Since 1849, when the first issue of The Present Truth was published, the Adventist movement understood the importance of literature distribution for sharing the three angels’ messages throughout the world. Today the Seventh-day Adventist Church is present in more than 200 countries and uses more than 800 languages to communicate the message.
In the twenty-first century, books still remain an effective evangelistic method, which led the General Conference to create the Missionary Book of the Year project, with results already exceeding 400 million books distributed around the world within 10 years.
Is it worth the effort and investment?
Consider the following points:
1. Literature distribution was the first missionary strategy undertaken by the Adventist movement, even before it became an organized Church.
2. In about 80 percent of the countries where the Adventist Church is present today, colporteurs and/or books have come before pastors.
3. With the advent of mass media such as radio, television, and the internet, the distribution of the printed page continues to fulfill its role as an ally to spoken preaching. One method complements the other.
4. While evangelism through radio and television involves a small number of preachers, book distribution challenges all Adventists to participate, which brings evangelistic dynamism to the Church.
5. When the Church distributes books in an organized way, it multiplies the potential of its impact on the community.
6. Books motivate readers to seek more information about the Church.
7. Giving a book is an act of sympathy and courtesy.
8. Books explain the message in simple, direct ways. They can be re-read, studied, underlined, and consulted at any time.
9. A single book can reach several people and remain “preaching” for generations.
10. As soon as a paragraph is read, the Holy Spirit begins the work of persuasion and conversion.
THE WORLD CHURCH AND THE MISSIONARY BOOKS
In addition to being a strategy to reach territories and people, the distribution of books is the missionary activity with the greatest potential for engagement. As Ellen G. White wrote, “Here is missionary work for all to engage in” (Counsels on Health, p. 466).
Steps to promote literature distribution:
1. Set an Impact Day for a massive book distribution program.
2. Challenge all members in your church to engage in the distribution.
3. Involve all departments in your church on Impact Day.
4. Hold a missionary book dedication ceremony in your church.
5. Ask each member to participate by paying for books to distribute on Impact Day.
6. Inspire, motivate, plan, and organize your church for a territorial distribution in which all households receive a book.
Although we know many conversion stories, the purpose of book distribution is sowing. The Greek philosopher Hermogenes said:
“When I said to the orange seed that a whole orange grove was sleeping inside, it looked at me stupidly incredulous.”
In this vision we place our trust. No page containing the message will stop producing fruit. The Church’s task is to continue sowing, believing in the principle of investment. The more seeds, the more fruit.
Almir M. Marroni is the director for the Publishing Ministries at the General Conference World Headquarters.