Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The church and change Evangelism part 1

I became a Christian on the steps of St Martin in the Fields London on the stroke of midnight on New Years Day 1973.
I had gone there for a New Years open air party and met there two Australian Christians  and a guy from the UK who I remember was a lorry driver.They spoken to me about a personal relationship with Jesus and I accepted Him as my Saviour and nothing was ever the same again! That night we went to speak to homeless people about Jesus.
Having come to faith in such an unexpected and even dramatic way through the witness of Christians ,evangelism has always been important to me.

Crowd at Spree73
Initially I assumed all evangelism was personal evangelism but it  was not long before I went to Spree73(SPiritual Re-Emphasis 1973) to hear Billy Graham preach and if memory serves me right Johnny Cash sing at Wembley stadium.
I remember nothing of the content of the sermon but I do remember large numbers of people responding to the call to "come to the front and ask Jesus in your life"
It was my first taste of large scale evangelism and it appeared to be highly effective. In following years the same format was used by a number of evangelists including Luis Palau among others and as a a young pastor I remember taking coach loads to hear Billy Graham at Ashton Gate and Villa Park in 1984.Again large numbers responded to the call. Billy certainly made the  gospel message ,and the demands it makes, very clear indeed,though despite all attempts at  follow up of these new converts there appeared to be a very high drop out rate.
What Billy Graham did on a huge scale, we tried on a much  smaller scale with evangelistic events ranging from evangelistic talks to visiting American choirs and preachers. On different occasions both Louie Giglio and Steve Chalke came .The format was the same though,the church put on an event and people came to us.
These events had results ,some people came to faith, (though again the drop out rate was high),there was an increased confidence in the church about the gospel message and the change it could make to peoples lives and the very act of organising these events gave us a chance to work together for The Kingdom which is what true fellowship is all about
Meanwhile I was noticing many people who came to faith were not converted at one of these evangelistic events but through the day to day ministry of the church .Sometimes they sat in the pews (yes we still had them at that time!)for a couple of years before coming gradually to faith.It all seemed so different to my own conversion It was also clear from talking to these people that relationships with Christians had been a key part in coming. to faith!
Indeed relationships were to be a key part of the next big evangelistic activity we bought into ...The Alpha course, which I will blog on next time

to be continued!


  1. Having been involved in Evangelism, with a capital E, in Scotland in the late 70s and 80s my experience reflects yours, that the 'hit and run' form of big evangelism - rock band to play with people's emotions and soften them up, then zap 'em with a hard hitting speaker, left many spiritual casualties along the Highway to Heaven. I'm sorry for that - it wasn't big and it wasn't clever. These days, my mantra is 'keep it real'. Real friendships, real prayer for people and real commitment. Then people can find the real Jesus.

  2. Very interesting about evangelism!I had been a "churchgoer" when I was a young teenager, fell away for a few years then became a "seeker." I went to church but always knew there was "something missing"; I hadn't heard the Gospel message in any way that I understood, although a young woman I worked with tried to explain! Maybe it didn't help that she was OK- but tended to be a bit judgemental about people over small faults- a bit "picky". The first time I was TRULY converted and asked Jesus into my life was after watching a Billy Graham rally from a Football stadium (Roker Park - but now Sunderland play at the Stadium of Light)It was a footballer's testimony that really "spoke" to me. I sent for the literature, prayed the sinner's prayer but it wasn't really until a few years more that I really "saw the light" and had an experience of being truly aware of God's love and acceptance for me- and for all who turn to Him.
    Ralationships with Christians certainly DO play a massive part in evangelism.

  3. Agree with what you write and especially your keep it real comment authenticity is critical.
    Pauline,thanks for sharing that as you say relationship is another key aspect of evangelism