The Voice in Speech and Song


Chapter 42—Conversational Manner

Less Preaching, More Teaching—It is not preaching alone that must be done. Far less preaching is needed. More time should be devoted to patiently educating others, giving the hearers opportunity to express themselves. It is instruction that many need, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little.—Evangelism, 338. VSS 232.1

Words From Hearts Warm With Love—Let not your zeal be of that order to preach, but to minister. Speak words from hearts warmed with the love of Jesus.—Letter 1a, 1896. VSS 232.2

Co-Laborers With Jesus Christ—You need at camp meetings to labor to teach in different lines as Christ did. Few sermons were preached by Christ. He was the great Teacher, and crowds gathered wherever He went to listen to His instruction, and He taught as one having authority, and knew that He was teaching the truth. He spake as never man spake. VSS 232.3

Ministers must be educated to work after the divine Model. Many of you love to teach, but you have not taken up the work of teaching in the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. The people will listen to sermons which often are double the length they should be, and they can retain but few points of the discourse because their minds have been all the time on temporal, earthly things. Therefore they hear with such earthly thoughts that the truth of God does not make any impression. It does not reach to the very depths of the soul, and the plowshare of truth does not go deep enough. Then they go from the meeting and fall back where they were before. The sermons being often double the length they ought to be, the words lose their force upon the minds of the hearers. Other things come in to choke the seeds of truth. VSS 232.4

The truth of God must be made impressive point by point. It is for their eternal interest to know. So deeply must the seed of truth be planted that it will become firm, and bear fruit to the glory of God.... VSS 233.1

Now when the truth is being presented, there are applications that need to be made and appeals to press it right home for a decision, for an important decision. Who is there when this truth is being presented? Somebody besides you. The devil and his angels are there to catch away the seeds of truth. Are these all? Angels of God and Jesus Christ are on the ground. Then what? When you seek to impress the truth upon the heart, you will be a co-laborer with Jesus Christ.—Manuscript 11, 1891. VSS 233.2

Not Sermonizing, but Instructing—People are suffering for want of the knowledge of truth. They do not understand what they must do to be saved. Unless the gospel is preached clearly, simply, over and over again, line upon line, precept upon precept, Satan will cast his shadow between the sinner and God. God will be represented as a stern, unforgiving Judge. Christ did not sermonize. He gave instruction as a divine Teacher. He taught in simplicity, and thus His ambassadors are to present the truth, making everything connected with the salvation of the soul plain and easy to be understood. The message must be given to the world that the way of repentance and faith is now made plain through Him who had power to lay down His life and to take it again. “He that believeth on Me,” Christ declared, “though he were dead, yet shall he live.”—Manuscript 147, 1897. VSS 233.3

Conversational Bible Study at Camp Meetings—[This impromptu dialogue between Ellen White and her son, W. C. White, took place while she was giving a talk to the General Conference Committee at Lake Goguac, near Battle Creek, Michigan, July 14, 1890.] Elder White: “I have heard you say, Mother, that we should have more teaching and less preaching; less preaching and more teaching. Speaking of the matter of getting the people together and having Bible readings.” VSS 234.1

Ellen White: “That was the way in Christ's day. He would speak to the people, and they would call out a question as to what that meant. He was a teacher of the people.” VSS 234.2

Elder White: “Then at one time I remember very distinctly about your saying that, `as we approach nearer the end I have seen our camp meetings with less preaching and more Bible study; little groups all over the ground with their Bibles in their hands, and different ones leading out in a free, conversational study of the Scriptures.” VSS 235.1

Ellen White: “That is the work that has been shown me, that our camp meetings would increase in success and interest. There are those that want more definite light. There are some that take [a] longer time to get hold of things and get what you really mean. If they could have the privilege of having it made a little plainer they would see that, and would catch hold of that. And it would be like a nail fastened in a sure place, and it would be written on the tablets of their hearts. VSS 235.2

“When the great throngs would gather about Christ, He gave His lessons of instruction. Then the disciples in different places and different positions after the discourse would repeat what Christ had said. The people had misapplied Christ's words; and the disciples would tell the people what the Scriptures said, and what Christ said the Scriptures said. They were learning to be educators. They were next to Christ, getting lessons from Him and giving them to the people.”—Manuscript 19b, 1890. VSS 235.3

Instruction in the People's Homes—God's servants have a great work to do in addition to preaching in the pulpit. In the work of the ministry there is altogether too much preaching, and too little real teaching the lessons of the Bible. Our ministers should visit the members of the church more than they do, to talk and pray with them. Their hearts need to be drawn out to those in their charge. VSS 235.4

When our ministers are visiting in a family, let them seek to make the hour of worship a great blessing, and let them when at the meal table, seek to make the conversation a source of spiritual refreshing. Let them talk on Bible subjects, and relate their experiences in holding meetings and in visiting among the people. The parents will be benefited, the children will be impressed, and as the warmth and grace of Christ are felt, the spiritual pulse will be quickened. VSS 236.1

Often a minister is obliged to speak in a crowded, overheated room. The listeners become drowsy, their senses are half paralyzed, and it is almost impossible for them to grasp the subjects presented. If instead of preaching to them, the speaker would try to teach them, asking them questions, and speaking in a conversational tone, their minds would be aroused to activity, and they would be able more clearly to comprehend the truths opened before them. Their understanding would take hold of the living reality of the truths necessary for the quickening of the perception and for growth in knowledge. As he goes over his discourse, point by point, allowing his hearers to ask questions and make suggestions, he will himself obtain a better idea of his subject. Unless the great truths of God's Word are clearly opened before the understanding, they cannot be comprehended by the mind, or put into practice in the life.—Manuscript 41, 1903. VSS 236.2