Some time back the Billy Graham organization planned a world-wide mission using a satellite to beam Billy's message into centres all around the world. The idea was for each local community to use a hall, hire the video equipment and run a mini-crusade in the hall. Better than nothing, but then all a bit "old-hat".
Recently, a few local churches got together to run a mission by themselves. It would cost a couple of thousand dollars for each church and then there was all the organizing and preparation person-hours. Was it all worth it? There was a time when we would never question an outreach mission, but now! In the end, the members decided that the only people likely to come out on a cold evening to a bare hall, were church people wanting to "support the cause". For the mass of humanity, lost and apart from God, we had better think of other ways of evangelism.
Evangelism means different things to different people. For many church people it means bringing unbelievers "under the sound of the gospel." This means running special events or services that attract outsiders, and at which a gospel message is preached. Sometimes it means running special "marketing" programmes - visitation, home-meetings and the like. Sometimes it involves a total transformation of the church from a worshipping fellowship of believers to a mission organization. For many, the only valid form of evangelism is personal witnessing. This comes in numerous forms, eg. Friendship Evangelism (Does this involve being nice to people with ulterior motives?).
So what is evangelism? In simple terms it is the communication of an important message from God. The message is the gospel. John 3:16 is the best shorthand statement of the gospel, but Matthew 11:28 is just as good. "Jesus said: Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." As for how we communicate the message, we need to employ the most effective means available to get the message out to as many people as possible. For Jesus that meant employing the "wandering prophet" method to get the message out to "all" the villages in Galilee and Judea. For us, the mass media is the obvious tool for mass communication.
It's probably about time our churches used some of their resources to produce half hour gospel specials for television and video. Obvious, isn't it? It's good to see Bill Bright and his friends meeting this challenge head on.