Book review: Adventist Evangelistic Preaching
by Russell C. Burrill, Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 2014.
Whether you are a seasoned Adventist evangelist or are preparing for your first evangelistic meeting, Adventist Evangelistic Preaching will be a valuable resource for you.
Adventist evangelist and retired seminary professor Russell Burrill begins his book with a review of preaching in the New Testament. He concludes with saying that all Adventist preachers must be evangelistic preachers; evangelistic preaching should be our highest priority; Jesus, our Redeemer, must be the center of our evangelistic preaching; and Adventist evangelistic preaching should include a focus on the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation.
The chapters that follow provide some practical instruction for effective evangelism. For example, how do you design the order of presentations for your evangelistic series? Burrill maintains that “one of the unique characteristics of the Adventist message is that all parts fit together in a harmonious whole” (45).
The author lists 26 subjects that he believes should be presented before a person joins the Seventh-day Adventist Church (46, 47). While we might debate what subjects should be included on this list, we would all agree that the order of presentations is vitally important. Burrill shares his own recommended order at the conclusion of the chapter “Developing a Logical Progression of Subjects” (70, 71). He maintains, “Adventism is a very logical religion. Our theological system has been well thought through. Each part fits with the other parts. Adventism is also very biblical, and this biblical, logical presentation is what is unique about our evangelistic messages” (103).
When developing the order of evangelistic presentations, the author encourages the evangelistic preacher to follow the Three Cs of evangelism: Christ, Commandments, and Church. Do not try to convince people to keep the commandments or join the church before you have introduced them to a life-changing relationship with Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord.
Burrill reminds us of Ellen G. White’s quote regarding our public proclamation: “Of all professing Christians, Seventh-day Adventists should be foremost in uplifting Christ before the world. The proclamation of the third angel’s message calls for the presentation of the Sabbath truth. This truth, with others included in the message, is to be proclaimed; but the great center of attraction, Christ Jesus, must not be left out. It is at the cross of Christ that mercy and truth meet together, and righteousness and peace kill each other. The sinner must be led to look to Calvary; with the simple faith of a little child he must trust in the merits of the Saviour, accepting His righteousness, believing in His mercy.”*
Burrill also gives practical instruction regarding the preparation and delivery of evangelistic sermons. Every evangelistic sermon, whether thematic or expository, needs to present a single idea—what Burrill calls “a theme sentence.” That single dominant idea should be developed in a logical way. Of particular interest is the author’s chapter titled “Appeals for Decisions.” He describes three types of appeals: general appeals, specific appeals, and altar calls.
The author notes that “appeals may be frightening and may make an evangelist nervous because the results are out of the evangelist’s control. But the people who attend the series are in the hands of God, and the Holy Spirit is working with them. . . . We must trust Him to do as He has promised, and we must prepare ourselves to welcome those in whom the Holy Spirit is working as we appeal to people in God’s powerful name” (117, 118).
The back cover of Adventist Evangelistic Preaching includes this bold assertion: “This book belongs on your bookshelf.” I wholeheartedly agree.
—Reviewed by Derek J. Morris, DMin, editor, Ministry.
* Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1948), 156, 157.
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