Pointers to Progress

Group of three short articles by the editors

UNPARDONABLE IRREVERENCE

By: R. Allan Anderson

Some years ago in another part of the world an interdenominational evangelistic program was being conducted in a city auditorium. The speaker had come from America and was quite impressive. After he had finished his talk the meeting drew to a close with the benediction. It had been quite a stirring message, but the preacher, evidently eager to know the time, drew out his old-fashioned watch, opened the case, glanced at the time, and then closed it with a click. AH this happened during the time the benediction was being offered.

There was one man there whose heart had been stirred by the message, but seeing this act of down right irreverence on the part of the preacher, he went out and denounced the whole thing as a hollow sham. "A man would never do that if he believed the one offering the benediction was really talking to God," he said, and was he not right?

Of course such a thing would never happen with us at least we would not think so. But I was in one Adventist meeting where an old, tried, and trusted worker, who had just given his message, was actually thumbing through his papers and putting them away while the dismissal prayer was being offered. I was standing next to him, and hear ing a rustle of papers, I felt impressed to open my eyes to see what the disturbance was. I was abashed when I discovered its cause. Here was this dear man, his eyes wide open, apparently oblivious to what was being said and fumbling with papers!

Surely nothing can justify that. It is not only out of place; it is unpardonable. Preaching is not just saying something; it is doing something. And if it does not do something to the preacher as well as to the congregation, then it has been just a waste of time. We must be symbols of all we preach.

CAPITALIZE ON INTERRUPTIONS

By: R. Allan Anderson

If a preacher is alert, he can turn into account any interruption that may occur while he is delivering his message. Few ways are as effective in emphasizing truth as the right use of an interruption. For instance, if a door slams loudly, instead of appearing nervous, you might just pause a moment and say something like this:

"Aren't you glad that that is not the slamming of the door of God's mercy? And yet someday it will close, and it will be just as unexpected as that. But there is this difference when that door of mercy slams shut it will never open again."

By that time you have calmed the audience and they are ready for the rest of your message.

If a person faints and has to be carried out, it is very easy to soothe everybody's anxiety by saying, "How wonderful it is that at the throne of grace we have One who can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, One who Himself has felt the infirmities of the flesh. Thank God for a Saviour." Then go on with your message.

If a baby cries, never embarrass the little mother, who perhaps is struggling to help the wee mite, but in a kind and gentle way say something like this:

"Isn't it a wonderful thing that just as this little babe is trying to make her mother understand what she wants, so our cry is going up to the 'heart of God? He knows our every need, but more wonderful still, He knows how to help us."

By this time she has taken the kindly hint, and has taken the baby out. But you have not hurt her, and the audience understands.

Frequently it is a wise thing to capitalize on an interruption and use it to put the people at ease. Never permit yourself to be disturbed or annoyed, no matter what happens. Remember, our theories about Christ: chittered preaching are not worth anything unless the people can see Christ in everything we do. We must be the symbol of the message we are trying to bring them. Whatever happens, be kind and sincere.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

By: Ben Glanzer

“Pardon me for relating a personal experience," is a phrase that we frequently hear in sermon, Sabbath school review, and the prayer meeting. Why? A personal experience has far more weight with the audience than the relating of an experience or story that the speaker may have read or heard from, another's lips. It comes firsthand from a direct contact with everyday life and is fresh and throbbing with the drama of human experience. The individual in the audience is more likely to identify himself with the experience if he knows that the speaker was a part of the story being related. In fact, the Spirit of prophecy points out that personal experience is among the most power ful means that we can employ in our ministry.

"We are to show to the world and to all the heavenly intelligences that we appreciate the wonderful love of God for fallen humanity, and that we are expecting larger and yet larger blessings from His infinite fullness. Far more than we do, we need to speak of the precious chapters in our experience. After a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, our joy in the Lord and our efficiency in His service would be greatly increased by recounting' His goodness and His wonderful works in behalf of His children.

"These exercises drive back the power of Satan. They expel the spirit of murmuring and complaint, and the tempter loses ground. . . .

"Such a testimony will have an influence upon others. No more effective means can be employed for winning souls to. Christ."—Christ's Object Les sons, pp. 299, 300. (Italics supplied.)

The public speaker is counseled not to make apologies in his introduction. Why not also eliminate the apologies for relating personal experiences? The use of more of these experiences will put "windows" into our sermons.

That "no more effective means can be employed for winning souls to Christ" is surely something to remember.

 

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April 1952

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