The Challenge of the Large Cities

Efficient Evangelistic Methods and Pastoral Technique.

By H. J. DETWILER, President of the Columbia Union Conference

Years ago the important question, "Who are carrying a burden for the large cities ?" was asked by the messenger of the Lord with great earnestness. In the same paragraph in which this pertinent question appears the fol­lowing urgent appeal for laborers in these cities is made : "Behold the cities and their need of the gospel ! The need of earnest laborers among the multitudes of the cities has been kept before me for more than twenty years. . . . All through the large cities God has honest souls who are interested in what is truth."—"Testimonies, Vol. IX, pp. 97, 98.

The magnitude of the task to reach the multi­tudes in these large cities is almost overwhelm­ing. But God has a plan whereby it may be accomplished, as the following statement clearly indicates :

"Now, when the Lord bids us proclaim the mes­sage once more with power in the East, when He bids us enter the cities of the East, and of the South, and of the West, and of the North, shall we not respond as one man and do His bidding? Shall we not plan to send our messengers all through these fields and support them liberally ? Shall not the ministers of God go into these crowded centers, and there lift up their voices in warning the multi­tudes ? What are our conferences for. if not for the carrying forward of this very work—Id., p. 99.

Spasmodic efforts are insufficient. We have been told that "we shall have to plan for the carrying forward of a far-reaching and sys­tematic work. We must enter into this work with a perseverance that will not allow of any slackening of our efforts until we shall see the salvation of God."

The hour is late, and the time is short in which to finish the work that has been entrusted to us. The conditions that surround us, the perilous situation of the world, increase our responsibility. The time has come when every conference organization should inaugurate an intensified evangelistic program.

The multiplied opportunities on every hand for remunerative employment, with the large increase in tithe, makes it financially possible for an aggressive evangelistic program to be launched in many parts of the field. What a tragedy if increased funds should be largely spent for other things, and the most important work of all—the evangelization of the great cities of our land—should be neglected or de­layed!

The Lord has spoken to us repeatedly con­cerning this matter in clear and forceful language, so that none need misunderstand God's plan for these last days. Years ago these soul-stirring words were written :

"Can we expect the inhabitants of the cities to come to us? . . What do they know of our mes­sage? Let us do our part in warning these people who are ready to perish unwarned and unsaved. . . . As we do this work, we shall find that means will flow into our treasuries, and we shall have funds with which to carry on a still broader and more far-reaching work. Souls who have wealth will be brought into the truth, and will give of their means to advance the work of God. I have been instructed that there is much means in the cities that are unworked. God has interested people there. Go to them; teach them as Christ taught ; give them the truth. They will accept it. . . 0 that we might see the needs of these cities as God sees them! At such a time as this every hand is to be employed. The Lord is coming; the end is near, yea, it hasteth greatly ! In a little while we shall be unable to work with the freedom that we now enjoy. Terrible scenes are before us, and what we do we must do quickly."—Id., pp. 100, 101.

To evangelize these populous cities calls for long-range planning by conference committees. Auditoriums, halls, theaters, and tabernacles located in strategic centers, where the attention of the masses may be arrested, must be secured in order to accomplish the great work before us. This 'calls for a liberal and wise expendi­ture of conference funds. Every selfish atti­tude must be put away...

Answering the Challenge

The Columbia Union is endeavoring to an­swer the challenge of its populous cities by providing in every conference budget a sub­stantial sum of money to do this work. Our union conference is supplementing these funds by large appropriations from its treasury. Suitable meeting places, with seating capacities ranging from a few hundred to several thou­sand, are secured at a cost of from two hun­dred to five thousand dollars, in which to preach the message. Able evangelists have associated with them groups of workers com­posed of ministers, Bible workers, music di­rectors, and other personal workers to aid in these soul-stirring endeavors. As a result, many of the cities have been mightily stirred. Hundreds have been won to the truth, new churches have been organized, and the tithe has greatly increased. This has enabled the conferences in turn to carry on a still larger evangelistic work.

God is calling for men of vision, of out­standing ability and experience, to enter these long-neglected cities. This is our day of opportunity.

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By H. J. DETWILER, President of the Columbia Union Conference

January 1942

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