Probably there has never been a worker in the cause of God who has looked at the masses of souls unreached by the gospel of Jesus Christ and has not said to himself, "Oh, if only there was some simple, over-all plan for reaching the masses!" But actually there is such a plan, and it is simple indeed. It simply calls for the harnessing of the total capacity of every department and function of the church in a united effort toward the same goal.
In the Southern Union the workers and the constituency have accepted a challenge of such magnitude and extensiveness that nothing like it has ever been developed in this field.
For the want of a better title, we call it Operation Dixie.
Operation Dixie was conceived in prayer and in the study of God's blueprint. We earnestly believe that its acceptance and support by every worker and every member throughout the Southern Union will help to finish the work and will hasten the coming of Jesus Christ.
One pastor summed up his reaction to Operation Dixie like this:
"It will hasten the coming of our Saviour in the clouds of heaven.
"It will unify us as a people and can lead us to a Pentecostal experience with the outpouring of the latter rain.
"It will bring the revival and reformation that we need today.
"It will keep our attention and interest focused on the salvation of souls, and not on things of the world that obscure our spiritual vision.
"While we are working and praying for the salvation of sinners, we shall not be looking critically at our neighbor, and that will make us all happy.
"Operation DiXie will help us to reach a larger number of people with the message of salvation at the lowest cost.
"The souls brought in through Operation Dixie will be 'hand-picked' fruit who will be substantial, sustaining members of the church.
"Operation Dixie calls for both laity and ministers to join together in this great venture for the Lord, and thus set in motion Heaven's plan for a speedy completion of the work in all the world."
Both Timely and Practical
Two conditions are outstanding in the world today that lead us to believe that Operation Dixie is both timely and practical. First, every aspect of life—whether it be scientific, political, or religious—indicates that the end is near. Second, and most important of all, God's people are ready to attempt great things.
The hour is here for the ministry to lead the way. God's servants must be used by heavenly agents to bring about a great spiritual awakening, leading to denomination-wide revival and total mobilization.
Adventists have been longing for such a time, when all the children of God, with their faces lighted up and their lives fully under the influence of the Holy Spirit, fervently enter into the proclamation of the gospel message to reach all mankind. Prophecy teaches that this situation will come about, that it will result in the work being finished quickly, and make possible the return of Jesus to claim His own.
Fifteen Hundred Baptisms Anticipated
In the Southern Union our statistical objective for Operation Dixie is a total of fifteen hundred baptisms by the end of March. But we are looking for much more than this to be accomplished. It is quite likely that the number of baptisms will exceed the modest goal set, but it is absolutely certain that the spirituality of each member participating will be strengthened far beyond anything he has experienced heretofore. New members will be ushered into a Christian experience that lives, that is going places, that is built after the example set by Jesus Christ.
Every pastor and conference worker, all the teachers in our schools, the workers in our sanitariums and other institutions--everybody, layman and minister alike, has been invited and urged to enter into this plan with all the spiritual resources at his command.
How the Plan Operates
Obviously, space will not permit the reporting of every detail involved in Operation Dixie, for at least three sizable instruction manuals have already gone into the plan. These outline the many ways various departments and personnel of the church can participate in the program.
Briefly, the plan calls for a three-month intensive program in every church. All departments of the church will be given a definite task to perform, thus providing for a climax to be reached when a revival will be conducted in each church throughout the union.
A key in the over-all plan is a pastor's prospect list, which will be composed of 4 by 6 inch cards on which interests will be recorded and graded by the letters A, B, and C. A special metal file has been provided for every church within the union in which prospect names from all sources will be kept.
The Sabbath school, for example, will supply large numbers of interests through its well-planned Visitor's Day program.
The union Bible school and the Bible schools of Faith for Today and Voice of
Prophecy will, of course, be sources for tens of thousands of additional interests, most of them A interests. The Missionary Volunteer Department is launching its Operation Fireside program of giving Bible studies to more than three thousand people. The elementary schools, the academies, and colleges will participate in Operation Fireside besides having a program for each student to re-examine his own personal Christian experience.
All of these phases will result in prospect names.
The Home Missionary Department is pressing every senior member into a soul-winning program in which hundreds of our laymen will be faced with the responsibility of working for a specific individual or family. The literature evangelists will be sources for many names for the pastor's prospect list, and every other facet of church life will be brought into the picture, utilizing older methods and opening up brand-new avenues of approach.
All of this with the ministry on its knees, leading each member in a program to become laborers together with God, will certainly assure heaven's cooperation. The floodgates will be open wide. The Pentecostal experience long promised will become a reality.
The Operation Fireside Phase
The objective of Operation Fireside is to present home Bible studies in such a manner that even the most timid and reluctant youth in the church will be drawn to participate in the experience of soul winning. This activity is geared to the senior youth level, ages sixteen to thirty.
The MV Society selects eight Bible study teams composed of two young adults of the church. Each team is assigned one of eight suggested topics to prepare and master for clear and fluent presentation.
Eight families of the church are asked to participate to the extent of opening their homes, say on Tuesday night, for the eight weeks. Friends and neighbors are invited.
In some cases, homes of nonbelievers may be used and the surrounding neighbors encouraged to attend. There should be at least six and preferably ten visitors in attendance at each Bible study.
When the homes have been selected and the teams are ready, the eight teams begin simultaneously to give their weekly studies on a rotation basis. This is very important, for the climax revival must follow immediately at the conclusion of these Bible studies. It is the purpose of those giving the Bible studies to arouse the listeners to a point just short of baptism. Thus the evangelist with his professional training will endeavor during the revival to bring these persons to a decision.
Smaller churches, as larger ones, can adjust the number of personnel in this project on the basis of membership.
In this unique manner the teams rotate, each team always giving the same study but to a different group during the eight weeks. Thus, at the conclusion, eight complete Bible studies have been given at each place.
In order to maintain a cordial relationship and association to each home group, an adult sponsor is selected from the , church and assigned to a home to act as host to the series of studies. The duties of this adult are to introduce the young groups as they arrive each week and to be of assistance during the study. They also keep in close contact with those who attend the studies and help to bind off the interest. They counsel with the pastor each week and especially with the evangelist during the closing revival. In many cases, one of the adults of the home acts as a sponsor.
Each youth, as a member of the team, is to thoroughly prepare and study his subject. Training, demonstrations, practice sessions, and rehearsals are held until each participant is the master of his Bible study. Visual aids have been made available for the purpose of illustrating the subjects.
Coordinated Evangelism for Adults
For adult members there is a plan called Coordinated Evangelism. It is designed for all members above thirty years of age. There are four ways to participate in Coordinated Evangelism; thus each member can choose the way he fits into best.
- Bible Evangelism—the giving of Bible studies.
- Visitation Evangelism—assisting the pastor in visiting prospects and others.
- Fellowship Friend—winning a heart through acts of kindness; social fellowship with some particular person on the pastor's prospect list
- Prayer Partner—for those members physically unable to be active. These individuals pray for some definite family on the prospect list.
To put Coordinated Evangelism into effect, each church has to take three steps:
- Building a pastor's prospect list. This should be a list of folks who are interested in the message. Pastor and church missionary committee will share these names with the church members, making definite assignments to the church members.
- Commitment. This is to learn the type of work each adult member wishes to do in Coordinated Evangelism.
- Assignment. The pastor and church missionary committee, having the pastor's prospect list and the type of activity desired by the respective members, now assign the pastor's prospect list to the laymen.
In Operation Dixie, Coordinated Evangelism will be put into action at the very beginning of the program. It is to begin twelve weeks before R (Revival) Day.
Both Operation Fireside and Coordinated Evangelism have been through successful tests during 1958. Already many souls are in the church as a result of these projects.
Climaxing all these efforts to reach souls during the Operation Dixie project will be a series of decision meetings in each church. Without exception, all 435 churches in the Southern Union will participate.
To sum up, every department of the church and every method of evangelism is being utilized in preparing hearts for decisions, working for three months before the start of the revival,
- Sabbath school department—Lay plans for Visitor's Day on the Sabbath the revival begins in each church.
- School of Bible Prophecy— (1) Provide every district man with an up-to-date interest list of Bible school students. (2) Send a personal invitation by handbill or letter to all interests.
- MV department— (1) Make the spring Week of Prayer a part of this united effort. (2) Launch Operation Fireside to support the program.
- Education department—Encourage each church school group, academy, and college, to have its spring Week of Prayer at this time and encourage each teacher to lead the youth of baptismal age into accepting Christ and then prepare them for baptism by forming a baptismal class.
- Home missionary department—Implement Coordinated Evangelism in every church.
- Publishing department—Alert each colporteur to give names of special interests to the pastor for further attention by laymen. Invitations to the meetings should be sent to all those whose names are on this list.
Public relations department—Prepare publicity and advertising kits for use by each church; promote Operation Dixie by special numbers of the union paper and in each weekly bulletin until the baptismal day.