Biblical Evangelism Today: A Symposium
(Philadelphia: The Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 1954)
The Great Head and King of the Church has solemnly commissioned the Church to proclaim the gospel in all the world, to every creature. But the environments in which the gospel is to be proclaimed are varied and change with each successive generation. Each generation must consider the problems and opportunities peculiar to their day. In this symposium, a serious effort is made to achieve an effective method of bringing the gospel to the American communities of our generation.
Biblical Evangelism Today is a compilation of the reports of the Committee on Local Evangelism presented to successive General Assemblies of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. This Committee was erected by the General Assembly in 1942 and extended its studies over a period of ten years. The members who served on this Committee during the entire ten year period or a major portion thereof were: Mr. Arthur Armour, Rev. Calvin Cummings, Rev. George Marston, Rev. John Murray, and Rev. Lyle Shaw. The church is indebted to the many ministers of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church who contributed valuable papers on subjects assigned to them by the Committee.
The Committee on Local Evangelism alone bears responsibility for the symposium herewith presented. The only action taken by the General Assemblies of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church was to submit the Committee's reports to the presbyteries and sessions for study. The one report which was not sent down to the presbyteries and sessions for study is presented as an appendix.
The Eighteenth General Assembly authorized the Committee on Local Evangelism to prepare its reports for publication by the Committee on Christian Education. The church is indebted to the Committee on Christian Education for the actual publication of these reports.
This symposium is made available in the earnest hope and prayer that it may render valuable assistance to all those who are endeavoring to bring the pure gospel of the grace of God to the American communities of our day.
For the Committee on Local Evangelism,
Chapter One: The Message of Evangelism
The word "evangelism" has generally been understood to apply to the propagation of the gospel among the unsaved. In dealing, however, with the obligation that rests upon the church of Christ to witness to the gospel it does not appear that the various activities of the church that may properly be embraced in the work of evangelism have exclusive reference to those who are reckoned, in the judgment of the church, as without God and without hope in the world. Particularly is this true when it is remembered that many believers in Christ have so inadequate a knowledge of the gospel and so impoverished a conception of the Christian life that a considerable part of the work of the church, properly regarded as evangelism, must needs have as its aim the instruction and edification of such believers. The evangelism that the true church of Christ undertakes must therefore contemplate the bringing of the gospel in its full import and demands to those who, though believers, are nevertheless the victims of ignorance, unfaithfulness, and compromising associations.
This report, however, will deal in the main with the message of evangelism as the message of the gospel to the lost.
The Whole Counsel of God
The message of evangelism is the whole counsel of God as revealed in His Word, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Too often this commonplace statement is not accepted or, if accepted, not appreciated or followed. The cause of evangelism has been greatly prejudiced and hindered by the supposition, far too prevalent, that for the lost the message has to be restricted to the central elements of the gospel, namely, sin, redemption by the blood of Christ, and the demand for faith and repentance. It is true that evangelism should always keep in the forefront of its message the central and elementary principles of the gospel. But two facts must be borne in mind. (1) The Scripture pattern will not support the conclusion that the central message of the gospel is the exclusive content of the message of evangelism and (2) the central message itself cannot properly be presented or understood except as it is presented in the context of the whole counsel of God.
Paul's message to the Athenians reached its conclusion in the declaration that God commands men that they should all everywhere repent. But that conclusion was prefaced by appeal to God as the creator of all, to God as the Lord of heaven and earth, to the self-sufficiency and spirituality of God and to God as the Lord of all nations, and Paul's appeal for repentance was oriented to God's final judgment. It can be seen then that the declared orbit within which Paul delivered the gospel of repentance was the orbit defined by the doctrine of God as the absolutely self-sufficient and spiritual God, Creator, and Lord of heaven and earth, and that the termini of the history within which the message of repentance is given are creation at the beginning and judgment at the end.
When it is said that the whole counsel of God is the message of evangelism this should not be understood to mean that the whole counsel of God can be compassed in each message. Nor is it to be understood as meaning that sound judgment and wisdom are not to be used to the fullest extent in the selection of the topics to be presented at particular times and in the devising of the manner in which they are to be presented. The message of God's counsel is multiform and the particular needs of men are varied. The message should, therefore, always be adapted to the peculiar need and condition of the persons concerned, and great care should be exercised that the truths presented and the manner of presentation should be chosen and framed so as to make the most direct and effective impact upon those who are the recipients of the message. Great care and sometimes exacting labor are required in the interest of insuring, as far as possible, that the inopportuneness of the time chosen for the presentation of a particular message and the inappropriateness of the manner adopted do not become the occasion for a distorted understanding on the part of the persons to whom the message is given, just as alertness and faithfulness are equally required to insure that the appropriate opportunity for the presentation of a particular message is not lost by indolence and weakness on the part of the evangelist. It frequently happens that the evangelist has to refrain from the presentation of certain truths until the proper foundation is laid in the minds of the persons concerned by the understanding and acceptance of other truths. And it just as frequently happens that to refrain from imparting the necessary instruction at a particular time imperils the success and the fruitage of the evangelist's work.
There is need, therefore, for the greatest wisdom in dealing with the numerous diversities that exist among the subjects of evangelism, diversities of tradition, of education, of temperament, of religious knowledge and conviction, of social standing, and even of vocation.
But admitting all of these reservations and taking all care that they be duly applied, it must, nevertheless, be maintained that there is no part of the revelation of Scripture that is not the fit subject for the message of evangelism. This proposition will be illustrated by a few examples.
ELECTION. It might be supposed that the doctrine of election could not properly be incorporated into an evangelistic message, or, at least, could not properly be the topic of an evangelistic message. This is a grievous mistake. It is true that only believers have any right to regard themselves as elect of God and only they can derive from the truth of election covenant assurance and comfort. But the doctrine of election, when properly conceived and handled, has the closest bearing upon the lost. It may be used in arousing the lost from lethargy and indifference. Election implies non-election. It concerns the ultimate destinies of men and to that question the lost cannot afford to be indifferent. The truth of election may thus be used to bring the unsaved to the most earnest solicitude concerning their salvation, and when thus awakened to concern it provides them with the understanding of the ground upon which they may entertain hope with respect to the grace of salvation as it applies to them.
God's sovereign election is the one source of the only salvation there is for lost men. It was in pursuance of God's electing love that God sent His Son into the world. It was in pursuance of electing love that Jesus died upon the cross, was raised from the dead and sat down at the right hand of God. The nature of the salvation offered to lost men in the gospel can not be abstracted from that purpose of grace in pursuance of which salvation was wrought and in subordination to which it is being constantly applied. Therefore the salvation offered to the lost, the salvation presented to their need and demanding the response of their faith, is salvation determined in its very character by election.
Election is the only source of the salvation presented in the gospel. As such it is calculated to bring hope to the perishing. For in election there is the assurance that God loved sinners from eternity, that He loved sinners with such invincible love that He did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for them. The evangelist should know this truth to be aglow with hope for those who, under the conviction of sin, are tempted to believe that so grievous are their sins that God could not love them and save them. Election shows the character of God's love, that it is love for the lost, that it is sovereign love, not determined by the degrees of sinnership but by the mere good pleasure of God and therefore not in the least incompatible with the sinnership and hell-deservedness of those who are its objects. It should be apparent how close a bearing election has upon the most urgent demands of a practical evangelism.
LIMITED ATONEMENT. It is often argued that the doctrine of definite or limited atonement is quite foreign and even inimical to the interests of evangelism. For how, it may be plausibly protested, can salvation be freely offered to the lost and its claims pressed upon them if salvation has been procured only for a limited number? Proper analysis of the salvation offered to lost men will show, however, that only on the basis of a definite atonement can full salvation be offered to lost men. True evangelism must ever bear in mind that it is not the mere possibility of salvation nor simply provision for salvation that is offered freely in the gospel. It is rather salvation full, perfect and free. For it is Christ in all the glory of His person as Saviour and Redeemer and in all the perfection of His finished work who is offered to sinners in the gospel. This glory and this perfection that reside in Christ as Saviour have come to reside in Him only by virtue of what He has done in His capacity as the captain of salvation. And what He has done in this capacity is not that He made the salvation of all men possible, nor that He made provision for the salvation of all, but rather that He wrought and purchased redemption. It is salvation with such completeness and perfection that is presented to lost men in the full, free, and unfettered call of the gospel. But only on the basis of a limited atonement could such salvation and redemption be wrought and only on the basis of a limited atonement can such salvation be offered. We should not then be loathe to make known to lost men the real nature of the extent of the atonement. For bound up with a limited extent is the real nature of the salvation and of the Christ offered. If we universalize the extent of the atonement we must limit its efficacy and when we limit its efficacy it is an impoverished and truncated salvation that the ministers of evangelism have to offer. Just as we mutilate the salvation offered so do we empty our message of the irresistible appeal that the proclamation of a full and perfect salvation provides. Evangelism thereby not only proves itself unfaithful to the fullness of the gospel but also robs itself of that which is indispensable to its effectiveness, namely, the recognition on the part of men of the claim, privilege and opportunity that the full and free offer of Christ entails.
TOTAL DEPRAVITY. The doctrine of total depravity and inability must not be compromised and avoided in the conduct of evangelism. It is true that any emphasis upon this doctrine appears quite inappropriate in dealing with the unsaved. For the assertion of human inability seems to cut the nerve of any motive to that exercise of faith and repentance which is the demand of the gospel message, and it may very plausibly be contended that evangelism should not prejudice the urgent demand for faith by proclaiming human inability. It is also true that men have oftentimes shielded themselves against the claims and demands of the gospel by pleading the subterfuge of their own inability.
It must be recognized, however, that human inability does not remove responsibility and neither does the abuse of inability, arising from the perversity inherent in human depravity, provide us with any valid reason for deceiving men with respect to the real nature of their moral and spiritual condition or for withholding from them the truth with respect to the consequences of that condition.
But, to speak more positively, it is the self-sufficiency that proceeds from failure to appreciate our complete spiritual bankruptcy and impotence that is the greatest obstacle to that contrition of heart that alone creates the state of mind requisite to the appropriation of the gospel of grace. Evangelism must produce, by God's grace and the operations of the Spirit, a deep sense of helplessness in the minds of those evangelized. Without conviction of sin there will never be acceptance of the gospel. It is the preaching of man's total depravity and inability manifested in the overt transgression of God's law that is calculated to induce this sense of sin, of helplessness, and of need. And so this doctrine of depravity and inability is not only necessary as belonging to the whole counsel of God but is also one of the most fruitful elements of that counsel in promoting the interests of wholesome and effective evangelism.
Particular Requisites of the Message
THE CONVICTION OF SIN. The most formidable barrier of effective evangelism in any generation, and particularly accentuated in ours, is self-sufficiency and self-righteousness. It was the witness of our Lord Himself that the whole need not a physician but they that are sick. One of the primary tasks of the evangelist, therefore, is to bring the demands of law and gospel to bear upon the consciences of men so that they may be convinced of the reality of the condemnation to which they are subject, of the reality of their separation from God, and of the certainty of eternal doom apart from the gospel of redeeming grace.
One of the most appalling defects of much present-day evangelism is the absence of any consistent and sustained emphasis upon the holiness, justice, and authority of God. This defect is illustrated very concretely in the failure to proclaim and apply the binding authority and sanction of God's law, summarily comprehended in the ten commandments. It is as these commandments are brought to bear upon the hearts and lives of men that the effect referred to by the Apostle Paul is produced, "I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died" (Rom. 7:7), "Verily I had not known lust except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet" (Rom. 7:9). This conviction is an invariable result of faithful proclamation of the binding claims and sanctions of the law of God and we must not deceive ourselves by thinking that the sophistication of which modern philosophy has made men victims in any way abrogates the divinely established rule that by the law is the knowledge of sin. Only the sharp arrows of God's commandments can pierce the heart of the King's enemies and only these can lay low the self-sufficiency of human pride.
A conspicuous defect, closely coordinated with the foregoing, is the absence of warning and of condemnation in evangelistic effort. The naturalistic temper of our age, united with its callousness, makes the doctrine of hell peculiarly uncongenial. It is more often the subject of crude jest than it is of solemn warning or foreboding. The supposed politeness of modern etiquette has too often succeeded in creating the sentiment that any serious reference to hell and damnation is not accordant with the canons of good taste. These evils have in many cases ensnared even the orthodox.
But hell is an unspeakable reality and if evangelism is to march on its way it must by God's grace produce that sense of condemnation complexioned by the apprehension of perdition as the due reward of sin. For it is in the anguish of such a sense of condemnation, in the anguish of a conscience that stings with the apprehension of the wrath and curse of God, that the gospel of God's free grace becomes as cold water to a thirsty soul and as good news from a far country.
THE FREE OFFER OF THE GOSPEL. As pertinent to this subject there are in particular two evils that have to be avoided. The first is the presentation of the gospel with an Arminian complexion or on an Arminian basis. A very considerable part of the evangelism that has been conducted for several decades, if not for the last two centuries, has been of an Arminian character. This type of evangelism proceeds on the assumptions that Christ died to save all men or, at least, to make provision for the salvation of all men, and that all men have by natural retention or by gracious restoration the ability to believe in Christ. The overtures of grace in the gospel are therefore presented on the assumption that God has done His utmost in this matter of salvation and that now it is left to men in the exercise of their own autonomous will to accept Christ. The really decisive factor in the matter of salvation, now that Christ has died and is freely offered by men, is held to be the autonomous decision and action on the part of men themselves.
It must be admitted that this construction of the gospel and of man's responsibility and opportunity has many appealing and plausible features. In favor of it might seem to be the fact that it has produced mighty results. Indeed it has seemed to many that this is the only feasible way in which to present the claims of Christ and the appeal for faith. Being the predominant form of evangelism in many parts, people of Reformed persuasion have readily fallen into line with this type of evangelistic effort.
Oftentimes, as an accompaniment of this conception of the message and of the response to the message, there has been fostered a certain type of high-pressure appeal and of emotional excitement that is scarcely compatible with the sobriety and dignity that ought to characterize the preaching of the gospel and scarcely consistent with the deliberateness and intelligence appropriate to the exercise of faith in Christ as Saviour and Lord.
The second evil is that of hyper-Calvinism. Those thoroughly convinced of the error of Arminian anthropology and soteriology have quite properly reacted from the type of evangelism that is the characteristic expression of it. But deep persuasion of the particularism of the plan of salvation and revulsion from Arminian evangelism have sometimes been the occasion for the abandonment of evangelism altogether or, at least, for the denial of the full and free offer of the gospel to lost men. If this reaction does not go the length of theoretically denying the free offer of the gospel, it nevertheless manifests itself in a conspicuous awkwardness and lack of spontaneity in the preaching of the free offer. Reaction from the error of Arminian doctrine and methods together with persuasion of man's total inability and God's absolute predestination have rendered many unable to understand or work out in practice the complete congruity of man's inability and of consistent particularism in the plan of salvation with the full, free, and unfettered offer of Christ to lost sinners, and they have also been unable to appreciate the congruity of man's inability and God's predestination with the necessity for the most urgent and passionate appeal for the exercise of faith and repentance.
The only proper path for true evangelism is the path that lies between these two extremes. Evangelism must understand that election and the particularism of the whole process of redemption puts no fence around the free offer of Christ in the gospel. Neither does human inability and the necessity of efficacious grace in any way circumscribe the offer of a free and full salvation to those who are dead in trespasses and sins. And the responsibility, privilege and opportunity of lost men as they are confronted by the external call of the gospel are not in the least curtailed by the fact that efficacious grace is indispensable to the saving exercise of such responsibility and to the saving embrace of the privilege and opportunity.
HUMAN NEED AND RESPONSIBILITY. In earlier parts of this report on the message of evangelism stress has been laid upon the necessity of intelligent evangelism. But evangelism must also be zealous and persistent. The zeal of evangelism must find its origin in the recognition of the gravity of sin and of its consequences. Sin is directed against God's glory and majesty and it has its consequence in alienation from Him. Lost men are therefore in desperate need of the gospel. Apart from the faith of the gospel the only outlook for men is the blackness of darkness forever, eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power. These facts impart an irresistible urgency to the task of evangelism and require that urgent demand be characteristic of the delivery of the message. This is to say that the message of evangelism can never be presented as if it were simply a reasonable hypothesis or probability attested as good and useful by the witness of experience. It must rather be presented as the only alternative, as the absolute truth which must not be rejected except at the peril of eternal death. It must be presented as unescapable finality that there is none other name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved but the name of Jesus. And so faith and repentance must be urged upon men as not only good and useful resorts but as imperative demands and duties.
The responsibility of men as they are presented with the claims and overtures of the gospel springs not only from the gravity of their need but also from the glory and perfection of God's gracious provision in Christ. Evangelism must impress upon those who are the subjects of it the heinousness of the sin involved in the rejection of such unspeakable grace. To reject the gospel is to offer insult to the supreme revelation of God's glory. It is the claims of God's glory, as that glory reaches the zenith of its disclosure in the person and work of Him who is the image of the invisible God, that cause to rest upon men so stupendous a responsibility. "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).
CHRIST CRUCIFIED AND RISEN. Evangelism must always be jealous to make Christ as the crucified and risen Redeemer the sum and substance of its message. The example of the apostle is final and conclusive in this respect. "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (I Cor. 1:22-24). "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified" (I Cor. 2:1,2).
It is doubtless true that the recording of Christian experience has its proper place in Christian testimony, and the record of the experiences which are the fruit of God's saving grace has often exercised a powerful influence for good upon the godly. It is also true that godly life is an indispensable element in our witness to the power of the gospel. But evangelism has been ensnared by the subtlety of Satan when it regards the witness of Christian experience as that which constitutes testimony to Christ. Too often an egocentric interest and emphasis, very plausibly bearing the appearance of doing honor to Christ, has nevertheless grievously perverted the true witness of evangelism. We must ever be faithful to the import of the apostle's word, "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake" (II Cor. 4:5).
The preaching of Christ is the preaching of Christ crucified. Christ is not truly preached unless there is the offense that is to Jews a stumbling block and to Greeks foolishness. This offense that inheres in the cross lays evangelism open to the temptation to eliminate or tone down that which appears to imperil the success of evangelistic effort, the temptation to withhold, at least at the outset, the very kernel of the gospel of grace. This is fatal dishonor to Christ and nothing more successfully insures that the gospel we preach is not the gospel but the wisdom of man. It is the cross of Christ as the exalted Lord that embodies the supreme revelation of the justice, love, and grace of God, and to eliminate or tone down the offense of the cross is to preach another than the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is to fall under the condemnation of the inspired apostle who, after having testified that the Lord Jesus Christ "gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father" (Gal. 1:4), also wrote, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed, . . . For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Gal. 1:8,10).
Chapter Two: The Prerequisites of Evangelism
The prerequisites of evangelism, as conceived of in this chapter, pertain for the most part to the individual and deal with the moral and spiritual qualities which ought to characterize the person who engages in the work of evangelism.
PERSONAL FAITH. The person who is to perform the work of evangelism ought to be a true believer. It is not to be supposed that unconverted persons may not be used by God as His instruments in propagating the gospel. In His sovereign grace God may use the efforts of those who do not themselves know the saving power of the gospel. It is the Word of God that is the power of God unto salvation and its efficacy does not depend upon the character of the person who may be the minister of it. But, though God may effectually use the Word communicated through unconverted persons, it nevertheless is true that everyone who makes the gospel known to others and urges its claims upon them is guilty of hypocrisy and insincerity if he himself does not believe and obey the gospel. It is also axiomatic that only the person who believes and obeys the gospel can be an effective and faithful witness to its truth and power.
It is requisite that the foundation of all other moral and spiritual qualities be laid in personal faith in Christ as Saviour and Lord and in the intelligent understanding of what personal faith in Christ and obedience to Him mean. Heart-searching should, therefore, begin with the question of personal relation to God and to Christ in giving all diligence to make our calling and election sure.
ORTHODOX BELIEF. It is requisite that the faith that is to be propagated through evangelism be the true faith and therefore it is the responsibility of the church to insure that those who bear the message of salvation to the lost have themselves orthodox belief and an intelligent understanding of that which they are to promote. It is the truth of the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation and though God is pleased to use imperfect and unworthy instruments in the promotion of His cause yet evangelism is never promoted by ignorance and distortion.
HUMILITY. The person conducting evangelism is one who is wholly indebted to divine grace and he must continue to be aware of complete dependence upon God's grace. He must therefore be clothed with that humility which is the appropriate expression of this indebtedness and dependence. He brings the gospel and its claims not in the spirit of self-righteousness nor with a sense of superiority but as a sinner saved by grace and with a profound realization of the fact that he proclaims not himself but Christ Jesus the Lord. "Humility is to the Christian what ballast is to the ship; it keeps him in his proper position and regulates all his thoughts and feelings. A ship with all its sails expanded to the wind, if it were without ballast, would be capsized by the first violent blast; thus many high professors in the church make speedy shipwreck, because they go forth without humility" (Archibald Alexander, Practical Sermons, p. 262).
Shipwreck may be made in two respects ù in relation to God and in relation to men.
If the messenger of the gospel is not imbued with humility then he must needs rely upon his own strength and this is the pride that God resists. It is to the humble God gives grace.
If the messenger of the gospel is not imbued with the humility that emanates from a sense of sin and from the grace of contrition, then a barrier will be erected between him and the persons whom he seeks to evangelize. Conceit when it wears the costume of piety is not only the opposite of the spirit engendered and cultivated by the grace of God but it is also repellent even to the ungodly. Evangelism should never be responsible for creating such prejudice against its message. It should always be jealous to show the lost that the difference between the saved and the unsaved is wholly due to the exceeding greatness of God's grace, and the attitude of those promoting evangelism should be a living exhibition to this truth.
CONSECRATION. Consecration is a necessary prerequisite from two points of view it is necessary for consistent testimony to the truth and power of the gospel and it is necessary for power in the work of evangelism.
The gospel proclaimed in evangelism is the gospel of salvation from sin and to holiness. Inconsistency in the life of those conducting evangelism is one of the most serious obstacles to effective evangelism. The mind of the natural man is not hospitable to the gospel; it is rather enmity against it. Though inconsistency on the part of Christians does not make the gospel untrue, yet the unregenerate are quick to seize upon the inconsistency of the witnesses to the gospel as an argument against the truth and power of the gospel itself. Hence evangelism must not give occasion to the adversaries to speak reproachfully.
The proclamation of the gospel should be wholehearted, sincere and persistent. If the person who proclaims the message is the victim of lust and thus divided in his loyalty, such lack of consecration must impair his wholeheartedness and sincerity and detract from the persistence and zeal with which he attends to and promotes the work in which he is engaged. The failures in personal devotion will necessarily gnaw at the root of his fervency, bring coldness and indifference into his spirit and produce perfunctoriness in the discharge of his duties, all of which result in the absence of that earnestness and power which holiness of heart and of life preserves and fosters.
Consecration will require constant heart-searching. The messenger of Christ must prove to himself the conformity of his motives and actions with his profession. He must bring his inward life, as well as his outward, to the scrutiny of the Word of God lest secret sin indulged or left alone bring defilement upon his soul and the cloud of God's displeasure upon his person and testimony. Oftentimes these secret disasters are hidden from men but they are naked and open to God and they have the most destructive effect upon the fruitfulness of the witness to the gospel. Ever-active and penitent heart-searching is the only way whereby the proper consecration and increasing sanctification can be maintained. "Search me, 0 God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23,24).
ZEAL. Zeal when intelligent is always inspired by respect for the glory of God and by love to Him. The basis upon which zeal in evangelism rests is absolute confidence in the truth and power of the gospel. The constant urge of evangelism is the recognition that the gospel is indispensable to the salvation of men. In the face of discouragement and opposition, failure and reproach, the messenger of the gospel will be certain to fall if he is not sustained by the unfaltering zeal that springs from jealousy for the honor of God against all gainsaying, from conviction of the inviolate truth of the gospel and from understanding of its indispensability and supreme preciousness.
PRAYER. The proper proclamation of the Word of God requires insight, love, and power. As regards insight, the person proclaiming must be sensitive to discern the meaning of the Word and alert to apply it to the needs and lives of men. As regards love, he must love the truth and have sympathy with men. As regards power, he must be endued with the Holy Spirit so that he may declare the Word with unction and blessing. He must, therefore, be constant in prayer as the means of securing and maintaining that illumination and quickening of the Spirit who alone can impart the insight, love and power apart from which evangelism will degenerate into cold and formal professionalism. Evangelism must on its own account be wrought in the exercise of supplication.
The messenger of the gospel must also pray for those to whom he brings the gospel. The gospel has no power in and of itself. Clear, complete and pertinent to a situation though our message be, yet the Word is impotent apart from the inward work of the Holy Spirit. The saving effect does not reside in the clarity or appropriateness of our presentation, nor in the fervency of our appeal, but in the sovereign and efficacious grace of the Spirit. This complete dependence upon God's sovereign grace provides the basis and necessity for constant and unfailing prayer that God would graciously add His regenerating, converting and sanctifying power. Such prayer receives its encouragement in the assurance that if we being evil know how to give good gifts unto our children how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.
LOVE FOR MEN. Love for lost men should not consist merely in the interest we have in the salvation of their souls. Love for lost men should rest first of all upon the recognition that they are, like ourselves, creatures created in the image of God. We should therefore have interest in them in the whole range of their being, of their relations, of their interests, and of their activities. Too often the work of evangelism has been frustrated and brought into reproach because the messengers of the gospel have shown little interest in, or sympathy with, the everyday troubles and joys, cares and interests of those to whom they minister. Evangelism must follow the example of the Saviour who identified Himself with the interests of men in the whole range of life and activity. Furthermore, evangelism must appreciate the fact that the Word of God bears upon all of life and our love and interest cannot be less extensive than the application of the Word of God. It is as the messengers of the gospel establish contact and confidence in the ordinary relations of life that they are placed in the most favorable position to bring to lost men the supreme blessing of the gospel.
This love for lost men as creatures made in God's image and this interest in them in the whole range of life must not, however, obscure the fact that they are lost men and that our supreme love for such concerns the salvation of their souls, to the end that they may glorify God in the totality of their being and of their interest. Evangelism must burn with passionate concern for the supreme need of the lost and perishing. There is always the temptation that our interest in them as men, our admiration of the many noble qualities they may exhibit and of the noble services they perform, will blind us to the reality of their alienation from God and of their enmity against Him. Love must show itself in appreciation of their deepest need and in the determination to confront them with the truth and claims of the gospel of Christ.
THE FILLING OF THE SPIRIT. God has commanded believers to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). To be filled with the Spirit is to be possessed, ruled, guided by the Spirit, and it is this filling of the Spirit that causes the fruits of the Spirit to abound and the gifts of the Spirit to be exercised with power (cf. Acts 4:31,33).
To this filling of the Spirit the following are essential.
HEART SEARCHING AND CONFESSION OF SIN. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30-32). When the Holy Spirit is grieved there is a quenching of that power with which He works in and through the believer. We must be brought in humility before the scrutiny of God's unerring judgment and pray with David, "Search me, 0 God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23,24; Cf. Psalm 51:10-13).
RESOLUTION AND ENDEAVOR TO LIVE A LIFE OF OBEDIENCE. The Holy Spirit always honors His own commandments; they reflect His own holiness. When we are filled with the Spirit we must be filled with love and jealousy for the commandments of God. This will mean that we present our bodies a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1), present ourselves as servants unto obedience and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God (Rom. 6:13,16). The believer is filled with the Spirit only to the degree in which he obeys the Word of God.
A CONSISTENT STUDY OF THE WORD OF GOD. If the believer is filled with the Spirit only to the degree in which he obeys the Word of God it follows that he must know that Word, and knowledge requires application, study and meditation. The Holy Spirit does not fill us irrespective of knowledge but through our knowledge of His will as revealed in the Scriptures. The exhortation in Ephesians 5:18, "Be filled with the Spirit" is in the context of, "Understand what the will of the Lord is" and "Speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." If we are filled with the Spirit the Word of God dwells in us richly in all wisdom.
PRAYER FOR PARTICULAR NEEDS. The most particular need is the filling of the Spirit. Earnest prayer must be directed to the supply of this need. But even more specific needs, as they emerge in the work of evangelism, should always be brought to the throne of grace. As the apostolic church laid before the Lord the particular danger which threatened their evangelistic effort, they were filled with the Spirit and enabled to witness with great power (Acts 4:31,33).
Chapter Three: The Subjects of Local Evangelism
Man did not invent the gospel of the Triune God, and the content of the message of redeeming grace is not put at man's disposal to modify or amend as he deems fit. The gospel is a "good deposit" committed to us, a "pattern of sound words" setting forth the realities of God's salvation. It is the Word of God which is quick and powerful to pierce the soul of the unconverted. But the merciful wisdom of God has not given us one standardized formulation of the gospel message to be recited to the unconverted. Just as God's work of redemption was not accomplished in a moment but wrought through the centuries to prepare for its climax in Christ, so God's revelation is marvelously rich and varied in its content. Nothing less than the whole Bible with its inexhaustible treasures of revelation is the message of the gospel. The preacher of the gospel is limited to no one stereotyped presentation. From the Law or the Prophets, the Psalms or the Gospels, the evangelist may, like Philip, begin at that same Scripture and preach Jesus.
The abounding fullness of the gospel message meets every need of the sinner's heart, whether he be rich or poor, wise or foolish, Jew or Gentile, male or female. There follows from this an important duty for evangelism. While the proclaimer of the gospel message dare not diminish the offense of the cross to please the carnal mind, yet, on the other hand, he has the obligation, so far as in him lies, to challenge the sinner with just those warnings which are most applicable to his condition, and to spread before him just those promises which point to his most evident needs.
The example of Paul is most instructive in this regard. The manner in which he presented the gospel to the Jews and proselytes in the synagogue of Antioch of Pisidia differs markedly from the manner in which he presented the same gospel to the men of the Areopagus at Athens. The pertinent variations that marked Paul's approach to sinners have been described by his own general statement regarding his manner of addressing himself to men: "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (I Cor. 9:20-22).
Above all we have the example of our Lord Himself in this regard. We need but compare Christ's dealings with Nicodemus, the rich young ruler, the woman at the well, and the sinful woman in Simon's house to see the importance of applying the gospel directly to the particular needs of the individual sinner.
Effective evangelism must always take into consideration the characteristics of those being addressed.
But granted the importance of knowing those who are the subjects of evangelism, it might still be questioned whether any brief study of so vast a field could be fruitful. In personal work certainly there is no substitute for "knowing your man." We should not regard those whom we seek to win for Christ simply as "souls" but we should seek to build up a discerning knowledge of them as persons that will provide the best background for applying the gospel directly to the individual need. But while the knowledge the soul winner must gain cannot be found in reports, there is yet some value in classifying and studying general characteristics of large groups of individuals. Such a study should help us in determining the broader methods of applying the gospel message to the needs of our age, and the basic approaches to individuals of the various classes. This report therefore will discuss some of the characteristics of the lost from a theological, psychological, and sociological standpoint. It will then relate these characteristics to the particular manifestations in various social groups: bio-social, economic, cultural, and religious. Finally, there will be given a few suggestions concerning the relation of these facts to the evangelistic method.
Characteristics of the Unsaved
THEOLOGICALLY CONSIDERED. All the Biblical doctrines regarding the nature of man are of importance for the work of evangelism. The teachings of the Bible regarding the origin of man, the unity of mankind, the nature of man as composed of soul and body, and the divine image in man all have a very evident relevance to the question of presenting the gospel to man. Of particular importance is the doctrine of sin. The Scriptures teach that men are "dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body" (Confession of Faith, VI, 2). Men not only transgress God's law, but these acts of transgression proceed from a nature that is corrupt, "utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil . . ." (Confession of Faith, VI, 4). This corruption extends to all parts of man, both physical and psychical. The whole soul is depraved: the understanding is darkened, the will perverted, and the emotions deranged. The Scriptures do not teach that depravity is developed or expressed in all equally, but the Scriptures do teach that all men are dead in trespasses and sins. Further, man is utterly unable to change his character. He cannot discern, love, or choose the things which are well-pleasing to God.
These doctrines are of the greatest importance for evangelism, for they show that a man cannot save himself, but shut him up rather to faith in God. Any evangelistic method which seeks by flattery to build up confidence in the flesh may win a better hearing. but it will not win souls. Any suggestion of an appeal to a better self in the sinner is contrary to these teachings of Scripture and works toward the ruin, not the salvation, of the soul it foolishly flatters.
Again, a recognition of these doctrines throws the greatest stress upon the importance of prayer in the work of evangelism. Except the Spirit of God move, the evangelist will preach in vain over the valley of dead bones. However skillfully the message may be adapted to the specific needs of the hearers, it will fall on deaf ears apart from the quickening of the Spirit. The work of evangelism must be conducted in the very atmosphere of prayer. Such a dependence upon the sovereign power of God will rule out not only the flattering of the natural man, but also cajoling, hypnotic, or hysterical appeals that are based on the energy of the flesh rather than on a humble dependence on the Spirit.
An understanding of another doctrine of Scripture is important for a balanced approach in evangelism: the doctrine of God's common grace. This may be defined as including any favor of any kind or degree, falling short of salvation, which this sinful world enjoys at the hand. of God. A mercy of God to all men is shown by the fact that God has, in long-suffering, withheld His judgment upon the world. Along with this Divine forbearance there is exercised a Divine restraint upon human sin and evil. God restrains evil in the world of nature also and bestows natural blessings on the just and on the unjust. And God endows sinful men with natural talents through the exercise of which many things that are relatively good, noble, and beautiful are achieved by the ungodly. In such institutions as the family and the state, and in such fields of activity as art, science, and industry are evidences of God's common grace.
There are many implications of this doctrine relating to evangelistic method. An element of the evangelistic appeal is to remind men of the mercies they have received from the hand of God and the blessings of their daily lives. Men should be told of the long-suffering forbearance of God and warned not to despise the richness of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering (Romans 2:4). This should be done not only in a general way, but specially as am plied to particular mercies that groups or individuals have enjoyed. Such an approach in evangelism will also make evident that while the gospel condemns sin in every form, and in all its manifestations, yet it does not condemn man as man, but only man as a sinner. The blessings of common grace are not annihilated but rather transformed by the gospel. The presentation of the gospel should make it plain that its call is not that men should turn from life, but from sin, and its promise is that they should have life and have it more abundantly. The appeal of the gospel may be falsified by asceticism; an understanding of the doctrine of common grace will prevent such a misconstruction.
Again, the evangelist should thankfully utilize the fruit of the non-saving operations of the Spirit in the heart of the unsaved as a means of gaining a hearing for the gospel message. For example, a man who is not a Christian may be greatly concerned that his children should have a Christian education. His love for his children and his desire that they should have good things are evidences of God's common grace, and form an obvious means of approach in discussing with the man the welfare of his own soul.
Paul's sermon on Mars' Hill is a powerful pattern for evangelistic preaching which fully recognizes God's common grace, yet unsparingly declares the ignorance of the truth and the need for repentance which characterizes the condition of the lost.
PSYCHOLOGICALLY CONSIDERED. The man who is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins is also psychologically disordered. Where there is disrelationship to God, there must be disrelationship in the self. God has created man in His image and no man can be balanced or normal whose heart is not centered on God. The sinner makes himself his god and in so doing destroys himself.
One immediate result of this basic psychological disorder is the development of illusions. The illusions are the product of man's effort to integrate his experience apart from God. The basic illusion is of course that by which man seeks most directly to replace the knowledge of God. Man creates for himself a god in his own image. Whether or not this be a matter of handcraft in the manufacture of idols, it is basically a matter of thoughtcraft, and modern civilized man is as guilty of idolatry as the ancient worshipers of Baal.
A second focus of illusion is man's estimate of his own nature and that of other men. The sinner who will not put his trust in God often has the greatest optimism regarding human nature, its goodness and perfectibility. This basic creed of humanism is the implicit presupposition in the idealistic aspect of every culture. It is held with varying degrees of confidence. Some hold that all men are basically good; others believe that the majority of men are "decent" or men of "good will"; still others regard this group as a minority. A great many men, for practical purposes, look upon it as a minority of one! Often this confidence finds expression in great enthusiasm for science, for education, or for schemes for economic betterment which it is believed will serve to release the walled-in goodness of the human heart.
Another characteristic of the disrelationship in the self is the fact that the heart of the sinner abounds in tensions and conflicts. Basic to all of these is the conflict of the sinner with God. The sense of rebellion and the consciousness of guilt before God are never completely absent from the sinner's heart. This basic hostility to God is a central disturbance which prevents the heart of the sinner from knowing any true peace. From this there follows tension and conflict in the self. The harmony of the God-centered life is gone, and in the resulting disorder one aspect of human nature wars with another: the bodily appetites with the intellectual ideals, the conscious with the unconscious, the emotional with the voluntive.
The conflict in the self is soon translated into conflict with society also. Social life on every level moves from one crisis of conflict to another. Such conflicts exist in the home life and, with the diminution of social restraint in our own country, homes are being broken up with increasing frequency by the outbreak of such conflict. The same conflict prevails between various segments of society, and between nations in the form of war. Such conflict on all levels is not rare or exceptional, but normal in the activity of fallen man. Sociologists have pointed out that it is peace, not war, which is exceptional in relations among nations, and periods of peace are in general largely spent in preparation for further war.
Another pervading characteristic of the psychological disorder produced by sin is a sense of insecurity. When true love for God and man is missing, there is always a resulting loneliness of isolation. The present is filled with conflicts, the future with fear. Underneath all immediate fears there is the fear of death and of judgment. The deep sense of insecurity in the heart of the sinner may manifest itself in the hopelessness of frustration or in frenzied activity. Often a struggle for material gain is prompted not so much by a love of the material goods themselves as by a desire to overcome this sense of insecurity.
SOCIOLOGICALLY CONSIDERED. Many different cultures have been produced by fallen man. Because of the influences of common grace, these cultures have all had elements of order. But because they are cultures developed by sinful men, they manifest on the social level the same basic disorder that exists in the heart of the individual sinner. Students of sociology and history have sought to classify and evaluate the characteristics of the various cultures the world has seen. The Christian student will do well to consider the characteristics of the culture to which we seek to bring the gospel. It is interesting to note that sociologists have classified the Western European culture of our own environment as sensate rather than as ideational. Its interest is in things rather than in ideas. The materialistic character of American culture is evident. Science is honored and developed, not for the sake of a deeper understanding of the universe, but because of its ability to produce machines. Our approach to all problems is characteristically mechanistic. The problems of economics and society are studied with a view to ascertaining a method of mechanical and outward adjustment which will remedy the difficulty. Ideals and values are approached in the same fashion. The truth of ideas is to be determined by the desirability of the results they produce. Whatever works is valid. Our culture has given up absolute standards of truth or of morality. The consequences are to be found not only in the decay of philosophic thought and in the corruption of education, but in the stony indifference to questions of religion found among even the most uneducated members of a materialistic society.
A second characteristic of our own society, of interest from the standpoint of evangelism, is the subordination of the individual. Mass production has brought standardization. Public education and mass communication are bringing about standardization of thought. The thinking of many on political and economic questions is a faithful reflection of the views of a prominent radio commentator or newspaper editor. The secularized view of life which is powerfully instilled in the public school is carried forward by the media of mass communication. The reason for the influence of such public institutions and media of communication is to be found not only in their scope and efficiency, but in the authority that most people attach to their representations.
A third aspect of our society that may well be noted in connection with the work of evangelism is its romanticism. While our culture has been chiefly concerned with material things no human culture can be purely materialistic. Insofar as our own culture has sought higher objectives, these have been most characteristically in the realm of aesthetics, rather than in occupation with moral or intellectual pursuits. The characteristic aesthetic pattern of our own environment may be called romanticism because of the close alliance that it has with sex. Reciprocal sexual passion is conceived of as providing the supreme joy and the supreme good of life. Such an ideal cannot but lead to extremes of eroticism reflected in much modern literature, art, and music. However, even where the extremes of sexuality are avoided, the ideal of the highest happiness and satisfaction is expressed in aesthetic terms that are basically romantic in character. "Love" as thus understood is added to material success as the goal of life.
Before discussing the implications of this analysis for evangelism, let us consider the particular manifestations of these characteristics of the sinner in the various social groups.
Particular Manifestations in Social Groups of the Characteristics of the Unregenerate:
I. Bio-Social Groups
RACE. The social tensions alluded to above are particularly manifest at the present time with respect to the racial groupings of men. The present crises of race relationship have been brought about not simply through the dissolving of the insulating barriers of distance and lack of communication, but more particularly through the exploitation of Africans, Asiatics, and Indians by the Europeans. At this point, as at so many others, the effectiveness of the message of the gospel will be greatly influenced by the degree to which the precepts of the gospel are manifested in the lives of Christians. The Christian must not only recognize that God has made of one blood all men, he must also manifest his conviction that there is one Christian church in which all human distinctions are swallowed up in the unity of the true Body of Christ.
SEX. In our culture there is not the need of a distinct approach in evangelism to men and to women as has sometimes been the case (in certain oriental countries, for example, where the evangelization of women presented a particularly difficult problem). The problems presented by the falsification of the sexual relation and the undermining of the home have been alluded to above.
CHILDREN. The insecurity and conflict of the home that is without Christ makes an early and deep mark in the life of the child. This is often aggravated by unwillingness on the part of the parent to accept the responsibilities of the training and nurture of the child. Material things, in the form of expensive toys, clothing, and entertainment are often substituted for time and affection. Parents frequently subject their children to emotional over-stimulation through the movies, television, and comic books chiefly as a means of relieving themselves of the care of supervising the child's activities. However, the emotional unbalance of the non-Christian parent may take an opposite form and express itself in an idolization of the child. In either case, discipline is usually at a minimum.
The importance of this particular group for evangelism can scarcely be overestimated. The child should be reached with the gospel before the deadening effects of secularization have made him so callous that he refuses to hear the gospel message. At the same time child evangelism must be thorough-going and intensive. No one carrying the gospel to children should satisfy himself with eliciting a few childish responses and then abandoning the child to a godless home, school, and community. Child evangelism must be instructional, laying a broad and deep foundation in a knowledge of the Word of God. One hour a week in the Sabbath school will not provide for the Christian training of a covenant child, nor will one hour a week in the Sabbath school be a satisfactory means of evangelizing non-Christian children. Wherever possible, such evangelization should be carried on in conjunction with day school instruction as well.
One who works with children needs to have not only a realistic grasp of the fact of original sin, but also a compassionate and sympathetic understanding of the child. Outbursts of temper and vindictiveness are often reflections in the child of the conflicts and tensions that exist in his home and in his school and play experience. The Christian teacher should acquaint herself, so far as possible, with the whole life of the child she is instructing.
ADOLESCENTS. The adolescent period is often one of crisis in the life of the individual. The sense of insecurity is frequently deepened. The youth is often frightened at his inability to control his strong, sexual desires. At the same time insecurity is often compensated for by either day dreams or fiercely burning ambition. Evangelistic approach to young people must bear in mind the rapid changes characteristic of this period. The message of the gospel should be presented with the greatest urgency. Young people should be warned of the fatal consequences of delay in committing their lives to Christ. Particular attention should be given to the questions and problems of young people. The firm and clear answers which the Word of God gives to the questions of life afford a strong foundation that the adolescent can find nowhere else. The program by which the church seeks to reach children should not taper off at the adolescent period, as is so often the case in the evangelistic Sabbath school. Rather the program must be so designed as to afford particularly individualized care and interest for the adolescent. This period represents the climax of the work that has gone before, and if it is not properly dealt with, many years of earlier preparation may prove in vain.
ADULTS. The psychological and sociological characteristics discussed above apply primarily, of course, to the adult level, but there are certain characteristics of the adult stage of experience that might be marked by the evangelist. The landmarks of life should not be neglected in an effort to present the gospel to the unsaved. Marriage, the birth of children, the death of loved ones, sickness, and financial crisis, all these things may be used as occasions for the renewed presentation of the gospel message. The physical changes of middle life may occasion not only moods of despair, but provide an opportunity thereby for the effective application of the gospel. Even the bitterness so often characteristic of the old age of the sinner may bring a complete disillusionment through which a real hearing for the gospel may be gained.
II. Economic-Cultural Groups
There are various groups of social outcasts who require particular consideration as subjects of evangelism. Included among these are the alcoholics and the prostitutes. Some of the methods of evangelism which have been developed with a view to reaching men and women on "Skid Row" are well known. From the standpoint of local evangelism the particular church should consider what economic or social groupings exist in the area where it ministers. The importance of such groupings is often recognized, but sometimes the recognition takes the form of an explicit or tacit understanding that members of a given group are not included among the "prospects" which the church is seeking to reach. Any such attitude is very wrong, whether the particular groups be at the top or the bottom of the social ladder. Efforts should be made to reach them in a way adapted to their own particular needs. Immigrant groups, itinerant workers, the country club set, all should be approached with the gospel. The church, of course, has a particular responsibility to show mercy in Christ's name to the poor, the needy, and the outcasts. Here again an important principle is an understanding of the background of the particular class that is being approached with the gospel.
Ill. Religious Groups
THE INDIFFERENT. From a religious standpoint, by far the largest group of the subjects of evangelism must be put in this class, as would be anticipated from a study of our culture generally. Everyone who has sought to present the gospel has felt at times that any attitude would be preferable to that of stony indifference. It must be remembered, however, that every sinner has a heart of stone and is deaf to the Word of the Cross apart from the working of God's Holy Spirit. The indifferent man is no better or worse in this regard than every man who is lost. Even indifference, in a sense, constitutes an opportunity. No man can be ultimately indifferent to God, and the present attitude of seeming indifference is certainly preferable to a fanatical zeal for some false religion.
The first requisite of the Christian worker dealing with the indifferent is a real awareness of the man's need. Often the one who is religiously indifferent will create the outward impression of being perfectly happy and content. He will give no outward evidence of lacking anything that he does not have. Dealing with such a man, one must learn to penetrate the "front" that he has set up. The subject must be helped to recognize his own need. To this end the presentation of the law of God is vital. It is sometimes possible to move from a secondary need that is recognized to the primary need concerning which the man has been deluding himself. A man may be concerned about some sin which he regards in a very light way as a rather annoying bad habit. There may be a question he has concerning some particular point in the Christian message as he understands it. There may be a family problem. People are never as indifferent as they seem. When a man does appear to be indifferent to religion we must seek to discover what he is concerned about, and try to move from that concern to the deepest issues of life.
ROMAN CATHOLICS. In dealing with this class it is best first to remember the wide variations among people who may be called or who will call themselves Catholics. The Roman church lays claim, in statistics at least, to every person it baptizes, no matter what his subsequent religious history. Many people who call themselves Catholics neither believe nor practice Romanist religion. Such people will have to be dealt with according to the beliefs that they do hold. Other special groups of Catholics include those of particular national backgrounds. Many areas have communities of Italian, Polish, or Irish Roman Catholics. Christians of similar backgrounds have an evident advantage in reaching such groups.
Since Roman Catholicism is essentially a good works religion it is important to present to Roman Catholics the doctrine of salvation by grace and justification by faith, using particularly Paul's exposition of these doctrines in Romans and Galatians. The sacredotalism characteristic of Roman Catholicism must also be confronted with the teaching of the Bible regarding the direct operation of God in the heart of the sinner and the direct appeal of the sinner to God as his Saviour. Frequently, Roman Catholics will be found to be quite cynical about the abuses of power characteristic of certain priests, or about the continual pressure of the church for money and the evident commercialism with which religion is frequently dispensed. In such cases an opportunity exists to point out that these abuses, together with the encouragement of superstition and the minimizing of the teaching of Scripture, are not accidental, but flow from the fundamental presuppositions of Romanist religion: that salvation is dispensed by man, and merit can be earned by good works.
Roman Catholics should be urged to read the Bible, if possible, the American Standard or Authorized versions. However, if the Roman Catholic refuses to read any version not approved by the Church, urge him to do this at least and to concentrate on the text rather than on additional notes.
One great task which our church faces is the education of laymen in the evangelization of Roman Catholics. As a rule Roman Catholics will not come to Protestant church services since their church forbids it. Work with Roman Catholics will therefore depend almost exclusively upon the witness of laymen. Roman Catholics will sometimes attend informal meetings in the home where the Bible is discussed. It must be remembered that even the most fanatical Roman Catholic cannot find peace of heart and the knowledge of sins forgiven in the religion of Rome. One should not be discouraged if efforts to point out the errors of Romish teaching seem futile. A positive presentation of the comforting realities of the gospel of grace is a central part of the presentation of the gospel to any lost sinner, including the Roman Catholic.
THE MODERNIST. This category is again a most inclusive one. It is important to determine in just what sense, to what degree, and for what reasons the particular subject of evangelism holds to modernistic views. Sometimes it will be found that one basic misunderstanding of the Scripture is pivotal in the modernistic thinking of a particular person. Sometimes it is a misunderstanding concern ing the nature of inspiration. At other times it is incredulity regarding miracles. In such cases it is of the greatest importance, of course, to give the Scriptural answer to the problem involved. In many other instances modernistic beliefs are the product of training in liberal churches, and the subject is utterly unaware of the teachings of Biblical Christianity. It is always important in dealing with modernists to make it plain that modernism is not Christianity, but another gospel. Dr. Machen's Christianity and Liberalism is an excellent summary of considerations which should be placed before the modernist. It must be remembered that modernism's naive confidence in the goodness of human nature has suffered severe disillusionment in the course of two world wars. Evangelists should stress the realism of the approach to sin in the Scriptures and the supernatural power of God's salvation in Christ. Often the best approach to a modernist is a discussion of the meaning of the incarnation, the resurrection and the Lord's Supper. The modernist will consider such matters essential parts of Christianity, and the exposition of any one of them can make clearly evident the distinction between Christianity and liberalism. The appeal of the book of Galatians against turning back from Christianity to a false gospel of good works applies directly to modernism and should be used directly by the evangelist.
SECTS. It is of great importance that the particular positions taken in the teachings of a given sect be known in dealing with members of that sect. It is also important to analyze what might be called the psychological motif of a given sect and in particular the reason for the adherence of the individual subject of evangelism to that particular sect. Some sects, such as Mormonism, have established a community and cultural life of their own. Some sects, such as Christian Science, show a lessening emphasis on doctrine, even their particular doctrines, and are little different in character from the liberal churches with which they are sometimes affiliated. Other sects, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, demand the greatest zeal of their followers and conduct a vigorously polemic program of proselytization. It is often most illuminating to discover how the particular individual came to be an adherent of this last sect. Often a contributing factor is disgust with the liberal counterfeit of Christianity or with the Romanist church. Here is, of course, an excellent point of contact for the evangelistic approach.
THE ANTI-RELIGIONIST. Once again the importance of discerning the causes of the subject's attitude toward religion should be noted. Most frequently the individual who claims to be an atheist has had a Catholic background and judges Christianity by Catholicism. Often the subject has suffered a profound disillusionment at the conduct of a professing Christian towards him. Children of hypocritical parents often rebel against religion. But while it is important to discover the reasons for the subject's attitude, it is also important to talk over with him his opposition to the gospel. The prohibition which the evangelist must observe is not that of avoiding all discussion or argument with the unbeliever, but that of identifying his own pride with the cause of the gospel and becoming angry or excited in the discussion. The avowed atheist is undoubtedly familiar with heated arguments and presumably enjoys them. He may be much impressed, however, by a winsome and loving defense of the truth. The evangelist must have a vigorous Scriptural apologetic to deal with the educated atheist or agnostic. This class of persons has been on the increase for many years in our own country due to the antitheistic system of education.
THOSE WITH COVENANT BACKGROUND. The evangelist has a great advantage in dealing with children of the covenant who have once been instructed in the truth, or who have apparently made an intelligent profession of faith in Christ. The particular warnings of the Scripture against those who trample under foot the blood of the covenant should be employed to emphasize the seriousness of turning back to a life of sin after professing faith in Christ or having been instructed in the way of truth. The Scriptural account of Christ's restoration of Peter after his sin may be used to call such persons back to repentance.
Application to Evangelistic Method
The above outline of the subjects of evangelism suggests a number of considerations with regard to evangelistic method.
The importance of awareness of the need of the unconverted has already. been stressed. Any study of the true condition spiritually, psychologically, and socially of the lost reveals the desperate need in the heart and life of the sinner. A real awareness of this fact helps the evangelist to penetrate the facade of happy normality which the sinner seeks to erect.
A second consideration is the importance of applyirjg the gospel to the individual needs of the particular sinner. The diversity encountered even in the highly generalized classifications of this report is great. Such diversity is many times multiplied when the individual subjects of evangelism are considered. This means that one basic form of evangelistic method must always be personal work. Often evangelism is unthinkingly equated with mass evangelism. Scripture abounds in instances of personal work, and the missionary campaigns in the New Testament used personal witnessing and preaching of the Word from house to house as an integral part of their advance. Another consideration supporting this conclusion is the fact that the secularism of our culture makes it increasingly difficult to bring people together to hear the preaching of the Word. The most lavish publicity for evangelistic meetings leaves hosts of American untouched, and the effectiveness of evangelistic campaigns of this character is largely dependent upon personal work both before and after the meetings.
A third consideration is the importance of sympathy and tact in the evangelistic approach. Because the subjects of evangelism do differ so vastly, we must not come with one stock approach in seeking to reach the lost.
Fourth, the whole Bible must be used in evangelism. The gospel is an absolute and complete answer to every need in the heart of the sinner, but the whole gospel must be employed. A portion of Scripture neglected in the evangelistic message may be the very portion of Scripture which will strike home to certain particular subjects of evangelism. The preachings of the Old Testament and of the law of God are especially necessary to arouse men from the carelessness and indifference of secularism that has been found so characteristic of the subjects of our local evangelism. The law of God should also be applied to the concrete problems and sins of our time. Man should hear the application of the Word to the problems of the particular sphere of life in which they are interested.
Fifth, the gospel appeal should be supported by the evidence and utilization of kingdom forces. The daily walk of the Christian in his business and social relationships has a direct relationship to the effectiveness of his own witness and that of the Christian evangel in his own community. The Christian whose own standards have succumbed to the materialism and romanticism of our culture is in a very bad position forpropagating the gospel. On the other hand, the Christian whose life manifests the implications of Christian living in godly walk preaches the gospel by his very conduct, and his words will come with power.
What is true of individual Christians is true also of the Christian community. Christians must be prepared to. make the greatest sacrifices so as to evince to the world the character of the relation of Christians to one another. Particularly in urban areas it is often the case that members of the Christian church fellowship together only on the Lord's day, and are swallowed up in the environment of the world throughout the rest of the week. Christians should fellowship and work together for the kingdom of God. There is great power in Christian work done by small groups of Christians. A few Christians fellowshiping together in a home in the afternoon may invite non-Christians to meet with them and in an informal and social atmosphere discuss the Scriptures. Christians at a factory or office may make similar contacts during the lunch hour. Christians should also work together in seeking civic betterment. Many opportunities for evangelism may be opened through such activity. The responsibility that Christians have for the instruction of their children affords also a means of evangelism. The activities of a Christian School Society are a witness to the community of the power of the gospel. Often non-Christian children and their parents may be evangelized through the work of a Christian school.
Sixth, a diversified literature of evangelism must be developed. Such literature must include tracts aimed at the various broad classes of the subjects of evangelism. The literature ought also to recognize the characteristics of our culture and seek to present the gospel in a form that will gain a hearing. There is a great opportunity to present the gospel through the discussion of current sociological, political, and psychological problems from a Christian standpoint. The inculcation of antitheistic theories in public education calls for a literature of Christian apologetics and evidences, particularly in the fields of biology, geology, and archaeology. The literature of the gospel need not be limited to exposition and argument. There is room also for Christian novels and poetry. The works of C. S. Lewis are a fascinating example of how religious principles may be presented to modern readers in the form of a novel (the trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength).
Seventh, other methods of mass communication should be utilized in the service of the gospel. While this principle is generally recognized and much is being done along these lines, there is much more activity possible, especially on the local level. Local support by way of advertising and promotion of the Back to God Hour, for example, could be greatly increased. Local newspapers and radio stations should be contacted from time to time so that opportunities which arise may not be missed. The local distribution of Christian magazines is another means of accomplishing this purpose.
Chapter Four: The Evangelistic Meeting
There are broadly speaking at least six ways of reaching men with the gospelby personal work, by tract distribution, by radio preaching, by catechetical and Sabbath school classes, by evangelistic sermons preached from time to time by the local pastor, and by the holding of a special series of meetings. The last of these methods may properly be described as evangelistic meetings. These six methods of proclaiming the gospel are not mutually exclusive but complementary.
In this part of the report, however, we are concerned only with the evangelistic meeting. Strictly speaking there are two types of evangelistic services, the one more formal and the other less formal. In the first type all the acts of worship which are regularly employed in a worship service should be used. In the second type only those exercises which are essential to the presentation of the gospel need be used. Scripture warrant for the first type of service is to be found in such passages as Acts 13:14-49; 17:1-4; 18:4. Such passages as Acts 17: 17,22ff.; 19:8,9; Matt. 3: 1ff. provide us with Scripture warrant for the second type of service.
It is also evident from these two groups of passages that we are warranted in holding a series of evangelistic meetings of either type.
It is true that the evangelistic meeting has fallen into disrepute. It is in disrepute with the public because so often this type of meeting is marred by sensationalism, emotionalism, and commercialism. It is in disrepute in Reformed circles also because the messages are as a general rule thoroughly Arminian. We must not, however, allow these abuses to deter us from a proper use of this method. It is as unscriptural to have no evangelistic meetings as it is to have the wrong kind. We must reject the abuses and make proper use of this Scriptural method of presenting the gospel.
Special meetings may also be held for the purpose of reviving and strengthening the saints. We have a number of instances in the Old Testament where special assemblies of God's people were called for this purpose. It is well that from time to time meetings be held solely for this purpose.
The reviving and strengthening of believers will also help to prepare the church for evangelistic meetings. Ideally, the congregation should be in a revived state before the special evangelistic effort is made in order that the people may be ready to do their part.
It is not practical, however, to hold meetings devoted exclusively to this purpose. In this case the two types of meetings may be combined. The first week of the meetings may be devoted to the quickening and edifying of the saints and the second week to the reaching of the unsaved with the gospel.
In this article, however, we shall devote ourselves exclusively to the evangelistic meeting.
There are at least three factors to he taken into consideration in selecting the time for evangelistic meetings.
LOCAL CONDITIONS. In most communities there will be periods in which local conditions make it inadvisable to hold special meetings. If the public is to attend them we must try to select a time which will be suitable to the public. In selecting such a time we should take into consideration such factors as: working conditions, probable weather conditions, and vacation periods.
THE NECESSITY FOR AN ADEQUATE PREPARATORY PERIOD. If the meetings are to be well attended and fruitful there must be ample time beforehand to inform and to interest the community at large and to do the necessary ground work with unsaved and backslidden individuals in the community.
THE AVAILABILITY OF A SUITABLE EVANGELIST. This factor is of importance because we not only desire the public to attend these meetings, but we also want them to hear the whole gospel proclaimed with simplicity and power. Care should therefore be taken to secure the evangelist as much as six months or a year in advance.
It is advisable to hold evangelistic meetings regularly. In so doing, we deepen the interest of the community in our church and draw strangers to it, we aid and encourage our people in their efforts to do personal work, and harvest the seed sown in previous meetings.
It is logical that such meetings should be held in the local church. There are, however, conceivable circumstances under which it would be wise to hold the evangelistic meetings in a building which would be more centrally located, accessible, or commodious.
For instructions on this subject the report in this series entitled "Preparation for the Evangelistic Meeting"  should be consulted. At this point, however, it is necessary to amplify certain instructions already given and to deal with several other questions.
1. Canvassers. In instructing this group of workers nothing should be taken for granted. They should be taught what to say in making an approach. A list of "do's" and "dont's" to be memorized may be given them. They should be equipped with printed or mimeographed canvass cards listing the information desired, and they should be required to fill out a card for each home visited. The necessity for tact must be emphasized. Care must be taken lest people may be needlessly antagonized.
2. A special group of personal workers. If large numbers are expected to attend the meetings a select group should be chosen to do personal work with inquirers each night after the meeting. There should be both men and women in this group. It may be necessary to give them additional instructions.
There are certain expenses in connection with the evangelistic meetingheat, light, advertising, and the care and remuneration of the evangelist.
The public has been disgusted and prejudiced by the type of financial appeal which it has come to associate with this type of meetings. Care must therefore be taken to keep the matter of finances in the background.
The necessary finances may be secured properly in one or more of the following ways. The evangelistic meetings should be placed in the budget of the church. If this has not been done and sufficient funds for this purpose are in the treasury, the sum needed may be secured from this source by the proper action. If funds are not available from this source an announcement could be made from the pulpit, at least a month before the meetings, in which the sum needed should be stated in detail and a request made for individual gifts to be given in advance to meet this expense.
If it is thought best to secure the necessary finances by taking up offerings in connection with the meetings this may be done in several ways. Several previously announced offerings may be received during the course of the meetings. This method is not recommended unless the expenses are very low. An offering may be received every night without any stress being placed upon it. In this case the announcement preceding the offering should be limited to a simple statement of the purpose for which the offering is being received.
The message may be brought by the pastor, by other pastors, or by an evangelist.
While some very successful evangelistic meetings have been conducted by the pastor there are some decided advantages in having an outside speaker or speakers. There are other important activities in connection with the evangelistic effort which should occupy the pastor's time both before and during the meetings. As a general rule the outside speaker will attract more people and will also be in a better position to say certain things which ought to be said.
There are some distinct advantages in having an evangelist if he is of the right type. He should be better qualified and prepared for this work than the average pastor. He should also have more drawing power. He will be present throughout the entire period to do personal work from house to house as well as after the evening meetings. The fact that the people will have the opportunity to become acquainted with him should make his efforts in this respect more effective. With a single speaker there should be a continuity not only to the messages but also to the entire effort which might otherwise be lacking.
The primary purpose of the evangelistic meeting is the presentation of the gospel to the unsaved. The type of meeting contemplated in this report, however, should properly be regarded as a service of worship. It is proper, therefore, that it should include the praise of God in song. It is not only honoring to God thus to extol His praises in the presence of unbelievers but it is also highly conducive to their instruction and conviction.
It is not to be supposed that the songs adapted to this type of meeting are only those that are commonly regarded as suited to evangelistic services. In accordance with the position taken in the chapter "The Message of Evangelism," it must not be forgotten that the whole counsel of God is the message of evangelism and therefore the songs should cover the whole range of the materials God has provided for the extolling of His praise in the service of song.
It is highly appropriate, however, that the songs used in a particular service should be adapted to the message given and in this way express through song the praise of God that bears most directly upon the message. Since the repentance and conversion of the unsaved are always the aim of the evangelistic meeting, the penitential psalms are peculiarly fitted to give expression to the confession and penitence that may by the grace of God be induced in the unsaved. Songs expressive of God's holiness and judgment afford an appropriate background for the presentation of the gospel.
Any special music that is sung should have as its purpose the glorification of God and the preparation of the minds and hearts of the listeners to receive the saving truth of God's Word. For this purpose, songs may be sung immediately preceding or following the presentation of the message. The evangelist should see that the messages of these songs are consonant with the sermon subject and the particular aim of the meeting.
It is indispensable that the music used should be adapted to the sentiment of the songs sung. The music should always be stately, and consonant with the worship of God. As far as possible the tunes should be familiar to the audience. But the quality of the music should not be sacrificed to familiarity with an inferior type of music that is frequently associated with the evangelistic meeting. A new epoch in evangelism can well be inaugurated by discarding the flippant music that has obtained such vogue in modern evangelism.
Only consecrated talent should be employed in leading the praise of God. If the local congregation is lacking in the proper talent, the services of qualified persons from other Orthodox Presbyterian congregations or from other evangelical churches should be sought. It is highly necessary that thorough preparation should be made in advance with respect to the music so that the praise of God may be conducted in as skillful and efficient a manner as possible. Haphazard conduct of the singing will prove seriously detrimental to the effectiveness and success of the evangelistic meeting.
In accord with the principle of the free offer of the gospel to all men attention should be given to the manner in which the invitation is given to the unsaved to repent of sin and believe on Christ.
The invitation or call to sinners should be an all-pervasive feature and the fitting climax of the evangelistic message. The authority with which the call of God comes and the urgency of responding to that call should pervade the entire evangelistic message. The message should be climaxed by pleading, beseeching, inviting, exhorting all, "be ye reconciled to God." With compassion, simplicity, as a dying man to dying men, should this be done. The invitations should flow naturally from the portion of God's Word that is being preached. This will afford variety, and avoid the danger of being forced or mechanical in sounding forth the sweet overtures of the gospel. After the sermon has been climaxed with the call to sinners, it is most appropriate that God's gracious and Holy Spirit be invoked in prayer that the Word may prove effectual unto such as should be saved.
It is imperative that provision be made for dealing with inquirers immediately after the conclusion of the evangelistic meeting. Before the conclusion of the service it should be announced that the minister is very anxious to meet with those who may want to confess Christ as their Saviour or who have questions of mind or heart that are standing in the way of their accepting Christ. It should then be announced that the minister or evangelist will meet with them privately after the benediction, or if more suitable to them will be glad to meet with them in the privacy of their own homes. Each individual inquirer may best be dealt with individually and privately. If the inquirers are numerous, elders and trained laymen may well assist the minister in this important task. After the inquirer has his particular problem answered he should again have presented to him simply and clearly the way of eternal salvation. If the inquirer accepts Christ he should be given instruction in the means of grace and a class should be arranged for his further instruction in the whole counsel of God. The confessor should be encouraged to attend this class and to show forth the fruits of the Spirit before publicly confessing Christ and uniting with His Church. We believe that this method will go a long way towards reducing the number of sham confessions and will in the end bring greater glory to God.
This type of work should be done both during and after the meetings. The pastor and the evangelist should consider calling upon strangers who have attended two or more services, especially if they are known to be unsaved. An effort should be made to secure a private appointment with that type of person who seems to be interested in the gospel but who, for one reason or another, does not appear to have responded to the invitations of the gospel given in public. If possible a list of all visitors should be made and after the meetings are over the pastor should call upon as many of such as is possible or advisable.
Chapter Five: Personal Work
Personal work is a very important aspect of evangelism. This method of presenting the gospel was widely used by our Lord. In the apostolic church this work was not only done by the ministers but by the laymen as well. This fact sheds light on its phenomenal growth. If the churches of our denomination are going to do an effective work of local evangelism then the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as a whole must be roused to the need and instructed in this type of work.
Personal work may be defined as an effort made by an individual Christian to deal with another individual concerning some spiritual matter. This work should be done with two classes of people, those who profess to be Christians and those who do not.
We should endeavor to do this type of work with the brethren to help them with their problems. As God presents the opportunities, in meekness and in love we should correct, instruct, comfort, or encourage according to our knowledge of their peculiar needs.
It is also our privilege and duty to do personal work with the unsaved. God has commanded us to be witnesses, fishers of men, and soul winners. God has called us to labor with men individually, as our Lord did with Nicodemus and with the woman at the well, and as Philip did with the Ethiopian eunuch. It is this type of personal work in which we are particularly interested in this part of the report.
The prerequisites for personal work are: personal faith, orthodox belief, humility, consecration, zeal, prayer, love for men, a working knowledge of the Scriptures, prudence, and skill. The first seven of these are fully discussed in the chapter which has to do with the prerequisites of evangelism. We shall therefore confine ourselves to a consideration of the last three.
A Working Knowledge of the Scriptures. The personal worker should have such a knowledge for two reasons. In the first place he is concerned that it should be evident to the one with whom he is dealing that he is not setting forth his own opinion of man's spiritual condition and needs, but God's revealed will. He should therefore be able to show from the Word what God has to say on these subjects. This calls for a working knowledge of the Scriptures. The soul winner must know where to find the pertinent passages from the Word of God.
It should be noted in passing that when we are endeavoring to produce Scripture proof for a certain point we will do better to confine ourselves to the use of a few well chosen passages, since a multiplicity of references may prove confusing to the one with whom we are dealing.
In the second place the Holy Spirit is pleased to work with saving grace through the Word (Heb. 4:12; Rom. 10:17).
PRUDENCE. The personal worker must be prudent in his conduct. He must not only proclaim the gospel but also strive to live a life of conformity to the Word of God. Failure in this respect is bound to weaken the effectiveness of his work.
He must also be prudent in the exercise of his Christian liberty lest he needlessly antagonize those with whom he would labor. There are conceivable circumstances under which prudence might well demand that he refrain from the use of certain things and from engaging in certain practices which are not sinful of themselves but which have been brought into disrepute through the abuse and misuse of sinful men.
The soul winner must exercise prudence in his work. Prudence must be exercised in approaching men with the gospel. Some are needlessly antagonized by the type of worker who rushes up to one with the question: "Are you saved, brother?" Prudence must be exercised in the selection of a suitable place and time to deal with an individual.
SKILL. The personal worker should possess the skill to make friends, to turn the conversation into spiritual channels, to deal with sin, to answer the inquirer's questions, to set forth the way of salvation, and to ground the new convert in the rudiments of the Christian faith.
Now while we have listed skill as a prerequisite for personal work and while a certain aspect of skill, that is knowledge, may be obtained by instruction, there is another aspect of skill, namely, expert ability which comes only with constant practice. Therefore the skill which is essential to fishing for men can be developed only by doing that kind of work. The more practice one has in the right kind of soul winning the greater his skill should become.
We are now to consider the way in which personal work is to be done. It is impossible to draw up a set of rules which will apply to every case. The method will vary somewhat with each individual. Some cases present problems that others do not. It may be necessary to strive by the grace of God to bring one individual to a consciousness of his utter sinfulness and of its implications while another may already have such a knowledge. One will have an intellectual grasp of the gospel while another will be ignorant of the most elementary truths. One man will lack salvation, another the assurance of his salvation.
The personal worker must be a diagnostician. He must analyze the needs of the individual and deal with him accordingly. We shall therefore set forth the various problems which a worker may face and offer a few suggestions as to how to deal with each.
MAKING THE CONTACT. The personal worker is to present the gospel not only to his friends but also to strangers. The question therefore arises as to how he is to contact the stranger. In the fourth chapter of John's Gospel we have recorded for us the manner in which the Lord Jesus contacted a strange woman at Jacob's well in Sychar. Our Lord did not wait for a formal introduction, neither did He approach her with the question as to whether or not she were saved. He simply began a conversation with her by asking for a drink of water.
The way to contact a stranger is to begin a conversation with him. Begin to talk about the commonplace as, for example, the weather, or the war. If the individual has any obvious interest ask him some questions along that line. There are times when the asking of some slight favor may prove to be an opening wedge.
Authorities on the subject of personal work agree that in general it is better for men to deal with men and women with women. This suggestion is designed to guard against certain real dangers which arise from the frailty and sinfulness of human nature. It is not, however, to be regarded as an ironclad rule. There are notable cases both in Bible times, and in present-day life where men have been used to deal with women and vice versa.
TURNING THE CONVERSATION. The personal worker often faces the problem of turning the conversation into spiritual channels. In dealing with the woman at the well the Lord Jesus accomplished this transition by following his question concerning physical water with a remark concerning spiritual water. The analogy between the two made the transition a natural one.
If we keep in mind this analogy between the physical and the spiritual we shall be more likely to find opportunities to turn a secular conversation into spiritual channels. We may illustrate. After questioning a miner concerning the darkness of a mine and the lighting system which dispels that darkness, would it not be easy to turn the conversation to such subjects as the darkness of sin and the Light of the world? After talking with a soldier concerning the problems of physical warfare would it not be an opportune moment to turn the conversation to the subject of spiritual warfare? Surely this should afford one the opportunity to discuss such subjects as the enemies of the soul, man's inability to cope with them, God's plan and power in respect to them, and salvation in all its aspects.
Another way to turn the conversation into spiritual channels is to lay hold on the spiritual implications of the secular statements of those with whom we are talking. For instance, when a man grumbles about the weather, that is our opportunity to speak of the providence of God. When one with whom we are talking uses profanity this presents us with an opportunity to speak with him about the third commandment and its implications.
Even as every spoke leads to the hub so every aspect of Christian truth may be made an avenue of approach to the proclamation of the gospel. Once the conversation has been turned into spiritual channels it is the task of the personal worker to keep it there until he has set before his acquaintance as full a presentation of the gospel as time and ability permit.
DEALING WITH THE SIN QUESTION. A conviction of sin is essential to a genuine conversion (Matt. 9:13). Very few with whom the personal worker deals are already under conviction. In most instances he must endeavor by the grace of God to bring the individual with whom he is dealing to a conviction of his sinfulness and a consciousness of the implications of this fact.
The soul winner should learn much from the example of Christ here as well as elsewhere. The Saviour's method in dealing with the woman at the well concerning her sins was marked by two things. There was a determination that the woman must face her sins. This is evident from the fact that He refused to be sidetracked by her statement, "I have no husband." He displayed both love and tact. He exposed her sin but spared the details. He opened the wound only as wide as was essential to a thorough cleansing.
The personal worker must be neither brutal nor condescending in dealing with those who are guilty of the more flagrant forms of sin. He must show both love and tact in dealing with all kinds of men. For instance, in dealing with a respectable citizen he should be careful to recognize this man's standing in the eyes of his fellow-men, but at the same time he must make clear to him that in the sight of God he is a hell-deserving sinner.
In dealing with the sin question the soul winner should stress three facts. He should stress the nature of sin. The word sin means to miss the mark. The mark is the law of God. Sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God. He should stress the manner in which all men have sinned. All have sinned in thought, word, and deed. They are guilty of sins of omission and commission. He should stress the consequences of sin both in respect to man's nature and his relationship to God. The wages of sin is death, that is, eternal separation from God.
Whether he is dealing with the vile or respectable the same determination should possess the personal worker, namely, that this man with whom he is now working may by the grace of God come to see himself as a helpless, lost sinner.
ANSWERING QUESTIONS. A fisher of men often faces the problem of answering questions. Some questions are asked to gain information, others would seem to be motivated only by a desire to turn the conversation from the subject at hand.
There are some valuable lessons to be learned from the manner in which our Lord answered the question of the woman at the well. He did not say, "My dear woman, forget your questions; if you will accept me they will all disappear." Neither did He launch into a long dissertation concerning the proper place of worship. Instead He answered her question in a word and then proceeded to call her attention to matters more important to one in her spiritual condition, namely, the object of her worship and the manner of worship. He said to her, "God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth." It should be noted that in most cases it will be necessary to deal with the individual concerning his concept of God. An attempt should be made to show him the fallacy and inadequacy of his present view. Then he should be faced with the concept of an absolute God and its implications. Paul's sermon on Mars' Hill presents us with an excellent example in this respect (Acts 17:22ff.).
The soul winner must endeavor to give an honest answer to the inquirer's questions. At the same time, however, he must be able to evaluate them. Those which have the least bearing on the discussion should be answered more briefly. He should cultivate the ability in answering a question to stress the aspect which is most pertinent to the discussion. Above all he must never permit himself to be sidetracked from his main purpose. As soon as he has answered the questions he should bring the conversation back to the main subject under discussion.
The personal worker must not be afraid of being asked questions which he cannot answer. If he does not know the answer let him be frank to say so and then let him go to his Bible, his commentaries, or his pastor and find the answer. If he will pursue this method the question which at first he cannot answer will prove a blessing in disguise.
PRESENTING THE GOSPEL. In most cases it will be necessary for the personal worker to proclaim the gospel to the one with whom he is dealing. Five out of every seven so-called Protestants do not even know that the gospel is the good news concerning the person and work of Christ.
In many cases it will be necessary to declare the essential facts concerning the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In so doing the following truths should be stressed and amplified. God is a triune God. Some nineteen hundred years ago God the Son took unto Himself a human nature and entered this world as the Babe of Bethlehem. The Lord Jesus Christ is an absolutely unique person with two natures. He is at once truly God and truly man. These two natures were wholly essential to the work which He came to do, namely, to save His people from their sins.
In most cases it will be necessary to make known the work which Christ came to accomplish. In this connection the soul winner might well stress and amplify the following truths: the work which is essential to salvation, namely, a perfect keeping of the law and a complete payment of the penalty for sin; man's utter inability to do this work; the manner in which Christ has accomplished this work by His perfect keeping of the law and His payment in full of the penalty for the sins of His people; the condition upon which God's people may embrace and enjoy the benefits of His atoning work, namely, through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In many cases all the theological terms will have to be explained. In dealing with the woman at the well the Lord Jesus made no attempt to explain the meaning of the term "Messiah," but it is evident from the narrative that this woman had some doctrinal background. With most men, however, such is not the case. If we state that Christ is the Messiah we must go on to explain: the meaning of this term, the offices to which He was anointed, and what is the work of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king. We cannot even take for granted that men know the meaning of the term "saved" but must explain that it means to be delivered from sin and its consequences. We must also explain what it means to have faith in Christ and in so doing, we must distinguish between believing the facts about Christ and placing one's trust in Him for salvation. It should be made clear that the former is insufficient and that both are essential to saving faith.
GIVING THE INVITATION. This subject has been dealt with at some length in Chapter I, "The Message of Evangelism." Hence we shall confine ourselves to the following remarks. After the presentation of the gospel the next task of the personal worker is to invite the one with whom he is dealing to accept the gospel.
This person should be invited to consider:
Such commandments of God as Mark 1:15 . . . "Repent ye and believe the gospel."
Such invitations of Christ as Matt. 11: 28ff. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." The soul winner should explain that this is an invitation to accept Christ as a prophet, as a priest, and as a king.
Such promises as Romans 10:13 . . . "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." The personal worker should point out God's terms and God's promise as set forth in this verse. The terms are prayer and the promise is salvation. Care must be taken to make clear the necessary content of such a prayer, namely, a confession of sin and an acceptance of Christ as his prophet, as his priest, and as his king. The individual should be urged to meet these terms and rest upon this promise at the earliest possible moment. If circumstances are suitable he should be urged to do so at that particular time.
If the individual is hesitant or reluctant in accepting the gospel invitation it is the duty of the soul winner to endeavor to persuade him. The apostle Paul said; "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men."
This persuading is not to be done in the Arminian manner of telling every individual that God loves him and that Christ died for him, but, for instance, by drawing a contrast between the individual's present state and the change which will occur if he by the grace of God should accept the gospel invitation. This man is now cut off from God, under His wrath and curse, liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever. If, however, be will call upon the name of the Lord, God will forgive his sins for Christ's. sake, accept him as righteous in His sight, make him His child and heir, bestow upon him certain blessings in this life, and reserve for him greater blessing in the life to come.
The personal worker must ever keep in mind that while God has called him to witness, to invite, and to persuade, salvation is of the Lord. Effectual calling is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is only as He quickens elect sinners and applies our words to their hearts that they shall be saved. Therefore we must always labor in a spirit of humble reliance upon the triune God.
INSTRUCTING A NEW CONVERT. If at all possible the personal worker should at once give the new convert brief instructions concerning such matters as: the assurance of his salvation, how to obtain forgiveness for daily sins, daily devotions, witnessing, church attendance, and the necessity of becoming a communicant member of some true branch of the visible church.
Chapter Six: The Open-Air Meeting
The Biblical Basis and History of the Open-Air Meeting
Preaching and teaching under the canopy of heaven is a very ancient practice. On Mount Carmel Elijah dramatically challenged the worshipers of Baal. In the streets of Nineveh Jonah called upon men to repent. In God's great out-of-doors John the Baptist heralded his great message "Behold the Lamb of God."
Our Lord Himself stood second to none in employing the background of nature as a setting for the proclamation of His saving truth. By the seashore, on "the mount," and in busy thoroughfares our Lord preached and taught. The New Testament Church was probably born in an open-air meeting on the day of Pentecost. By a river-bank at Philippi, on Mars' Hill in Athens, and in the marketplaces, the Apostle Paul heralded the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ.
During the Dark Ages the little gospel light that was preserved was due to the fact that the mendicant friars and others like them went into the highways and by-ways in the service of Christ. In pre-Reformation days the Lollards of Wyclif, the disciples of Huss, and the followers of Gerard Groot went forth with the Bible to the people. During the Reformation, since many of the established churches were closed to the true messengers of the gospel the only pulpit that some of them could use was an improvised one under the canopy of heaven.
In the eighteenth century the established church in England had become decadent and the nation was on the verge of moral ruin and economic revolution. Even secular historians, such as Lecky, attribute England's escape from ruin and revolution and its subsequent national prosperity to the Wesleyan revival. Much of the preaching of this revival was done out-of-doors. Denied the privilege of preaching within the consecrated walls of the church, Whitefield and Wesley were driven to the fields where people came by the thousands to hear the preaching of the gospel. During the Great Awakening here in America, it was again the method of open-air preaching that was so abundantly blessed of the Lord to the reviving of His people and to the extension of His kingdom.
The Great Problem of the Open-Air Meeting
There is an acute problem that confronts the open-air preacher in our day and age. The great problem is to get and hold a sizeable audience. In Whitefield's day the masses thronged to hear his message. This is not true today; the multitudes pass us by. What is the cause? What can be done to assist in the solution of the problem?
Various factors may be said to contribute to the listlessness of those whom we seek to reach with the gospel. There are the many attractive forms of pleasure. No age of ministers has had to compete with as many enticing modes of pleasure as has the minister of the twentieth century. It is reported of Moody that he looked with apprehension on the popularity of the bicycle, fearing its effect upon evangelistic meetings in America. The automobile, the radio, the moving picture, and television have done much to make the average open-air meeting appear unattractive. Another factor that has engendered a spirit of indifference to the open-air preacher is the attitude of the average educated person. He considers such a method as beneath his intellectual level and personal dignity. Even Wesley at first recoiled before the thought of open-air preaching for this reason. He knew that immediately he would be branded by many as an "ignorant and unlearned" man. But perhaps the most basic reason for the average American's antipathy toward open-air preaching is that he has been educated, however unwittingly, into a prejudice against the Christian gospel. America's antitheistic public school system and the deadening influence of modernism within the visible church have had their deadly effect upon the souls of men.
These difficulties, however, are not to be taken as valid reasons for not engaging in open-air preaching. God is sovereign, and has enabled His servants to devise methods whereby the problem of drawing a crowd has to a degree at least been overcome. We present at this point the recommendations that have come to us from ministers who have had some degree of success in obtaining a good hearing in open-air preaching. They are as follows:
Go where the people are, not where we hope they will come. In most places where we have churches, the spring and summer are the only times that weather will permit the holding of outdoor services. During these seasons the people will be found in public parks and squares, at seashore and mountain resorts, by places of public amusement, and outside factories during lunch hours. Recently provision has been made in England to have chaplains for defense industries. In at least one large industrial plant in America permission has been granted for the preaching of the gospel to the men during their lunch hour. These examples may be straws in the wind indicating a tendency to recognize the need and the worth of bringing the Word of God to the working men of our nation. Here may be an opportunity to reach the heads of families whose very souls are being crushed out of them by long hours and Sunday work. In every city and town there are areas where large numbers of under-privileged and spiritually neglected people can be found. These areas should be sought out and surveyed with a view to securing a commodious meeting place. Most important of all, pray for an open door.
Go in absolute confidence in the truth and power of the gospel and in complete reliance upon the Holy Spirit to bless. Only as the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit can we proclaim boldly, convincingly, and winsomely the everlasting gospel. To this end, we need to pray that we might be filled with the Spirit. Nothing can draw and hold so well and so surely in an open-air service as the preaching of the Word in the power of the Spirit.
There are successful ways of gathering a good audience. One way is to have a nucleus of Christians to go with the minister. A crowd draws a crowd. When the passers-by observe that a goodly number are listening they will stop to satisfy at least their curiosity. From that point on you may depend upon the Word to elicit and maintain their interest. A method that has been used by some Roman Catholics with real success in drawing a crowd is the question and answer method. The minister seeks out a passer-by and requests him to ask questions from a specified distance. The minister then proceeds to answer the man's questions. As others gather they, too, are requested to ask questions. When a sizeable group has been attracted by this method the minister may discourse on a subject of his choice.
The Message of the Open-Air Meeting
A full exposition of the message of evangelism will be found in Chapter I. In the open-air meeting as in all evangelistic meetings the full-orbed gospel of the Reformed Faith must be proclaimed if we are to experience the richest blessing of the Lord. There are, however, some important elements that should characterize the message of an open-air service that are not mentioned in the first chapter. They are the elements which are peculiar to a service of this character.
In this day of widespread doubt and skepticism with regard to Christian truth we need to preface our message by a Christian apologetic. Moody toward the end of his evangelistic work found that he could no longer begin with just the preaching of the gospel but that he must preface his message with a presentation of evidence to convince the listeners that his message was true. If this was true in Moody's day it is even more true in our day.
Simplicity should mark the presentation of the gospel out-of-doors. Our Lord spoke in parables. We can well use His parables or their modern counterpart, namely, pointed illustrations.
The message should be very pointed. It should be applied to the personal life of the listener. The world condition, the social and moral background of the individual, and the education and intelligence of the listeners must be borne in mind.
The general purpose of the message should be to convict of sin and to show the need of the Saviour. The subjects selected should be calculated to bring conviction of sin and misery, to cause a realization of the dreadful consequences of sin for time and for eternity, and to convince them of the saving power of Jesus Christ, God's Son. Such themes as the ten commandments, man's depravity, God's holiness, death, and the judgment, afford an important background for the presentation of the gospel. Where there is a stated place of meeting care should be taken to have variety and continuity of subject matter.
The Method of the Open-Air Meeting
As a general rule the better established a community is the more difficult it will be to reach it through the medium of the open-air service. In established areas it will prove helpful to have a stated place of meeting, to advertise the meeting in the local paper, and to hand out announcements of the meetings prior to the beginning of the meetings.
Care should be taken to get a permit from the local civic authorities. If difficulty is encountered, as may well be expected in areas dominated by Roman Catholic influence, it is recommended that contact be made with the American Civil Liberties Union, 170 Fifth Avenue, New York, N. Y. We should be ready and anxious to carry through to the final court of appeal any infringement upon the right of preaching the gospel.
In the conduct of the service it must be understood that the open-air service is not a worship service. There is no Biblical precedent for choosing to worship God before the gaze of an unbelieving mob. Those elements which are distinctly elements of worship such as prayer should be eliminated. The more informal the service is the more apt people are to listen.
Many testify to the assistance that good Christian music has rendered to the open-air service. The purpose of the music is twofold; namely, to attract the people, and to bring them a message. Good music attracts. The singing of a familiar song such as "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" brings a real message and may bring to the surface a memory of home or Sabbath school that may cause them to pause and listen. One method that has been employed is the use of an amplifying system on which good gospel records can be played. This has the effect of the ringing of a church bell; it calls the people in and announces that there is going to be a religious meeting. Another method that has been employed is the use of a good instrumentalist, preferably of the horn variety, accompanied by a folding organ. A fine soloist or a quartet has also been used. All preliminaries preceding the preaching of the Word should be entirely consonant with the proclamation of the gospel. All trickery and deceit for the sake of drawing a crowd is to be shunned. It must be borne in mind, too, that the emphasis should be on the preaching rather than on the music. God can bless much a service where there is much preaching of the Word with little or no music, but He can bless little the service where there is much music but little preaching of the Word.
Care should be taken to see that the Christian workers who accompany the minister do not detract from the effectiveness of the preaching by passing out literature and talking to listeners while the preaching is in progress. Christian helpers can be of great service, however, by assisting the minister in watching for and speaking to those who have been attentive to the message. This can most fittingly be done immediately after the conclusion of the service. The minister in charge should always encourage any listener to come to him after the service to ask any question that he may have. The minister and his helpers should have ready at hand a good variety of tracts to meet particular needs that arise in dealing with individuals.
Throughout the meeting the minister should try to maintain a direct contact with his audience by speaking to them eye to eye without notes.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations."
Chapter Seven: Extensive Survey Work
The purpose of an extensive survey is to seek to extend the kingdom of God by establishing a chapel or a Sabbath school in an area not served by an Orthodox Presbyterian church. A consideration of this subject is properly included in this report because our local churches should engage in this type of work whenever practicable. This is an effective way to bring the gospel to people living in areas adjacent to our churches.
Broadly speaking, a new work may be started in three types of locations: in the center or business district of a city or town, in a residential section of a city or town, or in a rural area. The advantages and disadvantages of launching a new work in each of these three types of location will be considered.
A work located in the center of the city has this advantage. It is in a position to draw people from all parts of the city who are interested. The disadvantages, however, are many. The number of people in any city who are interested in our testimony is generally too few to form a nucleus of sufficient size. In many cases it will be impossible to develop a Sabbath school in an area of this type. A work in such a location must compete for the attendance of people who live much closer to churches whose buildings, equipment and general appeal are more attractive to the public. To compete successfully under these conditions usually calls for a strong nucleus, an able preacher, a good location, good singing, a specialized program, extensive advertising, and if possible, a radio broadcast.
A work begun in a good residential section has decided advantages over one conducted in the center of the city. The population here is more stable. There are families with children from which a Sabbath school may be developed. This work will have a community appeal. It is natural and logical for people to attend a church in their own community. Furthermore, it is conducive to spiritual growth and Christian service, provided the church is a true church.
As a general rule, it is much better to attempt a work in a new rather than in an old residential section. There are distinct disadvantages in locating in an older residential section. The people are likely to have formed their church connections or to be fixed in their habit of non-attendance. They are inclined to expect more in the way of a meeting place and to look with suspicion upon new groups.
Older residential sections of a better class are likely to contain very few children. This would not be true of older sections which have been re-settled by lower classes.
On the other hand, there are advantages in locating in a new residential section which does not have a well-established Protestant church. Many of the people who have moved into the area from a distance will not as yet have formed their church connections. Those who have moved from other communities nearby will often be willing to attend and, in time, to change their affiliations. People in a new community are not as inclined to object to unusual meeting places. They expect this. They are quite likely to welcome the first reputable church which establishes a work in the area.
There are both discouraging and encouraging factors to be considered in launching a chapel or a Sabbath school in a rural area. Much time and travel will be necessary in order to contact the people and they may be slow in responding. However, if the community is promising, the effort is worth while. Rural America is still largely Protestant. The percentage of children per family is larger than in urban areas and many of these will ultimately settle in the city. A work done with these children will have a tremendous influence upon the future of the church and of the nation. In a rural community a building program can often be carried out with a minimum of expense, due to the willingness of the farmer to donate labor and materials whenever possible.
WORKING PRINCIPLES TO BE APPLIED IN FINDING A SUITABLE LOCATION FOR A WORK IN THE CENTER OR BUSINESS DISTRICT OF THE CITY.
WORKING PRINCIPLES TO BE APPLIED IN FINDING A SUITABLE LOCATION FOR A WORK IN A RESIDENTIAL SECTION.
A church may be established with a smaller exclusive area if:
A church placed in such a location will be in an area possessing both a real need and a great possibility for growth.
Either type of endeavor should reveal whether there is a sufficient nucleus and interest to warrant the launching of the project. If the results are favorable, an effort should then be made to find the most central and suitable meeting place and the work should be undertaken at the earliest possible moment. Any delay may afford those who are hostile an opportunity to disrupt the project.
If the church which is considering the project lacks the necessary equipment or funds, it may look for aid to the presbytery or to the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension.
WORKING PRINCIPLES TO BE APPLIED IN FINDING A SUITABLE LOCATION FOR A WORK IN A RURAL AREA. The distances named in this section of the report will vary in different types of rural areas.
A rural church may be established with a smaller exclusive area if:
A church placed in such a location will be in an area possessing both a real need and a great possibility for growth.
While we are quite confident that a new rural work launched under the conditions set forth in Section VI, A should be successful, and while we feel that the methods for finding a new location set forth in Section VI, B are sound, it is not maintained that these are the only conditions and methods under which and by which a new work may be established.
Either type of endeavor should reveal whether there is a sufficient nucleus and interest to warrant the launching of the project. If the results are favorable, an effort should then be made to find a central and suitable meeting place, and the work should be undertaken at the earliest possible moment. Any delay may afford those who are hostile an opportunity to disrupt the project.
If the church which is considering the project lacks the necessary equipment or funds, it may look for aid to the presbytery or the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension.
Chapter Eight: Intensive Survey Work
In this report we shall be confined to the subject of intensive survey work in contradistinction to extensive survey work. Extensive survey work has as its primary object the extension of our witness into new communities with a view to the establishment of new churches. Intensive survey work has as its primary object the reaching of the immediate and surrounding communities where our churches are already established.
Some type of intensive work is a clear implication of the great commission. Christ has commissioned His Church to "teach all nations" (Matt. 28:19) and to witness to Him "both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8b). The Church of Christ has not fully fulfilled this commission until it has done its utmost to reach all men everywhere with the gospel. No church can say that it has done all that it could to evangelize its community until a house-to-house survey and witness has been made. Peter and John "in every house . . . ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42). Paul taught "publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:20b,21). Divine precept and apostolic example would appear to make some type of intensive survey work an inescapable duty, not to mention its stimulus to spiritual and numerical growth. Up to the present time a goodly number of our churches have attempted some form of intensive survey work, but apparently a large number of churches have made no serious efforts in this direction. It is hoped that this report will be an encouragement for them to do so.
There are essentially two different though not mutually exclusive methods that have been employed with substantial success. The one has been employed rather successfully in Orthodox Presbyterian Churches. The other method has proven itself successful in the American Lutheran Church. We shall describe these methods in this order.
The method that apparently has frequently been employed in Orthodox Presbyterian churches is the securing of a woman worker for several months during the year to go from house to house for the immediate purpose of securing children for the Sabbath school or summer Bible school. Sometimes the pastor or a member of the church conducted the survey. The approach, in either case, was through the children and a specific object of interest was used as a basis of appeal to the parent and the child. This method gives the worker the advantage of offering a service rather than giving the impression of selling something. It affords an unobtrusive occasion to engage in Christian conversation and to invite the parents to the services of the church. The worker takes the names and addresses of any who give evidence of any willingness to listen to the things of Christ and gives them to the local pastor. The pastor then calls upon these contacts and seeks to interest them in a class on Christian doctrine.
The reports of those who have employed this method indicate that the results of this type of work were definite and worthwhile. Of three city churches that employed this method all reported that a very substantial number of children were reached for the Sabbath school and that a goodly number of worthwhile contacts for the pastor resulted. Some of the families contacted by this method are now believers and members of an Orthodox Presbyterian church. In one church this method has been the chief means of its growth. Of two churches located in towns (8,000 and 12,000 populations respectively) there were results corresponding to the opportunities that the respective fields afforded. In one of these the number of families reached for the Sabbath school and church compared most favorably with the number of families reached by the city churches that employed this method.
The method employed by the American Lutheran Church is to have the local pastor make forty house-to-house calls five days a week between 12:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. The pastor simply gives his name and the name of his church and asks if they could spare a few minutes to hear about his church. The immediate purpose of his conversation is to interest the adult members of the family in attending a class in Christian doctrine. This class can be conducted for a group or for an individual and consists in eight hours of instruction over a period of eight weeks. In this course the doctrines of sin, grace, and the Christian life are emphasized. Should there be no interest manifested in this class an invitation to attend the services of the church is given together with an appropriate tract.
This method has been highly successful in the American Lutheran Church and should have the serious consideration of our ministers. It must be borne in mind of course that the circumstances under which this method is employed in the American Lutheran Church are somewhat different from the circumstances in which many Orthodox Presbyterian ministers find themselves. This high standard is required only of men who are experienced preachers and who therefore have a repertoire of sermons. It must further be remembered that the average Orthodox Presbyterian minister has several more messages to prepare each week than does the average Lutheran minister. This does not nullify the fact, however, that we have scarcely begun to realize the amount of work that can and should be done by us as ministers of the gospel.
It should further be observed that the experience of some of the ministers of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church who employ the method of the American Lutheran Church has shown the advisability of recommending certain important modifications of that method.
It has been found that inviting first acquaintances to a public worship service brings far better results than inviting them to a private class on doctrine.
In one instance, only two in the neighborhood attended the class in doctrine while twenty-eight in the same neighborhood responded to the invitation to attend a church service. We therefore recommend working from the public service to the more private instruction class.
It has also been observed that informal social gatherings, preferably in homes, have been an effective means of eliciting the interest of strangers in the larger cities. The object of these gatherings is first to befriend people. Our Lord took time to do this; so must we. Christian love is indispensable to Christian witness-bearing. It is therefore recommended that an effort be made to reach the good contacts of our house to house survey work through the medium of informal social gatherings.
We do not feel that we can recommend one method of intensive survey work as superior to the other. It is not necessary that either method be used to the exclusion of the other. These two methods might well be dovetailed into one method in which the best elements of each are retained. What these better elements are will depend to a large extent on local conditions. As a general rule, however, two principles should guide. First, the local church should regularly and systematically be engaged in intensive survey work. Second, the occasion of our visits should be to invite the members of the family to some project of the church designed to meet their particular need, be it a public worship service, a Sabbath school for the children, an evangelistic service, or catechetical class for the adults. In addition the worker should always leave some good gospel tract or Scripture portion.
Chapter Nine: Group Evangelism
The term "group" evangelism is used in contradistinction from "mass" evangelism. "Mass" evangelism may be defined as the effort to bring the gospel to a large gathering of all types of people, young and old, men and women, educated and uneducated, rich and poor. "Group" evangelism is more specialized in its objective. It aims to bring the gospel to small groups organized or assembled according to interest, ability and age levels.
Neither one of these methods should be used to the exclusion of the other. The cause of evangelism is best served, we believe, when "mass" and "group" evangelism are used to supplement each other. There is a work to be accomplished by each that cannot be most effectively accomplished by the other.
"Group" evangelism is based upon both the revelation of Scripture and of nature. Christ spoke to a small group of mothers and children as well as to the multitudes. Paul sought out Lydia with her group of praying women by a riverside at Philippi as well as larger gatherings. Paul encountered and evangelized a specific class, the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Athens, as well as the more general type of audience which gathered in the synagogues of that day. It is evident that the apostles were indeed quite zealous that the gospel be carried into every stratum of society. By seeking out specific classes of people and addressing themselves to the particular needs of these people, the apostles were able not only to reach more people but to reach them more effectively with the gospel. One of the distinct advantages of "group" evangelism is that it enables the evangelist to reach certain classes of people more effectively on their own level.
This type of evangelism is also based upon sound psychology. It is a spiritual law in the natural world that people gravitate to each other according to age, interest, and ability levels. Children take naturally to children, young people to young people, elderly people to elderly people. For example, when we call with our family upon another family, it is observed how readily the younger children of one family gravitate to the younger children of the other family, and bow the older children from these respective families soon pair off together. It is this law at work in the natural world that breaks society down into countless groups according to social, educational and interest levels. The intelligent Christian worker will recognize that this law is at work in the world. He will seek to capitalize upon this phenomenon in the physical world and use it for the furtherance of the kingdom of God. He will seek through study and observation to discover how this law operates and how it can be most effectively employed to implement the teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Pre-School Age Child
Too long have many Christians minimized the potentialities of the pre-school age child in learning the truth of the gospel. For years Rome has boastfully operated on the principle: "Give us a child until he is seven years old and we don't care who has him after that." Undeniably they have made good their boast. This period constitutes the most impressionable period of the child's life. During no period of a child's life can and does a child learn more than during this period. This fact should be reckoned with not only in the teaching of the covenant youth but also in the evangelistic effort of the church. Nowhere in the field of evangelistic endeavor may we expect to be more richly rewarded for our efforts than among these young children.
The process of evangelizing these small children begins at birth. Every Sabbath school should have a strong cradle roll department. It is one of the most effective fields of labor in building a strong church. The one placed in charge of this department should not only love very small children but should qualify as a personal worker with mothers. The task of this person is to visit in the homes where babies have been born recently. The purpose of this visitation is to gain the parents' consent to enroll the child as a member of the cradle roll department of the Sabbath school. This contact with the mothers of small children affords abundant opportunity for counsel concerning the spiritual welfare of the child's soul. It frequently affords opportunity for personal work by an alert pastor or cradle roll superintendent with the parents. As a rule, young parents are much more receptive to the gospel than later when the children are grown. They have witnessed the wonder of the little new life God has given them. Their hearts are tender, and frequently they respond to the worker's appeal to them to make sure that provision is made not only for the child's physical and educational well-being, but for that which is of infinitely more importance its spiritual welfare. Remembrance of the child's birthday, provision of helpful Christian booklets for mothers of small children, and occasional gatherings for the mothers with their children will help to cement their interest in attending the Sabbath school when the child is older. As soon as the child can talk well, the parent should be encouraged to bring (not send) the child to Sabbath school. Normally, a child should be promoted from the cradle roll of the Sabbath school to the beginners department when four years old.
The summer Bible school, as well as the Sabbath school, is a most effective means of reaching children of pre-school age. The advantage of the summer Bible school is that attractive elements, such as games at recess, can be included which cannot be employed on the Lord's day. It is the usual experience of those that conduct daily vacation Bible schools that they can always reach a considerable number of children through this means whom they had not been able to reach through the Sabbath school. The new contacts afforded through the summer Bible school should be visited in an effort to interest them in the Sabbath school. Not a few ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church testify that the summer Bible school has been one of the most effective means of building up not only their Sabbath school but also the church. Many parents have become interested in the gospel and the church of Christ through the contacts afforded by the summer Bible school.
It is essential that materials be used in both the Sabbath school and summer Bible school which are sound pedagogically as well as doctrinally. The Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church has made a careful study of the methods of teaching children. The Beginners lessons, published by this Committee, combine the most effective methods of teaching with truly evangelical and Reformed content. There is a series of lessons for the Sabbath school and another series of lessons for summer Bible schools.
Grade School Children
AGES SIX TO EIGHT. At this age the child has a vivid imagination, learns more readily through the eye, and is quite active. Sabbath school and summer Bible school materials for this age group should emphasize the telling of Bible stories, the employment of word pictures and flannelgraph pictures, and provide some helpful activity such as the coloring of Bible story pictures. The materials published by our Christian Education Committee for this age group include these important features and should prove most helpful in reaching and holding children at this age.
Conducting "child evangelism" classes in private homes is also an effective way of reaching children at this age. These classes can most profitably be held in homes located in unchurched neighborhoods or where parents have a strong prejudice against permitting their children to go to a church. These child evangelism classes, however, should never be permitted to become an end in themselves apart from the church of Christ. They should be used not as a substitute for the church but as a feeder for the church. Care should be taken to use materials that are truly Reformed in content and method.
Another very effective means of reaching a child of this age with the gospel is by the placing of such books as Marian Schooland's and Catherine Vos's Bible story books in homes. Some of our ministers are finding parents eager to know about a good Bible story book for their child. One minister has secured for parents many copies of Bible story books. This method has the advantage of reaching the parents along with the children.
Probably the most thorough and satisfactory way of evangelizing children when they reach school age is by means of the Christian Day school. While these schools exist primarily for the covenant youth, they have great potentialities for reaching non-Christian children. A large Lutheran church in Pittsburgh uses its Christian school in large measure as a missionary enterprise and quite successfully so. Christian Day schools should be started for evangelistic as well as educational purposes and where these schools already exist, more thought might well be given to ways and means of interesting America's many nominal Christian parents in the advantages of a Christian Day school.
AGES NINE TO ELEVEN. This is the age when children abound in physical energy and mental ability. The mind is very inquiring and the memory is keen. It is at this age that Sabbath school and summer Bible school are most popular. Bible memorization should be emphasized and the mind saturated with Bible stories exemplifying Christian faith and life.
One of the most fruitful fields of youth training is that among Juniors (4th, 5th and 6th graders). This is the time to reach them for, or in anticipation of, the intermediate and senior young people's groups. Often where it is very difficult to gather in for a young people's group, either Intermediates (junior high age) or Seniors (senior high age), a Junior group (Junior Machen Leagues, as many of them are called) can be organized. If extra-curricular activities or outside interests prevent an after-school meeting once a week, it is often highly successful to have the Junior group meet simultaneously with the Intermediate and Senior Machen League groups during the hour preceding the Sunday evening service.
In this group memory work should occupy a large part of the children's time. It should also be used as a training school to prepare the boys and girls in leadership and in the organizational functioning of a group. Train them as Juniors for their later work as Intermediates and Seniors. Here, too, they will learn to pray, to participate, and to lead their own meetings. Juniors enjoy assuming some responsibility and can be reached often in that way. Thus a Junior Machen League becomes an effective "feeder" for the older young people's groups.
This is also an age when friendships begin to be made, but the boys will seek boy companions and the girls will seek girl companions. If possible, there should be separate classes in the Sabbath school for girls and boys of this age group. This is the age when the "gang" spirit gets hold of both the boys and the girls. They want to belong to a "gang" of their own sex. This "gang" spirit can be utilized to evangelize these young people. They will just naturally take to a boys' club or a girls' club that is organized for them. This accounts, in part, for the success of the Boy Scout movement. While this particular movement is not to be recommended because it is not distinctly Christian, the question might well be asked whether those of Reformed persuasion may have properly considered the merits of some Christian counterpart of the Boy Scouts. It must be recognized, however, that such work should be conducted and directed by individuals, or a group of individuals, and not by the church. The merits of "The Christian Service Brigade" and "Pioneer Girls" movement should be carefully weighed. These organizations represent a thorough effort to seize upon the native desires of boys and girls at this age to lead them to a knowledge of Christ as Saviour and Lord. Many worthwhile crafts are taught but the ultimate objective is always to know Christ and to make Him known. Full information about these organizations may be secured from Christian Service Brigade Headquarters, 53 W. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago 4, Illinois. We should be aware, however, that the doctrinal statement required of all sponsors of these organizations is one which is not in every respect in accord with the standards of the Reformed Faith. Faith, for instance, is placed before regeneration. We should also be advised that one who has the training and the time necessary for the teaching of various crafts would have to be available if the programs of these organizations are to be properly executed. It would appear inadvisable for a pastor to contemplate taking on any responsibilities with respect to these organizations beyond that of Christian instruction. While it may seem impractical to become a part of these national organizations as such, some have found that the crafts materials could very well be used in a girls' club, or a boys' club.
Junior High and Senior High Ages
Youth in junior and senior high school are as conspicuous for their growing interest in those of the opposite sex as the previous age group was conspicuous for its complete disinterest in those of the opposite sex. Evangelistic efforts to reach those of this age group should recognize the natural attraction that those of the opposite sex experience toward each other and plan accordingly. Meetings for this age group should include both sexes. Those of senior high age should have a separate meeting or organization. In the providence of God this human interest may be used to bring many within the sound of the gospel who would not otherwise come. As a general rule, however, young personal workers should deal with those of the same sex rather than with those of the opposite sex. The employment of sex appeal in the presentation of the gospel is to be avoided. This was one of the errors of Buchmanism and helps to explain why the results they achieved proved to be of man rather than of God.
Teachers of Sabbath school classes and leaders of young people's societies for this age group may find that an occasional social gathering can be used as a means of interesting other young people in the gospel of Christ. The young people should be encouraged to bring their non-Christian friends and acquaintances to these meetings. Before or after a season of social fellowship, the meeting could very appropriately include the singing of hymns, the testimony of the Word of God, and prayer. It is understood, of course, that any such social or recreational activities may not be considered as the proper functions of the church.
At this age, youth will have a growing interest in and ability for Bible study. Some schools permit Bible clubs to meet on the premises of the school. Other schools have a "released-time" program of religious education whereby pupils are released an hour a week for religious instruction in the church of their choice and for which they are given credit. Churches situated near junior and senior high schools might very profitably explore the possibilities of a Bible club to reach these students with the gospel. The discussion method is the most effective way of teaching young people at this age. Their minds are full of questions and they have a desire to express themselves.
How effective are the modern "Youth for Christ" meetings in reaching the youth of our generation with the gospel? The purpose of these meetings is to be commended and we cannot but rejoice in those who have found Christ as their Saviour and Lord through these meetings. We should be reminded, however, that the evangelization of youth is the task and responsibility of the organized church. At best, the present "Youth for Christ" meetings may be regarded as only temporary expedients due to the failure of the church to fulfill its mission. Let the church arise to fulfill its high calling!
The church will do well to maintain a good Christian library for all ages but especially for those of early and later adolescence. One church has built up a fine Christian library, listed its books, and mailed these lists to the families of the community having young people. The parents have expressed real appreciation of this effort to provide good Christian literature in a day when so much that is degrading is quite accessible to young people.
A highly successful medium for the evangelization of adults both young and old is a brief Bible study course conducted by the pastor. The class can be conducted in the church but preferably in the homes of those being instructed. The number of lessons should be not less than four and not more than eight. The instruction should present such fundamental teachings of Christianity as the Christian doctrine of the Bible, the person and work of Christ, faith and repentance, the Christian life, the Church, and the means of grace. Many pastors have found that the idea of a class like this in the home really "takes" with many adults today. Abundant and abiding results have come from these instruction classes. The parents of children sent to Sabbath school and visitors at the church services are excellent prospects for this type of instruction.
Wherever possible, a young married couples' class should be established in the Sabbath school so that unsaved parents may be encouraged to attend this Bible class with profit during the Sabbath school hour, instead of merely bringing their young children to the Sabbath school and returning to call for them at the close of the school. One of our pastors at least has found this an exceedingly fruitful field by which to win these parents to Christ and, subsequently, to bring them into the church.
Some churches have found it quite rewarding to sponsor meetings centered around some specialized interest. One large church is known to attract mothers from all over the city by sponsoring a monthly mothers' meeting and adapting their program to meet the particular needs of mothers. This same church can readily get some four hundred men out to a mid-day meeting by calling it a "Businessmen's Meeting" and arranging a program of particular interest to men. Other churches have young couples' meetings, usually monthly or semi-monthly, which have proved successful in reaching young couples for Christ. What marvelous opportunities meetings like these present for bringing Christ to people on their own particular level!
Each church must study the peculiar needs and opportunities for evangelism presented by its particular community. A church, for instance, that is situated near a college or university would do well to provide something in the nature of a student Bible club at the church, or, preferably, on the campus.
Essential to the success of all these specialized efforts to evangelize the community is constant, intensive house-to-house visitation on the part of the pastor, together with whatever auxiliary visitation he may be able to secure from the younger members of the church. Without intensive house-to-house visitation these various evangelistic efforts cannot hope to be fed with the raw material with which to work. The "come to me" attitude is doomed to dismal failure. Even when there is faithful house-to-house visitation, the various specialized projects of the church at times may appear to be bearing little fruit. Without such visitation all of our specialized efforts can only be aptly termed "much ado about nothing."
With mass evangelism having become less effective in our day than generations ago, the responsibility for engaging in the more specialized type of evangelism becomes the greater. It is a time and energy consuming type of evangelism, but anything less is inadequate. Let us pray for the will and the strength to doto the sole glory of God.
Chapter Ten: Circuit Missions
The Biblical basis for circuit missions is found in the Book of Acts, particularly in Paul's missionary journeys.
In this type of work a number of fields may be reached from a common center, or a circuit may be made embracing a number of communities. We might illustrate these two types of circuit missionary activity by the figure of a wheel. The first type is illustrated by the hub and spokes of the wheel and the second by the rim. In either case, the work is done by one man.
The circuit missionary may be employed in different types of activity. He may be used to minister to small groups of Christians or congregations not large enough to support a full time pastor, or in bringing the gospel to unchurched communities. If circumstances warrant, the same man could be engaged in both types of activity in a given region.
In this report, however, we shall confine ourselves to the work of a circuit missionary in bringing the gospel to unchurched communities. Much of that which we have to say on this subject will also apply to the first mentioned type of circuit missionary activity which must also be concerned with the problem of reaching the unchurched.
The itinerant missionary will labor most effectively in areas where there are no established congregations meeting in church buildings. In the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In such areas there will be a greater appreciation of and response to the intermittent type of service which he must of necessity render.
In the establishment of a mission circuit, the missionary will face certain basic problems in every new area.
Of prime importance is the selection of a field in which to establish mission work. In this connection, attention is called to the guiding principles for establishing new churches set forth in Chapter VII. The principles enunciated here apply likewise to the establishment of a mission work. We believe that the church could well give more thought to ways of securing prompt and accurate information concerning migrations of people to different areas of the country and concerning the growth of new developments in various areas of the country.
A meeting place must be found. A search should be made for a vacant church, hall or store building which could be used for this purpose. In some sections of our nation, especially in rural areas, school houses may be available. If no other meeting place can be found, it may be necessary to begin work in the home of some Christian family or families.
There are advantages and disadvantages which should be carefully weighed before the place of meeting is finally selected. Such factors as: accessibility, suitability, acceptability, and heating should be considered.
The Mennonites have introduced the idea of using a mobile trailer chapel in circuit mission work. This unit provides living quarters for the missionary, a meeting place for small groups, and a public address system which may be used in the summer for open air meetings outside factories, at bathing beaches, and other places where large groups of people may congregate.
Another task is to interest the people of the community. This may be done by posters, newspaper articles, and advertisements designed to acquaint the public with the program being conducted. The basic operation, however, is visitation. This work may be conducted in one or both of the following ways:
The missionary may go from door to door throughout the community acquainting the people with the various activities which are being conducted and inviting them to attend. Tracts may also be distributed in this connection. This method of visitation should not only bring some people to the various meetings, but in time open doors for personal work with those who lack sufficient interest to attend the meetings.
Whenever possible, however, an effort should be made to secure in advance a list of individuals or families in the new area that might be interested in attending services. These should be visited first, and those among them who prove to be interested should be asked for the names of friends or neighbors whom they think might be interested. The person giving the name should be asked for permission to use his name as a point of contact in approaching those whom he has suggested. In visiting these new contacts, the missionary might introduce himself in the following manner: "I am Mr. Smith; your neighbor Mrs. Jones suggested that I call on you. She thought that you might be interested in . . . . . etc."
At this point we would refer you to Chapter VIII on Intensive Survey Work, and to the survey questions which may be obtained from the Committee on Home Missions of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, both of which should be carefully studied and employed in the work of establishing a new center of missionary activity.
The aim of the circuit missionary is to sow the seed of the Word, to present the claims of Christ, and to invite men to receive and acknowledge Him as their Prophet, Priest, and King, to seek out those who have strayed from their profession of faith, to feed the babes in Christ upon the milk of the Word, and those who are more mature in the faith upon the meat and manna which is contained in the Word and to organize, in God's good time, a church of Jesus Christ.
The realization of these objectives calls for a systematic effort on the part of the missionary. The nature of circuit missions makes the attainment of these objectives more difficult, but the difficulties simply emphasize the need for a systematic program.
There must be a systematic teaching of the Word of God designed to give the mission subjects a working knowledge of the Bible and a thorough instruction in the system of truth contained in the Word. Our Westminster Standards should be the basis and pattern for this instruction.
The program of the circuit missionary must be varied. He should endeavor to reach as many different groups in the various communities to which he ministers in as effective a manner as is possible.
Preaching services may be held at some points on the Lord's day and at others during the week. It may be advisable to rotate these services so that each preaching point will have services periodically on the Lord's day.
Sabbath schools and week day Bible classes for children and adults should also be held periodically. If the missionary can plan to spend a day in each community, he might find it profitable to devote the early afternoon to calling, the period immediately after school to a week-day Bible class or classes for the children, and the evening to a class for the adults.
Numerous pastors have found seasons of special gospel services effective means of reaching communities with the truth. The extensive advertising, continuous preaching, and sustained personal visitation entailed in such services have proven an effective means of reaching people who are not reached by the regular Sabbath services.
A daily vacation Bible school should be conducted annually in as many fields as possible, that is, where adequate meeting places are available and where a sufficient number of qualified teachers can be obtained.
If and when there are Christian laymen in these fields they should be used to supplement the labors of the circuit missionary. Indeed, the expansion of the work in such fields will depend in no small degree upon the measure of help given by Christian laymen.
Laymen should be enlisted in the task of bringing children to the Sabbath school and the daily vacation Bible school. Routes for this purpose should be systematically organized. Christians should also be encouraged to bring their friends and neighbors to preaching services and to week-night Bible study classes. If this evening meeting rotates among a number of Christian homes, the family in whose home the meeting is being held should be encouraged to invite their neighbors. The missionary might also make some calls that afternoon on families in the immediate area to invite them to attend.
When it is not possible for the missionary to conduct services on the Lord's day or every Lord's day, a serious effort should be made to encourage and prepare the Christian laymen to conduct a Sabbath school. Indeed, this should be done in any case, but the need is more imperative where no preaching services are held at all. Where there is an organized congregation, an elder should conduct a worship service at which, in the place of the formal preaching of the Word, he should read a sermon or give an exhortation from the Scriptures.
Where the missionary is able to minister to the spiritual needs of a community only once or twice a month, and then only on the Lord's day, if there is a Christian layman available who is Reformed in doctrine and qualified to teach, living either in the community or close at hand, it would be advisable to have him conduct a week-night Bible study class.
The effectiveness of any teaching program, however, will depend in a large measure upon the materials which are used by the teachers and placed in the hands of the pupils, whether children or adults. The materials published by our own Committee on Christian Education for the beginner, primary and junior age groups appear well adapted to the intellectual and interest levels of these groups. The Christian Reformed Publishing House provides lessons designed especially for use in mission work.
Good textbooks and workbooks should be secured for each pupil from the 4th grade up, enrolled in the week-day Bible class. Some of our ministers who are engaged in this type of work have found the combined textbooks and workbooks published by the National Union of Christian Schools to be very satisfactory. The tear-out work books of the Rev. D. H. Walters, published by Zondervan, have also been used with success.
The daily vacation Bible school materials prepared by our Committee on Christian Education, both textbooks and workbooks, have been found most adequate and satisfactory for this type of work. Their quality is also attested by those of other denominations who use them.
The use of good teaching materialstextbooks, workbooks and Sunday school papersserves another purpose in the overall program of the circuit missionary. They extend the teaching program into the interim period between classes and also project that teaching into the homes from which the pupils come.
The teaching materials already suggested may from time to time, both in the case of adults and children, be supplemented by the use of visual aids. By this means the truth makes a two-fold impact, being presented both to and through the eye and ear gates.
We would also suggest that children be encouraged to attend classes regularly by the use of inexpensive attendance awards. Many children receive no encouragement from their parents to attend such classes. Indeed, sometimes the parents actually discourage them. Every effort must be made to sustain their interest and to secure their continued attendance until the Word is sown in their hearts.
Chapter Eleven: Radio Evangelism
Beneath a veneer of Christianity lies the heathen heart of America. The majority of people in this country do not attend any church at all, and the majority of those who do attend with regularity have never received adequate instruction in the Word of God.
The United States of America needs the gospel. If the people will not come to church then the church must go to the people with the message of salvation. The radio is an effective means of gaining entrance to the homes of America. It is a potent instrument for personal work, conversions, church attendance, and church membership.
The Opening Door
Until quite recently it has been very difficult to "get on the air." But there are indications that this situation is changing. Radio stations are beginning to solicit religious programs for economic reasons. Business firms are trimming their advertising budgets. Television is competing with radio for commercial programs. A recession or depression would leave many radio stations with unoccupied time.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of broadcasts, daily and weekly. These differ both as to length and content. The daily program, for various reasons, should be limited to a fifteen minute period, the weekly broadcast to half an hour.
In seeking a "spot" for a daily broadcast it would be well to make inquiry concerning the periods which immediately follow hourly news broadcasts. Radio stations sometimes have difficulty in disposing of this split period.
Sufficient time for a half hour or even an hour is sometimes available on Sabbath mornings. In this connection the possibility of broadcasting part or all of the morning service in the church should be considered.
In the approach to radio stations for time on the air the distinctiveness of our position not only in contrast with Roman Catholicism but also in contrast with modernism and fundamentalism should be made plain. Fundamentalism has created an unfavorable Impression upon radio station management. We should, therefore, present ourselves as the representatives of the best tradition of historic Protestantism. If at all possible, our application should be accompanied by a transcribed sample program.
The Committee suggests that a fifteen minute daily program might consist of singing God's praise, Scripture reading, prayer, and a message. The message might occupy approximately five minutes. It would be well to locate the program, if possible, at a period of the day when families could be reached as units, and in such cases the message could well be in the form of a devotional meditation.
In the half hour broadcast more time may be devoted to the message. Some of the foremost religious broadcasters in this country devote twenty minutes of a half hour period to the preaching of the Word. The musical quality of the singing should be of a high order: gospel broadcasts have often been brought into disrepute by the inferior quality of the music. The Scripture should be read with care and with the dignity appropriate to the Word of God. A short portion of Scripture read with understanding and with the proper emphasis is one of the most effective ways of conveying the message of the Word. Prayer, as on all other occasions, should be characterized by reverence. Too frequently prayer does not create the impression that the person offering the prayer is imbued with a sense of the majesty of God, and this is particularly liable to enter the circumstances attendant upon radio broadcasting.
With reference to the message, its aim must ever be, not the presentation of a denomination, but the proclamation of the gospel in its fullness. It should be prepared with great care and written in its entirety. Since most radio listeners are unacquainted with the Bible and with the Christian faith, it is proposed that the most helpful and fruitful method is that of a synthetic study of the teaching of God's Word on a given subject, illustrated by current events, and applied to present-day conditions and situations. The subject must be developed logically, the words chosen carefully, the language colorful and graphic. It is well to make free use of metaphors and figures of speech. Before going on the air the message should be read aloud a number of times in order to perfect the speaker's delivery, emphasis, inflection, and timing.
Our testimony with radio management will depend upon the manner in which we meet our financial obligations. The Lord's work must be conducted in a businesslike way; bills must be paid promptly.
In the matter of appeals for money over the air, great reserve must be practiced. The public has received the impression from the pleas for financial help which accompany many fundamentalist broadcasts that these men are after money. Such an impression is detrimental to the presentation of the gospel. An effort should, therefore, be made to finance the broadcast though the local church or through the denomination. If it is necessary to appeal for outside help, this appeal should be made, not to the public in general, but to Christian people whose letters may have indicated an interest in the broadcast. A mailing list for this purpose can be more readily compiled if it is announced in the course of the broadcast that those who write will receive a response either in the way of literature or by way of a personal letter.
"Back to God Hour"
In place of an Orthodox Presbyterian national broadcast, which appears at the present time neither possible nor advisable, attention is called to the Reformed testimony of the "Back to God Hour," broadcast over the Mutual Broadcasting Network. A helpful relationship can be maintained between this broadcast and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Peter Eldersveld has taken the initiative in sending to Orthodox Presbyterian Churches the addresses of those contacts in areas where there are no Christian Reformed Churches. Orthodox Presbyterian churches can cooperate by following up these contacts, by contributing to this broadcast, and by advertising it in local papers.
Chapter Twelve: Literature for Local Evangelism: Types, Display and Distribution
Eulogies on the power of the printed page have been as frequent as their theme is just. In the religious world, as elsewhere, the power of literary propaganda is well known. The role which the infant printing industry played in the Reformation is a case in point. In local evangelism a planned program of literature is of great importance. There is, however, a danger of overestimating as well as underestimating the value of literature campaigns. Tracts, booklets, and periodicals are sometimes substituted for personal witness and individual discussion, to the great detriment of evangelism. Even where literature may properly be used it often requires the catalyst of personal contact and conversation to make it effective. Again, such literature must always be used discriminately. An inappropriate tract or article may needlessly estrange one whom we would reach with the gospel.
Types of Literature
I. Classified According to Aim
INSTRUCTION. A large proportion of our evangelistic literature must have as its aim the simple imparting of information. Especially in these days of ignorance and error much indoctrination must be included in evangelism. The value of placing our message in the hands of the unsaved in a comparatively permanent form is so evident that the marvel is that we so often neglect this obvious procedure.
A common fault in much Christian literature aiming at evangelistic instruction lies in a failure to be explicit and concrete, as well as simple. Transitions of thought perfectly clear to the Christian mind often confuse or mislead one unaware of the implications of the Christian faith. Brief tracts aiming at a presentation of the whole gospel message are particularly exposed to this danger. Often they are further reduced by space devoted to attention-arousing anecdotes and present a last-paragraph digest of the gospel so condensed as to be nearly unintelligible to the average non-Christian. It must also be remembered that the world has bantered into meaningless cliches many of our most cherished theological formulas. The force of these will be lost unless they are made explicit to the reader. No piece of evangelistic literature should aim at presenting more material than can be made reasonably explicit in the space available. Clarity must not be sacrificed to brevity. This necessarily implies that many short tracts will aim at supplying information about one limited aspect of the gospel only, related, if possible, to some concrete situation.
CHALLENGE AND APPEAL. Literature centering in challenge or appeal has a double usefulness in local evangelism. Among readers familiar in general with the facts of the gospel a challenge to "choose . . . this day" often has great effectiveness. But even among those unacquainted with gospel truth, a pointed challenge directed at the hardened complacency of unbelief may supply an opening wedge for the reception of fuller instruction. Here again every effort must be made to present the challenge or appeal in a form intelligible to the reader whose needs are contemplated. Often a broad, general appeal is less effective than one that is concrete, presenting some specific goal. A tract urging in rather vague fashion that the reader become a Christian may be expected to have far less value for an uninformed non-Christian than one which would pique his curiosity sufficiently to cause him to read the Gospel of John. In view of the great lack of information and abundance of misinformation with regard to the Christian faith, so characteristic of our day, it is usually wise to aim at some limited and specific goal rather than immediately at conversion in the appeals of literature to be distributed in quantities. One concrete goal of great importance is church attendance. This, along with Bible reading, attendance upon neighborhood Bible classes, and, in general, further instruction should be included in the chief preliminary aims of a program of evangelistic literature.
Particularly in literature culminating in challenge or appeal, a tactful approach must be studied. Our Lord's example in His conversation with the Samaritan woman and the example of Paul in his sermon on Mars' Hill are but two of the Scriptural instances of such an approach worthy of our closest imitation. It is also essential that this literature capture and hold the attention and interest of the reader. The value of attractive typography and layout in this regard will be discussed below. Other means to this end are a vigorous style, the use of concrete illustrations, and unity of aim.
One abuse is so common in current evangelistic literature that a warning may be in order. It is true that the use of the names of contemporary celebrities in athletics, military service, and business may add interest and compel attention for Christian literature. Nevertheless there are certain dangers involved in this practice which must be recognized. It may be legitimate advertising for soap manufacturers to induce new customers to try a product that is endorsed by leading actresses, band leaders, and 85% of the women in Cincinnati, but to the precise degree that anyone is drawn to Christianity by the desire to imitate notables or to follow the crowd, to just that degree the attraction is not to Christianity, but to worldly vainglory. The implied apologetic of such appeals, namely, that Christianity must be true since so many notable people believe it, is not only based on a suggested falsehood, since God's Word declares plainly that not many wise, mighty, or noble men are called; it is also viciously anti-Christian in its encouragement of respect toward worldly pride in the face of the gospel demand of total renunciation of all glorying in men. So far from appealing to popular endorsement or the sanction of influential men, our Lord chose humble fishermen and a despised tax-collector for His apostles, and alienated multitudes by insisting to the crowds following Him that no man should dare be His disciple unless he were prepared not only to stand against the crowd, but to hate his own family and even forfeit his own life. Our presentation of the gospel challenge should breathe the spirit of Paul, recognizing that God has chosen the base, the despised, even the non-existent things in men's esteem, precisely to the end that no flesh should glory before God, but that he that glorieth might glory in the Lord. Attention gained at the expense of this principle is attention better left ungained.
II. Classified According to Form
BOOKS AND MANUALS. The God-appointed instrument in evangelization is His inspired Word. The Holy Bible is therefore in a unique sense the literature of local evangelism. Attractively printed and bound Bibles should be readily available for those we seek to evangelize. Scripture portions as well as complete Bibles are useful for the reading and study of particular books. Occasionally these may be distributed free, but the best method is to encourage their purchase.
The use of other books in evangelism has often been neglected, but the success of the colportage method emphasizes its effectiveness. Three general kinds of books are needed: some presenting broad outlines of Christian truth, others aiding in analytic Bible study, and a third class dealing with particular problems and doctrines. Books in the first class should present in systematic fashion the range of Bible truth with sharp emphasis on the way of salvation. They must be written with the needs of the unsaved or uninstructed reader in mind. We should remember the power of Calvin's Institutes in the evangelization of whole nations. The Westminster Confession and Catechisms provide masterly summaries of Christian truth which are to be used in evangelism no less than in edifying the saints. Evangelistic presentations of the body of Biblical truth following these outlines and using a popular style would fill a great need. The two books containing the radio sermons of Dr. J. Gresham Machen, covering the doctrines of God and man, and his volume, What is Faith? are models for this type of evangelistic literature.
Brief manuals outlining the Christian message are also needed, both for individual reading and group study. They should be equipped with questions or exercises and contain plentiful quotations from Scripture. An excellent booklet of this type is the Rev. George W. Marston's Communicant Church Membership course, published as a tract of the Committee on Christian Education. An expansion of this manual along directly evangelistic lines should result in a most usable book. Dr. Louis Berkhof's Summary on Christian Doctrine may be used in this way, but includes more material than would be desirable for evangelistic purposes, and is, of course, written for covenant youth rather than for the subjects of evangelism. The direct relation of the Summary to Dr. Berkhof's Manual and Dogmatics is a valuable feature. The ideal brief summary of Christian doctrine for evangelistic use would have a consistent apologetic incorporated in it. Books on Christian evidences may be included among those dealing with special problems, but apologetics is an aspect of the whole range of theology.
Books aiding in analytic Bible study with a view to evangelism would include commentaries written for this purpose and books instructing in methods of Bible study. A rare combination of both of these is found in Dr. Edward J. Young's Study Your Bible. A similar study based on John or one of the synoptics, one centering in the book of Acts and one on Romans, might round out the number of books of this type needed. (A complete set of popular Reformed commentaries, sorely needed by the church, would doubtless prove useful in evangelism also.)
A great many books are available dealing with particular doctrines and problems. Dr. Loraine Boettner's studies in Predestination, Assurance, Atonement are good examples of literature of this sort, as are also the larger tracts published by the Committee on Christian Education. Briefer studies in the longer tract series being published by the Committee are intended for evangelistic use. The brief booklet, God and the War, by the Rev. John Murray is an example of the treatment of one particular problem. The value of such a booklet cannot be measured when its particular problem arises in the course of personal work.
EVANGELISTIC BIBLE SCHOOL MATERIALS. Great attention should be given to the literature used in connection with the evangelistic Bible schools of the church. The close contact which such a school has with its enrollment assures greater use of the material by the subject than can be obtained for most other forms of evangelistic literature. On the other hand the limited time available in the school itself requires effective literature to extend the work of the school through the week in order that the teaching may be given continuity and deeper penetration.
In addition to the lesson leaflets, quarterlies, and manuals used in the teaching, other evangelistic literature may be employed. Children from non-Christian homes are an open avenue to their parents. Parent-teacher leaflets outlining the purposes of the school are an excellent means of reaching the parents with the gospel. The development of home study courses for adults, under the direction of the Sabbath school, and the weekly distribution of pupil worksheets may result in evangelizing many who could or would never come to the school.
TRACTS. In terms of the aims of evangelistic literature, tracts may be divided roughly into two groups: the longer tracts intended to supply a connected body of information, and shorter tracts aiming only at arresting the attention and clinching a brief challenge, appeal, or invitation. The longer tracts may presume some interest on the part of the reader. Unless the subject is such as to command immediately the attention of the reader (e. g. a tract on evolution sent to biology students), these longer tracts ought not to be distributed without a personal interview or contact sufficient to make it reasonable to suppose that they will be read.
The brief tracts, on the other hand, must sell themselves from the start. The design of the cover should have the appeal of the best in advertising layout, to catch the eye at the outset. The title and opening sentence must likewise seize the attention of the reader, and the style must be clear and rapid, so that the first wave of interest will carry the reader to the climax. Modern drawings or photographs are the surest means of securing attention, and should be used wherever practicable and desirable. Magazine size tracts following the layout formula of Life magazine have been attempted with some success, though usually showing great weakness of content.
The subject matter for the longer tracts should include straightforward presentations of the way of salvation, refutations of false religions and "isms," and treatments of common problems, doubts, and difficulties. The apologetic emphasis should be strong in these tracts, and they should be related concretely to current life and thought. As such, they will be to a large extent "dated," and will stand in need of frequent revision that none of their timeliness be lost. It is particularly important to have available a large tract adapted for each of the major non-Christian or heretical religious groups in this country.
In the shorter tracts the elements of timeliness should be even more pronounced. The "Tract of the Month" idea is an excellent one where financially feasible. The timeliness, however, should be that of current problems and issues, not merely current anecdotes. The sugar-coating of the story-introduction to the average gospel tract is obvious to the non-Christian. The invariable sharp break between the anecdote and the moral is a great weakness. Where illustrations apply they should be used, but they ought not be made the principal content of the tract. Scripture is full of the most vivid ideas, figures of speech, and dramatic episodes. Proper use of these elements together with brief illustrations from contemporary life makes unnecessary the sensationalism and artificiality of much evangelistic literature.
A useful new form combining several tracts in one monthly leaflet for neighborhood distribution is represented by the "Home Evangel" published by Covenant House. Another new form for tracts is that which presents an evangelistic message in combination with the mimeographed church bulletin containing order of worship and announcements, published by the Committee on Christian Education. Bulletins of this nature contain a unified message ending in an invitation to visit the church. They are designed for use by each member of the congregation who receives one copy each week for distribution. After being used in the service, the bulletins are to be passed on to an acquaintance as an invitation.
CORRESPONDENCE. Perhaps personal letters are scarcely literature, but their use in evangelism must not be overlooked. Mimeographed letters, inviting prospects to services and relaying announcements, are valuable. Some churches have carried on a splendid evangelistic program among servicemen by taking pains to get the names and addresses of all servicemen in the community, then sending them a news bulletin together with evangelistic literature.
POSTERS. Certainly the briefest tract conceivable, a poster may nevertheless well accomplish such objectives as inviting to the church service, stimulating Bible-reading, or advertising evangelistic books, periodicals, or tracts. Transit-ads (buses, trolleys), and billboards may both be used.
SECONDARY CHANNELS. Frequently it is possible, particularly in smaller communities, for a minister to obtain the opportunity of preparing a regular column for a local paper or magazine, or for the house-organ of some large business or industry. Occasionally a very brief tract may be inserted as advertising in a local paper.
Display and Distribution
PERSONAL DISTRIBUTION. Any tract is more effective if accompanied by a few words of personal witness to the truth of the gospel. The personal worker should seek to estimate the spiritual condition and background of the one he seeks to aid. Then following his interview he should select a tract adapted to it. Let him also obtain the name and address for the mailing of other appropriate material. A conscientious use of evangelistic literature in this fashion will yield the richest fruits. The Christian worker should cultivate the habit of carrying a few longer tracts which clearly present the gospel. In door-to-door canvassing the interview is often necessarily brief, and where the canvasser is not sure that a genuine interest is aroused, a brief tract should be used. If the person interviewed might possibly attend church, a tract, or church bulletin concentrating on this aim is best. It is a good practice to note the tract given by an initial or symbol on the canvassing card.
Tracts may be used not only to clinch interviews, but also to open them, where there is opportunity to ask a stranger to read a tract and give his opinion.
BROADCAST DISTRIBUTION. In addition to discriminating personal distribution there are many indiscriminate methods of distributing tracts. In situations where a large crowd passes an outdoor religious meeting, mass distribution of literature may be the best method possible. In street, park, or boardwalk evangelism such a method is essential. But obviously these methods are far inferior to discriminate personal distribution, and waste more literature than they profitably use. Often our own cowardice or reticence rather than a desire to reach greater numbers of people prompts the use of the indiscriminate methods.
MAILING. This is the natural method of distribution for such material as the parish paper, home study courses, and, of course, correspondence. Tracts are better included with a letter than mailed separately. When a community has been canvassed and there is information as to the general religious status of each household, especially selected tracts may be included with each church letter.
PERMANENT DISPLAYS. A book store provides the most elaborate permanent display of literature. An attractive store in a metropolitan area can distribute though sale large quantities of printed material. While such a store doubtless would attract most of its customers from Christian circles, yet by window displays and advertising many non-Christians could be reached with evangelistic literature. Such a project might be feasible in Philadelphia, with the offices of the various standing committees located on the same premises and sharing the rental cost. Serious consideration ought to be given in the near future to such a project.
Attractive tract racks in church entrances are a common means of display distribution. A literature table might also be used, so that the larger tracts and a selection of books might be displayed. The Christian Science sect has long used displays of literature in railway terminals, stores, and other public places. Honor system sale of an evangelistic magazine through permanent displays is a promising avenue of distribution.
The sale of literature has a psychological value over free distribution as a stimulus to careful reading. The sect of "Jehovah's Witnesses" has successfully used street-corner sale of their propaganda.
Dignified advertising of religious books in secular advertising channels is expensive but has cumulative value. The Presbyterian Guardian "Book Club" plan has been an excellent means of encouraging the reading of Christian literature. The Presbyterian Guardian, or a newly established book store, might consider sponsoring some such plan in an evangelistic paper.
DESIGN. In discussing tracts the importance of eye-catching design was stressed. This factor has great influence on the distribution of all forms of evangelistic literature. No display of materials is as potent as the display in the printing of the material itself. Drab typography and inept layout have been among the greatest weaknesses of our evangelistic literature. Not only should the cover design be both arresting and appealing, but the message of the material itself is immensely strengthened by layouts stressing the logical divisions, illustrations emphasizing important points, and, above all, clear, open, readable printing. Modern printing calls for a judicious use of color, the employment of modern type faces, drawings and photographs, and careful designing of each page or double page spread as a unit. There is no substitute for the services of an experienced layout artist. Leading printing and publishing houses retain a staff of such artists.
Such printing is more costly, but particularly in material which will likely be reprinted from time to time, it is a sound investment. We cannot afford to publish or distribute unattractive literature for evangelism.
Chapter Thirteen: Preserving the Results of Evangelism
The Task Defined
Evangelism is bringing the full-orbed gospel to the lost by means of public preaching or private teaching. The results of evangelism are those individuals and family units which have manifestly embraced Jesus Christ by faith as He is freely offered to them in the gospel.
Difficulty is sometimes experienced in determining who are and who are not bona fide results of evangelism. Man is quite fallible in his judgments as to whether there has been a real work of saving grace among his fellow-men. The Scriptures, however, provide a standard or norm for true conversion. It is Scriptural to expect that true faith in Jesus Christ will issue in love for and obedience toward Christ. "Faith . . . worketh by love" (Gal. 5:6). "If ye love me keep my commandments" (John 14:15). The inherent fallibility of men makes it all the more requisite that any who desire to confess Christ as Saviour be given abundant opportunity to prove their faith by their love and obedience.
The fruits of evangelism must be preserved. Individuals and family units that have manifestly embraced Jesus Christ must be nurtured and edified in the faith. The task of the church is to provide such instruction as will enable the new Christian to witness a good confession of Christ before men and to advance the witness of Christ's church.
The pastor and church that fail to preserve the fruits of evangelism, leaving the lambs to the devouring wolves of error and sin, have failed to realize and fulfill a God-given responsibility. The great Shepherd of the sheep said, "Feed my lambs . . . feed my sheep." Our responsibility is clearly set forth in the apostolic charge: "Take heed . . . to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."
It is essential to the preservation of the fruits of evangelism that we work with the whole family through the individual convert. If the new convert is a parent, the whole family should he instructed in the Christian faith and life. If the new convert is simply a member of the family an effort should be made to reach the parents with the claims of Christ. The tender plant of a new life in Christ Jesus is best nurtured in the soil of a Christian family life. The implications of the covenant of grace for the children of believing parents can hardly be over-emphasized. The inclusion of children of believing parents within God's promises of grace brings with it a solemn responsibility to teach these children the salvation that God has provided for them in Christ.
Pastoral Classes of Instruction
The responsibility for the instruction of Christ's sheep and lambs lies squarely with the under-shepherd of the sheep. Christ assigned to Peter the apostle and pastor the task of feeding the sheep (John 21:15-17). It is incumbent upon the pastor, therefore, to provide classes of instruction for new converts.
It has been found exceedingly helpful in preserving the results of evangelism to incorporate into any invitation to confess Christ an invitation to attend a class of further instruction in the Word of God. If there has been a real work of grace in the heart, the convert will be only too glad to attend such a class. If the convert is not willing to attend such a class, we should seriously consider delaying his reception as a communicant member of the church. A number of our pastors have witnessed a marked success that has attended this type of invitation at evangelistic services. The listener whose mind and heart has been changed by the Spirit applying the Word is invited, encouraged, and exhorted to attend a class of instruction to aid him in making a good confession of Christ before the church and the world. He is not asked to confess Christ more formally before the church until he has had full instruction and has given a credible confession of faith before the local session.
An individual should not be asked to confess Christ before the church until he has had full instruction and has made a credible confession of faith before the session. A public confession under these conditions is truly a glorious and joyous occasion. This procedure will eliminate the danger of having people rise in an assembly of the church to confess Christ whose lives give no evidence of saving faith.
The number, time, and place of instruction classes will vary according to local conditions. Most pastors seem agreed, however, that not less than four and not more than eight such classes should be held. Some have found that holding these classes in the homes of the new converts is conducive to fellowship and an informality and freedom in discussion that is quite helpful. Others find it more convenient to have these classes at the church. Usually the classes will need to be held in the evening if the men are to be instructed. If a suitable time cannot be arranged for all, then the pastor will have to arrange to teach each individual or family separately. The length of the classes will vary from one to two hours according to the number of classes that are being held. A total of eight hours of instruction seems to be the average that many pastors deem advisable.
The doctrinal ground covered in such a course of instruction should include the following subjects: Why the Bible is God's Word, ChristHis Person and Saving Work, Repentance, Faith, and the Christian Life, The Church and the Means of Grace. Communicant Church Membership by the Rev. George W. Marston is an admirable text for a pastor's instruction class. The author of this booklet recommends that the instruction might better begin with the section on the Bible as this is the foundation of the entire course. Attendants upon this class should be encouraged to ask questions on any aspect of the subject that is being discussed. This enables the teacher to learn the views of those in attendance and is a valuable aid in imparting truth. Discussion clarifies and enlivens instruction.
The ultimate aim of these classes of instruction is to enable the new convert to witness a good confession of Christ before men and to become a responsible member of Christ's visible church. Throughout the course of instruction it cannot be over-emphasized that although uniting with the church does not make one a Christian, one cannot hope to live a consistent Christian life apart from the ministry and fellowship of the church of Jesus Christ. Faithful attendance upon all the services of the church must be presented as essential to the Christian's growth in the knowledge and grace of Christ. This will prove the best method of all for instruction in the Word of God.
The pastor's responsibility for the new convert does not end with his last class of instruction. In a real sense, it has only begun when the class concludes. Private visitation must follow public instruction. Hand-picked fruit is always the best. Each individual will have different spiritual needs that must be given personal care and private counsel. Usually this type of visitation can most profitably be done after the class of instruction has been concluded. If, however, the new convert is the only Christian of the family, pastoral visitation should precede the class of instruction in an effort to have all adult or adolescent members of the family attend the class.
Two purposes should be clearly in view in the pastoral care of the new convert. First, careful attention must be given to the individual his knowledge, experience, background, and temptations. Second, every effort must be put forth to lead the entire family into Christ's church and to establish a Christian home.
THE INDIVIDUAL. In dealing with the individual who is considering making a public confession of faith and uniting with Christ's church there are certain essential elements which normally should be included.
A. The individual will need to be examined as to his understanding of the doctrine of grace. He should be able to set forth simply and clearly the way of eternal life through Christ Jesus. If he is unable to do this, then the pastor will need to set forth from the Scriptures the great essentials of the doctrine of grace.
B. The individual, once he is clear on the essentials of the Christian faith and life, will then need to he examined as to his personal trust in Christ alone for salvation. Ofttimes there will be a remnant of trust in his works. Sometimes he will be resting in his feelings rather than in the promise of God for salvation. All too frequently there will be a lack of complete assurance of salvation. What a privilege to set forth from the Word of God that saving faith is simply to receive and rest upon Christ alone for salvation as He is offered to us in the gospel. Normally, a Christian should be able to testify "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (II Timothy 1:12).
C. The pastor should endeavor to ascertain whether the new convert has any doubts or questions concerning what he should believe or how he should live as a Christian. He should be encouraged to express any confusion or uncertainty that he might have so that the pastor may deal with it from the Scriptures. Sometimes more can be accomplished by dealing pointedly with a specific problem than by many months of general teaching or preaching.
D. Through observation and through questioning, if necessary, about background and environment, the pastor should then counsel the young convert concerning certain pitfalls into which he may fall. Much care will need to be taken to try to discover the frailties, temptations, and sins to which the young convert may be particularly inclined. There seem to be two important aspects of the Christian life which the average young Christian is in serious danger of neglecting. They are: the keeping of the Christian Sabbath, and the daily use of the means of grace God's Word and prayer. It can hardly be overemphasized in our day of growing Sabbath desecration even among Christians that the fourth commandment is the law of God and that no Christian who plans to unite with Christ's church has the right to do so until he indicates a sincere desire to keep God's day holy. It will be most helpful to give the young Christian constructive suggestions for making the Sabbath a delight rather than a burden. The proper keeping of the Lord's day by the young convert is probably the most important single element in truly preserving the results of evangelism. It is God's ordained means of preserving the results of evangelism. Apart from the keeping of the Lord's day we have no Scriptural warrant for expecting that the results of evangelism will be preserved. It is likewise essential that the young convert establish the habit of private Bible reading and prayer. He should be encouraged to study the Bible and come to the pastor with questions whenever he does not understand what he reads. These, too, are God's ordained means for the preservation of the results of evangelism. There is no hope of lasting results without them.
E. The fellowship of the sinful world will constantly threaten to engulf the young Christian. The tender plant of Christian faith can best be nurtured in the soil of a Christian fellowship and culture. The pastor will do well to advise ways and means of securing Christian friendships and fellowship. The young convert should be encouraged to avail himself of every opportunity for spiritual fellowship with Christians.
F. The backwash of modern secularism has come like a flood into the average American home. If the young convert is to be preserved against the constant bombardment of secularism from the press, the radio, and now television, a vigorous effort will have to be made to place Christian magazines and books in the home of the young convert.
G. The young Christian should have suggested to him specific things that he can do in Christ's church. He should he given responsibility. Let him be given the responsibility of witnessing for Christ among his friends. A wise pastor will endeavor to find some work for the church that the young convert can perform. Christian service is conducive to spiritual growth and deepens interest in Christ's church.
H. Finally, every young convert should be advised to count the cost of being a Christian. The Christian life cannot he presented as the easy way but as the hard way. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me," said Christ. To make the way easy is not only an illusion but will leave the young Christian quite unprepared for life as it really is. If the young convert is unwilling to pay the price of being a Christian he should be advised of the terrible price he will have to pay for not being a Christian. It will be kind neither to the convert nor to Christ to encourage him to unite with the church unless he is willing to pay the price.
THE FAMILY. When one or both parents have received Christ as their Saviour and Lord, the pastor has before him a tremendous opportunity and responsibility. He has not fulfilled his full Scriptural duty until he has endeavored to establish the Christian religion in the home and to channel the entire family group into the life-stream of the church, that it may receive all the benefits and share all the obligations entailed in membership in the visible body of Christ.
In God's one and only covenant of grace, revealed in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, it is made abundantly plain that God always regarded the entire household as under the privileges and responsibilities of the covenant. "I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed" (Gen. 17:7), the Lord said to Abraham. God also said to Abraham, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord . . ." (Gen. 18:19). At Pentecost the Apostle Peter declared "For the promise is unto you, and to your children . . ." (Acts 2:39). Lydia of Thyatira was baptized and her whole household (Acts 16:15). To the Philippian jailer Paul said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31).
The pastor's task will be twofold: to establish Christianity in the home, to bring the whole family under the ministrations of the church of Christ.
Establishing Christianity in the home. It is here that the personal contact of the pastor is so vital. The parent is apt to be more receptive to counsel coming from one who in love has been used of the Lord to lead him or her to Christ. Scarcely ever do both parents arrive at a conviction of their need of Christ in heart and home at the same time or with the same intensity of desire. Usually the wife and mother is most deeply affected by this desire. Here the pastor must counsel wisely and cautiously. To urge a wife to be rashly aggressive in this sudden renovation of home life could be the means of permanently antagonizing the husband. Better to urge the wife to do anything short of compromising to get Christianity established in the home. The wife should further be counselled to keep the family together, if it is at all possible, in all religious activity, even though she could make easier and quicker progress alone. She should be instructed as to the power of a quiet Christian example and bearing (see 1 Peter 3:1-6), together with the importance of her own personal need for daily Bible reading and prayer that God answers the effectual prayers of the righteous.
If it is the husband that has been won to Christ rather than the wife, the task is a bit more complex. Since it is the wife that has closest contact with the children and, for that very reason, has more to say as to the spiritual habits of the family, the assertion of his manly prerogative as head of the home should he exercised very cautiously. Much depends on the degree of the wife's opposition. If it is strong, patience, and much prayer will be required. A godly example in the home before the family, the seizing of all opportunities to give informal instruction to the children, and a firm insistence that children (if old enough) attend the Sabbath school and perhaps the house of God with him should be the husband's basic concern. If the mother can be induced to attend with them, all the better. But contention on matters of religion in the home should be avoided if at all possible. What makes this task so difficult is that few men naturally find the courage to insist upon a Christian home when faced with the opposition and indifference of an unregenerate wife. It is very often hopeful, if the situation can be found to make it casual, to enlist the support of one of the wives in the congregation to strike up a friendship with the unsaved wife. An occasional social visit of one of the lay-families of the church or family outings together may also be of help.
When this first contact with the evangelized wife or husband has been made, and proper spiritual counsel has been given as to how to make the home a Christian one, the pastor's task has only begun. He should enquire when the whole family will be at home and call at such a time by appointment, if necessary. Then a heart-to-heart talk on spiritual things will not fail to impress any but the most hardened. If the conversation does not easily turn to spiritual things, turn the conversation to the spiritual needs of the children. The saying, "He that lays his hand on the head of a child lays it on the heart of the parent," is certainly true. Let a pastor only convince a father or a mother that he, like the children's Saviour, truly loves the souls of his or her little ones, and the parent's heart is moved. Then be as direct as possible: show how important it is, if their children are to know the Lord, that the parents first know Him; explain the way of salvation for the benefit of the unconverted parent.
Where the husband and wife are united in their faith in Christ, the pastor should proceed to set forth the importance of the husband being the prophet, priest and king in his home. As prophet he is to read the Word of God, and the doctrines of God's Word as summarized in the catechisms of our church are to be learned by the parents and taught to their children. As priest he is to gather his family together daily for prayer before the throne of grace. As king he is to rule well his household according to the revealed will of God. The wife and mother is to be instructed from the Scriptures about reigning as queen and mother in her home. To her, in the usual extensive absence of the father from the home, is committed the responsibility of spiritual nurture. Her great high-calling to set a godly example for her children and to teach them God's Word should be exalted before her.
Bringing the whole family under the ministry of the church. An honest young Christian will admit to a feeling of inadequacy when he is instructed in the responsibilities of a Christian parent. He should then be informed that God has graciously provided the church to help him. Let him know that the church stands equipped and ready to aid him in becoming the kind of parent that God wants him to be. The various services of the church that are available should be explained. Sometimes a call from some women or men of the church inviting young Christians to some special service of the church is quite helpful in getting the parents interested in the activities of the church. The importance of having the whole family attend the services of the church requires constant emphasis. Parents will need to be appraised of the fact that "sending" their children to Sabbath school is certainly not enough. It should be noted that the example of the parents has a far more powerful influence over the thought and conduct of their child than all of their commands and teachings combined. Eventually, these children will do what the parents do and not what they say.
Numerous visits are usually required to obtain the desired results of seeing the family attend God's house every Lord's day. But nowhere will patience and perseverance be more richly rewarded than when endeavoring to have these new families in Christ attend the ministry of God's Word.
While the primary responsibility for the care of the young convert lies with the pastor, it is not his responsibility solely. Although pastoral care will do much to lead and keep Christ's little ones in the fold, pastoral care alone is not enough. We can mention here only some of the more important supplements to pastoral care.
Parents class. A class should be provided in the Sabbath school for young Christian parents. This will encourage parents to come with their children to the Sabbath school. It will provide instruction when most needed and when it is most likely to be received. One well versed in the Word of God and the Reformed Faith should teach this class.
Congregational visitation. The congregation should manifest a real love and interest in the young converts. "Behold how they love one another" is an essential attribute of the Christian church. This love must needs express itself not simply by a friendly handshake and greeting. Members of the church should take the initiative in visiting in the homes of those who have recently confessed Christ. It is particularly desirable that members about the same age as those being received into the church put forth a special effort to visit those of similar age. Let them invite them to their homes. "Be given to hospitality." Seek one another's spiritual and social fellowship. Be Christian friends with the love of Christ burning in your bosom. Christian love is a powerful means of cultivating the young convert. It is woefully neglected in many churches today.
The Christian school. What finer way is there of preserving the results of evangelism, than to have the children of young converts placed in a Christian school? To have the facts of the universe taught from a Christian viewpoint is one of the most effective ways of keeping the young Christian in the paths of God's truth and righteousness.
Church nursery. Numerous churches have found that by providing care for young children (three and under, normally) during the church service, young Christian parents are able to attend the Sabbath morning worship service together and without nervous tension. This is most desirable.
Church discipline. Without the faithful exercise of church discipline, not one, or a few, but eventually all the results of evangelism may well be lost. Church discipline restores the wayward and neutralizes the influence of the impenitent and profane.
Christian literature. The cultivation of the reading of good Christian literature would seem to be increasingly important in any effort to preserve the results of evangelism. We can mention here only the barest minimum of Christian literature that should be in the home of every young convert if at all possible. We give the following brief list:
The Bible, Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, Marian's Big Book of Bible Stories by Marian Schoolland or Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, The Presbyterian Guardian, The Banner, Christian novels, Christian biographies, Christian apologetics, and studies in Christian doctrine should be made available to young converts. Few are so poor today that at least some books could not be purchased for the home. Money is spent freely on things far less important and far more costly. The church should provide a lending library, particularly for young people and for those who cannot afford as many good books as they would like to have.
A Christian world and life view. We may never forget the importance of having a vital personal experience of the Lord's saving grace. However, this is not all of the truth. If a sinner under the preaching of the Word is converted and has a genuine experience of regeneration and quickening and does not go further than this, he is falling far short of his holy vocation. The new Christian must be brought to see that "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof," that all of life, the grand whole of existence is of God, reveals God in a glorious way and that even in its sinful and rebellious state should be claimed for God. The great enemy of thus viewing the world is secularism, so much a part of our civilization. Secularism begins at the edge of the circle and then gradually works in, claiming more and more territory. Thus it is in our present system: the sphere of the secular constantly enlarges while the sphere of Christianity consequently grows smaller and narrower. So it is that most Christians today are left with only their own personal religion. In such a case, the Christian has not been trained or awakened to the vision of the kingdom of God. His faith and knowledge lack scope; they do not operate beyond the realm of personal salvation. This unchristian narrowness constitutes a sad lack. Furthermore, it will be difficult to preserve in any adequate way that which has been so stunted and underdeveloped. This man whose personal religion is divorced from any notion of the world and life view of the kingdom of God may look wistfully for some little sphere of influence. But the tragedy is that he will seriously doubt if his personal faith has any relevancy in the great moving life currents outside of him. Really, to preserve the results of evangelism, we must enlarge the circle of a man's thinking, ambition and interest. A robust Christian theism is our heritage. We are to set forth the God who is sovereign in all dimensions of life. There is no possible area of life that is neutral. All of life owes its true meaning to God the Creator and Sustainer: "of him, and through him, and to him are all things." To the redeemed soul comes the supreme challenge to face all enemies and reclaim every foot of ground for Christ and His kingdom. In other words, a Christian culture is the fertile soil in which faith grows to its true proportions. Without this the tender plant is swamped by a worldly culture and becomes unfruitful.
Preparation for the Evangelistic Meeting
Anything which is to be done well calls for careful preparation. This principle applies to sacred as well as secular endeavors. An evangelistic effort without careful planning is almost certain to fail. A large church having many adherents and calling an evangelist with a big name may draw many unsaved to the meetings. This, of course, would not apply to most of our churches. However, whether a church is large or small the true possibilities of the evangelistic meeting may be realized only if it is preceded by careful preparation.
Your Committee makes the following suggestions by way of preparation for such meetings.
1. Make a house-to-house canvass of the community which the church expects to reach through these meetings. Inquire as to church and Sabbath school affiliations, regularity of attendance, number in family, etc. If at all possible this canvass should be made by Christian laymen under the direction of the pastor or session. Encourage even those church members who live outside this area to make a canvass of their immediate vicinity.
2. From this canvass and other sources make a prospect list of families and individuals whom the church hopes to reach through these meetings; i.e., those without church or Sabbath school affiliations, those who do not attend regularly, and those whose affiliations make them proper subjects of evangelism.
If at all possible have the Christian laymen who have uncovered these prospects call upon them several times before the meetings with a view to bringing them to the meetings and to doing personal work with them. The pastor should also call upon these prospects with the same end in view.
3. Make thorough prayer preparation for these meetings. Have the Christian laymen who have made the house-to-house canvass make their prospect-list a prayer-list. Urge every member of the church to set aside a daily period of prayer for the meetings. Instruct them to pray for definite needs and specific individuals. Ask them to include the evangelist in their prayer-list. Seriously consider the advisability of having a week of cottage meetings preceding the special services. This may not prove to be practical for various reasons, but it should be a source of rich blessing if carried out.
4. The people should be prepared to take part in this program and prepare for the meetings. Instruct them concerning the way to make a house-to-house canvass. Teach them how to do personal work. Acquaint them with the value and ends to be obtained by united and private prayer. Preach on such subjects as Witnessing, Soul-Winning, and Prerequisites for Revival.
5. Urge each member to determine to pray for the meetings daily, and, if not providentially hindered, to attend all the meetings and to endeavor to bring at least one person to each meeting.
6. Endeavor to obtain opportunities for the evangelist to witness to groups outside your own church during the period, as, for example, in schools, clubs, on the radio, at Sabbath afternoon or early evening services in other churches, rescue missions, open-air services.
7. Make every possible effort to publicize the meetings. Distribute handbills, place window cards in homes and stores, advertise and place write-ups with a picture in local papers.
8. One night a week, either Monday or Saturday, should be observed for rest, especially if the meetings are to continue for more than one week. Due to special conditions some churches might find it more practical to limit the public meetings to one week and have the evangelist devote several days and nights of the following week to calling and to doing personal work with strangers who came out to the meetings and with prospects who were unable to attend.
9. The evangelist would do well to request of the pastor three letters during the preparatory period. The first letter should acquaint the evangelist with the preparatory program which the church plans to put in practice. The second letter should inform him as to the progress which is being made by the pastor and the congregation in the carrying out of this program. The third letter should acquaint him with the particular needs and problems of the congregation. This information should aid him both in his prayer and sermon preparation for the meetings in that particular church.
As a general rule, at least a month should be devoted to this preparatory program. All these suggestions may not prove practical in every local situation. The pastor and session must use their judgment in respect to them.
 A prospect is a family or a part of a family which for certain reasons we have hopes of drawing to our church, chapel or Sabbath school.
 Survey cards and instructions may be obtained at a nominal charge from the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
 This report was submitted by the Committee but was not sent down to the presbyteries and sessions for study. It is appended because the section on "Preparation" in chapter four "The Evangelistic Meeting" is quite unintelligible apart from the awareness of the contents of this fuller treatment of the subject.