Step by Step Through a Short Evangelistic Campaign
FOR many decades Seventh-day Adventists have been proclaiming a positive message with definite views concerning world conditions and the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Today we see many of these prophecies being fulfilled. For some time it seems that every series of evangelistic meetings that are held reveals some new development that points to the fact that we are living in the very last days of this world's history. These developments challenge us to a realization of the greatness of the task that is ours of presenting the coming of a Saviour to a lost and dying world.
Angels are now restraining the winds of strife, until the world shall be warned of its coming doom; but a storm is gathering, ready to burst upon the earth, and when God shall bid His angels loose the winds, there will be such a scene of strife as no pen can picture. ... A moment of respite has been graciously given us of God. Every power lent us of heaven is to be used in doing the work assigned us by the Lord for those who are perishing in ignorance.—Evangelism, p. 704.
Looking at the vast multitudes through the eye of an evangelist, one sees four groups of people in the world who have to be reached:
1. The average Seventh-day Adventist church member.
2. The former Seventh-day Adventist.
3. Those converted Christians who are honest in heart and who have been following the Lord as best they know how, but are unaware of some of the vital Bible doctrines.
4. The unconverted.
It is well to remember that the step-by-step plan we are going to discuss is only one of many plans that are being used; this particular one is an every-night three-week campaign, together with a week to ten days pre-effort revival in the church, and one week for follow-up work. In presenting this workable plan the writer in no way wishes to depreciate the longer type series; in fact, we readily admit that there are circumstances where only the longer campaign will work successfully.
A true evangelist should be able to decide on the type of campaign that will fit each particular situation, and should be ready and willing to adjust his program to whichever plan will bring the best results proportionate to the effort put forth. The majority of our plans can be adjusted to fit almost any length of program and the personality of the worker who leads out; and we should remember that the Holy Spirit, who is the primary source of any success, cannot be monopolized by any one man, team, plan, or situation. However, it is important to have some basic plan by which to organize oneself.
The Evangelistic Team
The first step concerns the evangelistic team worker himself, whether he be the evangelist in charge or the wife of the intern who has just joined God's vast army of workers. To each, one thing is vital, and that is the necessity of having a deep burden for souls and a personal heart conversion whereby his life has been completely given over to the will of God.
The worker for God should put forth the highest mental and moral energies with which nature, cultivation, and the grace of God have endowed him; but his success will be proportionate to the degree of consecration and self-sacrifice in which his work is done, rather than to either natural or acquired endowments. . . . Divine grace is the great element of saving power; without it all human effort is unavailing.—Ibid., pp. 628, 629.
The preacher who does not realize the importance of his calling, and who does not spend several hours in prayer before each sermon, has no business in the ministry. And the gospel singer who attempts to sing a gospel solo without spiritual preparation should not face a congregation.
A sermon which comes from the preacher's head, and not from his heart, will not reach into the hearts of his listeners—only into their heads. If he expects to reach their hearts he'll have to preach from his heart. Similarly, it is impossible for the singer to reach the hearts of his listeners unless he himself is singing from his heart. Heart-preaching and heart-singing are only possible when the individual has consecrated himself fully to Jesus Christ, and when he has spent much time in earnest communion with the Lord. The prayerless preacher is a powerless preacher; the prayerless singer is a powerless singer.—Phil Kerr, Music in Evangelism. Gospel Music Publishers, Box 409, Glendale, California.
The Personnel and Their Basic Responsibilities
The number of members in a team and their individual duties will vary with every group. However, in the situation cited, the team consists of two families plus the pastor of the church of the district where the meetings are being held, and his wife.
When thinking in terms of responsibilities of the members of a team, one must remember that because it is a team it demands in all major and minor aspects full and willing help and cooperation from each member. However, to help in the over-all program each member has certain major responsibilities for which he is accountable.
1. The evangelist is responsible for
a. The over-all organization and success of the program.
b. The speaking.
c. Organization of the visitation.
d. Planning and calling the workers' meetings.
e. His equal share of the visitation.
f. Helping with the instructional or baptismal class.
g. The budget and finances.
h. The advertising.
2. The singing evangelist is responsible for
a. Every phase of the music, including the song service, special music, choir organization, and all other musical features.
b. The public-address system.
c. The care of the musical instruments.
d. His equal share in the visitation.
e. Teaching the baptismal class. /. Weekly news stories.
g. Organization of the ushers.
h. Banking of offerings.
i. Preaching appointments as desired and available.
j. Ordering and showing of films.
3. The singing evangelist's wife is responsible for
a. Playing the organ, if she is a musician.
b. Helping husband with the musical program.
c. Secretarial work for the team.
d. Helping with addressing and mailing.
4. The evangelist's wife is responsible for
a. Heading and organizing the reception work.
b. The flowers, including baskets, corsages, and boutonnieres.
c. Visits during the campaign with the pastor's wife or a receptionist.
d. Helping with the addressing and mailing.
5. Pastor or district leader is responsible for
a. Helping at the initial organizing of the meetings.
b. Organizing the church for pre-effort work, visitation, Bible studies, addressing and mailing, and over-all support.
c. His equal share of the visitation.
d. Being available each evening to assist in the program with prayer, announcements, and offering appeal, et cetera.
6. The pastor's wife is responsible, as she is able, for
a. Reception work.
Preparation of the Community for the Campaign
Preparing the community is one part of the campaign over which the evangelistic team has little or no control. Yet it is the most important phase in bringing about the success of a soul-winning series of meetings. The degree of success of every evangelistic campaign is directly proportional to the groundwork that has been done during the months, even years, preceding it. This conditioning is necessary in every type of evangelism, but it is especially so for the short campaign.
If one will keep in mind the process of farming and the demands of nature in order to ensure a good harvest, he will realize not only the tremendous advantages of the short campaign but also its limitations. The farmer first sees that the soil is tilled in preparation, then the seed is carefully sown. Next comes the nourishing of the seed, and finally the reaping of the harvest. In the longer campaign much of this process takes place during the time of its duration; however, in the shorter campaign time is at a premium, therefore the soil must of necessity be tilled and much of the sowing done before the campaign begins. For although it is true that the short campaign does this in a measure, yet primarily it is a nourishing and reaping campaign. No matter how thorough the short campaign may be, without laying definite groundwork and study for the coming meetings the series cannot be an over-all success.
It should never be thought profitable either in souls or in finances to use this short campaign as a means for entering new areas with the purpose of raising up a church, or to assign it to a church or district where there has been little or no groundwork laid in preparation for the meetings.
There are many ways of laying the foundation for a soul-winning campaign. A few are listed here:
1. Church-pastoral evangelism at least once a year.
2. Religious surveys.
3. Bible course (on a local or union basis).
4. Voice of Prophecy listeners.
5. Faith for Today viewers.
6. Bible studies and cottage meetings.
7. Branch Sabbath schools.8. Systematic literature distribution.
9. Prophecy Bible class.
10. Medical interests through our hospitals.
11. Colporteur interests.
12. Systematic mailing of These Times and Signs of the Times.
As a further guide to the pastor or district leader, the evangelist, and conference president, through whom all appointments for the local team come, the following questionnaire has been prepared:
The following questions are to be answered by the pastor or district leader.
1. How long have you been at your present church or district? __________
2. When was the last evangelistic campaign conducted by the pastor?__________
3. When was the last evangelistic campaign conducted in your town by a conference evangelist? __________
4. How many current Bible studies or cottage meetings are being held by the pastor each week? __________
5. How many current Bible studies are being held by the laymen each week? __________
6. How many adults in all are in regular attendance at these Bible studies? __________
7. How many nonmembers attend the church regularly? __________
8. Please estimate how many good active interests you have on file at present.________
9. What is the total membership of your church? __________
10. What is the active membership of your church? __________
11. What is your average attendance at the midweek services or prayer meeting? ______
12. How much money is the church membership willing to pledge toward the expenses of a coming series of meetings? __________
13. Please estimate how many men will be available and willing to help with manual work should it be necessary to pitch a tent or hold the meetings in a hall. __________
14. What is the general attitude of the church toward holding an intensive series of evangelistic meetings in the future? __________
15. Please list any other plans you have been laying and also the results gained thus far (as groundwork) in anticipation of a coming evangelistic series of meetings. ________
The salvation of men involves a process of sowing, nourishing, and reaping—there are no short cuts. Only in the new earth will one realize all the contributing factors that have brought about the final decisions that have been made during an evangelistic crusade. Therefore, let us not be interested or worried about credit in the eyes of men. God alone knows whereinthe true credit lies. Let us all strive to do our part and leave the credit with Him. The work will then be so much more profitable and enjoyable.
The good seed sown may lie some time in a cold, worldly, selfish heart without evidencing that it has taken root; but frequently the Spirit of God operates upon that heart and waters it with the dew of heaven, and the long-hidden seed springs up and finally bears fruit to the glory of God. We know not in our lifework which shall prosper, this or that. These are not questions for us poor mortals to settle. We are to do our work, leaving the result with God.—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 248.
(To be continued)
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