Mission 73

North American Division is now five months into exciting MISSION '73. We have embarked this year with serious purpose on the difficult course of reordering our priorities. For 128 years the North American church has depended almost entirely upon its ministry for its evangelistic out reach. In 1973 we have set about, under God, to change this. In administrative councils across North America, this decision was made and the course set for the first time in the history of our division. . .

-Associate Editor of Ministry at the time this article was written

North American Division is now five months into exciting MISSION '73. We have embarked this year with serious purpose on the difficult course of reordering our priorities. For 128 years the North American church has depended almost entirely upon its ministry for its evangelistic out reach. In 1973 we have set about, under God, to change this. In administrative councils across North America, this decision was made and the course set for the first time in the history of our division. Administration and the departmental interests of the church have united in this solemn purpose. The going is likely to be hard and slow, for it is not easy to educate a church that has been lay-indolent for over a hundred years and revive it in a brief few months, but this we have set our hearts to do by the grace of God.

We began this effort on a spiritual note. Seven-hour prayer meetings were scheduled throughout North America, and reports trickling into Washington indicate that the great majority of our churches and memberships participated. Word has reached us from specific churches of a revival of true godliness in congregations across this land. Some churches had an all-night prayer meeting. What a blessing for the whole continent to be breathing spiritually together, for "prayer is the breath of the soul."

Every-Member Enlistment These prayer services were followed by a nationwide enlistment plan. Evidence accumulated so far indicates a 70 percent enlistment of the total North American membership. Opportunity was given for individuals to select their own form of contact witnessing. In this we are working in harmony with the law of diversity, which says that people of differing capabilities must be provided opportunity to exercise those individualities in a soul-winning process that harmonizes with their capacity.

In phase 3 of the 1973 operation, whole unions staged giant lay-enlistment training rallies. Here the people were re-enlisted, inspired, and taught the divine art of soul winning and sent on their way. The conferences fol lowed suit and in one conference alone eight lay-witnessing rallies were held between January and March. One conference is focusing on literature distribution and giving Bible studies as their project. The office staff has pledged an average of eight hours a week for Bible studies. The district pastors have pledged an average of fifteen hours a week for giving Bible studies. Conference presidents are planning evangelistic campaigns. Twenty-five members of the General Conference staff have committed themselves to hold public campaigns within the year.

A Baptism Every Month

I was in a conference workers' meeting via telephone on a recent Saturday evening and the workers reported 120 baptisms, most of which occurred in the month of March.

The MISSION '73 Committee recommended "a baptism a month" in every district. Many pastors have gone on this plan. I was present in the North Shore Seventh-day Adventist church in Chicago when fifteen persons were baptized for the month of February. The pastor informed that he had already baptized nine in January. This church has a strong lay program. Things are moving ahead!

In one Southeastern California church thirty-eight members are giving Bible studies on a weekly basis. Six laymen from one Los Angeles church have already engaged six school auditoriums for lay efforts this summer. In Pine Bluff, Arkansas, an 88-year-old layman has already led twelve persons into the water in baptism. "They call me the sheriff," he told me, "because when some of the others can't persuade them, they send for me, and, under God, I bring them in." The pastor of that district reports twenty persons baptized already and informs me that six more will soon be ready for baptism.

We are now in phase five of the MISSION '73 operation. Short campaigns will be held in most of the major churches in North America. The Michigan Conference planned fifty campaigns for spring. The South Atlantic conference scheduled forty-four. That does not include the big summer and fall thrust. Conference administrators have authorized for 1973 the largest number of public evangelistic meetings ever held in our history.

Formula for Revival

Combine this with the feverish activity of our laymen in personal soul-winning endeavors, and you have the formula for the out pouring of the Holy Spirit and the revival of this church. What an exciting hunting season, for God has made us fishers of men, not keepers of the aquariums. Our primary target should be:

1. Former members.

2. Close friends of Seventh-day Adventists.

3. People who have taken our Bible courses or who have been studied with by colporteurs.

4. The general public.

The Sabbath school class has been designated as our basic evangelistic unit. Sabbath school teachers must become missionary-minded. The students in their classes must each become an evangelist on his own passing out literature, giving Bible studies, signing people up for our Bible courses, selling literature, or any of the other fifteen witnessing methods listed on our enlistment card.

The North American church must be converted into an aggressive force rather than an occupying army, and the song that we so often sing must be true of us in North America, "Like a mighty army Moves the church of God." We must demonstrate, in North America, that our material affluence is not a natural enemy of our deepening spirituality or evangelistic effectiveness, but that wealth may indeed augment all of these.

Seven-Hour Prayer Meetings

God has bestowed upon us His blessings. We must not allow Satan to use them to curse us. We must employ every means at our disposal and every legitimate method to make contact with the unsaved and to warn them of the soon coming of the Saviour. The MISSION '73 Committee, in its wisdom, has voted that at the beginning of phase 7, the Fall Week of Prayer, we will have another seven-hour prayer meeting to begin that week of spiritual emphasis, followed by a second one at the beginning of the year. In short, we plan, across North America, two seven-hour prayer meetings. We realize that spiritual renewal is the greatest need of the church today and that a church on its knees is nearest to the throne of God.

As we move into the future, let us move assured that we are fol lowing the divine blueprint and that no program devised by man can improve on the wisdom of God.

In the days ahead there may be variations on this theme but the basics must always be there. We are in this program until the coming of Christ full lay participation and the ministry of the Word to complement the evangelistic endeavors of the pastor. In short, we are seeking corporate productivity. This, in a sense, will heal much of the backsliding going on in our ranks, for a people who are working in the church and for the church will find it difficult to leave the church. Our people must become emotionally involved with our movement, message, and mission. This can only be so when they are enlisted, trained, and employed. To this high and holy purpose the North American Division has dedicated itself, and we will succeed, so help us God!

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-Associate Editor of Ministry at the time this article was written

June 1973

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