Evangelism Despite Small Budgets

This problem of continuous evangelism concerns no small number of conferences in these days of financial distress and uncer­tainty.

By W. C. MOFFETT, President, Chesapeake Conference

This problem of continuous evangelism* concerns no small number of conferences in these days of financial distress and uncer­tainty. Many conferences are "living from hand to mouth," with no working surplus, and but little, if any, provision in the budget for appropriations for evangelism. The first con­sideration is, of course, to increase the funds available for evangelism. The most depend­able way of doing this is to increase the tithe. And the one sure way to increase the tithe is to see that the flock is faithfully shepherded, and that our people in every church receive real spiritual help. As they are led to renewed con­secration, faithfulness in tithes and offerings follows as a natural and inevitable result.

In some fields, considerable sums for evan­gelism have been raised by the use of such devices as the penny-a-meal can and the mile­of-pennies card, but interest in such programs gradually wanes. With the many calls for funds, the nearer we can hold to permanent, fundamental methods which have their root in a quickened Christian experience, the better. One fruitful method of increasing our re­sources for evangelism is by direct personal appeal to people of means for substantial gifts, and by appeal to the churches. Our people will give liberally when they see that something is being accomplished in soul winning.

Additional funds can be made available for evangelism by effecting every possible economy in administrative and general expenditures. Many conferences carry too heavy an over­head. The lack of provision in the budget for evangelistic appropriations is no excuse for marking time.

In many places, efforts that do not cost the conference a penny are being held in our church buildings. These result in an encourag­ing ingathering of souls and a revival of church members, with backsliders reclaimed. Successful efforts are also being held in moder­ately priced, respectable halls, at no cost to the conference. Nor is the day of tent efforts past. Our people will go a long way toward paying for a tent, and the effort can be made to pay its way.

Although we recognize the advantage of having representative meeting places, plenty of money to spend, and a large corps of support­ing workers, we must also realize that this work will be finished by the consecrated en­deavors of the rank and file of humble work­ers under the unction of the Spirit of God. The vital thing is for the worker to be on fire for God, bearing a message that will resur­rect the dry bones, and feeding the souls of the hungry multitudes as did John the Baptist.

Utilizing Every Resource

We believe that every conference president and every departmental secretary with minis­terial gifts should yoke up with an evangelistic effort from time to time. Too many gifted evangelists have been caught by the lure of administrative office, and have faded into mediocre presidents. Why should a man who has once tasted of this heavenly gift permit his hand to lose its cunning?

Where funds are limited, some workers are training capable lay sisters to visit the people and do Bible work, and granting a small sub­sidy where nearly full time is put in. With a small outlay of funds, a number of good helpers can be developed, and as a result far more people may be reached than could pos­sibly be reached without the utilization of such lay help. Such helpers can be dropped at any time without inconvenience to any one, as they are usually married women with husbands to support them.

The greatest resource of this movement is our laity. Instead of permitting numerous church responsibilities to take up his time, the preacher ought to train competent laymen to carry burdens. Harnessing the talents of our laity in soul-winning endeavor is one of the most important steps in finishing the work.

On the indisputable principle that an ounce of concrete demonstration is worth a ton of abstract theory, we may be pardoned for men­tioning to the glory of God what our eyes have seen and our hands have handled. I know the comfortable feeling that comes with having thousands of dollars of reserve in a large con­ference and a steady flow of funds into the treasury ; and I also know what it is to expend practically every dollar month by month in a small field. But I have found that as we go forward in an aggressive program in faith, scraping the bottom of the barrel from month to month, the Lord never fails. The same God who fed thousands of people on five barley loaves and two fishes, so that all were sufficed and there was an abundance to spare, will mul­tiply our resources as we pass out what we have to feed the multitudes famishing for the bread of life.

Years ago, I innocently accepted the re­sponsibility of directing the destinies of a small field which had one white minister, two colored ministers, an office force of one, and the indispensable colporteur leader. Further­more, we had an empty treasury, an insolvent academy with five students, and one cast-off tent with seventy patches and a multitude of mildew holes. We promptly paraffined and pitched that tent. The Lord tempered the wind to the shorn lamb, and by careful nursing, the tent outlived a successful effort. Every resource was pressed into evangelism, and in four years the field was fully manned, the membership was practically doubled, and the academy indebtedness was paid off. The at­tendance at the academy grew to nearly one hundred, with twenty students attending as a result of one public effort. The conference carried a safe operating surplus, and had six field tents which had been cheerfully paid for by the laity.

In another small conference, with an annual tithe of only $10,000, and not a penny for evangelism, every worker plunged into self-supporting efforts. A 22 per cent net increase was registered in one year, and the tithe doubled in a depression year. The president spent six happy months of that year in soul-winning efforts, giving his own Bible readings and carrying three conference departments. A small conference may be an evangelist's paradise for a president who is an evangelist.

After all, money is not the greatest need of this cause. What we need most of all is a genuine revival and reformation that will pre­pare the way for the outpouring of the Spirit of God in the loud cry of the third angel's mes­sage. Then thousands will be converted in a day, and those who truly believe the Lord is coming will again sell houses and lands and lay the proceeds, as of old, at their leaders' feet, as the message sweeps triumphantly on.

* Paper presented at Presidents' Council, Battle Creek, Michigan, October, 1938.

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By W. C. MOFFETT, President, Chesapeake Conference

March 1939

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