Ministry to the Cities


Chapter 5—A Strategy for Reaching the Cities


Great Work Needs to Be Done in Cities.—Again and again I am instructed to present to our churches the work that should be done in our large cities. There is a great work to be done, not only where we have churches already established, but also in places where the truth has never been fully presented. Right in our midst there are heathen as verily as in far-off lands.—Manuscript 7, 1908 (Evangelism, 32). MTC 55.1

Do Not Wait for Something Large to Happen Before Starting.—Why should we delay to begin work in our cities? We are not to wait for some wonderful thing to be done, or some costly apparatus to be provided, in order that a great display may be made. What is the chaff to the wheat? If we walk and work humbly before God, He will prepare the way before us. He will honor those who honor Him. And we feel sure that the workmen at Takoma Park* are seeking to honor Him. MTC 55.2

Why delay the endeavor to make the world better? However humble our sphere, however lowly our work, if we walk in harmony with our Saviour, He will reveal Himself through us, and our influence will draw souls to Him. He will honor the meek and lowly ones, who earnestly seek to do service for Him in the daily life. Into all that we do, whether we work in the shop, on the farm, or in the office, let us bring the endeavor to save souls.—Letter 335, 1904. MTC 55.3

Special Talent Exists to Accomplish Work.—Mission work should be done in all our large cities. There is special talent among us for this line of labor, and this talent should be educated and trained. MTC 56.1

The ministers who hover over the churches are accomplishing little good for church members unless they encourage and teach the people to do practical missionary work. Every minister should now feel that there is a greater work for him to do than to repeat again and again the same sermons to the people. ... MTC 56.2

I have been instructed to refer our people to the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. Read this chapter carefully, and understand the kind of ministry that will bring life into the churches. The work of the gospel is to be carried by means of our liberality as well as by our labors. When you meet suffering souls who need help, give it to them. When you find those who are hungry, feed them. In doing this you will be working in lines of Christ's ministry. ... MTC 56.3

It is not the duty of conference officers to lay restraining hands on the work being done in our cities. By the strange forbiddings that have been exercised in some places, Satan has been seeking to hedge up the way of the truth. The people need no encouragement to inactivity.—Manuscript 7, 1908. MTC 56.4

Best Workers to Be Chosen.—We must labor now for the extension of the truth, and as a result many souls will come to a knowledge of the truth in our hitherto unworked cities. The very choicest instrumentalities the church contains should be selected and sent forth, and sustained in extending missionary efforts.—Atlantic Union Gleaner, January 8, 1902. MTC 56.5

Workers Needed Who Can Reach People's Hearts.—We must plan to place in these great cities capable men who can present the third angel's message in a manner so forceful that it will strike home to the heart. Men who can do this, we cannot afford to gather into one place, to do a work that others might do.—The Review and Herald, November 25, 1909. MTC 56.6


Satan Attempts to Confuse Our Plans.—As we begin active work for the multitudes in the cities, the enemy will work mightily to bring in confusion, hoping thus to break up the working forces. Some who are not thoroughly converted are in constant danger of mistaking the suggestions of the enemy as the leadings of the Spirit of God. As the Lord has given us light, let us walk in the light.—Manuscript 13, 1910 (Evangelism, 100). MTC 57.1

Excuses for Not Doing City Evangelism Demonstrate Lack of Vision.—I dreamed that several of our brethren were in counsel considering plans of labor for this season. They thought it best not to enter the large cities, but to begin work in small places, remote from the cities; here they would meet less opposition from the clergy and would avoid great expense. They reasoned that our ministers, being few in number, could not be spared to instruct and care for those who might accept the truth in the cities, and who, because of the greater opposition they would there meet, would need more help than would the churches in small country places. Thus the fruit of giving a course of lectures in the city would, in a great measure, be lost. Again, it was urged that, because of our limited means, and because of the many changes from moving that might be expected from a church in a large city, it would be difficult to build up a church that would be a strength to the cause. My husband was urging the brethren to make broader plans without delay and put forth, in our large cities, extended and thorough effort that would better correspond to the character of our message. One worker related incidents of his experience in the cities, showing that the work was nearly a failure, but he testified to better success in the small places. MTC 57.2

One of dignity and authority—One who is present in all our council meetings—was listening with deepest interest to every word. He spoke with deliberation and perfect assurance. “The whole world,” He said, “is God's great vineyard. The cities and villages constitute a part of that vineyard. These must be worked.” ... MTC 58.1

The Messenger turned to one present and said: “Your ideas of the work for this time are altogether too limited. Your light must not be confined to a small compass, put under a bushel, or under a bed; it must be placed on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are in God's house—the world. You must take broader views of the work than you have taken.”—Testimonies For The Church 7:34-36 (similar to Manuscript 1, 1874). MTC 58.2


Mingle With People, Meet Their Needs, Then Invite Them to Follow.—When Christ sent out the twelve disciples on their first missionary tour, He bade them, “As ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:7, 8). MTC 58.3

To the Seventy sent forth later He said: “Into whatsoever city ye enter, ... heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” (Luke 10:8, 9). ... MTC 58.4

After Christ's ascension the same work was continued. The scenes of His own ministry were repeated. ... MTC 58.5

Luke, the writer of the Gospel that bears his name, was a medical missionary. In the Scriptures he is called “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). The apostle Paul heard of his skill as a physician, and sought him out as one to whom the Lord had entrusted a special work. He secured his cooperation, and for some time Luke accompanied him in his travels from place to place. ... Thus the way was opened for the gospel message. Luke's success as a physician gained for him many opportunities for preaching Christ among the heathen. It is the divine plan that we shall work as the disciples worked. Physical healing is bound up with the gospel commission. In the work of the gospel, teaching and healing are never to be separated. ... MTC 58.6

The giving of the gospel to the world is the work that God has committed to those who bear His name. For earth's sin and misery the gospel is the only antidote. To make known to all mankind the message of the grace of God is the first work of those who know its healing power. ... MTC 59.1

What is the condition in the world today? Is not faith in the Bible as effectually destroyed by the higher criticism and speculation? ... MTC 59.2

A great work of reform is demanded, and it is only through the grace of Christ that the work of restoration, physical, mental, and spiritual, can be accomplished. MTC 59.3

Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.” MTC 59.4

There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen. The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit.—The Ministry of Healing, 139-144. (1905) MTC 59.5

Christ Came to Meet the Needs of Humanity.—God sent His Son into the world that He might learn by actual experience the needs of humanity. Through humanity combined with divinity He must reach man and enable him to lay hold upon the divine nature.—Manuscript 73, 1909 (Sermons and Talks 2:318). MTC 59.6


Character of Work to Match Truths We Teach.—The work should be symmetrical, and a living witness for the truth. God would have us cherish a noble ambition. He desires that the character of our work shall be in harmony with the great truths we are agitating to awaken the world from its deathlike slumber.—Letter 4, 1899. MTC 60.1

Teach by Example.—We must live the truth, and teach it by our lives as well as by our words. There are thousands within our reach to whom we can teach the truth, and it does not require the investment of large means to reach our neighboring towns and cities. We do not need to go to a people of a strange town, but to English-speaking people, and yet year after year has passed by, appeal after appeal has been sent out, and yet men, women, and means have done little to advance the work. Are we the light of the world?—Manuscript 60, 1894. MTC 60.2


Avoid Needlessly Building Walls of Separation.—The Lord does not move upon His workers to make them take a course which will bring on the time of trouble before the time. Let them not build up a wall of separation between themselves and the world, by advancing their own ideas and notions. There is now altogether too much of this throughout our borders.—Special Testimonies to Ministers and Workers, Series A 3:33, 34 (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 202). (1895) MTC 60.3


City Dwellers Will Not Come to Us.—Can we expect the inhabitants of the cities to come to us and say: “If you will come to us and preach, we will help you to do thus and so”? What do they know of our message? Let us do our part in warning these people who are ready to perish unwarned and unsaved. The Lord desires us to let our light so shine before men that His Holy Spirit can communicate the truth to the honest in heart who are seeking after Him.—Testimonies For The Church 9:100. (1909) MTC 60.4

Study Outreach Possibilities.—The words were spoken to me: “Tell My people that time is short. Every effort is now to be made to exalt the truth. In the cities, large and small, the message is to be proclaimed. The third angel's message is to be united with the second angel's message, and is to be proclaimed with great power in our large cities. Thus will be given with a loud voice the message that is to prepare a people for the coming of the King.” MTC 61.1

The situation in all the large cities must be studied, that the truth may be given to all the people. In these large cities the Lord has many honest souls who are becoming confused by the strange developments in the religious world.—Letter 88, 1910 (Manuscript Releases 5:128). MTC 61.2

Needs of Neglected Areas to Be Studied.—There is another line of work to be carried forward, the work in the large cities. There should be companies of earnest laborers working in the cities. Men should study what needs to be done in the places that have been neglected. The Lord has been calling our attention to the neglected multitudes in the large cities, yet little regard has been given to the matter.—The Review and Herald, November 11, 1909 (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 537). MTC 61.3

Careful Planning by Several Helps Prevent Mistakes.—Capable men are needed who will carefully count the cost and use sound judgment in their calculations. The lack of experienced men has been a great disadvantage. ... The work should not be managed by one man's mind or by one man's ideas. ... MTC 61.4

It would be a mistake to build or purchase large buildings in the cities. ... Those who seem to see such great advantages in so doing are without understanding. MTC 62.1

There is a great work to be done in sounding the gospel message for this time in these large cities, but the fitting up of large buildings for some apparently wonderful work has been a mistake.—Manuscript 30, 1903 (Sermons and Talks 2:226). MTC 62.2

Poor Planning Results in Unnecessary Expenditures.—I have been much pained because means have been invested in putting up additional school buildings at Battle Creek, when this was uncalled for. The college was large enough to accommodate the students that could be managed successfully in the school. The fact of the matter was that those in charge were not able to manage the students that were already in attendance as they should be managed, and the money invested in putting up new buildings was greatly needed in planting the standard of truth in cities in America, and in opening new fields to the living minister.—Letter 43, 1895 (Manuscript Releases 17:308). MTC 62.3


Decisions Regarding Local Work Best Made Locally.—I am often greatly distressed when I see our leading men taking extreme positions, and burdening themselves over matters that should not be taken up or worried over, but left in the hands of God for Him to adjust. We are yet in the world, and God keeps for us a place in connection with the world, and works by His own right hand to prepare the way before us, in order that His work may progress along its various lines. ... MTC 62.4

Let the Lord work with the men who are on the ground, and let those who are not on the ground walk humbly with God, lest they get out of their place, and lose their bearings. The Lord has not placed the burden of criticizing the work upon those who have taken this burden, and He does not give them the sanction of His Holy Spirit. Many move according to their own human judgment, and zealously seek to adjust things that God has not placed in their hands. Just as long as we are in the world, we shall have to do a special work for the world; the message of warning is to go to all countries, tongues, and peoples.—Special Testimonies to Ministers and Workers, Series A 3:32, 33 (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 201, 202). (1895) MTC 62.5


Money and Talents Both Needed in God's Work.—Those who are truly converted are called to do a work which requires money and consecration. The obligations which bind us to place our names on the church roll hold us responsible to work to the utmost of our ability for God. He calls for undivided service, for the entire devotion of heart, soul, mind, and strength. Christ has brought us into church capacity, that He may engage and engross all our capabilities in devoted service for the salvation of others. Anything short of this is opposition to the work. ... MTC 63.1

The Lord designs that the means entrusted to us shall be used in building up His kingdom. His goods are committed to His stewards, that they may be carefully traded upon, and bring back a revenue to Him in the saving of souls unto eternal life. ... MTC 63.2

God works with every true believer, and the light and blessing received is given out again in the work which the believer does. As he thus gives of that which he has received, his capacity for receiving is increased. As he imparts of the heavenly gifts, he makes room for fresh currents of grace and truth to flow into the soul from the living fountain. Greater light, increased knowledge and blessing, are his. In this work, which devolves upon every church member, is the life and growth of the church. MTC 63.3

He whose life consists in ever receiving and never giving soon loses the blessing. If truth does not flow forth from him to others, he loses his capacity to receive.—Manuscript 139, 1898 (This Day With God, 303). MTC 63.4

Needed Finances Will Come.—As we do this work, we shall find that means will flow into our treasuries, and we shall have means with which to carry on a still broader and more far-reaching work. Shall we not advance in faith, just as if we had thousands of dollars? We do not have half faith enough. Let us act our part in warning these cities.—Manuscript 53, 1909 (Evangelism, 62). MTC 64.1

Members With Financial Resources to Support Outreach Efforts.—The Lord calls upon those who are in positions of trust, those to whom He has entrusted His precious gifts, to use their talents of intellect and means in His service. Our workers should present before these men a plain statement of our plan of labor, telling them what we need in order to help the poor and needy and to establish this work on a firm basis. Some of these will be impressed by the Holy Spirit to invest the Lord's means in a way that will advance His cause. They will fulfill His purpose by helping to create centers of influence in the large cities. Interested workers will be led to offer themselves for various lines of missionary effort.—Testimonies For The Church 7:112. (1902) MTC 64.2

Wealthy Converts Will Help Fund City Evangelism.—Souls who have wealth will be brought into the truth and will give of their means to advance the work of God. I have been instructed that there is much means in the cities that are unworked. God has interested people there. Go to them; teach them as Christ taught; give them the truth. They will accept it. And as surely as honest souls will be converted, their means will be consecrated to the Lord's service, and we shall see an increase of resources.—Testimonies For The Church 9:100. (1909) MTC 64.3


Conferences to Reserve Funds for Use in New Fields.—As we consider the work that must be done in Washington [D.C.] City, and the varied lines of work that should be taken up in the Southern field and in the cities of our land, it is becoming more and more manifest that it is unwise to allow our conferences to be [so] stripped of means that they cannot assist in establishing memorials in fields where God has instructed us to do a special work.—Letter 190, 1903 (Spalding and Magan Collection, 316). MTC 64.4

Financial Priority Given to Opening New Fields.—God requires that every available dollar shall be given to the work of opening new fields for the entrance of the gospel message and in lessening the mountains of difficulty that seek to close up our missionary work. For Christ's sake, I ask you to carry out God's purposes for the opening of missions in every city, in every place.—Manuscript 61, 1909 (Manuscript Releases 10:216, 217). MTC 65.1

Allocate More Funds to New Fields.—Carry the message into new cities. If necessary, we must expend less means in the few places where the message has been quite fully preached, that we may go out into other places where the warning has not been given, and where men and women are ignorant of the great crisis that is about to come to all who live upon the earth. We have the word of truth—the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus—to give to the people of this generation.—Manuscript 61, 1909 (Manuscript Releases 10:216). MTC 65.2

Balanced Funding Needed Between Current and New Work.—The Lord sees the work that must be done in His vineyard. He sees the places in which there should be memorials for Him, in order that the truth may be represented. He sees the fields that are unworked and destitute of facilities. He requires from all who serve Him equity and just judgment. A large amount of means should not be absorbed in one place. Every building erected is to be erected with reference to the other places that will need similar buildings. ... MTC 65.3

God calls upon those who act a part in His service not to block the way of advance by selfishly using in one place or in one line of work all the means they can secure. In all parts of the world there is a work to be done that ought to have been done long ago. God forbid that you should make appeals to the people for means to complete ... [more buildings for a certain institution], when you already have many buildings in your possession, and when you have thousands of dollars in sight. Bring your building to your means. Give other parts of God's vineyard a chance to have facilities. Let plants be made in other cities.—Special Testimonies, Series B 6:40. (1908) MTC 65.4

Dividing Staff Weakens Work in Both Places.—In the night season I was in a council meeting where Brother Smith Sharp was speaking of dividing the working force at Nashville [Tennessee] and taking part of it to Chattanooga [Tennessee]. Several other matters were introduced. Then the Counsellor* who never makes a mistake spoke words which changed the whole atmosphere of the meeting. He laid down principles which showed that the working forces were not to be divided. That which is needed to make one center should not be used to make two centers. Put all the force into one center, and unite to make that center a success. Nashville is to be made a center, and from it light will radiate to the regions beyond. Should the suggestions urged by Brother Smith Sharp be followed, two sets of buildings would have to be put up, when there is scarcely financial strength to make one place a success. To try to separate the work and establish it in two places would weaken the force of both. Make the work in one place as complete a whole as possible.—Letter 79, 1901. MTC 66.1

Use of Funds to Be Guided by Equity, Justice, and Judgment.—Unduly to invest means and exalt this work in one part of the field when there is city work to be done in many places is not the right thing. It is selfishness and covetousness. The Lord especially condemns such a manifestation, for by it His sacred work is misrepresented before the world. He would have His work controlled and guided by equity, justice, and judgment. He does not call for the erection of immense institutions. One corner of the vineyard is not the whole world. In many places throughout the world memorials for God are to be established to represent His truth. And such a reasonable course is to be pursued that we shall stand in our large cities in so sensible an attitude that those not of our faith will give us help with their means. Every dollar that we have belongs to God. “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:8). MTC 66.2

Yet some do not recognize His ownership. Though the work in the part of the field where they are laboring already possesses an abundance of facilities, they continue to draw from the Lord's treasury. They do not think of the needy portions of the field, which require such facilities as they already have, and must be helped. Would they work as zealously to provide for some other place the facilities they think are required in their field? All must consider there are cities that have never had the message.—Manuscript 53, 1903 (Manuscript Releases 13:406, 407). MTC 67.1

Jealousy Over Funds Prevents Work From Progressing.—For years the work in the cities has been presented before me, and has been urged upon our people. Instruction has been given to open new fields. There has sometimes been a jealous fear lest someone who wished to enter new fields should receive means from the people that they supposed was wanted for another work. Some in responsible positions have felt that nothing should be done without their personal knowledge and approval. Therefore efficient workers have been sometimes delayed and hindered, and the carriage wheels of progress in entering new fields have been made to move heavily.—Manuscript 21, 1910 (Medical Ministry, 302). MTC 67.2


Ministers Not to Be Burdened With Financial Details of City Work.—I do not know when our ministers will learn to let business and financial matters alone. Over and over again I have been shown that this is not the work of the ministry. They are not to be heavily burdened with the details of city work. They are to be in readiness to go to places where an interest has been awakened in the message, and especially to attend our camp meetings. They are not to hover over cities at the time when these meetings are in progress.—Manuscript 104, 1902 (Manuscript Releases 17:52). MTC 67.3