Basic Training for Personal Evangelism

The term "personal worker" requires a new emphasis in an hour when there is true need for this type of worker.

LOUISE C. KLEUSER writes for the Ministry. 

The term "personal worker" requires a new emphasis in an hour when there is true need for this type of worker. It is being increasingly recognized that soul winning is the very life of our work and that it is basic training for Sev­enth-day Adventist workers. However, this de­veloping interest includes men as well as women.

Personality Necessary

Personality is expedient in personal evan­gelism. Training for it is the best way to de­velop personality. The personal soul winner does not have the backing of a trained choir to prepare an atmosphere that will help the heart and mind to be receptive to the message. Unlike the pulpit evangelist, the work of the per­sonal evangelist is with individuals or small groups. He must proceed without fanfare and without the help of gifted assistants. His work at the fireside, in the homes of the people, is solely his responsibility. But he is God's con­tact man, a gospel salesman. He either wins his man for the Lord or loses him; there is a tre­mendous amount at stake. However, there are successive thrills as day by day he helps to de­cide eternal destinies. This calling of the Lord is a wonderfully satisfying service.

Conversational Skill

Bible teaching in such a personal way is not just talking with people. Much of the Bible in­structor's energy must be spent in meditative listening; not the listening of the professional psychiatrist but a detecting of the still small voice of God. The personal worker does not al­ways talk with the one to be helped, whose flow of words about apparently small things may pour forth like a wild cataract over a precipice; he talks with God, pleading for the right words for his next remarks.

The role of personal worker hardly suits the "naturally quiet" or "wallflower" types, for it requires rare conversational skill. It is far afield from the ordinary cheerio chatter, often aptly defined as "small stuff," or the various plati­tudes of many who run errands for the Lord while lacking a message from His throne. The true personal worker must present his mission in the assuring conversational tone of a kind friend who has something very wonderful to re­veal to the listener. This cannot be accom­plished merely with vivaciousness and sparkle, for the worker has a "life and death" message. It may need to be presented as urgently as the bleating of a lamb's mother when distress is evi­dent, or it may need to reveal the character­istic strength of a lion when decisions are in­volved. The conversational skill of a real per­sonal worker is fascinatingly powerful and sur­prisingly effective. It is developed through much prayer, Bible study, and experience.

Urgency and Authority

The personal worker is more than a peddler of doctrinal facts; he handles the precious gems of truth. His casual doorstep chats, his fireside Bible studies, are not just aimed to get people "into the truth." Each is freighted with the worker's heart burden to save lost men and women out of this "untoward generation." His mission is that of ambassadorship, for which he carries a heavenly portfolio. He may be han­dling grave truths, but these are most attractive to him. So the profession of the personal evan­gelist is very inspiring, despite some of its un­predictable elements, when anguish for souls is timely.

Preparation and Background

In addition to a pleasing, soul-winning per­sonality and teaching skill, the personal worker needs a profound knowledge of his message. In the informal setting of a fireside Bible reading there is no telling what queries may be pro­duced. The public evangelist is usually spared the possible embarrassment that may result from conflict in the mind of a listener. But not so the personal evangelist; he must be heard from on that very point. Therefore, it behooves him to be informed to the extent of either knowing or being able to find the answer. The worker must be a good student of the Book as well as of hu­man nature. In evangelism it is necessary that he teach convincingly. If he is to win to Christ the type of people that first investigate well what they later accept, he must be thorough and organized in every phase of his work. This in itself inspires confidence in the instructor's ability to teach a special message from God.

Patience and Poise

Personal evangelism today faces a vast array of competitive forces. Among these we might list many modern projects, devices, and inven­tions that claim attention, yet too often detract from solid Bible investigation. We might here merely mention radio and television with their "spots" and sports and shallow propositions. But there are many other distractions, such as the upset of otherwise adorable babies, the tantrums of spoiled children, the whims of adolescents, and the prejudice of wives, hus­bands, and relatives in general. One is ever conscious of the casual "dropping in" of neigh­bors and friends at the most inconvenient time in a Bible study. How necessary, then that the personal worker be kind, patient, understand­ing, and well poised!

Sharpening Our Tools

The reader will readily see that the personal evangelist holds an important place in the work of our closing message. His work is an artistic science—the science of the ages to come. It is a most satisfying lifework, hardly to be com­pared with any other, yet it is basic in the train­ing of all Seventh-day Adventist workers. This work is built on contacts with individuals, ev­erywhere and always. Helping others to de­velop a character to live with Jesus forever does much for the worker personally—it shapes his own character daily. The skills of personal evangelism are never exhausted, and those who have already entered this calling will be wise to sharpen their tools occasionally for the most delicate work of soul winning.

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LOUISE C. KLEUSER writes for the Ministry. 

May 1959

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