Colporteur Ministry


Section 3—The Colporteur Evangelist in Action

Chapter 13—Points on Selling

Introducing Our Books—Other publishers have regular systems of introducing into the market books of no vital interest. “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Golden opportunities occur almost daily where the silent messengers of truth might be introduced into families and to individuals; but no advantage is taken of these opportunities by the indolent, thoughtless ones. Living preachers are few. There is only one where there should be a hundred. Many are making a great mistake in not putting their talents to use in seeking to save the souls of their fellow men. CM 84.1

Hundreds of men should be engaged in carrying the light all through our cities, villages, and towns. The public mind must be agitated. God says: Let light be sent out into all parts of the field. He designs that men shall be channels of light, bearing it to those who are in darkness.—Testimonies for the Church 4:389 (1880). CM 84.2

Canvassing campaigns are to be organized for the sale of our literature, that the world may be enlightened as to what is just before us.—The Review and Herald, June 2, 1903. CM 84.3

Circulation Increases Demand—Our publishing houses should show marked prosperity. Our people can sustain them if they will show a decided interest to work our publications into the market.... The wider the circulation of our publications, the greater will be the demand for books that make plain the Scriptures of truth. Many are becoming disgusted with the inconsistencies, the errors, and the apostasy of the churches, and with the festivals, fairs, lotteries, and numerous inventions to extort money for church purposes. There are many who are seeking for light in the darkness. If our papers, tracts, and books, expressing the truth in plain Bible language, could be widely circulated, many would find that they are just what they want. But many of our brethren act as though the people were to come to them or send to our offices to obtain publications, when thousands do not know that they exist. CM 85.1

Exalt the Value of the Books—God calls upon His people to act like living men and not to be indolent, sluggish, and indifferent. We must carry the publications to the people and urge them to accept, showing them that they will receive much more than their money's worth. Exalt the value of the books you offer. You cannot regard them too highly.—Testimonies for the Church 4:392 (1880). CM 85.2

Prices of Our Publications—Some things of grave importance have not been receiving due attention at our offices of publication. Men in responsible positions should have worked up plans whereby our books could be circulated and not lie on the shelves, falling dead from the press. Our people are behind the times and are not following the opening providence of God. CM 85.3

Many of our publications have been thrown into the market at so low a figure that the profits are not sufficient to sustain the office and keep good a fund for continual uses. And those of our people who have no special burden of the various branches of the work ... do not become informed in regard to the wants of the cause and the capital required to keep the business moving. They do not understand the liability to losses and the expense every day occurring to such institutions. They seem to think that everything moves off without much care or outlay of means, and therefore they will urge the necessity of the lowest figures on our publications, thus leaving scarcely any margin. CM 86.1

And after the prices have been reduced to almost ruinous figures, they manifest but a feeble interest in increasing the sales of the very books on which they have asked such low prices. The object gained, their burden ceases, when they ought to have an earnest interest and a real care to press the sale of the publications, thereby sowing the seeds of truth and bringing means into the offices to invest in other publications. CM 86.2

There has been a very great neglect of duty on the part of ministers in not interesting the churches in the localities where they labor, in regard to this matter. When once the prices of books are reduced, it is a very difficult matter to get them again upon a paying basis, as men of narrow minds will cry, Speculation, not discerning that no one man is benefited, and that God's instrumentalities must not be crippled for want of capital. Books that ought to be widely circulated are lying useless in our offices of publication because there is not interest enough manifested to get them circulated. CM 86.3

The press is a power; but if its products fall dead for want of men who will execute plans to widely circulate them, its power is lost. While there has been a quick foresight to discern the necessity of laying out means in facilities to multiply books and tracts, plans to bring back the means invested so as to produce other publications, have been neglected. The power of the press, with all its advantages, is in their hands; and they can use it to the very best account, or they can be half asleep and through inaction lose the advantages which they might gain. By judicious calculation they can extend the light in the sale of books and pamphlets. They can send them into thousands of families that now sit in the darkness of error.—Testimonies for the Church 4:388, 389 (1880). CM 87.1

Not to Rely on Premiums—Those who have genuine humility, and whose minds have been expanded by the truths unfolded in the gospel, will have an influence that will be felt. They will make an impression upon minds and hearts, and they will be respected by the larger number, even of those who have no sympathy with their faith. With the truths of the Bible and our valuable papers they will have success, for the Lord will open the way before them. But to urge our papers upon the people by means of gifts and premiums does not have a permanent influence for good. If our workers would go forth relying upon the truths of the Bible, with the love of Christ and of souls in their hearts, they would accomplish more in obtaining permanent subscribers than by depending upon premiums or low prices. The prominence given to these inducements to take the paper gives the impression that it cannot possess real merit in itself. The results would be better if the paper were made prominent and the money spent for premiums were reserved to distribute a few copies free. When premiums are offered, some may be induced to take the paper who otherwise would not, but others will refuse to subscribe because they think it a speculation. If the canvasser would present the merits of the paper itself, with his heart uplifted to God for success, and would depend less upon premiums, more would be accomplished.—Testimonies for the Church 5:401 (1885). CM 87.2

Canvassers should be secured to handle the books, Great Controversy, Patriarchs and Prophets, Desire of Ages, Daniel and the Revelation, and other books of like character, who have a sense of the value of the matter these books contain, and a realization of the work to be done to interest people in the truth. Special help, which is above all the supposed advantages of illustrations, will be given to such canvassers. The canvassers who are born again by the work of the Holy Spirit, will be accompanied by angels, who will go before them to the dwellings of the people, preparing the way for them.—Manuscript 131, 1899. CM 88.1

Open Doors by Courtesy and Kindness—One of the simplest, yet most effective methods of labor is that of the canvasser evangelist. By courteous behavior and kindness such a worker may open the door of many homes. When he is entertained by strangers he should show himself thoughtful and helpful. Never should he make himself a burden, requiring to be waited upon by those upon whom rest the cares of the household. Should there be sickness in the home while he is there, let him do all he can to help. Sometimes he will find men who say they are too busy to listen to a canvass or a Bible reading. Often he may gain their attention by helping them in their work.—Manuscript 26, 1905. CM 88.2

Win Confidence by Helpfulness—When staying at the homes of the people, share the burdens of the household.... Help the tired father do the chores. Take an interest in the children. Be considerate. Work in humility, and the Lord will work with you.—The Review and Herald, November 11, 1902. CM 89.1

In every place that you visit, you will find the sick and suffering. Relieve them if possible, even if by so doing, you are detained some little time.... The use of simple means in the treatment of the sick will be an object lesson. If at all consistent, pray for the sick one. God may raise him up, and this will be a witness for the truth. Tell the families you visit what they must do to keep well. Take with you some pamphlets bearing on health reform, and leave them with the people. Thus you can sow the seeds of truth.—Manuscript 18a, 1901. CM 89.2

Simple Treatments—Canvassers should be able to give instruction in regard to the treatment of the sick. They should learn the simple methods of hygienic treatment. Thus they may work as medical missionaries, ministering to the souls and the bodies of the suffering. This work should now be going forward in all parts of the world. Thus multitudes might be blessed by the prayers and instruction of God's servants.—Testimonies for the Church 6:324. CM 89.3

Show Value of Healthful Living—Canvassers should never forget that they are to make earnest efforts to do medical missionary work. The publications treating on health reform are now very much needed by the world. Intemperance is striving for the mastery. Self-indulgence is increasing. In his work the canvasser can do much to show those whom he visits the value of healthful living. Instead of staying at a hotel, he should, if possible, obtain lodging with a private family. As he sits at the meal table with the family, let him practice the instruction given in the health works he is selling. If he has opportunity, let him speak of the value of health reform. If in word and action he is courteous, he will find that his words leave an impression for good.—Manuscript 113, 1901. CM 90.1

Call Attention to Health Literature—Tell the people that you have for sale books which give much valuable instruction regarding sickness and disease and how to avoid them, and that a study of this instruction saves much suffering and saves also much of the money spent in paying doctor's bills. Tell them that in these books is advice which they cannot possibly obtain from their physician during the short visits he makes.—Manuscript 113, 1901. CM 90.2

“Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,” you will be prepared to walk from house to house, carrying the truth to the people. Sometimes you will find it very trying to do work of this kind; but if you go forth in faith, the Lord will go before you, and His light will shine upon your pathway. As you enter the homes of your neighbors to sell or to give away our literature, and in humility to teach them the truth, you will be accompanied by the light of heaven. Learn to sing the simplest of songs. These will help you in house-to-house labor, and hearts will be touched by the influence of the Holy Spirit.... We may enjoy the companionship of the heavenly angels. We may not discern their forms, but by faith we may know that they are with us.—The Review and Herald, November 11, 1902. CM 90.3

The Real Purpose—By many of our canvassers there has been a departure from right principles. Through a desire to reap worldly advantage their minds have been drawn away from the real purpose and spirit of the work. Let none think that display will make a right impression upon the people. This will not secure the best or most permanent results. Our work is to direct minds to the solemn truths for this time. It is only when our own hearts are imbued with the spirit of the truths contained in the book we are selling, and when in humility we call the attention of the people to these truths, that real success will attend our efforts; for it is only then that the Holy Spirit, who convinces of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, will be present to impress hearts.—Testimonies for the Church 6:318, 319 (1900). CM 91.1