The supreme ambition of every minister in this movement is to achieve greater results in bringing new converts into the truth. In my earlier experience I often wondered how it was possible for some ministers to baptize hundreds of converts during one effort, when they took only about eight or ten weeks to give all the cardinal points of our message.
Many times in connection with the periodic conference workers' meetings I would hear the brethren stress the need of longer campaigns in adding more people to the church. I accepted this counsel, but not knowing just how to arrange my program, I ran out of material and subjects before I reached the eleventh week. After my fountain of knowledge was exhausted, I lost interest, and so did my audience. Gradually my attendance dwindled to almost nothing. I discovered by this costly experience that it is one thing to urge the evangelist to hold longer campaigns, but it is another thing to organize properly the subject arrangement, to plan, and to hold successfully a longer series.
When I first started in the ministry, it was the custom for the evangelist in charge of the campaign to call the members of his company together each Sunday morninc, to organize and plan the program for the week. We would have all the doctrinal subjects on the message written down, and each one of the ministers who was to speak would be permitted to select the subject upon which he would like to preach. After preparing the announcement of the subjects, we would run another week, each speaker striking in a different direction. The results of that campaign were disappointing. But instead of placing the blame on the preachers who did not know how to -arrange their subject matter and how to conduct an effort, we attributed the failure to the unpopularity of the message we were carrying, and to the indifference of the community.
Time has taught certain lessons. I have discovered that with a five-cycle lecture course, it is possible to have a larger number of converts —and have them better established in the truth —than the few who are gathered out of a poorly organized campaign.
The five-cycle evangelistic campaign is nothing more than five distinct but integrated lecture courses in one whole series. Instead of having one sermon each on the signs of the times, the Holy Spirit, law and grace, the Sabbath, and on the various prophecies of the Scripture and the cardinal points of the message, we plan to have five sermons on each subject, under different titles, given in their logical order in each series of the five successive evangelistic campaigns. In other words, our five-cycle evangelistic campaign is nothing more than five distinct lecture series, of five or six week periods each, with the subject material on each major doctrinal feature of our message divided into five sermons, thus emphasizing each truth five separate times. The reason we divide the subject material on each basic doctrinal point into five sermons is that we might provide fresh material for each lecture course for the five short but continuous six-week campaigns.
We start each cycle in the five separate campaigns in the ordinary way, seeking to create an interest, then bringing in the doctrinal and practical subjects, and reaching the climax with a Sabbath lecture. Immediately after an appeal we drop the question of the Sabbath and other cardinal doctrines of the church and start all over again with the second series. Thus we create a new interest and draw a new audience to replace those who dropped out after the first series. While we thus create a new interest and start our second campaign, we proceed to establish the first group who stepped out for the truth in the first course through our Bible classes and Sabbath morning services. By the time we come to our second lecture on the Sabbath, we are ready for our first baptism.
Cover Same Ground With Different Subjects
We follow the same general course and give much the same message in the second series of our campaign as in the first. And immediately after we reach the second climax in our campaign, with a lecture on the Sabbath, accompanied by an earnest appeal, we again drop the doctrinal subjects and start with the third lecture course. This process is repeated through the fifth series. In this five-cycle lecture series, our messages on each subject are shorter, and this gives us more time each evening for a personal appeal to the audience to take their stand for each progressive phase of the living truth of God. All the material that we have been accustomed to using in just one lecture in our former way of working, we now spread out over five sermons, which we feel is in harmony with the Master's method as found in John 16 :12, 13. In cutting our lectures shorter, we can close each service promptly at nine o'clock, which is a great advantage in holding the audience during a long campaign.
Now as to the various titles of the lectures in the five-cycle series. It is, of course, obvious that where the same sermon and subject is handled five different times, it requires five different titles for each theme in order to hold the interest. For example, in my lecture course I have five different subjects on the Sabbath. My first sermon is titled "Christ and the Sabbath ;" the second, "Is Sunday or Saturday the Christian Sabbath ?" the third, "Is Sunday the Sabbath of the New Testament ?" the fourth, "If on Earth, What Church Would Christ Attend ?" and my fifth lecture on the Sabbath question is "The Mark of the Beast."
Although we might not baptize very many out of any one of the five series, by the time we gather out a number from each cycle in the campaign, these show up well for the entire lecture course as a whole. I believe the logic of this method of labor can easily be understood it the crude illustration of a chicken hatchery. H all the incubators are set at one time, the chickens will all hatch at the same time. If there is not sufficient help to give proper care immediately to all the chicks, the loss sustained is quite heavy. But if the incubators are set in rotation, according to the available help in the hatchery, the results are more gratifying.
I have discovered that with this five-cycle plan, we have more time for personal attention and proper instruction to each candidate, and whereas some of the audience are lost at each climax of the lecture course, this plan enables us to recruit a new attendance for the second series. It is well to remember in this five-cycle plan that after the initial expense of starting the effort has been defrayed, it is much easier to operate within the budget if the campaign covers a longer period of time. Through the development of this plan the average attendance is larger, which will give you a better showing in your offerings and finances at the close of each month. Thus we see that this plan not only brings its results in more souls, but it keeps up a balanced program of finances as well as souls.
I do not intend to imply that this method is the only one that will bring results, but T do feel that it might awaken a greater interest in the need to give more careful study to our subject arrangement for better results in the saving of souls.