Pastor's Pastor

I believe in literature evangelism

Literature evangelism really works!

James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

I believe in literature ministry. I've served as a literature evangelist (LE), presented training classes and motivational seminars for LEs, and worked closely with LEs in pastoral and evangelistic work. In fact, I never want to begin an evangelistic series in a city without having a team of LEs preceding me there with literature. I also believe every pastoral candidate should have LE experience as a prerequisite.

We pastors need to reaffirm the value of "bookwork" and rebuild confidence in this vital ministry. In many countries literature evangelists are the only Adventist groups who still knock on doors and visit homes in a systematic way. Although their work hours are long and arduous and their financial reward is limited, most LEs maintain that soul winning is their goal and real reward.

Why do I believe in literature evangelism? Primarily because it is an excellent example of global mission. Every time they enter a home, LEs are reaching an unentered territory. Not only do they sell books to families, but they pray in homes they visit, en roll their contacts in correspondence study courses, give Bible studies, bring interested contacts to evangelistic meetings and church services, and lead souls to Jesus and His church. LEs serve as pastoral associates to make the whole church more effective. The least we pastors can do is make their work more productive. Here's how:

Value LEs. Their work is spiritual. The books they place in homes have power to direct families to the cross. Countless stories abound of those who have come to a relationship with Jesus and His church by first reading a book sold by an LE. Furthermore, the fruit of their ministry is ongoing. Some respond immediately to what they read. In others, a spiritual seed is planted that matures over a period of years.

Recruit LEs. Ask your conference publishing director to help you find and train a LE for your church. Not everyone is called to literature ministry and not everyone has the basic skills to meet the public. Talk about literature ministry as a viable option to selling cars or real estate. In virtually every district there are some whose spiritual maturity and innate people skills make them potential candidates. Target such individuals and encourage them to consider that God might use their talents in literature ministry.

Pray with LEs. Plan your schedule so that at least once each week you can meet and pray with those whose work is directly contacting the public. LEs pray with dozens of people daily, but they may seldom hear their name lifted to the heavenly throne unless their pastor seeks opportunities for spiritual fellowship. Show interest in their work. Inquire how their work is progressing.

Refer friends. Pastors contact many individuals who would readily respond to an LE's visit. The success of Christian bookstores demonstrates the public's interest. Our books and magazines are of the finest quality and easily attract the interest of those who see them. Don't hesitate to suggest to those you meet that you have a friend who can help them find meaningful spiritual answers. Offer to facilitate an appointment between your contacts and the colporteur. You will reap the results of your referrals by those who begin to attend your church.

Support LEs. Plan your church's budget to include funds for magazines and small books that LEs can give to those who do not purchase books on an initial visit. I know one church family that provides the gasoline for their LE to travel to various appointments. In another church, members distribute cards and brochures that provide sales leads for their LE. They keep their LE busy meeting people in their homes by doing much of the promotional work in his behalf. This is their missionary service.

Encourage your members to read. Far too many of our people lack spiritual reading materials in their homes. Promote our evangelistic magazines and show your own enthusiasm for our books in your sermons. For example, Ellen White's Conflict of the Ages series should be in every Adventist home. As you prepare converts for baptism, teach them how to establish family worship. Instruct them to develop a personal spiritual library. Suggest that your resident LE can benefit their spiritual growth.

Credit success. When someone is baptized as a result of an LE's ministry, invite the LE to introduce the new member or to participate in a meaningful way in welcoming the convert to the church family. Your public affirmation of LEs will build confidence in literature work in the minds of your parishioners and they will enthusiastically support what you affirm.

I believe in the literature work be cause my LE partners have made my own ministry more effective. You too can experience that!

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James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

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