PUBLIC evangelism is too expensive!" is the cry that is often heard. "We just couldn't afford a full-time evangelistic team here. It would break the conference in a few years." I have heard this for many years. Is it really true? As a full-time conference evangelist I decided to compile a few statistics from my own experience to test the truth of that opinion.
A number of years ago I participated in a field school of evangelism sponsored and conducted by Andrews University (then Emmanuel Missionary College). As a young aspiring evangelist I was thrilled over the nineteen converts who were baptized. About a year or two later I had occasion to return to that same area, and I enthusiastically asked about those new members. I was amazed to hear the pastor say, "They're all gone out of the church. None of them are left. And do you know, that campaign cost the conference a small fortune!" Investigation showed that only two or three had actually left the church. The others were strong members, and one was an elder.
Maybe that campaign did cost a small fortune; I don't know. But how about the sixteen new believers who rejoice in God's message. Are they not worth a small fortune? Or is evangelism really too expensive?
Have we forgotten that the Lord would have given up all of heaven and come and died for only one who was in need of salvation? What is the value of one precious soul? Statistics that I have seen and heard tell us that the average cost per baptism, including all channels and areas of the work, is one thousand dollars. Is one soul worth that much? Jesus said one soul is worth, not a small or even a large fortune, but all of heaven.
I believe that although one soul is worth more than all the money in the world, soul winning does not really cost money; it makes money. Or may I say, Evangelism does not really cost; it pays.
During the past four years I had the privilege of being the speaker on the evangelistic team serving in the Upper Columbia Conference. Lone Purdey was soloist; and Don Reiber, Dean Edwards, Will Begeraty, and Paul Cole served successively as intern-campaign managers. During that time God surely blessed our efforts for Him. We conducted sixteen campaigns, which resulted in 391 baptisms. The total cost to the conference was $22,373.36. Each crusade thus cost an average of $1,392.15. How much did it cost the conference for each baptism? $57.40. I believe a soul for Christ is worth that much, don't you, or is evangelism really too expensive?
The story, however, does not end there. We picked two of our crusades to study carefully to determine what the continuing financial result of the campaigns would be. These were not our two best campaigns nor our worst, and should give a good picture of the over-all financial results of evangelism. In one crusade there were forty people baptized at a cost to the conference of $2,400. Six months later those new members had already turned in to the church $1,845.14 in tithes and offerings. In another crusade eighty-four were baptized at a total cost to the conference of $1,462.55. Just four months later those new members had turned in to the church the almost unbelievable amount of $3,030.56! Furthermore, the collective churches in the conference where we were privileged to conduct evangelistic meetings showed an increase in tithe of $45,000 per year and more than a $16,000 yearly increase in Sabbath school and other offerings. I ask you now, Is evangelism too expensive?
I have not compiled these statistics to exalt any evangelist. Only the Lord gives results in our work for Him. To God be all the glory! I am certainly not endeavoring to exalt myself or my team. Our team is not unusual or special in any way. If anything, we are probably more expensive and less talented than many other evangelistic teams. I have only tried to show that evangelism is not the hopeless, expensive waste that many think it to be. Public evangelism does win souls. Yes, let's face it, evangelism does cost a bit, but it pays far more!
Is evangelism too expensive? I say NO! And, my friend, I can tell you of 391 persons who would agree with me one hundred per cent. May I make that 392? I believe my conference president would agree with me too. Would you please bear with me a moment longer while I add just one more to the list? The Lord Jesus Christ. I'm sure that He who gave His all would agree. When just one of these devout ones lays his crown at the feet of Jesus in His kingdom, I'm sure that all heaven will agree it was worth it all; that truly evangelism is not too expensive.