This ebook by Howard Culbertson is a biography of Rev. Paul McGrady, pastor, evangelist and professor of evangelism. These seven chapters (including the Foreword/Preface) contain the story of his life and one of his sermons. Psul McGrady, Mr. Evangelism was originally published by Pedestal Press of Kansas City
Content of this chapter transcribed from an audio recording of Paul McGrady's preaching
The heart of Paul McGrady's evangelistic message and method is contained in the following sermon. It's a sermon he gave in hundreds of churches across the United States. This is a transcript of a recording of him preaching the sermon.
A widely used word in Christian circles today is evangelism. Yet, I'm also aware of the fact that we do not all mean exactly the same thing by the term evangelism. I have written out what I consider to be New Testament evangelism; namely, to tell the good news of One who came to earth to die on the Cross for us, who arose again and ever lives to intercede for those who have repented and believe the gospel. In other words, evangelism means pointing men to the Saviour. We must never mean anything less than this. (Actually, evangelism itself is not a New Testament word, but certainly it is a New Testament concept!)
Some time ago I was traveling to a distant city on a plane. When we stopped in Memphis, Tenn., Dr. Robert G. Lee boarded the plane and sat down beside me. I had heard him speak and I was delighted to be able to ask him a few questions. He had been a pastor in Memphis 28 years and had built his church into the largest church in that city in the Southern Baptist Convention. He'd built it up from a few hundred to 16,000 members and had a board of deacons who lived very high-type Christian lives with New Testament standards.
I said, "Dr. Lee, if you were to give in a nutshell your philosophy of the church, what would it be?"
"It's very simple," he said.
"It's been this threefold program," Dr. Lee said to me that day, "which has enabled us to build the church for the glory of God here in Memphis."
As I think about Pentecost, I'm intrigued by what happened on that day. We claim to have the true Pentecostal message -- and I think this is very important that we do have and retain this message -- but I wonder if we also have the Pentecostal program, where everyone prayed and everyone witnessed, then one man preached. Too often we don't have the first part of the program. If we want to be a true Pentecostal people in the New Testament sense, we need to have the first two phases of the program. If everyone is praying and everyone is witnessing, then the man standing up to preach has his effectiveness multiplied a thousand times over.
I used to say that anyone can go out right now and win a soul for Christ. I still think nearly everyone could eventually learn to be a soul winner. Yet the thought that thrills me is that everyone can participate in some kind of personal evangelism. I want to discuss six different phases, beginning on the lowest rung of the ladder.
Number one is just simply giving out good gospel literature. We have let the Communists outdo us at this point. They have sown down countries with their literature. I believe we need to learn something from them.
A friend of mine was giving out special issues of the Herald of Holiness, one of the good gospel papers today and the official organ of the Church of the Nazarene (it's now called Holiness Today). My friend stopped by a store on Saturday afternoon to pick up some groceries before going home. As he walked by an automobile with the window down, he felt impressed to put one of these special issues on the seat of that particular car. Of course he had placed a stamp of the church's name and address on the magazine.
When the man who owned the car came out, he looked at the little magazine. When he got home, he began to read it. The next morning he found his way to the Church of the Nazarene. When an invitation was given to accept Christ he walked down to the altar and surrendered his life to Jesus Christ ... all because my friend obeyed and left this piece of gospel literature. Now I'm certainly convinced that not all of our giving out of gospel literature will bring such a dramatic or sudden result. Yet I'm sure the promise is still true: "Cast your bread upon the waters: for after many days you will find it again" (Ecclesiastes 11:1).
Too often we think those who give out gospel tracts are fellows who haven't shaved in a couple of months and wear old, worn-out suits and live across the tracks. I believe there's a place to give out good gospel tracts even among talented, dedicated, refined, and intelligent Christians.
I'd like to pass on these suggestions in giving out gospel tracts, from the director of the American Tract Club, Clyde H. Dennis.
A second way that everyone can help is the business of looking for new Sunday school prospects. The average Christian church today needs above all else to move out into a great era of soul winning. They need large, growing, up-to-date, well-classified prospect lists. Once in a while a student in one of my classes will say, "But, Prof, aren't we more than salesmen?"
Yes, we're more than salesmen, but we're should never be less than salesmen. We have the greatest commodity on the earth: the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We work on some of the same principles that the salesman uses. The reason we have so few converts today is that we have so few contacts. If we multiply our contacts, we will also multiply our converts.
Here are some suggestions for building a prospect list. Number one: A continual pipeline where our people bring the names and addresses regularly of those whom they consider to be prospects. I tried this one year when I pastored St. Paul's Church in Kansas City. That year our people brought in an average of 10 names of families a week and put them in the offering plate. We put these names on the prospect roll and began to work them -- names of colleagues at work, the grocery store employees, people working at the convenience store, the lady at the dry-cleaning counter. Wherever they went, they had an eye for people who might be prospects. We have our people sign their names and the reason why they want the particular family on the prospect list.
One of our teen-age girls turned in the name of a young man in whom she was interested for other than spiritual purposes. I went to visit Ernie. He came to a class party first, then Sunday school and church. Within 30 days from the first visit he was wonderfully saved. He did go with Linda for about a year; then they broke up. But Ernie married another wonderful girl in our church and today they are supervisors of a Primary Department . . . all because someone turned his name in. Maybe Linda had mixed motives for it -- I don't know -- but the wonderful thing is that he found the Lord Jesus Christ as his own personal Saviour and today has a happy Christian home.
Another wonderful idea is the visitor's register found in many churches. Every visitor that comes in is invited to sign his name on the register. This becomes a source of prospects. In fact, I felt as a pastor that those who are interested enough to come and pay a visit should have priority. Early in the week I would get some of my people out knocking on their doors and thanking them for the visit.
Another thing we have in our Sunday schools in the Church of the Nazarene is the "We Welcome You" card. Any Sunday school can have cards for visitors that can be used to get names, addresses, and phone numbers on the prospect roll.
For years I used a traditional canvass-type program. But I discovered a few years ago that a traditional canvass-type program would not work any longer, because religion has become just a label and nearly everyone professes to have some religious faith.
A few years ago as I was grappling with this problem and wondering what to do, someone said, "Ask them if they go to church regularly." And the people said, "It's none of your business." So, then we hit on the idea of putting on a big, special visitors' day. We used two terms to get away from the mental block people have when you say Sunday school or church or Nazarene or any of these loaded terms. We use "big open-house day" and "giant visitors' day." People don't have a resistance built up to these.
I got together some laymen who were top salesmen and we worked out some ideas that I want to pass on to you. We sort of worked out a package deal to do four things at one time:
We'll knock on every door in our area with one question: "Would you be our guest for one visit, one time, down at the lovely building at Seventh and Main? It'll be August 16, 9:45 a.m." If he says, "Yes," or, "Maybe," we say, "Fine, I'm Paul McGrady -- and your name is ... ?" He says, "I'm Joe Jones."
"Fine." My worker standing right behind me puts down the name and if Joe says, "We'll be there," he puts down yes; if he says, "We'll think about it," he puts down maybe. This determines our follow-up procedure.
If he says, "Well, we'd like to, but we're members of another church," we say, "Fine! My, we're glad you're in church," and move on.
Attendance follows enrollment -- this is an invariable principle. If you're running about 60 percent of your membership and you have 200 enrolled, you're running about 120. If you want to double your attendance then double that enrollment. Bring in 200 new enrollees you'll bring in 100 more in attendance.
We put on a tremendous Sunday school enrollment program to get everybody's attention. I think we're New Testament when we have high standards to be a member of the church, but aren't you glad there's one organization in our churches where you can say to people everywhere -- the drunkard, the harlot or whomever: Come in, and the first day you'll be a full-fledged member of our Sunday school?
I'm not talking about the kind of rallies where you go out and get relatives and friends and neighbors that are loyal members of other churches to come in and in fill your pew for one Sunday. If you do that, then you you get a washed-out feeling the Sunday following. I'm talking about the kind of rally where you double your attendance one Sunday and then beat you regular your attendance about 50 from then on.
Jesus never sought the great mass meetings. He was infinitely concerned about individuals, and His training for evangelism was sending them out two by two where the people were. The fact the nineteen-century mass evangelism is not working as good today as it did then doesn't distress me a bit. It may be that we're going to be forced to go back to the New Testament for our method of evangelism.
Wrap this package into one hard-hitting, fast-moving week and you'll see miracles of attendance transpire.
At St. Paul's Church in Kansas City, I had tried various methods of spending time each week looking for new people. I tried everything I could think of to get my people to work at the job and we were winning a few. Then I said to myself, Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could have a program that would inspire church attendance and get people from every age bracket to join for one week of looking for new people?
Forty-seven participated in this particular week. In that week we contacted between 22,000 and 25,000 people. We brought in over 2,000 prospects. We went back to every one of those with a friendly reminder of our big open-house day.
That Sunday we had a special program for every age-group. We had trained a corps of friendly welcoming people. That first day 238 brand-new first-timers came into our Sunday school. I preached to 255 saints and 238 sinners. I tell you it was a thrill. (If you want to hear your pastor preach better than he's ever preached before, help him bring as many sinners to church as there are saints there.) Our Sunday school workers enrolled 143 new people that Sunday and we picked up 90 in attendance that year. For 38 weeks we saw from three to 13 new people saved every Sunday.
Six months after I left the pastorate and went to Bethany to teach, the Lord began to speak to my heart about sharing this program with others. I went over to the Del City church. They came up from 83 to 191 for that first Sunday. I saw the pastor six weeks later and he said, "You know, these are the sweetest days of my entire ministry. Every week since you've been there we've had new people saved. It's kind of like I read in the Acts of the Apostles."
Just 13 months ago I went to Champaign, IL, to a little church where they had averaged 25 in Sunday school the year before. In a half-week of canvassing, we came up to 318. Just this summer I called the pastor and asked, "Tell me, Jack, how is your attendance?"
"We closed out our assembly year last Sunday with an average of 201," he exclaimed.
I was down in Lake Forest Church in Houston for a Saturday and Sunday. They came up from 91 to 228. The star caller in that program was a 16-year-old boy, Mike. Mike made over 1,200 calls in one week and 256 call-backs on Saturday.
I was working with the Portland Avenue Church in Oklahoma City a few weeks before school was out. I had all my weekends slated, so I went for three nights: Monday through Wednesday. We contacted over 10,000 people in three days. We got 1,800 people on their prospect list. Three weeks later I saw the pastor and he said, "In three weeks' time we have had 10 brand-new converts."
See why I believe in this program? It wins people to Jesus
Christ. Praise the Lord! And that's what we're in business for, isn't it?
Number three in our types of evangelism is friendship evangelism. I wholeheartedly agree with our old concept of winning people to ourselves in order to win them to Christ. The only tragedy of this was that we took the first step and too often stopped there. I'm not at all willing to scrap this, for well over 90 percent of the people I've had the privilege of leading to Christ were led to Him on the foundation of friendship evangelism built by godly laymen. I think it's important for us to build a great prospect list and then go out and win them to ourselves.
And how do we win them to ourselves? We have to show an
interest in them. We have to find something we are grateful for in their lives or in their work. Be
sincerely complimentary! We can have them over to our homes. We can take them for a drive in
the country. We can share their hobbies with them. I'm always willing to do anything I possibly
can to gain a person's friendship in order to introduce him to the Friend of all friends, Jesus
The fourth phase of personal evangelism is Sunday school calling. However, I think we need to revise it a little bit. The traditional way is to go in and say, "We sure missed you last Sunday. We hope you'll be there next Sunday. Good-bye."
You really haven't done too much, have you? Your morale wears out and you say, "Oh, well, nothing happens. Why keep it up?"
We need to talk a little bit about Sunday school purpose. Our purpose in Sunday school is the same as it is in the church: teach the Bible, teach the great doctrines of the Christian faith, how to live the Christian life in an unchristian world, build up Christlike character.
Sunday school work is the biggest business in the universe. When we get excited about our Sunday school purpose, it will put something into our Sunday school calling ... enthusiasm, life, and lift. We have something to share with this poor, confused world!
The fifth phase of personal evangelism is spiritual calling. I fully believe everyone can do the first four types: literature distribution, prospect calling, Sunday school calling, and friendship calling. And I really, honestly believe that every Christian can take this fifth step and give a spiritual witness.
Rosalind Rinker, one of the outstanding personal workers and youth workers of our day, has written what I believe is the greatest book on the New Testament concept of personal witnessing. The book by Miss Rinker, who worked for 12 years with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, is entitled You Can Witness with Confidence.
I talked to a lawyer once about what makes a good witness on the witness stand. Here's what he said:
Let's move on to the sixth phase and the height of personal evangelism: soul-winning evangelism. Soul winning evangelism is very similar to the personal-witnessing type, where we go out and start where a person is and tell them how wonderful Jesus is to us. But we do not stop there. After we have finished witnessing, we say, "I just want you to know that Christ is wonderful. What He has done for me, He can do for you. I'm praying that soon you'll find your real purpose in life." Have prayer with them and be on your way. Use with the same approach: Start where people are, then present Christ, and then draw the net.
What was the first thing Jesus said me the Samaritan woman at the well? "Give Me a drink of water." He knew He had to start where she was. Suppose He had said to her in the early part of the conversation what He said at the close: "You're looking for that long-awaited Messiah? You're looking at Him." She wouldn't have believed Him. But after the soul-winning conversation in which He began where she was and step by step led her to where she was ready, she accepted it.
A Mexican immigrant in San Antonio, Texas, went to one of our mission churches and was gloriously saved. The next morning he went out with a basket of bread on his head and started down the street saying, "Bread for sale and bread for free!"
He had only gotten about a block when a lady came out, "Tell me about the bread that's free."
He said, "Last night over at the friendly Nazarene mission I went in and accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. He fed my poor, hungry soul on wonderful bread from heaven and I'll never be hungry again!"
Tears began to roll down the lady's cheeks and she said, "I was looking for some of this ordinary bread for free for my children; but, oh, I'm hungry for that same bread you found."
There on the street corner he led her to Christ.
I was over in western Oklahoma and the district superintendent called me. "If you can do anything to encourage my pastor there, please do it. He's very discouraged. He's been there for 11 months and wants to leave. They just know for sure that nothing can be done there."
After the Friday night service we were over at the parsonage and I said, "Tell me about the person in this town you're most concerned about."
"Well . . . I'm most concerned about Bonnie, an attractive 16-year-old girl who was the one bright spot in our whole 11 months here. Right after we came she was saved and for six months lived a wonderful Christian life. But five months ago she slipped away from the Lord."
I said, "Well, what about her parents?" "Her father is deceased. Her mother takes care of the children and, as far as I know, she doesn't attend church."
I said, "Well, you lost Bonnie because you didn't win the family. (This is why we lose three-fourths of our young people. We don't win the family to Christ.)"
So I said, "Tomorrow morning let's start out and let our first visit be with this family."
So we went over and it happened that the President had a big news conference on television. Normally, when we go in for a soul-winning interview, we'd say, "Is this your favorite television program?" If it is, we say, "Well, fine, we don't want to disturb you. We'll come back later." If not, they will turn it off. However that morning I just stayed with Mrs. Brown until she finished looking at the program. The pastor started getting nervous, but 15 minutes later the news conference was over.
I looked at Mrs. Brown and said, "These are certainly vital issues they're discussing, aren't they?"
"Yes, they are.
"You know, Mrs. Brown, I can think of only one issue more important."
"What's that?" she said.
"Our personal relationship with God. By the way, Mrs. Brown, have you thought very much lately about spiritual things and your personal relationship to God?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact," she said, "about six months ago I had a light heart attack and it scared me. I haven't thought about much of anything else since."I saw then that God had helped me to say the right thing. So I took the next step and presented Jesus Christ to her through what is called the "Roman Road to Salvation." Pretty soon her 14-year-old son was on his knees praying. She was on her knees praying. Ray found Christ and arose with a victorious note in his testimony, "For the first time in my life I have accepted Jesus Christ!"
Pretty soon Jesus wonderfully saved the mother. Sunday morning after I finished the morning message, I went back to Bonnie and said, "Wouldn't you like to come back to the altar this morning and turn your life over to Jesus Christ and renew your relationship with Him?"
She smiled a wonderful smile and said, "I did that last night."
Well, I couldn't think of any other revival in town, so I said, "Where?"
"Last night Mama told me what Jesus had done for her and begged me to forgive her for not being a Christian mother all these years. After I heard Ray and Mama pray at our first family prayer, I asked them to pray for me and I was saved right there in our first family altar!"
Start where people are. Then present Jesus Christ to them. I have probably a hundred books on evangelism. At least half or two-thirds of them say we're supposed to memorize about a hundred verses of Scripture to answer the hundred reasons or excuses why people do not seek Christ. They are all useless.
I do not believe that concept of evangelism will work. Even if you could by the sheer force of logic win the argument, you will still lose that person. Our job is not to argue, but to present Jesus Christ.
I was in a revival meeting at a town near an air force base. We contacted a puny, little prospect list the pastor had. Then the pastor said, "Well, you can rest this afternoon."
A survey in that city had already showed 18,000 out of the 22,000 in that city were not in Sunday school or church on any one Sunday. But, anyway, I decided not to protest too much. He probably wouldn't see it any different anyway.
I said, "Fine, but let's first go out to the air force base. I've had some experience with military personnel and I believe we might find some sinner out there."
We went out and started knocking on doors. We came to this sergeant's residence. He invited us in and we got to talking about spiritual things.
He said, "Well, yes. I smoke and drink and play cards and go to the movies, but I'm probably not much worse than some of the hypocrites that come to your church."
I didn't answer his accusation. I just said, "If the Lord Jesus Christ were standing here beside you right now, would you look up at Him and say, `Jesus, I'm every bit as good as You are'?"
He dropped his head as though someone had hit him with their fist. He shook his head, "No." It wasn't long then until he accepted Christ.
When we present Jesus Christ, a lot of other things just automatically fall into place. Our task is just to present Jesus Christ. I've found the best way for me to present Jesus Christ is to use what we call the "Roman Road to Salvation." I started out using eight verses, then I reduced it to seven, then six, and then five. Now I use only four. Two verses are designed to get a person lost (you cannot save a person until you get him or her lost!) and two are to get that person saved. The four passages I use are Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; 10:9-10.
It's my honest conviction and personal observation that you can't get men under conviction for sin in a personal, soul-winning interview. Only God can do that. Instead, you get men to realize they are lost, undone sinners deserving nothing but the wrath of God.
The first verse is Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." I'll say to Jim, "That includes me, doesn't it?"
"Yes," Jim will say.
"That includes my friend here, doesn't it?"
"And that includes you, doesn't it, Jim?"
"We're all lost and we're all without Christ. You know, Jim, sometimes when we compare ourselves with ourselves, we don't realize how bad sin is, but sin is an awful thing. Let's look over here at Rom. 6:23." I always open it and let Jim look at it himself. It reads: "The wages of sin is death." And I say, "Jim, you know this means physical death came to the world because of sin. It's a bitter pill, but we're all going to have to go through it because of the sins of our forefathers. But it also means spiritual death -- separation from God. It means eternal death and final separation from God."
(By now Jim is beginning to feel his lost state.) "Jim, we're all lost and we're all heading for eternity without Christ. We're all born this way. We can't help it, but there's not only this truth. Look back here in Romans 5:8. `But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.' Jim, we don't have to die spiritually and be eternally separated from God. We can turn to Jesus Christ and through God's love we can be wonderfully saved right here and now. Through the whole history of the Christian Church we've tended to make salvation a complicated something that human striving brings to us, but it's really so simple and wonderful.
"Turn with me to Romans 10:9-10. There you will read, `That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.' It's so simple and wonderful! All you have to do is confess your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of all your sins. He'll blot them out and you'll be just like you had never sinned. And it can happen right now! Jim, could we have a word of prayer?"
All the times I've asked this question to hundreds of people, I've had only one person say, "No." We pray a brief prayer, just a simple, brief prayer, and then quit praying. Don't say, "Amen." If you do, he'll raise his head and the interview will be over. But with his head bowed in a spirit of prayer, just talk to him in the same tone of voice.
"Jim, maybe you've never prayed before, but if you would just pray a little prayer and ask for God's mercy, He's standing with outstretched arms to give it to you right now. Jim, you don't have to wait until Sunday. You do not have to wait until you can come to church. You can be saved right here, right now. Confess your sins to Christ and He will do it! Jim, will you try to pray that way?"
He may say, "Well, I'll try," or, "I'm sorry, but I just can't pray."
In that case, I say, "Jim, I'm going to pray a few short sentences. I want you to repeat them after me, praying them from the bottom of your heart."
That's it! Present the "Roman Road to Salvation" and then draw the net.
I was out in Weatherford, Okla., a few months ago. God gave us a sweeping revival there that weekend. Sunday afternoon I said to the pastor, "Let's find a hungry heart here in your town. Who is the one person you're most concerned about in this town."
We went a block and a half down the street from the parsonage to a hotel where an elderly man was living. The pastor had worked for about a year hoping to lead him to Christ. We went in and the pastor said, "Mr. McGloskey, this is Rev. McGrady, our evangelist. I thought you were going to come hear him preach."
"Yes, I intended to come hear him preach, but I haven't been feeling well this weekend. I haven't felt well today either. I have asthma and it's raining, so I won't be able to come."
Then the pastor started off with an old line: "You're going out to meet God one of these times. .."
I gouged him in the ribs as if to say, "If you don't mind, let me direct this interview."
I began, "I'd hoped you would come to the revival. I've heard a lot about you from the pastor. But since you haven't come and our paths may never cross again, could we go upstairs where I could talk with you a few minutes and have a brief prayer with you before I go?"
"I'll be glad to."
We went up and sat down on the divan. I said, "From what you and the pastor said, I gather you're not feeling well physically."
"How are you feeling spiritually? How's your personal relationship with God?"
I said, "Mr. McGloskey, have you ever been a Christian?"
"I'd like to read a little of God's Word to you . . . if I might."
"Yes, help yourself."
Well, I began to read the "Roman Road to Salvation." Pretty soon he was feeling spiritually lost. Then I turned to the passages on Christ's love for us and led Mr. McGloskey through those. Then I said, "Mr. McGloskey, just before we go, could we have a word of prayer with you?"
He got down on his knees and I prayed, and before I could quit praying and start telling him how to pray, he started to pray. Soon that 71-year-old man jumped up and said, "Praise the Lord!"
We had a wonderful time of rejoicing. He threw his arms around the pastor and hugged him and said, "Thank you for not giving up on me!"
As Christians, we have potential we've never dreamed of. Let's use our time and let God use our talents for His glory. Soul winning is the biggest business in the world. If we expect people to come and plop into our churches, there are going to be only a small number saved. But think how we can multiply if we could send Christians out to take Jesus Christ to the world!
-- Howard Culbertson
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Young Charger, Foreword and
Preface | 1.
The end of an era |
2. McGrady: The preacher |
3. McGrady: The soul winner
4. The teacher |
A student speaks|
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