Gathering Our Strength

A vast amount of experience from the time of the Reformation until now has served to emphasize to the church the natural inter­dependence of oral evangelism and literature evangelism.

By WALTER P. ELLIOTT, Secretary, Publishing Department, General Conference

A vast amount of experience from the time of the Reformation until now has served to emphasize to the church the natural inter­dependence of oral evangelism and literature evangelism. To no movement has this been made more clear than to Seventh-day Advent­ists. For that reason we know that we speak for the publishing department family around the world when we express our pleasure and appreciation on receiving the invitation ex­tended to our department by the Ministerial Association to contribute to a column in THE MINISTRY, under the general title "Literature Evangelism." The editors have planned this new section with a view to giving opportunity for the interchange of views and experiences in the field of our common interests. This plan, together with a provision for placing THE MIN­ISTRY in the hands of all our regular colpor­teurs, was agreed upon at the last Autumn Council in the following action:

"Ministry" Magazine and Colporteurs 

"Believing that there should be closer collaboration between our ministers and our regular colporteurs in the soul-winning endeavors,

"WE RECOMMEND, That the Publishing Department furnish the editor of THE MINISTRY with copy for a section in each issue and that we request our confer­ences to provide each regular colporteur with this magazine."

Though at times we may appear to think of evangelism as confined chiefly to the verbal presentation of the gospel from the platform, more careful thought leads us to realize that other gifts and facilities entrusted to the church may be just as essential to the complete success of its soul-winning endeavors and just as truly evangelistic. If that be true, the greater em­phasis given at the last Autumn Council to gathering all our strength and bringing it to bear with increasing unity upon our great world task is most timely.

Preaching from the pulpit, personal work, radio presentations, medical missionary en­deavors, and colporteur evangelism are all in­dicated as channels through which God desires His Spirit to flow with converting power to the hearts of men. No one or two of these methods will enable us fully to discharge our responsibility to humanity. Each supplements the other. All are interdependent. The more perfectly they are brought into combined and unified action, the greater will be the strength and the extent of our appeal to a lost world. It seems to us that one of our fellow ministers spoke wisely and well when he expressed his belief that such a comprehensive coordination of our working forces, our facilities, and our plans would increase our strength a hundred­fold.

At any rate, we regard the present encour­agement to closer fellowship among the work­ing forces of the church as holding real promise of increased success in future soul-winning ef­forts. Counsels given the church through the years have pressed for just such joint planning and action. The following statements are typical of the numerous messages received along this line : "Much can be done through the medium of the press, but still more can be accomplished if the influence of the publications could be aided by that of the living preacher."—Gospel Workers (1892 ed.), p. 50. And again:

"The missionary work, in circulating the publica­tions upon present truth, is opening doors everywhere, and preparing minds to receive the truth, when the living preacher shall come among them. The success which attends the efforts of ministers in the field is not due alone to their efforts, but in a great degree to the influence of the reading matter which has enlightened the minds of the people and removed prejudice. Thus many are made susceptible to the influence of the truth when it is presented before them."—Ibid., p. 410.

In the early days of the movement there was an unrelenting urge from the pen of Ellen Write to publish. "The press can reach and influence the public mind as no other means can," she declared. James White accepted this counsel and followed it with complete confidence and devotion. As the publications increasingly ex­erted their converting power upon many lives and multiplied the ability of the small group of workers to spread the message, his heart was thrilled. "The press is the right arm of our strength," he wrote. .(Life Sketches [1888 ed. ,p. 371.) So far as is known he was not pre­pared by either special qualifications or training to be a publishing executive. His success in founding and developing the publishing work must be attributed to his entire consecration to the Advent cause, and his will to carry out the purposes of God as they were made clear to him regardless of privations, difficulty, and op­position. His insistence on a well-prepared lit­erature, and the best of craftsmanship, fixed the mold of quality by which Adventist publish­ing houses have been guided ever since.

It was under such motives and leadership that the Review and Herald became by 1890 one of the largest and best-equipped publishing plants in the State of Michigan, and the Pacific Press one of the most complete and successful establishments of its kind on the Pacific Coast; not to mention the Southern Publishing Associ­ation and overseas houses which were later founded.

It seems very fitting, as we review the rec­ord, to adopt as a subtitle for this new section in THE MINISTRY James White's burning incentive: "The press is the right arm of our strength."

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By WALTER P. ELLIOTT, Secretary, Publishing Department, General Conference

September 1948

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