MISSION 72! By now these words should send a thrill through our souls every time they appear. Although in the formative stage it was referred to as Evangelism 72, the official term has since become MISSION 72. The plan, with its details developed by representative committees, has now been presented to administrative groups, to workers' gatherings, and to many laymen. Pastors have had the opportunity to speak of MISSION 72 to their churches. The Review and Herald and other publications have brought it to the attention of our people.
The response has been positively inspiring. From the day the plan was first en visioned there has been marked evidence of the Lord's leading. For this we give Him praise! Many examples of this could be cited, one being the enthusiasm with which every department of the General Conference entered into the spirit of the program and their readiness to lay aside or modify particular programs so that the greater objectives might be realized.
Also, in materials already in the planning stage it was more than coincidental that in several instances these were such as to fit perfectly into the very pattern required. Notable examples of this relate to the nature of the Sabbath school lessons for the past two quarters and those to fol low; also a series of tracts to be developed for the preparation of the field for the public thrust to begin March 4, 1972.
A most notable illustration of the over ruling providence of God in this venture was the designation of 1971 as THE YEAR OF THE LAYMAN, an action taken months before MISSION 72 was envisioned. The success of such a major venture as the 72 thrust encompasses lies first in the recognition of the important place that the layman must fill in such a program. This involves enlisting them for greater involvement, training them for more effective service, and uniting more fully in a team relation ship with the ministry in the work of soul-saving. This is exactly what Laymen's Year is designed to accomplish.
MISSION 72 also presupposes a vast amount of both seed sowing and nurturing of interests. This calls for a wider distribution of Christ-centered, problem-orientated, message-filled literature than ever before attempted. It calls for a maximum use of the Gift Bible Plan. It means utilizing to the fullest every possible means of communicating the gospel and arousing interest in the message that is to prepare a people for the return of our Lord. It means a tremendous increase in the number of names in the prospect file of every church. And it necessitates the faithful fostering of these interests. Over-all, it calls for the creation of such an image of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that people everywhere will want to listen to what we have to say.
This is a big order. Yet this is what THE YEAR OF THE LAYMAN is to accomplish. 1971 is as important to the success of MISSION '72 as is the public campaign itself. Every wise pastor will capitalize on the added incentive of all-out lay involvement that Laymen's Year affords.
Recognizing the importance of Laymen's Year and its unique relationship to MISSION '72, we are presenting in this issue of THE MINISTRY several articles that will be particularly helpful. Included are two articles written by consecrated laymen offering helpful suggestions on layman-pastor relationships. We ought to be listening to the layman more than we do, if we are really to enjoy the team experience that we covet.
An important part of MISSION '72 will be the working kit to be placed in the hands of every minister or layman who will be leading out in a public campaign. This attractive package will include count down instructions from preparation of the church and the field to the important work of follow-up; a series of preparatory tracts for mass distribution preceding the campaign, guidelines and materials for a special week of revival meetings to precede the public series, sample advertising pieces, suggestions for the use of radio and TV, and suggestive titles and outlines for the public series including printed summaries of the messages to be given out at the close of each meeting.
The need of professional assistance in the preparation of these materials was evident. We have been very fortunate to secure such assistance from one of the nation's top advertising agencies, an agency whose president and major stock holder is a consecrated Seventh-day Adventist layman, Paul Nelson, of Glendale, California.
From his experience in dealing with the public mind, Mr. Nelson has come up with striking features that we are confident will arouse the interest of many heretofore untouched by our message. He has been working in close conjunction with the committee on promotion and materials, and the artistic and provocative creations have met with unanimous endorsement. You too will be pleased as the finished work is placed in your hands.
As indicated previously, every department of the church is cooperating in the preparation of the materials and in the development of the total program. We are confident that this same spirit of unity will be constantly evident at every level of our organization from the General Conference through the union and local conferences and in every church.
Surely the time has come for the Seventh-day Adventist Church to make a major impact on the vast population of the earth. As independent churches, each left to develop and conduct its own little program, this is impossible. But in the cooperative effort of all churches, conferences, and institutions, using the advantages of mass printings, national advertising media, and more important than all, the combined witness of every Seventh-day Adventist minister and layman, young and old, we may expect tremendous results.
The plans for Laymen's Year and MISSION 72 have grown out of much prayer, wide counsel, and a most earnest desire to develop what will captivate and arouse the interest and active participation of the entire church far beyond anything hitherto experienced. Let us not measure the future by the past. Never has any program approaching the magnitude of these objectives, and involving such all-out participation at every level, even been suggested. This is indeed the biggest challenge and greatest opportunity that has ever come to our church. It is hoped that none will take it lightly, or ignore the tremendous opportunity it affords.
As the theme United in Hope and in Service, bathed in the power of the Holy Spirit, becomes a reality in 1971 the results we seek in MISSION '72 and in a finished work, will surely be realized.