Time and time again an evangelist has gone into a city where we had no church, or perhaps only a dozen or so members, and by a five-or-six-night-a-week public effort has raised up a church of seventy-five or a hundred members in three or four months' time. Literature evangelism, Sunday night meetings, Bible Study League work, and the Bible lesson correspondence plan are valuable in advancing the work of the gospel, but it must be admitted that none of these methods could possibly gather up a body of new believers, one or two hundred strong, in four months. The only possible method that will accomplish such results is that which we commonly call an every-night public effort. In the vast majority of our cities a large central effort conducted four nights or more a week will secure the largest possible results in the shortest space of time.
Sunday night meetings, Sabbath morning services, and camp meeting preaching are, of course, a part of public evangelism, but they are not entirely adequate to the great task laid upon us in this fast-closing hour. Just as five is five times as much as one, so a five-night public evangelism is five times better than Sunday night meetings only, and will likely produce five times as much fruit in one seventh of the time.
Four or more public meetings a week are perhaps more necessary in Adventist evangelism than in that of any other religious body. Leading a man to take his stand for Christ in one single revival service may be sufficient to make him a Methodist, a Baptist, or a Presbyterian ; but you cannot take new people and make Seventh-day Adventists out of them in a few meetings. "It requires a vast amount of time and labor to convince one soul in regard to the special truths for this time."—"Gospel Workers," pp. 496, 497.
We have dozens of subjects in which we must educate the people before they can be ready for baptism and church membership. The nightly public effort is especially needed for at least seven or eight weeks in teaching the people these essentials of our faith. It can do in this short period what would require an entire year's time by a series of Sunday night meetings, a weekly Bible school, or Bible readings.
It will be readily admitted that it takes at least thirty sermons to cover the essentials of our faith and practice adequately in instructing new people. Then if the effort is to yield proper results in souls, there ought to be at least twenty to thirty more sermons to bind off the effort for baptism and church membership after the essentials have been taught. So it would seem that we ought to plan to conduct at least sixty meetings for a well-rounded public effort. All this could be done in twelve weeks by holding meetings five times a week. Many efforts are cut too short for the best results.
There may be cases where a hall can be secured for only three nights a week, and it may be best to go ahead on that basis rather than to have no effort. But in those cases the hall should be secured, if possible, for a period of at least twenty weeks. It would be well in such a case to secure a small hall elsewhere in the vicinity if necessary, where two or three hundred of the deeply interested may be gathered once a week after the first two weeks of the effort for a Bible class. There they may be instructed in some of the essentials in addition to those subjects covered in tri-weekly public lectures in the large hall. Even if you can gather only a hundred in this class, you are sure to increase the results from the lectures in the large hall.
It is true that in city efforts the week-night attendance may not equal fifty per cent of the Sunday night audiences. It is equally true that the larger the city, the more difficult to get large numbers of the people to attend on week nights. But such difficulties should not deter us from continuing our nightly public efforts. If we should ever be inclined to question whether it is worth while to continue the week-night meetings with only a hundred or two in attendance, let us remember how long it would take to visit each of these two hundred people personally in order to teach them the truth contained in the sermon for that night. We believe that by better planning, the markedly wide variation between the Sunday night audiences and the week-night attendance, as sometimes seen, may be improved to a considerable degree. This is one phase of public evangelism which needs careful study and wise planning.
A leading clergyman on the Pacific Coast, in speaking of the swiftly moving events of our day, said, "We are desperately in need of a new perspective. We need an interpreter and an interpretation. If men will not think now, they will never think again." God has given us a message which contains the only true interpretation of the present, unprecedented situation, of what is coming, and of what men ought to do. That message alone explains the destiny toward which our world is so swiftly moving. It shows the only way out. There has never been an hour since the rise of the third angel's message when that message was so perfectly suited and adapted to current conditions as now.
From the viewpoint of a renewed and widespread interest in certain aspects of our message, especially as it pertains to the meaning of the startling, world-shaking events of our day ; from the angle of the wonderful facilities in the radio and the press for doing a quick work ; from the viewpoint of an army of workers and capable laymen who could be wonderfully used' of God in proclaiming that message ; and from the divine provision for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit at this very hour to make that message effective, we can definitely say that this is our greatest hour of opportunity for giving the message. Shall we not rally our forces for an all-out public evangelism?