Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6


Chapter 5—After the Camp Meeting

By camp meetings held in the cities thousands will be called out to hear the invitation to the feast: “Come; for all things are now ready.” Luke 14:17. After arousing the interest of the people, we should not cut these meetings short, pulling down all the tents and giving the impression that the meeting is over. Just at the time when hundreds have become interested, the greatest good may be accomplished by faithful and earnest work. Therefore the meetings should be so managed that the public interest may be maintained. 6T 72.1

After one of the camp meetings the question as to the continuance of tent meetings was under consideration. I told the brethren a dream I had had. I dreamed that I saw a partially completed building. The workmen were gathering up their tools, preparing to leave it unfinished; but I entreated them to consider the matter. “The building is not finished,” I said; “come back, and keep at work until it is roofed.” Then they came back and continued the work. So the brethren heeded my counsel to remain and continue the work of the camp meeting. As the result a number accepted the truth. 6T 72.2

There need not be so many failures in the expensive efforts put forth in camp meetings and tent meetings; there need not be so few sheaves to bring to the Master. In places where the standard of present truth has never been lifted, more souls will now be converted as the result of a certain amount of work than ever before. For everyone whose hands seem to be weakening and losing their hold I have the word: “Grasp the standard more firmly.” Faith says: “Go forward.” You must not fail nor be discouraged. There is no weakness of faith in him who is constantly advancing. 6T 72.3

After a camp meeting it may sometimes be difficult to hold the principal speakers for several weeks to develop the interest awakened. It may be expensive to retain the ground and to keep a sufficient number of the family tents standing to maintain the appearance of a camp meeting. It may be at a sacrifice that several families remain on the ground to assist the ministers and Bible workers in visiting and Bible study with those who come to the meetings, and in visiting the people at their homes, telling of the blessings received at the meetings and inviting them to come. No doubt it will be difficult to secure a sufficient number of workers to carry forward the work successfully. But the results will justify the effort. It is by such earnest and energetic efforts as these that some of our camp meetings have been instrumental in raising up strong working churches. And it is by just such earnest work that the third angel's message must be carried to the people of our cities. 6T 73.1

Sometimes a large number of speakers attend a camp meeting for a few days, and just when the interest of the people is fully aroused, nearly all hurry away to another meeting, leaving two or three speakers behind to struggle against the depressing influence of the tearing down and removal of the family tents. How much better it would be if the meetings were continued for a longer time; if persons would come from each church prepared to remain a month or longer, helping in the meetings and learning how to labor acceptably. Then they could carry a valuable experience to their churches when they return home. How much better if some of the same speakers who aroused the interest of the people during the largest attendance at the meeting would remain to follow up the work by a thoroughly organized protracted effort. To conduct meetings in this way would require that several be in progress at the same time, and this would not permit a few men to attend all the meetings. But we must remember that the work is to be accomplished “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6. 6T 73.2

The work should not stop when the meetings on the camp ground close. Doctrines have been presented that are new and strange to the people. Those who are convicted and who desire to accept the truth, will have to meet the most determined and subtle opposition. Ministers, friends, and acquaintances will put forth every effort to catch away the seeds of truth sown in the heart. We must not leave the seed to be thus caught away. We must not allow it to wither for want of moisture. 6T 74.1

Changes tend to weaken the influence of the meetings. Continue the meetings on the camp ground whenever practicable. But when it seems advisable to move, let the large tent be removed to some favorable location, and let the services in it be continued. A mission should be established. Secure a suitable place, and let a number of workers unite to form a mission family. This should be in charge of a man and his wife who are persons of ability and consecration and whose influence will give character to the work. 6T 74.2

In following up the interest after a camp meeting, helpers are needed in various lines, and these occasions should be as a training school for workers. Let young men work in connection with experienced laborers who will pray with them and patiently instruct them. Consecrated women should engage in Bible work from house to house. Some of the workers should act as colporteurs, selling our literature and giving judiciously to those who cannot buy. 6T 74.3

Let some of the workers attend religious gatherings in other churches and, as there is opportunity, take part in them. Jesus when only twelve years old went into the school of the priests and rabbis at the temple and asked questions. In this temple school, studies were conducted daily, somewhat as we conduct Bible studies. Jesus asked questions as a learner, but His questions furnished new matter for those learned priests to think upon. Similar work might be done today. Judicious young men should be encouraged to attend the meetings of the Young Men's Christian Association, not for the sake of contention, but to search the Scriptures with them and suggest helpful questions. 6T 74.4

Had work in these various lines been done earnestly and vigorously after all our camp meetings, many more souls would have been gathered in as the fruit of the seed sown at the meetings. 6T 75.1

Let the workers become acquainted with the people and read to them the precious words of Christ. Lift up Jesus crucified among them, and soon those who have listened to the messages of warning from the ministers at the tent, and have been convicted, will be drawn out to ask for further information. This is the time to present the reasons of our faith with meekness and fear; not a slavish fear, but a cautious fear lest we speak unadvisedly. Present the truth in all its loveliness, in simplicity and sincerity, giving meat in due season, and to everyone his portion of meat. 6T 75.2

This work requires you to watch for souls as they that must give an account. The tenderness of Christ must pervade the heart of the worker. If you have a love for souls you will reveal a tender solicitude for them. You will offer humble, earnest, heartfelt prayers for those whom you visit. The fragrance of Christ's love will be revealed in your work. He who gave His own life for the life of the world will co-operate with the unselfish worker to make an impression upon human hearts. 6T 75.3