Planning for a Permanent Work

[See also pp. 321-326, “Binding Off Thoroughly.”]

Surface Plowing—A Limited Harvest—We are in danger of spreading over more territory and starting more enterprises than we can possibly attend to properly, and they will become a wearing burden in absorbing means. There is danger to be guarded against of overdoing some branches of the work and leaving some important parts of the Lord's vineyard to be neglected. To undertake and plan a large amount of work and do nothing perfectly, would be a bad plan. We are to move forward, but only in the counsel of God. We must not get so far above the simplicity of the work we lose our spiritual perception and it will be impossible to look after the many accumulated lines of work and enterprises entered into without sacrificing our best helpers to keep things in order. Life and health must be regarded. Ev 79.5

While we should ever be ready to follow the opening providence of God, we should lay no larger plans in places where our work is represented, nor occupy more ground than there is help and means to bind off the work well. Surface plowing means a limited, scattered harvest. Keep up and increase the interest already started, until the cloud moves, then follow it. While there are broader plans and fields constantly opening for the laborers, our ideas and views must broaden in regard to the workers who are to labor in new fields in the Lord's vineyard to bring souls into the truth.—Letter 14, 1886. Ev 80.1

Spreading Too Thin—Let not the means at your disposal be spent in so many places that nothing satisfactory is accomplished anywhere. It is possible for the workers to spread their efforts over so much territory that nothing will be properly done in the very places where, by the Lord's direction, the work should be strengthened and perfected.—Letter 87, 1902. Ev 80.2

Thoroughness in Evangelistic Details—If our active temperament gathers in a large amount of work that we have not strength nor the grace of Christ to do understandingly and with order and exactitude, everything we undertake shows imperfection, and the work is constantly marred. God is not glorified however good the motive. There is a want of wisdom which is too plainly revealed. The worker complains of constantly having too heavy burdens to bear, when God is not pleased with his taking these burdens; and he makes his own life one of worriment and anxiety and weariness, because he will not learn the lessons Christ has given him: to wear His yoke and bear His burdens rather than the yoke and burdens of his own creating.... Ev 80.3

God wants intelligent workers, doing their work not hurriedly but carefully and thoroughly, always preserving the humility of Jesus. Those who put thought and painstaking into the higher duties, should put care and thought into the smaller duties, showing exactitude and diligence. Oh, how much neglected work is done, how much leaving things at loose ends because there is a constant desire to take on greater work. The work is slurred over that relates to the service of God, because they pile so much work before them that there is nothing done thoroughly. But all the work must bear the scrutiny of the Judge of all the earth. The smaller duties connected with the service of the Master assume importance because it is Christ's service.—Letter 48, 1886. Ev 81.1

No New Interests Till Others Bound Off—We must not plan for large beginnings while we have so little power to complete that which is already begun. Let not new enterprises come in before their time, to absorb in other places the means that ought to be used to build up the work in_____. The interests in that place must be firmly established before other territory is entered.—Letter 87, 1902. Ev 81.2

Maintaining Interest for the Message—The experiences of this meeting, with what has been presented to me at various times regarding the holding of camp meetings in large cities, lead me to advise that a larger number of camp meetings be held each year, even though some of them are small; for these meetings will be a powerful means of arresting the attention of the masses. 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.” Ev 82.1

After arousing an interest, we must not cut these meetings short, pulling down the tents, leaving the people to think that the meeting is over, just at the time when hundreds are becoming interested. It is just then that the greatest good may be accomplished by faithful, earnest work. The meetings must be so managed that the public interest shall be maintained. Ev 82.2

It may be difficult, sometimes, to hold the principal speakers for some weeks to develop the interest awakened by the meeting; it may be expensive to retain the grounds, and to keep standing a sufficient number of the family tents to maintain the appearance of a camp meeting; it may be at a sacrifice that several families remain camping on the grounds, to assist the ministers and Bible workers in visiting and in holding Bible study with those who come on the grounds, and in visiting the people at their homes, telling them of the blessings received at the meetings, and inviting them to come; but the results will be worthy of the effort. It is by such earnest, 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.—The Review and Herald, April 4, 1899. Ev 82.3

Organized Protracted Effort—Sometimes a large number of speakers attend a camp meeting for a few days; and just when the interest of the people is beginning to be 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 all the family tents. Ev 83.1

How much better it would be in many cases, 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 arouse the interest of the people during the largest attendance at the meeting would remain to follow up the work begun, by a thoroughly organized protracted effort.—The Review and Herald, April 4, 1899. Ev 83.2

Leaving the Harvest Ungarnered—It would be better, and accomplish more good, if there were fewer tent meetings, and a stronger force, or company, with different gifts to labor. Then there should be a longer tarry in a place where an interest is awakened. [Note.—The tent meeting when this was written was of only a few days’ duration.—Compiler.] There has been too much haste in taking down the tent. Some begin to be favorably impressed, and there is need that persevering efforts be put forth till their minds become settled, and they commit themselves on the truth. Ev 83.3

In many places where the tent has been pitched, the ministers stay till the prejudice begins to wear away, and some would then listen with minds free from prejudice; but just then the tent is taken down, and sent on its way to another place. The rounds are gone over, time and means spent, and the servants of God can see but very little accomplished through the tent season. But few are brought to acknowledge the truth, and God's servants, having seen but very little to cheer and encourage them, and call out the gift within them, lose instead of gaining in strength, spirituality, and power.—Testimonies For The Church 1:148 (1857). Ev 83.4

Follow-Up Workers—I have been thinking of how it used to be when the loud cry of the first angel's message was given in Portland and in the city of Boston. These efforts were followed up with continuous work similar to that which you, Elder _____ and Sister _____, and your helpers are doing. This work is indeed the Lord's work.—Letter 182, 1906. Ev 84.1

Locate Families to Hold the Interest Awakened—Then there is Toronto [Australia], a pleasure resort. These places are all within ten and twenty miles of Cooranbong, and must be entered as soon as we can find consecrated families whom we can locate there to hold the interest awakened. All these fields are white for the harvest, but we can do nothing without devoted workers, who can enter and arouse and hold an interest.—Letter 76, 1899. Ev 84.2

A Wise Generalship Needed—Wise generalship is needed in the selection of fields of labor. Plans should be made before a field is entered, [as to] how these souls are to be cared for. Who will minister unto these who shall take hold of the truth? They have accepted an unpopular truth. Who will educate them after they have learned their ABC's? Who will give the spiritual mold to their experience? Ev 84.3

To labor at considerable expense to bring souls into the truth and then leave them to fashion their own experience according to false ideas they have received and woven into their religious experience, would leave that work far worse than if the truth had never been brought to them. To leave the work incomplete and to ravel out is worse than to wait until there are plans well devised to take care of those who do come into the faith.—Letter 60, 1886. Ev 84.4