Evangelism has gone through many stages to reach the place we are today. Up until the late 60s, evangelists were mainly preachers of the Word. In the Protestant camp, Billy Graham shone the brightest while for Catholics, the first name that pops into my head as an example is Archbishop Fulton Sheen and his radio program, The Catholic Hour. These men focused on an evangelism of the Word, preaching a sermon with the purpose of convincing people to repent, change and commit their lives to God.
The primary way the Holy Spirit touched people in large crowds in the 70s, 80s and 90s was through power evangelism. Rather than preaching long sermons, the evangelists who drew the largest crowds were prophets and healers. The Spirit fell in a tangible way. This was not restricted to the Protestants. The Catholics experienced their own Charismatic Renewal with crowds of 30,000 gathering in Rome in the mid-70s. I remember one Catholic Charismatic Conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where 10,000 people sang gently, harmoniously in tongues like angels, and I am sure with angels. Organizers allowed the Holy Spirit to move gently among the crowd, healing physically and emotionally.
Now the Spirit of God is moving among the grassroots. It is an entirely different kind of evangelism, or perhaps it is old time Catholic evangelism. It is the time for the little people to shine. God is choosing humble, ordinary people who have suffered and lived obscure lives faithful to Him, and allowed Him to purify and mold them into His presence. Such men and women attract others who are hungry for God, because people sense the love and power of God in them. There is no room for pride or ego because it is all about God saving them in their littleness.
I call the new movement of God Presence Evangelism because it is quiet, subtle and entirely grassroots. The stars have fallen. The big names have grown old. Society is weary of huge, dazzling Christian shows. People crave reality. They do not respond to the evangelism of the 20th century. Of course, God is working through new technology as well, but He is also using His little ones in a new way.
For example, three years ago I was stranded for 10 hours in an airport with an East-German archeologist. He spoke of his work and I shared funny stories about living with nine kids. I did not preach. Suddenly he asked, “What is it about you? You are the most powerful person I have ever met.”
He shocked me. Sure, I felt that God and His joy was bubbling up within me, but I had not prayed for or healed this man. I simply made him laugh.
However, we were both aware of a power flowing around us even though he was an East German atheist! It was tangible. This is Presence Evangelism. God does all the work. We simply relax and watch. There is no room for ego or pride because it is all about God, not us.