Accountable!—We compass land and sea to make converts. We press upon getting decisions, decisions, decisions! But having gained decisions, and having effected union with the church, we all too often leave these men and women to sink or swim, without that fostering care that is imperative to permanency. Many—and it is altogether too high a percentage—sink beneath the heaving surf or are carried by treacherous currents onto the rocks of spiritual disaster. The evangelist says, That is the pastor's responsibility. And the pastor says, They were not my converts. Thus many are lost between the two irresponsibilities. Many in our evangelistic efforts are brought into the church solely through group instruction. No worker has ever visited their homes, helped them solve their individual problems, or answered those inevitable special questions, which, if not cared for, often rise up to plague and perhaps to wreck. Our converts are not rooted and grounded in the fundamental principles of the faith as they should be. This is one of the chief causes of the high mortality among our evangelistic converts. It is more than regrettable ; it is tragic and needs radical adjustment. God holds us accountable for the souls which we interest and carry so far, but who through hurried, insufficient, or defective instruction soon drop out by the wayside. It is not the number baptized, but the number which remain, that is the criterion of successful evangelism.
Criteria!—Success in public evangelism does not consist in getting our own people out to comprise the bulk of the audience, but in gathering together those not of our faith to hear and accept the message. That is the test. All honor to those who, working in localities without an Adventist church or choir, without musicians, ushers, or distributors of announcements, gather together honest-hearted people to hear a message not yet established in the community, and without a local church home into which to induct these new believers. It is hard work, but it constitutes the highest form of evangelism. This is not in depreciation of the work in established centers. It is only to emphasize the one point that an assemblage of hundreds of Adventists and a handful of non-Adventists is not an evangelistic audience.
Rather, it is a revival group out of which some evangelistic results may accrue. Preaching the message to those not of our faith is the criterion of successful public evangelism.
Illusion!--Did you ever see two trains headed in opposite directions standing on parallel tracks in a railway station? Have you seen the train on which you are seated apparently begin to move and pull away from the other, then suddenly become conscious of the fact that it is the other train that is moving, not yours, and yours is standing still ? We may think we are moving along satisfactorily in our work and achievements, when it is our associates who are progressing, pulling away from us. Appearances are sometimes deceptive. We need to make sure that we ourselves are progressing.
Capitalize!—The notable wave of religious emphasis making its impress over the air is unquestionably a reflection of deepening religious concern, induced by distraught world conditions. An increasing number of commercial radio programs—band, orchestra, and vocal—now include a special hymn on each broadcast. And, too, there are hymn sings, and even the plain but impressive reading of favorite passages of Scripture, sponsored directly by the broadcasting companies, as well as the denominational and independent religious broadcasts. Men and women are eager for spiritual comfort and help, and are seeking light on the dark world conditions of the day. Mankind today is more God-conscious than in any recent time.- This is our golden hour for aggressive, all-encompassing evangelism. We should capitalize upon this receptive attitude, and press our public and personal evangelism, our radio work, and our literature distribution. This is the evangelist's golden hour. We are come to the kingdom for this supreme time of opportunity.
Advertising!—Honesty in advertising is recognized as the best policy in the commercial world. This principle is even more imperative in evangelistic advertising. What we promise, we should fulfill. If we cannot make good our promises, we disappoint the people and create doubt as to the integrity of our word. If we avoid the issue and sidestep the promised answers to the questions we have raised, we shall justly be considered tricky and looked upon as guilty of securing an audience under false pretenses. We lay ourselves liable to the charge of actual dishonesty in advertising. Never should such charges be justly leveled at us. Meticulous honesty and confidence in the integrity of our word are indispensable to the herald of truth.
L. E. F