Reaching Large Congregations. --We should make efforts to call together large congregations to hear the words of the gospel minister. And those who preach the Word of the Lord should speak the truth. They should bring their hearers, as it were, to the foot of Sinai, to listen to the words spoken by God amid scenes of awful grandeur.-- Letter 187, 1903.
Give the Trumpet a Certain Sound. --Those who present the truth are to enter into no controversy. They are to preach the gospel with such faith and earnestness that an interest will be awakened. By the words they speak, the prayers they offer, the influence they exert, they are to sow seeds that will bear fruit to the glory of God. There is to be no wavering. The trumpet is to give a certain sound. The attention of the people is to be called to the third angel's message. Let not God's servants act like men walking in their sleep, but like men preparing for the coming of Christ.-- Review and Herald, March 2, 1905.
Proclamation of Truth Our Work. --In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light-bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import,--the proclamation of the first, second,
and third angels' messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention.
The most solemn truths ever entrusted to mortals have been given us to proclaim to the world. The proclamation of these truths is to be our work. The world is to be warned, and God's people are to be true to the trust committed to them. . . .
Shall we wait until God's judgments fall upon the transgressor before we tell him how to avoid them? Where is our faith in the Word of God? Must we see things foretold come to pass before we will believe what He has said? In clear, distinct rays light has come to us, showing us that the great day of the Lord is near at hand, "even at the door."-- Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 19, 20. (1909)
Not to Miss the Mark. --There must be no time uselessly employed in this great work. We must not miss the mark. Time is too short for us to undertake to reveal all that might be opened up to view. Eternity will be required that we may know all the length and breadth, the height and depth, of the Scriptures. . . .
To the apostle John, on the Isle of Patmos, were revealed the things that God desired him to give to the people. Study these revelations. Here are themes worthy of our contemplation, large and comprehensive lessons, which all the angelic hosts are now seeking to communicate. Behold the life and character of Christ, and study His mediatorial work. Here are infinite wisdom, infinite love, infinite justice, infinite mercy. Here are depths and heights, lengths and breadths, for our consideration. Numberless pens have been employed in presenting to the world the life, the character, and the mediatorial work of Christ; yet every mind through whom the Holy Spirit has
worked has presented these themes in a light that is fresh and new, according to the mind and spirit of the human agent. . . .
We want the truth as it is in Jesus; for we desire to make the people understand what Christ is to them, and what the responsibilities are that they are called upon to accept in Him. As His representatives and witnesses, we need to come to a full understanding of the saving truths attained by an experimental knowledge. -- Review and Herald, April 4, 1899.
Emphasize Special Truths. --We are under obligation to declare faithfully the whole counsel of God. We are not to make less prominent the special truths that have separated us from the world, and made us what we are; for they are fraught with eternal interests. God has given us light in regard to the things that are now taking place in the last remnant of time, and with pen and voice we are to proclaim the truth to the world, not in a tame, spiritless way, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power of God.-- Testimonies to Ministers, p. 470. (1890)
A Seventh-day Adventist Message. --At this time, when we are so near the end, shall we become so like the world in practice that men may look in vain to find God's denominated people? Shall any man sell our peculiar characteristics as God's chosen people for any advantage the world has to give? Shall the favour of those who transgress the law of God be looked upon as of great value? Shall those whom the Lord has named His people suppose that there is any power higher than the great I Am? Shall we endeavour to blot out the distinguishing points of faith that have made us Seventh-day Adventists?
Our only safety is in standing constantly in the light of God's countenance.-- Manuscript 84, 1905.
A Cheerful Present-Truth Message. --Now, just now, we are to proclaim present truth, with assurance and with power. Do not strike one dolorous note; do not sing funeral hymns.-- Letter 311, 1905.
Convinced by the Weight of Evidence. --God is presenting to the minds of men divinely appointed precious gems of truth, appropriate for our time. God has rescued these truths from the companionship of error, and has placed them in their proper frame-work. When these truths are given their rightful position in God's great plan, when they are presented intelligently and earnestly, and with reverential awe, by the Lord's servants, many will conscientiously believe because of the weight of evidence, without waiting for every supposed difficulty which may suggest itself to their minds, to be removed.-- Manuscript 8a, 1888.
Arresting Public Attention
By Extraordinary Methods. --In the cities of today, where there is so much to attract and please, the people can be interested by no ordinary efforts. Ministers of God's appointment will find it necessary to put forth extraordinary efforts in order to arrest the attention of the multitudes. And when they succeed in bringing together a large number of people, they must bear messages of a character so out of the usual order that the people will be aroused and warned. They must make use of every means that can possibly be devised for causing the truth to stand out clearly and distinctly.-- Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 109. (1909)
Devise New and Unusual Plans. --Let every worker in the Master's vineyard, study, plan, devise methods,
to reach the people where they are. We must do something out of the common course of things. We must arrest the attention. We must be deadly in earnest. We are on the very verge of times of trouble and perplexities that are scarcely dreamed of.-- Letter 20, 1893.
Christ Used Various Methods. --From Christ's methods of labour we may learn many valuable lessons. He did not follow merely one method; in various ways He sought to gain the attention of the multitude; and then He proclaimed to them the truths of the gospel.-- Review and Herald, Jan. 17, 1907.
Simple Sincerity Attracted Large Numbers. --His messages of mercy were varied to suit His audience. He knew "how to speak a word in season to him that is weary"; for grace was poured upon His lips, that He might convey to men in the most attractive way the treasures of truth. He had tact to meet the prejudiced minds, and surprise them with illustrations that won their attention. Through the imagination He reached the heart. His illustrations were taken from the things of daily life, and although they were simple, they had in them a wonderful depth of meaning. The birds of the air, the lilies of the field, the seed, the shepherd and the sheep,--with these objects Christ illustrated immortal truth; and ever afterward, when His hearers chanced to see these things of nature, they recalled His words. Christ's illustrations constantly repeated His lessons.
Christ never flattered men. He never spoke that which would exalt their fancies and imaginations, nor did He praise them for their clever inventions; but deep, unprejudiced thinkers received His teaching, and found that it tested their wisdom. They marvelled at the spiritual truth expressed in the
simplest language. The most highly educated were charmed with His words, and the uneducated were always profited. He had a message for the illiterate; and He made even the heathen to understand that He had a message for them.
His tender compassion fell with a touch of healing upon weary and troubled hearts. Even amid the turbulence of angry enemies He was surrounded with an atmosphere of peace. The beauty of His countenance, the loveliness of His character, above all, the love expressed in look and tone, drew to Him all who were not hardened in unbelief. Had it not been for the sweet, sympathetic spirit that shone out in every look and word, He would not have attracted the large congregations that He did. The afflicted ones who came to Him, felt that He linked His interest with theirs as a faithful and tender friend, and they desired to know more of the truths He taught. Heaven was brought near. They longed to abide in His presence, that the comfort of His love might be with them continually.-- The Desire of Ages, p. 254. (1898)
Attracting and Holding Large Numbers. --Those who will study the manner of Christ's teaching, and educate themselves to follow His way, will attract and hold large numbers now, as Christ held the people in His day. . . . When the truth in its practical character is urged upon the people because you love them, souls will be convicted, because the Holy Spirit of God will impress their hearts.
Arm yourselves with humility; pray that angels of God may come close to your side to impress the mind; for it is not you that work the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit must work you. It is the Holy Spirit that makes the truth impressive. Keep practical truth ever before the people.-- Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 57. (1900) 125
Advantage of Surprise Approach in Some Places. -- Light was given me by the Lord that it was not the best plan to make a display of what we were going to do; for just as soon as our intentions were made known, our enemies would be roused to block the way. Ministers would be called into the field to resist the message of truth. Warnings from the pulpit would be given to the congregations, . . . telling them the things that the Adventists designed to do.
From the light given me by the Lord, I have a warning to present to our brethren. Do not wise generals keep their movements strictly secret, lest the enemy shall learn their plans, and work to counteract them? If the enemy has no knowledge of their movements, they have an advantage.
We are to study the field carefully and are not to think that we must follow the same methods in every place. If we move wisely, without one tinge of boasting, without stopping to challenge the enemy, if we advance one line of truth after another, crowding in the most important and soul-testing [truths], the Lord will take care of the result. . . .
Wait; pitch the tents when the time for camp meeting comes. Put them up rapidly, and then give notice of the meetings. Whatever may have been your former practice, it is not necessary to repeat it again and again in the same way. God would have new and untried methods followed. Break in upon the people-- surprise them.-- Manuscript 121, 1897.
Tactful Methods, Not Deception. --You need not feel that all the truth is to be spoken to unbelievers on any and every occasion. You should plan carefully what to say and what to leave unsaid. This is not practising deception; it is to work as Paul worked. He says, "Being crafty, I caught you with guile."
You must vary your labour, and not have one way which you think must be followed at all times and in all places. Your ways may seem to you a success, but if you used more tact, more of the wisdom of the serpent, you would have seen much more real results of your work.-- Letter 12, 1887.
Poor Hall Advertises Defeat. --I am convinced that we might have had a good hearing if our brethren had secured a suitable hall to accommodate the people. But they did not expect much, and therefore did not receive much. We cannot expect people to come out to hear unpopular truth when the meetings are advertised to be held in a basement, or in a small hall that will seat only a hundred persons. . . . By their lack of faith our labourers sometimes make the work very hard for themselves.-- Historical Sketches, p. 200. (1886)
In God's Own Way. --It is not by outward display that men and women are to learn what is comprehended by present truth. Our workers are to practice strict economy. God forbids all extravagance. Every dollar at our command is to be expended with economy. No great display is to be made. God's money is to be used to carry forward in His own way the work that He has declared must be done in our world. -- Letter 107, 1905.
Display Is Poor Advertising. --The large cities are to be warned, but, my brother, not all the methods that you follow in this work are right. You think that you are at liberty to spend all the money that you please to gain the attention of the people. But remember that in the Lord's vineyard there are many, many places to be worked, and that every dollar is needed.
God is not pleased by your large outlay of means to advertise your meetings, and by the display made in other features of your work. The display is out of harmony with the principles of the Word of God. He is dishonoured by your expensive preparations. At times you do that which is represented to me as the shredding of wild gourds into the pot. This display makes the truth taste too strongly of the dish. Man is exalted. The truth is not advanced, but hindered. Sensible men and women can see that the theatrical performances are not in harmony with the solemn message that you bear.-- Letter 190, 1902.
Disappointing Results From Expensive Methods. -- Cut down the expense of advertising your meetings, and if a large amount of money is given in the collections made at the meeting, use this money to carry on your efforts in new places.
Do not hire worldly musicians if this can possibly be avoided. Gather together singers who will sing with the spirit and with the understanding also. The extra display which you sometimes make entails unnecessary expense, which the brethren should not be asked to meet; and you will find that after a time unbelievers will not be willing to give money to meet these expenses. . . .
I beg of you not to continue to follow such expensive methods of labour. I must tell you that the Lord does not endorse these methods. And they do not accomplish what you suppose they do.-- Letter 51, 1902.
Must Depend on God. --There is far more being done by the universe of Heaven than we have any idea of, in preparing the way so that souls shall be converted. We want to work in harmony with the messengers of Heaven. We want more of God; we
do not want to feel that it is our talking and our sermonizing that is to do the work; we want to feel that unless the people are reached through God, they never will be reached.-- Manuscript 19b, 1890.
Study Method of Approach. --The work of winning souls to Christ demands careful preparation. Man cannot enter the Lord's service without the needed training, and expect the highest success. . . . The architect will tell you how long it took him to understand how to plan a tasteful, commodious building. And so it is in all the callings that men follow. Should the servants of Christ show less diligence in preparing for work infinitely more important? Should they be ignorant of the ways and means to be employed in winning souls? It requires a knowledge of human nature, close study, careful thought, and earnest prayer, to know how to approach men and women on the great subjects that concern their eternal welfare-- Gospel Workers, p. 92. (1915).
Successful and Impressive Advertising Methods
Our Work Judged by Our Advertising. --The character and importance of our work are judged by the efforts made to bring it before the public. When these efforts are so limited, the impression is given that the message we present is not worthy of notice.-- Historical Sketches, p. 200. (1886)
Judicious Advertising. --There is a necessity, it is true, for expending money judiciously in advertising the meetings, and in carrying forward the work solidly. Yet the strength of every worker will be found to lie, not in these outward agencies, but in trustful
dependence upon God, in earnest prayer to Him for help, in obedience to His Word.-- Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 110. (1909)
Devising Methods to Reach the People. --Workers with clear minds are needed to devise methods for reaching the people. Something must be done to break down the prejudice existing in the world against the truth.-- Letter 152, 1901.
Articles in Secular Papers. --Men will misrepresent the doctrines we believe and teach as Bible truth, and it is necessary that wise plans should be laid to secure the privilege of inserting articles into the secular papers; for this will be a means of awakening souls to see the truth. God will raise up men who will be qualified to sow beside all waters. God has given great light upon important truths, and it must come to the world.-- Letter 1, 1875.
Unique Advertising for Business People. --With intense interest God is looking on this world. He has noted the capacity of human beings for service. Looking down the ages, He has counted His workers, both men and women, and has prepared the way before them, saying, "I will send My messengers to them, and they shall see great light shining amid the darkness. Won to the service of Christ, they will use their talents to the glory of My name. They will go forth to work for Me with zeal and devotion. Through their efforts the truth will speak to thousands in a most forcible manner, and men spiritually blind will receive sight, and will see My salvation.
Truth will be made so prominent that he who runs may read. Means will be devised to reach hearts. Some of the methods used in this work will be different from the methods used in the work in the
past; but let no one, because of this, block the way by criticism.-- Review and Herald, Sept. 30, 1902.
Utilizing the Press. --We must take every justifiable means of bringing the light before the people. Let the press be utilized, and let every advertising agency be employed that will call attention to the work. This should not be regarded as nonessential. On every street corner you may see placards and notices calling attention to various things that are going on, some of them of the most objectionable character; and shall those who have the light of life be satisfied with feeble efforts to call the attention of the masses to the truth?
Those who become interested have to meet sophistry and misrepresentation from popular ministers, and they know not how to answer these things. The truth presented by the living preacher should be published in as compact a form as possible, and circulated widely. As far as practicable, let the important discourses given at our camp meetings be published in the newspapers. Thus the truth which was placed before a limited number may find access to many minds. And where the truth has been misrepresented, the people will have an opportunity of knowing just what the minister said.
Put your light on a candlestick, that it may give light to all who are in the house. If the truth has been given to us, we are to make it so plain to others that the honest in heart may recognise it and rejoice in its bright rays.-- Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 36, 37. (1900)
Avoiding Excitement and Alarm. --I was not favourably impressed with the startling notices of your meetings. They savour of fanaticism. . . . Do not issue notices so worded as to create an alarm. When the Lord is ready for the advanced denunciation of wicked
cities, He will let His people know. But this will be after these wicked cities have had an opportunity to hear the word and to receive the word that is unto life eternal.
Our work now is to enlighten and educate minds as to the sayings of the Scripture. Doors are now opened for the entrance of truth. Avail yourselves of the opportunity to reach those who have never heard the truth. Explain the truth, as did Christ, in many ways, by figures and parables. And Elder _____'s striking presentation of the truth by the means of charts may be followed to advantage. Let these things speak to the senses of the people. Do not encourage anything like a fanatical movement. Satan works in this line, seeking to draw away disciples after him by representations that, if it were possible, will deceive the very elect.-- Letter 17, 1902.
Startling Notices. --Startling notices are detrimental to the progress of the work.-- Review and Herald, July 5, 1906.
I assure you that we are praying for you and for the work in New York City. But please do withdraw those startling notices of your meetings. If a fanatical wave should strike New York now, Satan would work upon human minds, setting in operation a work that none of you are prepared to handle. It is not excitement that we need at this time, but calm, steady, devoted effort for the education of the people.-- Letter 17, 1902.
The Evangelist in Publicity
Boasting Out of Place. --All boasting of merit in ourselves is out of place. . . . Not in our learning, not in our position, not in our numbers or entrusted
talents, not in the will of man, is to be found the secret of success.-- Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 401, 404. (1900)
Not After the World's Manner. --We are not to make the world's manner of dealing ours. We are to give to the world a nobler example, showing that our faith is of a high and elevated character. . . . Therefore, all odd notions and individual peculiarities and narrow plans that would give false impressions of the greatness of the work, should be avoided.-- Letter 14, 1887.
No Misrepresentation to Gain Favour. --We are not to misrepresent what we profess to believe in order to gain favour. God despises misrepresentation and prevarication. He will not tolerate the man who says and does not. The best and noblest work is done by fair, honest dealing.-- Letter 232, 1899.
Christ Not Called Professor. --It is not the seeking to climb to eminence that will make you great in God's sight, but it is the humble life of goodness, meekness, fidelity, and purity that will make you the object of the heavenly angels' special guardianship. The pattern Man, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, took upon Himself our nature and lived nearly thirty years in an obscure Galilean town, hidden among the hills. All the angel host was at His command; yet He did not claim to be anything great or exalted. He did not attach "Professor" to His name to please Himself. He was a carpenter, working for wages, a servant to those for whom He laboured.-- Letter 1, 1880.
Christ Reproved Their Vanity. --He . . . reproved the vanity shown in coveting the title of rabbi, or master. Such a title, He declared, belonged not to
men, but to Christ. Priests, scribes, and rulers, expounders and administrators of the law, were all brethren, children of one Father. Jesus impressed upon the people that they were to give no man a title of honour indicating his control of their conscience or their faith.
If Christ were on earth today, surrounded by those who bear the title of "Reverend" or "Right Reverend," would He not repeat His saying, "Neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, even Christ"? The Scripture declares of God, "Holy and reverend is His name." Ps. 111:9. To what human being is such a title befitting?-- The Desire of Ages, p. 613. (1898)
No Right to the Title "Reverend." --There must be no lowering of the standard as to what constitutes true education. It must be raised far above where it now stands. It is not men whom we are to exalt and worship; it is God, the only true and living God, to whom our worship and reverence are due.
According to the teaching of the Scriptures, it dishonours God to address ministers as "Reverend." No mortal has any right to attach this to his own name or to the name of any other human being. It belongs only to God, to distinguish Him from every other being. Those who lay claim to this title take to themselves God's holy honour. They have no right to the stolen word, whatever their position may be. "Holy and reverend is His name." We dishonour God when we use this word where it does not belong.-- Youth's Instructor, July 7, 1898.
Little Men Handling Great Subjects. --The ministers of the gospel are to present truth in its simplicity, through the blessing of God making the Scriptures
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. "Rightly dividing the word of truth"--this is the word that should be spoken of all our ministers.
But far, far from this, many of the ministers have departed from Christ's plans. The praise of men is coveted, and they strain every faculty in an effort to hunt out and present wonderful things. The Lord bids me counsel them to walk humbly and prayerfully with Him. . . . Be willing to be little men handling great subjects.-- Manuscript 62, 1905.
None Remarkable Men. --We have no great men among us, and none need try to make themselves what they are not, remarkable men. It is not wisdom for a single individual to strike out as though he had some great talent, as though he were a Moody or a Sankey.-- Review and Herald, Dec. 8, 1885.
The Message, Not the Man. --The minister who has learned of Christ will ever be conscious that he is a messenger of God, commissioned by Him to do a work both for time and eternity. It should not be any part of his object to call attention to himself, his learning, or his ability. But his whole aim should be to bring sinners to repentance, pointing them, both by precept and example, to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. Self should be hidden in Jesus. Such men will speak as those conscious of possessing power and authority from God, being a mouthpiece for Him. Their discourses will have an earnestness and fervour of persuasion that will lead sinners to see their lost condition, and take refuge in Christ.-- Review and Herald, Aug. 8, 1878.
John Only a Voice. --Looking in faith to the Redeemer, John had risen to the height of self-abnegation. 135
He sought not to attract men to himself, but to lift their thoughts higher and still higher, until they should rest upon the Lamb of God. He himself had been only a voice, a cry in the wilderness. -- Gospel Workers, p. 56. (1915)
Men Like John Chosen Today. --To fill a high place before men, Heaven chooses the worker who, like John the Baptist, takes a lowly place before God. The most childlike disciple is the most efficient in labour for God. The heavenly intelligences can co-operate with him who is seeking, not to exalt self, but to save souls.-- The Desire of Ages, p. 436. (1898)
Work Marred by Self-glorification. --There is no religion in the enthronement of self. He who makes self-glorification his aim, will find himself destitute of that grace which alone can make him efficient in Christ's service. Whenever pride and self-complacency are indulged, the work is marred.-- Christ's Object Lessons, p. 402. (1900)
The True Measure of a Man. --Christian worth does not depend on brilliant talents, lofty birth, wonderful powers, but on a clean heart--a heart purified and refined, that does not exalt self, but, by beholding Christ, reflects the long lost image of divinity.-- Letter 16, 1902.
Jesus Only. --Resolutely refusing to display human wisdom or to exalt self, they [God's ministers] will accomplish a work that will withstand the assaults of Satan. Many souls will be turned from darkness to light, and many churches will be established. Men will be converted, not to the human instrumentality, but to Christ. Self will be kept in the background; Jesus only, the Man of Calvary, will appear.-- Acts of the Apostles, p. 278. (1911)
Avoiding Display and the Sensational
Success Not Dependent on Outward Display. --Some ministers make the mistake of supposing that success depends on drawing a large congregation by outward display, and then delivering the message of truth in a theatrical style. But this is using common fire instead of the sacred fire of God's kindling. The Lord is not glorified by this manner of working. Not by startling notices and expensive display is His work to be carried to completion, but by following Christlike methods. "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." It is the naked truth which, like a sharp, two-edged sword, cuts both ways, arousing to spiritual life those who are dead in trespasses and sins. Men will recognise the gospel when it is brought to them in a way that is in harmony with God's purposes.-- Gospel Workers, p. 383. (1915)
Methods of Sound Sense. --There are persons that are ready to catch at something strange, which they can bring as a surprise upon the people, to awaken their fears and begin a strange work that will spoil the good work that has been begun right. . . .
Those who are handling the great, grand, ennobling truths of the Word must ever reveal a spirit deep, earnest, fervent, but calm, and full of sound sense, that the mouths of gainsayers may be stopped. Encourage not a wave of fanaticism that will spoil a work begun as it should be, and carried on with the Word of God in your hands. . . .
Those engaged in the work in New York are not to suppose that some strange thing must be brought in and mingled with their labour, as evidence of the
supernatural character of the work, setting on it the seal that it is of God. Their work is to speak to the people in humble, trustful faith, asking counsel of God, not following their own ideas, not trusting to the bringing out of fanciful things to arouse the senses of those who are dead in trespasses and sins. The system of truth found in the Word of God is capable of making impressions such as the great Teacher desires to have made upon the intellect.-- Letter 17, 1902.
Never Bring Truth to Low Level. --Never bring the truth down to a low level in order to obtain converts, but seek to bring the sinful and corrupted up to the high standard of the law of God.-- Manuscript 7, 1900.
Refrain From All Theatrical Display. --I have a message for those in charge of our work. Do not encourage the men who are to engage in this work to think that they must proclaim the solemn, sacred message in a theatrical style. Not one jot or tittle of anything theatrical is to be brought into our work. God's cause is to have a sacred, heavenly mould. Let everything connected with the giving of the message for this time bear the divine impress. Let nothing of a theatrical nature be permitted, for this would spoil the sacredness of the work.
I am instructed that we shall meet with all kinds of experiences and that men will try to bring strange performances into the work of God. We have met such things in many places. In my very first labours the message was given that all theatrical performances in connection with the preaching of present truth were to be discouraged and forbidden. Men who thought they had a wonderful work to do sought to adopt a strange deportment and manifested oddities in bodily exercise. The light given me was, "Give this no
sanction." These performances, which savoured of the theatrical, were to have no place in the proclamation of the solemn messages entrusted to us.
The enemy will watch closely and will take every advantage of circumstances to degrade the truth by the introduction of undignified demonstrations. None of these demonstrations are to be encouraged. The precious truths given us are to be spoken in all solemnity and with sacred awe.-- Manuscript 19, 1910.
Danger of Sensational Teachings. --You may be sure that pure and undefiled religion is not a sensational religion. God has not laid upon anyone the burden of encouraging an appetite for encouraging speculative doctrines and theories. My brethren, keep these things out of your teaching.-- Australasian Union Conference Record, March 15, 1904.
Avoid Fanaticism. --We are not to encourage a spirit of enthusiasm that brings zeal for a while, but soon fades away, leaving discouragement and depression. We need the bread of life that comes down from heaven to give life to the soul. Study the Word of God. Do not be controlled by feeling. All who labour in the vineyard of the Lord must learn that feeling is not faith. To be always in a state of elevation is not required. But it is required that we have firm faith in the Word of God as the flesh and blood of Christ.
Those who do the work of the Lord in our cities must close and bolt the doors firmly against excitement and fanaticism. The Word of God is our sanctification and righteousness, because it is spiritual food. To study it is to eat the leaves of the tree of life. Nothing is more uplifting to God's servants than to teach the Scriptures just as Christ taught them. The
Word of God contains divine nourishment, which satisfies the appetite for spiritual food.-- Letter 17, 1902.
Expensive and Peculiar Methods. --You have chosen to work in a way that wears yourself out and absorbs a large amount of means.
This expensive outlay of means has been presented before you in its true bearing, and you have been told that such a way of working is not in harmony with the will of God. Your expensive and peculiar methods of labour may appear at first to make a strong impression on the people, but they soon reach the conclusion that the display is made to call attention to yourself and your wife and children. The large expenditure of means is not in harmony with the solemn truths presented. Self has been placed on exhibition.-- Letter 205, 1904.
Not to Ape the World. --We are handling subjects which involve eternal interests, and we are not to ape the world in any respect. We are to follow closely the footsteps of Christ. He is a satisfying portion and can meet all our wants and necessities.-- Manuscript 96, 1898. Our success will depend on carrying forward the work in the simplicity in which Christ carried it forward, without any theatrical display.-- Letter 53, 1904.
Guarding Proper Approaches
Jesus Studied Natural Train of Thought. --The beneficent operations of nature are not accomplished by abrupt and startling interpositions; men are not permitted to take her work into their own hands. God works through the calm, regular operation of His
appointed laws. So it is in spiritual things. Satan is constantly seeking to produce effects by rude and violent thrusts; but Jesus found access to minds by the pathway of their most familiar associations. He disturbed as little as possible their accustomed train of thought, by abrupt actions or prescribed rules. He honoured man with His confidence, and thus placed him on his honour. He introduced old truths in a new and precious light. Thus, when only twelve years old, He astonished the doctors of the law by His questions in the temple.
Jesus assumed humanity, that He might meet humanity. He brings men under the transforming power of truth by meeting them where they are. He gains access to the heart by securing sympathy and confidence, making all feel that His identification with their nature and interest is complete. The truth came from His lips beautiful in its simplicity, yet clothed with dignity and power. What a teacher was our Lord Jesus Christ! How tenderly did He treat every honest enquirer after truth, that He might gain admission to the sympathies, and find a home in the heart.-- Manuscript 44, 1894.
Results Determined by Approaches. --We are to stand in this world as though there were all around us the purchase of the blood of Christ, and as though it depended very much upon our words, deportment, and manner of labour, whether these souls shall be saved or not. . . . It depends very much on the way we take hold to labour whether we shall have souls as the result of our efforts.-- Manuscript 14, 1887.
Sound Methods for Meeting Prejudice. --Brethren, you who go forth to labour for those who are bound in chains of prejudice and ignorance, need to exercise the same divine wisdom that Paul manifested. When
you are labouring in a place where souls are just beginning to get the scales from their eyes, and to see men as trees walking, be very careful not to present the truth in such a way as to arouse prejudice, and to close the door of the heart to the truth. Agree with the people on every point where you can consistently do so. Let them see that you love their souls, and want to be in harmony with them so far as possible. If the love of Christ is revealed in all your efforts, you will be able to sow the seed of truth in some hearts; God will water the seed sown, and the truth will spring up and bear fruit to His glory.
Our ministers need more of the wisdom that Paul had. When he went to labour for the Jews, he did not first make prominent the birth, betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ, notwithstanding these were the special truths for that time. He first brought them down step by step over the promises that had been made of a Saviour, and over the prophecies that pointed Him out. After dwelling upon these until the specifications were distinct in the minds of all, and they knew that they were to have a Saviour, he then presented the fact that this Saviour had already come. Christ Jesus fulfilled every specification. This was the "guile" with which Paul caught souls. He presented the truth in such a manner that their former prejudice did not arise to blind their eyes and pervert their judgement.-- Historical Sketches, pp. 121, 122. (1886)
Caution in Presenting Opening Subjects. --The greatest care is needed in dealing with these souls. Be always on guard. Do not at the outset press before the people the most objectionable features of our faith, lest you close the ears of those to whom these things come as a new revelation.
Let such portions of truth be dealt out to them as they may be able to grasp and appreciate; though it should appear strange and startling, many will recognise with joy that new light is shed on the Word of God. Whereas if truth were presented in so large a measure that they could not receive it, some would go away and never come again. More than this, they would misrepresent the truth, and in their explanation of what was said they would so wrest the Scriptures as to confuse other minds. We must take advantage of circumstances now. Present the truth as it is in Jesus. There must be no combative or controversial spirit in the advocacy of truth.-- Manuscript 44, 1894.
Study Community Needs Before Choosing Subjects. --Become acquainted with the people in their homes. Test the spiritual pulse and carry war into the camp. Create an interest. Pray and believe, and you will gain an experience which will be of value to you. Do not take up subjects which are so deep that they require mind struggles to comprehend. Pray and believe as you work. Awaken the people to do something. In the name of the Lord work with persevering intensity.-- Letter 189, 1899.
Preparing the Soil for the Good Seed. --Remember that great care is to be exercised in regard to the presentation of truth. Carry the minds along guardedly. Dwell upon practical godliness, weaving the same into doctrinal discourses. The teachings and love of Christ will soften and subdue the soil of the heart for the good seed of truth.-- Letter 14, 1887. Do Not Arouse Controversy and Opposition. -- Learn to meet the people where they are. Do not present subjects that will arouse controversy. Let
not your instruction be of a character to perplex the mind.-- Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 58. (1900) Do not arouse opposition before the people have had opportunity to hear the truth and know what they are opposing.-- Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 36. (1900) Do Not Drive People From the Truth. --Upon us there rests the solemn responsibility of presenting the truth to unbelievers in the most forcible manner. How careful we should be not to present the truth in a way that will drive men and women from it. Religious teachers stand where they can do great good or great evil. . . .
The Lord calls upon us to come to the banquet of truth, and then go out into the highways and hedges, and compel souls to come in, by presenting the great and wonderful offering that Christ has made to the world. We are to present the truth in the way that Christ told His disciples to present it--in simplicity and love.-- Letter 177, 1903.
Considering Pastors of Other Denominations. --It should ever be manifest that we are reformers, but not bigots. When our labourers enter a new field, they should seek to become acquainted with the pastors of the several churches in the place.[* SEE ALSO PP. 562-564, "MINISTERS OF OTHER DENOMINATIONS."] Much has been lost by neglecting to do this. If our ministers show themselves friendly and sociable, and do not act as if they were ashamed of the message they bear, it will have an excellent effect, and may give these pastors and their congregations favourable impressions of the truth. At any rate, it is right to give them a chance to be kind and favourable if they will.
Our labourers should be very careful not to give the impression that they are wolves stealing in to get the
sheep, but should let the ministers understand their position and the object of their mission--to call the attention of the people to the truths of God's Word. There are many of these which are dear to all Christians. Here is common ground, upon which we can meet people of other denominations; and in becoming acquainted with them we should dwell mostly upon topics in which all feel an interest, and which will not lead directly and pointedly to the subjects of disagreement.-- Review and Herald, June 13, 1912.
Avoid Unnecessary Barriers. --We should not, upon entering a place, build up unnecessary barriers between us and other denominations, especially the Catholics, so that they think we are their avowed enemies. We should not create a prejudice in their minds unnecessarily, by making a raid upon them. There are many among the Catholics who live up to the light they have far better than many who claim to believe present truth, and God will just as surely test and prove them as He has tested and proved us.-- Manuscript 14, 1887.
Spiritual Eyesight Needed. --Time, precious time, has been lost. Golden opportunities have passed by unimproved, because of a lack of clear spiritual eyesight and wise generalship to plan and devise ways and means to frustrate the enemy and preoccupy the field. . . .
Slumbering watchmen, what of the night? Do you not know the time of night? Do you feel no burden to lift the danger signal and give the warnings for this time? If you do not, come down from the walls of Zion, for God will entrust you with the light He has to give. Light is only given to those who will reflect that light upon others.-- Manuscript 107, 1898. 145
Platform Decorum, Announcements, and Preliminaries
Dignity of the Messenger. --Decorum is necessary in the desk. A minister of the gospel should not be regardless of his attitude. If he is the representative of Christ, his deportment, his attitude, his gestures, should be of such a character as will not strike the beholder with disgust. Ministers should possess refinement. They should discard all uncouth manners, attitudes, and gestures, and should encourage in themselves humble dignity of bearing. They should be clothed in a manner befitting the dignity of their position. Their speech should be in every respect solemn and well chosen.-- Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 648, 649. (1868)
Platform Conduct. --But things that are wrong often transpire in the sacred desk. One minister conversing with another in the desk before the congregation, laughing and appearing to have no burden of the work, or lacking a solemn sense of their sacred calling, dishonours the truth, and brings the sacred down upon the low level of common things.-- Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 612, 613. (1871)
An Offense to God. --Sometimes the assemblies of God's people have been treated with a commonness which has been an offense to God and has robbed the sacred work of its holiness and purity.-- Letter 155, 1900.
Waste No Time With Apologies. --Many speakers waste their time and strength in long preliminaries and excuses. Some use nearly half an hour in making apologies; thus time is wasted, and when they reach their subject and try to fasten the points of truth
in the minds of their hearers, the people are wearied out and cannot see their force.
Instead of apologizing because he is about to address the people, the minister should begin as if he knew that he was bearing a message from God.-- Gospel Workers, p. 168. (1915)
The Public Prayer. -- The prayers offered in public should be short and to the point. God does not require us to make the season of worship tedious by lengthy petitions. . . .A few minutes is long enough for any ordinary public petition.-- Gospel Workers, p. 175. (1915)
Pray With Heartfelt Simplicity. --We need not make long public prayers. With heartfelt simplicity we should state our needs to the Lord, and claim His promises with such faith and confidence that the congregation will know that we have learned to prevail with God in prayer. They will be encouraged to believe that the Lord's presence is in the meeting, and they will open their hearts to receive His rich blessing. Their faith in your sincerity will be increased, and they will be ready to listen with willing ears to the instruction given by the speaker. -- Manuscript 127, 1902.
Hurried, Rushed Movements. --The Lord gave you your work, not to be done in a rush, but in a calm, considerate manner. The Lord never compels hurried, complicated movements.-- Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 189. (1904)
Avoiding the Grotesque. --We cannot be shepherds of the flock unless we are divested of our own peculiar habits, manners, and customs, and come into Christ's likeness. When we eat His flesh and drink His blood,
then the element of eternal life will be found in the ministry. There will not be a fund of stale, oft-repeated ideas. There will be a new perception of truth.
Some who stand in the pulpit make the heavenly messengers in the audience ashamed of them. The precious gospel, which it has cost so much to bring to the world, is abused. There is common, cheap talk; grotesque attitudes and workings of the features. There is, with some, rapid talking, with others a thick, indistinct utterance. Everyone who ministers before the people should feel it a solemn duty to take himself in hand. He should first give himself to the Lord in complete self-renunciation, determined that he will have none of self, but all of Jesus.-- Testimonies to Ministers, p. 339. (1896)
Discard Uncomely Gestures and Uncouth Speech, -- The workman for God should make earnest efforts to become a representative of Christ, discarding all uncomely gestures and uncouth speech. He should endeavour to use correct language. There is a large class who are careless in the way they speak; yet by careful, painstaking attention, these may become representatives of the truth. Every day they should make advancement. They should not detract from their usefulness and influence by cherishing defects of manner, tone, or language.-- Counsels to Teachers, p. 238. (1913)
Evangelist's Personality. --The position of our ministers calls for health of body and discipline of mind. Good sound sense, strong nerves, and a cheerful temper will recommend the gospel minister anywhere. These should be sought for, and perseveringly cultivated. -- Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 466. (1875)
Truth Should Charm. --Let not your efforts be to follow the world's way but to follow God's way. C Outward display will not do the work the Lord desires to have done to arouse the higher classes to a conviction that they have heard the truth. Do not divest the truth of its dignity and impressiveness by preliminaries that are more after the order of the world than after the order of heaven. Let your hearers understand that you do not hold Sunday evening meetings to charm their senses with music and other things, but to preach the truth in all its solemnity, that it may come to them as a warning, arousing them from their deathlike sleep of self-indulgence. It is the naked truth that, like a sharp, two-edged sword, cuts both ways. . . .
Those who in their work for God depend on worldly plans for gaining success will make a failure. The Lord calls for a change in your manner of labour. He desires you to practice the lessons taught in the life of Christ. Then the mould of Christ will be seen on all the meetings that you hold.-- Letter 48, 1902.
Creative Teaching. --The Prince of teachers sought access to the people by the pathway of their most familiar associations. He presented the truth in such a way that ever after it was to His hearers intertwined with their most hallowed recollections and sympathies. He taught in a way that made them feel the completeness of His identification with their interests and happiness. His instruction was so simple, His illustrations so appropriate, His words so sympathetic and so cheerful, that His hearers were charmed.
Christ drew many of his illustrations and lessons from the great treasure house of nature. He plucked
a lily and pointed His hearers to its simplicity and marvellous beauty. He pointed to the grass of the field, saying, "If God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you?" He desires us to see that the things of nature are an expression of the love of God, and that, though marred by sin, they still speak to us of the Eden home in which Adam and Eve were placed. He desires us to be reminded by them of the time when this home shall be restored, and the earth shall be filled with the praise of the Lord.-- Letter 213, 1902.
He Held Their Interest. --The people listened to the words of mercy flowing so freely from the lips of the Son of God. They heard the gracious words, so simple and so plain that they were as the balm of Gilead to their souls. The healing of His divine hand brought gladness and life to the dying, and ease and health to those suffering with disease. The day seemed to them like heaven upon earth, and they were utterly unconscious of how long it had been since they had eaten anything. . . .
He who taught the people the way to secure peace and happiness was just as thoughtful of their temporal necessities as of their spiritual need. The people were weary and faint. There were mothers with babes in their arms, and little children clinging to their skirts. Many had been standing for hours. They had been so intensely interested in Christ's words that they had not once thought of sitting down, and the crowd was so great that there was danger of their trampling on one another. Jesus would give them a chance to rest, and He bade them sit down. There was much grass in the place, and all could rest in comfort.-- The Desire of Ages, pp. 365, 366. (1898)
An Effective Interest-holding Programme. --There was given me another sight. Tents were taken to different places during camp meeting season. Camp meetings were held in different locations. These were conducted by able, God-fearing men, having suitable helpers. There were children's meetings and revival meetings and an earnest effort to bring the people to a decision. A Paul may plant, an Apollos water, but God giveth the increase. . . .
Let the talent of singing be brought into the work. The use of musical instruments is not at all objectionable. These were used in religious services in ancient times. The worshippers praised God upon the harp and cymbal, and music should have its place in our services. It will add to the interest.
But hold the attention of the people by presenting before them the truth as it is in Jesus. Keep before them the cross of Calvary. What called for the death of Christ? The transgression of the law. Christ died to give men an opportunity to become loyal subjects of His kingdom.
Let there be short discourses, short and fervent prayers. Educate, educate in regard to thorough, whole-souled service. Thorough consecration, much prayer, an intense earnestness, will make an impression; for angels of God will be present to move upon the hearts of the people.-- Letter 132, 1898.
Variety of Evangelistic Attractions. --At these meetings are gathered high and low, rich and poor, sinners of all degrees, and all hear the message of mercy given by the Lord's delegated servants. There is a variety of Bible subjects presented, and a variety of exercises during the meeting.
Old and young are called, and the Lord impresses the hearts of the hearers. By this means the call to
the supper, as presented in the parable, is given to all. Some who, according to their own confession, have not entered a church for twelve, fourteen, and even sixteen years, are convicted and converted. Church members are deeply stirred, and listen with astonishment to the sermons and Bible readings explaining the Scriptures; and in the social meetings there is found something appropriate for every case. -- Manuscript 7,1900.
Great Themes--Up-to-Date Message. --Those who stand before the people as teachers of truth are to grapple with great themes. They are not to occupy precious time in talking of trivial subjects. Let them study the Word, and preach the Word. Let the Word be in their hands as a sharp, two-edged sword. Let it testify to past truths and show what is to be in the future.
Christ came from heaven to give to John the great, wonderful truths that are to shape our lives and that by us are to be proclaimed to the world. We are to keep abreast of the times, bearing a clear, intelligent testimony, guided by the unction of the Holy Spirit. -- Review and Herald, April 19, 1906.
Inquiry and Question Meetings
Call Interested to an Aftermeeting. --The testing truth for this time is to be made known, and the explanation given. All classes, the higher as well as the most lowly, come to these meetings, and we are to work for all. After the warning message has been given, let those who are specially interested be called to the tent by themselves, and there labour for their conversion. This kind of labour is missionary work of the highest order.-- Letter 86, 1900.
Teach How to Become Christians. --I wish you to distinctly understand this point, that souls are kept from obeying the truth by a confusion of ideas, and also because they do not know how to surrender their wills and their minds to Jesus. They want special instruction how to become Christians. The work done for Christ in the world is not made of great deeds and wonderful achievements. These will come in as needed. But the most successful work is that which keeps self as much as possible out of sight. It is the work of giving line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; coming close in sympathy with human hearts. This is the service done to Jesus Christ that will be recognised at the last day. -- Letter 48, 1886.
Come Close to the People in the Afterinterview. -- There is danger of passing too rapidly from point to point. Give short lessons, and often. . . . After you have opened to the people the precious mines of truth, there is yet a great work to be done for those who have become interested in the subjects presented.
After a short discourse, change the order of the exercises, and give opportunity for all who desire it, to remain for an afterinterview, or Bible class, where they can ask questions upon subjects that trouble them. You will find great success in coming close to the people in these Bible lessons. The workers who labour in connection with the minister should make special efforts patiently and kindly to lead inquirers to an understanding of the truth.
If you have not more than one to instruct, that one, thoroughly convinced, will communicate the light to others. These testing truths are of so great importance that they may be presented again and again,
and impressed upon the minds of the hearers.-- Special Testimonies, Series A, No. 7, p. 7. (1874)
An Opportunity to Ask Questions. --Whenever practicable, every important discourse should be followed by a Bible study. Here the points that have been presented can be applied, questions can be asked, and right ideas inculcated. More time should be devoted to patiently educating the people, giving them opportunity to express themselves. It is instruction that men need, line upon line, and precept upon precept.
Special meetings also should be held for those who are becoming interested in the truths presented and who need instruction. To these meetings the people should be invited, and all, both believers and unbelievers, should have an opportunity to ask questions on points not fully understood. Give all an opportunity to speak of their perplexities, for they will have them. In all the sermons and in all the Bible studies, let the people see that on every point a plain "Thus saith the Lord" is given for the faith and doctrines which we advocate.
This was the method of Christ's teaching. As he spoke to the people, they would question as to His meaning. To those who were humbly seeking for light, He was always ready to explain His words. But Christ did not encourage criticism or cavilling, nor should we. When men try to provoke a discussion of controverted points of doctrine, tell them that the meeting was not appointed for that purpose. When you do answer a question, be sure to have the hearers see and acknowledge that it is answered. Do not let a question drop, telling them to ask it again. Feel your way step by step, and know how much you have gained.
In such meetings, those who understand the
message can ask questions which will bring out light on points of truth. But some may not have wisdom to do this. When any put questions that serve only to confuse the mind and sow the seeds of doubt, they should be advised to refrain from such questioning. We must learn when to speak and when to keep silent, learn to sow the seeds of faith, to impart light, not darkness.-- Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 68, 69. (1900)
Draw the People Out by Questions. --After a short discourse keep fresh, that you may give a Bible reading on the points spoken of, drawing the people out by questions. Come right to the hearts of your hearers, urging them to present their difficulties to you, that you may explain the Scriptures which they do not comprehend.-- Letter 8, 1895.
A Point to Guard Well. --Whenever the Lord has a special work to do among His people, when He would arouse their minds to contemplate vital truth, Satan will work to divert the mind by introducing minor points of difference, in order that he may create an issue concerning doctrines that are not essential to the understanding of the point in hand, and thus bring about disunion, and distract attention from the essential point. When this occurs, the Lord is at work making impressions upon the hearts of men, concerning that which is necessary to their salvation. Then if Satan can draw the mind away to some unimportant issue, and cause the people to divide on some minor point, so that their hearts are barricaded against light and truth, he exults in malicious triumph.-- Review and Herald, Oct. 18, 1892.
Combativeness Raised; Conviction Quenched. -- Satan is constantly at work to divert the mind with earthly things, that the truth may lose its force upon the heart; and then there will be no progress, no
advancement from light and knowledge, to greater light and knowledge. Unless the followers of Christ are constantly stirred up to practice the truth, they will not be sanctified through it. Questions, speculations, and matters of no vital importance will occupy the mind, and become the subject of conversation, and then there will be cavilling and striving about words, and presenting of different opinions, concerning points that are not vital or essential. . . .
The labourer for God must be wise enough to see the design of the enemy, and to refuse to be misled and diverted. The conversion of the souls of his hearers must be the burden of his work, and he must keep out of controversy, and preach the Word of God. . . .
The special, deceptive work of Satan has been to provoke controversies, that there might be strivings about words to no profit. He well knows that this will occupy the mind and the time. It raises the combativeness, and quenches the spirit of conviction, in the minds of many, drawing them into diversity of opinions, accusation, and prejudice, which closes the door to the truth.-- Review and Herald, Sept. 11, 1888.
Praying With Those Under Conviction. --Let ministers and evangelists have more seasons of earnest prayer with those who are convicted by the truth. Remember that Christ is always with you. The Lord has in readiness the most precious exhibitions of His grace, to strengthen and encourage the sincere, humble worker.-- Manuscript 78, 1900.
Help the Perplexed. --Many who come to the meeting are weary and heavy laden with sin. They do not feel safe in their religious faith. Opportunity should be given for those who are troubled and want rest in spirit to find help. After a discourse those who wish to follow Christ should be invited to signify their
desire. Invite all who are not satisfied that they are prepared for Christ's coming, and all who feel burdened and heavy laden, to come apart by themselves. Let those who are spiritual converse with these souls. Pray with and for them. Let much time be spent in prayer and close searching of the Word. Let all obtain the real facts of faith in their own souls through belief that the Holy Spirit will be imparted to them because they have a real hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Teach them how to surrender themselves to God, how to believe, how to claim the promises. Let the deep love of God be expressed in words of encouragement, in words of intercession.-- Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 65. (1900)
Getting Acquainted With the People
Meeting the People as They Come and Go. --In conducting the important interests of meetings near a large city, the co-operation of all the workers is essential. They should keep in the very atmosphere of the meetings, becoming acquainted with the people as they come in and go out, showing the utmost courtesy and kindness, and tender regard for their souls. They should be ready to speak to them in season and out of season, watching to win souls. O that Christ's workers would show one half as much vigilance as does Satan, who is always on the track of human beings, always wide awake, watching to lay some gin or snare for their destruction.-- Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 46. (1900)
Evangelist's Responsibility to the Interested. --It is important that all who design to labour in the cause of God should learn the very best manner of prosecuting
their work. . . . I have been shown that many efforts which have been made at great expense to present the truth, have been in a large measure unsuccessful, because the very kind of labour that is required has not been done. We have tried for years to present before our people the necessity of working more intelligently. . . .
When the discourses are given in the desk, the work is just entered upon. Then the minister should, by personal effort if possible, become acquainted with every one of his hearers. If they have interest enough to come out and hear what you have to say, you should respond to it by a decided interest on your part to make their personal acquaintance. . . .
Satan and his agents are sharper than our workers. While he is planning and devising and laying his nets to take souls unawares, our brethren are frequently taking things in a very easy manner, and Satan out-generals them almost every time. Now, if they would have the field preoccupied by God and by heavenly angels, they must throw their whole being, soul, body, and spirit, into the work of God, and not make a pretense of doing the work, when it is not half done. . . .
The discourse given from the desk should not be lengthy, for this not only wearies the people, but so draws upon the time and strength of the minister that he is not able to engage in the personal labour which should follow. He should go from house to house and labour with families, calling their attention to eternal truths in the Word of God.[* SEE ALSO PP. 428-455, "PERSONAL WORK."] If he does this labour in the meekness of Christ, he will surely have the angels of God to work with his efforts. But we are altogether too faithless and too narrow in our ideas and in our plans.-- Manuscript 14, 1887.
He will become acquainted with the parents and children in his congregation, and will speak kind, earnest words to them.-- Review and Herald, Jan. 21, 1902.
Get Into the Families. --Come close to the people; get into the families when you can; do not wait for the people to hunt up the shepherd. Bear with you the confidence and assurance of faith which evidences that you are not trusting in idle tales but in a plain "Thus saith the Lord."-- Letter 8, 1895.
Contacts at Public Meetings. --When Christ was teaching on earth, He watched the countenances of His hearers, and the kindling eye, the animated expression, told Him in a moment when one assented to the truth. Even so should the teachers of the people now study the countenances of their hearers.
When they see a person in the audience who seems interested, they should make it a point to form his acquaintance before leaving the place of meeting, and, if possible, should ascertain where he lives, and visit him. It is this kind of personal labour that helps to make him a perfect workman. It enables him to prove his work, to give full proof of his ministry. This is also the most successful way of reaching the people; for by this means their attention is best secured.-- Historical Sketches, pp. 147, 148. (1886)
Winning Confidence by Home Contacts. --There are numbers of families who will never be reached by the truth of God's Word unless the stewards of the manifold grace of Christ enter their homes, and by earnest ministry, sanctified by the endorsement of the Holy Spirit, break down the barriers and enter the hearts of the people. As the people see that these workers are messengers of mercy, the ministers of grace, they are ready to listen to the words spoken by them.
But the hearts of those who do this work must throb in unison with the heart of Christ. They must be wholly consecrated to the service of God, ready to do His bidding, to go wheresoever His providence leads them, and speak the words He gives them. And if they are what God desires they shall be, if they are imbued with His Holy Spirit, they co-operate with the heavenly agencies and are indeed "labourers together with God."-- Letter 95, 1896.
Printed Sermons And Literature
The Effective Use of Literature. --The truth must be published far more extensively than it yet has been. It must be defined in clear, sharp lines before the people. It must be presented in short but conclusive arguments, and plans must be laid that at every meeting where the truth has been set before the people, it may be followed by the distribution of tracts and pamphlets. At the present time it may be found necessary to give these away, but they will be a power for good, and nothing will be lost.
The discourses given in the desk would be far more effective if reading matter were circulated, educating the hearers in the doctrines of the Bible. God will make many willing to read, but there will also be many who will refuse to see or hear anything upon the present truth. But we should not even think these cases beyond hope, for Christ is drawing many to Himself.... You should go forth with your hands filled with proper reading matter, and your heart filled with the love of God.-- Letter 1, 1875.
To Forestall Effects of Opposition. --When a discourse is given, the people may listen with interest,
but it is all strange and new to them, and Satan is ready to suggest to their minds many things that are not true. He will seek to pervert and misrepresent the speaker's words. What shall we do? The discourses presenting the reasons of our faith should be published in little leaflets, and circulated as widely as possible.[* NOTE.--IN THE MATTER OF PRINTING OR MIMEOGRAPHING SERMONS, EVERY WORKER SHOULD LABOUR IN HARMONY WITH THE COUNSEL OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE COMMITTEE SET FORTH IN THE FOLLOWING RESOLUTION ADOPTED DECEMBER 15, 1941, RELATING TO THE SAFEGUARDING OF OUR PUBLIC UTTERANCE: "THAT BEFORE ISSUANCE, ALL MIMEOGRAPHED AND PRINTED SERMONS BE FIRST APPROVED BY THE LEADERSHIP OF THE LOCAL CONFERENCE IN WHICH ONE IS LABOURING, AS A SAFEGUARDING, PROTECTIVE MEASURE."] Thus the falsehoods and misrepresentations which the enemy of truth constantly tries to keep in circulation would be revealed in their true character, and the people would have an opportunity of knowing just what the minister said.-- Review and Herald, Oct. 14, 1902.
Short Printed Discourses. --Let a synopsis of the discourses be printed and widely circulated.-- Manuscript 42, 1905.
Handbills. --If a press can be secured to be worked during the meeting, printing leaflets, notices and papers for distribution, it will have a telling influence. -- Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 36. (1900)
Some Only Reached by Literature. --Very much more can be accomplished by the living preacher with the circulation of papers and tracts than by the preaching of the Word alone without the publications. . . . Many minds can be reached in no other way. Here is true missionary work in which labour and means can be invested with the best results.-- Life Sketches, p. 217. (1915)
The Power of the Press. --The press is a powerful means to move the minds and hearts of the people. The men of this world seize the press, and make the
most of every opportunity to get poisonous literature before the people. If men, under the influence of the spirit of the world and of Satan, are earnest to circulate books, tracts, and papers of a corrupting nature, you should be more earnest to get reading matter of an elevating and saving character before the people.
God has placed at the command of His people advantages in the press, which, combined with other agencies, will be successful in extending the knowledge of the truth. Tracts, papers, and books, as the case demands, should be circulated in all the cities and villages in the land.-- Life Sketches, pp. 216, 217. (1915)
Truth Given Wings. --There is great need of men who can use the press to the best advantage, that the truth may be given wings to speed it to every nation, and tongue, and people.-- Gospel Workers, p. 25. (1915)
The Printed Page. --Though the minister may faithfully present the message, the people are not able to retain it all. The printed page is therefore essential, not only in awakening them to the importance of the truth for this time, but in rooting and grounding them in the truth, and establishing them against deceptive error. Papers and books are the Lord's means of keeping the message for this time continually before the people. In enlightening and confirming souls in the truth, the publications will do a far greater work than can be accomplished by the ministry of the Word alone. The silent messengers that are placed in the homes of the people through the work of the canvasser, will strengthen the gospel ministry in every way; for the Holy Spirit will impress minds as they read the books, just as He impresses the minds of
those who listen to the preaching of the Word. The same ministry of angels attends the books that contain the truth as attends the work of the ministry.-- Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 315, 316. (1900)
[* SEE ALSO PP. 301-306, "MEETING PREJUDICE AND OPPOSITION."]
God Is Seldom Glorified. --In some cases, it may be necessary to meet a proud boaster against the truth of God in open debate; but generally these discussions, either oral or written, result in more harm than good. -- Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 213. (1872)
Discussions cannot always be avoided. . . . People who love to see opponents combat, may clamour for discussion. Others, who have a desire to hear the evidences on both sides, may urge discussion in all honesty of motive; but whenever discussions can be avoided, they should be. . . . God is seldom glorified or the truth advanced in these combats.-- Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 424. (1875)
Opposers Must Sometimes Be Met. --There are occasions where their glaring misrepresentations will have to be met. When this is the case, it should be done promptly and briefly, and we should then pass on to our work.-- Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 37. (1872)
To Meet Defiance but Not Defy. --In the presentation of unpopular truth, which involves a heavy cross, preachers should be careful that every word is as God would have it. Their words should never cut. They should present the truth in humility, with the deepest love for souls, and an earnest desire for their salvation, and let the truth cut. They should not defy ministers
of other denominations, and seek to provoke a debate. They should not stand in a position like that of Goliath when he defied the armies of Israel. Israel did not defy Goliath but Goliath made his proud boasts against God and His people. The defying, the boasting, and the railing must come from the opposers of truth, who act the Goliath. But none of this spirit should be seen in those whom God has sent forth to proclaim the last message of warning to a doomed world. . . .
If they, like David, are brought into a position where God's cause really calls for them to meet a defier of Israel, and if they go forth in the strength of God, relying wholly upon Him, He will carry them through, and cause His truth to triumph gloriously. Christ has given us an example. "Yet Michael the Archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee."-- Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 218-220. (1872)
Controversial Spirit Lays Weak Foundation. --The spirit of debate, of controversy, is a device of Satan to stir up combativeness, and thus eclipse the truth as it is in Jesus. Many have thus been repulsed instead of being won to Christ. . . .
A controversial spirit is encouraged. Many dwell almost exclusively upon doctrinal subjects, while the nature of true piety, experimental godliness, receives little attention. Jesus, His love and grace, His self-denial and self-sacrifice, His meekness and forbearance, are not brought before the people as they should be. The errors existing everywhere have, like parasites, fastened their deadly poison upon the boughs of truth and in many minds have become identified with it; many who accept the truth teach it in a harsh
spirit. A false conception of it is given to the people, and the truth is made of no effect to those whose hearts are not softened and subdued by the Holy Spirit. . . .
It is essential for all to discern and appreciate the truth; therefore it is of the greatest importance that the seed of the Word should fall into soil prepared for its reception. The question with us individually should be, How shall we sow the precious seed of truth so that it shall not be lost, but spring up and produce a harvests, that sheaves may be brought to the master?-- Review and Herald, Feb. 9, 1892.
Danger of Excitement and Rapid Decision. --If the interest steadily increases, and the people move understandingly, not from impulse, but from principle, the interest is much more healthy and durable than it is where a great excitement and interest are created suddenly, and the feelings are excited by listening to a debate, a sharp contest on both sides of the question, for and against the truth. Fierce opposition is thus created, positions are taken, and rapid decisions made. A feverish state of things is the result. Calm consideration and judgement are wanting. Let this excitement subside, or let reaction take place by indiscreet management, and the interest can never be raised again. The feelings and sympathies of the people were stirred, but their consciences were not convicted, their hearts were not broken and humbled before God. -- Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 218. (1872)
Presenting Truth to Prejudiced Minds. --God's ministers should not count the opportunity of engaging in discussion a great privilege. All points of our faith are not to be borne to the front and presented before the prejudiced crowds. . . . The truths that we hold in common should be dwelt upon first, and the confidence
of the hearers obtained.-- Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 426. (1875)
In Debate We Meet Satan. --Ministers who contend with opposers of the truth of God, do not have to meet men merely, but Satan and his host of evil angels. Satan watches for a chance to get the advantage of ministers who are advocating the truth, and when they cease to put their entire trust in God, and their words are not in the spirit and love of Christ, the angels of God cannot strengthen and enlighten them. They leave them to their own strength, and evil angels press in their darkness; for this reason, the opponents of the truth sometimes seem to have the advantage, and the discussion does more harm than real good.-- Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 220, 221. (1872)
If Debate Cannot Be Avoided. --Whenever it is necessary for the advancement of the cause of truth and the glory of God, that an opponent be met, how carefully, and with what humility should they [the advocates of truth] go into the conflict. With heartsearching, confession of sin, and earnest prayer, and often fasting for a time, they should entreat that God would especially help them, and give His saving, precious truth a glorious victory, that error might appear in its true deformity, and its advocates be completely discomfited. . . .
Never should you enter upon a discussion, where so much is at stake, relying upon your aptness to handle strong arguments. If it cannot be well avoided, enter the conflict, but enter upon it with firm trust in God, and in the spirit of humility, in the spirit of Jesus, who has bidden you learn of Him who is meek and lowly in heart.-- Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 624, 626. (1867)
Present the Truth. --The best way to deal with error is to present the truth, and leave wild ideas to die for want of notice. Contrasted with truth, the weakness of error is made apparent to every intelligent mind. The more the erroneous assertions of opposers, and of those who rise up among us to deceive souls, are repeated, the better the cause of error is served. The more publicity is given to the suggestions of Satan, the better pleased is his satanic majesty.-- Testimonies to Ministers, p. 165. (1892)
Use Only Sound Arguments. --It is important that in defending the doctrines which we consider fundamental articles of faith, we should never allow ourselves to employ arguments that are not wholly sound. These may avail to silence an opposer, but they do not honour the truth. We should present sound arguments, that will not only silence our opponents, but will bear the closest and most searching scrutiny.
With those who have educated themselves as debaters, there is great danger that they will not handle the Word of God with fairness. In meeting an opponent, it should be our earnest effort to present subjects in such a manner as to awaken conviction in his mind, instead of seeking merely to give confidence to the believer.-- Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 708. (1889)
Lay Off the Pugilistic Armour. --Those who bear the most solemn message ever given to our world must lay off the pugilistic armour, and put on the armour of Christ's righteousness. We have no need to work in our own finite individuality, for then the angels of God stand back and leave us to carry on the warfare alone. When will our ministers learn of Jesus? Our preparation to meet opponents or to minister to the people must be obtained of God at the throne of heavenly grace. Here, in receiving the grace of God, our
own incompetence is seen and acknowledged. The dignity and glory of Christ is our strength. The Holy Spirit's guidance leads us into all truth. The Holy Spirit takes the things of God and shows them unto us, conveying them as a living power into the obedient heart. We then have the faith that works by love and purifies the soul, which takes the perfect impress of its Author.-- Letter 21a, 1895.