Kansas City was not the place to write the obituary of the local church.

Kansas City, Missouri, home of the pro football Chiefs, was taken over by the “Indians” the last week of July when more than 8,000 eager soul winners trooped into town for the first-ever American Festival of Evangelism. It was the first “open” evangelism convention conveners could recall, and the lay men and women were not slack in moving through the opening.

They jammed workshops on virtually every conceivable practical aspect of evangelism. Veteran professional congress-goers from the ranks of denominational and independent “Chiefs,” who habitually politic in the halls while meetings are in progress, remarked at the conspicuous absence of “Indians” in the Kansas City conference corridors: they were seriously absorbed in what their teachers were offering.

Heretofore, such gatherings have been run by and for the experts in evangelism. But at Kansas City, planners brought to town some 30 churches that have actually gone out and done evangelism; their pastors and laymen told how.

Diversity of denomination, social setting, technique, and geography was striking. On the other hand, there was unity in commitment to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and in reaching out to people with complex needs and problems.

There was Stow (Ohio) Alliance Fellowship Church, which began as a home Bible study under lay leadership in 1959 and now has a Sunday morning attendance of 1,000. Or, Faith United Presbyterian Church, Sun City, Arizona, which in eight years has grown from 89 to 1,900—not with children’s and youth work (you have to be 50 or older to live in Sun City). Rather, it has 100 support groups and healing services finely tuned to Sun City’s elderly couples, widows, ...

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