Evangelism

Improving Decision Cards Applying Our Work of Education to Evangelism (Part I) Colportage, the Vanguard of Evangelism

A recurring problem of genuine concern to our brethren who want constantly to improve their methods of securing decisions is the permanency of decisions made publicly. Many card forms have been devised through the years in an effort to secure a covenant actually signed by the individual making that decision.

Associate Secretary, General Conference Ministerial Association

Secretary, Education and Radio Departments Franco'Belgian Union Conference

Publishing Department Secretary, Potomac Conference

A recurring problem of genuine concern to our brethren who want constantly to improve their methods of securing decisions is the permanency of decisions made publicly. Many card forms have been devised through the years in an effort to secure a covenant actually signed by the individual making that decision. I have never been quite satisfied with the many forms I have seen or have produced myself, and my mind is still open for suggestions.

Those who respond to a public appeal to accept Christ, the Sabbath, or eventually the full message usually sign a covenant card and return it to the evangelist. This leaves the signer without material evidence of his decision. The worker has the covenant; the convert has nothing. I have, therefore, on occasion put two identical covenant cards together with a paper clip, and explained to those who responded that one of the cards would serve as their personal record of that memorable decision. I urged them to keep the card and occasionally review the covenant as a reminder of their solemn obligation to God. I then told them that the other card represented my prayer list record and that I would appreciate their filling out both cards on the same basis and returning one of them to me.

The idea was taking shape, but its method of handling was clumsy, since the clips would be come entangled and the candidates at times confused. In one evangelistic campaign we devised the plan of using a 3" x 10" card, perforated through the center, making two 3" x 5" filing size cards. The wording on both cards is identical, with the exception of an identification in the upper lefthand corner, one reading "Prayer List Record" and the other "Personal Copy." It was but a simple matter to pass out this one card, perforated through the center, the use of which was obvious at first glance. People will be happy to give you a prayer list record and be deeply grateful that they can retain a personal copy.

Another feature in the use of decision cards, which caused some of us no small concern, was the danger of trite and superficial wording in the covenant. It seemed that on a matter of such vital importance we could devise a way of deepening the impression of solidarity and permanency in the decision made if the wording could be strengthened. For instance, for many years we have listed three steps on covenant cards designed to meet the needs of the average audience in their relationship to conversion and consecration. Why not revise the wording some what as follows the next time you use this plan, and watch the results?

MY COVENANT WITH GOD

1. __ I desire to be a Christian and surrender myself fully to the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. __ I have wandered away from Jesus and hereby retrace my steps and give myself fully to Him again.

3. __ I have been a follower of the Lord Jesus, but have been convicted of a special personal problem which is hindering my progress. I now surrender it to Him. (Italics for emphasis here only. Do not italicize on cards.) Copy for a covenant card concerning a decision to keep the seventh-day Sabbath could read as follows:

MY COVENANT WITH GOD

Recognizing that complete obedience is the responsibility as well as the privilege of every Christian, I now determine by God's grace to walk in newly revealed light by keeping the seventh-day Sabbath as a sign of my allegiance to my Saviour. (Italics for emphasis here only. Do not italicize on cards.)

This should also be printed as a double, perforated card, so that the individual as well as the evangelist can have a copy.

Though we are aware that there are limitations surrounding the public mass appeal, yet we should recognize its place in our evangelistic ministry. We hope these few suggestions may strengthen the effectiveness of such appeals.

Applying Our Work of Education to Evangelism

MAURICE TIECHE, Secretary, Education and Radio Departments Franco Belgian Union Conference

PART I

About fifteen years ago, at the time I was directing the pedagogical division of our seminary at Collonges-sous-Saleve in France, the Franco-Belgian Union and the French-speaking Swiss Conference called me to take charge of the department of education in their respective territories. One of my duties consisted of encouraging our churches to create parents' societies for the purpose of studying together the great principles of Christian education. Whether it was because my first attempts were awkward or because our churches did not well understand the importance, for the homes and for our church schools, of meetings of this kind, I had to recognize that the success was not commensurate with my efforts.

This half-failure made me very sad. Knowing the wealth of teachings in the Bible and the Spirit of prophecy concerning education and family life, I could measure the enormous loss sustained by those who neglected such instruction. I also suffered at the thought that these most precious teachings were remaining idle when they could have done the greatest good, not only to the members of our churches, but also to the public in general.

It was just about that time that the Southern European Division authorized me to extend my knowledge by taking a little time for work at the Medical-Pedagogical Consultation of the Institute of the Sciences of Education in Geneva. This experience was a revelation to me. We examined many children: scholastically retarded, nervous, lazy, naughty, vicious, et cetera. However, seven or eight times out of ten we came to the same conclusion: we were not able to do much for this child under the present circumstances, but we would succeed in bringing him back to the right path if we could work upon the parents.

Then I thought of all the good that we would be able to do by spreading among the general public the precious truths of which we are the depositaries in the field of education. Without doubt, while we may have less scientific and technical knowledge than the great theorists of pedagogy, we possess the principles that escape them and that compel their admiration when we have opportunity to present them to their view. It was with these thoughts that I began, with the authorization of the division commit tee, a first attempt in a small city near our seminary.

Family Education

Together with Dr. Siissman, who assisted me greatly in the work, I undertook a series of public lectures on subjects that avoided all religious matters, but all of them bearing on the family and the education of children. These meetings were regularly attended by two to four hundred persons. Then Dr, Siissman and I took advantage of the interest by forming an association we called the Family Education Center. This association was governed by statutes, of which the following are the main articles:

1. Aims. The association proposes to its adherents the study in common of questions relative to education in the heart of the family. It aids parents and future parents to prepare themselves for the educational tasks which are incumbent upon them and to acquit themselves with more competence and success.

The Family Education Center organizes lectures, talks, and informal gatherings, in the course of which are discussed all the problems relating to the aim which it has assigned to itself. Its promotion of the happy, prosperous, and united family can be carried on otherwise by all the customary means: books, journals, tracts, brochures, radio talks, et cetera.

2. Members. All persons who are interested in the education of children, especially in the family, and who desire to qualify themselves seriously in this difficult art, may be members of the Family Education Center. Conscious of the advantages of a preparation begun very early for paternity or maternity, the Center opens its doors not only to parents and to married persons having no children, but also to young men and young women at least twenty years of age, particularly engaged couples.

3. Resources. No assessment is demanded of members. The costs occasioned by the activity and the promotion work of the Center will be covered by voluntary gifts receipted by the treasurer, and by anonymous gifts.

Having distributed enrollment blanks among our listeners, we were very happy to receive numerous enrollees, to gather these persons into a more intimate circle, and to lay the foundations for a work which then spread rapidly.

This first experience made me understand to what point the educated French public was disposed to receive instruction of this type. All thinking people are uneasy when they see how difficult and badly reared are most children of today, and they are happy to receive competent counsel on the way to overcome their difficulties and solve their problems.

The requests of several parents for us to examine their children led us to create a consultation service a very simple psycho-pedagogical dispensary which gave us the opportunity to enter into personal contact with the families. We very quickly noted that the conversations that opened up in this way permitted us to broach religious subjects with great ease.

Radio Enters the Picture

In the statutes of these Family Education Centers the reader will have noticed that one of the aims followed by the association consists of radio broadcasts. This, at that time, was an act of faith that since has become a reality, for which we thank the Lord.

In 1946 I was obliged to ask our leading brethren for work requiring less application of eyesight. The Franco-Belgian Union invited me to come to Paris and take charge of the educational, Missionary Volunteer, and Sabbath school departments. Thus it was possible for me to create new Family Education Centers.

I shall never forget, for instance, the three lectures by which we began the activity of our Family Education Center in Angers. Pastor Lanares had been willing to take charge of renting a hall and doing the necessary advertising. He thought it prudent to rent for three evenings one of the largest halls in the city, seating seven hundred.

Several persons, inside and outside the church, criticized this choice, saying that when a member of the Academy came from Paris to give a single lecture the hall was scarcely half-filled, and that it was an imprudent thing to engage it ahead of time for three lectures on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday of the same week. But our brother had acted correctly, and God honored his faith. Advertisements were posted in the city announcing three lectures on "Our Brother the Child." The first lecture was titled: "Finding the Child," the second, "How Will Our Children Become Obedient?" and the third, "Adolescents and Love." The first evening the hall was filled with the exception of about twenty seats; the second evening the hall was completely full, and the third evening there were about fifty people standing. With rare exceptions, all the audience belonged to the better class of the population.

In 1949 the brethren asked me to prepare monthly educational radio talks to be used with the broadcasts of the Voice of Hope, which is heard each week over Radio Luxembourg. I prepared thirteen broadcasts in the course of the year 1949, and the public received them with favor. Our first French network broad cast, relayed by twenty-four national stations, took place January 1, 1950, at 9:00 A.M.

It is only a five-minute broadcast. A teacher or a preacher of the gospel who is in the habit of giving lessons of thirty or forty minutes' duration and preaching sermons or discourses of three quarters of an hour or an hour's length, finds himself singularly hampered when, subtracting the time of the musical theme and the announcements, he has only four minutes in which to address the public. With the help of God and with much work, however, one man ages to treat a subject in a satisfactory manner. At each broadcast we announce that the Voice of Hope answers all letters addressed to it and that the script of the broadcast is sent to each person who requests it. Several months later we were able to offer our listeners a correspondence course on family education. In the beginning we received each week between twenty-five and fifty letters. It is now rare, except during vacation months, for us to receive less than a hundred. Here as an example is the complete script of one of our broadcasts, with the announcements which precede and follow it:

THEME ANNOUNCER:

And now the Voice of Hope. Maurice Tieche is speaking to you.

M. TIECHE:

A young girl asked me in a charming letter how she might recognize whether the young man with whom she is in love truly loves her. It is therefore to you, Mademoiselle, that I dedicate my little talk today.

It would take very long to tell you how one recognizes true love. There are a thousand ways of showing that one loves! I prefer to help you to discover the egotism which tries to pass for love.

First of all, Is this young man so in love with you that he neglects his work, his studies, his parents, his friends? Excellent sign, you will say, since he makes a clean sweep of everything in order to retain only me! Do you believe that? Do not deceive yourself! It is doubtless because he does not have much room in his heart; you yourself will find it too narrow, sooner or later. And then, this gesture of forgetfulness of those he has loved, who have rendered him service are you sure he will not repeat it with you sometime?

Then too, think of this if he neglects his work or studies now, he runs the risk of confining him self in an inferior position in life, for which you may later suffer.

Try also to discover whether this young man solicits and follows counsel that of his parents, for example. Of course he does not want to seem like a little boy and not grown up. But if he pretends never to do anything but what is in his own mind, once married, your ideas and your desires will not weigh very heavily in his judgment. Thus he will expose both himself and you to disastrous impulses.

Is this young man in a great hurry to marry you? Then watch out! It is very natural, if he truly loves you, that he will long to live very close to you. But if he is rushing the matter, if he interrupts his studies, for instance, or if he pays no attention to your personal desires, it is evidence that he is putting into this haste more egotism than love, and you have no reason to rejoice in it.

This leads me to ask you if he has made definite plans for you after the wedding. There are too many young people who say: "Let's get married! We will come out all right! We will be two to face all difficulties!" Well! That is just the trouble you will be two, and very likely three, in the not too distant future. Are you prepared to divide a meager pittance and a reduced space? And would you call "love" the sentiment which makes that young man urge you into that kind of existence?

Permit me one last question. When you are with him whom you perhaps already call your fiance, he doubtless is very preoccupied with you. That is entirely natural. But to judge his true sentiments, I would like to know what interests him the most in you. I would not do him the injustice of thinking that he is marrying you for your fortune or for the social rank of your parents. Possibly that which draws him to you is your clear glance, your golden or ebony hair, the harmony of your voice, the elegance of your walk, or perhaps some other feature of your personality.

It is normal that he should pay tribute of admiration to the charms with which nature has adorned you, and it would be strange if he paid no attention to these. But if that should be the limit, I would counsel you to be very cautious. You are not a doll. You have a mind and a soul. If he does not under stand that all of that is part of you, the real you rather than your external appearance, then I fear that he will never really be acquainted with you and that your life together will not be a real union nor make for real happiness.

Your observations may include other points, but these which I have just indicated are vital. Of course you will not marry perfection, and neither will he! But do not let yourself be lured by the idea that love arranges everything and triumphs over all difficulties. Love does triumph over all, but it must be true love and not just a deceiving mirage. How to distinguish between them? That is a big question. The principles I have set forth may very well give you the answer. It is now up to you, Mademoiselle, but be sure to open your eyes wide!

ANNOUNCER:

If today's talk answers one of your worries, request the script;

it is at your disposal. If you desire to go more deeply into the principles of a sound and effectual education, enroll in our free course of family education. You might also persuade your friends to enroll.

If you have questions to ask, subjects to suggest, counsels to request, even if they require a personal answer, do not hesitate. Write to The Voice of Hope, French Radio Network, 107 Rue de Crenelle, Paris.

THEME ANNOUNCER:

You have just heard the broadcast of the Voice of Hope. These broadcasts never contain references to the Bible or to the Spirit of prophecy; it is not a question of religion. This feature has nat urally been discussed by certain members of our churches. Some have wondered whether it was not time and money lost, since the message had not been directly preached. The results of these broadcasts, however, have justified the plan and have proved that God has miraculously directed us. We will discuss some of these results in next month's issue of THE MINISTRY.

(Concluded next month}

Colportage,the Vanguard of Evangelism

A. L. PAGE, Publishing Department Secretary, Potomac Conference

To gain any desired end, the mystic key is found in one word: Cooperation. Yes, pulling together moves mighty loads. The burden of each worker today should be to finish God's work and then go home.

At the recent Autumn Council this clear call was sounded: "God's work will be finished when His people are willing to follow the plans and counsels of the Lord." That counsel is clear. How long will we fail to heed it? In volume 9 of the Testimonies, page 145, we read:

"The Lord desires His chosen servants to learn how to unite together in harmonious effort."

Even more specific instruction is found in volume 7, page 174:

"Let every branch of the work, while maintaining its own distinctive character, seek to protect, strengthen, and build up every other branch. ... It is the privilege of each to study and labor for the health and welfare of the whole body of which he is a member."

Knowing this, happy are we if we do it. As we survey our branches of endeavor in soul winning, through which this may be definitely accomplished, we see great possibilities, under God, for the evangelist and pastor to reap a rich and less costly fruitage of souls through close cooperation with the personal worker the consecrated colporteur evangelist.

Viewed from another angle, the same colporteur evangelist will be able to invite people personally to the public meetings. He is able to create confidence in our prophetic message and in our literature generally. Winning souls is applied gospel salesmanship. Of the basic sales principles, three are here involved that wort when used logically. They are (I) arousing an interest, (2) creating a desire, and (3) bringing to a decision. We will find that interest in our doctrines and a deep desire for eternal life have already been awakened by the visit of the consecrated colporteur evangelist. The prospect's confidence has been gained as he and the colporteur evangelist have prayed together about the book. Then, during the next three to six months as he reads, the Holy Spirit has a marvelous opportunity to bring conviction. At the time the public meetings begin, the colporteur invites his friend to attend. Because of this personal friendship there is real power in that invitation. Yes, it is possible that the reader may become offended at new light as he finds it. But he has not stopped attending the meetings; hence it is not difficult, when he reconsiders, to pick up the book again and study it through logically. When one reads himself into the truth, he truly believes it, for he has had the privilege of analyzing and studying repeatedly.

Then as the efficient evangelist or pastor logically ties together these points upon which the person is already partially convinced, and upon which the Holy Spirit has convicted his heart, he can be more easily led to a decision.

We pray for the Holy Spirit to come upon us abundantly for the finishing of God's work, while at the same time we are inclined to use methods unproductive of soul-winning results. We long to hasten the day when selected groups of consecrated colporteur evangelists may be placed strategically in a concentrated spot several months preceding our public meetings.

Efficient advertising concerns itself with preparatory means. We must not let the children of the world be wiser than the children of light. If we consider our colporteur work as a van guard of our evangelism, operated as a sales group, we will accomplish definite ends and far better results in souls won. But these noble helpers must be encouraged and directed to do great things for God.

Here is a field of service in which our public evangelists may well use colporteur evangelists to prepare an area for a series of prophetic meetings. As public meetings are being planned, let us study this need with our conference leaders in good time so that a strong colporteur ministry may precede our larger evangelism.


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Associate Secretary, General Conference Ministerial Association

Secretary, Education and Radio Departments Franco'Belgian Union Conference

Publishing Department Secretary, Potomac Conference

March 1953

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