God told David that when he heard a "sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees," he was to consider that as a signal for immediate forward action against the Philistines. It was evident to those who witnessed the advance moves in evangelism which were adopted at the Southern Union session, that there was a sound of a going in the mulberry trees in the Southland. As there was much business to be transacted in the few days of this union session, the program was necessarily a crowded one. The ministerial hour came each weekday from 1:30 to 2:30 in the afternoon and was presided over by J. L. Shuler.
The first ministerial hour was given over to a discussion of the topic, "How to Secure Larger Results in Our Evangelistic Work in 1937." J. K. Jones, president of the Southern Union, in a pointed presentation led in the discussion, emphasizing three methods by which larger results can be obtained, as follows:
1. That conference committees and ministers set a definite goal for souls each year.
2. That conference committees in counsel with every minister within their territory plan definitely for conducting a number of aggressive evangelistic efforts throughout the year.
3. That more efforts be conducted in our various conferences, and that wherever possible our ministers plan their work so as to provide a greater continuity in evangelistic programs in their respective communities. In a pointed climax to this presentation, the fact was emphasized that while the circulation of our literature and the utilization of other facilities are essential in our evangelistic work, nothing can take the place of the preaching of the word.
The chairman suggested that we could accomplish more in 1937 only as we remedied the conditions that kept us from accomplishing more in 1936. He stressed the following points: 1.The workers must be what they ought to be spiritually in consecration and personal Christian experience. 2. We should attempt more. 3. There should be more definiteness, more earnestness, and more thoroughness in our preaching, in our personal work, and in getting decisions.
The secretary of the Ministerial Association emphasized three additional points: 1. Our evangelists should carry on a continuous program of evangelism. Two or three series in one place, well planned, will invariably produce increased results. 2. Our ministers need to carry on their hearts an undying passion for souls. This is paramount to every other consideration in the work of evangelism. Where there is a divine compulsion, there will be greater soul-winning results. 3. We must watch for souls anywhere, everywhere, and at all times.
The second and third ministerial hours were devoted to a discussion of the topic, "How Can Our Pastors Keep a Stronger Soul-Winning Work Going the Year Round in Large Cities?" L. E. Lenheim, president of the Florida Conference, led out in the discussion of this topic. He emphasized the point that each minister should be a real soul winner in his sphere. A few can fill spacious auditoriums or hold large tabernacle efforts and carry on soul-winning work on an extensive scale. Other ministers can do excellent work in quietly winning souls by personal effort and cottage meetings.
Practically the entire time of the third ministerial hour was given over to the chairman for the presentation of how our pastors can start and operate Community Bible Schools to wonderful advantage in soul-winning work. This presentation led to the appointment of a committee, who were asked to take the matter to the Committee on Plans, and finally to the adoption of a resolution in the conference session, recommending the Community Bible School plan to all the pastors in the Southern Union. Request was made that a detailed explanation of the plan,—how to conduct these schools, how to secure students for them, etc., —should be mimeographed at the union conference office and sent to every pastor in the union. The chairman was requested by the union committee to prepare this document in the near future.
In connection with this plan, a resolution was also adopted, requesting the union committee to bring out a brief, concise course of twenty-two Bible lessons, covering the essentials of Seventh-day Adventist belief and practice. This course of Bible lessons is to be used in the Bible training course in the churches, and in the Community Bible Schools. The union committee has already requested the union evangelist to prepare this course, and it is expected to be available in the near future.
The fourth ministerial hour was devoted to the subject, "How to Prepare Converts for Baptism and Church Membership." S. M. Schleifer led in the discussion of this topic by emphasizing, from Matthew 28:19, 20, that new converts, before they are baptized, should be taught to observe all things that Jesus has commanded. He stressed the three following points:
1. Baptismal classes should be organized for the purpose of instructing prospective candidates in the principles of the faith and in proper standards of Christian living.
2. Wherever possible, an effort should be made to meet the people in their own homes and study the truth with them at close range.
3. Every minister and evangelist should instruct prospective candidates in the principles of the third angel's message, standards of healthful living, tithe paying and stewardship, principles of dress reform, standards of church fellowship, and the Spirit of prophecy.
In speaking on this point, L. E. Froom said: "It is a species of deception to bring people into the faith when they do not know what it is all about. Every effort should be made to thoroughly indoctrinate them in our principles of faith and our standards of Christian living so that they fully understand the meaning of the step they are taking. Sound and thorough conversion is fundamental to the success of the work conducted by our ministers."
The fifth ministerial hour was given to consideration of the topic, "How to Hold Our New Converts and Members in General." H. E. Lysinger, newly elected president of the Carolina Conference, led the discussion on this topic. He emphasized first of all that converts must be brought in right. If the evangelist does a thorough work in bringing in converts, there is a good prospect that they will "stick." But if they are not brought in right, they will probably be added, sooner or later, to the list of apostasies. He emphasized as a second point that each convert should be assigned to his post of service in the church, because if there is no active labor for other souls, the new member's faith is bound to wane and his experience grow dim.
The sixth ministerial hobr was given to a discussion of the topic, "The Relation of the Bible Worker to the Evangelist, and the Importance of the Bible Worker to Our Evangelistic Program." R. I. Keate, newly elected president of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, led the discussion, stressing the great shortage of Bible workers, and pointing out that it is because we are not training them as we should. He further emphasized that there ought to be a Bible training school in every church, because from among the lay members will come some talented Bible workers for regular conference employ. Some of the best Bible workers we have today got their start in the Bible training courses in our churches. It was pointed out that we shall never have enough strong Bible workers as long as conferences follow the policy of employing them only three or four months during the summer. This led to the presentation of a resolution calling for the training of more Bible workers, and for conference committees to give careful study to the employment of permanent Bible workers to carry on a strong soul-winning work the year round.
The foregoing-mentioned resolutions are as follows:
Community Bible Schools
Whereas, The Community Bible School plan offers to our pastors an effective, inexpensive, and productive evangelistic program for soul-winning work in our cities ;
Resolved, 1. That we recommend this plan to our pastors throughout the Southern Union.
2. That the plan be prepared in detail, mimeographed at the union conference office, and sent to every pastor in the Southern Union.
3. That arrangements be made for the preparation of a prospectus to be used in securing students for these Community Bible Schools in connection with the systematic distribution of some of our non-controversial literature.
Standard Bible Course
Whereas, There are distinct advantages to be gained in following a standard Bible course in the Bible training classes in all our churches and for the Community Bible Schools, We recommend, That the Southern Union Conference committee make provision for the selection or preparation of such a course.
Increasing the Number of Bible Workers
Whereas, For several years there has been a recognized dearth of Bible workers in the field of evangelism in the Southern Union Conference, and recognizing the invaluable aid of such workers in the program of soul-winning, Therefore, we, the ministers and workers of the Southern Union in conference assembled,
Recommend, That our educational institutions not only encourage young women who give promise of development into good workers to take up this phase of the work, but also direct them in taking such studies as will fit them for it.
We also recommend, That our union conference committee give earnest consideration to the question of financing a larger corps of Bible workers, not only in connection with the evangelistic campaigns of our ministers, but as permanent workers in our cities.