Oh My!

coach-tunnellJeff Tunnell

I just finished compiling the statistical data for one week of Tent Revival Meetings in our community.  Six local congregations joined together and hosted a traveling evangelist to preach each night Sunday – Saturday.  The events were held outdoors under two open tents which were set up at the base of a snow play sliding area (no snow this time of year!)  The relationship between “efforts made” and “results desired” are not encouraging to me.

We rejoice in the new salvations and rededications in Jesus, and we even held an outdoor water baptism on Saturday afternoon before the final evening.  Having churches move together in unity of vision was probably the greatest result for me, which is the main reason our cell church participated.

However, setting up tents & tearing them down, making childcare arrangements work in an open field, training altar workers from 6 different churches (including a Spanish speaking congregation that hosted one evening), constructing portable lights and sound systems, permits from government agencies, working every evening at the tents until late at night, and calculating the human and financial resources needed for such a large effort, have all led me to reread Chapter 8 of Dr.Cho’s book, “Successful Home Cell Groups”!!  Let me transmit two short paragraphs here:

“When people heard I had set a goal of 500,000 for 1984, many asked me, “Are you going to have a big campaign? Are you going to have a city-wide soul-winning program?”

I don’t need any of those things, because I have a completely different philosophy of evangelism.  Before I knew the biblical way of evangelizing, I thought the only thing to do was have a big revival meeting with all sorts of special speakers and programs.  But with the cell system, we don’t need any special programs at all.  We are having revival every day, and it hardly takes any effort.”

Oh my, how this rings true in my heart: to have healthy cells that ‘naturally’ evangelize and multiply is so very effective and nobody has to be worn out for the 4 weeks following!

I am still trying to figure out whose electrical cords are in my car, leftovers from the teardown.

9 thoughts on “Oh My!

  • I love the philosophy of my church, (if you can say that),
    Which is…
    In order to for the church to grow the church needs to get smaller.
    By that they realize the importance of the small cell group.
    It makes for a small intimate environment where each of us has more of an insight into each others lives, and if someone doesn’t turn up you know ,
    People don’t get lost in the crowd.
    an interesting point i heard the other day from the ex-sas commander here in Australia, is the most effective way to win a war is through the strategic use of small teams of ten men.
    I thought that was quite interesting.

  • Great word, Jeff. I have been thinking similar thoughts about the vacation bible schools churches in our community have recently produced. Ralph Neighbour haunts me, with his statement to the effect that the typical evangelical congregation will average two conversions in a year, having spent around $120,000 (typical annual budget) for a fairly expensive $60K/conversion. When you factor in intangible resources such as time and talent, the conclusion is even more stark.

    All of which leads me to meditate once more on Kirekegaard’s parable of the geese in which once a week (on Sunday) someone speaks to the geese about their God-given destiny of flying but that throughout the week noone really takes this flying business seriously (and there are stories told of unreasonable geese who tried and failed). I long for such unreasonableness. And for flying.

  • Please, read again 1 Corinthians 14 : 24 & 25. This may be the NT’s only instruction on how to evangelize.

    Statistical research from the 1960s and 70s showed that most mass communication efforts convince about three percent of an audience while alienating about the same proportion.

    Public campaigns serve three helpful functions: Create awareness, Stimulate Interest and Reinforce past choices. Such efforts prove near to worthless in providing Evaluative discussion and Actual choices.

  • Jeremy, your SAS commander is right on! Military models are in agreement all around the world: the use of small cells (10-15 troops) is the most effective unit. For cell churches this is the level of “implementation” also. It is where the vision is put into the field and practiced at the most fundamental level.

  • Michael,
    Wow! Those $$ observations are tough to swallow. Some will object to quantifying souls to dollars of course, but others tell us that if we were in the business world, we would have gone broke long ago with numbers like those. I am glad, and angels rejoice, for EVERY SOUL that is reconciled to the Father by the blood of Jesus. Focused cell group evangelism changes the picture enormously in the area of soul-winning compared to dollars spent on the effort; most of the expenses are already in place in the cell group

  • Galen, I appreciate your comment about 3 reasons for Public Campaigns! This looks like what Pastor Mario Vega accomplishes in El Salvador with ELIM’s stadium events. Great celebrations for the entire church and the public sees the church in action.

  • I saw a documentary on Billy Graham crusades in Australia the other day and I heard an interesting point. Crusades he had in Australia during in the 50’s were very successful, but then a decade later he came again and he was not as successful. Society had changed… Crusades don’t work any more in Australia. A lot of work for little return. A friend with 25 years ministry experience said to me that if we do things the same way and don’t expect to get the same results then we are crazy! Large scale evangelistic crusades may have been effective in a previous era, but are not as effective these days. Simply they don’t work in our society. Trying to make them work is just plain crazy!

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