The Singing Evangelist and Visitation

The work of the singing evangelist is rewarding and satisfying work when it is entered into in all of its many phases. There are some who think all the singer does is sing a few solos and lead a few songs in a song service. This is a false idea and it would be an unrewarding life if this were true.

GORDON L. HENDERSON, Singing Evangelist Michigan Conference

The work of the singing evangelist is rewarding and satisfying work when it is entered into in all of its many phases. There are some who think all the singer does is sing a few solos and lead a few songs in a song service. This is a false idea and it would be an unrewarding life if this were true.

The most rewarding work a singing evan­gelist can incorporate into his schedule is that of visiting the interested people in at­tendance at the meetings. This is a sure way to be included definitely in the soul-saving part of the evangelistic endeavor. It is the inspiration of his song services and the motivation for the selections he sings and uses in his special music. It gives him the pulse of the meetings and the reception they are receiving in the hearts of those in attendance. To me it is an invaluable as­set to be able to visit every home possible and to know the people and their problems. I can then minister to their needs more effectively. Many times I have come in from a day of visiting and changed portions of my musical program in order to meet the needs of those I knew were going to be at the meeting that evening.

Once I visited a young couple that were holding back because of the financial pres­sures they were under. I came home that night and included in my music the simple, message-filled, familiar song "God Will Take Care of You." As I was introducing this song I said just a word to those who were wondering about the future and how they were to plan for it. It had a deep ef­fect on these folks, and they told me later that it had helped them to rely on God's promises more fully. I say again, visiting is truly a singer's biggest asset. A wonder­ful voice is important, a command of theory and musicology may be helpful, but visiting and feeling the needs of the people is of much more importance.

Among the teams in which I have worked, the general plan has been that the singer begin by visiting all names turned in that are not known by the pastor or others as real interests. This, of course, is a large list to begin with, and the work of the singer is to weed out all the names that are not prospects, turning over to the evangelist or others in the team only the names of those who are prospects. (The singer in turn receives interest names to work with, also. No one should have a corner on the more promising names!) This is an im­portant work, and I believe it is necessary to cultivate the ability to distinguish be­tween an interest and a non-interest. There will be those who weed themselves out im­mediately, like one man who told me I had better get off his farm immediately and not come back again. I didn't count him a prime interest, for he had no Adventist background or SDA relatives and was just antireligious. This may not always preclude a non-interest, but if he is an interest he will usually make the move after the first visit.

There are also those who seem to be in­terested, who love to talk about the "truth" or the Bible. It is impossible to put down on paper the method of determining whether this is an interest. We must de­pend upon the Holy Spirit to guide us. The more we visit the more we will be able to recognize whether we have a genuine pros­pect.

When I was a beginner in the work I had an experience that may illustrate this point. I was visiting an elderly woman that I felt sure was going to come into the church. She told me that she believed this message and was speaking of the second coming of Christ to all her neighbors and telling them of the Sabbath. I visited her regularly during the series, but when the call came, I noticed she wasn't going for­ward. I waited a little time then went and personally invited her to go forward and decide for Christ and His message. She said, "Young man, when I want to join the Ad­ventist Church I'll walk right up the street and join." To this day, according to my knowledge, she has never taken that walk. She was not offended by my interest in her, and not all that take this attitude turn out the way she did, but many of these people resent it when you question them on their decision to follow the Lord all the way, because they have no intention of doing so. These are situations we must learn to dis­cern so we can use our time profitably with the people who really want our help.

As the series progresses new names keep coming in, and these need to be visited to determine the degree of interest. In one series we offered a gift to those who would bring a certain number of people to the meeting the next evening. One woman who was not a member brought fifteen people the next night, and of course we were able to get their names. When I visited one of these families they told me they had decided not to come to the meet­ings at first, but because their friend wanted them to help her get the gift, they had attended. These folks had no church affiliation and were very open-minded. This I learned in a visit that lasted only about ten minutes. They kept coming after that, and the entire family was baptized, also the wife's sister. This is not an isolated case, for it happens many times. The point I wish to make is the importance of fol­lowing up the names that come to us. A visit by one of the evangelistic team will do more than anything else to bring these people in and keep their interest high.

Another important point is to remember those you have visited. Watch for them at the meeting. Welcome them personally and observe their reaction to the service. I be­lieve the singer should be on the platform at all times so he can see the faces of the audience. Then, at the door he should strive to call each one by name as he or she leaves the auditorium. In larger cru­sades this will be a little difficult, but it can be done in most instances.

In situations where a singer has proved his worth as a visitor he can be a real burden-lifter for his co-worker, the evange­list. (I use the term "co-worker" because I believe that the evangelist and singing evangelist should work as a team.) The evangelist has many responsibilities, and if the singer will do the organizing and direct the visiting program, he will be of real assistance to him. This does not mean that the evangelist would be deprived of visiting the people. Most of the evange­lists I know feel it is important to their work to keep in touch with the people; but the work of organization and direction would be off their shoulders, and this would leave them free to study and pursue the many other duties demanded of them. The singer may use his time profitably vocalizing as he drives from visit to visit.

Another place where I believe the singer can give valuable assistance is in the bap­tismal service. I have made it a practice always to be at the door to meet every per­son that is to be baptized. I also have a list in my pocket of all those who should be baptized, and if some are missing and I feel there may be some problems, I jump in my car and go after them. Some may say, "If they are not there it probably is best, for they evidently aren't ready." I cannot agree with this. I believe we are in con­flict with a shrewd adversary who will use everything at his disposal to keep people from taking this final step. I have known many precious souls who would not have been baptized had not someone gone after them. Today they are strong members in the church. We must never give up the bat­tle, especially at the important time of baptism. Go out and persuade these people of the necessity of their going through with their decision. It will make a difference in the results, in souls won for God's church and kingdom.

Let none think that the singing evange­list is a novice. He is called of God to do this important work, and it should take his highest powers of study in preparation and execution. It is a work that can be, and is being, a great blessing to the cause. May God help each of us to use every talent He has entrusted to us in this glorious work of saving souls for His soon-coming kingdom.

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GORDON L. HENDERSON, Singing Evangelist Michigan Conference

July 1962

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