Public evangelism still works

Larry WitzelEvangelism Practices

Here’s an article from the February 2014 issue of Ministry magazine. It was written by Shane Anderson, a classmate of mine back at Walla Walla University when we were both theology majors.

He believes that public evangelism still works, and has evidence to back it up:

In my experience, nothing helps people commit fully to Christ as well as a full-message public evangelistic series. And though I think a case for public evangelism as an important part of any church’s witness can be made (Jesus did public evangelism, the apostles all did public evangelism), I can best articulate my thoughts concerning public evangelism’s necessity in the context of our own denomination.

Pastor Anderson gives three reasons why public evangelism is crucial for the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s outreach efforts:

  1. The unique beliefs of the Adventist Church are immensely compelling to many people. It is difficult to present these distinctive topics in short sound bites. Because of this, a compressed schedule (such as 17 messages over 15 nights) is the best way to cover the totality of these great themes and build momentum from one night to the next.
  2. Public evangelistic series excel at reaping friends of the church. People are more likely to listen to our preaching if they become friends with us first. Once that friendship has begun, the brief yet sustained momentum of a public evangelistic series provides a unique witnessing opportunity. It’s a special environment where friends of the church can become members of and missionaries for the church.
  3. A public evangelistic series reaches people that friendship evangelism never will. The flip side of friendship evangelism is that it can’t reach everyone in your town. A direct mail campaign is the only way to guarantee that someone in every home of your target area gets your invitation. As Pastor Anderson puts it, “It is the Spirit who has been working with the resi­dents of particular homes for months or years on end in full knowledge that one day, ‘out of the blue,’ brochures would show up in their mailboxes that would eventually help lead them to Christ.

Here’s the evidence of success: In his little town of 1,900 people, their most recent series had 150 attendees on opening night, with half of them guests. Over the last three years, 29 people have been added to the church through public evangelistic events, with more likely from the most recent campaign.

It’s a great article that I heartily recommend. You can read the full article at Ministry Magazine’s website.