If Billy Graham Had Been a Pastor

If Billy Graham Had Been a Pastor

Billy Graham once was asked, “If you were a pastor of a large church in a principal city, what would be your plan of action?”

In the modern-day classic The Master Plan of Evangelism (which has gone through over 100 printings since it was first published in 1963), Robert Coleman reproduces Graham’s response, perhaps a surprising answer to many:

I think one of the first things I would do would be to a get a small group of eight or ten or twelve people around me that would meet a few hours a week and pay the price!
It would cost them something in time and effort. I would share with them everything I have, over a period of years. Then I would actually have twelve ministers among the laypeople who in turn could take eight or ten or twelve more and teach them.
I know one or two churches that are doing that, and it is revolutionizing the church.
Christ, I think, set the pattern. He spent most of his time with twelve men. He didn’t spend it with a great crowd. In fact, every time he had a great crowd it seems to me that there weren’t too many results. The great results, it seems to me, came in this personal interview and in the time he spent with his twelve. (page 103, paragraphing added)


On Monday afternoon, February 4, 2013, at the Desiring God Conference for Pastors, Mark Dever will address the topics “The Centrality of the Church in Disciple-Making” and “Connecting the Dots Between Shepherding, Disciple-Making, and Meaningful Membership.” For more on disciple-making from Desiring God, see the appendix in Finish the Mission, as well as —

David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.