A Potent Power Within the Church

The most enthusiastic and responsive age group within the church is the teenager, when properly directed.

L. M. NELSON, MV Secretary, Southern Union Conference

Let us face the issue squarely. Large numbers of our faithful ministers have overlooked the potential of our most able age group within the church, ages fif­teen to thirty. The teen-ager has often been looked upon as lacking in a sense of responsibility, and the young married folks are too busy with the cares of family life to be of much worth to the church as workers. But these are mis­taken ideas, and receive encouragement from Satan himself.

The most enthusiastic and responsive age group within the church is the teenager, when properly directed. The best soul win­ners are the young married couples, when given supervision. Let me back this up with the following statement:

The youth, if right, could sway a mighty influ­ence. Preachers, or laymen advanced in years, can­not have one-half the influence upon the young that the youth, devoted to God, can have upon their as­sociates.—Messages to Young People, p. 204.

Consider for a few moments a church activity as related to this age bracket, the MV Week of Prayer. Primarily, this week is often considered as a drive to bring spiritual blessings to the youth within the church, but it can mean much more. If we would endeavor to make this an evangelistic thrust, beamed not only to our own youth but to reach out and to enlarge the church by bringing new life and numbers into the fold, then we have caught a vision of using the MV Week of Prayer as a vehicle to put the youth of the church to work for God.

I firmly believe that the greatest way to bring a blessing to our young people is not to preach to them, but to enlist their sup­port to save others.

Years ago, a father and son had to aban­don ship during a terrible storm off the coast of Scotland. They were able to get into a little rowboat and head for the shore. The father was so anxious for the care of his son that he felt it would be too hard for him to row, so he told the boy to be seated, and he himself took up he task of bringing the boat to land through the perilous waters. After considerable time in the subfreezing weather, he finally reached the shore. Thankful that they were safe at last, he turned around to bid his son step out on the dry land only to discover that his boy was frozen to death. Had the lad been given an oar to work his life would have been saved!

The sickening truth of this story is too often revealed in the facts of our church today. We endeavor to do everything in the world to make the church pleasant, to provide recreation, and to show interest toward the youth. We endeavor to lead them to spiritual heights, but many of our young people are languishing and dying spiritu­ally because they have not been put to work for others.

Let me list some ideas that I believe could be used in every church in developing the MV Week of Prayer into a successful program of evangelism. First of all, I would call an MV meeting and would talk in terms of a special evangelistic meeting to be planned and conducted just for the youth, in which they would help the pastor to win souls. I would ask the youth to be responsible for various phases of this pro­gram, and would list the following: "Social to Save, Mailing Bands, Literature Dis­tribution, Prayer Bands, Friendship Teams, Youth Participation, and Follow-up Work.

Let us take them one by one. One or two weeks before the MV Week of Prayer be­gins, let the MV executive committee plan a social with a soul-winning flavor. Let them secure a hall or some place that is suitable, and conduct what we might call an old-fashioned social, with many games that would appeal to teen-agers and young married couples. Ask the youth to invite their neighbors and friends and bring them along to the social. Here is an opportunity to show these young people that Seventh-day Adventist youth can have a good time. As the program progresses, the master of ceremonies could take the opportunity to announce to those present that in a week or two a special series of youth meetings will be held, and everyone, including the visi­tors, is cordially invited. In this way this social can be used as an "attendance getter." It becomes a special project of the MV Society, and all of the youth take a sur­prising interest in this evening when they realize that it is not only just to have fun for themselves, but is a method of winning souls. This we call a Social to Save and it really works.

Let us discuss the Mailing Band. Two or three weeks prior to the opening of this special series of MV meetings a Mailing Band should be formed. This band could meet after the MV service to handle the list of names composed of those in the community surrounding the church who it is felt should be invited. The list may include those attending the Social to Save and others. The young people could write a personal letter or address an envelope, and when the time comes, just before the meeting, a handbill could be put in this envelope and mailed. In this way the young people again have had a definite part.

Many of the youth enjoy Literature Dis­tribution. A certain section around the church could be devoted in its entirety to the young people. They like to know that the church has given them a responsibility, that certain city blocks belong to them and they are expected to visit the people in them, give them literature, and then invite them to the meetings. This gives the youth a feeling of importance.

Nothing is more important in this MV Week of Prayer than prayer itself. Three or four weeks before the meetings it is good to invite a number of the young people to form Prayer Bands. Let them meet together before Sabbath school or on Sabbath after­noon. They should pray earnestly that God will bring about a great revival, and that His Holy Spirit will be poured out upon the activities that are now in progress. They should plead that the Holy Spirit will im­press many to attend and that a large num­ber of souls will be gathered in. Here is the opportunity for a definite prayer list to be developed.

One of the most interesting evangelistic projects is what we call the Friendship Teams. We ask two young men or two young ladies or a married couple to make at least three calls on one or two people. In this way, we use a very large number of the youth. We do not ask them to give any Bible studies or a religious talk; rather, we want them to go to the families or individual and be friendly with them. The list may be made up of those who have drifted away from the church and become cold; individuals who ought to be in the church, but who for years have been put­ting it off; young people who are ac­quainted with the message and come to church occasionally. In every church there is a large list of such individuals and this is a very fruitful field. Being friendly, visiting the homes once a week and spending fifteen to twenty minutes in friendly conversation about things of mutual interest, will have a telling effect. Let them know we are per­sonally interested in them and that we love them. In this way the Friendship Teams can become a potent factor in getting a large number to attend the meetings. Our young married couples are very apt in this type of work, and it also bears fruit.

Youth Participation is a very important item. The youth should be pressed into service in rendering special music, announc­ing songs, taking care of the ushering and the various items that are always.necessary. They can be used in scores of ways and it will tie them more closely to the church.

Follow-up Work is necessary when any evangelistic endeavor comes to its imme­diate end, for we are always faced with a large number of interests who need special attention. If they are given patient and careful weekly attention many will accept the gospel.

Another plan is called Operation Fire­side. It is a new method to present Bible studies in the home. This method will at­tract even the most timid, reluctant youth of the church to participate in a soul-win­ning experience. This is geared to the senior youth level, ages sixteen to thirty.

The plan is very simple. 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 which he must prepare and master for clear and fluent presentation. Eight fam­ilies of the church are then asked to partici­pate to the extent that they will open their homes for studies, say on a Tuesday night, for eight weeks.

Friends and neighbors are invited, and especially those who are on the interest list of the church. In some cases the homes of nonbelievers may be used and the surround­ing neighbors brought in to listen. 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 prepared, they will begin simulta­neously to give their weekly studies. In this manner our youth are asked to prepare only one study. They rotate from home to home giving the same study, but to a dif­ferent group each night. This enables them to build confidence as they work.

Under the supervision of an interested pastor our youth can become very efficient in developing such a Bible study and can give it with power and conviction. The visi­tors in attendance love to hear the youth breaking the bread of life with Bible in hand. This is in keeping with the plan presented to God's servant:

To all who are working with Christ I would say, Wherever you can gain access to the people by the fireside, improve your opportunity. Take your Bi­ble, and open before them its great truths. Your success will not depend so much upon your knowl­edge and accomplishments, as upon your ability to find your way to the heart. By being social and coming close to the people, you may turn the cur­rent of their thoughts more readily than by the most able discourse. The presentation of Christ in the family, by the fireside, and in small gatherings in private houses, is often more successful in win­ning souls to Jesus than are sermons delivered in the open air, to the moving throng, or even in halls or churches.—Gospel Workers, p. 193.

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L. M. NELSON, MV Secretary, Southern Union Conference

March 1959

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