Conservation of Results

Conservation of Results—No. 2

How can an evangelist conduct an effort and bind off the interest in such a way that the work accomplished will stand secure and not ravel out?

By J. L. SHULER, Southern Union Evangelist

We come now to the very important ques­tion, How can an evangelist conduct an effort and bind off the interest in such a way that the work accomplished will stand secure and not ravel out? We will answer the ques­tion by presenting seven ways in which the evangelist can render yeoman service in this matter of conservation of results.

1. By really preaching the word of God. There are some ministers whose sermons are little more than a string of stories and anec­dotes, or the showing of a number of slides. Stories and illustrations have their proper place in the sermon. But the crying need of distressed and lost humanity is the full preach­ing of the Word by which men are born again and transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Preaching that rivets the Word in men's hearts will produce abiding results.

The question of what will happen to the con­vert after the effort depends upon the kind of foundation upon which his house is built. (Luke 6:46-49.) In the parable the man who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house upon the solid rock had the house that stood the test of storm and flood. When the evangelist so orders his preaching and teaching that converts are rooted and grounded in the word , of God, those converts will stand.

If, instead of telling so many tear-fetching stories, the evangelist would root the people's mind and conscience and soul deep down in the fundamental truths of God's word, there would be seen again the rock-rooted conviction and sound conversion of earlier days. When souls come in under such circumstances, they come with an experience out of which they will not easily be enticed by the beggarly elements of the world.

2. By preaching every essential point of the message straight from the shoulder, not hold­ing back any point for fear some will not unite with the church. It takes this straight preaching of the full third angel's message to make real Seventh-day Adventists. It takes the straight testimony of the Word to sift out the true and the honest, who will stand every test, and stay by God's message to the end. We can expect that under this straight preaching many interested ones will fall away. But it is far better for those who will not meet God's requirements to drop out before they get into the church, than to give up soon after baptism.

It is impossible to popularize the straight and narrow way. Let us steer clear of any method of evangelism that proceeds even an inch along this line. When Christ brought the real tests of discipleship to bear on those who were inclined to follow Him, many of them went back and walked no more with Him. (John 6:53-66; Luke 14:25-33.) But this was really a step toward conserving end results.

3. By thoroughness in dealing with inquirers contacted in the aftermeetings or in personal work, and thoroughness in guiding the work of helpers in behalf of every individual on the entire interested list. When a sick person in the critical period hangs balancing between life and death, how anxiously the physician and nurse watch every symptom and count the pulse! How much greater ought to be the con­cern of the evangelist in the time of soul crisis of a revival service when a soul under deep conviction for sin is anxiously seeking to know Him. How carefully should he handle a soul balancing on the brink of a full surrender to God's message either in the meeting or in the Personal interview. Every step should be taken to make sure that a thorough work of grace is done in each heart.

We must guard against leading any soul to believe that he has made a full surrender, when his course plainly presents evidence that he has not come into line with all of God's re­quirements, or when he may have merely taken the first step toward such a surrender ! If there is a hurried and superficial dealing with inquirers, it will be found, when the effort is over, that the end results are not at all com­mensurate with what we had hoped and what we had a reasonable right to expect.

Notwithstanding the plain teaching of the Word on what it really means to.follow Christ, the idea prevails in many minds that walking down the aisle and taking the evangelist's hand is all that is needed. This is very largely the case in the evangelistic campaigns of other churches. Such campaigns often degenerate into a general proposition of handshaking, card signing, or name getting. In this super­ficial age, those who bear to the world the solemn message of Revelation 14:6-14, that will seal the destiny of every soul, must not copy the methods of the popular evangelist who proclaims that he has many converts—simply because people raise their hands or sign cards to follow Christ. There is a dis­turbing trend in this direction on the part of some of our evangelists. The Spirit of proph­ecy has sounded a most decided warning on this very point.

"A new order of things has come into the ministry. There is a desire to pattern after other churches, and simplicity and humility are almost unknown. The young ministers seek to be original, and to introduce new ideas and new plans for labor. Some open re­vival meetings, and by this means call large numbers into the church. But when the excitement is over, where are the converted ones? Repentance and con­fession of sin are not seen. The sinner is entreated to believe in Christ and accept Him, without regard to his past life of sin and rebellion. The heart is not broken. There is no contrition of soul.. The supposed converted ones have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus.

"The Old and New Testament Scriptures show us the only way in which this work should be done. Repent, repent, repent, was the message rung out by John the Baptist in the wilderness. Christ's message to the people was, 'Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.' Luke 13 :5. And the apostles were commanded to preach everywhere that men should repent.

"The Lord desires His servants today to preach the old gospel doctrine,—sorrow for sin, repentance, and confession. We want old-fashioned sermons, old-fashioned customs, old-fashioned fathers and mothers in Israel. The sinner must be labored for, perseveringly, earnestly, wisely, until he shall see that he is a transgressor of God's law, and shall exercise repentance toward God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ."—Review and Herald, Nov. 29, 1934.

Some evangelists declare that when they go they leave behind the responsibility for the permanence of the results. The responsibility then becomes their successor's. But this is far from the right view of the matter, for it is anything but fair to shift the responsibility for large losses upon a successor or the pastor, if the evangelist has trifled with the work at the very point at which permanence or im­permanence is largely decided.

4. By not baptizing any one or taking any one into the church until he is thoroughly pre­pared; not easing up on any of the require­ments or standards, in order to increase the number of converts. If the converts are not brought in right, they are likely, sooner or later, to drop out. It is a known fact that a baby's chance to live is greatly reduced if it he born prematurely. Is not this also true in the spiritual realm with those who are baptized prematurely ? If our ministers would take greater care to guard the entrance of the church, we would not suffer such severe losses by apostasy.

The reception of all the truths of the mes­sage will determine the measure of one's sur­render and his fitness for taking the final step into Christ's brotherhood. Thoroughness at this point will certainly conserve the results. The individual who makes a full surrender, and renews that surrender daily, will never give up. It has been definitely pointed out by the Spirit of prophecy that many converts from public efforts have dropped out because the evangelist did not bring the converts into harmony with every point.

"Under their labors, large numbers may embrace the theory of the truth, but in time it is found that there are many who will not bear the proving of God. If the teacher of truth had brought these converts along as he should have done, presenting before them the obligation which rested upon them, many who afterward drew back to perdition might have been saved."—"Gospel Workers," p. 99, edition of 1892.

On this basis we are told on page 370 in the volume just quoted from, that it is better if the evangelist faithfully and thoroughly edu­cates his converts in regard to all the essen­tials of the message, even if there are fewer whom he can number as additions to the church under his labors. Christ keeps His sheep; no man is able to pluck them out of His hand. John 39:26-29. And it is obedi­ence to every point that makes a person truly one of His sheep.

—To be concluded in March

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By J. L. SHULER, Southern Union Evangelist

February 1939

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