This article, from Graham's speech on the care of converts, originally appeared in the August 3, 1959 issue of Christianity Today.
A few years ago I was in Dallas, Texas, and we had a crowd of 30,000 to 40,000 people. I preached and gave an invitation and practically no one came forward. I left the platform a little bit perplexed and wondering what had happened. A saint from Germany put his arm around me and said, "Billy, could I say a word to you?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Son, you didn't preach the Cross tonight. Your message was good, but you didn't preach the Cross." I went to my room and wept. I said, "Oh, God, so help me, there will never be a sermon that I preach unless the Cross is central." Now, there are many mysteries to the Atonement, and I don't understand all the light that comes from that Cross. But to lift it up is the secret of evangelistic preaching.
Response to the Cross
Evangelism must seek the response of the individual. A lady said to me sometime ago, "You know, Mr. Graham, our minister is a wonderful person, but for the life of me, I don't know what he wants us to do." There are many people like that. Are we failing to explain those things that to us are elementary? What is repentance? How long has it been since you preached a sermon on repentance just as you would explain it to a group of children? Dr. Louis Evans, one of our great Presbyterian ministers, said that in, his preaching he found that the religious intelligence of the average American congregation is that of a 12-year-old. "I always talk to the people now as if they were children," he added. Dr. James Denney once said, "If you shoot over the head of your congregation, you don't prove anything except that you don't know how to shoot."
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.