One of the problems with major evangelistic thrusts comes in the follow up of new believers. In England back in the 70s, we were involved in a Luis Palau crusade in London. When we dared to do the follow-up one year later, despite the great response at the time of the crusade, the typical church had only added one new member. Sadly, this is fairly typical.
Our friend Victor Choudhrie in India likes to tell the story of what happened following the showing of a well-known Christian movie in a village in India. Hundreds of people responded to the invitation at the end of the film. But a year later, the churches were largely unchanged. However, the temples had become much more active. Victor quotes the verse, "He who does not gather with me, scatters" (Luke 11:23) to explain what is happening.
If the fruit of evangelism is not "put into a new wineskin," it may well be lost.
Last year we were heavily involved in an Asian country (which I cannot name for security reasons). We worked with an evangelist who holds major healing crusades in that country. We were part of a team training local believers to follow up the crusades with Luke 10 principles that result in simple churches. Each person was taught how to recognize a person of peace and to start a church in the home of that person. Simple, reproducible patterns were modeled.
The people came in to the crusade from the surrounding areas on hundreds of buses that were specially hired for the occasion. A trained worker went back on each bus, looking to find a person of peace amongst those who had responded. At each crusade, many tens of thousands of people made some kind of decision to become a follower of Jesus.
Now, more than a year later, we are amazed at the results. A typical story from one of the workers might be, "After the crusade I started four churches, now I have eight." Two young men came to the training. Ten months later, they had around 700 people, mostly new believers, in 20 to 30 churches. The harvest is not just being conserved, it is being multiplied! Many, if not most, of the new churches are starting around a miracle. There is no way to find accurate numbers, but we reckon there are now thousands of simple churches that have started following these crusades.
There are principles and lessons to be learned from what is going on. No move of God is without its challenges. However, we are hugely encouraged with what is happening.
The pattern is beginning to be repeated in other nations too. This is the reason we were in Venezuela this year. There is going to be a large crusade in Caracas in January. The Baptists are the main ones involved in putting it on. Several hundred people have now been trained to do follow up by finding a person of peace and starting something in their home. With the political uncertainty now facing that nation, many were very open to these concepts. Pray for Venezuela!