As we move toward the end, says Ellen White, "some methods used in the work will be different from the methods used in the past, but let no one, because of this, block the way by criticism."1 "Whatever may have been your former practice, it is not necessary to repeat it again and again in the same way. God would have new and untried methods followed."2 "Let every worker in the Master's vineyard study, plan, devise methods to reach people where they are. We must do something out of the common course of things. We must arrest the attention."3
In planning for my crusades, I have taken these counsels seriously, and tried to be an innovative and effective communicator of the gospel story. I found the following five principles helpful in providing an evangelistic explosion in my ministry.
Mobilize every member to revival and prayer
Sharing the gospel cannot be effective unless we spend a lot of time in prayer, meditation, and the study of God's Word. Three hours a day alone with God is a minimum for me. Along with myself, I want my evangelistic team and church members to have a similar experience. Unless we wake up, we can never see miracles of genuine conversion. We can not mobilize a sick church to evangelize.
The cry of John Wesley needs to be our cry: "Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they are clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of God on earth."4
I also invite all those who attend my meetings to join me in fasting and praying every Wednesday throughout the five weeks of the crusade. They pray for the evangelist, them selves and the city. Every night, before I begin preaching, I remind the team of the power of prayer. I request all to pray for me as I preach, and this they do sincerely. This kind of revival among our people will always bring results. This transforms the preacher, the congregation and the community.
Make the crusade people-oriented
When I am invited to conduct a crusade, I inform the coordinators in advance that they need not set any budget for handbills. Every member will be my handbill. One month before I arrive, every member is to make a list of 20 people—friends, neighbors, and family members—and invite them to the meetings. Then everyone who attends is encouraged to invite at least two others the following day.
Since no handbills have been distributed, every member feels accountable and responsible to spread the news of what is happening.
This people-to-people contact has been an important element of success in my crusades. This is not to say that I do not make use of banners, posters, radio, television, and news papers. But these communication tools are used to foster public awareness. Research indicates that almost 80 percent of the people who come to Christ and are baptized have responded because a relative or friend has invited them.5
Make sure of total participation
Prior to the crusade, create an awareness in every church member that God has given us the city, and that it is the responsibility of every individual church member to play a part to completely conquer it for Christ. My slogan is "every member mobiliz tion and every person reached."
I consider my presence in every city an opportunity to mobilize and train every member to be a soul winner. If the city has a total of 3,000 church members, my goal is to have 3,000 trained preachers after the crusade is over, all qualified to win souls, to train and encourage the new members to do likewise.
Did you know that one out of four people we meet would come to Christ if someone would just explain the gospel to them?6 So, with much prayer and love for Christ, I mobilize all to reach all. To make total participation a serious business, all my crusades are "Field Schools of Evangelism" for both lay members and pastors. I spend two hours, twice every week, training the lay preachers. The presence of pastors at these events helps in mobilization and motivation.
To these classes I also invite those who make decisions. The new members are my greatest tools in soul winning. They have relatives and friends. I baptized one 17-year-old girl in Tanzania. Before the end of the crusade, eight of her friends and relatives had been baptized.
Home visitation is an important aspect of total mobilization and training. I spend at least three hours a day, four days a week in home visitation with lay leaders and pastors. This gives them on-the-job experience in leading people to decision. There is power when the evangelist does house-to-house visitation. How can I encourage others to visit unless I also do it?
Dream big dreams, set bold goals
The quality of my relationship with God can be evaluated by the kind of goals I set for myself in evangelism. When I am truly God's partner, I can afford to think and plan big. How can I think small when "there is no limit to the usefulness of one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his life and lives a life wholly consecrated to God"?7
I am therefore unapologetically numbers-conscious, though that, of course, is not my only concern. Numbers count with me, and there fore I count numbers. As I evangelize it is important to me to know how many souls accept the lordship of my Savior Jesus Christ, and how many I am training to win souls. My God is apparently interested in numbers also. The book of Acts is a numbers book. I no longer feel guilty when I mention numbers, count numbers, or set high numerical goals in my ministry.
When God dreams His dreams through us, He takes responsibility for making these dreams happen. God even fulfills His promise to go beyond our expectations and dreams (Eph. 3:20). My task is to dream big, and then stand and see my God give results beyond my dreams.
Two other factors also help in achieving big dreams. First, I share my dreams with others. When others take ownership of my goals and dreams, and begin to pray and work with me, great things happen. Second, when I go into a city, I aim to reach the entire city and I work hard to achieve that goal. The rest I leave to God. When I have prayed and done all I can, and in the end I baptize only one, I can still rejoice in God.
When I set high goals in soul winning, God provides other blessings as well. Reports from Texas and Tanzania where I have conducted crusades in the last two or three years indicate that their tithes and offerings have grown three times since we ended these crusades. I hope this is happening in other places as well. We can surely expect the Savior's ample blessings as we prioritize what He considers most important. When we mind His business, He minds ours.
Preach for decisions
I have decided never to preach a sermon without making an appeal. I consider all my meetings to be reap ing crusades. I take for granted that other evangelists, pastors, and lay members have already done the planting and I am there to reap the harvest. I realize that "many are on the verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in."8 I also consider that the Lord has called me as His ambassador to move, persuade, convince, beg, beseech, and compel (Acts 17:1-4; 2 Cor. 5:11, 18-20; 6:2; Luke 14:16-24). I preach for decisions. Hence the time for the altar call is a serious time. People make serious decisions every night.
At the very beginning of the sermon, I make an announcement regarding the appeal, and thus prepare the whole congregation for the call that will come later. I ask the congregation to be praying for the hundreds who will make decisions. This paves the way for the Holy Spirit to work in mighty ways.
Just before I begin the appeal, I ask the pastors, their spouses and all the church elders to come forward to shake hands or give hugs to the hundreds who will be making decisions for Christ and baptism. Then I ask the members who have their relatives and friends making decisions to come forward and stand by their side, thus assuring them of their prayer and support. This involves everyone. Hundreds make decisions because they know someone will be there to support and love them.
Public evangelism still works when conducted according to the divine plan. As we put these elements into practice we can count on a rewarding harvest for Christ.
1 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press® Pub. Assn., 1948), 25.
2 ———, Evangelism (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1946), 125.
3 Ibid., 123.
4 In Wesley L. Duewell, Ablaze for God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1989), 106.
5 Charles Am, Donald McGavran, and Win Arn, Growth: A New Vision for Sunday School (Pasadena: Church Growth Press, 1980), 75, 80.
6 Walter Bleecker, Leading a Person to Christ (San Bernadino, Calif.: Here's Life Press, 1990), 16.
7 White, The Desire of Ages (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press® Pub. Assn., 1940), 250, 251.
8 ———, Acts of the Apostles (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press® Pub. Assn., 1911), 109.