Minister-Layman Soul Winning

PASTORAL PRINCIPLES AND PROCEDURES: Minister-Layman Soul Winning

Concepts related to preaching

Why organize? Getting the right men, forces, and situations together is vital to success. It has been said that it took the Civil War to make Ulysses Grant, and it took Grant to win the war.

A blacksmith with an anvil and a hammer, may pound a piece of cold iron until it splits into shreds. He wears himself out and ruins the iron. The man, the anvil, the hammer, and the iron need something else to complete the organized effort. That something else is fire. The iron must first be heated in the fire of the forge; then it is ready to be laid on the anvil for skill- ful application of the hammer by the black smith. Wise organization of men and things, plus skillful direction, plus the fire of God, is imperative in the finishing of His work today.

"The Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward." Ex. 14:15.

"The Israelites carried this out; exactly as the Eternal had ordered Moses, so they encamped in their respective companies and marched, clan by clan, family by family." Num. 2: 34, Moffatt.

"He [God] designs that we should learn lessons of order and organization from the perfect order instituted in the days of Moses, for the benefit of the children of Israel."—Testimonies, vol. i, p. 653.

"Time is short, and our forces must be organized to do a larger work."—Ibid., vol. 9, p. 27.

GOD'S WAY.—We have found that preaching alone, however powerful, cannot do all that must be done in direct soul winning. What instruction does God offer? There are three important statements here to consider:

STATEMENT i: "The greatest help that can be given our people is to teach them to work for God."—Ibid., vol. 7, p. 19.

In church after church, as a pastor in large cities, I have asked our people this question: "How many of you have ever regularly at tended a Bible training class to prepare your selves for teaching the truth to others? Nearly every hand is always raised. Then I have asked, "How many have attended two classes?" Large numbers lift their hands. Yes, three classes, four classes! "Now," I say, "How many of you have been privileged to win a soul to Christ and the message through your own teaching?" The answer indicates that not many have been successful.

Seldom is there any appreciable response from elders, deacons and outstanding church leaders. Good men with years of church leader ship behind them know not the soul-thrilling rapture of leading a soul to Christ and His truth. We have signally failed to harness the very strongest leadership power of our churches in successful soul winning. Yet the fact that both lay leaders and lay people keep on enrolling in Bible training classes indicates a strong desire to be soul winners.

The situation has led some of our men to feel that it is mostly a waste of time to train lay men for teaching the truth, suggesting that what we need is more full-time, paid Bible instructors instead. Truly do we need the latter, but we believe that nothing will replace the service of laymen—a service which will be rendered in connection with the latter rain. "Every church should be a training-school for Christian workers. Its members should be taught how to give Bible readings."—Ministry of Healing, p. 149. What is the next step?

STATEMENT 2: "The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort has been presented to me by One who cannot err."— Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 21, 22.

Consider carefully two points. One is that formation of small companies is a basis of Christian effort. That means that it is fundamental. It is foundational. It is basic in soul- winning procedure. The second consideration is that this basic plan has been given to us "by One who cannot err." It came down from heaven.

STATEMENT 3: "If there is a large number in the church, let the members be formed into small companies to work not only for the church-members, but for unbelievers. If in one place there are only two or three who know the truth, let them form themselves into a band of workers."—Ibid., p. 22.

The plan could scarcely be made more plain, and its wisdom is recognized in successful organization on every hand.. The nation is divided into States, the States into counties, and the counties into townships. Political parties organize cities into wards until every house and occupant is checked. Division of territory and assignment of specific responsibility is the very genius of organization.

The Adventist organization proceeds on this line. There is the general, or world conference, then division conferences, then union conferences, then local or State conferences. Then there are individual churches or districts of churches.

When we get to the individual church, what then? Right there, where the victory is to be gained, where souls are to be won, we have, in the main, failed to carry out the "small company" plan. True, the Sabbath school is thoroughly organized. And what a success it has been! But it does not provide a territorial di vision for small company work in neighborhood soul winning. The home missionary department has long zealously promoted this plan, but to date it has not been widely used as a continuous plan. Have we not reached the time for a long- range program, with sufficient perspective that every minister in charge of churches and districts can find a way to direct his people into organized soul-winning work under the leading and teaching of laymen? Shall we not now organize the, remnant of Israel to march forward "clan by clan, and family by family"?

Fundamental Twofold Purpose of Bands

In statement three the messenger of the Lord has made distinctly clear two main purposes for grouping our people into bands. One is "work . . . for the church-members." The other, "for unbelievers."

Church members who will work for their own backslidden, discouraged, or needy members, for their own youth and children, and in general for one another, will be far more successful in reaching unbelievers. Love begins at home. But it is clear that it does not end there. Members, organized into groups, are to be assigned territory, and be led to take light and blessing to those living in their section. Territorial organization is the only adequate way to meet this twofold problem of caring for our own members and reaching the nonchurch members. Is not the time here for us to make this plan a permanent part of church life?

"Ministers may preach pleasing, and forcible dis courses, and much labor may be put forth to build up and make the church prosperous; but unless its individual members shall act their part as servants of Jesus Christ, the church will ever be in darkness and without strength."—Ibid., vol. 4, pp. 285, 286.

"The truth is soon to triumph gloriously, and all who now choose to be laborers together with God, will triumph with it."—Ibid., vol. g, p. 135. (Next Installment: How to Organize Church Groups)

 

 


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April 1950

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