Pastors need to know how to navigate the toxicity of social media and maximise the great benefits of the platforms. Late Evangelist Billy Graham’s strategy in Britain may offer good lessons.
In 1966, Evangelist Graham was harassed with criticism that so many people became born again at his crusades in Britain because of the ’emotional intensity of Graham’s signature song, ‘Just as I am,’ which the choir always sang before he appealed to people to believe in Jesus Christ.
Hitherto, the global evangelist went to Britain in March 1954 for a series of evangelistic crusades at the Haringey Arena in North London. He planned a one-week crusade but the demand to hear him speak was so great that he ended up staying for three months.
It was reported that for twelve weeks, 12,000 people filled the Haringey Arena every night, and even on the last day, the demand was so great to hear Billy Graham, that the organisers decided to move the service from Harringay to Wembley Stadium to accommodate the 120,000 people who wanted to hear him.
Then the crusade moved to the White City Stadium in West London for 65,000 people who couldn’t get into Wembley.
It was reported that over two million people heard about Jesus Christ in that period with over 40,000 becoming born again.
LISTEN TO THIS AWESOME WORSHIP OF JESUS
A year later, he reportedly visited London for a week-long crusade. It rained every night except for the final night which also turned out to be the coldest night of the year, but that didn’t prevent 450,000 people from turning up, with over 24,000 becoming born again.
For the two years, Evangelist Graham had preached to 2.45 million people and 64, 000 people had become born again.
Twelve years later, he went to Earl’s Court in West London for another crusade but the criticism that had begun in the media in 1954 had now gone viral. They were saying that so many people went forward to ‘accept Christ at the Crusades’ because of the ’emotional intensity of Graham’s signature song, ‘Just as I am,’ which the choir always sang before he made his appeal.
The evangelist’s first response was that he decided to drop the song and enjoined people to believe in Jesus as Lord and Savour without any song or music.
Cliff Barrows, the crusade’s musical director revealed the people’s response thus: “We went thirty nights without a single note of the hymn. ‘Just as I Am’ has always been our crusades’ signature tune through the years. We had never done that before. When the reporters began to write about the invitation at Earl’s Court, they said all they heard was a shuffling of feet on the floor. ‘Bring back ‘Just as I Am’ as the silence is killing us!'”
DON’T GET STUCK TO A PARTICULAR MOVE OF GOD
GOD CAN ALWAYS VINDICATE HIMSELF
WHEN YOU GLORIFY CHRIST, SOULS WILL COME
AND YOU MAY NOT NEED TO CHANGE THE MOVE OF GOD TO PLEASE PEOPLE
JUST BE LED BY THE Holy Spirit