HOW often we have received the names of Voice of Prophecy or Faith for Today interests with a feeling of reluctance. Too often the initial visit hasn't paid off as much as had been hoped.
When I first started in the ministry I left many a home wondering, after having driven a hundred miles, whether it was worth it. At least, now I could fill out the interest sheet and send it back to my conference president, my conscience clear as a faithful worker.
But I didn't baptize many such interests and I began to wonder why. Then several facts confronted me: (1) I knew the student had studied Biblical Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, including the seventh-day Sabbath. (2) That cold feeling that I was a stranger needed to be melted away. (3) Ties with old established churches are not easily dissolved, especially by strangers.
The simple plan that came to mind has resulted in the harvest of 95 per cent or more Bible correspondent students since then. These interests have now become exciting prospects. Now, when receiving a name, along with a card of introduction, I take right along with me a gift Bible and the first two lessons of the gift Bible program. At the door I show the introduction card, suggest right away that I haven't time to come in, but that I know since he has enjoyed the correspondence lessons he will be delighted with the free gift Bible and lessons. I tuck the Bible and lessons into his hands, and tell him I will be back in two weeks to see how he enjoyed the lessons, and to leave him two more.
By leaving the Bible and first two lessons, I now have accomplished all I want to do at this moment. I haven't pressed him with questions that would ruin my chances for leaving the gift Bible. I am quite sure when he has looked the Bible and lessons over for two weeks he will like what he sees. I know he has taken a correspondence course and so has a good back ground.
At the first visit the Sabbath question isn't important, nor is having audible prayer with him. What is all important is that a Bible and the first two lessons are left and that I smile and quickly leave. He hasn't said No. I haven't said too much and the door is open for me to come again. I have told him I will be back in two weeks. On the second visit I may merely exchange the lessons at the door, warm up to him a little more, and then I am on my way.
Usually by the third visit he has persuaded me to come in. We are becoming friends. Soon opportunity opens up for prayer. He no longer runs to others for help with his questions but is turning to me, for he is learning to trust me person ally and Biblically. Now when the Sabbath question comes up there are no barriers, only warmth and trust. Together we turn the pages of Scripture as I show him the example and loving commands of the Saviour. Now the decision for baptism comes easily. It's hard for a Christian to say No to Jesus, especially when a friend is gently urging him to decide.
The busy pastor who does not have time to make these interest calls or follow them up can easily present this simple plan to willing, tactful laymen with the same results. The all-important thing is making that first visit count by opening the way for further contacts.