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General Conference Bulletin, vol. 1

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    (Read before the State Agents’ Convention.)

    HE should make thorough preparation, but should not be content with a set form of words... The canvasser should be a Bible student, ever ready to give every man that asketh him a reason of the hope that is in him... He should be familiar with the word of God, and have words at his command to unfold the precious trust, and to show the great value of the pure reading matter he carries. — “Testimony” 32,p.161.GCB March 3, 1895, page 438.4

    No one will claim that a person just leaving his farm, his shop, or any other position in life, is able to prepare thoroughly for the canvassing work in one or two weeks’ school or institute. A thorough preparation means more for a canvasser than to get a prospectus and a contract in his hand, and then go to work. It means a good deal more than to learn a printed canvass by heart, and learn how to sing it from one end to the other without making a mistake. To be prepared to enter the field means for the canvasser to be acquainted not only with his canvass, but with his book from one end to the other, and then learn how to present it in such a way that it may interest the people.GCB March 3, 1895, page 438.5

    Knowledge of his book is not all that the Lord requires of the canvasser. “He needs self-culture and polished manners; not the affected and artificial manners of the world, but the agreeable manners that are the natural result of kindness of heart, and a desire to copy the example of Christ. He should cultivate thoughtful, care-taking habits, — habits of industry and discretion, — and should seek to honor God by making of himself all that it is possible for him to become.”GCB March 3, 1895, page 438.6

    When the canvasser is prepared for his work, he enters the field as a missionary, a co-worker with Christ, — a representative of Him who, “when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not.” 1 Peter 2:23. It is the canvasser’s duty to walk as he (Christ) walked (1 John 2:6), speak as he spoke (Luke 10:16), and to show in all his work the same spirit that Christ showed.GCB March 3, 1895, page 438.7

    Even the very outward appearance of the worker is a power in his work, either for good or for evil. It will be a sermon of itself. The first impression one person gets from another is by looking at him; and as the canvasser enters, not only old, but new fields where the truth is unknown, his very appearance and conduct will leave lasting impressions upon the minds and hearts of the people with whom he comes in contact. He should always remember that some other canvasser, Bible-worker, or minister may have to follow up his work, and the very influence he leaves behind him will have much to do in shaping results for the future work.GCB March 3, 1895, page 438.8

    The people who purchase a book will read it, having before them a mental photograph of the face, conduct, and spirit of the man who sold it to them; and this silent influence will weigh heavily in the decisions they make for or against the truth. — Home Missionary.GCB March 3, 1895, page 438.9

    Therefore, the canvasser ought to present himself in such a manner that he can gain access to the people by his very appearance. He should keep himself as neat as it is possible for him to do under the circumstances by which he is surrounded. He should always keep in mind that he is representing the most solemn message ever committed to men, and therefore he should do everything in his power to gain access to the people.GCB March 3, 1895, page 438.10

    He should never look sad or downcast. Even if the work goes hard, his face should be shining with the love and peace of Jesus. He should always have a kind word for the children and for the person he approaches to canvass. “If Jesus is in his heart, the Lord will enable him to devise means to gain access to individuals and families.”GCB March 3, 1895, page 439.1

    The question is often asked, Should the canvasser hold Bible readings? Before I try to answer this question, I will ask, What does that word “canvasser” signify? Webster tells us that it means “one who solicits subscriptions.” If the canvasser is taught what that word means before he enters the work, he can never get the idea that the canvassing work means to preach or hold Bible readings, but that it means to sell books. If a canvasser is looking out for a chance to hold Bible readings wherever he can, he will never make a successful canvasser; and before he knows it, he will have to leave the field on account of financial circumstances, and then he will say, as others have said before him, that the canvassing work is a failure. Now we will listen to what the Spirit of God has to say in regard to this very point:—GCB March 3, 1895, page 439.2

    When the canvasser enters upon his line of work, he is not to allow himself to be diverted from his work, but should intelligently keep to the point with all diligence.GCB March 3, 1895, page 439.3

    And yet while he is doing his canvassing, he will not be heedless of opportunities to help souls who are seeking for light and who need the consultation of the Scriptures... If the canvasser walks with God, if he prays for heavenly wisdom that he may do good, and only good, in his labor, he will be quick to discern his opportunity, and the need of souls with whom he comes in contact. He will make the most of his opportunity to draw souls to Christ, not dwelling on doctrinal subjects, but upon the love of God, upon mercy and goodness in devising the plan of salvation. He will not hold a controversy with the people, but in the spirit of Christ he will be ready to speak a word in season to him who is weary... It would not be proper, nor could good results ensue, to present doctrines to souls who are entirely ignorant of our faith.GCB March 3, 1895, page 439.4

    There are many who are sincerely seeking for light, who know not what they must do to be saved. O, tell them of the love of God, of the sacrifice Christ made on Calvary’s cross to save souls from perishing. Tell them to place their will on the side of God’s will, and the Lord will open the way before them. Tell them: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.”GCB March 3, 1895, page 439.5

    The difficulty most to be dreaded is that the canvasser who meets with those inquiring souls has not himself been converted, has not himself experienced the love of Jesus which passes knowledge. If he has not himself experienced the love of Jesus, how can he tell souls the precious, old, old story. The people are in need of having presented before their minds the very way to accept Christ, and to confide in him as their personal Saviour.GCB March 3, 1895, page 439.6

    In our work we need far less controversy, and far more presentation of Christ... Let canvassers be faithful students, learning how to be most successful, and while they are thus employed, let them keep their eyes and ears and understanding open to receive wisdom from God, that they may know how to help those who are perishing for lack of the knowledge of Christ. — Home Missionary.GCB March 3, 1895, page 439.7

    When the canvasser is instructed that his work is to sell books, then it is expected that he will do thorough work. This cannot be expected if he is engaged in different lines of work. When a person signs a contract to canvass a certain territory, he takes upon himself the responsibility of visiting every family in that territory, living either above or below the surface of the ground, and of presenting in the best manner possible the living truths contained in his book. To accomplish this latter work, he will need wisdom not only to know what to say and how to present the truth, but he will need wisdom and sanctified judgment to know what not to say.GCB March 3, 1895, page 439.8

    If a family is away from home, or sick, or in any other way hindered so the canvasser cannot get a chance to show his book, he should take the name of the family or the number of the house, so he may be able to find the same family later on.GCB March 3, 1895, page 439.9

    Canvassers should not go over the ground in a careless, unconcerned manner. They should feel that they are God’s workmen, and the love of souls should lead them to make every effort to enlighten men and women in regard to the truth. Providence and grace, means and ends, are closely connected. When the laborers do the very best they can, God does for them that which they cannot do for themselves. — “Testimony” 32,p.155.GCB March 3, 1895, page 439.10

    The canvasser should always remember that his work is not done before the book is delivered; and one thing necessary for a successful delivery is to have sure orders. We have already stated how necessary it is for the canvasser to know his book from one end to the other, that he may be able to interest the people in the book itself. He should never try to get an order by concealing the fact that he is a Seventh-day Adventist or the place where the book is printed. If he does, he may expect either to lose the order or be called a deceiver, or both. Neither is it necessary to lay special stress upon the fact that his book is published by the Seventh-day Adventists, unless such information is asked for; and if it is, then give the desired information in a modest, unassuming manner, and proceed with his work as usual.GCB March 3, 1895, page 439.11

    He should never try to get an order by showing a sad face, or by telling how hard the work goes; because if he gets the order by sympathy, this sympathy may be lost before he comes to deliver his book. Neither should he persuade a person to give an order; he is liable to lose it if he does. He should not try to get a man’s name just because his minister or some of his neighbors signed for the book; but he should create in the person he canvasses a longing for those things which the book contains. Then if he gets the name, he can count it a sure order, and he has every reason to believe that, by the help of God, he will be able to deliver that book. The canvasser should not leave his customer with his name in the order book, before that person understands that he has entered upon an agreement with the agent. The canvasser’s duty is to deliver the book at a certain time, place, and at a certain price, and the subscriber’s duty is to have the money ready at the time the book is to be delivered. This agreement ought not only to be understood and fulfilled by the subscriber, but it should inspire the agent to be prompt on his part in every particular, so as not to give any reason why the other person should draw back, and not take the book.GCB March 3, 1895, page 439.12

    By following these few points, the canvasser need not be afraid that he will lose his orders. He will not be afraid to go over the same ground again, and meet those people who ordered a book from him. They will be glad once more to meet that man or woman who spoke so tenderly about the love of God, and of the soon-coming Saviour.GCB March 3, 1895, page 440.1

    When the canvasser goes to deliver his books, he should not under any circumstances try to compel a person by law to take the book. If any one refuses to take it without some good reason, the canvasser should kindly remind him of his agreement, but never show a bad temper. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” Proverbs 16:32. If a person hesitates in taking the book, the agent should give him another canvass, to recall the important things in the book, and also to remove existing prejudice or objections.GCB March 3, 1895, page 440.2

    The same person who took the order ought to deliver the book. He knows his customer. He knows what took place between them when he got the order, and is therefore better able to remove objections, if such have arisen.GCB March 3, 1895, page 440.3

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