Specific Problems with Evangelism Explosion

ref: the revised edition, 1977.

Evangelism Explosion [E.E.] was developed by Dr. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries & Presbyterian Church. Through its every member evangelism thesis, the program's materials provide many helpful outlines and insightful approaches for effectively and actively communicating the message of, and hope in, Jesus Christ. It would seem "interesting" to briefly note specific questions arising from Dr. Kennedy's E.E. advice.

  Christian evangelism is, and will ever be, confrontational. Not that the Christian must assume a confrontational style; but that the message of Christ has ever been innately provocative. Yet, if only in that love provides, evangelism always begins as relational... even for the repentant thief on the cross... relational being prerequisite, with confrontational as process. The thing we might first suggest, would simply be for the author to migrate his latter chapter on Relational Evangelism toward the forefront of the E.E. guidebook, adjusting to invite elements of relational evangelism in an active and indispensable life throughout. First things first?

  Dr. Kennedy well identifies the historical church-laity split [page 4], along with the corresponding effect upon numbers of Christians active in evangelism (over centuries, and into the present). The E.E. concept seems to propound that we attempt to bring laity into clergy work & responsibilities, while (presumably) leaving the church-laity split intact. A solution which lends in the development of another group split: clergy & lay-clergy. In chapter 15, Dr. Kennedy proposes further ranking among those who labor with a Chain Of Command encompassing distinctions of strata far beyond New Testament instruction & example. For assurance, we would like to see a Biblical foundation for adding so to partitions within the Church.

  For Training Soul Winners, Dr. Kennedy writes [page 5], "The fourth principle of this program is that it is more important to train a soul-winner than to win a soul [to Christ]". It's the more which will offend some; if only for inference in unfounded theology. The making of disciples and the winning of souls remain for us inextricably linked; for, when a soul is won, a soul-winner is, by definition, also won. The present ineffectiveness of "about 95 percent" of them [page 5] being more significant to point & concern for both E.E. and the Church complete. Are they soul winners, or have they not yet been won?

  The gathering of statistical information inside E.E. is first defended under, Recruiting The Workers. [page 7] The practice of comparing notes for encouragement and organizational value can rapidly drift into a shoal of trouble, when we're fascinated by counting heads; targeting or presuming in numbers of conversions per event/day/week/month/year. Under E.E.'s format, entire contests have been known to ensue. (To bring out the stats 'cookie jar', while suggesting all wait until 'after dinner', does present a bit of a tease.) We best leave the head counting to God, if only to have put away any nose of pride. Counting & contests for conversions may tend to promote encounter-confrontational evangelism, whereupon another sinner can quickly be coerced to prayer & confession apart from a full converging action of the Spirit of God within their soul.

  Whether to send out by 2s or 3s [page 8] may depend more upon all of what the Spirit of God is there directing be done, than for detailed methodology. With 2 as standard, we may find need of 1, 3, 4, or even 7 people in an unusual instance.

  The Importance Of Follow-Up [page 13] often wins high rank within significant failure zones of E.E. modeled evangelism. Dr. Kennedy writes, "...the main responsibility for follow-up rests with the individual who led the person to Christ." Firstly, more than one individual may have intensely participated in so having led the person to Christ. Further, E.E. seems to offer no option in circumstance of the individual evangelist who is not found to be reliable in consummating adequate follow-up with those he/she has seen to repentance in Christ. (Though possibly over-simplification for the challenge, Dr. Kennedy later describes these as, Those who are satisfied with merely proclaiming the gospel and receiving professions are like immoral seducers. [page 115]) Worse yet, wide circulation of axioms from conversion theology provide some with premise in absence of need to much follow-up with the newborn believer. In effect for these, they're now saved; God is with them, and He will provide for His own. Follow-up, even from the early Church, primarily remains the responsibility of the whole family of God; with notable responsibility for each evangelist to make clear to the Church regarding who is coming to Christ under their care.

  With the Follow-Up; Prerequisites outline, [page 113] Dr. Kennedy (inadvertently?) reveals much of the sabotage to long haunt E.E. (and the Church). He lists, A healthy church, effective evangelism, heart, perspective, work, and intelligent procedure. From this list, an evangelist in the West might typically experience 2 out of 6.

  The Presentation Of The Gospel outline [page 16] largely reflects the Explosion methodology. Dr. Kennedy abstracts one possible basis in approach for compressed evangelism; his being one in thousands of possible Gospel presentation outlines. While the outline reminds us for how Faith is not mere intellectual assent... [II., E., 1.], it also suggests, The qualifying question: "Does this make sense to you?". [III., A.] From my own testimony in conversion, the Gospel did not entirely make sense to me. In fact, the truth of God need not reach full cognitive satisfaction within the man, for that man (woman, child) to truly enter in to the grace & knowledge of Jesus Christ.

  For Basic Attitudes In Handling Objections [page 77], we are counseled to never argue. However, there is a time for the answering or presentation of argument; for Christian apologetic, [page 85] or even debate. Church history is replete with same. A few individuals (especially those who believe themselves to require copious intellectual stimulation; or who view themselves as uniquely responsible in authority) may consider your Gospel presentation as absent worthy conviction, should you stubbornly deny the opportunity in discussion via open argument. Of course, always be led by God in all things. The Spirit of Christ does not argue with men for argument's sake.

  For Avoidance [page 79] of what Dr. Kennedy summarizes to extraneous matter, certainly there is the freedom to take note as for anything and everything drawn into conversation which seems of significant concern to the individual; for later triage, to possible Research And Return. [page 79] The full knowledge & wisdom of God available to His own, being a powerful element to persuade men.

  Balance of word and spirit [page 114] assumes a difference or disunity between, thereby sustaining a fallacy in its assumption. Both Word and Spirit (ought) remain 100% dynamic in/for the child of God; in/for the evangelist.

  Although E.E. makes good reference to By Divine Appointment [page 186], under any and all detailed methodologies (even for those loosely applied,) opportunity in the same can tend to be suppressed. (i.e., faithful use of the religious questionnaire [page 189, 235] as a screening device.)