In the foregoing discussion the brethren who have pioneered in this field of evangelism have fully expressed their convictions. They have written considerably more than appears in this issue. However, no important point has been omitted from the over-all presentatio.n. Only repetition has been deleted in the interest of brevity, featuring the particular contribution of each worker and the adaptation he has made. These brethren do not claim to have reached perfection in this plan, nor do they feel that the short campaign is the only answer to our evangelistic needs. It does, they say, open before us a plan of reaping that is providing an amazing example of some of the principles we have longed to see demonstrated. Well over .a hundred ministers have worked at close range in these various short campaigns, and the most conservative have been impressed.
Listing the advantages of the short campaign in a recent letter, E. M. Chalmers mentions eight distinct points:
"1. Each link in the great chain of truth is more vividly connected with the whole.
"2. Nightly series crowds the enemy, making the meetings the biggest thing taking the attention of those who attend.
"3. The plan brings final decision time earlier, increasing the percentage of those who hear the greater part of the series.
"4. If the territory proves unproductive, only a few weeks and comparatively little money is involved in the over-all soul-winning program.
"5. Productive territories and large cities can be visited with a series of repeat campaigns.
"6. Converts among the new interests do not develop the habit of sinning against light long after being convicted.
"7. The momentum makes it less expensive to maintain an attendance.
"8. The plan encourages our members to develop interests with the hope of a public series in the near future."
In summarization of the short campaign idea, it is evident that the plan has resulted in fairly uniform success over a period of several years. The president of one conference who has had firsthand opportunity to observe, reports well over 90 per cent faithfulness. We all rejoice in this record.
And yet would it be possible to make fair comparisons between the shorter campaign and the longer series in this respect, when the primary objective of the shorter meeting is not necessarily to seek and awaken the interest of the public at large, but rather is a revival for the church and a reaping program for those with lingering convictions or dormant loyalties to the truth? Each of these programs has its own distinctive advantages. We repeat, that while there is great enthusiasm on the part of some for the new interests created in the short campaign, yet the majority of those who have worked at close range, either as associating pastors or as actual members of the teams, desire to emphasize the reaping feature as of primary value.
There is also a growing conviction on the part of those who are sympathetically watching its development and participating in it that the meetings should be extended to three, or better four, weeks in length. Again one cannot fail to be impressed with the universal conviction that the strength of the plan lies in a well-executed program of earnest, purposeful visiting.
Then as far as the meetings and the sermons are concerned, the ringing testimony of the messenger of the Lord takes on new meaning. In such a program it is imperative that the minister speak the message with clear conviction, making every sermon Christ centered and deeply message filled. Christ-centered preaching has been misunderstood by some to be a weak apology for truth—mere moral theorizing. Such a conception of preaching will not convict hearts. Christ-centered-message preaching can be powerful. We are living in a time when men expect to hear the voice of God speak truth and duty to their souls through moving preaching and earnest appeals.
"The people want to know the truth. They want it declared with authority and conviction . . . and without apology," declares the London Sunday Times. This forthright analysis of how men think is symptomatic of our age. It provides the remnant church with a most favorable atmosphere in which to present present truth. In other words, the trouble lies not so much in a disinterest in truth as in the powerful forces contending for the ears of the populace. Rich and poor, ignorant and educated, religious and nonreligious, are attracted to certain dynamic personalities proclaiming religious messages on TV and radio. Other distinctive groups are certainly not handling their message with timid reserve. And people are impressed—dangerously impressed.
Arise, my brother, and in every way available to you, share the Word of Life with deep conviction and forthright urgency. The time is short. Reaping in the way best suited to your talents is the order of the day.
G. E. V.