As a young pastor, Jim watched all his attempts to grow his first congregation go down the tubes. His church attendance dipped. Recalling those difficult times, he said “Extrapolation made it clear that I had two-and-a-half months of ministry left before I was preaching to only my wife–and she was threatening to go to the Baptist church down the street!”
In the early years, Coral Ridge saw great growth through Dr. Kennedy’s emphasis on sharing the Gospel with the surrounding community. Evangelism Explosion officially started in 1962. In a brief 12-year period, church membership increased from 17 to 2,000.
Realizing that he couldn’t do this alone, he made witness-training a bedrock of his ministry, utilizing on-the-job training. In 1967, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church was singled out as the most rapidly expanding church in America. In 1972, EE was incorporated with its own staff and Board of Directors. As it spread to other countries, EE materials were translated into other languages. By 1984, more training clinics were held overseas than were held in the US.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9