Using Group Dynamics to Increase Baptisms

NUMEROUS experiments have shown that group discussions lead to better results than good lectures. People tend to make up their minds better when they talk things over than when they are told what to do. . .

-Ministerial secretary and evangelist of the Caribbean Union Conference at the time this aricle was written

NUMEROUS experiments have shown that group discussions lead to better results than good lectures. People tend to make up their minds better when they talk things over than when they are told what to do.

Dr. Kert Lewin reports that when a nutrition expert told a group of mothers that they should give their babies orange juice, 55 percent were following his advice a month later. But when groups each consisting of six mothers talked and decided to give their babies orange juice, 100 percent of them did.

After carefully studying group-dynamics methods I decided to adopt a discussion approach in getting decisions for baptism. I have been able to baptize up to 96 percent of those taking part in the group discussions and making a decision in the group.

During my crusades I arrange to have my best interests come together on a Sabbath morning after the major doctrines have been presented. The program does not follow the usual Sabbath morning format, and there is no sermon. I try to have something different happen every fifteen minutes, and the aim is to create an informal atmosphere that will encourage discussion and help the interests feel free to express themselves.

There is a series of short talks designed to create a decision consciousness. For example, someone gives a talk entitled "The Importance of Following Jesus Immediately," and someone else discusses "The Importance of Following Jesus When Young." This last one is appropriate because most of my converts have been under 30 years of age. The people are divided into groups of six or seven, and each group chooses its own chairman. The chairman directs the discussion in his group, collects questions, and asks them publicly on behalf of the group.

The questions are answered on the spot, provided they do not call for information on subjects not yet discussed from the pulpit during the crusade. This question-and-answer period is important for three reasons: (1) Confidence in the evangelist and the message is increased when the people see him answering questions from the Bible without prior preparation. (2) It provides an opportunity to answer objections and remove reservations before calling for a decision. (3) The nature of the questions reveals whether or not the people are ready to make decisions. Experience has taught me that when many questions are asked about the law, the Sabbath, or the state of the dead, the people are not ready for a decision. I then spend some time clearing up the misunderstandings concerning those doctrines. However, if the questions are merely on Christian standards and health reform, I know the people are ready to make a decision to unite with the remnant church.

At this point I say: "I can see that you believe that what you've been studying is the truth. The only thing an honest person can do with truth is to accept it and act on it. I believe that is what all of you will do; but I cannot tell the church this until you give me permission. Therefore, I am going to ask you to discuss this among yourselves for three minutes and then tell your chairman to report to me what you have decided to do about the truth you have learned."

After three minutes the chairmen of the groups report the decisions, and there is usually a hundred-percent decision for the truth and baptism. My experience has been that these decisions are more trustworthy than the ones made during an altar call. In short, this method results in more decisions and better decisions.

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-Ministerial secretary and evangelist of the Caribbean Union Conference at the time this aricle was written

February 1973

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