he great and wonderful work of the last gospel message is to be carried on now as it has never been before. The world is to receive the light of truth through an evangelizing ministry of the word in our books and periodicals. Our publications are to show that the end of all things is at hand.”1
A vital part of the church’s mission at this crucial time in earth’s history is to circulate literature “as never before.” From the beginnings of Adventist publishing, divine counsel was given that church members were to sell and freely give away literature for gospel outreach.2 God has extended opportunities for performing this dual ministry and receiving its blessing to every member in His family of believers.
In 1849 James White set the example by distributing copies of The Present Truth, the first Adventist publication. Today God’s call for His people’s involvement in literature circulation is as valid as ever. Again: “Every believer is called upon to scatter and broadcast tracts, leaflets, and books containing the message for this time.”3
On April 3, 1882, George King made his first sale of a book called Thoughts on Daniel and Revelation. It was the beginning of the Adventist subscription book ministry. Still today “God calls for workers from every church among us to enter His service as canvasser evangelists.”4 These calls to service were fundamental to the vibrant quinquennial theme of our worldwide publishing team, “Bringing Hope Into Every Home.” To accomplish this goal, Publishing Ministries adopted the following seven initiatives:
Strengthen Local Church Ministries
Our goal was to help stabilize every church as a center of literature evangelism with at least one literature evangelist in each congregation, and every member involved in distributing literature in some way.
Since the start of the quinquennium the church has embarked on a worldwide program of mass distribution of the annual missionary book. World reports show that members from around the globe have enthusiastically circulated more than a half-billion books and magazines during this quinquennium. More than 30 million additional publications have been downloaded online.
On the selling side of the literature ministry, a program is now in place to integrate literature evangelists with the local church’s outreach mission. The literature evangelists serve as the link between the church’s small group ministry and the communities where the literature evangelists labor.
Build Up the Literature Evangelist Force
Strategies have been developed to increase the number of literature evangelists in all categories: full-time, part-time, and students, with the goal of elevating their number to equal the number of local churches worldwide. By God’s divine providence the number of literature evangelists is now beyond the 50,000 mark, with a gain of 10,000 workers compared with the previous five years. Only in heaven will the far-reaching influence our publications have made in the lives of the millions who received them be fully revealed. But records reflect that at least 350,000 individuals joined the church during the past five years through the influence of literature ministry. The year 2014 was designated by the world church as the Year of the Literature Evangelist. A concerted series of division-wide literature evangelist congresses were conducted worldwide. In addition to the training sessions, thousands of literature evangelists were specifically honored and recognized for their dedication and commitment to the ministry of the printed page.
Provide Professional Training for Literature Evangelists
Literature evangelists need both start-up training and subsequent periodic training to enjoy ongoing success in their sacred careers. This need for training is prophetically mandated. We therefore encouraged the establishing of a literature ministry training seminary program in each union field, providing training that incorporates a well-structured curriculum implemented by educated training personnel and combined with practical training, tools, and materials.
During this quinquennium Publishing Ministries initiated the development of new curriculum and new training materials to equip leaders in their training responsibilities. In some parts of the world, unions already have well-established literature ministry seminary facilities that are devoted primarily to the training of literature evangelists, and they are producing strong and determined literature evangelists.
The future of the church’s publishing work is largely dependent on effective leadership. Therefore, the intentional training of sound leaders is essential. Two training programs (for literature evangelists and for leaders of literature evangelists) were implemented during this quinquennium. Professional training leads to publishing leadership certification, which requires 60 hours of instruction. The academic training offers a master’s degree program toward attaining a Master of Publishing Administration degree. This need is so vital that we have to continue in the further development and refining of these essential academic curricula.
Strengthen Our Literature Resources
Our publishing houses are God’s appointed centers for fulfilling our product needs in the field. As such, they are missionary agencies in the highest sense. To maintain high standards of operating efficiency and product excellence, the General Conference Publishing Ministries has conducted publishing house leadership councils, workshops, seminars, and survey evaluations. These include areas of finance, production, marketing, and quality control. Today our 63 publishing houses worldwide are busily producing thousands of quality books and other publications per day.
Enhance Product Development
Our objective is to produce appropriate and appealing literature for unentered territories, and for the areas of special challenge where various religious and language groups are found. In this quinquennium Publishing Ministries initiated the Muslim Outreach Relation Emphasis (MORE) project. With a focus on these special needs, more than 50 countries are now being helped in this initiative. One of the outreach books published is Longing for Paradise, designed to appeal and reach out to our Muslim brothers and sisters.
In response to God’s mandate of illuminating the earth with God’s glory, found in Revelation 18:1-4, we have focused our resources toward the production of literature that will most clearly proclaim the three angels’ messages and call God’s people out of spiritual Babylon.
Pursue Innovative Marketing Methods
The future of major marketing approaches rests in large part upon technology development in the production and propagation of the written word. In this quinquennium Publishing Ministries has pursued the development of some programs using avenues of social media. With this initiative the department has developed a central Web site for all publications produced by our denominational publishing houses. Along with this we have established call centers for Internet marketing in partnership with literature evangelists’ ministry. This combines with an app called Sharing Hope to provide a conduit for disseminating the missionary book titles to reach people everywhere with the gospel. These are some of the additional means of circulating our literature “as never before.”
I praise God that through the involvement of our faithful members and the concerted efforts of our intrepid literature evangelists around the world, the printed page is “bringing hope into every home!”
- Ellen G. White, Colporteur Ministry (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1953), p. 145.
- Ellen G. White manuscript 126, 1902. See also Ellen G. White, The Publishing Ministry (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1983), p. 368.
- Review and Herald, Nov. 5, 1914.
- E. G. White, Colporteur Ministry, p. 20.