PUBLISHING MINISTRY IN RELATION TO CHURCH GROWTH.
BY PR. MUWANGA EDWARD
What is Publishing Ministry?
Publishing Ministry is a system designed by God as a medium of evangelism and nurture for his Church on earth. It is a proclamation of the gospel through the written word. Literature Evangelism is not a job but a calling.
The Mission of the publishing Ministries worldwide is to proclaim the three Angels message through the printed page (Revelation 14:6-9).
PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES:
1. Saving souls for God’s kingdom.
“Our publishing work was established by the direction of God and under his special supervision. It was designed to accomplish a special purpose” (Testimonies for the Church Vol.7, page 138). It is a Devine plan. Jeremiah 23:29:“Is not my word like a fire?” says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
2. To make the truth clear and plain.
“Our publications have a most sacred work to do in making clear, simple and plain the spiritual basis of our faith” ( Colporteur Ministry, page 1).
3. To call men’s attention to the living truth.
“The great object of our publication is to exalt God, to call men’s attention to the living truth of his word. God calls upon us to lift up not our own standards, not the standards of this world, but his standard of truth” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7 pages 150, 151).
4. To light the whole world with truth.
Our publications should go everywhere… There are many places in which the voice of the minister cannot be heard, places which can be reached only by our publications…” (Colporteur Ministry Page 4).
“By canvassing work the truth is presented to thousands who otherwise would never hear it” (Review and Herald October 7, 1902).
“The world is to receive the light of truth through an evangelizing Ministry of the word in our books and periodicals” (Colporteur Ministry).
5. To prepare a people to meet God.
“The publications sent forth from our printing houses are to prepare a people to meet God… and in a large degree through our publishing houses is to be accomplished the work of that other Angel who comes down from heaven with great power and who lightens the earth with his glory” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol.7 Pages 139, 140), (Revelation 18:1). Thus the Mission and aims of the Publishing Ministry is to reach places where Pastors cannot go and bringing hope in every home.
BEGINNING OF PUBLISHING MINISTRY:
Publishing Ministry began with God Himself at Mount Sinai. When he was leading His people from the land of slavery to the promised land of their inheritance.
“And when God made an end of speaking with him on Mt. Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God [Exodus 31:18].
At Mt. Sinai God used two methods in proclaiming His eternal law, His love and the plan of salvation:
1. God spoke – He preached to Moses.
2. God wrote – He published the first book – Testimony of His love.
By God’s will Publishing Ministry began with God Himself. This is because the written word endures. One writer said, “The preacher writes his words on water, but the writer curves his words in stone”. Ellen G White agreed when she said; “A sermon may be preached and soon forgotten, but a book remains” (Life sketches, Page 382).
There are six basic things needed to complete publishing Ministry:
3. Materials to write upon
4. Printing press
At Mt. Sinai all the six were there:
1. Message – The ten Commandments [The Love of God]
2. Writer – God himself
3. Printing material – Tablets of stone
4. Printing Press – Finger of God
5. Messenger [literature Evangelist] – Moses
6. Customer – The back sliding Israelites.
Before God’s people entered the Promised Land, God used the publishing Ministry to establish His people. The spoken word and the written word must go together. The living preacher and the silent messenger must work as partners in proclaiming the Gospel of truth.
Ellen G. White says, “The press is a powerful instrumentality which God has ordained to be combined with the energies of a living preacher to bring the truth before all nations, kindred tongues and people” [Life Sketches, Page 217].
PUBLISHING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:
Throughout the history of the Jewish nation, God spoke and wrote his instructions for his people through the Prophets. He continually used the written Ministry for both evangelism and nurture of His people.
God was consistent in the methods He used for communicating His will and message to His people. He spoke and then said; “write it down”.
A, God’s message through the prophet Habakkuk:
“Then the Lord answered me and said; write down the vision and make it plain upon the tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie though it tarry wait for it because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold his soul which is proud, is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith” Hab. 2:2-4.
B, God’s message through prophet Isaiah:
“Now go, write it down before them on a tablet and note it on a scroll, that it may be [testimony] for time to come, forever and ever” Isaiah 30:8.
C, God’s instruction to Jeremiah:
“Thus speaks the Lord God of Israel, saying: Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you.” Jeremiah: 30:2.
HISTORICAL BACK GROUND AND DEVELOPMENT OF PRINTING:
At different times, men used different writing materials and different writing to put down the message from God.
God- Moses-------------------------------------------------------- Stone
Abraham ---------------------------------------------------------- Clay tablets
Isaiah -------------------------------------------------------------- Parchment Scrolls
Ellen G White----------------------------------------------------- Paper
Today ------------------------------------------------------------- Flash Discs.
Before the development of the English alphabet or other modern writing characters, written communication was not as fast and convenient as today.
1. Ancient writing method:
A, during the time of Abraham in the ancient Babylon, they wrote with a strange little wedged-shaped letters called Cuneiform.
B, the Egyptians developed a kind of writing called Hieroglyphics, (picture writing)
2. Ancient writing materials.
A, Clay tablets:
Nearly all records in the 20th century B.C. including business contracts, Land deeds and receipts were written on clay tablets.
B, Parchment scrolls:
The Egyptians discovered the use of parchment scrolls and paper like sheets called Papyri, made from water plants that grew in abundance along the Nile River.
DEVELOPMENT OF PRINTING:
1. Discovery of paper making:
A, In 105 A.D. the Chinese discovered a process for making paper similar to what we use today. They developed beautifully decorated books, some in color, and all done by master artists. All books were laboriously written by hand.
B, In 1250 A.D. the Italians developed a process for producing paper in mass, which made paper more plentiful.
2. The Advent of Printing:
A, Writing and duplicating by hand.
The only difference between the written records of Abraham’s day and those of the 15th Century A.D. was that most records were kept on paper rather than stone, leather or copper. All writing and duplicating was done by hand. Many people made a profession of copying and decorating books and Literature. Often Monks spent their entire life time in cold, damp monasteries making copies of the Holy Scriptures, which were available only to the wealthy, or high Church officials.
B, Gutenberg’s Invention.
In 1448, a young man, Johann Gutenberg, capitalized on the idea of his employer, Laurence Costar. Costar tried curving letters on wooden blocks and printing from these, but unsuccessfully. Gutenberg carved letters on metal which would be arranged to spell words, applied ink to the letters and printed a whole page at one time.
3. Printing of the first book: The Holy Bible.
A) Eight years preparation.
Gutenberg spent eight years preparing the letters on metals. At last he printed his first book in 1456, the famous 42 line Bible in Latin. The printing was done in secrecy, and financed by Johann Fust, a wealthy businessman, who also acted as the first sale representative. That was the first time people saw two books exactly alike.
B) The first two buyers.
The first two customers of Johann Fust who bought the Bible were Charles VIII, King of France, and the Arch Bishop of Paris. Since the Printing was done in secrecy, the King and the Arch Bishop did not know how they got Bibles which were precisely alike, the same number of pages, and each page started with the same word.
Later the Archbishop became more perplexed when he discovered that more rich people of Paris had Copies of Bibles exactly like his own and that of the King, not knowing where they were getting them and who was producing them.
C, Bibles burned:
The Archbishop thought that the secret circulation of the Bibles was the work of the devil and he took it to be a dangerous book. That only the priests should be permitted to read it. In an endeavor to keep the Bible away from the public, the Church bought Bibles from the Walden Sian valleys and burned them, sometimes with the Waldensians themselves.
PUBLISHING AND THE GOSPEL:
Gutenberg’s invention of printing by movable type multiplied by millions the pages of literature available to the people. In 1500 A.D. just 44 years after Gutenberg’s triumph, there were more than 1000 print shops operating in Europe.
From that humble print shop sprang the mighty printing industry today. Gutenberg could print 30 sheets per hour on his hand press, a thousand times faster than the work of a hand copyist.
Today, the huge M-200 web press at the Review and Herald can print over a million pages per hour, including all the process it can finish 32,000 Copies of a 32 page Magazine every 60 minutes.
Heroes of the gospel:
A, John Wycliffe.
He was a professor of Oxford University in England, who denounced the Papal abuse of indulgences and taught righteousness by faith in Christ. He wrote extensively about his belief and translated the entire Bible in English, but his writings never reached the masses because copies had to be reproduced by hand. Wycliffe died in 1384 and was condemned as a heretic at the council of Constance in 1415. Even though he had died for 31years, his bones were exhumed and publicly burned.
B, John Huss:
In plague, John Huss held seminar and preached on righteousness by faith in Christ to the people in their common language. This was forbidden by the Roman Catholic hierarchy. His writing did not have the benefit of the press and were not widely circulated. He too like Wycliffe was condemned as a heretic and burned at stake in 1415. His short lived revival died with him.
C, Martin Luther:
The greatest impact of the publishing work was felt during the time of Martin Luther. Angered by Tetzel’s sale of indulgences, Martin Luther a Doctor of Theology at Wittenberg University nailed his famous 95 theses/ views to the door of the Wittenberg Church on October 31, 1517. Luther’s act changed the course of Church history for the entire world.
Between 1517 and 1523 one half of all the books printed in Germany were written by Luther. The time was right, spiritual darkness covered the earth. Church Leaders oppressed the people and kept the gospel from them. God combined the talent of a fearless monk and the power of the press to revolutionize/ transform/ reform the world.
GOD’S APPOINTED MESSANGER:
After the disappointment of 1844, most Adventist preachers were silenced and their publishing ceased. By this time James White carried on the work that Miller left- proclaiming the Second Advent of Christ. It is at this time that Ellen G White was called by God to serve him.
Having received a vision about publishing in 1848, Ellen White told her husband, “it was shown to me… you must begin to print”.
After this vision, several events took place that led to the organization of the Church until then the Church had no name.
1848, Ellen White was shown a Publishing Vision.
1849, James White printed his first paper- The present truth.
1850, The Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald was published.
1852, White purchased a small hand printing press and set up a Publishing House.
1855, The Press moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, with its own building and large steam Press.
1860, The Church was named the Seventh day Adventist Church.
1863, The General Conference of the Seventh day Adventist Church was organized.
During the eleven years from the printing of the first SDA paper in 1849 to 1860, the publishing ministry flourished and grew. Preachers were few and un paid, but the silent preachers the Literature reached into the homes converting souls for Christ.
In 1860, the Church got a name and was organized in 1863. Hence the publishing Ministry gave birth to the Church. The founders of the SDA Church firmly believed in the printing press for the rapid spreading of the Gospel.
In 1868, at a Camp meeting in Wright in Michigan, actually an evangelistic campaign in those days, J.O. Corliss tried to set up a display of Literature for sale to the public. He surprised everyone by finding that many people purchased our Literature.
The beginning of house to house selling:
George King, a young Canadian, came to Michigan in the 1870s with a great desire to become a preacher. After the Church leadership gave him a try, he discovered that it was not his calling. Years later he tried going to the homes of the people selling Literature. He became successful and became the first Literature Evangelist of the SDA Church.
THE ROLE OF THE LOCAL CHURCH IN PUBLISHING MINISTRY:
The Local Church and the SDA Church as a whole possess a very great potential in Evangelism through the circulation of SDA Literature. The following are the opportunities and plans which the local Church can do in enhancing its Literature Evangelism outreach program.
1. Appointing a Literature Ministry Coordinator:
Every Church is encouraged to appoint a Church Literature Ministry coordinator who shall coordinate the Literature Evangelism programs and activities.
He shall work with the Local Conference/ Mission Personal Ministries Director and Publishing Director assigned in the area as to Literature supplies and other Literature evangelism activities.
2. Appointing a Literature Evangelism Committee:
It is suggested that all Churches shall have a Literature evangelism committee with the following membership:
Pastor/ Church Elder- Chairman
Literature Evangelism Coordinator- Secretary
Personal Ministries Leader
Other members who can contribute for literature Evangelism.
The Committee shall study all the avenues where by the church can utilize evangelistic literature in various outreach activities and programs.
3. Strengthening Church Members through Spirit of prophecy Books:
Churches are encouraged to establish a Church lending Library comprising Spirit of Prophecy and other religious books. These books will be used in lending program both to Church members and to neighbors for evangelism.
Church members who are well off can purchase Spirit Of Prophecy books and other Evangelistic books and Magazines to establish their own personal lending Library. These books can be shared with their friends who are non SDAs for witnessing. Every Church member is encouraged to own Spirit of Prophecy books.
4. Developing plans on Literature circulation:
Every Church shall serve as an evangelistic Literature resource Centre. Unions, Conferences and Missions will work with Local Churches to secure these literature materials for the Church.
Each Church is encouraged to make a display rack in the Church where evangelistic literature can be placed. This will be taken care of by the Church Literature evangelism Committee.
Visitors should take or be given copies of the outreach literature.
Each Church shall identify un entered area and Church members shall be assigned to each area who will then be responsible for the tract distribution. These tracts can facilitate easy access to home visitation.
Church members are encouraged to dedicate a pocket to the Lord. This concept encourages every SDA member to carry tracts or Literature in his or her pocket every day they travel, or to every place they go. The purpose, being to share the gospel through this literature.
5. Supporting the Literature Ministry program:
The Church board can help in encouraging members who have the spiritual gift of literature evangelism to join the literature Ministry and recommend them to the Conference or Mission Publishing Department.
6. Engaging in direct Literature Evangelism:
Church members can participate in Evangelism through the circulation of our SDA literature. The Church provides a program where by members can be Literature evangelists in different categories.
Special Literature Evangelists:
1. Big week Literature evangelists.
Church workers and members who engage in canvassing during the big week in conjunction with the annual Literature evangelism emphasis week designed by the Division.
2. Holiday Literature Evangelists
Members who do canvassing during holidays.
3. Organized Children Evangelists
Small Children in the Church can be organized into witnessing teams as follows:
Path finders can be trained to do literature selling for outreach and to earn AY Honors.
4. Student Literature Evangelists.
Local Church students studying in non SDA Schools can be organized to do part time canvassing. Students in SDA Schools are encouraged to join the canvassing work during their School vacations.
5. Global Mission Literature Evangelists
Literature Evangelist teams are sent to un entered areas for a specific period of time until interests are developed.
6. Regular part time Literature evangelists
Church members are encouraged to engage in part time literature evangelism under the coordination of the church literature ministry coordinator.
7. Full time career Literature Evangelists
The Church has its doors open to welcome any member who will devote his or her life time and talent to full time literature evangelism. The Church board is encouraged to recommend names to the Local Conference or Mission Publishing Committee, of those who are fit for the Ministry.
THE CALL FOR LITERATURE EVANGELISTS:
Who can be a Literature Evangelist?
“Both the young and those older in years will be called from the field, from the vine yard, and from the work shop, and sent forth by the master to give his message. Many of these have had little opportunity for education; but Christ sees in them qualifications that will enable them to fulfill his purpose. If they put their hearts into the work, and continue to be learners, he will fit them to labor for him. (Education page 269-270).
“God calls for workers from every church among us to enter his service as canvasser evangelists (Literature Evangelists). God loves his Church, if members will do his will, strive to impart the light to those in darkness, he will greatly bless their efforts.
PHILOSOPHY FOR NEED OF LITERATURE MINISTRY IN THE CHURCH TODAY.
Modern technology has made possible the saturation of society with publications and other media information. With the sophisticated advancement of technology in communication, where people can buy books through the internet and other forms of media, Our Church leadership is asking, “does the Church need the publishing Ministry and as to whether we need to have Literature Evangelists today? The answer is yes. When we go back to the counsel of Spirit of prophecy we find several conclusive and positive answers.
1. Profitable line of evangelistic work:
“Canvassing for our publications is an important and most profitable line of evangelistic work. Our publications can go to places where meetings cannot be held. In such places the faithful evangelistic canvasser takes the place of a living preacher. By the canvassing work the truth is presented to thousands who otherwise would never hear it” (Review and Herald, October 7, 1902).
1. The written word endures:
The book distributed by the SDA Church through the Literature Evangelists, ten, twenty, thirty years ago is still preaching. The books you sell or give away today will keep leading souls to Christ until he comes. Certainly the written word endures.
2. God’s Chosen method:
At Mt. Sinai, God started the publishing Ministry. First he spoke to Moses, and then he wrote the Ten Commandments. The spoken word and the written word must go together. (Exodus 31:18).At Mt. Sinai God spoke and then God wrote. Today we have: The spoken word- Preaching- 2 Timothy 4:2. The written word- Literature- John 5:39.
3. A Personal Ministry:
Personal contact still pays one of the highest dividends among the evangelistic approaches that the church employs. There are still hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, who will never come to our hospitals, schools and even our evangelistic crusades. Thousands will never enter into our local Churches to hear the SDA message. If they do not come to us we need to reach them through personal contact evangelism. Person to person and heart to heart ministry un doubtedly touches human lives more than many other methods.
Ellen G. White said, “The Canvasser whose heart is meek and lowly can accomplish much good… from family to family, they carry the message of truth. Thus, they come in close touch with people, and find many opportunities to speak of the Savior” (Colporteur Ministry page 38).
4. The work of God’s People at this time:
“God has ordained the canvassing work as a means of presenting to people the light contained in our books… This is the very work the Lord would have his people do at this time… We cannot too highly estimate this work; for were it not for the efforts of the Canvasser, many would never hear the warning” (testimonies Vol.6 Page 313).
5. Will continue until probation closes:
“As long as probation continues, there will be opportunity for the canvasser to work. When the religious denominations unite with the papacy to oppress God’s people, places where there is religious freedom will be opened by evangelistic canvassing” (Colporteur Ministry, page 11).
6. Nature and importance:
A, A sacred work: “The canvassing work should be considered as sacred, and those who have unclean hands and defiled hearts should not be encouraged to enter upon it. The Angels of God can not accompany the unconsecrated to the homes of the people; therefore all those who are not converted, whose thoughts are corrupt, who will leave a taint of their imperfections upon everything they touch, should refrain from handling the truth of God” (Colporteur Ministry Page 29).
B, A work second to none: “The canvassing work, properly conducted, is a missionary work of the highest order, and it is as good and successful a method as can be employed for placing before the people the important truth for this time” (Colporteur Ministry page 6).
C, Supervised by the Angels: From the Editor’s desk until the time the literature reaches the hands of the people, the Angels are in charge. “ I have seen the Angels of God passing from room to room, noting the articles that were being published, noting every word and action of the workmen” (Publishing Ministry page 60).
D, Literature at the customer’s book shelves:
“The same Ministry of Angels attends the books that contain the truth as attends the work of the Minister” (Testimonies Vol.6 Page 316).
A CALL FOR HELPERS
In this closing work of the gospel, there is a vast field to be occupied, and more than ever before, the work is to enlist helpers from the common people. Both the youth and those older in years will be called from the vineyard and from the workshop and sent forth by the master to give his message (Education 269-270).
There is no line of work in which it is possible for the youth to receive greater benefit. All who engage in Ministry are God’s helping hand. They are coworkers with the Angels; rather they are human agents through whom the Angels accomplish their mission. Would you like to be God’s helping hand?
May God bless you.
SPIRIT OF PROPHECY DEPARTMENT
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identification or identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church guidance, instruction and correction.
AIMS & OBJECTIVES
1. The aim or specific objectives of spirit of prophecy Department are to nurture and strengthen church members in their personal relationship with their Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Assist church members to return to the roots (church prophetic roots) as the Biblical remnants.
3. Help church members to trust in the written word, be transformed and get involved in the mission of the church (outreach programs).
4. Encourage and promote readership culture among church members.
All the above objectives can be achieved through:
The Spirit of prophecy Department is to educate church leaders and members regarding the value of spirit of prophecy in preparing the church to proclaim the three Angels Message in the last days.
(i) S.O.P book of the month reading plan
(ii) Church S.O.P discussions groups
(iii) Each home to have S.O.P library.
The spirit of prophecy department is to encourage a wider awareness and readership of the spirit of prophecy books.
(i) Media promotion campaign
(ii) S.O.P day in churches
(iii) Conducting seminars pertaining to S.O.P
REVIVAL AND REFORMATION THROUGH LENDING LIBRARIES:
1. Church lending libraries: churches are encouraged to establish a church lending library comprising spirit of prophecy and other religious books. These books would be sued in a lending program both to church members for spiritual uplift and to neighbors for evangelism.
2. Personal lending library: church members who are financially well off usually can afford to purchase S.O.P books and other evangelistic books and magazines to establish their own lending library. These books can be shared with their friends who are non-SDAs for witnessing. Every church member is encouraged to own S.O.P books, at least a set of the Great Conflict of ages series.
3. In Testimonies volume 4 page 390 Ellen g. White calls for churches to develop an organized plan for literature distribution and to place the spirit of prophecy and Testimonies in the library of each family so they may be read thoroughly.
She also instructed church members to lend their neighbors some smaller books. Then if the neighbors’ interest is awakened, they are to take larger books and encourage them to buy copies for themselves. (Review and Heralds, November 6, 1888).
MISSIONARY BOOK OF THE YEAR
Each year the GC or Division assigns a Missionary book of the year to be printed in large quantity and circulated by members through personal sponsorship. The books with the church’s address, can then be placed by church members in hotels, schools, Banks and other offices. They can also be shared by members with their neighbors, friends, office mates, classmates etc. throughout the year.
(i) The Great Controversy project (hope in every home):
This project is designed to complement reaching out and revival and reformation emphasis by providing a versatile witnessing tool for members to let people know how the gospel message is illustrated through the pages of history and members themselves with a convenient way to direct witness – personal give away literature or indirect witness –via the mail etc.
BENEFITS OF THE GREAT CONTROVERSY PROJECT:
1. Truth is spread resulting into transformed lives.
2. People are blessed because they are blessing others.
3. The church is united in working on a global project to help others that will continue to witness in ripple effects
1. The challenge is based on Revelation 18: 1 that describes how God will illuminate the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. “And after these things I saw another Angel come down from heaven, having great power, and the earth was lightened with His glory.”
2. Another challenge is based on Ellen G. White’s urgency of giving this book unparalled distribution. “The great controversy should be very widely circulated. It contains the story of the past, the present and the future…. I am more anxious to see a wide circulation for this book than for any others, I have written: for in the Great Controversy, the last message of warning to the world is given more distinctly than in any of my other books.” (Colporteur Ministry page 127).