CHAPTER II — PASTORAL AND PERSONAL EVANGELISM, OR WINNING MEN TO CHRIST ONE BY ONE
BY REV. JOHN TIMOTHY STONE, D. D., CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, EX-MODERATOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, U. S. A.
The story of evangelism is the specific history of the Cross of Christ. Great movements and revivals have made up much of its general history, but slowly and quietly through the years and centuries the Evangel has won, as men and women have led their fellow human beings to repentance and have by precept and example followed in the footsteps of their Lord.
Jesus Christ won most of His followers and chose His Apostles one by one. He called men to Himself, and they heard and heeded His call. The multitudes sought Him and heard Him gladly, but He sought individuals, and those individuals sought others and brought them to Him. John the Baptist said: “Behold the Lamb of God,” and Andrew his disciple heard and followed. Andrew found his own brother Simon and brought him to Jesus. Jesus the next day found Philip and bade him follow Him; Philip found Nathaniel and answered his questionings by the Saviour’s previous reply, “Come and see.” The Master called Matthew from his unworthy work, and so the other Apostles. Saul of Tarsus was arrested by the Divine individual call as he pursued his intense and terrorizing campaign against the early Christians. His “Who art Thou, Lord?” was followed by his complete surrender as he asked, “What wilt Thou have me to do?”
All through those first decades of the early Church, and on through the ages, individual work for individuals has pro-
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gressed and accomplished results. How largely the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles verify this fact! Even the marvelous work of Philip in Samaria was not the immediate plan of God, but the Spirit sent him past Jerusalem, down into the desert at Gaza, that he might win the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ, and through him no doubt countless hosts of Africa. The missionary journeys and efforts of Paul were filled with personal service. His letters are filled with personal messages. Some of his most important letters, such as Philemon, the Timothys and Titus, are addressed and written to individuals. His winning of Onesimus in Rome, and the letter to Philemon which resulted, is one of the most effective and beautiful experiences recorded in all the Word of God.
God has used men mightily in reaching vast multitudes of people, even from the days of His own ministry and the days of Peter and his associates at Pentecost. Even at this time, two hundred years after his unparalleled ministry, we are reminded of George Whitefield, who preached at times to fully thirty thousand people in the open air, and won his thousands and tens of thousands. We recall the vast multitudes who were reached by our own Moody and Sankey ; we note the vast audiences who flocked to hear Mr. Spurgeon, week after week, year after year. The strong evangelists of our own generation verify before our very eyes God’s honor placed on +hose to whom He gives such signal power. But our thought goes back to the great universal method our Lord Himself instituted, of reaching the individual by his fellow man.
The Almighty could have so arranged His Divine plan that He Himself, without human help, might arrest and enlist followers as He did with Saul of Tarsus, but this was not His plan. By man He would reach men. Human mediums of power must do His wondrous work. Man must go, in the power of His Spirit “into all the world, to preach the Gospel to every creature.” And His promise was sure and permanent: “Lo, I am with you alway.”
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GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT
The first requisite in winning men to Christ must be the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. “It is expedient that I go away from you, for if I go not away, the Holy Spirit will not come.” With His presence “greater works” than the works of Christ “shall ye do.” “Ye shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses.” To live in the power of God’s Holy Spirit, and to know that He is present and will lead, is in itself an assurance of a joyful and successful service. The Spirit will constantly “call to our remembrance the things of Christ,” and hence we may not be anxious as to the words we are to speak, for He will direct us and speak for and through us.
So many times we are fearful and embarrassed, but this will not be the case if we are under the influence momentarily of God’s Spirit. “He will guide us into all truth.” “He will not speak of Himself,” but will glorify Christ. That which we say in weakness He will use with power, and “His word will not return unto Him void, but will accomplish that whereunto it was sent.” We may always take for granted His preparation, for He does not send but calls us. His word is not “Go,” but “Come.” Thus we will always be on the alert for opportunities to speak the things He would have us, and our words and thoughts will be those which He suggests and honors. We will be nourished constantly by His Word within, and equipped with His sword for sustained protection and aggressive attack. If His Word abides in us, we will never be weak in body, nor unprepared and weaponless. His Spirit will also give us courage and endurance, and the fearless one who has stability and patience need not fear the unexpected nor the aggressive opponent. The Spirit of God also prepares the one whom we must approach, and is working in his heart as well as with our words.
Prayer is also a real factor in our lives, and we live in His presence by the true conversational method of association.
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As God speaks to us through His Word, so we talk with Him in prayer, and the place and surroundings are of little relative importance, as we are always with Him and He with us. The word we speak and the act we perform is the expression of Himself, and the impression is bound to be His as well, for our association with Him takes others into His presence as they communicate and associate with us. We may pray before and after and as we speak with others, and do it so naturally and impulsively that we may actually live in the atmosphere of prayer without hypocrisy and without pretense. And prayer will become more and more a power in our work as we approach individuals from the very presence of the unseen but not unknown God. Assurance and confidence result, and we are agreeably surprised with ourselves to find that our happiness does not depend so much upon the evidence of our success as upon the consciousness of our faithfulness.
We will also seek to win others to Christ that they too may be used by His Spirit and associated with Him, rather than simply to obtain salvation ; not what we can do for them, but what God’s Spirit can and will do with them.
The Spirit of God will also lead us to gain from others the experiences and methods through which they have gone to learn to do this work for Him; hence conferences and testimony will take on new life and gain keener interest. We will overlook littleness, and the greatness of God is seen in His confidence placed in those who win others to Him. Criticism will give place to appreciation and suggestion to expressions of gratitude. We will see in others what God sees, and fail to see what we have seen before by way of fault and error. We will also learn to take the difficult things to God in prayer instead of taking them to men in controversy, and will be surprised to find how many easily adjust themselves for us.
God’s Spirit will also prompt us to spend longer seasons alone and seriously think upon life’s greatest issues and values. Prayer will be less general and more specific and individual.
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Souls will mean more, and things less. Lives will become more attractive and fascinating, and books, papers and stories will only control interest when related to lives which can be influenced for and by Him.
The last verse of “In the Secret of His Presence” asks the real question:
“Would you like to know the secret of the sweetness of the Lord?
Go and hide beneath His shadow ; this shall then be your reward.
And whene’er you leave the silence of that happy resting place, You must feel and bear the image of the Master in your face.”
This will be the result, and others will be won by you as they see in your very face the reflection of Christ, because His Spirit dwells within you.
A second most necessary element in winning men to the Master is a knowledge and appropriate use of God’s Word. We must be workmen who need not to be ashamed, who can rightly divide the Word of Truth. The use of the Bible is the greatest advancing weapon for Christ. The worker who knows his Bible will constantly read it for strength and apply it in dealing with the unconverted. He will not argue with men, nor talk about God’s Word, but he will explain with it, and repeatedly refer to it. An open Bible before and with an inquirer almost always means conversion and spiritual growth to follow. When dealing with your subject, ask if he has ever considered what the Bible says on the point under discussion. For instance, a man tells you he does not take much stock in what you have been saying about the necessity of the Cross ; it seems somewhat foolish to him. Do not be angry, but reply pleasantly that you do not blame him a bit, in fact, Paul himself writes, in his first letter to the Corinthians,
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that men will feel exactly that way. Tell him you appreciate his frankness, and meanwhile pull your Testament from your pocket or take it from the table, and turn to the passage in First Corinthians, one, eighteen; or better still, hand him another copy of the Bible open to the place, and read from your own copy: “For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” Then, before he is angered or troubled about that word “perish,” ask him to notice in the same connection the twenty-first verse, just below: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” These passages will at least arrest his attention, and unconsciously interest him somewhat in reading the Bible himself.
I well remember a somewhat like experience to this suggested, which happened in my parish calling years ago. I was talking in the office of a man who was a confessed unbeliever, when he made some such criticism of a former sermon he had heard. I followed the course outlined, and after reading the verses, he remarked upon their application, and told me he would “look into the Pauline writings.” He became later a fairly regular attendant in church, and sometimes came to our Bible class.
From such a chapter as that, I would take a man into the second chapter, which attracts one from the very first sentence, “I came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God, for I was determined not to know anything among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Then read the fifth verse: “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” Then the ninth verse, with its wonderful vision: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” This verse will prove a vista to many to scenes beyond.
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Ask a man who doubts God’s love for him if he has ever carefully considered that his salvation does not so much rest upon his confidence in his own belief as in God’s confidence in him. Tell him that faith grows by use and action. Ask him to pray, “Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief.” Turn to Hebrews, eleven one, and read it from the Revised Version, which is far stronger in this verse: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Then go on with this great “Faith chapter.” Stop and dwell upon some of the references, if it will add to the interest. Remember to have an open Bible before your companion as you read. Reading to a man will not help a listener and reading with you will. Let the eye help the ear, and make it personal by letting him follow you as you read. Perhaps sometimes ask him to read an occasional verse that needs emphasis, and then you comment on it, asking him to read on.
If a man does not understand how God can love him, do not discuss it, but turn to First Corinthians, the thirteenth chapter, and read it slowly and thoughtfully. Always begin that chapter with the last verse of the twelfth: “And yet show I unto you a more excellent way.” Change the word “charity” to “love.” When you get to the fourth verse, intersperse a remark such as this: “Have you ever read anything more wonderful than this: ‘Love suffereth long and is kind, love envieth not, love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.’ ” Why, each verse of this wonderful chapter will grow more and more impressive as one reads on. Then read through the first verse of chapter fourteen, which gives us the admonition, “Follow after love and desire spiritual gifts.” Ask a man if such attainment as this isn’t worth while. Turn before he answers to John three, sixteen: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “For God came not into
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the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
In other words win a man by the love of God. Before he can question again, ask him to turn, or better, take his Bible and turn for him, to Luke the fifteenth chapter, and beginning with the eleventh verse, read together the parable of the Prodigal Son. Then quickly and easily turn to First John, the third chapter: “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” Read on a way in that chapter, and then turn over to the fifth chapter and read there. Then turn to Revelation three, twenty, and read: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him and he to Me, and he shall go in and out and find pasture.”
Tell him in connection with this verse the story of Holman Hunt, the great artist who painted, “The Light of the World.” Describe the picture till he recalls it, of Christ standing before the latticed door, knocking, holding a lantern in the other hand, the distant love in the Master’s eye showing that the interest of His thought was within the cottage. Tell him how Holman Hunt, after the picture had been painted, called in a friendly artist to criticise the picture. His friend, after scrutinizing the picture, said, “But you have no latch on the door.” “No,” replied the great painter, referring to this verse, “the latch of this door is on the inside. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear My voice and open the door.’ “
Show how Christ respects the human life by knocking and not forcing His entrance, and how if the individual opens He will come in and abide.
If you have one burdened with a sense of his own guilt and sin, turn to Isaiah one, eighteen: “Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ; though they be red like
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crimson, they shall be as wool.” Then turn to Romans seven and eight and read with him from verse fourteen. I have personally known more men reached by these chapters than by any others. They are a sort of photograph or mirror to most men of their own very lives. Just note that fifteenth verse: “For what I do, I allow not; for what I would, that do I not, but what I hate, that do I.” Then verse seventeen: “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” Read on, verse after verse, until you get to that powerful verse, the eleventh of the eighth chapter. Then you will have to stop. “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
This verse will inspire most men who need it. It lifts a man out of himself. There is actual life power in its truth. The thrill and longing is liable to come especially after a man has realized what sin is doing in and for him. I have known many a man look up at that verse and ask if it could be possible for him to attain such a thing. Of course it can. That eleventh verse, led up to aright by that which precedes it, will arouse almost any heart. Then take a man right over to chapter twelve: “I beseech you, therefore, brethren.” Tell your man how the first eleven chapters of Romans are the theory of Paul’s great theme of “Justification by Faith,” and that now in the twelfth we have the practical, hence the “therefore.” “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service, and be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Tell a man the glory of sacrifice, and what it means to live that kind of a life, subject to God’s will. Turn over then to Ephesians three, the fourteenth verse, and read Paul’s great
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prayer with him, telling him you want him to know how a man who felt those truths of Romans could pray for other men. Then read all that prayer, Ephesians three fourteen, through verse twenty-one. Re-read verses twenty and twenty-one. This verse will lead us to our knees, and that means victory. Let us consider in this connection the subject of
We do not estimate the place and power prayer has in winning others to Christ, prayer for others in intercession, and prayer with others as we take them individually into the very presence of God.
First, prayer for them. No matter what your method or lack of method may be, take those for whom you are working up to God in prayer. Pray for them by name ; pray that you may approach them aright and appeal to them with Divine wisdom. Pray that you may be able to put yourself in their place, and be patient as well as wise with them. Pray that you may turn to the right Scripture, and use the appropriate illustrations, to help them. Pray that you may lead them to Jesus instead of talking with them about Him. Pray that they may be responsive and willing. Pray that their sins may not hinder them from giving their best selves to the consideration of this all-important subject. Pray that they may see in you that vital interest and real sincerity which will actually arouse them. Pray that their companions and surroundings may not prove a barrier or hindrance to them. Pray that you may converse with them on the essentials and not spend the time on unimportant and relative matters.
Pray that you may not be timid or careless, but fearless, clear and exact. Pray that human sympathy and love may influence you to show your heart and soul to touch and melt their hearts. Pray that just the favorable opening may come to you, and that you may be ready to use it. Pray most of all for the Holy Spirit’s power with you.
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Then secondly, pray with the individual. After Scripture has had its chance, and decision should be reached, get your friend on his knees, and ask him to decide after you have poured out your heart to God for and with him. I have known more men who have yielded on their knees than anywhere else. At just the right time, when genuinely prompted by loving impulse and sincere motive, your hand placed upon his shoulder may help him make the decision. To let one know you love him for Christ’s sake breaks many a heart. When thus praying, no matter how cold your heart may have been, you will feel three are present rather than two, and the third is the Saviour of men.
When you pray with the one for whom you are working, be most specific and plain in your petition. Then ask him to pray for himself. If he cannot, frame his prayer for him, and ask him to repeat. Bring him then and there to a decision if possible, and seal the occasion with prayer again. Pray frequently between questions, if led. Remember the destiny of a human soul is in the balance. Pour out your soul to God and labor with Christ for that soul. When nothing one could say, quote or argue would help or convince, I have seen men yield on their knees and rise to their feet happy and confident in Christ. Sometimes a subtle and unconfessed sin is lurking in the mind or heart, and that keeps from decision. On one’s knees in prayer, this is liable to be yielded, and the life freed from the fetters of concealed guilt.
Sometimes an unforgiving spirit is the cause of delay. There is no place so sure to overcome bitterness or hatred as the place of prayer. Leading the human life into the place of prayer will bring Divine power into the work, and conquers where you might fail.
Another form of prayer for the individual may be used by putting down upon a list or card the names of those for whom you are praying. We have in our own church a small card which is distributed occasionally at the prayer service
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and at other spiritual gatherings, which is entitled “Prayer List.” On it there are spaces for names, and a blank line for the name of the signer and the date. A small footnote states that a copy of the card may be mailed to the pastor, although it is not required or urged. The list is for the individual Christian, a definite prayer for a definite soul. Many of these cards are handed in to me, and we thus unite in prayer for these souls. It is a real method of binding pastor and people in prayer for individuals.
A prayer list which includes all your friends is a most inspiring and useful method. One whom you see each day will be next in alphabetical order to a missionary in central India or in Japan. Home problems will come sometimes next to far-distant hopes, and the whole world comes to your very room through the power of prayer. As the years go by, so many whose names are there before you give themselves to God, and so many causes for gratitude come. In days past, I tore up a card when the heart yielded to God, but now we leave the card just the same, for one needs prayer surely after conversion fully as much as before, that growth and grace may abound. Prayer for individuals also makes one alert when opportunities open to speak to them, and directs aright conversation at such times. It also frees us from mind-wandering and perplexity in prayer. We grow specific and very definite, and learn to ask for those things which we really want. Friendship and companionship mean more when we realize that we are meeting each other through Christ at the throne of grace, and individuals are conscious of greater power than human speech when they know that you are praying for them.
Recently, when a man yielded to Christ, he replied, when told by his friend he had long prayed for him: “Well, I knew something was influencing me, for I have felt unhappy and dissatisfied until now, and it was not natural for me to be troubled about myself.”
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Prayer is, then, a most effective and powerful agency in winning others.
We ought also to pray more in our public utterances for the immediate and direct result of our preaching; that souls may be converted; that hearts may be arrested in sin and turned to God. Dr. Maltbie Babcock used to pray for a verdict then and there, that souls might yield during that very service. When a congregation feels that a preacher actually expects results, they begin to expect and pray for them too. If the soul hungers for souls, then public as well as private prayer will claim them.
METHOD AND MEANS
We must now take up the subject of method and means. The method is, after all, secondary, and if it becomes too set and orderly, it will be self-destructive, for as soon as one sees your method, the heart and mind are steeled against it, and there is little or no interest. When God’s Spirit leads, we are responsive to all kinds of openings and ways. Instead of studying approach we simply advance as the plan opens before us, and we find ourselves doing in an unexpected way the very work we have always hoped to do. A revival of God’s Spirit means the disregard of former ways and means, and an initiation of new and untried channels. We regard and value less the method, and seek only for the result.
It is wise and right for us, however, to consider methods and means. Christ Himself began His work with reaching individuals and training them to work for others. When Dr. Bruce wrote “The Training of the Twelve,” he gave us the scholarly development of this truth. The Founder of our faith gave Himself largely to twelve men, and one of these was not worthy and another extremely vacillating. With them He walked, to them He revealed Himself in conversation, precept, parable and miracle. They grew like Him and followed His teaching. Five hundred millions of souls today
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honor Him as His followers, but He did not gain this vast multitude of myriad tongues and tribes by organizing a great band, but by the selection and training of twelve men. True, the multitudes sought Him, as they had followed John the Baptist, but He did not seek the multitudes. Great throngs followed many of those early disciples and preachers, even up through the latter centuries, and many were mightily used in preaching to great throngs of men, but Christ’s method still remains—He sought individuals. What if He had never talked with that poor Samaritan woman at the well-side; we would never then have had those wondrous words in the fourth chapter of John: “Whoso drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whoso drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” What if these words had never occurred in the Gospels?— and they would not if Christ had not passed through Samaria and taken pity on that poor sinful woman and talked with her. What if He had never spent time with Nicodemus when he sought the Master by night? What rich and significant words those He uttered then on regeneration: “Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth ; so is every one who is born of the Spirit.” Suppose Christ had never overtaken the two disciples as they walked to Emmaus after His crucifixion, and we had never known those words of His and that experience they had as their hearts burned within them. He turned and saw the two disciples of John who had heard John the Baptist say, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Andrew went from Christ to find his brother Peter, and brought him to Jesus. The next day Jesus Himself found Philip and told him, “Follow Me.” Philip found Nathaniel. All through His work on earth, Christ saw and found individuals. Zacchaeus was called out of a tree, Matthew from a money-changer’s seat, but these men became
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winners and leaders of other men. Saul of Tarsus was not let alone because he was a persecutor, but was arrested on a highway with a personal word and question. His reply was: “Who art Thou?” and “What wilt Thou have me to do?” Paul, although a great preacher, worked too with individuals, in no more beautiful way ever illustrated than in the touching love he showed for Onesimus, the Phrygian runaway slave, whom he sent back to his master and Paul’s friend at Colossae, Philemon.
The greatest advantage which the large meeting has is so interesting individuals in the truth that they will inquire from individuals who are ready to help them, as to the application of the truth they hear. A valuable series of meetings is only sure in interest and result as individuals invite, seek and lead others to be present, and then follow them by individual effort. The successful revivals of today must follow this method if permanent and large results are to be attained. God works through men, and individuals must reach other individuals.
One of the most efficient means some have used is that of training men and women to call upon those in their neighborhood and personally invite them to services—not a formal invitation, but a call in which they may get acquainted and feel at home with one another; one call followed up with another until a friendliness springs up and there is a response. There are many departments in church life that take this work up, such as the Home Department of our Sunday Schools, pastors’ aid and visitation societies, and relative organizations ; but there should be a more definite personal responsibility put upon our members as they come into our church, in reaching others, and in extending to them the definite invitation to attend God’s house and give their lives to the Master. The Church of Christ universal has an immense force in herself to face the work of winning others to Christ, but we have not used that force. The foreign missionary lands have appre-
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ciated this fact in the work they are doing, and in some places the condition of winning others has been imposed upon new members before they are accepted into full communion. For instance, before a new member is received into the Korean Church, the convert must not only confess his faith in Christ, but also lead another to Christ.
What if our membership were really working for others individually, and were trained with that in view? What if we called the attention of our new members to this very obligation and expectation? Some of our churches have had no new members for several years, and some have very few. On the other hand, here is a great force of hundreds of thousands who are not working in the very line of activity which it is their privilege and duty to use. Suppose a church with one hundred members so impressed this upon fifty per cent of its membership that each one of those fifty should win one soul to Christ. It would mean that that church added fifty per cent of its membership the next year. If a church of five hundred members were to use twenty per cent of its membership, each winning one soul a year to Christ, that would be a hundred members added to that church. On the other hand, why should we not expect that many of our members should have one or more representatives at every communion? This would mean, if five or six communions were held during the year, that fifty such workers would add from two hundred fifty to three hundred to the membership of that individual church in a year.
Now, there is no question that a pastor has his definite work of preaching. He must also realize that, no matter how intense and far-reaching that work may be, his pre-eminent work should be in his pulpit ; but it is also his work to shepherd his flock, and a shepherd cannot properly do that work without teaching his flock to follow him. He first must be an inviter and winner of men to Christ, and he must train his people to follow him. The great need of the Church today is
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a work within herself, in which her members may become individual and definite workers for the Lord Jesus Christ, and the winners of others to Him. In some of our churches, this method and means of reaching others has been carefully and thoroughly organized, so that regular organizations of young people and others go out regularly to do this work in their neighborhood, inviting others to attend the church and afterward winning them individually to Christ. We do not find that all such visitors are able immediately to become personal workers, but we do find that this work tends to lead them to desire to do that work, and in many instances leads them into efficient service. In our own church, hundreds upon hundreds have been won in this way, and we now have from fifty to sixty young people who are doing this work regularly, week after week, the result being that the influence is felt upon all our services, and hundreds are present at our services who would not be there except for this. personal invitation and direct association.
We would here quote from a recent book upon this subject,* which I prepared for the work in our own church here in Chicago:
“Some five years ago, in reviewing carefully a ministry of about fifteen years, I was convinced of certain effective and many ineffective results. This practical inventory led me to consider the method, means and value of relative activities. It was very clear to me that much public work had not yielded results equal to certain private and personal service, although the latter is more easily known and tabulated. It was also evident that the work of the preacher and pastor is not concluded in bringing men to Christ, but in inspiring and training them to become the winners of others.
“In talking with colleagues in the ministry and gathering occasional evidence from varied churches, I discovered that a great weakness in the Church exists in a lack of masculine
*”The Invitation Committee,” published by Presbyterian Board of Publication, Philadelphia, Pa. Leather, 25 cts.
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spiritual leadership—the difficulty of finding strong men to fill spiritual offices and to lead in spiritual service—Boards of Trustees being more easily filled than Elders’ or Deacons’ Boards, men more responsive to ushering or even to taking official duty, than to taking a Sunday School superintendency or class, or attending and participating audibly in the weekly prayer service. I also found men ready to relieve one in distress or assist materially in any emergency, who seemed embarrassed and helpless when asked to assist or direct in things spiritual.
“Since this actual condition has been discovered, the effort has been made to remedy it by giving constant and faithful attention to individual Christians, not only pointing out the way of growth through exhortation and inspiration, but through instruction, example and personal direction.
“The community in which our church is placed has many thousands who are unreached and unattracted by any church. It has large numbers of youths of both sexes and many young families. Although there are many whose homes are permanent, even a larger number are transient and hence apt to scatter and drift farther from all moorings.
“No pastor nor force of professional assistants can hope successfully to reach such a field, but trained membership can, and young men and young women who are interested, instructed and directed can see in such a neighborhood a vast storehouse of raw human material which may be made into finished product for God. Better still, such latent life may become energized and utilized to win and save itself with responsive, joyful life.
“Organization has accomplished much, but the work and worker need Divine inspiration and spiritual food as well, and the Word of God, prayer and common sense combine to make the work effective and permanent. This little handbook is thus sent out to assist in meeting that need, that the hundreds of young men and young women already won may become winners of others ; and primarily that the half hundred young people now working on these Invitation Committees may have a ready reference in time of immediate need.
“We have also felt that our need may be the need of others elsewhere, and cordially extend to you as well, our comradeship.”
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In connection with this same little volume, there are certain practical notes which we would also give to you:
“One cannot use God’s Word without studying it.
“You cannot win others to Christ unless you believe in Him and keep near Him yourself.
“He must work through you. ‘Apart from Me ye can do nothing.’
“Prayer must be a reality and a power to you. ‘Ask, and ye shall receive.’
“Confidence in Christ’s power must attend your effort. `I can do all things in Him which strengtheneth me.’
“Common sense means putting yourself in the other man’s place. Do not merely argue. Use the Word of God.
“Do not do all the talking; win the confidence of the one for whom you are working, and let him tell his story.
“Do not be in haste. Remember ‘God’s delays are not denials.’ Work and wait. Be patient and persistent.
“Pray with your man as well as for him. Don’t be afraid of falling on your knees in the presence of another.
“Get him to pray for himself.
“Learn to pray anywhere and in any posture—in an office or an automobile, in a quiet spot on the street, standing, sitting or kneeling, but always reverently.
“Get your man alone. Do not present the matter when another is present. (Exceptional cases may occur, as at times when talking with husband and wife.)
“Study your case beforehand (when possible).
“Do not approach your case with fear but with prayer and faith. ‘It shall be given unto you … . what you shall speak.’
“Learn how by doing, and gain confidence through experience.
“Remember you are not only Christ’s representative but that God’s Holy Spirit is working through you. The power is His.
“Approach and do your work with a happy heart and with joy. Always show that ‘the joy of Jehovah is your strength.’
“Beware of the temptation to postpone. The evil one prompts such suggestion. Many a man is never asked to give his heart to Christ because a good impulse was averted by indecision and the false plea of ‘a better time to speak.’
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“If you fail, do not be discouraged, but determine to get nearer to God and to gain more power through your apparent failure. Write a good letter to the one you have failed to reach or failed to find after repeated calling. Many have been won by correspondence. He knows you are interested very definitely if you write.
“Win back to service the Christian man Who has lost interest, and lost touch with Christ and the Church.”
Robert Speer has well said, “When we love men for what we know Christ can make them, we shall go after them for Him.” We might add, “To persuade one soul to lead a better life is to leave the world better than you found it.” God has certainly a very definite work for individuals to do in His Kingdom, and the Christian worker needs to realize that his duty is to set people to work and to train them in this service.
Another very effective method is by correspondence. So many times when we do not find people at home, or when we are not able to approach them as we desire, if we would sit down and write a direct and personal letter, it would have its weight and influence. Several years ago I knew a pastor who was very much discouraged with his work, who entered upon this method, and it resulted in a large accession to his church at the ,next communion. He has always been a different man and valued aright the power of the pen in personal correspondence. It should not be a substitute for a personal interview, but is a wonderful addition to it, and where the one is denied the other can be used.
The ways and methods for reaching others are manifold,
and thank God they are as diversified as the personalities and training of those who are workers. God has new methods and ways to use constantly, but we must be alert in this great work, and reach out in faith and in earnestness.
One of the best means of reaching others is to be able to put one’s self directly in the place of another, to feel his temptations, to understand his difficulties, and to be willing to meet him upon his own ground and with his own needs. If we
44 The Fundamentals
can establish this human sympathy, we have gone a great way toward reaching others.
Another most effective way must be through the Sunday School and through the regular channels of active association. Whatever we can do to bring to others the positive need of settling this question for one’s self, communicants’ classes, catechetical classes, individual pastor’s classes, all such methods should be used. A pastor should get into the public and private schools of the boys and girls of his own parish, to know where they live and what their work is and what their problems are, and then he should plan in some way to meet them individually. A pastor should go to the various Sunday School classes in his own Sunday School, not regularly or at stated times, but sometimes informally or by definite arrangement with the teacher, thus getting into touch with the scholars and meeting them upon their own ground. He should also arrange special classes, to meet them and talk over their relationship to Christ. All through the church, he should have those who are so interested in individuals that they will take to him the special cases and refer them to him.
But after all, the greatest method in the world, the greatest means of all in winning others to Christ, is that of persistent, patient, faithful prayer. This, followed by action and associated with all the details of service, will be rewarded. Times of revival will spring up. Others will wish for special services and methods and will suggest them, and before we know it our churches will be alive with a newness of material, and we will find that men and women are not only crying out, “What must we do to be saved?” but “How may we win others to the Master?” We will all become “workmen who need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth,” and we will realize that God’s Word shall not return to Him void, but “shall accomplish that whereunto it is sent.”
Surely, “He that winneth souls is wise.”