IN OUR work of evangelism we find that 10 to 60 percent of the audience are not members of our church. But out of this percentage of nonmembers attending, usually 85 to 95 percent have had no previous contact with our church or its members. They come in response to the advertising. While we are elated that we have discovered a means of advertising that attracts a good number of new people to our message, we have also been disturbed that we have not found a larger percentage of our audience comprised of individuals who have already had the seeds of truth sown and are ripe for the harvest.
Alone with other evangelists we find that people who have had some personal contact, involvement, and friendship with some one in our church are more apt to take their stand for truth. This has deeply impressed me anew with the urgent need of harnessing the power of our church membership for our evangelistic outreach.
The Lord requires that far greater personal effort shall be put forth by the members of our (churches. . . . The Master has appointed unto every man his work. There are visits to be made, there is praying to be done, then; is sympathy to be imparted; and the piety--the heart and hand—of the whole church is to be employed if. the work is to be accomplished.--Evangelism, p. 113. (Italics supplied.)
Nothing lasting can be accomplished for churches in different places unless they are aroused to feel that a responsibility rests upon them. Every member of the body should feel that the salvation of his own soul depends upon his own individual effort.---Gospel Workers. p. 196.
When we have entire, whole-hearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of His Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God.---Review and Herald, July 21, 1896.
Inspiration Not Enough
On Sabbath morning, months before the opening date of the public meetings, I emphasize the need of our church members to become more actively engaged in personal soul winning. But I have discovered that to inspire our people to witness for Christ is not enough. This must be followed with a specific plan.
Those who have the spiritual oversight of the church should devise ways and means by which an opportunity may be given to every member of the church to act some part in God's work. Too often in the past this has not been done. Plans have not been clearly laid and fully carried out, whereby the talents of all might be employed in active service. There are but few who realize how much has been lost because of this.
The leaders in God's cause, as wise generals,
are to lay plans for advance moves all along the line. In their planning they are to give special study to the work that can be done by the laity for their friends and neighbors. The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work, and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers. Gospel Workers, pp. 351, 352. (Italics supplied.)
Our great need is to have an effective, practical, organized plan employing our church membership as a whole "like a mighty army" to capture souls for Christ. Divine counsel gives us further specific in formation on how this is to be accomplished.
In our churches let companies be formed for service. In the Lord's work there are to be no idlers. Let different ones unite in labor as fishers of men. Let them seek to gather souls from the corruption of the world into the saving purity of Christ's love.
The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort is a plan that has been presented before me by One who cannot err. If there is a large number in the church, let the members be formed into small companies, to work not only for the church members but for unbelievers also. Evangelism, p. 115. (Italics supplied.)
A Definite Plan
So we have devised a plan that seeks to carefully follow this divine counsel. Many months before the public meetings begin, the pastor selects from his congregation individuals with deep spiritual concern and leadership ability. They are to be "group leaders," each responsible for three to five families in the church.
The purpose of this plan is to make con tact with every member, including the weak and indifferent, and incorporate them into a unit of action that will strengthen them spiritually. Also, it is to encourage and help them to reach out for others that need to be led to Christ and His truth.
Each group leader is given a printed folder that contains the following specific instructions:
Dear Group Leader:
Because of your deep spiritual concern and leadership ability, you have been asked to serve in a most important position in organizing the church in its search to discover souls for Christ. You are needed to work closely with three to five families to:
1. Find out from each family the names of people whom they know to be possible interests. Remember: Relatives, friends, and former church members make excellent prospects. Do not pass this up!
2. Information sheets or cards will be supplied to you. Fill out information from your group about these prospects. Fill out as completely as possible. Do not forget people whom you know of yourself. Make a copy of this information for your own reference. The original sheets or cards are to be turned in to the pastor for his interest file.
3. Suggest that the families of your group make a specific prayer list and daily pray for these prospects. The back page of the "Prayer Crusade" folder is for a prayer list. Take enough "Prayer Crusade" folders for each person in your group to have one and go over it in detail with them.
4. Discuss with each family how the interest of these prospects can best be intensified (personal visit, Bible study, et cetera). Urge each family to set an objective of a minimum of two Bible studies each week. Point out that they are the most important link to the people they person ally know. Offer to work with them in contacting and studying with these people.
5. Have prayer with each family. Ask them to pray also. Let this be a prayer of personal consecration as well as a prayer for each possible interest.
6. Meet with each family in your group at least every two weeks. You can have these families meet together at an agreed time and place or continue to visit each separately in their homes. Find out how their personal contacts and Bible studies are going. Have a season of prayer for people on the prayer list. Encourage each one in your group in a positive way.-
7. As the time of the evangelistic meetings draws near, encourage each family in your group to give strong support to the meetings and bring their interests with them.
Meet every four weeks with the pastor to give a progress report of your group and their interests.
Remember that each person in your group is a sacred trust. The success and effectiveness of your unit of action depends upon your faithfulness to carefully and prayerfully lead and work with them week by week. As you do this, you will experience the unequaled joy of claiming souls for God's kingdom.
The pastor is the key in making this plan work. He must continually encourage each group leader to be faithful in carrying out his responsibility. Positive, enthusiastic leadership on the part of the pastor with his group leaders will help them to have the same kind of leadership with their groups.
Where this plan is effectively put into operation, there is a much larger percent age of prepared prospects in the evangelistic audience who are ripe for decision. Thus there is a greater reaping of souls.