The science of securing decisions and the art of persuading men are exceedingly broad. It would require a number of volumes to expound their underlying principles and the application of these in evangelism. It is our purpose here to give a synopsis of some of the techniques that may be used for securing decisions in the short reaping campaign.
All sermons in the series, all the personal work with the interested, should be built and directed toward a final decision to accept Christ and unite with the Advent Movement.
All decisions stem from the interplay of desire and conviction in a person's mind and heart. Therefore all the sermons and personal talks with the interested should be a wise interweaving of the factors of desire and conviction, with the major emphasis on the side of desire. This is what it takes to prepare the way for the desired decisions.
We should not hesitate to make calls at the close of our sermons. We are God's men charged by Him to extend His invitation.
Some ministers refrain from making calls because they fear that no one will respond. If this is the case with us we should ask ourselves, "Why should we be embarrassed for God?" After all, it is not our call. We are extending the call of God. The entire Bible is saturated with God's calls. Here are some examples: Isaiah 1:18-20;
Matthew 11:28; Hebrews 4:7; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 18:4; 22:17.
The following are some methods that will secure the desired response:
1. The easiest response comes when the call is to raise the hand as expressing one's desire for help from God in the midst of the minister's prayer, while all eyes are closed and heads are bowed in silent prayer.
- Judicious and appropriate calls for the raising of the hand during the sermon, or at its close, in an acknowledgment of belief in points of truth as they are presented from the Scriptures.
- Making a general call at the close of the sermon for the raising of the hand on some easy step of universal appeal. Then make a specific call for opening the heart to receive Jesus, for having Jesus change one's heart, for victory over bad habits, for returning to the Lord in the case of backsliders, for help on some problem in reference to keeping the Sabbath, or for help to endure trials which one is facing in making a decision, et cetera.
- The proper use of the aftermeeting. See Evangelism, pp. 151, 152; Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 65; Dr. H. C. Trumbull, "Individual Work for Individuals," pp. 151, 152: Gamaliel Bradford, "D. L. Moody: A Worker in Souls," p. 268.
- The use of a card in an aftermeeting early in the series, which will serve to pin-
point the spiritual needs of each interested person, thus preparing the way for a more effective personal work later.
- Early in the short series set in operation a Bible class on "Better and Happier Christian Living." This will serve to prepare some of the interested for baptism at the close of the series.
- In the general call appeal to those who have wandered away from the church and desire to return, and for surrender and obedience on the part of these non-Adventists who have sufficient acquaintance with our doctrines.
- Unless the audience is very small, and the speaker knows each one by name, decision cards should be given to those who raise their hands in the aftermeeting, to indicate their surrender to the claims of God's truth and their desire to return to the way of Jesus.
- On the nights when the Sabbath truth is presented it is good to use specially prepared address cards in connection with the offer to send a free copy of the sermon, on which decision for the Sabbath at the close of the sermon may be recorded by the interested.
In connection with the sermon on the Sabbath truth under the title, "The Strange Sign of God," we have a decision item on the back of the address card, which we use to offer a copy of the sermon. In this case the cards are distributed after the offering has been taken but are not collected until after the sermon. When the appeal is made at the close of the sermon on keeping the Sabbath, those who are determined to keep the Sabbath are requested to check a square on the back, where it says, "I am purposed by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ from this time forth to have His sign in my life as has been set forth from the Scriptures tonight."
The decision to keep the Sabbath is the key decision for becoming a Seventh-day Adventist, and the sooner we can lead the interested person to make a definite decision to keep the Sabbath, the greater will be our progress in leading him into the Advent Movement.
IQ. A specific altar call should be made for surrender to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and to unite with God's people, followed by some general call, which should bring a response from nearly all of those who do not come forward.
- Address cards may be placed in the hands of each person on which he may write his name and address if he wishes to take advantage of the offer of a free copy of the sermon that covers the seventeen items of the religion taught by Jesus, according to His statements as recorded in the four Gospels. These seventeen items correspond to the essentials for baptism and membership into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The people retain the card in their hand during the sermon, and check their approval as one by one of these essentials are discussed.
If some items are not clear, they are asked to write "need study" after these. During the prayer at the close of the sermon an appeal is made for those who are willing to accept these truths and follow Jesus all the way to put a cross at the top or the bottom of their card. The cards are then collected and brought to the front. The minister should hold the cards in his hand and pray that the Lord will help each one according to his need.
This secures a decision from some who do not like to raise the hand or come forward. It is therefore a quiet method of securing the decisions.
- A card can be used containing certain points of the sermon in the form of questions. These are to be answered by Bible texts as the sermon proceeds, and the people are to list the texts after each question, as the minister presents them.
They have already filled in their names and addresses at the bottom of the card before the sermon begins. During the prayer at the close an appeal is made for every one who wants to be one of those whom God is gathering into His remnant (Isaiah 27:12; 11:11, 12), to place a check mark in a square at the end of the line where their name appears. The card is perforated a little above where the name appears. Then they are asked to detach the stub on which their name and address has been written. These are collected and brought to the front. While the minister holds these stubs up before the Lord, he prays that God will reach into the life of each one, and make him one of His jewels.
Before we ask the people to place the check mark in the square, we state that we are not planning to take anyone into the church that night. We tell them it will take time for some to get their affairs arranged for entering the church, but that it
is a good time for them to make their decision and give the Lord a chance to work in their lives to prepare them to be one of His children.
It is a decided advantage in winning people to the Advent Movement to lead them to signify in the public meeting their determination to become one of God's remnant. Then you are on vantage ground in your personal work with them thereafter.
They have settled the matter that they want to be a Seventh-day Adventist. From this point on, you go to their home, not to get their decision but to help them to get ready to do what the Lord expects of them. This is one of the finer points of the science of persuasion.
Keep in mind that without such a decision on their part in the public meeting, you might go to their home many times and not get them to make a real decision.
It is of the utmost importance that the ones who have made decisions publicly be reached personally at the earliest possible moment. This is where the right kind of preaching plus the right kind of personal work is a winning combination in seeking souls for God.
Many have been lost to our cause because they were not visited immediately after indicating their decision in the public meeting. Notice this counsel: "When persons who are under conviction are not brought to make a decision at the earliest period possible, there is danger that the conviction will gradually wear away."—Evangelism, p. 298.
13. During your visits plan to guide the conversation to the place where the person of his own accord declares his purpose to follow the truth. This presents your opportunity to secure his commitment. Take a decision card from your pocket or your Bible case and read as follows:
"It is my purpose to make a full surrender to Jesus, and to obey His call of Revelation 14:12, to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and to unite with His remnant church of Revelation 12:17."
Then ask the person, "Doesn't this express your purpose? Isn't this what you have been stating in your own words?" When he answers in the affirmative, say, "Wouldn't it be good to seal your good decision before the Lord just now, by placing your name to this purpose?" Then read Isaiah 44:5 where we are told to subscribe
with the hand unto the Lord. Next ask him to bow with you in a word of prayer, making it a prayer of surrender and commitment for following Jesus all the way. Then let the person fill in his name and address.
14. There are numerous principles that need to be followed in securing decisions in personal work, but here are some important ones. Discover the precise needs, the objections, the hindrances to decision, and meet them by a skillful use of the right texts from the Word, rightly timed effort, or prompt work when the soul is under conviction. Build on the person's own statements and admissions to lead him over the line, as Jesus did with the woman at the well in John 4; and then make a direct personal appeal (Acts 26:26-28; John 4:10, 14, 15, 26).
A study of the direct, personal appeal that Paul made to Agrippa, as recorded in Acts 26:22-28, reveals five guiding principles on how to use and formulate them.
- Prepare the way for making the appeal by an effective use of the Word. The appeal must be based on the teachings of the Scriptures (Acts 26:22, 23).
- The appeal should be connected with, or grow out of, the person's own knowledge of the truth of the Word (Acts 26:26).
- c. It is addressed directly to the individual's convictions (Acts 26:27, first part), and may take the form of a question. It is designed to bring home to the person a realization of his personal responsibility.
- The appeal is concluded by expressing that the individual will respond (Acts 26:27, last part).
- It should be introduced at the opportune moment.
Let us not be one- or two-method men, one- or two-track men, but under God study to place into operation every possible method for gathering souls.
15. Suggestive texts for urging immediate decision: Psalm 119:60; Acts 22:16; Hebrews 3:15; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Genesis 6:3; 1 Kings 18:21; James 4:17.
For full surrender: Luke 14:33; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Numbers 32:11, 12.
For not allowing family or friends to keep one from going ahead to obey present truth: Matthew 10:37-39; Luke 12:51-53; Galatians 1:10; Ezekiel 14:20.
For encouragement in the trials that may come with decision: Acts 14:22; John 15: 18-20; I Peter 4:12-16; Luke 6:22, 23; Isaiah 41:10: 43:2.