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A sermon by Dr. C. L. Cagan
preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, February 3, 2018

“Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in”
(Luke 14:23).

We do evangelism differently from any church I know in America. In other churches, the members pray a “sinner’s prayer” with people on the street and invite them to church after they make this “decision.” But the first thing we do is invite people to church. Then we bring them to church. When they come, they make friends in the church. They hear the Gospel preached. Some of them stay and trust Christ. They become wonderful Christians. This new method came from our pastor, Dr. Hymers. He devised it because he realized that all other methods failed to get lost people into our church.

Dr. Hymers created the way we do evangelism by following what Christ said in Luke 14:23, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in.” First, we bring the lost people to church. There they hear the Gospel and trust Christ. Modern American churches do it backwards. They lead people into a quick “decision” on the street. But almost none of them come to church. Their method produces decisions, not conversions. Today I want to explain why we do evangelism differently from what they do.

Why do we go out to get names and invite people to church, and not try to get the people saved when we talk to them?

First, because our way is Biblical. It’s all through the New Testament. Andrew was one of the twelve Disciples. The Bible says,

“One of the two which heard John [the Baptist] speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus” (John 1:40-42).

Andrew hardly knew anything. But he did know that Jesus was the Messiah. Andrew didn’t go around praying a sinner’s prayer with people. But he brought his brother Simon Peter to Jesus. Peter became a Disciple himself. Later Peter was converted and preached on the Day of Pentecost when three thousand people trusted Christ. But it started when he followed his brother and met Jesus.

The Disciple Philip said the same thing to Nathanael. He said to Nathanael, “Come and see” (John 1:46). Philip didn’t know much. But he did bring Nathanael to see Jesus, and that made all the difference.

One day Jesus walked through Samaria and led a woman to salvation. She didn’t know the Bible. She wasn’t Jewish. But she did trust Jesus. She didn’t go to her town and lead people to say the sinner’s prayer. But she did invite them to come and see Jesus. The Bible says,

“The [Samaritan] woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (John 4:28, 29).

Everyone can do that – even if you are not yet saved. You don’t need to go to a class to learn Bible doctrine. You’re not trying to answer people’s questions. You’re not trying to get them saved on the street. You’re just inviting them to come to church, make friends and have a good time. Everyone can do that – and we do.

Second, because our method works. Many churches don’t do evangelism at all. But if they do, they go out to speak to people on the street or at their front door. They quickly give the lost people the “plan of salvation” and ask them to pray a “sinner’s prayer” right there. This is “decisionism.” The person who makes a “decision” is counted as a convert. They count the person as “saved.” After that, the churches “follow up” on these people – but almost none of them come to church. I once visited a fundamental Baptist church where they prayed with over 900 people in one week – but the church stayed at 125 people. The 900 made a decision, but they never came to church. They prayed a prayer, but they did not come to Christ.

Why don’t we do what those churches do? It doesn’t work. The church members lead hundreds of people to pray a sinner’s prayer. But almost none of them came to church. They didn’t become Christians. They made a “decision” but they were not converted.

Why don’t we try to make sinners into Christians on the spot when we talk to them? Because they don’t become Christians! Instead, we go out and invite people to our church. We ask them for their first names and their phone numbers. Our deacons and leaders telephone them and arrange a ride for them to come to church on Sunday. We pick them up in our own cars and bring them to church. We make friends with them. We always have lunch after our Sunday morning service, and dinner after our Sunday evening service. We make them happy in church. Then our deacons and workers phone them and invite them to come back.

Why do we do what we do? Because it works. Our method brings people to church, and into the church. At church they hear the preaching of the Gospel. Some people trust Christ right away, but most need to hear the Gospel preached for weeks or months before they are converted. Then they live as Christians in the church for the rest of their lives. The other method is a phony trick that doesn’t win anybody!

A few weeks ago I went to Africa with my son John Cagan and our deacon Noah Song. We preached in churches in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. In Kenya we spoke at a conference for pastors. Late in the afternoon the meeting ended. I said to the pastors, “Let’s go out and get names.” John, Noah and I went through the streets of Nairobi, Kenya with the pastors translating into Swahili. We talked to people and got their phone numbers. We invited them to church. The pastors phoned them and arranged for them to come. They had five visitors the next day! After we flew to Rwanda, the pastors did it again and they had five more visitors on Sunday!

The preachers were excited. They found a method that works! They told John and me that they had spent tremendous effort and lots of money to have meetings where people made decisions, but none of them came to church. The pastors thought that was the only way to do evangelism. They were happy to learn our method, which actually brings people into the church.

Third, our method is good for you, not just those who are invited. It will make you a stronger Christian if you do evangelism regularly. And it will strengthen your faith to see people you invite come to church, stay in church, and trust Christ. There is a great joy in seeing someone you invited come to church. There is a greater joy in seeing them saved. I wish that joy for you!

Why don’t we pass out tracts? Some people do. Maybe you don’t know what a tract is. A tract is a piece of paper, usually folded up, which they give out in large numbers to whoever will take it. A tract tells a story and gives the plan of salvation. At the end it tells a person to trust Christ by saying a prayer or signing his name on the tract.

Many churches have their people pass out tracts. They think they are bringing people to Christ. But tracts don’t bring people to Christ. They don’t bring them into the church. Where are those people? Tracts are a waste of time and money. That’s why we don’t use them.

How do we know? We tried it. We passed out a million tracts. I gave out thousands of them myself. The people read them. But none of them came to church! They weren’t converted when they read that paper. That method isn’t Biblical. The Bible never tells Christians to pass out tracts. But the Bible says to go out and compel sinners to come in – to the local church! And that is what we do.

Why do we go out two by two? Because Jesus sent His Disciples out that way. The Bible says that Christ “called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two” (Mark 6:7). Again, the Bible says that “the Lord [chose] other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place” (Luke 10:1).

Of course, you can go out by yourself to do evangelism. The Bible never forbids it. There’s nothing wrong with it. But going out two by two is Biblical, and it works!

Going two by two brings more people to church. In Los Angeles and other big cities, people are suspicious. They don’t want to talk to someone they don’t know. Young people are suspicious of older people. Girls are suspicious of boys. Having two people go out together will calm their fears and bring in more names.

Going two by two is good for you. By going with a more experienced Christian, you will learn how to invite people to church and become comfortable with doing it. At the beginning, you may feel afraid. You don’t know what to do. But by going with someone else you will learn how to do it. Soon you will bring in names yourself!

You will have good Christian fellowship. Doing work for Jesus brings you closer to the Christians you work with. The “fellowship of the work” is excellent fellowship indeed.

How do we know the other way doesn’t work? We tried it for years! We went door to door and led people through the plan of salvation with a Billy Graham tract. I did it. We prayed the sinner’s prayer with them at their front door, or on the street. I did it. We passed out a million tracts. I did it. But the people didn’t come in. They weren’t converted. That way doesn’t work.

But our method does work! We have a church in the center of Los Angeles. Los Angeles is a godless and wicked city. All kinds of sin happen here. People are busy with work and school and family and friends. There are many distractions, with television and the Internet and iPhones and everything else. Very few people go to church. Very few are real Christians. We tried leading people in a prayer on the street. But that doesn’t build a church. It doesn’t win people to Christ.

We learned from experience. We went out and invited people to church. Then we brought them to church where they could find friends and hear the Gospel. In our church we have lost people every Sunday. They don’t come from other churches. They don’t come from Christian homes. They come from the world with all its sin. And some of them become wonderful Christians. That’s why our church is spiritual and lively. Our method produces real Christians, and we thank God for them! Amen.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Bring Them In” (by Alexcenah Thomas, 19th century).