“Does mass evangelism really work in the 21st century?”
I have heard this question many times over the past few years, and I’m sure you have, as well. It is being asked by pastors, Christian leaders, Bible teachers, and evangelists around the world. Billy Graham once said, “The evangelistic harvest is always urgent. The destiny of men and nations is always being decided. Every generation is strategic. We are not responsible for the past generation and we cannot bear the full responsibility for the next one; but we do have our generation. God will hold us responsible as to how well we fulfill our responsibilities to this age and take advantage of our opportunities.”
Billy Graham said it well. Yes, this is a new generation, but the harvest is urgent and yes, I believe mass evangelism still works today! Even as I write this, Luis and Andrew Palau just concluded a citywide mass evangelistic effort in Fresno, California where thousands of people attended Fresno CityFest, and many gave their lives to Jesus! Jesus said, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32).
Let’s look back at the very first mass evangelistic campaign in Acts 2. Pentecost comes and the Holy Spirit is stirring up the city. Peter, in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit, boldly proclaims the Good News of Jesus to a large audience and God brings in the harvest. “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41).
The key for all of us to remember is that God is mighty to save and He does the work. What was true back at the start of the Church is true today: God uses mass evangelism to spread His Gospel to the ends of the earth! As was just seen in Fresno, God mobilizes His Body to saturate an entire city with the Good News of Jesus! The Holy Spirit breathes hope and life over a community and lives are changed for eternity!
Here are some keys to effective mass evangelism today:
- Get the local churches of a city onboard. Working with, for, and through the local churches is key for mass evangelism to work well.
- The local city must own it. They need to sense that this is “their festival.”
- Everything must be bathed in prayer. This should go without saying, but too often, prayer is left in the back seat. The spiritual battle is intense. Heaven and Hell hang in the balance and we need to pray! As my dear friend Nick Hall often says, “When we pray…God moves!”
- The business and community leaders need to be onboard. If you look back over many evangelistic crusades and festivals, there is another common denominator to success: backing from the business community. Let’s face it: mass evangelism takes big bucks. Having the business and civic community support the evangelistic campaigns adds both affirmation and credibility! At one of our citywide festivals, we had the mayor of the city address the crowd. People get excited when they see their city uniting together. Mass evangelism works well when the Church and the community unite together.
- Collaboration works. There is strength in numbers. Mass evangelism can be incredibly effective when many evangelists work together to reach a city. All over the world, I have had the honor of partnering with many NGA evangelists to saturate a city for Jesus! Here’s the simple truth: I need you and you need me. We are stronger together!
- The next generation is about a cause, not a name. Millennials are not into names as much as they are into causes. This is key as we look to the future of mass evangelism. You could see this with the united effort of Together 2016, when hundreds of thousands gathered together for Jesus on the National Mall.
- Finally, the evangelist must serve the city. Mass evangelism is not about us; it’s all for Jesus! Jesus said in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” The evangelist and his team must enter the city boldly, but as humble servants.
My friends, mass evangelism still works today! In Luke 10:2, Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Together, let’s keep lifting Jesus high and sharing His Good News to as many people as possible. Let’s keep the passion aflame! I leave you with these inspiring words from R.A. Torrey. “I would rather win souls than be the greatest king or emperor on earth; I would rather win souls than be the greatest general that ever commanded an army; I would rather win souls than be the greatest poet, or novelist, or literary man who ever walked this earth. My one ambition in life is to win as many as possible. Oh, it is the only thing worth doing, to save souls.”
Yes! Amen! Let’s do it…All for Jesus!
Reid was born and raised in Petaluma, California. At 17 years of age, Reid surrendered himself to the Lord. As a young Christ-follower, he recorded many of Billy Graham’s messages, marveling at the power of God’s Word to touch hearts and change lives. He attended Western Baptist College (Corban University) in Salem, Oregon and Multnomah Biblical Seminary in Portland, Oregon, where he received his Master of Divinity. He also gained valuable training and experience as an intern at Luis Palau Association. In 2002, Reid founded the Reid Saunders Association (RSA).
When he is not working, Reid loves spending time with his wife, Carmen, and their three children. He enjoys golfing, reading, laughing at his own jokes, and ultimately, telling people about Jesus.