Message and Method
A company that produces high end audio equipment is about to market their latest product: audiophile level speakers. Needless to say these will be sold for a very high price. There are, however several challenges, one of which is they have virtually no money for marketing. Marketing is to let potential buyers know of the product. Even with money it would have been a challenge, because this was an exclusive type of product for an exclusive clientele. If no one knows, then no one buys, if no one buys then the money spent to produce this equipment will be lost.
One of the employees on the office said in a meeting, "If only we knew the people who would potentially buy these we could call them ourselves." Another asked, "Who would know?" After a few jokes were cracked, one of them said, "A high end car dealership." All the faces lit up. They came up with a plan to call dealerships to see which one would be interested in helping. One of the dealership accepted, with one condition, they could market their own products. The dealership would send invitations to an event to their former clients. However, where do you hold the event? Both parties came together and decided to find a high end restaurant with private event rooms. After a few were restaurants contacted, one accepted under the same condition: they could do some marketing also.
The plan was as follows: the dealer would pick those who accepted the invitation and give them a ride to the restaurant in a car they though that client would be interested. Once, in the restaurant, they were escorted to the private room, where they were treated to samples of the food served in the restaurant, while the music played through the high end speakers. After a few of the present people asked about the speakers, the marketers for the speakers gave a presentation. In the end, cars and speakers were sold, and many of the guests present would return to the restaurant in the future. All of this was done with not too much money spent. They got the right people to hear the message with the right method. The wrong method with the right message would have yielded poor results, and like wise the wrong message with the right method. The two always go together.
The same is true for the Gospel. For years we have been trying to use public evangelism methods that have failed miserably. Dozens, sometimes hundreds, come to the meeting place and at the end of the effort very few are left, if at all. Some try to conjecture why it is not working. And, then suggest changes. But, they are with no avail. Is it the method or the message or both? They have tried to use more personal methods like bible studies, but the students stop coming. Then they suggested maybe if we have them by correspondence, or online. But, very few results are seen. Some are trying TV, radio, satellites, and internet; nothing seems to work. Again, why is it not working? It begs the question, is there a right method to spread the Gospel?
Let us go to the Bible. When the disciples received power from on high, they went out and spoke the truth as it is in Jesus (Acts 1:8; 2: 1 – 4). Most people in Jerusalem knew who they were. They perceived a difference. For starters, they were speaking in languages that these simple peasants could not speak naturally (Acts 2:4). From this time forth the language of the disciples was pure, simple, and accurate, whether they spoke in their native tongue or in a foreign language (AA 39). Remember they were not trained speakers or experts in righting sermons. Of Peter and John it was said, And, When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus (Act 4:13). But, this power did not come from training, motivational speeches or self-help programs. It was all from the Holy Spirit. That was the difference.
Notice also Peter's sermon (Acts 2: 14 – 38). Peter did not refer to the teachings of Christ to prove his position, because he knew that the prejudice of his hearers was so great that his words on this subject would be of no effect. Instead, he spoke to them of David, who was regarded by the Jews as one of the patriarchs of their nation (AA 42). Peter took the Old Testament, and framed it to testify of Jesus (John 5:39). Our lesson states that The "Word of God" that was preached everywhere most certainly included the messianic passages of the Old Testament. Those Scriptures that foretold the death and resurrection of the Savior, and His consequent forgiveness and justification of sinners, were presented as being fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth.
Those who heard were convicted. Many were converted (Acts 2: 37 – 41). Peter used the Word of God. Peter did not push anyone. He did not manipulate them nor instill fear or guilt on them. Was it just the words or the ways they were said? Was it that it was a public mass event versus a one-on-one approach? In the New Testament most conversions came through one-on-one approaches. It was personal. Most importantly it was led by the Holy Spirit.
The church grew without technological advances. There was no need for creeds or emphasis on doctrine. It was very simple. Ellen White says that in the end we would "be surprised by the simple means" that God will employ to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness in the final proclamation of the third angel's message (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 300.). Ellen White says about the simplicity in witnessing,
"Thousands can be reached in the most simple, humble way. The most intellectual, those who are looked upon as the world's most gifted men and women, are often refreshed by the simple words of one who loves God, and who can speak of that love as naturally as the worldling speaks of the things that interest him most deeply. Often the words well prepared and studied have but little influence. But the true, honest expression of a son or daughter of God, spoken in natural simplicity, has power to open the door to hearts that have long been closed against Christ and His love."—Ellen G. White, The Colporteur Ministry, p. 39.
God not only has a message but also a method. Try to use the wrong method with the right message or the right method with the wrong message, and the result is failure. Let God lead you with the use His method and His message, and then we will see results.