Evangelism has come upon a popularity that is truly amazing. Reaching the unconverted, a responsibility long neglected by major denominations bent chiefly upon social action, today is becoming a primary concern of the Church. The National Council of Churches has elevated the “dignity” of evangelism by the recent appointment of a commission to study “the need, nature and purpose of evangelism for contemporary America.” While still giving priority to problems of a social nature, NCC is at the same time attempting to give direction to evangelism. Newspapers, religious and secular magazines, broadcasts, and vast popular assemblies in many lands bear strong witness to the current acceptance of this movement. This remarkable religious manifestation has aroused considerable public and private debate as to its methods, depth, and permanence.
Many factors contribute to this signal resurgence of evangelism. Surely the astonishing success of the Billy Graham Crusades is one, and it has given startling evidence that individuals are hungering and thirsting for a knowledge of salvation. Another is the depressing realization that the Church is simply an irrelevant institution to a vast number of people. And this is true in spite of the effort which the Church has made to “modernize” her message for the sake of relevance and palatability to twentieth century thinking. The third reason is a spiritual longing in the hearts of people, engendered by a sense of insecurity and by the absence of authoritative preaching in many churches. However, regardless of what may have revived all this new interest, it is certain that evangelism presents the Church today with a wonderful opportunity to extend a witness and an influence.
One cannot help observe ...1
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