The small group of men, district superintendents, pastors, and visitors who heard the original message given from the warm, impassioned lips of James B. Chapman in 1946 at Kansas City First Church of the Nazarene would never forget the electric moment.
But the passing of the years makes it essential that this unforgettable message be brought back again and again to our people everywhere. Here General Superintendent Chapman has pleaded fervently in words such as these:
“Brethren, I was born in the fire, and I cannot endure the smoke. I am a child of the bright daylight, and mists and fogs and depressing gloom are not to my liking. I want to go all out for souls.”
“I want a revival that, like a summer shower, will purify the atmosphere of our churches everywhere, and which will awake the dormant forces of our people young and old. I want something so general and so divine that it will be uncontrollable. I want something that will reemphasize old-time moral and spiritual conditions.”
“Something that will make this namby-pamby, soft-handed, compromising, cringing sort of holiness as obsolete as Phariseeism was on the Day of Pentecost.”
Edward S. Lawlor Secretary, Department of Evangelism
I see him now as he laid his head on the pulpit at old First Church, Kansas City, Missouri, on that ninth day of January, 1946, and sobbed from a broken heart, “Souls, souls, all out for souls!” This sob was not only the wail of an impassioned heart; it was the theme of an address which is both timeless and timely. We need that soul passion in our emphasis of “Evangelism First.” I pray God our soul passion and our soul concern may not come too late. Read this soul-stirring message from the heart of a man with a conscience “void of offence.”
Matthew Henry said it, “Conscience-God’s deputy in my soul.” Think of it, man’s conscience always on God’s side, always shedding God’s light on a man’s motives and actions, always alert, active, speaking truth plainly with pointed directness. How grateful man should be for this inward monitor!
It can be said of J. B. Chapman, as it was said of Paul, that he had a conscience void of offense. Wherever J. B. Chapman went, whatever church business he was engaged in, he was always adjusting his conduct to this inward voice, testing his every motive by it. Read All Out for Souls with this thought in mind.
J. B. Chapman saw the temptations facing the leadership, the ministry, yea, the laity of the Church of the Nazarene and he clearly sets out our urgent need as he saw it under God. He warns us in this business of soul saving that we take care not to try to appear better or more than we are.
It is one thing for a church to start out with the purest of motives and the holiest of ambitions to be a soul-saving church. But it is another thing to keep this soul passion and soul concern first and foremost always. J. B. Chapman could well have praised his church; he could have yielded to the temptation to substitute something more popular for this pertinent truth; he could have tried to camouflage the truth, take on the color of his day, or save appearances, but he lived with his conscience and uttered truth.
Was his standard too high for a holiness church? Was he too sensitive to that inner voice? No! He was a man who walked with God; he heard that inner voice and he was anxious that his brethren sink not to the level of others who had lost the passion for souls. He wanted us, his people, to keep climbing the high summits of soul passion and soul winning to which God called the Church of the Nazarene. He did not want us to rest on our “laurels” and try to run our program with more ease and less prayer and passion. He wanted us to look at a world in ruins, to see the sin and sorrows of our cities, our towns, and our neighborhoods, and devote our best powers to being “all out for souls.”
Remember gratefully his personality: a pioneer, a teacher, a leader, a writer, an administrator, a holy man, but ever the example of a man, “all out for souls.” Then covenant to follow his call but also the call of the Cross, the call of the Master, the call to accept suffering, loneliness, misunderstanding, and apparent failure-to gladly bear it all if by some means we may save some.
The Church of the Nazarene in this second half-century of our history must reconsult her marching orders. We are debtors to give the gospel to all men in the same measure as we have received it, irrespective of caste, class, color, or creed. Whether it be Mary Magdalene or the rich young ruler-all must have the gospel.
This booklet is the plea from a sainted leader that we in our day still be “ALL OUT FOR SOULS.”
ALL OUT FOR SOULS
In his day John Wesley said he did not fear that there would ever come a time when there would not be a people called Methodists, but he did fear there would be a time when the Methodists would build institutions and initiate programs that would require the help of the rich, and that they would then tone down their message so it would not offend the rich, and the movement would become decadent.
And from another approach, he said that no revival could well be permanent, because the fruits of a revival have a way of devouring the revival itself. For instance, he said, a revival requires such devotion on the part of those who promote it that it must find its promoters among the poor and humble. But when people become true Christians, they become industrious, frugal, and provident, and these are the prime conditions of prosperity. Also converts of the revival become trustworthy and efficient, and these are the elements that rightly lead to promotion. And thus it happens that the converts of the revival, within a short time, become well-to-do and are promoted to places of responsibility and honor. Then they become careless about prayer and sacrifice, and soon the conditions for revival are wanting, the revival itself passes, and the conditions go back to the place where the revival is needed, but is not forthcoming.
I would widen this approach a little for our own consideration. I would approach the subject autobiographically, just for the sake of directness and clarity. I was converted and sanctified in a holiness meeting in September, 1899. At that time a favorite text was, “When he shall accomplish to scatter the power of the holy people” (a passage from the Book of Daniel), and this was interpreted to mean that the holiness people were designed to be scattered among all the churches and all the groups, and that segregation and aggregation were to be frowned upon. The group that was instrumental in my salvation did not believe in organization of any kind, and their orderly efforts were confined to an occasional prayer meeting, an annual revival, and to a camp meeting once a year.
As to practical results, I cannot avoid being critical. We did have revivals, but we did not conserve the work. In the meeting in which I was saved there were forty-two professions by count, and at the end of the year my sister and myself were the only ones we could account for. But on the positive side, I must repeat that we did have revivals. We had nothing to do but have revivals. We planned to that end. We pitched tents and built brush arbors to that end. We sang and testified and prayed and shouted and preached to that end. If the revival did not come readily, we called a fast, and sometimes these fasts lasted for three days on the stretch. I remember one fast that ran three days, then a day off for eating, then another three days, then a day off for eating, and then another three days’ fast. And I don’t need to tell you that the revival broke.
And that is why I think I have a faraway look in my eye when present-day Nazarenes try to tell me it used to be easy to have revivals, and that now “nothing seems to move the people.” The simplicity of our approach was matched by the earnestness of our purpose, and we always got into the tunnel so far that it was closer to go on through than to turn and come back. I forbear to make further comparisons between those days and these.
But a little critical study of the text in Daniel convinced some that the scattering of the power of the holy people was done by an unfriendly power rather than by the Lord, and that the results of that scattering were disastrous and not desirable. And so the Church of the Nazarene was born. But the first Manuals of the Church of the Nazarene were quite small, and the machinery of the church was simple. Our churches and tabernacles and school auditoriums were principally just good places to sing and shout and testify and hold altar services. The mourners’ bench was the only indispensable piece of furniture in our meetinghouses.
On the financial side, the genius of the church was the spirit of sacrifice of our ministers and people. Our ministers were so poorly paid that they had to take on extra preaching appointments in surrounding communities to get horse feed, and had to make a maximum of pastoral calls to bring in enough bacon from the hard-pressed adherents to insure proper food for their large families. They had to be industrious to keep in the ministry at all. Here again I make no comparisons between those days and these.
In the days of simple organization, all the secretarial and treasury work was done gratis, and no one had so much to do that he could be excused from the prayer meetings at home or from the devotional meetings (at which the general superintendent spoke) in the assemblies. We had so few things to promote that we really did not have much to do but just preach and win souls. Perhaps that was one of the reasons that men and women of average ability could get on so well back there.
Now I have come along with this movement from the beginning. I preached a year before I joined any sort of Christian organization. Then I joined the World’s Faith Missionary Association of Shenandoah, Iowa. Soon after that I joined and became a minister in the Texas Holiness Association. Then, under the advice and tutelage of C. B. Jernigan, I organized a local independent holiness church, and joined it. I was on the various commissions that undertook the uniting of the holiness church groups, but I joined church just the one time. After that, I let the church do the joining.
I glory in our denominational history, even with its setbacks it is a romance all the way. And I am glad we have a big Manual, even though there are now so many rules and regulations that I am not always sure I know what they all imply. I am glad for our departments and auxiliaries. I am heartily in favor of good church buildings with Sunday school equipment and comfortable parsonages. I always vote to increase the preacher’s support. I am glad for our world-wide missionary program, for our wonderful Publishing House and the periodicals which it sends out, for our district organizations that keep our people united and efficient, and for our denominational headquarters, the Seminary, the radio, and everything that, by the help of the good God, we have been able to gain.
And I do sincerely count them all gains. If we had not developed these things, we should have perished. We should have perished for want of machinery to apply our dynamics. We should have gone to pieces like an engine too frail for its steam pressure. But I think we have gone about far enough on at least some of these lines. We cannot legislate for all the specific problems that arise, and I hope our legislative and judicial systems will become static at about their present level. Our executive setup is, I believe, about as good as we can get. I know there are times when there is a call for more power or for less power to the general and district superintendents, calls for locating the general superintendents in certain areas, and many other incidental changes. But my own view is that, after a certain point, organization, like added belts and pulleys, becomes a hindrance to efficiency and unity, and I think the history of denominations shows that some bodies have carried on their changes in the interest of static existence, rather than in the interest of vital life and true progress. In other words, I do not believe there are many more worlds for us to conquer in the way of order, organization, and law.
But all gains involve loss. No one has ever yet been able to keep his cake and eat it too. Intelligent people refuse to eat the cake when it is more important to have it than to eat it, and there is such a thing as eating some of it and keeping some of it, and thus striking a better balance than either extreme allows. We have gained, but we have also lost, or at least are in the way of losing. Now there are some who would take us altogether back to the beginning, and insist that the swap involve all or nothing. I do not follow this lead. I say, Let us hold our gains, but let us recover our losses. Or if there be some who object to this vocabulary of reaction, then I say, Let us stop now with the gains we have made on the matters of order, organization, and law, and let us turn to the fields of vital accomplishment where are new and larger worlds to conquer than either we or our fathers have known. Indeed, I would not go back; I would go on. I would not sigh for the old days, but would cry for the new and better days which I am sure God wants to give to the people called Nazarenes.
I have given this paper the caption “All Out for Souls,” and I want to propose these words as a battle cry and a slogan for a new crusade. I would have us think of all we have as a trust to be exercised rather than as a heritage to be enjoyed. I would have us think of our responsibilities more than of our privileges. I would account ourselves as having just now received the tools for service rather than to think of anything past or present as a finished feat. We are now just like the farmer who has obtained his machinery and motor power and looks to the fields for the harvest.
And speaking of the field reminds us that we have all that could be desired in this matter also. To all intents and purposes, the world is indeed our parish, and that in a more practical sense than ever John Wesley could say it. With him the expression was largely idealistic; with us it is predominantly realistic. If we are straitened in anything, it certainly is not in the matter of challenge and opportunity. And we speak not only of the unfinished task of Christianizing the world, but of that other task which Dr. Bresee called “Christianizing Christianity.” For we have, in addition to the task of preaching Christ to those who have not yet found Him, the further task of bringing the people of God into the grace and blessing of Bible sanctification. This is not to discount the work of others, but only to say that what others are doing and what we are doing added together and compared with what needs to be done makes clear that the unfinished task is too great for us all.
There are many ways of doing good in the world. Some of these ways partake of the shallow methods of those of Jeremiah’s time who sought to heal the afflictions of the people slightly, saying, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” Others are ways that call for our co-operation and best wishes. But ours is a spiritual approach to the ills of individuals and of society, and we shall not be true to our calling if we give our time and strength to methods that are less fundamental. On the question of the meaning of Paul’s words concerning the man whose works are burned up, but who is himself saved, “yet so as by fire,” I think the reference is primarily to such works as help, but do not heal; reform, but do not regenerate; improve, but do not save; make men better, but do not make them good; bring to light, but do not introduce life; and make better, but do not sanctify.
Ours is a vitally spiritual approach. Even though we are dogmatic as to doctrine, our effectiveness is in our life, rather than in our aptitude in pointing out the way of life or even in analyzing life itself. We preach holiness, but we must also be holy and help others to become so. We champion the cause of old-time religion, but we must exemplify this kind of religion and promote it by the same means that our fathers used.
It takes a better man to fully co-operate in the attempt to realize the ideals of a group than it does to do his best to carry out the implications of his own individual vision. This is the reason communism in economics has never been very successful-the average man will just not work as hard to support all the families of a community as he will to provide food for his own stomach and for the mouths of those of his own household. Students of economics agree that communism does excel as a system of distribution, but they have to admit that it has always broken down as a system of production. And this principle applies to a church like our own. There are plenty of people who are concerned for the Church of the Nazarene as a whole; some are solicitous for groups of lesser breadth; but what we need just now is a concern that will bring you and me and a good many others to that same sense of responsibility and to that same willingness to pay the price for spiritual realities that we would expect to feel and to pay if the whole program depended upon us individually, as once it so largely did.
I know you will agree that this principle applies to our members in general. I know you will agree that it applies to our pastors and evangelists, and you will go with me in casting odium upon halfhearted pastors and fishing, hunting evangelists, who seem to think more of their hobbies than of the good of the church and the souls of men. But I would bring it down to this group right here also. The greatest lack there is among us, brethren of the superintendency, is our want of life-shortening soul passion. We take it too easy. And even when we champion the cause of soul burden and revivals, we do our chore principally in talking. The demand is for bringing this travail right home to ourselves, that we may effectively transmit it to others or stir them up to get it from the same source that we ourselves received it.
We call our ministers superintendents and pastors, not bishops or priests, and we have stripped them of all superstitious assumptions of the sacerdotal office. But the trouble is that we have accepted this demotion as a release, and have excused ourselves from the demands of the priesthood just because others have taken from us the honors of that holy office, and in this we have brought reflection upon ourselves. For a general or a district superintendent to interpret the principal responsibility of his office in terms of business meetings and the improved functioning of machinery is to demote the office to a position unworthy of the time of a God-anointed preacher of the gospel. Let the name continue, but make the office imply intercession with God more than tact with unspiritual church bosses and lame encumberers of the ministerial office. We have friction enough as it is, but we would have less friction, or better cause for more, if we had more fervency in our hearts and in our services. Evil things and little things just do not stand the light of God’s manifested presence; and more prayer and more heartbreak will nullify much mean politics, evil surmises, and idle gossip.
John Knox was a great preacher. But Queen Mary admitted that it was his prayers she feared. John Wesley was a scholar, but he would sooner preach without intellectual than without spiritual preparation. John Fletcher was a saint, but he refused to go to the pulpit until he was assured that Christ would go there with him. Paul, we say, was a logician, but his own appraisal was that his was the place of burden bearer, who could wish himself accursed from Christ if by this means his brethren could be saved. Dr. P. F. Bresee was a seraphic pulpiteer and a wise leader, but in his own story of how he used to spend much of Saturday in bed “soaking” in the sermon he was to preach the next day is but the smallest part of the story. He came to the pulpit with shining face because he, like Moses, had spent his time in the mount with God; and his successful altar services in practically every Sunday morning service were not accidents, but were the logical sequence and consequence of a day and a night spent in groaning and tears before the Lord.
In a group it is too easy to give way to rote. This was somewhat the case when we tried a few years to have a simultaneous revival throughout the denomination. And it cuts in whenever we announce a contact month, a family month, or a month of special prayers. Unity of effort so readily gives place to uniformity of effort, and appearance quickly roots out passion.
The business of running a holiness church is not simple like some would make it seem. Now and then one stands up to enumerate the symptoms of disease and decay, and to tell us that we must give quick and labored efforts to these or else the church will drift and backslide. But as a rule, these symptoms are no more than rash on the skin compared with a cancer in the liver which is our real disease, and the deep-seated disease would by no means be cured if the symptoms were eliminated. Men and movements backslide in heart before they deteriorate very far in practice. And just as at the beginning the call was for heart regeneration as a means for effective outside reformation, so now, also, “out of the heart are the issues of life.” What, then, is the great need in the Church of the Nazarene? Is it the enactment of more legislation? No, we have a workable system. Is it for more organization? No, we have ample machinery for much more work than we are doing. Is it for better talent, improved art in service, or better standards of ethical practice? Even these things we would allow to rest for the moment in order that we may lay our emphasis on the one indispensable point-a passion for the souls of men.
Some of our large local churches have shown no growth in membership within a period of years. Some of our strongest districts make a very poor showing in terms of souls saved and members gained. And yet there is not much to criticize and correct in the technique of the churches and districts involved. It is not that. The fault is deeper and more fundamental-there is not enough heartbreak over the lost, not enough soul burden, not enough groaning and weeping and fasting and crying. Moreover, and as a consequence, there is not enough deep and genuine conviction for sin among the unsaved of our families and friends. Hypocrites are too comfortable in our presence, and in our meetings. Bickering and backbiting go with too little condemnation. Sour holiness, bitter devotion to persons and causes, lightness in the homes and in the churches, worldliness, love of ease and occupation with silly social conventionalities among the women, covetousness and love of money among the men, contentment with the mediocre, delight in nice clothes and comfortable homes, measuring men by the salaries they receive, and weighing people by the position they occupy-all these things get by with too little reproof because the light is not bright enough to discover their devilish origin.
Newton said he had observed that when men are getting religion they have a tendency to be hard on themselves and easy on other people. But when they are losing religion or are already backslidden, they have a tendency to be easy on themselves and hard on other people. Nine-tenths of the bickering and faultfinding and suspicion and criticism among us, laymen and preachers, general and district superintendents, would disappear if we were properly joined up in an all-out crusade for souls. We are callous and indifferent when we are prayerless. We are dictatorial when we are legalistic, rather than spiritual. We are critical when we need the “Stop thief!” cry to take attention away from our own inward sense of badness.
A district superintendent can “run a district,” visit his pastors, help with the finances, and “boost” every good thing that comes along, and yet be but a shallow Christian and a faithless priest. What we all need is a closer approach to that impossible task of leading men to Jesus Christ-impossible to all save those who approach Him themselves, and brook every hindrance of the devil to bring others into His presence.
It is almost easier to reverse a man who is going in the wrong direction than to start one who has stopped. Stagnation is a more dangerous estate than faulty agitation. Brethren of the Nazarene superintendency, we are not in so much danger of going the wrong way as we are in danger of not going at all. We are not so menaced by unseeming agitation as we are paralyzed by an increasing stagnation. I read those statistics a while ago, and I don’t think some of us heard them; or if we did, we did not analyze them; or if we did that, then we did not take them as applying to us personally. We are all too complacent for any of these things to be true. Last year — 1945 — it took fifty Nazarene laymen and more than one Nazarene preacher to add one single member to the church. The gain was approximately one member to the church on the average. And it took fifty Nazarene churches, nearly three thousand members, fifty Nazarene preachers, one Nazarene district superintendent, and one-fourth of the time of a general superintendent to add one church to the denomination. Fifty Nazarene churches, fifty Nazarene pastors, one district superintendent, and three months of the time of a general superintendent equals one new church.
And yet, unless a new kind of vision comes to us here, before this conference is over, we will all be saying we had a fine year and were the subjects of much blessing last year. But, brethren, how can it be that we had a good year and the net results, in the main thing by which success is measured, be no greater than that? One district superintendent for every church we gained, one Nazarene pastor for every church member gained! I know we had a war on part of the year, and that we had the excitement of a war closing for the other part of the year. But these are excuses, not reasons. We were made to serve in times like these, and neither our successes nor our failures have their roots entirely outside ourselves.
I do not want to press this proposition further. Some good districts lost churches and some good churches lost members. I am not too worried about that. But I am worried over the fact that we are not worried more than we are. It is our complacency that agitates me. If our hearts were really broken, if we were taking the matter to heart, if our eyes were fountains because of it, I could then believe that some of these barren women — sterile Nazarene churches and Nazarene districts-may yet break forth to singing, and bear more children than some which have been more fruitful in the past.
Let no one say the cause of failure was radicalism or conservatism. I want this message to apply to us all. None of us have done well enough to feel truly happy, or to qualify us to criticize the rest. Let the egotistical study his own membership charts. Let results commend or condemn your theories. The best could have done better. It is the sight of the wagons that prove that Joseph is alive. Some had their slump for the first time, but others have had slumps until slumps have become a habit, if not indeed a character, and still they are not stirred. Is it possible that the beautiful Church of the Nazarene is going to be turned into a mutual admiration society where the general and district superintendents meet in their annual conference just to pass compliments, and go back home to grind at Samson’s treadmill? Is it possible that we have brought to the fore in this Pentecostal church a band of leaders who want to be area-serving generals and time-serving district superintendents, who have no soul passion, and who can live the whole year through without revivals? Is it possible that we are so enamored of the paint on our houses that we are not disturbed when there is dearth and death inside? Is it possible that we can be content to raise money, make pastoral arrangements, conduct district assemblies, and yet suffer the spiritual leadership and soul-saving success of the movement to atrophy before our eyes and pass away forever? Is there no one that can wake us up? Is there no way to start a fire in our bones that will cause enough heat to make the water of our concern boil and become powerful steam?
I would be untrue both to you and to myself if I stood up here and said this is an easy task. But I would also be untrue if I stood here and said the task cannot be done. If I said the days of revivals have passed, and that we are doing as well as could be expected, I would be saying what I do not believe, and what you know is not true. This work can be done. It can be done in the local churches. It can be done on the districts. It can be done on a denominational scope. I say, It can be done. My soul is so stirred that I feel like saying, It can be done. It can be done either with the present leadership or in spite of it. Well, perhaps that is not just the statement I have in mind-it will take a changed leadership to bring it about, but that change can come in the present personnel as well as it could come by a change in personnel. Our churches need new pastors. God grant that the men who have charge of the churches now shall become new men! We need new general and district superintendents. May the good God grant us new ones, either by making us, who now encumber, over new or by replacing us with the type of men God designs us to be!
I am afraid of that kind of leadership that concerns itself principally with its own ease and safety. I am afraid of that cautious leadership that is so afraid it will make mistakes that it makes the greatest of all mistakes -not undertaking anything worthwhile. I do not come here today to criticize you or myself for the way we do things. Rather I feel deeply criticized about the way we don’t do things. And I know you know I appreciate all that all of you are doing and trying to do. But my soul is stirred because we have not seemed to do the one thing most needful-lead on in a soul-saving crusade. We have run the machine; we have made some noise; we have reached an all-time high in liberality by giving $75.54 per capita in money this past year. But, brethren, these ought we to have done and not to have left the spiritual aggressiveness undone. We have done good things, but we have made a poor showing with the best things. We have been occupied with the means, and have not in sufficient measure reached the end. We should have done what we have done without accounting it the purpose. We should do these things again, and better, but should turn more definitely to the one thing that can keep us from becoming just another denomination. Just a people with a circle of influence, and a nest of static contentment!
I have called this paper “All Out for Souls,” and I am thinking of the future-the near future-when I ring the changes on the battle cry once and again. I know we have some matters of policy to think about in this conference, but I wish these matters might take their places as spokes in a wheel, the hub of which is soul passion, soul burden, souls! Souls! Souls that are lost! Souls for whom Christ died! Souls which are near and dear to us! Souls for whom we care and for whom we pray! Souls for whom no one cares and for whom no one prays! Souls! All out for souls! Nazarene general and district superintendents, all out for souls! All out for souls in 1946! All out for souls! All out for souls!
I know you men can organize churches. I know you can help fit pastors and churches. I know you can operate the machinery of the church, and I want you to do these things. But I would not make these the standard by which to measure your fitness for your present task. I ask you, Do you love souls? Do you find it possible to pray for souls with heartbreak and with tears? Do you preach with passion and unction and do you make souls your aim? I know you ask our evangelists to do these things. I know you want the pastors to be like that. But I ask you, Are you like that? How long since you have gone through the throes of birth pains for the deliverance of the ungodly?
And I must not excuse myself. Dr. Williams is and always has been an example of soul passion among us. Drs. Miller and Powers are on the stretch to make souls and spiritual things first. I feel like I need to get down here at this altar and wrap my arms around it, and stay there until God breaks in on me and on these other general superintendents and on you district superintendents in such a manner that this conference will become an upper room from which streams of Pentecostal blessing may break forth to bring the dawn of a new crusade for souls throughout this land and around the world. I feel that my own soul is lonesome for the company of those other souls which I am to have with me when I come at last to heaven’s gate. And I expect the ticket I hold to read, not, “Admit one,” but, “Admit two,” or, “Admit ten,” or, “Admit a hundred.” And it will be embarrassing if the Chief Shepherd must ask, “Where are the other nine?” or, “Where are the other ninety and nine?”
Brethren, I was born in the fire, and I cannot endure the smoke. I am a child of the bright daylight, and mists and fogs and depressing gloom are not to my liking. I want to go all out for souls. The revival I seek is not the product of the labors of some personality-plus evangelist. Such a revival is too detached and impersonal to meet my needs or to answer my prayers. I want that kind of revival that comes in spite of the singing, the preaching, the testimonies, and the human attractions and detractions. I want that kind of revival because it takes that kind to really revive me.
I want a revival that, like a summer shower, will purify the atmosphere of our churches everywhere, and which will awaken the dormant forces of our people young and old. I want something so general and so divine that it will be uncontrollable. I want something that will re-emphasize old-time moral and spiritual conditions. Something that will reform and regenerate drunkards and save respectable worldlings. Something that will bring in the youth and the little children. Something so attractive that it will break over into the circles of the pleasure-loving. Something that will set people on their back tracks to make restitution for wrongs committed. Something that will bring God to bear upon our domestic problems to save our people from the twin evils of divorce and race suicide. Something that will inject old-time honesty, veracity, purity, and other-world-mindedness into our preachers and people. Something that will make this namby-pamby, soft-handed, compromising, cringing sort of holiness as obsolete as Phariseeism was on the Day of Pentecost. Something that reveals a man’s credentials by means of souls saved and sanctified and established in Christ Jesus.
This is no time to say anything that might serve to keep alive the soreness and prejudices of the war period. And I say what I do only to make clear my own feelings and to emphasize my own desire and prayer. In the days before America entered the war, a writer, for whose freedom from bias I cannot vouch, was describing the characteristic manner in which the soldiers of the different nations met death on the battlefield. The German soldier, so this writer said, when he saw that death was imminent, made one last move to save himself by raising his hands and calling out, “Comrade! Comrade!” in cringing cowardice and abject submission. The French soldier under the same circumstances wept and called for his mother to come and help him. But the British Tommie, when he came to look death in the face, just looked right on past, and met his fate with a silent show of grim assurance that made one feel he had an understanding with God. That’s what I want. I want an understanding with God. I want it in the midst of the battle, while life is full. And I plan to win this battle-I plan to win this war. Yes, thank God! I do have an understanding with God.
This is no time to be talking of day ends and setting suns. No time to be glorying in laurels won or in medals worn. No time to boast of churches built and parsonages furnished. No time to be praising brakemen — we need firemen. No time to be glorifying statistics — ours are not glorious in the name column. But 1946 is still largely before us, and whatever other years that are to follow are still in the making. The years 1944 and 1945 are quite enough to mar our good record by their want of souls saved and members matriculated. These years of the recent past are such as to humble us, and if they serve this purpose, they may not be wholly vain. Let us, with this final mention, now forget these things that are behind, and reach forth to the things that are before. Let us now, here, today set our sails to gather the winds which are ready to drive us across the treacherous and stormy sea of the close tomorrow to bigger and better things than we have known.
Here is our standard, established in the days of our simplicity, a 10 per cent net gain in both churches and members year by year. Dare any of us set our goal to do less? Perhaps you say you do not believe in goals, and I answer that is already apparent. You’d better get converted. Better set goals and go after them. You surely can’t do worse than you have done without them, and the time has come when your failures cannot be covered by a lowering of the standards of accomplishments — one step more like we made in 1944 and again in 1945 and we will become static in membership, and static means stagnant. Thirty-eight hundred minus in one more year of defeatism in soul saving and the Church of the Nazarene will be on its way out and down.
Here is the goal for 1946 (and now we shall be checking again in January, 1947) — again of 300 new churches, and a gain of 20,000 members. You say it can’t be done. Well, that just means you do not propose to bend your back and break your heart to do it. You say such gains would be abnormal and we could not absorb so much new material. What? Do you mean to say that our 60 districts can’t safely organize an average of 5 churches each? Do you mean to say that 10 Nazarene members can’t win one soul to God and to the church in a year, and that the addition of one new member to each existing group of 10 would upset our equilibrium? No, you don’t mean any of these things. You know the goal is neither unreasonable nor dangerous. You know just the opposite. You know it is unreasonable and dangerous for us not to set and also to reach these goals. Too large a percentage of seasonal members will drown us. You know that we are much more in danger of dry rot than decay from overheating. You know these things are true.
And, brethren, I propose that we come down off our high horses, and that we get down before God in sackcloth and dust and ashes, and that we pray until we pray. That we then preach until we preach with unction, and that we win the victory for God and for souls.
In the heat of a battle in our American Civil War a Confederate general called a corps commander to him and said, “General, go out there and take that fortified hill.” The corps commander answered, “I’ll try, sir.” But the general answered, “I did not tell you to try. I told you to go and take it.” The corps commander answered, “I’ll do it or die, sir.” Then the general said, “I did not say, Take it or die, I said, Take that hill.” Then the corps commander turned his horse and started, saying back over his shoulder, “I’ll take it, General.” And he did take it. Trying is not enough. Dying is not enough. We must take this fortified hill. We must take it, brethren, we must take it. Ml out for souls! Brethren, all out for souls. All out for souls! This is the order of our great Commander in Chief speaking from Calvary, from Olivet, and from His throne now high and lifted up. Our answer is, “We will do it, blessed Lord; we will do it!”