Harnessing the Church

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. . .

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 handof 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.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

October 1971

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

A Message to the President

This letter was written by Ellen G. White from North Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia, September 20, 1892, to Elder O. A. Olsen, president of the General Conference. Its appropriateness to our own day leads us to share it with our MINISTRY readers.

My Testimony

I HAVE fully resigned myself to nothing because I have been nothing, because I have made nothing, and because I shall be nothing. Past struggles have proved me incapable of wresting aside the hands of fate. Those transformations that I would have wrought in those about me have not appeared. Thus, on every side life has shown herself my master. I could not turn the course of history in my environment. . .

Why Be An Ordinary Preacher?

THE center of worship in the Seventh-day Adventist Church service is the pulpit. The climax or disappointment for the faithful tens of thousands who attend a multitude of sanctuaries on Sabbath morning is the pastoral exhortation. No single hour of the minister's week is so impregnated with opportunities. . .

Make Room for Personal Visitation

MY PASTOR and I have recently made some visits in the homes of our members," the first elder of one of our large churches wrote to me recently, "and I find that our people are literally starving to death for the kindly visit from the shepherd of the flock."

Write Simply

IT IS not easy to write simply; in fact, it is more difficult to be simple in communicating than to be complex. But the most effective writing is simple writing. Witness the success of Reader's Digest, a good example of simple writing. . .

The Reading of the Scriptures

IN ADDITION to the pastoral prayer, an other very important part of the Sabbath worship service usually conducted by the local elder is the public reading of the Scriptures. This assignment is not to be taken lightly nor entered into without much prayer and preparation. . .

Seminary '71

None of us taking notes that March day during the first class of the spring quarter, 1971, had any illusions that this class in Christology would be a push-over. We would have to produce read, assimilate, reproduce facts and ideas and more: "Gentlemen, if you give me back, in perfect form, exactly what I have given you, you will receive a B for the course; but if you want an A you must give me more than I have given you. You must study beyond the boundaries and enrich your answers!"

Wanted: Real Live Missionaries

NO DOUBT you remember being in the junior tent at camp meeting when the leader said: "Boys and girls, this morning we are going to have a story from a real live missionary!" "Live" missionaries who remain in the field of service know the vital importance of good health. Physically, mentally, and spiritually they must stay alive if they are to effectively witness for Christ. . .

The Figurative Language of the Bible

ONE evening after I had finished preaching on "Heaven" a man came up to me with the challenge, "Apparently you are not aware that there is no such place as a heaven, and the texts you have just finished reading are nothing more than mere figurative expressions."

It All Started With a Woman

I'M EMBARRASSED. I really am. At the moment I am so emotionally involved with this subject, I just hope the message comes through clearly. I have reason to be concerned--there are four girls ranging from age 11 through 18 in our home, three daughters and my younger sister whom we are educating. The matter of dress had never caused any more than a ripple in our lives until the older girls reached their teens. If I had known what I know now, it would have received more attention. . .

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - SermonView - WideSkyscraper (160x600)