I had a blast at the Billy Graham Crusade.
That may come as a surprise. I know that I write with the angsty, critical 20something voice despite my efforts to be positive and helpful. And I am going to write about how, if massive crusades were our only how of evangelism, our why might be out of whack.
But that doesn't change the fact that I had a blast at a Crusade. I spent months preparing for it. There was this deal they did beforehand, called Operation Andrew, where you prayed for a friend to come with you to the Crusade and, hopefully, to Jesus. I prayed for Matt. And he's in the kingdom now. I don't know what sort of impact the Crusade had or what, if any, impact my prayers had, but I felt like I was a part of something special.
For generations, Christians have held crusades and revivals as a "how" to share the good news of Jesus. They met in tents and stadiums, included prayer and preaching and music and altar calls. Some make "decisions for Christ" in those tents and stadiums, and some even stick with it when they get home.
(These Crusades are not to be confused with the dozen or so genocidal vacations that took place hundreds of years ago or the campus ministry)
If crusades and special events were our only way of "doing evangelism," what would this reveal about our motivations?
(We're operating from the assumption that "hows" flow from "whys". This is a huge assumption and I know it's more complicated than that, but it's a blog, not a book)
You might start by noticing the violent, life-and-death language we use. What were the crusades? What do you revive? There's a lot of struggle and desperation in our language around these events. It's as if the Christians are gathering all their resources together for a last-ditch charge into the overwhelming world and are hoping that Jesus will come through on his promise to show up: "Look to my coming at first light on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East."
Secondly, you might notice the specialness of the special event. It might seem to you that we believe that evangelism is a seasonal thing or a thing we do to make us look better than we normally look, like dressing up for a first date or sifting through your Facebook pictures to find the perfect profile shot. A church that had Billy Graham preach and Charlie Daniels perform every week would be packed. So, you might think we do evangelism because our daily lives as Christians are boring and you'd never want to be one if you really knew what it entailed.
Lastly, you might think that we believe that evangelism is a team sport. And you'd be right in that. We don't think that evangelism can only happen occasionally or that we're desperately flailing about for new recruits, but we do believe that evangelism happens best when we're all together. Crusades bring Christians together in evangelism, bring churches together, bring the body of Christ together. And that's powerful.
But that's not how we "do evangelism," at least, not in GCF, not primarily. We won't look to big events or big name speakers to bring our friends to Christ.
We'll do something different.