biblical forms of Evangelism are God given and a blessing.
There is no point in saying one form of evangelism is better than the other. The heart of the matter is: what is the Lord leading you to do? And that is what we will be accountable for when that Great Day comes and we stand before His presence and are accountable for our days on earth.
It sounds like on your experience is in America. Crusades in America are a joke, I agree. They work powerfully in the nations.
Btw, have you ever been in a crusade where the power of God falls on the people?
You forget Reinhard Bonnke, TL Osborn, and Mike Francen to name a few?
Jeremy Myers says
Forgot them in what way? Are you saying they are effective or not?
They are very effective. Crusades work around the world.
Jeremy Myers says
Define “work.” They do get many people to come forward, sign a card, say a prayer. But the studies reveal that very few of these remain devoted followers of Jesus Christ, and of those few, the same studies show that the reason they remained followers is not because of the crusade, but because of the Christian friends and family around them who were there to walk with them in following Jesus.
What studies? What I mean is I think you are looking at it from an American point of view that is mainly Evangelical.
You seem to be a strong Calvinistic Evangelical that is dent on followup.
I would bet the studies are mainly done on crusades in North America, not India, Africa and Asia.
Jeremy Myers says
You are right that the studies were done only in the US. That is also primarily the only type of crusade evangelism I am thinking of….
However, I personally know a crusade evangelist who works in the Philippines. I get regular updates from him about how many converts make decisions at his events. A while back, I ran the numbers which he reports, and according to his reports, everybody in the country has been converted three times over. Something is certainly askew here….
As to me being a Calvinist, nothing could be further from the truth!
By the way, some of the studies I am thinking of (there are many!) were done by Campus Crusade, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and The Institute for American Growth. Here is what they found:
(1) Campus Crusade
Research conducted by The Institute for American Church Growth shows that of the hundreds of thousands of so called “decisions” from the “Here’s Life” emphasis, 97 out of every 100 were never incorporated into a church. Somewhere they were lost by the wayside.152
(2) Billy Graham Crusade
Statistics taken in connection with the Billy Graham Crusade in Seattle back in 1976 are also very enlightening. Some 434,100 persons passed through the gate to attend the crusade and 18,136 walked down the aisle. Of the 18,136, 53.7% went forward for rededication, not salvation. 30.6% went forward for conversion, and 15.7% was unknown as to the purpose. Only 7% of those who went forward for conversion, had become associated with a church when the research was done several years later.
(3) Institute for American Church Growth
Research from a questionnaire taken by The Institute for American Church Growth showed that when over 4000 people in 35 states and three countries were asked why they became part of a local church, 75% to 90% responded that friends and relatives were the “door of entrance.”
I understand that crusade Evangelism is not the best in America. Americans need revival, not evangelism!!!!
Btw, I live in the Philippines. There is between 92-102 million people here. If your friend has 300 million decision for Christ. WOW!
On my island alone, there is almost a million people.
Jeremy Myers says
Yes, I agree with you. Do you think it is possible my friend has 300 million decisions for Christ in a country with 100 million people? It isn’t. But that is what he reports as a result of his crusades. I cannot figure out why.
Who is it? I know most the crusade evangelists here.
Jeremy Myers says
I don’t want to call him out by name, but one evangelist I really like is Bob Tebow. Do you know him? He is the father of the (now famous) Tim Tebow.
Bob is a good guy. Baptist but still a good guy. He does alot down South.
I have a few things that have some pretty radical claims that come here but Miracle crusades are very effective here.
Benny Hinn and Mike Francen are the two that have brought the most harvest that I can remember.
Jeremy Myers says
Well, I have even lower opinions of miracle crusades. Do they take offerings at these crusades?
Depends but not normally…. sometimes when the Holy Spirit speaks directly to me, I will take an offering then give 100% of it to ministries to feed the poor in the city.
Mike did take an offering to help cover books he was giving away.
Benny, believe it or not, did not take an offering or give any real teaching. It is just straight forward gospel presentation and praying for the sick.
If you are against miracles, I am not sure what you do with most the Great Commission passages. You must just camp out Matthew 28:19 and not journey to Mark, Luke, John or Acts lol
Jeremy Myers says
No, I am not against miracles. I didn’t say that. I said I have a low opinion of miracle crusades. I am not a fan of doing miracles up on a stage.
Peter Vandever says
I believe this is part of the reason that missions is failing at large.
Tyler Geffeney says
Hey Jeremy, do you have a reference to the 6% statistic anywhere? i would like to share this with our staff.
Jeremy Myers says
I think it comes from The Way Of The Master, by Ray Comfort, p. 61-64.
I am looking for the primary source. I can’t find it.
The way of the master isn’t the primary source, of course.
Godfrey Mawa says
I am a native African evangelist, running a cutting edge evangelistic mission organization that uses various forms and strategies of evangelism – We run crusade evangelism as well as one-on-one outreaches, among other forms of evangelism. I greatly believe in crusade evangelism, as long as its well done, backed up with a strong follow-up and discipleship strategies. I know very many Christians and present ministers of the gospel who came to relate with Christ through Crusade Evangelism.
I agree, its so costly to do a crusade in developed/western countries (crusades may not be an effective thing in such countries, so our argument shouldn’t totally rule out the effectiveness of this form of evangelism). Its the cost, knowledge and geographic factors that may greatly challenge this form of evangelism. I have witnessed thousands of souls through crusade, using less resources and funds, and churches have been planted where thousands of some of the news converts are growing in Christ. Without a crusade these fruits would have never been reached where laborers are few, or where there’s limited media access, or it would have taken a longer period of time, and more resources.
We need to understand that when Christ calls you to be a fisher of men. Some are called to use nets (catch masses of souls in a one day job), others use a hook (may catch one soul in a one day job). All fish caught is fish. It’s the responsibility of the church leaders to disciple and grow the fish so that they live strong in the new pond. Its not the crusade form of evangelism or a one day message or a miracle that can sustain a Christian in their continued walk with Christ. The church should not stop using crusades as a form of evangelism, but simply fix their broken nets so we don’t lose the fish that has been caught. Don’t criticize if you don’t do it; and you can’t know it well, if you don’t do it.
Lastly, Reaching out for lost souls is God’s most profound heartbeat and the church’s strength. We need to support all forms of evangelism as long as they bring in a soul to Christ, at any cost. No amount of money is worth a soul, if Jesus could afford to let demons destroy someone’s swine of 2000 pigs only to help deliver one demon possessed man.
Lets support evangelism globally, empower Christian leaders into follow and discipleship, and plant more more churches in unreached places. God bless you.
Jeremy Myers says
Thank you for the input on the various forms of evangelism. Yes, you are right that various forms are needed. Just as some fishermen use nets and others use poles, evangelists can use different methods. I just wonder if there are more cost-effective methods than others.
Being from Africa, I wonder if you would tell me what you think on a subject…. I know of some people from here in the US who are thinking of moving to Africa to do ministry. So far, they have spent about $20,000 in making multiple trips to Africa to see if moving to Africa is something they could do. I imagine that they will take at least one more trip or two before they decide, each one costing about $10,000. Then, if they move, they will be looking at about $100,000 in moving expenses and costs. Then, once in Africa, they will live well above the normal standard of living for Africa.
It just makes me wonder if all that money wouldn’t be better spent in supporting missionaries and evangelists such as yourself who are already in Africa… What are your thoughts on this?
Godfrey Mawa says
Thank you so much, Jeremy. Yes, there are forms of evangelism that are more cost effective than others.
Your thoughts are great and there are very few people who have such a heart and who are willing to help native missionaries to impact their villages, cities and nations – we have to agree, native missionaries are more effective than visiting missionaries. I can’t be more effective than a trained American evangelist in reaching Americans for Christ, many barriers will hinder me from efficiency.
Over the span of the past years, I have seen many missionaries persons spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on air flights, expensive hotel bills and other expenses. 10,000 US$$$ will do a significant evangelistic work, or buy land for a school project, an orphanage or anything that can add value to the kingdom of God. Some Christian relief missionaries will spend 100.000 US$$$ to bring in donations worth 1,000 US$$$ (They give less than 5% of their general expenses). I saw this during our missions when the War Torn Northern Uganda ended (Joseph Kony and LRA rebels insurgencies/atrocities that lasted for over 20 years). You would see a missionary using a private jet, spending their stay on safaris, first class hotels, while they give one-time foodstuffs and used clothes as donations, only to take good pictures and videos for their Praise Reports.
I have evaluated that, as a native missionary my team and I can do an effective work in evangelism with 10.000 US$$$ than a visiting missionary can’t do with 100.000 US$$$$. A lot of churches in the developed world believe in their own trained missionaries and that’s why they would rather spend much more, for some reasons they are right. Sometimes they have heard of or dealt with wrong native persons before examining or training them, and they have disappointed them, so this has killed the trust for native missionaries. There are still great native missionaries who will work unto changing their communities and people towards the values of Christ.
My prayer is that churches and missionaries will use God given resources with good stewardship, as evangelism yields amazing fruits. The needy orphans, widows and helpless people helped and nations changed with a holistic approach. That way, the Lord will be praised! The nations will declare His praises. Take some time and visit my website, hope you enjoy the pictures and videos. Blessings!
Jeremy Myers says
Thank you for the input and insight. I am so sorry that we have been so wasteful with our spending. With your permission, I would like to post your comment as an actual post on this blog, and include some images from your website as well as a link to your site.
If a United States person really felt that God wanted them to come be a missionary in Africa, are there some suggestions you could provide for how they could do it without wasting money?
Godfrey Mawa says
Thanks for your response. You have all my permission to post my information. I am available to advise any missionaries interested in doing a mission work in Africa on how to be cost effective, yet with great results/fruits for the Lord’s kingdom as per mission field they are going/or are interested in. We have diverse experience ranging from all forms of evangelistic missions, relief and aid, leadership training and development, orphans, widows and the elderly, awareness and sensitization, among others. You can also see some pictures on our mission website or the following Facebook links;
Our organization has opportunities for individuals or groups of those interested in coming for mission experience in Africa.
I am doing to get you a list of advise for missionaries coming to Africa or third world countries, with an effective mission yet, without wasting finances and resources.
Thanks again Jeremy, for the great work. I know many are going to be helped.
Mr. M says
The entire conversation has been an interesting read. Every culture is unique, very much different from the states. I understand from an american standpoint there have been some disappointing examples along the way. In fact some of these unhealthy examples have seriously influenced the culture, and perspective of an evangelist. If we were to be completely honest, there have been been unhealthy examples in all offices of the body of Christ at one point or another. I very much understand your perspective, it would actually be great to meet with you over coffee and talk. There are many factors/variables that can really make a difference for any of the offices in the body of Christ. Finding a way to be efficient and effective is really part of the so to say job description to anyone in ministry. (I really think we would have a great conversation by the way away from online!). We must also consider the limited time factor of when Christ comes back, as according to scripture and in that know that we need to bring as many to Christ as fast as possible. With the percentages of those that (american) responded to the salvation call and were connected in churches, but didn’t stay.. who really is responsible? The evangelist or pastor or perhaps even someone/something else. Here in africa, crusade style evangelism really works well as the church is growing quickly in part to this. A healthy relationship between the evangelist and pastor is essential. As both can be divinely skilled at what they do, in the position they serve by the grace of God. However it is not good for each office in the body of Christ to target and diminish each other, that isn’t healthy. I know my response is limited for specific reasons due to online security. May God bless you greatly.
oh my GOD, MISSIONS belong to God,and he who wins asoul is wise just to listen from the Holy Spirit on which method He want you to use.one may not neccesariry come to church he or she has given his life to God ,just winn asoul for CHRIST He has a solution ,some prepared,others weeded ,others sawed, others watered etc just win a soul no mater which method
it is very effective as long as soul are won
Amanda McKim says
I’m with the guy above. It doesn’t matter what method let’s just plant as many seeds as we can. We should already know that we may not be the one to bring our loved ones, friends, or a select group of people to Christ. Our neighbour, colleague, or man down the road may be the ones that do it, but it doesn’t matter just as long as we plant a seed. That seed will eventually lead others to Christ. Amen!
Could you help me with letting me know what studies are showing “that only 6% of people who “come forward” at an evangelistic crusade are any different in their beliefs or behavior one year later.”
Bob Moffitt says
It would be helpful to me if these comments were dated in order to determine how time-relevant they are.
A couple comments, it seems some are focusing on methods, I think the message is critical. The problem I see with some messages is the likelihood of false converts.
The other comment is I think to draw conclusions from experiences is problematic, is a talking donkey to be normative?
The Bible must be our guide, Way of the Master uses the biblical model in; law first then gospel, repentance is mandatory, and he doesn’t push. He says go by yourself and think about it, then talk to God. He doesn’t get fancy numbers but true converts.
Samuel Spatafore says
Could you provide the details about the research referred to above?
Daniel Chalmers says
Jesus came to reveal God as a Father and our Father. We are in a fatherless generation. Jesus is still trying to reveal the Father to us. I believe that once we start understanding that we are sons and daughters and not orphans, we then will be able to Father or mother this next generation. Evangelism will look very different. The other factor is that when we get saved it’s one thing. The Greek word sozo means saved, delivered and healed. And that means once you are saved by Christ, deliverance may be needed and healing in past wounds in your heart.This is all biblical. If we think that an altar call will do the trick then we are kidding ourselves. Yes Jesus paid for it for us, however walking with Him in relationship and meeting the Father is needed. See a Father gives identity and character. The trinity is our family. Food for thought!!!
Your math is off. Graham said only 6% of the people who came forward, not 6% of those he preached to. Thus, by his own admission, the number “saved” was far less than 12 million people.
Nigel Langdon says
You say that 6% of people who come forward are changed in their beliefs or behaviour 1 year later. Then saying that if Billy Graham preached to 200 million people that means 12 million got saved. But that is only correct assuming 100% of the listeners ‘came forward’. If only 10% of listeners come forward (which is probably generous?) then only 1.2 million people got saved. On the other hand what happens to the others 199 million people? I would argue that every time a person hears the gospel and rejects it, they become a little more hardened to it, therefore that much more difficult to reach next time. so you have saved 1.2 million people, and pushed 199 million people that much closer to hell. If so, at what % does the balance become a worthwhile trade of?
ap patrick says
this is true