Team evangelism in which doctor and minister unite in the presentation of a message directed toward the healing of the whole man represents an ideal in soul winning.
The gospel ministry is needed to give permanence and stability to the medical missionary work; and the ministry needs the medical missionary work to demonstrate the practical working of the gospel. Neither part of the work is complete without the other—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 289.
In the same context there is given a caution against losing this essential unity in the ministry of healing sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church:
Disconnected from the church it [medical missionary work] would soon become a strange medley of disorganized atoms. . . . Conducted independently, it would not only consume talent and means needed in other lines, but in the very work of helping the helpless apart from the ministry of the word, it would place men where they would scoff at Bible truth.—/bid.
The pattern of Christ's evangelism is an illustration of a presentation of science and religion not as unrelated areas but rather as a harmonious revelation of a loving Father's concern over all of His creation. The mental, moral, and medical needs of each man are reached with complete coordination in His one ministry: "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people" (Matt. 9:35).
Today it is generally felt that the coordinated efforts of a team of workers is required in reaching the ideal of a ministry that cares for the total needs of fallen man. A sincere effort on the part of the ministry to present the health message has been to give time in public meetings for a medical feature. Frequently seen is the advertisement "Health Talk by a Prominent Physician." The increase of the effectiveness of this trend toward team evangelism is the purpose of this study. Certainly a health talk that glorifies God and leads naturally toward a deeper appreciation of the Bible lecture that follows affords a distinct contribution to any campaign. In some cases, however, the participating minister and doctor have been aware of a gap in interest between health talk and lecture. It has been observed that when the doctor gives his presentation there has been an audience attention and appreciation for his scientific knowledge. The minister also receives an attentive hearing, but when the program is over some listeners simply have not been able to relate the health talk and the sermon as component parts of a single gospel. Thus it is felt that efforts to help individuals overcome smoking, avoid cancer, or improve diet must also convey an appreciation that all truth in science and religion is a revelation from God of the Creator's love for man.
The following suggestions are submitted to encourage a team approach in soul wining, which will be a fellowship between minister and physician in study and service deeper than simply appearing on the same evangelistic platform:
1. It is accepted that the warning against destroying the unity of gospel and medical missionary work applies both to the medical office and the evangelistic pulpit. The Christian physician is recognized as a worker for God in the pattern of the Saviour who leads those seeking his help to recognize that in science rightly understood there is a profound revelation of God and His law.
2. The physician's training and experience makes possible an effective witness of the unity of physical and moral law. He can give vivid illustrations of the effects of any disruption in the harmony of God's laws which govern all creation and each individual. By giving evidence to the suffering and death that results from a disregard of physical laws the minds of the listeners are made aware of an essential truth: There is a unity between so-called natural laws and God's moral law for man, the Ten Commandments. Eternal norms of conduct can no more be disregarded than the laws of health, with which they are inseparably related. Also right and wrong can thus be defined in terms that are universally applicable. Perhaps in the doctor's presentation he will reply to a common question in the minds of the audience: Why this interest by the church in my personal health habits? The physician may say:
Many in our audience will recall that in the past there have been churches which frowned upon the use of tobacco, particularly by members of the clergy. Many wonder why today a change in attitude by the churches has occurred. The reason is due to a changed understanding of just what constitutes "right and wrong." Would we not all agree that "right" includes that which builds and promotes life, harmony, and true happiness? And would we not all say that "wrong" includes that which destroys? This reasonable conclusion is also fundamental in understanding and appreciating God's laws and why a life pattern which promotes good health is an essential part of religion. Knowing that God our Creator by His love redeems and sustains us, we can be sure He would not withhold from us anything which would contribute to our health and happiness. Now as we consider vivid scientific evidence on the relationship between smoking and health we will discover it leads to an encounter with a destroying force that must be admitted as "wrong," not arbitrarily so, but wrong because it may cruelly limit the physical and moral health and happiness God wishes you to enjoy.
3. The "entering wedge" will ever avoid the effect of separating the listener's thinking and interest from the God of science to the glorification of man's inquiry into science. The basic harmony of scientific and religious truth will be illustrated in convincing and appealing ways. Likewise the minister will not aimlessly wave the "right arm" as merely an attractive special feature of the church body. Rather he will encourage and cooperate in its function as a creative and healing agency of the Holy Spirit in the church.
4. As the doctor through his close professional contact with the personal needs of those for whom he ministers has the opportunity, he will utilize his privileged relationship to instruct his patients that the ultimate dependence must be placed upon God. Through maintaining the essential unity in service of minister and doctor success in soul winning is made possible. Such ministry results in the ideal restoration of harmony in body, mind, and spirit and leads the longing heart of man to the loving heart of God.
"We must reject fully and finally the cult of self-congratulation." These words form the central theme of an article that recently claimed the writer's attention. Between self-congratulation and divine optimism there is a thin line drawn. The basis of the former is self-satisfaction, whereas the latter is rooted in Heaven-inspired courage.
Both attitudes have one thing in common. There is a degree of satisfaction inherent in each. This, to the unwatchful, can be deceptive. However, detection is not impossible.
If that satisfied feeling implies that its possessor is rich, having need of nothing; if he believes that since God is in His heaven all is right with the church and the world; if stagnation is viewed as steadfastness, and sin is condoned or overlooked for fear of "rocking the boat"; if progress is viewed as attainment, and statistics as tranquilizers, our subject has indeed joined the cursed cult of self-congratulation.
However, if progress encourages us, however little, is this sin? Was Israel wrong to sing her song of victory when Pharaoh drowned in the sea? Admittedly they were a long way from Canaan but the blessings of God made the blistering sands of the desert more bearable. There are those who would make gods of sackcloth and garlands of ashes. There is power in positive thinking. We may escape humanism—but not being human. "Rejoice evermore" is a hollow injunction without something to rejoice for. However, let us get under the load and produce sufficient cause for added celebration.
E. E. C.