Some Thoughts on Mass Evangelism

How do we spread the gospel today?

To many, there was a time when evangelism was primarily defined by traveling evangelists speaking at mass gatherings. Yet, that is changing now and it is no secret that mass evangelism is in decline in the West.

More on that in a moment…

Regardless of culture, the Evangelist is a biblical role and traveling evangelists have been around a very long time. At the end of the New Testament era, we see wandering prophets and evangelists delivering God’s message to the people.

But looking at our context today, it seem have seen a decline in certain evangelistic strategies by evangelists in the West. Perahps Charles Finney (in the 1800s) and Billy Graham (in the 1900s) serve as the two bookends of the great age of mass evangelism.

Finney and others during the Second Great Awakening were not the first to practice mass evangelism—that was Peter (Acts 2). But, mass evangelism seems to be becoming the exception rather than the rule today, in many places.

A Major Shift

Some may balk at the idea of mass evangelism going by the wayside.

But if you grew up in the Pentecostal, Wesleyan, or Baptist tradition, think about your history. Twenty years ago, you probably had spring and fall revival services in your church. That was seen as an effective way to reach the community. It was a time of intentional evangelistic preaching where church members would bring lost friends and family to hear a guest speaker urgently preach the gospel.

But in all likelihood your church no longer has those services or brings in that traveling evangelist. That’s a major shift. The major evangelistic strategy 50 years ago is now a tangential strategy at best. For better or worse, mass evangelism is in mass decline.

I’m not saying that mass ...

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