Public evangelism naturally divides itself into the four parts of preparation, organization, developing the interest, and bind ing off the interest. Every item connected with a public evangelistic campaign may be classified appropriately under one of these headings.
One particular question, next to the matter of the minister's own personal relation to Jesus Christ, should be a matter of special concern to him perhaps above all other matters: How can he secure the best results from his evangelism? If under God the evangelist makes the right preparation, if he properly organizes the campaign, if he skillfully develops the interest, and thoroughly binds off the interest, then he may expect to achieve the best results.
Preparation for an evangelistic campaign is particularly concerned with five general items: the preparation of the evangelist and his assist ants; the arrangements pertaining to the place for the preaching services; the training of the church members for acceptable cooperation, if there is a Seventh-day Adventist church in that place; the preparation of the field; and the plans for securing an attendance.
In order to achieve good results in any line of endeavor, it is important to make a right beginning. And he who would begin right needs to make careful preparation. Preparation is the seed of success. The right kind of preparation provides a solid foundation on which to erect the house of accomplishment.
A great general once said that a good ready is a battle half won. Another saying among military men is this: "Battles are not won or lost on the battlefield. They are won or lost the night before in the period of planning and getting ready." This principle of careful preparation beforehand is certainly applicable in the spiritual warfare of evangelism. "The work of winning souls to Christ demands careful preparation." Gospel Workers, p. 92.
The three most essential factors in the preparation of the evangelist and his full-time assistants are entire, wholehearted consecration; earnest, prevailing, constant prayer; and continual study and improvement in the knowledge of Biblical truth, in effective persuasive speaking, and in the evangelistic methods used. Soul winning calls for a combination of the three "knows." One must know Christ, know the Bible, and know human nature.
Successful evangelism must be built on the premise "not by might, nor by power," but by God's Holy Spirit. "The secret of success is the union of divine power with human effort." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 509.
Real evangelism is essentially a saturate solution of prayer and the Word of God in the heart and upon the lips of the worker. Lasting results come only through prayer. "Only the work accomplished with much prayer, and sanctified by the merit of Christ, will in the end prove to have been efficient for good." The Desire of Ages, p. 362.
The evangelist should be ever mindful that "the greatest victories gained for the cause of God are not the result of labored argument, ample facilities, wide influence, or abundance of means; they are gained in the audience chamber with God, when with earnest, agonizing faith men lay hold upon the mighty arm of power." Gospel Workers, p. 259.
Prayer is man's inability appropriating the all-conquering ability of God. In evangelism one must realize his own inability, to learn God's ability.
The best evidence of what may be accomplished in evangelism by the right spiritual preparation on the part of the evangelist is to note the surpassing soul-winning results that came on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2, fol lowing the ten days of spiritual preparation as described in Acts 1. If we will give God the same kind of prayers and consecration in these days of the latter rain, we will see the same glorious results in evangelism today.
The subsequent history of the church after this surpassing evangelistic victory on the day of Pentecost indicates that "there has not been one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three; no such out ward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings have declined; and it is in exact proportion to the maintenance of such joint and believing supplication and intercession that the Word of the Lord in any land or locality has had* free course and been glorified."
The formula for success in evangelism is God working at both ends of the line. On the day of Pentecost, God worked with the preacher and his audience at the same time, and see how quickly the results came. In Acts 8 we see how God worked with Philip at the same time that He worked with the Ethiopian treasurer for a successful outcome of the evangelistic interview. In Acts 10 we note how God worked with Peter at the same time that He worked with Cornelius for the attainment of splendid evangelistic results. So it may be today in our preaching. For sure and good results, let us so relate ourselves to Him that it may be a case of God working at both ends of the line in our evangelism.
Such texts as Acts 1:8.and 2 Timothy 2:21 are an assurance that if the worker is willing, God will work with him to prepare him to win souls; and such texts as 2 Chronicles 16:9 and John 7:17 stand as God's promises that He will prepare the hearts of sincere souls to receive the truth at the hands of His servants.
Every evangelist should read and meditate often concerning the experience described in Isaiah 6:1-9. This is a most striking illustration' of how God prepares a man to be a soul winner. This experience was a representative one, which has been and will be repeated over and over again in the lives of those who give themselves to God to be used of Him.
Not only must the evangelist be a man of faith and prayer, consecration and energy, but he must be a man of study, who thus gains a most thorough knowledge of the teachings and doctrines of the Word of God. Mrs. E. G. White says:
"If you take upon you the sacred responsibility of teaching others, you take upon you the duty of going to the bottom of every subject you seek to teach." Testimonies on Sabbath-School Work, p. 59.
"They [the ministers] do not become more and more efficient in the work, because they do not be come more and more intelligent in the Scriptures of truth." Review and Herald, April 8, 1890.
Dr. C. L. Goodell has truly said:
"No man can have a message big enough for souls in need who has not fed upon the Word o£ God until it appears in every drop of his blood and in his every breath which proclaims the message that God has given him." Motives and Methods of Modern Evangelism, p. 46.
One part of the preparation of the evangelist is to have his preaching materials for the en tire campaign well in hand before the first meeting is conducted. This is especially needed where a long-range campaign is planned. In order to make a success of the campaign, the preacher must spend much time in personal work with the interested. When he does this, and takes care of the preparation of the advertising materials as the campaign proceeds and the many other items connected with the campaign, he will not have sufficient time for careful and thorough preparation of sermon outlines. Hence it is a part of good planning to have his preaching materials in ready, usable form before the campaign opens.
Evangelistic preaching is persuading men and women to obey God. The evangelist needs to know the science of persuasion. He should make it his business to secure all the help he can by reading several good standard works that deal with" persuasive speaking.*
The more we love the truth, the more we will be impelled to seek in every way possible , to improve our manner of imparting it.
"The greater the influence of the truth upon us, the greater will be our earnestness in seeking for perfection in our manner of imparting truth. . . . The Lord calls for those in His service to make all the improvement He has made it possible for them to make. The truth in our possession is of infinite importance. How essential, then, that it should lose none of its power in passing from us to those who are in darkness." Review and Herald, Jan. 14, 1902.
When we seek constantly to increase our efficiency in reaching souls, God will give us in creased results.
"The saving of souls is a vast work, which calls for the employment of every talent, every gift of grace. Those engaged in it should constantly increase in efficiency. They should have an earnest desire to strengthen their powers, knowing that they will be weak without a constantly increasing supply of grace. They should seek to attain larger and still larger results in their work. When this is the experience of our workers, fruit will be seen. Many souls will be won to the truth." Gospel Workers, p. 95.