How the Four Laws Began!

In the summer of 1958, more than 150 students arrived at the new Campus Crusade training center in Mound, Minnesota, on the shore of beautiful Lake Minnetonka.

Here’s a photo made at the camp just to give you the mental picture.


In his book, Come Help Change the World , Bill Bright told the amazing story of how The Four Spiritual Laws came into existence while at the training center back then.

To hear Bill share the account, well, it’s kind of funny.

Here’s the story in his own words…

“Prior to this summer training conference, something else happened – an event that would prove pivotal not only in the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ but eventually in the personal outreach of millions of Christians around the world.

 I must confess it began because I took personal offense at something a guest speaker said to the conferees-about me!

He was an outstanding Christian sales consultant and friend. In his talk he emphasized that a successful salesman must develop a clear, simple, understandable presentation that he can use over and over again.

Salesmen call this the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

He warned us that when a salesman grows tired of hearing himself give the same message and develops “presentation fatigue,” he often changes the presentation and loses his effectiveness.

His next statement startled me, “In sharing Christ, we need to develop a simple, understandable, logical presentation just like the successful salesman does. We need to stick with that message and not yield to presentation fatigue.”

I did not agree with him. I felt that God honored spontaneity-sharing as the Holy Spirit leads instead of giving a prepared, “canned” approach. But if the speaker’s first statement startled me, the next remark almost knocked me from my chair. “Your leader, Bill Bright, thinks he has a special message for each of the different groups to whom he speaks. He has ministered on skid row, in prisons, and now to college students and laypeople.

I have never heard him speak, but I would be willing to wager that he has only one message for everyone. Basically, he tells them all the same thing.” I squirmed in my seat and hoped that my resentment did not show on my face. How could I, or anyone else truly committed to serving God, not be led by Him to speak with originality in every situation?

How could this speaker have the audacity to embarrass me like this in front of my fellow staff? When the meeting was over, I was still feeling irritated over the speaker’s message. But as I began to reflect on exactly what I did say in various witnessing opportunities, I asked myself: Do I share the same basic message with everyone? Is my message really that simple? I retreated to my quarters, asked the Lord what He wanted to reach me, and picked up a pen.

For the next two hours, I wrote down my basic presentation and was amazed to discover that our guest speaker had been right. Without realizing it, I had been saying basically the same thing in every witnessing situation, whether to men in the Bowery or men in business suits, university students, professors, or laypeople.

With just a few variations to relate to their personal situations, the gospel message itself was basically the same every time I talked with someone. In most situations my approach was effective.

What I wrote that day was known as “God’s Plan for Your Life,” a positive, twenty-minute presentation which I asked the staff to memorize and use in their evangelistic speaking opportunities. Within one year, our combined effectiveness in sharing Christ dramatically multiplied. The salesman had been right! Soon we felt the need for a shorter version of God’s Plan, so I prepared an outline, complete with key Scripture verses and diagrams.

Again, we had the staff memorize it. For several years we actually wrote it out on the back of the Van Deusen Letter, a letter with an evangelistic emphasis that I wrote. We used these to share Christ with others. But as more students and Christian adults became involved in our training conferences, it became apparent that we needed to make the presentation available in printed form.

Thus, in a roundabout way, that one guest speaker’s remark (and my reaction to it) led to the birth of an evangelistic tract for which Campus Crusade may be best known today: the Four Spiritual Laws booklet. As of January 1, 1999, we estimate that approximately three billion copies have been printed in over 200 languages of the world.”

What an amazing story!