Billy Sunday on Mass Evangelism


Quotations from an article

Some years ago Billy Sunday published an article in The Presbyterian on mass evangelism which is worthy of reproduction in THE MINISTRY. At the time this was written Mr. Sunday was drawing thousands to his evangelistic meetings, and was recognized as the outstanding preacher of his day and generation. In this article, he said: 

"Yes, mass evangelism is still, and always will be, effective. It is God's appointed way of reaching the people. An attempt is being made, backed by the liberal element in the churches, to choke it. As a result, the spiritual mercury is at zero, and faith's wings are being clipped with the scissors of indifference. The prophets appealed to the masses. So did John the Baptist, and the multitudes rushed into the wilderness to hear him. Jesus appealed to the masses. So great were the crowds that they trod upon each other. They were hungry for the truth. Every preacher is striving to get the multitude to come to church. If not mass evangelism, then why church mass meetings? In sports we appeal to the masses, in baseball, football, prize-fights, -theaters.

"In politics we do likewise. Did not President Roosevelt appeal from special trains and in great buildings to the masses, and he was successful. He did not sit in his private car and send out personal political workers. No, he appeared in person, and the throngs pressed to hear him. The church will never reach the spiritual position held years ago until it returns to mass evangelism.

"Even the music committees in our church are re vising the hymnals and deliberately cutting out all songs that speak of the blood of Jesus Christ as an atonement for sin. There is an appalling condition in our churches. Dr. Robert E. Speer said: 'After thirty years of leadership in missionary work, it is my conclusion and conviction that the greatest missionary problem is the failure of the Christian people to live up to their profession.

"Every great religious awakening that has moved cities has been brought about by mass evangelism— Martin Luther, Savonarola, Edwards, Finney, Spurgeon, Moody, Jones, Gypsy Smith; it is as settled as the laws of gravity, Jesus the same yesterday, today, and forever. Mass evangelism is God's way of attract ing the masses, for multitudes are instantly drawn when there is great interest—see how they pack the Kentucky Derby each year. We are trying to substitute man's ways for God's ways: Thus saith man, instead of 'thus saith the Lord.'

"As long as the churches have a passion for the salvation of sinners, there is no danger of drifting into Liberalism or Modernism- and spending our energies on ethical development of society. In these days of Liberalism and self-satisfied complacence, the Church does not want the preacher to emphasize the old-fashioned gospel notes of hell, sin, salvation by repentance, and faith in the shed blood of Christ. She wants a man-made humanitarianism, so she digs her own grave and degenerates into a third-rate amusement bureau instead of a lighthouse. I listened to one of these modernists, and he drowned me in his verbal ocean, but he never launched a life-boat, nor threw a life line to a dying sinner in Jesus' name. What good is a sermon if men and women swarm up after the benediction and compliment you, but are not convicted to surrender to Jesus as their Saviour?"



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April 1950

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