Miguel at “God-Directed Deviations” has started a very interesting series that he calls “Why I’m No Longer the Sort that ‘Closes the Deal,’ in Evangelism.” (You can read “Part I” and “Part II” of his series now.)
He is stepping through how his thinking about evangelism and, especially, “closing the deal” has changed. In the first post, Miguel explains, “I used to be the sort that asked others to raise their hands in the pews (with all heads bowed and all eyes closed of course) after a sermon to ‘accept Christ.'”
In the second post, he writes:
I can recall, during a major evangelistic campaign when 1000′s came forward to “Accept Christ,” how I felt. Having witnessed these miraculous events before, and having wept and worshiped God for doing such a wondrous things in the lives of others, I couldn’t help but think how grateful I was to be a part of it. But, on this particular occasion I asked one of the ministry leaders, “How many of these that came forward do you think have truly received Christ?” Without hesitation, and matter-of-factly, he said, “about 3%.” When I asked, “What about the other 97%?” He replied with a certain incredulity, “Look, we can only get them to a point of decision, the rest is up to God.” Sadly, at the time, and because I didn’t know any better, I accepted it a a reasonable response. It did, however, and for the years to follow, remain like a splinter in my soul irritating but still ignored. I learned many more methods, manners, and modes of “evangelism,” in the years that followed, and felt pretty good that I could make them better. I could take what I saw missing in these techniques and improve on them, and make them more “biblical.”
Now, please do not misunderstand the reason for this post. I am not condemning people who follow the types of evangelistic methods that Miguel talks about in these posts. (And, from Miguel’s comment to me, it is clear that he is not condemning the people or the methods either.)
Instead, I have a much different purpose in pointing you to Miguel’s posts. Looking back over the years that I attended evangelism training sessions, led evangelism groups, taught evangelism methodologies, and made evangelistic visits to people, I recognize that all of this effort and all of those resources resulted in very, very few new followers of Jesus Christ. Oh, there were many, many decisions, and, yes, there was “follow-up.” But, like in Miguel’s story, the decisions rarely resulted in the people actually beginning to be a disciple of Jesus (as far as anyone could tell).
So, I want to ask you 2 things: 1) Do your experiences match mine and Miguel’s, or have you seen better “results”? 2) Have you found a different way to help people begin to follow Jesus Christ that seems to be more “effective”?
(I put “results” and “effective” in quotes because I realize that the results and effects are truly up to God. That said, I’m not sure God is interested in us spinning our wheels doing things that are not actually helping people follow Jesus.)