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Modesto Manifesto

(A plan for holiness)

Perhaps no other leading church figure of the past 50 years commands as much admiration and respect from both the Christian and non-Christian world as does the Rev. Billy Graham.  While he has suffered some criticism over the years, no scandals have rocked his ministry - and it has been intensely scrutinized.

One of the major reasons Reverend Graham and his associates have avoided pitfalls and scandal goes back to November of 1948 and what took place in a hotel room in Modesto, California.  It was there The Modesto Manifesto was birthed.

Graham and his associates, Bev Shea, Grady Wilson, and Cliff Barrows, were just starting to get involved in evangelistic meetings.  At the time, many traveling evangelists were crossing the country.  And a number fell to scandals - moral, ethical and financial.  In a desire to see their ministry remain above scandal, the men met to discuss the problems evangelists faced.  They came up with four problems to avoid and ways to avoid them.

1.  Money

It was common practice among evangelists to put a lot of emotion and flourish into taking love offerings.  This could bring unnecessary criticism - and temptation.  The men vowed not to emphasize the offering.  To avoid criticism they would always have the local campaign committees oversee the offerings and disbursements of funds - they would accept a straight salary regardless of how high the offerings were.

2.  Immorality

Religious leaders especially those who traveled were regularly falling to this temptation.  The men agreed continually to pray for God to guard them from it.  They also set up some rules to follow.  They would never allow themselves to be alone with women - lunches, counseling sessions, or rides to auditoriums or airports.  And they would always get their hotel rooms close together as another safeguard.

3.  Exaggeration

The phrase evangelistically speaking has been coined to label exaggerated figures of the number attending meetings or the number saved.  The men vowed not to fall to this practice.  If numbers were mentioned they were the ones generated by the local police, fire departments, or arena managers.

4.  Criticism. 

Often evangelists would criticize local pastors and churches from pulpits.  The men vowed not to do this, nor would they ever criticize pastors who openly criticized them.

(Discipleship Journal, Issue 84, Nov/Dec 1994, Page 45)

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