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  • Writer's pictureEconomia e Evangelismo

Evangelism and the best projects

Anyone who has worked in a reasonably organized company knows that surveying investment projects is a fairly common practice. Opportunities are listed and ordered according to their profitability, so that the worst projects are discarded in favor of the best ones.

Imagine a company that produces and distributes electricity, whose project area raised three investment projects and reached the following numbers: 1) Purchase of an operating wind power plant Project cost: U$ 5,000,000.00 Return: 10% per year 2) Purchase of an energy distribution substation Project cost: U$ 5,000.000.00 Return: 8% per year 3) Construction of a hydroelectric plant Project cost: U$ 5,000,000.00 Return: 7% per year The company, which until then did not have the necessary capital to enter any of the projects, finally managed to raise the R$ 5 million. Are there any questions about which project will be chosen? Won't a wise manager put the company's money into the best deal available? Won't the wind farm be chosen project? I still ask: doesn't a wise administrator have several projects in mind that have been thoroughly analyzed and studied before he even has the resources to start them? Now, if unbelievers use wise techniques and methods to multiply resources that are purely material, why are we so much less careful, judicious, and wise in looking after God's resources?

Is Evangelism Comparable to an Electric Power Company?

Let us pay attention to some words of Mrs. Ellen White:

“The money spent in enlarging the institutions in Battle Creek might far better be devoted to planting the truth in cities and places where it has not yet taken hold. MONEY HAS BEEN ENTRUSTED TO HUMAN AGENTS, TO BE INVESTED IN THE LORD'S WORK, put out to the exchangers and increased with use. Again and again the men in positions of trust have had laid before them the necessity of the Lord's vineyard's being more equally worked. The vineyard is the world, every part of it is the Lord's, and it should receive due attention. No one locality is to swallow up every resource that can be obtained to enrich and magnify and multiply its facilities, while the largest portions of the field are left destitute. This policy is not inspired of God. The gracious calls of mercy are to be given to all parts of the world. God's field is the world....” Spalding and Magan Collection, p.13 (emphasis added) “The lessons of Jesus Christ are to be carried into every phase of practical life. Economy is to be practiced in all things. Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost. There is a religion that does not touch the heart and therefore becomes a form of words. It is not brought into practical life. RELIGIOUS DUTY AND THE HIGHEST HUMAN PRUDENCE IN BUSINESS LINES MUST BE CO-MINGLED.” The Adventist Home, p.381 (emphasis added).

“The men in positions of trust should regard the means they handle as God's revenue, and use it in an economical manner. When there is an abundance in the treasury, they are not to invest it in adding building to building in places already provided with memorials for God. Hundreds of other places are in need of this money, that they, too, may have something established to represent the truth. All parts of the Lord's vineyard are to be worked.

The power to use and disburse the Lord's money is not to be left to the judgment of any one man. An account must be given for every dollar expended. GOD'S MEANS IS TO BE USED AT THE PROPER TIMES AND IN THE RIGHT PLACES, THAT IT MAY BE A BLESSING, AND ALSO AN OBJECT LESSON OF HOW HE WORKS, in accordance with principles of equity, justice, and righteousness.” Medical Ministry p. 165 (emphasis added).

“Our church members should feel a deep interest in home and foreign missions. Great blessings will come to them as they make self-sacrificing efforts to plant the standard of truth in new territory. THE MONEY INVESTED IN THIS WORK WILL BRING RICH RETURNS. NEW CONVERTS, REJOICING IN THE LIGHT RECEIVED FROM THE WORD, WILL IN THEIR TURN GIVE OF THEIR MEANS TO CARRY THE LIGHT OF TRUTH TO OTHERS.” Testimonies for the Church vol.9, p.49 (emphasis added).

“God has devised plans that all may work intelligently in the distribution of their means. He does not propose to sustain His work by miracles. He has a few faithful stewards, who are economizing and using their means to advance His cause. Instead of self-denial and benevolence being an exception, they should be the rule. The growing necessities of the cause of God require means. Calls are constantly coming in from men in our own and foreign countries for messengers to come to them with light and truth. This will necessitate more laborers and more means to support them.” Counsels on Stewardship p. 329 Now, there is a striking similarity between a business and an evangelistic ministry: companies manage scarce resources in order to achieve specific purposes and stewards of evangelistic resources manage scarce resources in order to achieve specific purposes. The difference is in the importance of what God's steward has in hand: the scarce resources he cares for are sacred and the specific purposes he has in mind are the words of Jesus himself:

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world, as a witness to all nations; and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14 Evaluating Evangelism Projects Lest it become a totally chaotic enterprise, the final grand project of taking the gospel to all nations must be broken down into smaller projects, some of which should be prioritized over others.

“Our brethren have not discerned that in helping to advance the work in foreign fields they would be helping the work at home. That which is given to start the work in one field will result in strengthening the work in other places. As the laborers are freed from embarrassment, their efforts can be extended; as souls are brought to the truth and churches are established, there will be increasing financial strength. Soon these churches will be able not only to carry on the work in their own borders, but to impart to other fields. Thus the burden resting on the home churches will be shared.

The home missionary work will be farther advanced in every way when a more liberal, self-denying, self-sacrificing spirit is manifested for the prosperity of foreign missions; for the prosperity of the home work depends largely, under God, upon the reflex influence of the evangelical work done in countries afar off. It is in working actively to supply the necessities of the cause of God that we bring our souls in touch with the Source of all power.” Testimonies for the Church vol.6, p. 27

What Mrs. White is clearly saying in this text is that, at the time she was writing, the priority project was evangelism outside the region of influence of Battle Creek and other similar places. There is a clear criterion for prioritizing certain projects over others: places that have already been evangelized and extensively worked are not a priority. Here is a fundamental distinction between the biblical evangelism advocated by Sister White and mobile goals evangelism: in biblical evangelism there is inevitably a hierarchy between the various evangelistic projects and clear criteria that determine the degree of importance of each project, whereas mobile goals evangelism is nothing more than the complete lack of hierarchy and criteria in evangelistic projects. Or, to be a little clearer: in mobile goals evangelism it makes no difference where the money goes to: if a wind farm, a hydroelectric plant or a substation, even if one investment is obviously worse than the others. An evangelism ministry, let's call it Evangelism and Life, received U$10,000.00 to make evangelistic work (and there is no expectation that they might receive any other amount of money anytime soon), and not knowing what to do with these resources, they decided to use them according to the first idea that came to mind, a health fair in the city of Adventopolis, which is 800 miles away from the ministry's headquarters. One in every ten inhabitants in that city is an Adventist. I ask: can we say that this project is a blessing? If this is the only possible project for the moment, yes, it is a blessing. I ask again: Is the health fair in Adventopolis the only possible use for the U$ 10.000,00? How many other cities besides Adventopolis and other forms of work besides the health fair are there? Now, let's imagine that when receiving the U$ 10.000,00 of donations, the Evangelism and Life ministry has PREVIOUSLY raised up the various evangelistic works that can be carried out and that have not yet been done due to lack of resources: 1) Health Fair in Adventopolis; 2) Distribution of books in the city of Unknownpolis, where there are no Adventists; 3) Family accompaniment to those interested in the faith and new converts in the city of Helpopolis. Each of the cases has been previously evaluated: 1) The Adventopolis health fair will cost U$10,000.00, but a large part of that money will be spent on transport to the city, which is 500 miles away. In addition, the majority of the fair's audience will consist of people who already know the truth and the health message itself. It also happens to be that health fairs already take place in abundance in this city and are promoted by the Adventists who live there. 2) Project two consists of distributing 1000 evangelistic books at a cost of U$ 8.00 each, in the city of Unknownpolis, which is 150 miles away from the ministry's headquarters, resulting in a relatively cheap logistical cost. Furthermore, it is a place where no evangelistic work is being done. With the U$10,000.00, the books will be distributed and other costs will be covered. 3) In the third project, workers will go to interested or newly converted families to give studies and assist them in general matters concerning the faith. This city is 100 miles away and the U$ 10.000,00 will be spent entirely to supply the needs of the workers and to buy some necessary materials.

Based on this information, the Evangelism and Life ministry workers consider: • In which of the three evangelistic projects should we put the U$ 10.000,00 we received? • Which of the three projects is most in line with the mission of delivering the gospel to all nations? • In which of the three projects will the greatest number of souls be reached by the good news? • Given such marked differences, are the three projects really the same thing? Here I ask the reader to put yourself in the position of these leaders and think with yourself: • Considering that when choosing one of the projects, the other two need to be dropped, which project would you choose if you were that decision-making leader? • Would you make a point of raising the possibilities for evangelistic projects before receiving the funds, or would you adopt the first idea that was suggested when the money came into the bank account? I close this post remembering that if the answers don't seem easy, we will always find some very useful tips in the Spirit of Prophecy: “The places in which the truth has never been proclaimed are the best places in which to work. The truth is to take possession of the will of those who have never before heard it. They will see the sinfulness of sin, and their repentance will be thorough and sincere. The Lord will work upon hearts that in the past have not often been appealed to, hearts that heretofore have not seen the enormity of sin.” Evangelism p. 21 / Letter 106, 1903. “Let every worker in the Master's vineyard, study, plan, devise methods, to reach the people where they are. We must do something out of the common course of things. We must arrest the attention. We must be deadly in earnest. We are on the very verge of times of trouble and perplexities that are scarcely dreamed of.” Evangelism p. 122/ Letter 20, 1893.

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