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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Publishing Ministry in the Gospel Toolbox

I had the privilege of speaking at the Gregory Park Seventh-day Adventist Church on Publishing Day, April 21, 2007.

Topic: Publishing Ministry in the Gospel Toolbox
Text: Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 18:8.

Key Points:

1) Will the son of Man find faith? Yes, for He who commands to make disciples has promised to be with us always.
2) The tragic obstacle to witnessing is lack of love.
3) There is no limit to how God can use you as you discover your spiritual gifts and put them to work, using your gospel toolbox. Not everyone is called to be users of all tools.

  • The toolbox contains personal evangelism such as Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.
  • The toolbox contains health evangelism like Daniel and his three friends in babylon.
  • The toolbox contains lifestyle evangelism like Abraham building his altar in the pagan lands.
  • The toolbox contains public evangelism like Peter at Pentecost.
  • All can be combined with literature evangelism.

I then shared information from the Publishing Ministry Website:

PHILOSOPHY OF NEED
FOR THE LITERATURE MINISTRY
A. DO WE NEED THE PUBLISHING MINISTRY TODAY?
Modern technology has made possible the saturation of society with publications and other
media information. Some of our church leaders ask, "Does the church really need the Publishing
Ministry today?"
When we go back to the counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy, we find positive and conclusive
answers. The answer is YES! Why? Because of the following reasons:
1. Written Words Endure
One writer said: "The preacher writes his words on water, but the writer carves his words in
stone" (Unknown).
Mrs. Ellen G. White agreed when she said: "A sermon may be preached and soon forgotten,
but a book remains" (Life Sketches, p. 382).
The books distributed by the SDA Church through the Literature Evangelists ten, twenty,
even fifty years ago are still preaching. The books you sell or give away today will keep
leading souls to Christ until He comes. Certainly, written words endure.
It may be true that some people who buy SDA literature will just lay them on the shelf or
place them on the parlor table and seldom look at them. But God still cares for His truth, and
the time will come when these books will be sought for and read (see Testimonies, vol. 6, pp.
313, 314).
Then the prophet continued: "More than one thousand will soon be converted in one day,
most of whom will trace their convictions to the reading of our publications" (Colporteur
Ministry, p. 151).
2. Prepare People for Heaven
AThe publications sent forth from our printing houses are to prepare a people to meet God.
Throughout the world they are to do the same work that was done by John the Baptist for
the Jewish nation@ (Colporteur Ministry, p. 3).
3. Reach Places Where Ministers Cannot
"Our Publications should go everywhere. . . . There are many places in which the voice of
the minister cannot be heard, places which can be reached only by our publications, - the
books, papers, and tracts filled with the Bible truths that the people need" (Colporteur
Ministry, p. 4).
4. God’s Chosen Method
a. At Mount Sinai, God started the Publishing Ministry. First He spoke to Moses, and then
He wrote the Ten Commandments. Therefore the Spoken Word and the Written Word
must go together (Exodus 31:18).
At Mount Sinai . . . God spoke . . . and then God wrote!
And so today we have. . . The Spoken Word - Preaching (2 Timothy 4:2)
The Written Word - Literature (John 5:39)
b. At different times, men used different writing materials for writing the messages from
God.
God to Moses - Stone
Abraham - Clay Tablets
Isaiah - Parchment Scrolls
Ellen G. White - Paper
Today - Compact Discs
But the messages are still written!
c. Ordained of God - "God has ordained the canvassing work as a means of presenting
before the people the light contained in our books . . ." (Colporteur Ministry, p. 6).
B. WHY THE CHURCH NEEDS LITERATURE EVANGELISTS TODAY
With the sophisticated advancement of technology in communication, where people can buy
books through the Internet and other forms of media, some church leaders are asking as to
whether there is still a need for Literature Evangelists today to work for the church.
Yes! The work of Literature Evangelists and their contribution to the evangelistic outreach of the
church is an important and most profitable line of evangelism (see Colporteur Ministry, p. 8).
Why? The following reasons demonstrate this fact.
1. Indispensable Method


Our publications can go to places where evangelistic meetings cannot be held. "In such
places the faithful evangelistic canvasser [Literature Evangelist] takes the place of the living
preacher. By the canvassing work the truth is presented to thousands who otherwise would
never hear it" (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, October 7, 1902).
2. A Personal Ministry
While the Publishing Ministry uses selling as a medium of outreach, the ultimate objective is
sharing the Gospel through literature to see precious souls saved into God’s kingdom.
Personal contact still pays one of the highest dividends among the evangelistic approaches
that the church employs. There are still hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, who will
never come to our hospitals, schools, and even to our evangelistic crusades. Thousands will
never enter into our local churches to hear the SDA message.
If they do not come to us, we need to reach them through personal contact evangelism.
Person-to-person and heart-to-heart ministry undoubtedly touches human lives more than
many other methods. Mrs. E. G. White said:
"The canvasser whose heart is meek and lowly can accomplish much good. . . . From family
to family they carry the message of truth. Thus they come in close touch with the people, and
find many opportunities to speak of the Saviour" (Colporteur Ministry, p. 38).
"As canvassers go forth into the field with humble hearts, full of earnest activity, they will
find many opportunities to speak a word in season to souls ready to die in discouragement"
(Colporteur Ministry, p. 36).
"As they went from house to house they could converse with the people, carrying with them
the fragrance of Christ’s life" (Colporteur Ministry, p. 44).
Just a few years ago, the church launched a new evangelistic approach called Satellite
Evangelism. In this way, one evangelist can preach in Michigan and be heard and seen on the
screen around the world via satellite.
The church feels that it is a successful method, and it is indeed. This program has resulted in
thousands of baptisms. But, we also have to recognize that the people who come to the
meetings should be personally visited, reached, and invited by individual church members
including, in many instances, Literature Evangelists.
3. The Work of God’s People at this Time


"God has ordained the canvassing work as a means of presenting before the people the light
contained in our books . . . This is the very work the Lord would have His people do at this
time. . . . We cannot too highly estimate this work; for were it not for the efforts of the
canvasser, many would never hear the warning" (Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 313).
4. Will Continue Until Probation Closes
"As long as probation continues, there will be opportunity for the canvasser [Literature
Evangelist] to work. When the religious denominations unite with the papacy to oppress
God’s people, places where there is religious freedom will be opened by evangelistic
canvassing" (Colporteur Ministry, p. 11).
5. God’s Calling
"God calls for workers from every church among us to enter His service as canvasser
evangelists [Literature Evangelists]. God loves His church. If the members will do His will,
if they will strive to impart the light to those in darkness, He will greatly bless their efforts"
(Colporteur Ministry, p. 20).
C. PHILOSOPHY OF THE LITERATURE EVANGELIST’S MINISTRY
1. Personal Evangelism
The work of Literature Evangelists is no doubt a personal evangelism. There are two areas
where Literature Evangelists can reach souls for Christ:
a. Distribution of Free Literature - Given to some people who are not able to buy our
literature.
b. Personal Outreach - Literature Evangelists conduct personal evangelism activities such
as Voice of Prophecy (VOP) enrollment, inviting interests to church, visiting backsliders,
praying for customers, and giving Bible studies.
2. Selling for Witnessing and Livelihood
Literature Evangelists are self-supporting church workers while giving their full-time service
for the Lord. Their only source of livelihood is from proceeds of the literature containing the
SDA message, which they sell to the public. The different classifications of books and
magazines they sell are designed to meet the different needs of the people.
Books Magazines
a. Health a. Health and Home
b. Character Building & Education b. Religious
c. Home and Family
d. Spiritual or Religious


D. PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES
1. General & Ultimate Objective - Saving Souls for God’s Kingdom
"Our publishing work was established by the direction of God and under His special
supervision. It was designed to accomplish a specific purpose" (Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 138).
2. Specific Objectives
a. To Make the Truth Clear and Plain
"Our publications have a most sacred work to do in making clear, simple, and plain the
spiritual basis of our faith" (Colporteur Ministry, p. 1).
b. To Call Men’s Attention to the Living Truth
"The great object of our publications is to exalt God, to call men=s attention to the
living truths of His word. God calls upon us to lift up, not our own standard, not the
standard of this world, but His standard of truth" (Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 151).
c. To Light the Whole World with Truth
"Our publications should go everywhere. . . . There are many places in which the voice
of the minister cannot be heard, places which can be reached only by our publications . .
." (Colporteur Ministry, p. 4).
"By the canvassing work the truth is presented to thousands who otherwise would never
hear it" (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, October 7, 1902).
"The world is to receive the light of truth through an evangelizing ministry of the word
in our books and periodicals" (Colporteur Ministry, p. 5).
d. To Prepare a People to Meet God


"The publications sent forth from our printing houses are to prepare a people to meet
God. . . . And in a large degree through our publishing houses is to be accomplished the
work of that other angel who comes down from heaven with great power and who
lightens the earth with his glory" (Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 139, 140).


E. NATURE AND IMPORTANCE
1. A Sacred Work
"The canvassing work should be considered as sacred, and those who have unclean hands
and defiled hearts should not be encouraged to enter upon it. The angels of God cannot
accompany the unconsecrated to the homes of the people; therefore all those who are not
converted, whose thoughts are corrupt, who will leave the taint of their imperfections upon
everything they touch, should refrain from handling the truth of God" (Colporteur Ministry,
p. 29).
2. A Work Second to None
"The canvassing work, properly conducted, is missionary work of the highest order, and it is
as good and successful a method as can be employed for placing before the people the
important truths for this time" (Colporteur Ministry, p. 6).
3. Equal in Importance to the Gospel Ministry
"Canvassers must go out into various parts of the country. The importance of this work is
fully equal to that of the ministry. The living preacher and the silent messenger are both
required for the accomplishment of the great work before us" (Ellen G. White, Review and
Herald, April 1, 1880).
4. As Important as Preaching
"The ministerial evangelist who engages in the canvassing work is performing a service
fully as important as that of preaching the gospel before a congregation Sabbath after
Sabbath. God looks upon the faithful evangelistic canvasser with as much approval as He
looks upon any faithful minister" (Colporteur Ministry, p. 45).
5. Printed Message Remains
"It is true that some who buy the books will lay them on the shelf or place them on the parlor
table and seldom look at them. Still God has a care for His truth, and the time will come
when these books will be sought for and read" (Colporteur Ministry, p. 150).


And then she continued, "More than one thousand will soon be converted in one day, most of
whom will trace their first convictions to the reading of our publications" (Colporteur
Ministry, p. 151).
6. Supervised by Angels
It was shown to Ellen G. White that ". . . the publishing work was arranged and established
under the special supervision of God" (The Publishing Ministry, p. 53).
From the editor’s desk until the time the literature reaches the hands of the people, the angels
are in charge.
a. Articles at the editor’s office - ". . . angels of God . . .[supervise] the articles that were
being published . . ." (The Publishing Ministry, p. 60).
b. Manuscript at the printing room - "The angels of God have supervision of the work. If the
eyes of those who run the machinery could be opened, they would discern the heavenly
guardianship" (The Publishing Ministry, p. 60).
c. The literature at the Literature Evangelist’s hands - "Angels of heaven will accompany
you, preparing the way" (Colporteur Ministry, p. 22).
"Those who engage in this [canvassing] work . . . should place themselves where they
can learn of Christ and follow His example. Angels are commissioned to go forth with
those who take up this work in true humility" (Ellen G. White, Manuscript 81, 1908).
d. The literature at the customer’s bookshelves - "The same ministry of angels attends the
books that contain the truth as attends the work of the minister" (Testimonies, vol. 6, p.
316).

I shared some of the info from the above article and made a special mention for young computer geniuses to use the internet to engage persons on a one to one basis with literature evangelism as well.

Literature evangelism is a powerful tool in the witnessing toolbox.

Reach out to even one person, pray with him or her, and give the person a boook, a magazine, or a tract.

Pray for your literature evangelist, and support the work by purchasing the books for your home, school, and workplace.

Witnessing is about making disciples so when all the methods of evangelism are used its all about being disciples, accepting Jesus as Lord of our lives.

Footnote: It was great to be back at Gregory Park. Elder Cavan Davis and elder Chambers were in attendance. the programme was planned by Literature Evangelist Sis Johnson, the Publishing Secretary for the Church. Glendon Jr accompanied me.

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