In the message of Revelation 14:6, 7 there is a clear call for both public and personal evangelism. The angel in his flight tells the message to the masses—every nation—and to the families—every kindred. Our pattern for evangelism has been given to us very clearly in the writings of the Spirit of prophecy. The nearer we conform our mode of preaching and follow-up work to that pattern, the greater will be our final success in winning souls for Christ. We read :
"In the work of many ministers there is too much sermonizing and too little real heart-to-heart work. There is need of more personal labor for souls. In Christlike sympathy the minister should come close to men individually, and seek to awaken their interest in the great things of eternal life. .. Ministry means much more than sermonizing; it means earnest personal labor."—"Gospel Workers," p. 185.
Hearts everywhere are yearning for love and sympathy, and this can be imparted not only through the public address, but through the personal touch as well. These days of trouble call for a personal ministry more than ever before. Again we are told:
"When a minister has presented the gospel message from the pulpit, his work is only begun. There is personal work for him to do. He should visit the people in their homes, talking and praying with them in earnestness and humility. . . . But the hearts of those who do this work must throb in unison with the heart of Christ."--Id., p. 187.
Here is to be found the very heart of true evangelism. Many hearts can be won to Christ through the public call to obedience, and many more can be gathered into the Master's fold by personal work and personal appeal in the home. As we recount the many blessed experiences in bringing souls to a decision for Christ and His message, we think of the best ones as being those experienced by the side of a struggling soul who was making his final decision to serve his Lord and Master.
While laboring in great centers of population, where the people are more or less conservative, it has been my experience, especially in late years, to find that if the personal side of evangelism is given greater prominence, much more will be accomplished, and the work will be more strongly established. It is well for us to make every effort to draw large audiences to our meetings; but let us bear in mind that the most of those who come, perhaps only a few times, will never be brought to a full knowledge of the message unless we devise ways and means to follow them up in a personal way. To make contact with the honesthearted people is our first and greatest duty. I have found certain ways of doing this to be helpful, some of which I shall relate.
At every public service, secure the names of people who wish reading matter to be sent to them free. This may be done by passing out cards, either before or after the sermon, and by the workers mingling with the people before and during the song service, securing names of the more conservative class who object to signing cards. Names may also be secured from the church members through the newspapers. This may be done by inserting a few lines at the bottom of advertisements, stating that free literature will be mailed to anyone who is interested in the subjects that are being presented, and who is unable to attend all the meetings, From this source alone we baptized a number of people in a recent campaign in Cape Town. Our experience teaches us that at least 5 per cent of the people in any community will read our literature, if rightly approached. Iri some places it may reach so percent.
Filing and Checking the Names Secured
The names are placed on cards and filed by separate weeks. To these we send a carefully selected series of sixteen numbers of Present Truth, which deals with the message up to and including the Sabbath, the change of the Sabbath, the seal of God, and baptism. On the back of the card that contains the name of the person to whom the paper is being sent, a record is kept of the paper sent and the date of sending. At the public meetings we have found it helpful to ask for a show of hands of all who are receiving the papers. This encourages others to ask for them, and also gives us a check on those regular in attendance. We have not found it possible or advisable for the workers to visit the hundreds of names that come in while the papers are being sent out during an effort. We would rather allow the reading matter to make the impressions, as the Holy Spirit leads the people in study. We have marveled many times of late to see how thoroughly the people are indoctrinated by reading the papers, before a single visit has been made.
When next to the last paper is sent out, we send with it a questionnaire and a self-addressed stamped envelope. Five simple questions are asked: I. Have you read and enjoyed the papers? 2. Are you a believer in Jesus Christ as man's only Saviour ? 3. If not, are you willing to accept Him? 4. Do you believe the special truths as presented in the papers? 5. Would you care to have Bible studies in your home?
Only a quarter or a third of the people will fill out the questionnaire and return it. But with these, immediate work should begin. The worker need not go through a series of extended studies with many of these, but can at once meet them on the common ground of belief in the Sabbath. The other names should be visited as rapidly as possible, and openings secured for studies. When workers become experienced in making openings among those who have read the literature, we find that at least 50 per cent of the people will take studies.
Large results will be obtained only as each worker becomes a persuasive soul winner. Workers must learn that it is not enough to visit, or answer questions, or even to hold a study. They must learn that art of all arts—how to bring people to a decision for Christ and His truth. To assist in this, we must accompany each worker on some of his visits, and give him the benefit of an evangelist's experience in getting decisions.
Then, too, it is well to set a goal for each worker regarding the number of souls to be brought to baptism. When effective work is done by experienced workers, it is utterly surprising what a large percentage of the people who consent to take studies after reading the literature, finally take their full stand for the message. How true is the following statement:
"The Lord desires that His word of grace shall be brought home to every soul. To a great degree this must be accomplished by personal labor. This was Christ's method."—"Christ's Object Lessons," p. 229.
Too many of our efforts stop just short of the mark. We visit the people and scatter the literature, but not nearly enough effort is made to get the people to decide for Christ and His truth. With a heart filled with the love of Christ working for lost souls, very few indeed will resist the personal invitation to come to Jesus. This we know by many, many experiences.
As the next step it is well to take the names and begin to list them in the following classes: (I) Those who are definitely keeping the Sabbath and desire baptism. (2) Those who have consented to the message, but who have not yet fully surrendered. (3) Those who are receiving instruction through regular studies. After each baptism, we revise the lists, bringing into class those who are to be prepared for the next monthly baptism, and into class 2 those who have made advancement from class 3.
Once each week the entire list of names should be carefully studied at a workers' meeting, and prayerful counsel given to each worker in bringing the people to the final decision.
One of the first laws in commercial salesmanship is that a careful list of prospective buyers be kept and reviewed week by week, to seek a reason why prospects have not purchased the offered goods. The fitness and attitude of the salesman must be considered, as well as the ability of the prospect to purchase. If a similar checkup is made on the prospects we gather through our efforts, it will be surprising to see how large a percentage of these prospects we are able to bring into the church.