John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

Moving Down the Number Line

The typical non-church-goer in the 1960s probably believed the Bible was trustworthy. They probably believed that Jesus was the Son of God. I'm not saying they acted like it. I'm not saying they had surrendered to Jesus. I'm not saying that they based their lifestyle on the Bible. But they had the idea that maybe they should. Or at least they understood why others did.

They would have a positive image of the church and its leaders. They probably had some sort of church background that was relatively healthy. They would have foundational knowledge of the essential truths of the Christian faith. They may have even had a built-in sense of guilt or conviction that kicked in when they violated the basic tenets of the Judeo-Christian value system.

On our scale from yesterday, I'd put that person somewhere around 7 or 8.

Now think about the top evangelistic strategies churches used in 1960. Door-to-door visitation. Personal Bible studies. Gospel campaigns. Bus programs. These were all perfect for people in the context of 1960.

Door knocking, for example, was effective for several reasons. First of all, people would be at home. Second, they didn't mind if you knocked on their door. If you did -- and you identified yourself as being from a church -- they most certainly would invite you in, offer you coffee and listen to what you had to say. Regardless of a person's spiritual convictions, it would have been considered rude to not do at least that.

If you asked a person, "If you were to die tonight, do you know where you'd spend your eternity?" they would actually know what you're talking about.

If you said, "I could show you in the Bible how you can know for certain that you would have eternal life" they would have a Bible and know where it is. If you could actually point them to, say, 1 John 5:13, they would believe it and trust what you're saying. You had some credibility with them already.

If you were to tell them about a revival meeting (or campaign for my Church of Christ friends) your church was holding, they might actually come. There was, after all, some social and cultural pressure on people to attend these things back then.

If you were to ask them about having a home Bible study, they might agree to participate. They probably believed that knowing the Bible better was a noble endeavor. You are from a church, right? You're not one of those weirdos out there that you hear about some times. You're a church person, and church people are normal. Besides, we've been meaning to get involved with a church again. It's just hard to find the right one.

Bus ministries were supported by parents who were willing to allow their children to board a vehicle driven by someone they'd never met, transported to some building they'd never seen in a part of the city where they'd never been for a religious event implemented by people they don't know with only a promise that they would return the child later that day.

If you could sit with the typical non-church-goer in 1960 and share the gospel with them, it wasn't difficult to move them from 7 or 8 to 10. It wouldn't be unusual to accomplish that in one or two sessions.

Clearly, it's not 1960 anymore. People aren't where they were anymore. The church can't do what it did anymore.

It was relatively easy to move a person from 7 or 8 to 10. How do you move a person from a 3 (or a negative 3) to a 10?