Unto the Hills
We have had quite a number of distinguished overseas visitors in Sydney in recent weeks, I am not thinking now of celebrities of the stage and the realm of business, but leaders of Christian thought and enterprise.
I had the great privilege of hearing two of them, and I was deeply impressed by the clarity and simplicity of their thought, and the comprehensiveness of their outlook.
In the one case the speaker dealt chiefly with the content of the Christian Gospel, and sought to show that its roots were firmly fixed in historic events.
The other speaker gave a masterly review of the world situation, and declared that the Christian Church must close up her ranks, if the spiritual needs of the world are to be met.
But in both cases they seemed to feel strongly that the Proclamation of the Good News and the strategic marshalling of the Christian forces are to be directed to one main end—that of "effective evangelism."
That phrase came again and again like the refrain in a song, or like the ringing of a bell—"Effective Evangelism."
The word "evangelism" was once numbered among the aristocrats, but during the last quarter of a century or more it has come down in the world.
The word suggests to our minds a somewhat uncouth and sensational service in a
Mission Hall, in a slum district, or a few feeble folk singing hymns at a street
corner, unheeded by the passing crowds:
The Church has allowed evangelism to become a matter of preference (as some one has put it) "like the Duplicate Envelope System, or the use of the Revised Hymnary."
The fact is that the task of evangelism is the primary (unction of the whole Church, and cannot be taken up or left alone according to our taste or temperament.
There are only two alternatives before the Church to-day—she must go out to the heedless masses, and evangelise! or—lavish everything on the little religious community within four walls, and dwindle and die!
It is most suitable that every effort should be made to beautify our worship, and secure the comfort and culture of the little group of worshippers, but so long as the world' that drifts past our Church doors is so full of moral tragedy, so long must we put evangelism in the very forefront of all our enterprise.
But, of course, our "evangelism" must be "effective," and that means that our finest brains, and our truest scholarship, and our shrewdest business acumen, must be drawn together in prayerful consultation, to overhaul and examine our resources.
There is much more than organisation needed, however, if our evangelism is to be effective. We who preach to others must, in an intimate and individual sense, have tasted that the Lord is gracious, otherwise all our talking will be "like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal."