Christ has given the remnant church the task of bringing the three angels' messages to the world. In these last days, many minds are turning again toward pure truth, and as a result, many independent Seventh-day Adventist churches are returning to our roots of evangelism. The Historic Message Church, which meets in Portland, Oregon, strives to meet this task of proclaiming the message.
It has been so unfortunate that for many years, perhaps decades, God's church has not striven toward this work as it should. Nowadays, many church members feel that their pastor is in total charge of evangelism and that they may feel content in supporting with their funds only. This is not correct. In fact, Ellen White admonished both ministers and lay-persons for this same problem.
"Sometimes ministers do too much; they seek to embrace the whole work in their arms. It absorbs and dwarfs them; yet they continue to grasp it all. They seem to think that they alone are to work in the cause of God, while the members of the church stand idle. This is not God's order at all." -- Review and Herald, Nov. 18, 1884.
Over the past several years the Historic Message Church has been setting up booths and passing out free literature to fair-goers. The majority of the members have been able to take a day or evening shift at one or more fairs. There were usually two or three Historic Message Church members at the booth at any given time and a few members from other local independent churches also volunteered their time. Many fair-goers simply glanced at the booth and moved on, but there were many others who showed a genuine interest in our literature which ranged from A Day for Joy and America in Prophecy magazines to Spanish editions of Is Mary Dead or Alive? and National Sunday Law. Several intense but friendly discussions between church members and fair-goers made the event quite lively at times.
Is your church interested in a project like this? Here are a few tips:
- Contact fair or event officials far in advance of the event. Space availability is always limited and may fill up very quickly. Sometimes events have different space sizes that have different prices. If your group can afford only a certain price, you'll want to make sure that space is available. It is a good idea to start inquiries a year in advance, if possible.
- We found that both pens and bags -- imprinted with pertinent info -- both were well received. In this case the items were imprinted with the church's contact information. Pens have witness duration because they are useful, whereas people were happy to take the bags because they needed something to carry all the items they collected at the fair.
- One church member would stand at the front of the booth and hand out the bags and pens to those who made eye contact with them, requested them, or simply reached out for them. Those who turned their faces away were not pressed.
- The table was laid out with literature, the most attractive titles or covers in the forefront. A sign that indicated the literature was free was placed prominently on the table.
- In general, those who took the bags and pens were told, "we also have free literature," indicating the table. The church members remained friendly and smiling but not pushy or accosting.
What would they do differently next time? Perhaps add a few literature specifically geared toward children, as on several occasions it was the children that took the literature. Also, make sure your group has a cell phone at the booth, and that everyone knows the number, so that if the next shift is late, or other information needs to be conveyed, there is a quick and easy way to contact the booth.
Praise God for all the individuals and churches who press on toward the goal of spreading the Word to all people. This is not the time to slack. Each of us has special talents that enable us to witness in a unique way. Ask God what His will is for you.
"Let everyone who has eaten of the bread which came down from heaven labor in all simplicity to teach others what they must do to be saved. . . . Those who are not doing their duty, who are not helping others to see the importance of the truth for this time, must feel dissatisfied with themselves. Satan takes advantage of this feature in their experience, and leads them to criticize and find fault. If they were busily engaged in seeking to know and do the will of God, they would feel such a burden for perishing souls, such an unrest of mind, that they could not be restrained from fulfilling the commission, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," "teaching them . . . all things whatsoever I have commanded."
--Letter 169, 1904, pp. 6, 7. (To the Ministers in Southern California, April 27, 1904.)