Shall we Bleed to Death?

The church bleeds to death when its ministry and laity stop winning souls.

J.R.S. is the managing editor of the Ministry.

The church bleeds to death when its ministry and laity stop winning souls. Soul transfusions are constantly needed to keep our movement alive and virile. Soul-winning programs tend to fill the collapsing veins of the church with new blood. Who brings more vitality to the church than new members who have never known this message before? Who has deeper love for God and his church than those who have caught the "first love" experience? The greatest crime a preacher can commit against the spiritual life of himself and his church is to permit his attention to be focused on details and programs which do everything but win souls.

Credit Cards Necessary?

The preaching of the gospel publicly and witnessing from house to house spelled success for the infant New Testament church. Without the aid of telephones, fil­ing systems, libraries, credit cards, di­plomas, and numerous other items thought necessary today to make the church suc­cessful, this startling religious revolution gripped the Roman Empire. Tragically, the most comparable movement today, in terms of intensity and vitality, is not the Christian faith, but an atheistic ideology!

Strange that a movement which denies the existence of God should exhibit more en­thusiasm and conviction than a movement which claims to believe and serve the God of the universe.

Fastened Seat Belts

History constantly repeats itself. God's ancient people failed in their mission, not because of a lack of organization, men, money, or materials, nor did they fail be­cause of obscurity. Their true goal of wit­nessing by lives and lips the power and authority of God to the world was aborted. One glance at Reformation history indi­cates a duplication of Israelitish failure.

The Adventist Church appears to be prospering in many ways, and for this we thank God. Its original momentum is not yet spent. Statistics viewed through hu­man eyes indicate a powerful program. Yet the great danger of membership anemia is present. Plodding dully along in the ruts of past victories can plague us. To depend on the baptism of children of Adventist families to reach our baptismal goals can spell disaster. It is sometimes said that if we spent all of our time, energy, and money baptizing and holding our own young people we would be making greater advances than all other types of soul-win­ning endeavors put together. We also hear remarks to the effect that if we could de­velop a program that would keep our mem­bers from backsliding, we wouldn't have to do any evangelism. This may sound con­vincing, but such reasoning will lead the movement up a blind alley.

Of course we want to save our youth and keep members from backsliding. The greatest solution to this problem is not en­tertaining them but putting them to work saving others. We take our hats off to the new MV drive of TARGET 30,000, which is commendable. We hope that our adults will catch the same spirit. The greatest thrill in the world is not competitive sports but hunting for souls! Conversion of souls brings rewards far exceeding club activi­ties.

Spiritual Dry Rot

The problem is that the emphasis of ac­tivity is being shifted inwardly rather than outwardly. When the original emphasis of any religious organization shifts to diversi­fied services being offered to those within the fold, dry rot inevitably sets in. Busyness may abound, programs may flourish, and societies multiply, but spiritual muscles never fully develop unless there is consist­ent battling to gain souls from enemy terri­tory.

Militant or Triumphant?

The church can only survive as a vital power as long as it is militant. If we sit down and begin to play the part of the church triumphant in the midst of the bat­tle, defeat is certain! With a triumphant attitude the church may continue to exist as a showpiece like an Egyptian Pyramid, but life and vitality will long since be re­placed by the cold marble of indifference and inactivity. Multitudes may "oh" and "ah" at our parade of buildings and budg­ets. But how many empty seats would there be in the sweet chariot if it would swing low today and pick up the results of last-day Adventist activity?

GM Evangelism

No secular or religious individual or or­ganization can continue a prosperous exist­ence without persuasive witnessing. Gen­eral Motors assembly lines would fast grind to a halt if they stopped convincing people that their product was the best buy for their money. Expansion of their factories takes place only after sales are increased. They fight to sell. Every weapon possible is used in their program of competition. Their goal is to put a Chevrolet or related car in every garage.

Cars or Christ

The church runs a multimillion-dollar program today. Is our goal less important than that of an automobile manufacturer? Can we exist with any less determination and competition? Never! We must fight the battle to live properly. We have a cause to fight for which is the placing of the three angels' messages before every nation, kin­dred, tongue, and people. Once that goal is lost, or attempted by proxy, our power disintegrates.

Beecher and Phillips

Two of the greatest orators in American history were Henry Ward Beecher and Wendell Phillips. These men fought for abolition in the day when men were stoned in the streets of New York City and Boston for being abolitionists. They won their battle for human freedom, for slavery was abolished.

One night after the Civil War, they met in a city where Wendell Phillips delivered a lecture. Beecher went to hear him. After the meeting Beecher went back to the ho­tel with Phillips and lay down on the bed while Phillips paced the floor. "Henry," he said finally, "how did I do tonight?" "I never heard a more brilliant speech," was the guarded reply. "I felt dead," said Wendell Phillips; "I didn't feel happy about it. Something has gone out of me. You are my friend. Tell me what it is." "Wendell," said Beecher, "it's all words; beautiful, magnificent, artistic words, but you aren't fighting for anything any more."

Action and Belief

Action always accompanies belief. When belief dies, action grinds to a halt. This simple truth can be applied to any area of life. This issue of THE MINISTRY has been enlarged for the purpose of giving empha­sis to public evangelism in general, and field schools of evangelism in particular. If ever a Congressional Medal of Honor were given to preachers it ought to be given to the minister who spends the major portion of his time and energy in direct soul-winning activities, and the training of the future ministry. These men who meet the enemy head on undoubtedly have the clearest conviction of what it means to be a gospel minister. These bear an unweighable burden for the rescue of men and women out in no man's land who need the warmth and love of Him who died to give them life. This is the highest work under heaven.

We know that the reports given in this issue can be multiplied manyfold by numer­ous unsung ministerial heroes around the world.

J. R. SPANGLER

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J.R.S. is the managing editor of the Ministry.

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