The spiritual landscape of the 21st Century is changing. Mainstream and social media is presenting a new narrative, and it is one that has erased a central figure that made Australia and many other Western nations what they are, and that person is Jesus. (more…)
Will you celebrate the answer, but miss the question this Christmas?
Hi, Karl Faase here, and I’d like to introduce to you a national campaign in the lead up to Easter in 2018. It will start on the 25 February and go through to Easter Sunday. This is a great opportunity to influence our communities with the message of Jesus. (more…)
The NCLS has plotted the Australian Baptist movement over many years. Over the last decade the survey has highlighted the increased involvement of local churches in their local communities as they have purposed to be more missional. However over the same period the survey has also highlighted that our engagement in sharing the good news of Jesus has decreased. (more…)
Instead of creating a fund raising video for our Easter Offering 2016 we’ve responded to feedback and created a short video resource to help you convey the meaning of Easter. (more…)
Tess Holgate from Eternity Magazine recently interviewed Karl Faase about the balance between the gospel as word and the gospel as deed. It’s a great, short read where Karl shares some of the motivation behind the recent REFOCUS seminars tour around the nation which he and Dan Patterson have embarked on in conjunction with Crossover.
The NCLS has plotted the Australian Baptist movement over many years. Over the last decade the survey has highlighted the increased involvement of local churches in their local communities as they have purposed to be more missional. However over the same period the survey has also highlighted that our engagement in sharing the good news of Jesus has decreased. Over the recent weeks Crossover, in partnership with the state Baptist associations, has sponsored Refocus events in Perth and Brisbane. The aim of the seminars grew out of the conviction that as local Baptist churches we need to continue our commitment to the Gospel as deed but the challenge we must embrace is the need to rediscover our commitment to the Gospel as word.
The keynote presenters were Karl Faase and Dan Paterson.
Karl has recently resigned from his position as Senior Pastor at Gymea Baptist Church, where he served for over 20 years, to devote more time to his media work through Olive Tree Media. Olive Tree Media’s latest production is Towards Belief, a 10 part documentary-style DVD/TV series where Karl interviews over 30 international speakers and academics on the belief blockers to faith in western countries.
Dan is a pastor at Ashgrove Baptist and a part-time lecturer at Malyon College. Dan’s study included completing bachelors and masters degrees in ministry and theology, Dan pursued further training by heading with his wife to Oxford in the UK, where he completed RZIM’s one-year course at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.
The seminar content included:
• Refocus on the Gospel as word – seeking to balance the missional approach of both word and deed.
• The need for thoughtful, targeted cultural change in our churches – revitalising the local church will take organisational thinking and focus.
• What does the community think of the Church & Christian faith?
• Creating an effective Gospel event.
• Communicating the Gospel & asking for a response.
• What are the questions the community is asking and how do we respond?
In Perth over 50 church leaders attended the day event held at Yokine Baptist Church and over 70 were present in Brisbane at Ashgrove Baptist Church.
Phil Bryant the WA Church Health Consultant commented
Refocus in WA was a huge success. I have had many attendees contact me to compliment us for hosting the event. Both Karl Faase and Daniel Paterson were articulate, relevant and passionate about assisting churches to reclaim evangelism in both word and deed as our priority. Karl and Dan brought a good blend of experience and teaching that will be a huge help to all that attend. I would encourage every pastor and church leader to attend – especially Senior Pastors.
Stephen Ball the Qld Regional Minister commented
The Refocus seminar held at Ashgrove Baptist on Wednesday 24 June was well supported with about 70 pastors and leaders involved. The key theme, of the place of the Gospel in word and deed with a special emphasis upon being able to share the gospel in word, resonated well and was a timely encouragement. Our speakers Karl Faase and Dan Paterson were clear, relevant and motivating as those present were encouraged to continue to live and speak out the gospel in the Queensland Context.
In addition to the seminar an evening evangelistic event was held where both Karl and Dan spoke and included a Q&A session.
A Refocus seminar has been planned for Adelaide in February 2016. Crossover will keep you updated via our website and social media.
Keith Jobberns – National Ministries Director
In 1959 Billy Graham visited Australia for four months, which included some time in NZ. This was the first and most significant of three Australian Billy Graham crusades (in 1968 & 1979). The ’59 Crusade was perhaps, at a national level, the closest Australia has come to what could be described as a revival. The numbers of people involved in preparation, attendance and response were astounding.
It would seem that the view of many in our churches today are sceptical of the effectiveness of this style of mass evangelism and large events now. They would say that we have “moved on” from that approach to evangelism. While this may be an acceptable view, it could be helpful to look closely at the ‘59 Crusades and consider why they made such an impact.
In the Australian culture of 1959, it was not usual for people to go and hear an American preacher. In fact the last US evangelist in Australia before Graham was Oral Roberts. He rolled up his huge tent and left Melbourne after the site was hit by stink bombs. US preachers did not have a great track record down under!
Billy Graham was invited to Australia after huge and successful crusades in Los Angeles (1949), London (1954) and New York (1957). He was becoming a household name with an international reputation. Following a meeting in Sydney of 600 protestant clergy and church leaders, led by Anglican Archbishop Mowell, an invitation was extended to Graham to come to Australia.
Preparation across the nation resulted in surprisingly large numbers of people getting involved. Counsellors were trained for the crusade meetings in huge numbers – Adelaide 4,500, Melbourne 5,000 and in Sydney between 8,000 & 9,000 were trained. There were also volunteers for the support roles and massive choirs. So great was the response to the call for choirs in Sydney that there were two separate choirs each with 1,000 people.
The churches also prepared their local areas by surveying homes to gauge the spiritual state of the nation. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that at least 300,000 of the 500,000 homes in Sydney at the time were visited and surveyed.
Prayer was mobilised in incredible numbers for these crusade meetings. There were local cottage prayer meetings as well as large gatherings, like the one in Sydney where 5,000 people attended. By April 1959 there were 40,000 prayer partners in prayer for the Crusades across Australia.
Once the crusade meetings started the statistics continued to be off the dial with massive crowd numbers and enquiry responses. There were 114 meetings in 106 days across Australia and New Zealand. Meetings were held in Melbourne, Hobart, Launceston, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney.
To gain an understanding of the interest in these Crusade meetings the Melbourne story gives a clear picture. The meetings started at the moderately sized West Melbourne Stadium which held 7,500 people. When 10,000 turned out they realised the venue of hopelessly inadequate, so five days later they moved to the Sidney Meyer Music Bowl. On the first night at this new venue 25,000 people attended. This grew to 70,000 on the Sunday afternoon. Sadly due to the yearly Moomba festival the Crusade meetings had to be moved again, this time to the less than desirable Agricultural Showgrounds. Even with a very poor venue and unseasonable rain and cold weather the nine meetings had attendances varying between 18,000 & 25,000. The final event of the Melbourne Crusades turned out to be a history-making event. It was held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with a staggering 143,000 people attending. To this day, the record still stands as the biggest crowd ever to assemble at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The Melbourne story was repeated across the country. The final Sydney meeting was an event in two venues side by side, the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds. Between these two venues there was an estimated attendance of 150,000 people.
The overall attendance of all the meetings was 3 million. Many thousands more heard Graham preach on radio, television or in cinemas. They read about him on the front page of all the metropolitan newspapers. Landlines relayed over 3000 services to over 400 remote and regional communities throughout. Australia.
At the end of the Billy Graham Crusades, a conservative number of enquirers at all these meetings was 146,000 people. That is, the number of people who walked forward at Crusade meetings to make a response to the message of Jesus which Graham had preached. It is helpful to ask what happened to those enquirers and did these responses make a difference to our nation?
Those who made a response at the meetings were referred to local churches. Some churches had an enormous number of referrals.
- St Luke’s Anglican in Liverpool had 215 enquirers referred to them.
- Port Kembla Methodist, which only had about 100 members in 1959, received 50 new enquirers after the Crusade. (An overnight growth of 50%!) Forty seven of the 50 enquirers stayed as members of the church while the other three became members of other churches.
- The biggest numerical growth was in the heart of the city of Sydney. St Stephens Presbyterian Church on Macquarie Street had a staggering 600 new people referred to them in 1959. The church had to hire an extra minister to deal with the influx. Over 75% of these enquirers stayed as regular members of the church.
There was also significant influence in several other areas. While statistical coincidence doesn’t necessarily mean causality, there are some statistics that correlate with the timing of the 1959 Crusade. These may give us a glimpse into the impact of the Crusade on people’s lives:
- The Bureau of Statistics showed a 10% reduction in alcohol consumption for 1960-61.
- Australian Crime Statistics show a brief halt in the increase of crime for 1960-62. (The rate had doubled from 1920 to 1950, doubled again between 1950 and 1959, and then the upward trend continued in the late 1960s).
- 1960 recorded the slowest growth in the number of ex-nuptial births in a decade in which the figure had been steadily growing.
This impact can also be seen anecdotally:
- Businesses reported an “epidemic” of repayments of bad debts
- Counsellors at the Crusades reported burglars handing in the tools of their trade when coming forward. Even a revolver was handed in!
- A Sydney District Court magistrate reported a 50% drop in alcohol-related crime.
Another profound impact was on people’s life and career decisions. In this sense, the Crusade had an immeasurable but enormous influence, the ripples of which were still felt 50 years later. The impact in theological colleges training people for Christian ministry was felt almost immediately:
- More than half of Melbourne Bible Institute’s 160 students in 1969 were there due to the 1959 Crusade.
- Of Adelaide Bible Institute’s 118 enrolments, 25% were there because of the 1959 Crusade.
- In Moore College in Sydney, numbers peaked at an unprecedented level in 1960 and 1961. (They had a first year intake of 44 students in 1960, and a record level of 104 total students in 1961).
- Every female student at Moore College in 1961 had been involved in or converted at a Billy Graham Crusade.
- The leadership and personnel of missionary organisations, like CMS, or Wycliffe Bible Translators are full of those impacted by the 1959 Crusade.
Overall, there was a widely-reported “deepening of spirituality” because of the Crusade. This is hard to measure of course, but nevertheless we do know that:
- During the Crusades, sales of Bibles trebled in capital cities.
- An additional 140,000 copies of the Gospel of John were given away free.
- Scripture Union memberships almost doubled between March 1958 and November 1959 (from 58,000 to 104,400).
The 1959 Billy Graham Crusade in Australia had a remarkable impact at the time and an ongoing long-term influence. This was not just the result of one great preacher coming to town. It is the outcome of the church working together, sustained prayer, an anointed preacher who presented the Gospel is ways that could be clearly understood and without apology, outstanding organisation and the power of the Spirit of God at work in the lives of those who heard the message. Whilst it would be foolish to try to replicate these events, it is a challenging reminder of what God can do when we focus on the Gospel and work together for Kingdom outcomes.
Karl finished in his position as Senior Pastor of Gymea Baptist Church in late 2014 where he served for over 20 years but he is still deeply committed to resourcing the local church and helping equip believers to be sure in their faith and effective in evangelism. Olive Tree Media is the organisation which strategically brings together the media ministries of Karl through which he seeks to bring the message of Jesus into the complex and challenging world of the media to help listeners and viewers consider a fresh perspective on life and faith.
– Some of the background material and information for this article came from research by Mike and Nikki Thompson as well as scripts written by Martin Johnson.
For more on being ‘Revitalised in Witness’ please read the other posts in this series: