Counsel from the Lord which points out how more souls may be won should be carefully studied, that we may discover the best ways of applying that principle in our work. Here is such counsel:
"If, in the closing scenes of this earth's history, those to whom testing truths are proclaimed would follow the example of the Bereans, searching the Scriptures daily, and comparing with God's Word the messages brought them, there would today be a large number loyal to the precepts of God's law, where now there are comparatively few."—Acts of the Apostles, p. 232. (Italics mine).
Anything under God that we can do, in our evangelistic contacts, to increase the number of those who will search the Scriptures daily and compare with God's Word the messages we bring them, will increase the number of converts to the
There are great possibilities of having "a large number loyal to the precepts of God's law, where now there are comparatively few." It is an obvious fact that the man or woman whom we can induce thus to search his Bible is on the way toward becoming a Seventh-day Adventist. One of the initial steps in making a Seventh-day Adventist is to cause a person to see the truth for himself in his own Bible.
It is a real problem in an age like ours to lead people to search the Bible at all. This is a radio, spoon-fed age. People do not read worth. While literature today to the extent they did a few decades ago. Only about five out of every hundred people do any real thinking for themselves in the matter-of religious doctrine. How, then, shall we lead-our hearers to search the Scriptures as did the Bereans of old?
Various Advantages in Taking Notes
There must have been something about Paul's manner of preaching that led the Bereans to search the Scriptures. The Scriptures must have been so thrust to the forfront in all his talking, and the truth so strikingly presented from the Word, that they were impelled to search in the rolls of the prophets to see whether the citations used by Paul really said and taught the striking ideas which he presented. So the basic principle in leading our hearers to take notes, and then have them go home and search their Bibles regarding the doctrines we teach; is to present the truth in such a striking, direct manner that they will be stirred to record the Scripture references from which we draw our points.
All our ministers recognize to some extent the value of having their hearers take notes, and perhaps each one does something to lead the people to do this. Let us think of some of the values in leading the hearers at our evangelistic meetings to take notes.
1. It is a decided help in holding the interest of our hearers from the beginning to the end.
We shall never do much for people in our preaching or teaching unless we can hold their minds on what we are saying. the best sermon means nothing to the man whose mind is on something else a thousand miles away. But that man's mind will be kept from wandering from the path of the sermon, and his interest held from the beginning to the end, if we can lead him to take notes. This is one of the secrets of holding the interest for twelve or fourteen weeks in an evangelistic effort.
2. It helps the hearers to learn the truth and to decide to obey it.
When people take notes, many of them will go home and look up all the texts in their Bible before they retire, or they will read the texts the next day. Thus as they see the truth in their own Bible, they are convinced that the doctrines are true, and this becomes a potent factor in securing their decision. This naturally makes better-informed converts. It makes the public meeting more than mere preaching—it is both teaching and lodging the truth in the hearts of the auditors.
3. It helps build confidence in the meetings.
When people go home and look up the texts, they say, "That preacher does not give you his opinion, but he tells you exactly what the Bible says. Everything he says is taken directly from the Bible." This helps you to win their confidence, which is one essential step in leading them to follow your appeal to them to become Seventh-day Adventists. Moreover, these same people tell- their friends that this minister is preaching the straight Bible, and this constitutes the most effective form of free advertising.
4. It makes the people Bible-minded, creates a desire to read the Bible, helps to develop in the hearers the habit of thinking things through, and encourages a spirit of investigation, study, and research.
How to Encourage Notebook Use
Here are a few suggestions that have proved helpful in leading the hearers to take notes.
1. The speaker should stress this matter in his announcements on the opening night of the effort. Urge the people to bring notebooks and pencils to record the Scripture references. Notebooks may even be placed on sale at the bookstand. Our church members may be instructed beforehand to bring notebooks and scatter themselves throughout the audience. Then, when the first reference is given, they can bring out their notebooks and begin to write. This will encourage people sitting around them to take notes.
2. Sermons should be organized and presented in such a way that they will not only stir people to take notes but make it easy for them to do it. For example: Suppose our second sermon in the effort deals with the origin of sin, or the origin and personality of Satan. When we come to this question we can say:
"Where did the devil come from? Friends, it may be a surprise to many of you to learn that the one whom we call the devil was once a happy, sinless angel in glory. The devil came from heaven. Here is the text. I hope you brought your notebook tonight. You will want to know where to locate these wonderful truths in your Bible. Put Luke 20:18 down in your notebook."
A little later in this sermon we remark: "The Bible even tells what position he held in heaven before he was cast out. Here it is—put down Ezekiel 28:14. If you failed to bring that notebook tonight, be sure to bring it tomorrow night. These lectures will mean twice as much to you if you secure the references." Still later, we say: "The Bible also tells by what name he was known when he lived in heaven. Here it is for your notebook, Isaiah 14:12-14."
If you draw attention to the plan in this manner during the first few sermons, and present all the subjects, so that the Bible references stand out sharply, you will soon have about a third or more of the people taking notes. The stereopticon and the projector are valuable aids in presenting the truth, but holding people's interest with pictures should never be a substitute for forceful preaching on the part of the preacher or of note taking on the part of the hearer.
Mimeographed Outlines for Early Subjects
In encouraging people to take notes, it is generally well to state the definite point that the Scripture text contains, then ask the people to put down the text, and as the third step, read or quote the text. This centers their attention on the text, and they do not miss hearing the text by trying to record the reference while the text is being read or quoted.
Many people do not know how to record a Scripture reference when they hear it announced. They are not familiar with the spelling of the various books, or their abbreviations. Having each reference placed on a blackboard by an associate worker as it is announced by the evangelist will soon train them in recording the references.
Outlines setting forth the principal points in the first few subjects may be mimeographed. Such an outline states the propositions which will be established by the Scriptures, then asks the people to fill in the texts on the propositions, as the speaker takes them up in his sermon. Copies are placed in the hands of the hearers before the sermon begins.
Two sample outlines appear in connection with this article. In this case the speaker, after introducing his subject in a striking manner, begins to lead his hearers through these propositions. As each point is taken up, he directs attention to the respective proposition on the outline, and, announces the text, which they are to write in. He then either reads or quotes the text to establish the proposition.
This will certainly help to make a more lasting impression on the minds of the hearers. Very few in the average audience know how to take notes, or can fully realize at first the interesting character and value of the truths which will be unfolded. The distribution of such prepared outlines for the first three or four meetings will definitely help in getting people to begin taking notes. There would be noobjection to having outlines outlines for distribution on all the sermons, but three or four at the beginning of the effort are a distinct aid in teaching the people how to take notes, and the value of note taking.
Each minister should of course, make his own outlines to fit his sermons. It would be a great help to have outlines for distribution to the audience on such key subjects as the Sabbath and the state of the dead.
One of the most attractive features of our message is the interesting and worth-while information which we have to impart. Let us capitalize, on this by inspiring the people to take notes and to record the Scripture texts. This simple method may help in securing "a large number loyal to the precepts of God's law, where now there are comparatively few. Sample outlines follow, with blanks for filling in texts.