Pointers to Progress

Group of three short articles by the editors



Do you find it easy to preach publicly but difficult to engage in personal work in the, homes? You are not alone. It is possible to be successful in public evangelism, yet find real difficulty when it comes to personal evangelism. This should not be, for personal evangelism is what brings real results.

The largest corporations in American industry spend millions of dollars every year advertising through the media of television, radio, newspapers, billboards, streetcar and bus cards, and the like. Their budgets for announcing their product are phenomenal. In spite of this great expenditure, they still send individual salesmen to call on the prospect. The largest orders are signed in the personal visit, the face-to-face contact. No large corporation would dare dismiss its sales force in favor of more advertising. On the contrary, the greater the advertising, the greater need for personal contacts.

The same thing is true in evangelism. Public evangelism will bring conviction, but it takes personal evangelism in the home to get the decision. The effect of preaching is often too general, the impressions of the songs too often forgotten; but the personal touch, the individual interest, the tear in the eye, the pathos in the voice, and the concern for each individual in our congregations as we visit in the homes of the people are things that bring success in our ministry.

The two most important words in the gospel are "come" and "go." First is the invitation to come and meet the Saviour, and then go and make Christians of others. Obedience to the divine commission requires more than public preaching. It also includes personal visitation. Yes, the success of any man's ministry depends upon it.


By: R. Allan Anderson

At Pentecost every man heard Peter's message "in his own tongue." Words we have learned in childhood and stored up through our lives come with a sweetness that makes them more precious than anything else. That is why it is imperative that we present our messages in simple language. A German brother said to me recently, "Yes, we can read English, but when we read the message in the English language it does not stir our emotions. That same message in the language in which we were born appeals to our hearts." How true!

It is said that the best kind of preaching is enlarged conversation. And in conversation we aim to be understood. To appeal to hearts, we must be winsome. But to get intelligent reaction, we must be understood. Developing a simple yet picturesque style is not easy, but it is important. Homebred words always strike the imagination. If by God's grace we would build ourselves into strong preachers, we must become diligent students of words. There is real joy in being able to combine words in impressive ways, but we must never let it appear that we are conscious of our diction. Eliminate all "weasel words"; that is, words that are unnecessary, that rob a sentence of its life and power. Study to make each sentence crisp, so crisp that if it were to be cut anywhere, it would bleed. Sentences filled with great thoughts, yet simply expressed, hold the attention.

I heard Dr. William Evans addressing a group of Christian workers in London one day. For years he was associated with the Moody Bible Institute, and is recognized as one of the great expository preachers of our time. He said: "When I teach my boys in Homiletics 1 tell them there are three kinds of preachers: First, those you can't listen to; second, those you can listen to if you try hard enough [oh, the longsuffering of the saints!]; and third, those you cannot help listening to." Brother, to which class do you belong?

The hour in which we live calls for the greatest preachers of all time. To us has been committed the greatest message, and before us is the greatest work. And for this we need the greatest endowment of the grace of God. The description of those first Christian preachers is brief but tremendously significant:

"With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection and of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all." They compelled attention. "With what burning language they clothed their ideas as they bore witness for Him!" Acts of the Apostles, p. 46.


By: R. Allan Anderson

One of the finest speech teachers I ever had gave me this which I have never for gotten: "Education," he said, "is more than reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. It is reading, writing, 'rithmetic, and rhythm, and rhythm is as important as anything else."

Yes, rhythm is important. Every sentence we utter needs rhythm, but more so in preaching than anywhere else. People unconsciously react to rhythm, but they are borne down and worn out by sentences that are continually unbalanced. Not merely what we say but how we say it is important. If a sentence is long, then it certainly needs to be balanced. If it is short and the shorter and crisper, the better it still must be balanced. We could spend much time on the mere study of words. That may not be entirely profitable. But we must never overlook the fact that words are the things with which we impress our people. "The preacher sought to find out acceptable words," or "words of delight." Eccl. 12:10. Words are the colors with which we paint our pictures. Therefore let us be careful of our words. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life," said Jesus. No literature in all the world is so beautifully balanced in its sentences as is the Bible. We do well to study words, right words, and the right rhythm of words.


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June 1952

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The original published version of this article contains one or more illustrations. To view the illustrations, please view the PDF version of this issue which can be found in our archives.


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