The Billy Graham Formula


Sermon + Counseling + Follow-up = Decisions x 25%= Born-again experiences

Like Trotman and Bright, Billy Graham took measures to compensate for the fundamental flaw of Sunday evangelism. Even with the handicap of having to treat everyone who came forward as a convert, Graham fashioned a formula for success.

His three-prong approach of excellent sermons, altar counseling and intensive follow-up by counselors and churches provided penitents with numerous opportunities to hear the Gospel and repent, resulting in, according to Graham, a possible 25 percent success rate.1 Although this seems like an improvement over the 5 to 10 percent success rate common in the 1800s, it is roughly equivalent when one considers the Graham inquirer has numerous exposures to the Gospel and personal counseling, equivalent to an 1800s inquirer attending an after-meeting and a minister visiting him at home until God deigned to save him.

According to Kel Richards, National Coordinator for BGEA Australia, on the 1994 Christian Life and Witness Course video made for Australian BGEA counselors, only 2 percent of conversions take place during the sermon, 48 percent during counseling and 50 percent sometime during follow-up. When the previously cited 25 percent salvation rate is applied to these statistics, Graham’s formula for success looks even better. If only a sermon is provided, just one half of one percent of decisions will be effective. If a sermon plus altar counseling is provided, twelve and a half percent of decisions will be effective. If a sermon plus altar counseling plus follow-up is provided, twenty-five percent of decisions for Christ will be effective.