Every evangelistic crusade conducted by Mr. Graham is the result of a cooperative effort involving the evangelist, his team, and many local Christians and churches. He is invited by clergy and laity who have banded together because of the common desire to reach their community with the Christian message.
The invitations are evaluated by Mr. Graham with his team. Each one is considered on the basis of community needs, time element, local interest, available meeting facilities, weather factors (especially in the case of outdoor meetings), and other criteria. Even though there is wide consultation with the team and friends, the final decision to accept, reject or postpone action on an invitation is made by Mr. Graham. He decides only after much prayer-seeking God's leadership in the matter.
After the place and dates are confirmed, a BGEA staff member is assigned to the city as Crusade Director. He opens an office, assists local committees and generally gives leadership in organizing the crusade. The size of the in-city staff varies with each crusade as does the period of preparation, which is usually between eight and twelve months.
Volunteer workers make up the vast majority of personnel required to organize and prepare for a crusade. Only a very small number of crusade staff are salaried. All committee members donate their time and talents to the crusade. It has been estimated that if volunteers were not available, it would require thousands of staff persons to conduct a Graham crusades.
In every crusade, an Executive Committee composed of local clergy and laity is the incorporated policy-making body. It is responsible for determining the budget and raising and disbursing the necessary funds to meet that budget. Members of the Graham team act as consultants to the Executive Committee and its several operational committees including: Prayer (to enlist the prayer support of Christians throughout the area, individually and in groups); Counseling and Follow-up (to enlist counselors and other personnel to deal with inquirers who come forward in response to the evangelist's invitation); "Operation Andrew" (to encourage Christians to bring the unchurched to crusade meetings); Finance (to assist in raising funds); Music; Ushers; etc.
The mass media in a crusade area are served by the Crusade Information Service (CIS), an arm of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association headquartered in Minneapolic, Mennesota. A team member representing CIS is available during the crusade to handle requests for information and interviews. CIS handles accreditation and involvement of all print and broadcast media representatives covering the meeting. CIS staff are available at all times to assist the working press in every way possible.
Because of the increasing number of his commitments, Mr. Graham usually stays only three or four days in a crusade city. The length of a crusade (most often four days, but sometimes less) is determined by such factors as the capacity of the meeting facility, area population, availability of the facilities, the local committee's request and Mr. Graham's other commitments.
The Evangelist arrives in the city often with some of his Associate Evangelists several days prior to the opening date of the crusade. He may be involved in several preliminary meetings. Among those accompanying him will be the music team led by Cliff Barrows, Tom Biedso, John Innes, and George Beverly Shea.
The primary objective of any Billy Graham crusade is to bring committed individuals into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and firmly establish them in a local church. The Counseling and Follow-Up program (outlined below) has been developed to facilitate this goal.
Recruiting and Training
Prospective counselors from local churches are invited to attend a "Christian Life and Witness" training program. Ordinarily, it is conducted over a five-week period, with one class session per week. Those who wish to help as counselors in the crusade must fill out an application form during the third training session, and final selection of counselors is made by the local Counseling and Follow-up Commmittee. There is a brief interview of applicants as well as a careful review of each application form. Trainees are selected on the basis of their personal faith in Jesus Christ, attendance at the counseling classes and completion of class assignments. Those who qualify are given further orientation at the counselor rehearsal just prior to the meeting.
During the Service
At each crusade meeting Mr. Graham presents a Gospel sermon to reach the uncommitted. He invites people "to come forward" to the platform area to make a commitment to Christ. Counselors who have been seated in a designated area are then assigned to individual "inquirers" as they move toward the counseling area. Supervisors carefully attempt to have counselors of the same sex and approximately of the same age pair with each inquirer. After a brief talk to the inquirers by Mr. Graham and a prayer on their behalf, personal counseling begins.
The Counseling Period
Counseling is done on an individual basis. The inquirer is asked questions to help determine his or her need. Then the counselor, using the Scriptures, helps confirm what has already been accomplished by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word. In many cases, the person is making an initial public commitment to Jesus Christ. For others, the need is assurance or rededication. Counselors are instructed not to attempt to teach a sectarian doctrine or in any way influence a person toward a specific church or denomination. The inquirer's name, address and church affiliation are recorded on a card. The counselor keeps a copy and hands another to the crusade follow-up department.
Counselors assist each inquirer in filling out a card with specific information. A corps of trained volunteers works through the night to process the inquirer cards following each crusade service. Local pastors are asked to contact that person and to encourage him or her in their Christian faith. Each pastor is asked to report to the crusade office on every name they receive. The team wants to ensure that when the crusade office closes several months after the meetings every inquirer is satisfactorily linked with a church.
Bible Study Follow-up
Each inquirer is given a Bible Study booklet entitled "Living in Christ" at the time of his or her commitment. This study course is a self-teaching series of lessons dealing with an individual's commitment, walk and witness. The first lesson in this series leads the inquirer into an understanding of several key promises found in the Bible and is designed to answer some of the questions which confront a new Christian. This course has been developed by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to help deepen the spiritual life of the Inquirer and equip him or her for God's service. Those receiving this booklet are asked to follow the course to completion, checking their answers found at the back of the booklet, and to mail the card from the back cover to the BGEA office in Minneapolis. A devotional book entitled "Day by Day" is mailed from Minneapolis to the inquirer from the Christian Guidance Department.
Prior to the crusade, lay leaders from the participating churches are trained in small groups to lead meaningful, practical Bible study groups to help the crusade inquirers. These leaders are then prepared to establish "Discovery Groups" for new Christians after the crusade. Special materials developed by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for use in these studies are available through the local crusade office.
To make absolutely certain that every inquirer has been contacted and given further help as necessary, a post-crusade telephone survey is conducted.
Over the years, counseling and follow-up have become an extremely important part of any Billy Graham crusade. This presentation is only a summary of the process. Additional details are available, on request, from the Crusade Information Service representative or Crusade Director.