Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Great Churches Thomas Road

Do you wonder what he most influential in church history in the past 100 years were, and 
what trends did they set and how they expressed their influence?  Can those past churches’ successes help us today?  

Read, The Ten Most Influential Churches in the Past Century, published by Destiny Image Publishers by Elmer Towns.  Order this book from

Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Virginia

I first visited Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1968 doing research on the book, The Ten Largest Sunday Schools and What Made Them Grow.  That book eventually became a bestseller and remained on the list for over 14 months.  During my first Sunday visit, I taught the Pastor’s Bible Class in the main auditorium to around 2,000 people.
What captivated me most was the sermon preached by Jerry Falwell, the church’s founder and pastor. His sermon was taken from Acts 5:28, “Behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine.” Jerry explained every church should fill its “Jerusalem” where it is located.  Falwell explained Saturation Evangelism, “Using every available means, to reach every available person, at every available time.”  He wanted to preach to every person in America over television and his aim was to air the Old Time Gospel Hour in every major television market in America.  He also created a mailing campaign to get the gospel out to everyone.  I walked into the first auditorium to see four large computers, larger than a walk-in refrigerator.  The data for 100,000 mailing addresses were kept on those computers. Today, that amount of data can be stored in a smart phone.  Jerry Falwell was committed to raising the money, paying the price, sacrificing his time and effort to carry the gospel to the entire world. 
Out of Thomas Road Baptist Church has grown Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world (and perhaps in history).  When I retired as dean of seminary and School of Religion there were over 113,000 students enrolled online and in the resident program.  There have been graduation class of approximately 20,000 people, with over 4,000 young people going into ministry.  Many report that there are more Liberty graduates from Liberty in fulltime ministry than any other Christian university and seminary in the world. 
That morning when I first visited the church, Dr. Falwell announced to the audience that I was preparing a book on the ministry of Thomas Road Baptist Church.  He said, “If you have been saved at this church, grab a visitor cards and write your testimony on the back of it, or use two or more cards. Put it in the offering plate and we will give it to Dr. Towns to help his research.”
Jerry handed me an old cigar box packed with over 100 testimonies of those who had been saved in the church.  I went back to Harvey’s Motel, sat on the floor with the concept of Saturation Evangelism in my mind.  I began placing different testimonies in piles with others who were saved using the same evangelistic method.  People were saved through the jail ministry, television ministry, radio ministry, Sunday school bus ministry, evangelistic crusades, telephone outreach, tract distribution, etc.  As I read the testimonies I wept.  God had touched my heart through what He had done in many lives, alcoholic, broken families, abandoned, etc.  In my opinion, Thomas Road Baptist Church was doing more to get the gospel to their entire “Jerusalem” than any other church I had experienced.  I prayed that night that I might have a part with this church, not knowing that one day I would be the Co-Founder with Jerry Falwell of Liberty University.


What churches were the most influential in church history in the past 100 years?  What trends did they set?  How did they express their influence?  Can past churches’ successes help you today?  What can the ministry of past successful churches teach us today?  Read, The Ten Most Influential Churches in the Past Century, published by Destiny Image Publishers by Elmer Towns.  Order this book from

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