Public evangelism is needed. Evangelism arrests the attention of people. We could on the other hand say that the time of evangelism is over and what we need today is the ministry of small groups. But my conviction is that is in the quietness of a personal interview, just the two, the seeker and the sought, with the unseen third Person striking the arrow of conviction deep into the heart, is where real soul-winning takes place.
Elder Cleveland, an outstanding evangelist of this denomination, used to say: "We need to know how to use not only the long sword but the short one as well."
One may be a great preacher, but if he fails as a personal worker for souls, he fails utterly.
A story is told that some years ago the pastor of a large church in London felt the need of a genuine revival among the members of his congregation, and so he invited a certain noted evangelist to conduct a series of revival meetings. These meetings were widely advertized and largely attended. The audience gave respectful attention, but seemed almost as if carved out of ice and stone. There was no response. The series was concluded, yet the great heart of the church was not stirred.
Remembering a dear old friend of his residing in a distant city, the pastor wrote him of the apparent failure of this evangelistic effort, and asked counsel and especially the prayers of this earnest man of God.
The old man felt a burden for the work of the younger, and accepted the invitation. After a little conversation in the study, the pastor said earnestly, "You have to speak to my people tonight."
The old man was horrified. "Why, you know I'm not a preacher. I couldn't preach to your congregation. I wouldn't know what to say."
"But you know Jesus, and know the need of the sinful heart. Don't try to preach to my people. Just talk to them a few minutes right out of your heart's experience."
At last the old gentleman promised, and the hour finally came. With fear tugging at his heart, yet with cordage of a definite purpose, and after a few words of cordial introduction on the part of the pastor, the old gentleman arose and began to speak.
A quiet hush fell over the congregation. It was as if the veiy heavens had opened, and a little breath had blown down upon the waiting people, so quietly, so earnestly. In such a heartfelt manner, did this man of God bring home to them the message which he had to share from the great heart of love.
In citing this simple story the writer said, "While my elderly friend had not been to Oxford, he had been to Calvary." Surely this is the secret of all successful soul winning. No preacher's work is finished, but only begun, when he steps down from the pulpit. It is the personal touch that brings success.
The real joy of Christian leadership is that which comes to one who is conscious that the Lord Jesus Christ is using him to bring sin-sick souls to the foot of the cross.
"The work of every faithful laborer lies close to the heart of Him who gave Himself for the redemption of the race." Letter 21, 1903.
"In order to break down the barriers of prejudice and impenitence, the love of Christ must have a part in every discourse. Make men know how much Jesus loves them, and what evidences He has given them of His love. What love can equal that which God manifested for man, by the death of Christ on the cross? When the heart is filled with the love of Jesus, this can be presented to the people, and it will affect hearts." Letter 48, 1886.