Treasure Valley Festival Boise, Idaho.
Lois Palau, August 10th and 11th, 2001.
His ministry site boasts of a large gathering of around 100, 000 people over the two day period, which is seen as a grossly exaggerated embellishment of the actual numbers by many who attended. At best, I would estimate that the two-day attendance was probably closer to the 60,000 person mark, and this I still believe to be a high estimate.
They have not released the total cost to contributors that was incurred for this event that enlisted the help of local businesses and 375 churches and their people hawking bumper stickers, banners, free radio and television recognition, and the enlistment of a large membership of church going spokesmen who attempted to invite and entice others to attend and hear the "gospel." For the large advertising blitz, and the huge cost to pull off this event, one must question the wisdom of an individuals stewardship of time and resources. Did we get the "bang-for-the-buck" that we were anticipating? Letís examine this:
On the Palau website, they boasted a sensational response of 1,800 people speaking to counselors, and 4,500 people requesting a follow-up booklet. For the purpose of calculating the results, it will be assumed that the 1,800 are included in the figure of the 4,500 that requested a booklet, even though the effectiveness rate would be more accurately represented by only counting the 1,800 people who came forward immediately. In this, I will give them the benefit of the doubt by using the higher number.
Here are the statistics:
100, 000 people
4,500 "decisions" determined by a request for a book. Of course, when something is given away for free, many people will always request the material. This is little indication that they were touched in any way by the event.
|4,500 = 100,000||1,800 = 100,000||3,100 = 60,000|
|450 = 10,000||180 = 10,000||310 = 6,000|
|45 = 1,000||18 = 1,000||31 = 600|
|4.5 = 100||1.8 = 100||3.1 = 60|
You will see three columns and three figures. Column one is the estimate from Luis Palau.
Column two is the tally from the results of those who actually came forward.
Column three is the is the average between those who came forward and those who requested a booklet. This column also uses the reduced, but in all probability, still exaggerated numbers that were estimated by many who were in attendance, including myself.
If we are to assume that the average church attendance for the Treasure Valley is 100 on any given Sunday, we would be satisfied at the results given in any column for an effectiveness rate. There are however other factors to consider.
1. The average apostasy rate for these crusades have been found to be at 80 - 90% after only one year.
2. The numbers are based upon responses, and not on actual results. There are those who chronically respond to every altar call. There are those who think they are doing God a favor by "priming the pump" by responding to any altar call in order to encourage others around them to do the same. They will seize any opportunity to come forward, or raise their hands, or pray the "sinnerís prayer" in response to any plea. This is well intentioned, but dishonors the work of the Spirit by "assisting" with human manipulation. These actions tend to skew the numbers of many evangelistic efforts. These factors I believe would account for a minimum of 1-3% of the total results tallied. In the case of a free book, much higher responses could be expected by those who wanted to receive something from this event. We could realistically put these estimates to such an offer into the arena of around 30 - 40%. Without a doubt, the numbers given by Luis Palau are an exploded view that accepts all these responses as genuine conversions.
With these considerations, lets make some conservative adjustments to the numbers. I will adjust the " pump-primers " and chronic responders by the lowest possible adjustment, a conservative 1%. I will adjust the total apostasy rate to the 80%, and not the high end of 90%.
This will leave the totals clearly in the favor of the statistics of Palauís organization.
|-1% 45||-1% 18||-1% 31|
|Total 4,465||Total 1,782||Total 3069|
|Apostasy - 3,571||Apostasy - 1,426||Apostasy - 2701|
|Total 894||Total 356||Total 368|
|Effectiveness .9 per 100||Eff. (Per 100) .4||Eff. (per 100) .6|
In figure 3, we have taken the total amount recorded down to a more realistic attendance number which actually increases his success rate by .2 of a person. This is based upon a 60,000 person total and not 100,000 as is claimed.
By using the best case scenario, which is column 1, we can make some positive and negative observations. If the high-end figures can be trusted, then we can rejoice about 894 souls being won to the Lord out of 100,000. This "festival," which cost in figures of several hundred thousand dollars, was worth every penny. The disturbing aspect of these figures is that 3,571 people are to become backsliders. Now I say this loosely because you have to be a Christian in order to backslide "from" it. The vast majority prayed a prayer in hopes of fire insurance. They did not have faith; they were not asked to repent of their sins, nor did their prayer demand that they do. They were to merely "acknowledge" their sinfulness, not repent, and they were to "accept" Jesus into their hearts. They have been told that they are now saved forever without any evidence that they have been regenerated. When they fail to have the peace and victory that the indwelling Holy Spirit brings to the believer, they will not only reject this easy "gospel" as a farce, they will assume from their experience that it is this religion and its God is a farce, and will reject Jesus as the hope for any of their future salvation! This is called being inoculated from Christ!
I know that they hail Mr. Palau as an outstanding evangelist, but if we hired a local evangelist to come to our church and he never got a response of more than one in one hundred, his calling would come into question and he would soon find that the invitations to preach would dry up! We would consider him a dismal failure! But if we have a festival or a crusade, and the famous preacher yields the same results of less than one genuine convert per 100 listeners, and at the cost of over $2,000 per convert to accomplish it, it is considered a miracle, a great revival!
If we were to see a local evangelist have a failure rate of 80-90%, we would ask them to stay away in fear that they may ruin the congregation that we already have! Why is it that we look for an easy answer to our lack of evangelism by hiring these big name evangelists to come in and "save" our communities? There is so much effort and drive in the people when the big crusade is coming to town, but they will barely lift a finger to evangelize or invite others to church after the crusade is over! It is as if they believe that a certain "man" will save them and not the Lord Jesus they worship on Sunday morning!
Imagine if all of the time, money, and resources that our congregation members put into the big crusades was put into the local church! I would say that without a doubt, they would yield much higher conversion rates, a much lower apostasy rate, and a cost far below $2,000 a head for a conversion. In fact, I would say if this effort were put forth, that congregation would have no interest in bringing in a big-time evangelist because the ministry will be taking place in their midst, and the Gospel will be sent forth! It would be an exciting place to be! Wild horses could not keep you away when the church doors were open!
Lord, help us to be wise stewards of our money, time , and resources. May we see that you are at work in our midst in a much more mighty way, though on a smaller scale, than these big powerful ministries.
For those that would be interested in the worst case scenarios, I include the following data.
|-3% 135||-3% 54|
|Total 4,365||Total 1,746|
|Apostasy- 3,928 (90%)||Apostasy -1,571 (90%)|
|Total 437||Total 175|
|Effectiveness .4 per 100||Eff. (Per 100) .18 (.2)|
|1 in 240 people||1 in over 500 people|
I estimate the cost of pulling off this 2 day event was in the ballpark of $400,000. Using the best case numbers in our original list, which are based upon the 4,500 which are claimed by Palau, brings us down to just under $400.00 a convert.
The worst case scenario shows the numbers who wanted a free book in column 1, and the number of those that came forward in column 2. Column 1 calculated out to around $1,000 per convert, and column 2 comes in in excess of $2,000 per convert.
Looking at the cost effectiveness at the high or the low end, I cannot help but be unimpressed. It brings into question the idea of stewardship. The money spent for the "festival" is gone. If it were spent in the local church it would still be working months, if not years from now, not to mention the economic impact in our local community. Larger impact would result over time than we could ever hope for from a 2 day event.
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