WE MUST ever be conscious that our commission is to "preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). We are not simply another denomination competing for members. The justification for the existence of this movement is the preaching of the last-day message in a gospel outreach designed to reach all men every where. Our world organization is structured with this goal in mind. From the General Conference to the local conference we carefully define areas of responsibility. Specific persons have individual responsibility for specific geographic areas.
It seems strange that this plan of territorial assignment breaks down at the local church level the very area where great efficiency is needed if "every creature" is to hear the message. We are faced with a situation at the local church level similar to what we might expect in a local conference if the president failed to as sign specific territorial responsibility to the ministers.
Two possible objections to the foregoing comparison come to mind. The church member is not paid a salary by the church, there fore the pastor might hesitate to delegate specific duties to him, and in most cases the church member has not been trained to do this kind of work. Both objections are answered by one brief statement from the Spirit of Prophecy: "God expects His church to discipline and fit its members for the work of enlightening the world. . . . There should be no delay in this well-planned effort to educate the church members." --Christian Service, p. 58.
For a long time we have admonished our people with generalizations. That which is needed now is not exhortation, but specific assignment of soul-winning responsibility. There is also a need for on-the-job training to equip our members to fulfill their assignments. Another great need is that of adequate supervision to perpetuate a lay witness program.
Our growth rate can be greatly increased if we remove witnessing from the area of competition with a multitude of other activities and give it the priority it deserves and must have before our mission can be accomplished.
Anyone who has engaged in house-to-house visitation knows that a percentage of people in any area will respond favorably to a religious visit. Wherever we have members they may claim the promise: "My brethren and sisters, there are souls in your neighborhood who, if they were judiciously labored for, would be converted." -Evangelism, p. 114.
The rapid growth of the Latter-day Saints and the Jehovah's Witnesses demonstrates that there are people to be won if we will go out searching for them. In many instances it is a case of who gets there first that decides which group will win the new converts.
Essential to the success of Christian mission is the concept that we are born again to reproduce spiritually.
Witnessing must be engaged in upon a regular basis. It cannot be left to convenience. Sabbath school meets each week at a specific time on a specific day. Ingathering bands meet at a specified time and location. By contrast, witnessing is usually done (or in most cases, not done) on the basis of convenience.
It would seem that our denominational soul-winning program would be greatly strengthened if one day a week were to be set aside for witnessing. What a wonderful thing it would be if there could be witnessing bands going out from every one of our churches on one afternoon and/or evening each week. The result would be an inspiring and productive concerted drive, and a by-product would be more spontaneous witnessing at other times.
Among factors that might be listed as being essential to the success of the soul-winning program of the church are:
1. An individual conversion experience on the part of potential witnesses.
2. A recognition of the command to witness as being on a par with other divine commandments.
3. Provision of on-the-job training in the art of witnessing to all church members from the time they affiliate with the church.
4. Delegation of responsibility by the pastor to members.
5. The assignment of specific territory to each able church member.
6. The implementation of a plan to reach every home at least once a year, and where possible, once a quarter.
7. A master plan for coordinating all the soul-winning programs of the church.
8. A ceiling of 300 on the membership of a local church. In the plant and animal kingdoms growth takes place by cell division. When a cell reaches a certain size it divides and growth is potentially doubled. Experience has demonstrated that this natural principle also works in the growth of Christian congregations. When the individual congregational cell is kept by the process of cell division from getting excessively large there is increased vitality, improved health, and more rapid growth.