Singing evangelism is a ministry, vitally necessary and blessed of God. The evangelistic singer must do more than lead in the singing, and sing special songs, conduct the choir, and perform the many other duties encumbent upon the song leader.
I would like to stress the necessity of the song leader's knowing his task and doing it well, for the singer is usually the first to appear on the platform. If this first approach is made with dignity, self-possession, and a thorough knowledge of the work, it will immediately be apparent, for any audience responds to such leadership with relaxation and complete satisfaction, and will sing with a will. Furthermore, the Spirit of God will come into such a meeting in a wonderful way, and the message to follow has a clear channel to the heart of the hearers.
It may not always be possible for the evangelist to come to the meeting early, but it should be the singer's burden to be there early and greet the people as they come in. As the meetings progress, and the singer becomes acquainted with those who come, especially after the major points have been covered, those who are interested will often come early and meet the singer with a question. This opens the way for him to partially cover the subject, and will often lead to the opportunity of meeting the interested ones in their home.
If the singer is going to meet the people, he must meet them before the meeting, for in all probability he will have a choir rehearsal after the meeting, and, too, the evangelist usually desires to greet them after the service. Personally, I feel that my finest contacts have been made before the meeting starts. I like to sit down with the interested, and discuss the points of interest previously covered by the evangelist, that are so new and illuminating to the hearers, and yet often rather confusing.
To follow through and make the early-hour contacts, is to enjoy the most wonderful experiences of evangelism. And I mean enjoy, for evangelism in all its branches is truly the most enjoyable and intriguing work there is.
Some, I am sorry to say, do not believe in calls at evangelistic meetings—opportunity where those touched by the Spirit of God and the message are asked to come forward and give their hearts to the Lord. Many believe that the hearers should make their own choice within their hearts, and come in after due consideration. But in Psalms 34:18 we read: "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." It is desirable for the singer, as he sings an appeal number, while the evangelist is calling for sinners to come, to watch for those who have been touched by the Spirit of God and quietly go down and lead them to the foot of the cross. He should plead with them if necessary, walk to the altar and kneel with them, yes, and weep with them, too. Of course, there may be a general move forward, and the singer may find it necessary to go back to the platform. But he should search for souls when there is opportunity.
Now, I do not bring this phase of service to the attention of evangelistic song leaders with the thought of making this a regular practice, for many times it is not necessary. But we are in a position to observe the audience, and should be on the lookout for those who cannot seem to give up the things of the world. They may be trembling in the balance, and need a friendly hand. They need just a little more courage, and you can help supply it.
Once I was helping in an effort in the Northwest. I was not the evangelistic singer, but was singing an appeal number. I sat down, and suddenly a sister came to me and said rather excitedly, "There are two young men under conviction. Won't you come and help them?" With a prayer in my heart, I went immediately to them, and could see that the Spirit of God was working on their hearts. It was evident that they were counting the cogt. I have never seen such a struggle.
I don't know exactly what I said, but I did say that I would go with them to the altar. I told them that God had done so much for me, and could do as much for them. By this time the evangelist had seen me struggling with these two young men, and he came down to assist. With the help of the Lord, and by earnest persuasion, those two men walked down to the front and gave their hearts to Christ. They surrendered evil habits of life, changed their work, gave up the world and its friends, and to this day they are still rejoicing in the third angel's message.
Singing evangelists, and those of us who have gone into the ministry, let us be watchmen on the walls of Zion. Let us forget our preconceived ideas of what we should or should not do. Let us curb our pride, and our foolish, un-Christlike temperament, which is more mental than temper, and go to work for God in this dark hour. If we will all do this, the stigma of the "War Department of the Church" will be removed, and evangelistic singers will be called by their rightful name—watchmen on the walls of Zion.