In any major forward move of the church and its ministry, it is of prime importance to settle clearly, first of all, upon the fundamental principles and objectives involved. NA, e must first have a vision of the need, and an understanding of the goal to be achieved. Then with the goal clearly determined, the methods and processes of achievement, with all their adjuncts and involvements, will logically follow.
To reverse this logical procedure is to put the cart before the horse. It is to obscure objectives and invite differences over procedures and emphasis, thus often jeopardizing, if not indeed threatening, defeat of the primary purpose. It is impossible to build intelligently without a master plan. It is impossible to shape our emphasis in sound and balanced form, when we are not clear with respect to goals and objectives. But with this established, the details of adjustment then become normal and natural, to be worked out by mutual study and adaptation.
Thus it has been with the greater-evangelism forward movement. Now that we have clearly accepted and adopted this great goal, in General Conference assembled, calling for the streamlining of all activities to this one supreme end, our next logical step is to implement this great plan with all those provisions and adjuncts that God has clearly outlined for our guidance and employment.
Now that we are definitely committed to the readjustment of ministerial emphasis, so as to place a/1-out evangelism sharply in the forefront in all lines of denominational endeavor —pastoral, departmental, executive, ministerial and Bible-worker training, and internship provision—there are a number of contributing factors that now call for study, readjustment, and emphasis. The list is comprehensive, and touches the leading phases of our denominational endeavor.
Let us now candidly survey these leading aspects. The seriousness of the need and the obvious challenge of the hour call for plain speaking and straight thinking regarding their individual part and place. They demand candor and willingness to adjust emphasis and to redirect effort. We shall note them, one by one, not necessarily in order of importance, as all are important. And this will form the basis of important future discussions. Note then seven aspects:
1. Radio Work.—We have scarcely touched with the tips of our fingers, as yet, the vast possibilities of radio for heralding this message. The present disruptions of this distraught world have brought restrictions, for the time being, in many lands. But this is the hour of all hours to capitalize this incomparable medium, wherever and whenever possible. Not everyone, of course, is qualified by voice, personality, diction, and adaptability to do effective radio work. But scores and scores, who have not yet attempted it, should be using local stations for direct soul-winning work. Correspondence schools of the air, local follow-up reading rooms, and regional chain hookups all cry aloud for wholesome exploitation. Their efficacy has been demonstrated. They now need expansion.
We all thank God for the Autumn Council authorization of the nation-wide hookup to inform and educate the public with respect to just who Seventh-day Adventists are, what they are doing, and what they teach. (See page 4.) We have the speakers, and we have the musical talent requisite. These are now to be joined to the opportunity, while there is . still time obtainable on the air waves.
2. Evangelistic Music.—One of the closest and most inseparable adjuncts to evangelistic preaching of the Word is effective, evangelistic song leading and solo work by consecrated musicians, trained for such teamwork. The one calls for and parallels the otlrer. This form of musicianship involves a burden for souls, a subordination of art and display to the one supreme purpose of singing people into this message. And it involves a profound belief in the greatness and distinctiveness of such a high calling.
Here is a field open to scores of talented young men, which will place them in the very heart of this great soul-winning advance. Here is an opening field of latent possibility that has never really been developed in this movement. Such teamwork achievement for God as was pre-eminently accomplished by Moody and Sankey, by Chapman and Alexander, has never yet been seen in this advent movement. But it should be, and it must come. We should never rest until this is achieved.
This kind of program obviously_ calls for a specialized type of music training not offered in the past by our schools. The standard training given for acceptable church music has not met, and will not meet, the specialized need of this greater evangelism project. It must come, moreover, from teachers who have the vision, the burden, and the knack, together with a background experience in actual evangelistic soul-winning endeavor. It must so grip our youth that they, will see in this field matchless opportunity for utilizing their musical talents in the most important work in the world—direct evangelism for the lost.
Here is an inescapable challenge that must be met. Here is an opportunity that beckons insistently, and a confronting need that must be supplied. An advanced course, possibly in the Theological Seminary, devoted specifically to evangelistic music and conducting, is required to meet this need, beyond the range of the basic music courses that should be available in our colleges. This should be most carefully considered.
3. Bible Work.—Likewise inseparably tied to public evangelism, as well as to pastoral and sanitarium evangelism, is Bible work in the homes of the people, in public efforts, and in institutional endeavor. While we have many godly and effective Bible workers, nevertheless one of the greatest single needs facing the greater-evangelism movement is the creation among our most talented young women of an understanding and appreciation of this supreme form of feminine work for God. This should go hand in hand with the development of an adequate, specialized training in our colleges, and the recruiting of young women to fill the inevitable call for more competent workers.
There is likewise needed an advanced Bible worker course in our Theological Seminary for those already in service, but without formal preparatory training. This Seminary provision is, happily, already an accomplished fact.
This challenge also must be met, so as to arrest the attention of talented youth who have too often been diverted from this high calling to other lines of endeavor. Adequate training and opportunity must be provided in order to supply that inevitable call that is bound to come from our evangelists and pastors, for more trained and efficient Bible workers, as the greater-evangelism movement gathers momentum. Our colleges have a work to do.
4. Medical Missionary Work.—This full-rounded reformatory movement embraces sound and balanced health reform, as a cardinal part of its basic platform. To neglect this aspect in our evangelistic presentations to the world is to omit a part of our commissioned message. It should form a definite part of every public campaign, and every series of home studies. We ask people to redirect the current of their life are duty bound to help them intelligently to change their dietary, and their life practices as regards smoking, drinking, eating, medication, dress, etc.
Vegetarian food and cookery demonstrations, simple home treatments, rational care of the sick, temperance and antitobacco lectures and demonstrations, health question box periods, and related features, conducted by medical workers and home economics specialists, as well as members of the evangelistic company, should characterize every campaign. More than a mere adjunct, the health message should truly be the right arm of evangelism— but not the body. It should do much of the lifting and heavy work of the campaign. It will prove the entering wedge, cutting through prejudice, apathy, and hostility, if we will only let it.
We must not allow extremism or excesses by a few, or personal apathy or indulgence of opposite view by others, to deflect us from this great adjunct that is to become increasingly prominent and effective, as restrictions, persecutions, pestilences, and conflicts increasingly affect our public work. This is the golden time to incorporate medical evangelism as a fundamental part of our greater-evangelism endeavors, drawing upon the services of our physicians, nurses, dietitians, or dentists resident in the community, or the full facilities of our sanitariums, if within reasonable distance. Here is a union that Heaven calls for, and will bless.
5. Institutional Cooperation. — Our schools and our sanitariums are to play a vital part in this all-out-for-evangelism movement; our colleges and training schools; by implanting the evangelistic passion, by guiding young men and women into direct and indirect forms of evangelism, and by stronger, better-adapted training in evangelistic ministry and Bible work, can render an outstanding service to the cause at this juncture. The Bible, music, borne economics, and speech departments of our colleges are particularly involved in the program. Well-rounded content work in the lower division, and increasingly practical, supervised clinical field work in the upper division, will greatly strengthen our student product.
Our theological juniors, for example, when leading the singing in student efforts should be under the eye and guidance of the evangelistic music instructor. Then there will be supervised growth and development. Similarly, the health talks and demonstrations should, for the protection and growth of the student minister and the Bible worker, as well as for the listener, be under the active supervision of the college physician, home economics teacher, and school nurse. And the speech department should be closely observing and constantly coaching in the public-address efforts of seniors in the student efforts. Thug the previous instruction of the classroom is tied to, and applied through, the field work. So the practical side will be developed, and the emphasis and interest of the institution will become distinctively evangelistic, which is a priceless asset and a necessity.
Likewise with our sanitariums, brought forth to minister to mind and soul, as well as to body. Here is a golden opportunity, not only for the chaplain and his Bible worker assistant to work directly with the patients, but through them a constant stream of contacts with truth seekers should develop, followed up by the pastors of the communities from which these patients come. This should give tangible fruitage in souls. And in the nurses' training school, health demonstrations, Bible studies, and co-ordination with local evangelistic efforts or school theological-student efforts, should be the settled policy of the institution.
6. Literaure Distribution.—Despite all of our gratifying literature distribution, we have not yet started to match the Millerite distribution of periodicals, books, tracts, broadsides, etc.—proportionately to the number of believers and population then and now. We have not yet accepted the full seriousness of the scattering of our message literature like the swirling leaves of autumn—distributing literature in every section, and so systematically covering the earth with God's message for the hour that phenomenal results in soul winning will characterize the follow-up effort.
Instead of contemplating the closing of any publishing house, we should be doubling or trebling its printed output and capacity. But this printed product must be message literature, in order to meet the mind of God and the demand of the field. Literature such as the Methodists or Baptists might just as well put out, will not meet our need or rally our ministry and people to larger distribution. Too much of our present output is weak in message content. Our health journals are not as distinctively reformatory as we might rightfully expect, and our missionary papers are sometimes too softened and subdued to merit the enthusiastic support of our evangelists.
Literature should be produced to. meet our specific needs. Let our editors, authors, and publishing houses find out the needs and desires of the field and meet them, and not bring forth a literature that has chiefly sales possibilities, and then urge it upon the field. We need to guard against the spirit of commercialism. l'here needs to be a great revival of book colporteuring and periodical distribution to lay down a barrage for effective evangelistic efforts. Literature should be much more widely sold from bookstands in our evangelistic efforts than in the past. A gigantic expansion of lay distribution of inexpensive preparatory and follow-up literature is manifestly God's plan for the hour. Here is scope for great advance.
7. Lay Evangelism.—They injure their cause who declare or imply that public evangelism by the ordained ministry is passing, and lay evangelism by humble, self-supporting men, called of God, is to be the superseding order of the day. The one is not to supplant the other. The two are to march forward hand in hand—the ministry leading and directing, and the laymen augmenting and expanding, in simpler lines, our one great common objective.
The ministry must train, encourage, and definitely forward the vast potentialities of the increasing number of consecrated laymen who, with little expense to the conference, are increasingly presenting the message in towns and villages and rural communities in tent, hall, and schoolhouse, and in the homes of the people. Proper equipment for such, in the form of charts, literature, and film slides, and proper training and guidance in harmony with the conference program of evangelism, should bring almost incalculable returns.
8. Youth Evangelism.—Broad, aggressive plans should be laid to harness the latent talents and energies of the thousands of youth in this movement. Great evangelistic possibilities are inherent in our restless host of youth. Just turn these energies into soul-winning lines and watch the results. Tie up the Missionary Volunteer Society with your evangelistic campaigns. Try making Friday night "Youth's Night." Have a young people's choir, use youth for ushers and get others on the platform to offer prayer and to assist on that night. Reserve the center section of your auditorium for youth not of our faith. Get youth to working for youth. By so doing we will save many of our own youth, as well as win many from without.
God loves the elderly. We must work for them. But youth, at life's threshold, have talent, energy, resources, earning power, worker possibilities, and an enthusiasm that is an inestimable asset to this cause. Think of their help in terms of literature distribution, music. etc. Here also is a field that merits most careful study, and intelligent and intensive planning by our ministers, young people's workers, and educators.
These are some of the 'obvious ways to implement the all-out-for-e7angelism program to which we are committed ind with which we are all concerned. There tre many other aspects, not here mentioned. But these are obvious and fundamental. We should now address ourselves to the study and employment of these various means of implementing the great goal to which we are committed, which is not merely to foster another program or campaign, but to arise and finish the work in time's last hour, with darkness crowding in fast upon us.
L. E. F.