Success does not depend on outward display
Some ministers make the mistake of supposing that success depends on drawing a large congregation by outward display, and then delivering the message of truth in a theatrical style. But this is using common fire instead of the sacred fire of Cod's kindling. The Lord is not glorified by this manner of working. Not by startling notices and expensive display is His work to be carried to completion, but by following Christlike methods. "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." It is the naked truth which, like a sharp, two-edged sword, cuts both ways, arousing to spiritual life those who are dead in trespasses and sins. Men will recognize the gospel when it is brought to them in a way that is in harmony with Cod's purposes.—Gospel Workers, p. 383, (1915).
Never bring truth to a low level
Never bring the truth down to a low level in order to obtain converts, but seek to bring the sinful and corrupted up to the high standard of the law of Cod.—Manuscript 7, 1900.
Refrain from all theatrical display
I have a message for those in charge of our work. Do not encourage the men who are to engage in this work to think that they must proclaim the solemn, sacred message in a theatrical style. Not one jot or title of anything theatrical is to be brought into our work. God's cause is to have a sacred, heavenly mold. Let everything connected with the giving of the message for this time bear the divine impress. Let nothing of a theatrical nature be permitted, for this would spoil the sacredness of the work.
I am instructed that we shall meet with all kinds of experiences and that men will try to bring strange performances into the work of God. We have met such things in many places. In my very first labors the message was given that all theatrical performances in connection with the preaching of present truth were to be discouraged and forbidden. Men who thought they had a wonderful work to do sought to adopt a strange deportment and manifested oddities in bodily exercise. The light given me was, "Give this no sanction." These performances, which savored of the theatrical, were to have no place in the proclamation of the solemn messages entrusted to us.
The enemy will watch closely and will take every advantage of circumstances to degrade the truth by the introduction of undignified demonstrations.
None of these demonstrations are to be encouraged. The precious truths given us are to be spoken in all solemnity and with sacred awe.—Manuscript 19, 1910.
Danger of sensational teachings
You may be sure that pure and undefiled religion is not a sensational religion. God has not laid upon anyone the burden of encouraging an appetite for encouraging speculative doctrines and theories. My brethren, keep these things out of your teaching.— Australasian Union Conference Record, March 15, 1904.
Not to ape the world
We are handling subjects which involve eternal interests, and we are not to ape the world in any respect. We are to follow closely the footsteps of Christ. He is a satisfying portion and can meet all our wants and necessities.—Manuscript 96, 1898.
Our success will depend on carrying forward the work in the simplicity in which Christ carried it forward, without any theatrical display.—Letter 53, 1904.
Preparing the soil for the good seed
Remember that great care is to be exercised in regard to the presentation of truth. Carry the minds along guardedly. Dwell upon practical godliness, weaving the same into doctrinal discourses. The teachings and love of Christ will soften and subdue the soil of the heart for the good seed of truth.—Letter 14, 1887.
Do not arouse controversy and opposition
Learn to meet the people where they are. Do not present subjects that will arouse controversy. Let not your instruction be of a character to perplex the mind.—Testimonies, Vol. 6, p. 58 (1900).
Do not arouse opposition before the people have had opportunity to hear the truth and know what they are opposing.—Testimonies, Vol. 6, p. 36 (1900).
Do not drive people from the truth
Upon us there rests the solemn responsibility of presenting the truth to unbelievers in the most forcible manner. How careful we should be not to present the truth in a way that will drive men and women from it. Religious teachers stand where they can do great good or great evil ...
The Lord calls upon us to come to the banquet of truth, and then go out into the highways and hedges, and compel souls to come in, by presenting the great and wonderful offering that Christ has made to the world. We are to present the truth in the way that Christ told His disciples to present it, in simplicity and love.—Letter 177, 1903.
Dignity of the messenger
Decorum is necessary in the desk. A minister of the gospel should not be regardless of his attitude. If he is the representative of Christ, his deportment, his attitude, his gestures, should be of such a character as will not strike the beholder with disgust. Ministers should possess refinement. They should discard all uncouth manners, attitudes, and gestures, and should encourage in themselves humble dignity of bearing. They should be clothed in a manner befitting the dignity of their position. Their speech should be in every respect solemn and well chosen.— Testimonies, Vol. 1, pp. 648, 649 (1868).
But things that are wrong often transpire in the sacred desk. One minister conversing with another in the desk before the congregation, laughing and appearing to have no burden of the work, or lacking a solemn sense of their sacred calling, dishonors the truth, and brings the sacred down upon the low level of common things.—Testimonies, Vol. 2, pp. 612, 613 (1871).
An offense to God
Sometimes the assemblies of God's people have been treated with a commonness which has been an offense to God and has robbed the sacred work of its holiness and purity.—Letter 155, 1900.
Waste no time with apologies
Many speakers waste their time and strength in long preliminaries and excuses. Some use nearly half an hour in making apologies; thus time is wasted, and when they reach their subject and try to fasten the points of truth in the minds of their hearers, the people are wearied out and cannot see their force.
Instead of apologizing because he is about to address the people, the minister should begin as if he knew that he was bearing a message from God.—Gospel Workers, p. 168 (1915).
The public prayer
The prayers offered in public should be short and to the point. God does not require us to make the season of worship tedious by lengthy petitions. . . . A few minutes is long enough for any ordinary public petition.—Gospel Workers, p.175 (1915).
Pray with heartfelt simplicity
We need not make long public prayers. With heartfelt simplicity we should state our needs to the Lord, and claim His promises with such faith and confidence that the congregation will know that we have learned to prevail with God in prayer. They will be encouraged to believe that the Lord's presence is in the meeting, and they will open their hearts to receive His rich blessing. Their faith in your sincerity will be increased, and they will be ready to listen with willing ears to the instruction given by the speaker.—Manuscript 127, 1902.
Hurried, rush movements
The Lord gave you your work, not to be done in a rush, but in a calm, considerate manner. The Lord never compels hurried, complicated movements.—Testimonies, Vol. 8, p. 189 (1904).
Avoiding the grotesque
We cannot be shepherds of the flock unless we are divested of our own peculiar habits, manners, and customs, and come into Christ's likeness. When we eat His flesh and drink His blood, then the element of eternal life will be found in the ministry. There will not be a fund of stale repeated ideas, there will be a new perception of truth.
Some who stand in the pulpit make the heavenly messengers in the audience ashamed of them. The precious gospel, which it has cost so much to bring to the world, is abused. There is common, cheap talk; grotesque attitudes and workings of the features. There is, with some, rapid talking, with others a thick, indistinct utterance. Everyone who ministers before the people should feel it a solemn duty to take himself in hand. He should first give himself to the Lord in complete self-renunciation, determined that he will have none of self, but all of Jesus.—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 339 (1896).
Discard uncomely gestures and uncouth speech
The workman for God should make earnest efforts to become a representative of Christ, discarding all un-comely gestures and uncouth speech. He should endeavor to use correct language. There is a large class who are careless in the way they speak; yet by careful, painstaking attention, these may become representatives of the truth. Every day they should make advancement. They should not detract from their usefulness and influence by cherishing defects of manner, tone, or language.—Counsels to Teachers, p. 238 (1913).
The position of our ministers calls for health of body and discipline of mind. Good sound sense, strong nerves, and a cheerful temper will recommend the gospel minister anywhere. These should be sought for, and perseveringly cultivated.— Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 466 (1875).—Taken from the book Evangelism, pp. 136-147.
Ellen G. White, messenger of the Lord and one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.