Book One (of Three), comprising:


A Compendium of Effective Methods

By R. A. Torrey


Etext, last modified June 15, 2001, edited by

Clyde C. Price, Jr.

{CLYDE.PRICE@CDLF.ORG} for the Christian

Digital Library Foundation

from a printed book (used by CCP as a

textbook at the Atlanta School of

Biblical Studies) published by....


Fleming H. Revell Company

{no date, but first published shortly after 1900}

Printed in the United States of America


{ CDLF Etext Editor's Note:


The printed edition of this work is definitely in

the public domain, and we issue this etext edition

also freely into the public domain.


I request that in subsequent editions based upon

this one, that this etext editor's notes be

retained, perhaps at the end of the file. Anyone

is welcome --and encouraged!-- to mark this etext

up into other digital formats. (I strongly

recommend that any who would do so would find the

print-media edition of the book to observe the

indentions which were ignored and lost in this

etext edition.) Please let us know, and perhaps

share a copy of the file with us for parallel



At the Atlanta School of Biblical Studies in the

late 70s and early 80s, my teachers inculcated in

us an appreciation of "old books" along with an

emphasis on going back to the Scriptures

themselves. Our heavy use of this Volume One of

Torrey's "How To Work For Christ" in our Personal

Evangelism course, and reference to it in other

courses, was a prime example of this strategy.


In our class, we discussed some of the points on

which Torrey appeared not to be as "Calvinistic"

as we were. Our teacher, Rev. Ben Wilkinson,

defended his use of this textbook, because of

Torrey's extensive experience, his practical

wisdom, the fact that with this _old_ book, it was

easier to spot merely cultural stuff, and... he

admitted with a sigh... the fact that "Reformed

and Calvinistic" writers have not written much on

the hand-to-hand details of personal work. As far

as he was concerned, this was about as good as it



Let me add quickly that we did read _Evangelism

and Your Church_, an excellent Reformed discussion

of evangelism and manual for church outreach, by

Dr. C. John Miller. We also discussed other

Reformed-perspective books on evangelism, which we

noted tended to have a negative tone, criticizing

the evangelism of others without promoting (or

maybe even necessarily defining) _proper_

evangelism. "Mr.Ben" told us a story (which I

can't document at the moment, that went something

like this...) about Mr. Moody facing a critic of

his evangelistic methods, and Moody asked the man,

"Well, since your method is so much better and

more Scriptural, would you tell me how many people

you've led to Christ in the last year?"The man

answered that he hadn't led anybody to Christ in

that time. Moody replied, "Well, God seems to be

blessing the faulty way I'm _doing_ it better than

the superior way you're _not_ doing it." Ben

hastened to point out that obviously this

principle has limits, but God DOES bless

gospel-preachers, such as Dr.Billy Graham, with

whose theological statements we --that is, we

"Reformed folks"-- sometimes nitpick, and

sometimes disagree strongly; but Dr.Graham

preaches CHRIST, and people TRUST CHRIST while he

preaches. Ben considered that Torrey's work was

Reformed _enough_ for us to use it, with our

"sifters" on, and was practical enough to study

thoughtfully even eight decades after its



It should be noted that Torrey ministered and

wrote in the beginnings of the "Modern" period,

and this etext is being issued in 2001 in a "post-

Modern" cultural environment in which absolutes

are often absolutely denied, and the USA and the

rest of the "Western" world are experiencing

unprecedented rates of immigration from

"third-world" countries: immigrants who bring

their religious and cultural heritages with them.

We are now working in a MUCH larger "arena". The

Gospel is still true, and the word of God is still

alive and powerful. All (or almost all)

non-Christian world religions are systems of

"works", with a wide variety of "standards" of

judgment, but Biblical Christianity is still the

only "GRACE religion". It may be that we need to

adapt our approaches somewhat and learn new

currently-effective "slants" to get the Sword of

the Spirit through... But I stubbornly believe

that MOST of Torrey's work is _still_ useful and

worthy of study and application. And the

Scriptures which he references are even more

savingly relevant and eternally useful.


We do NOT want to emulate the cults, who skip from

verse to un-contexted verse; but we DO want to

learn how to minister the Scriptures in a

_practical_ way in our personal work. Torrey was a

master of this, and we can still learn from him.


In the "camp" with which I identify myself, we

emphasize in-context inductive Bible study and an

approach to Scripture which is mostly-

"expository", i.e., taking and preaching from a

coherent "chunk" of Scripture at a time, and often

consecutively preaching through a book of

Scripture. While this approach to Bible study and

preaching is --in my opinion-- the best and safest

approach, learning how to deal hand-to-hand and

face-to-face with people about their souls

requires a PRACTICAL knowledge of the Scriptures

such as Torrey demonstrated and taught. Very

often, SHORT quotations and phrases will speak to

issues at hand and meet the need of the moment.

(In our "sound bite" culture, this sounds very

current!) For the times when you do topical

preaching, much in this book is immediately



Certainly, students: KNOW the Bible book by book

and follow the flow of thought in context. But

also learn Torrey's method of taking short

passages and adding them to your everyday

tool-box, and USING them effectively day in and

day out. Be READY to establish the context of any

passage you employ, but MEMORIZED verses of

Scripture in your toolbox will be as ready at hand

as hammer, screwdriver, knife and drill.


There are too many references in this work to

memorize all of them quickly, but the highlighted

and repeated ones should present themselves as

obvious candidates to memorize in a good



Let me also note some other possible uses for this

wealth of PRACTICAL Bible material: One practice

of many Churches and groups of Christians through

the centuries is to READ ALOUD a sermon by "an

accredited minister", particularly when there

wasn't one available for their meeting. Book Three

is entirely on "Preaching and Teaching the Word of

God", but here in Book One (which I have seen

separately with a slightly different title in a

preacher's library), there are sections which

could be read aloud --perhaps after judicious

editing/cutting-- as topical sermons. The section

beginning on p.122 on "III. Special classes of

skeptics.", perhaps beginning with point "2. Those

who doubt that the Bible is the Word of God",

gives a wonderful outline study of how Jesus

Christ personally put His stamp of authority on

all of the Bible, section by section, and then

adding other Bible references about the

inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. There

are certainly many other studies which could be

adapted or even read aloud without editing. In

meetings small enough to employ this "reading

aloud" tactic, I would recommend _some_ "group

discussion" afterwards to identify cultural

factors which have changed, and/or other ways to

deal with specific types of people. Torrey is

inspiring, but he's NOT "inspired".


A small quibble: In book one, page 76, article

XVI., I strongly recommend reversing the

presentation of the three points, and emphasizing

point 2 (using both Scripture references,

Ephesians 4:32 and Matthew 18:23-35, perhaps also

referencing the Lord's prayer). Maybe even

presenting the ideas as 2, 3, 1; but definitely

stressing that unforgiveness towards others

effectively short-circuits our own forgiveness-by-

faith, and once we have been forgiven our own

multi-billion-buck debt, it's EASY to release our

fellow-servant's hundred-buck debt.


I think that you should always save the "Do this,

or GO TO HELL" -argument for the _last_ point.


I'll restrain myself from other quibbles, but

suggest that perhaps some other of Torrey's

outlines could be rearranged for presentation.


For reference purposes, I am including the

print-media-edition page numbers before the

material from that printed page. Block-quotation

indentations have been lost. I have spelled out

most Scripture references, and made a few spelling

changes and typographical corrections. This etext

edition is a _separate_ CDLF edition, with perhaps

fewer changes than a print-media publisher might



For several reasons (including the fact that my

bound copy is copiously marked up and

highlighted), I have chosen to retype this work

manually, mostly changing printed italic and

boldface fonts into uppercase. ("Markups" into

other digital publishing formats SHOULD be made

with the Revell- published book at hand.) One of

the things that slightly irritated me about the

typography of this and other older works was

putting block Scripture quotations in SMALLER

print. I request that future editors who "mark up"

this text into other formats, if you use a

different font for Scripture, that you make it a

LARGER or BOLDER font, since it is the Scripture

itself which is most important. If someday an

editor decides to substitute a more "updated"

translation of Scripture (or if/when this work is

translated into another language), I strongly

exhort that the surrounding text be consulted,

since Torrey sometimes makes points on specific

wording from the quoted translation: most often

the Authorized (King James) Version or the

(English) Revised Version (cited as "RV") of 1885.


At my own "editor's discretion" in a very few

places I judged the cited AV/KJV to be too likely

unclear, and shifted to the 1901 American Standard

Version, identified as "ASV".


"Language notes":


Torrey frequently uses the term "men" to refer to

people in general, no doubt intending to include

both sexes; and I have not "updated" this.


Torrey's use of the term "Baptism in the Holy

Spirit" does not mean the same thing that many

charismatics and almost all Pentecostals mean by

this term, and his view of this matter is not the

same as that of most non-charismatic evangelicals

in 2001. Please do not get mad at him if you

determine that you disagree with him on this; but

do keep reading. His _point_ is that believers

should be filled to overflowing and empowering and

being specifically led by the Holy Spirit, and if

you have problems with THIS, you need to REPENT!


Not all of Torrey's observations or suggestions

are "universal", but the entire work, in all three

volumes, is worth reading carefully and

prayerfully, and --in MY opinion-- could _still_

be used as a primary text in a 3-4 month course in

personal evangelism. Even though cultural (and

even LEGAL) circumstances have changed, when you

read about some Gospel venue in the book that

makes you think, "THAT wouldn't work NOWADAYS" or

"...HERE", I challenge you to think about ways to

adapt his idea, or devise something different, to

accomplish the same goals of ministering God's

Word. Open air meetings and tract/literature

evangelism are NOT dead, even if we need to adapt

some of the trappings.


It has been my my prayer especially during the

editing of this etext, that the ministry of this

century-old book will continue to bear fruit in

the lives of God's servants.


I pray that God will use THIS very valuable book

--in WHATEVER medium it comes to you-- to make you

a more fruitful soul-winner and disciple-builder

for Him.



May 2001

Alpharetta, Georgia, USA



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This book is written for both ministers and

laymen. It will be of help to the minister in

suggesting to him how to make full proof of his

own ministry and how to get his people to work. It

will be of help to laymen in leading them into

many fields of fruitful labor for Christ.


The Church of Christ is full of people who wish to

work for their Master but do not know how. This

book is intended to tell them how. It contains no

untried theories, but describes many methods of

work that have been put to the test of actual

experiment and have succeeded. So far as I know,

there is no other book that covers the same field.

For years it has been upon my heart to write this

book, and I have been asked again and again to do

so. But I have never found time for it until now.

May it be used of God to the conversion of

thousands to Christ.


R. A. Torrey








Chapter������������������������ Page

01. The Importance and Advantages of

���� Personal Work9


02. The Conditions of Success14


03. Where to do Personal Work22


04. How to Begin28


05. How to Deal with those who Realize

���� their Need of a Savior and Really

���� Desire to be Saved33


06. How to Deal with those who have

���� Little or no Concern about their

���� Souls 44


07. How to Deal with those who have

���� Difficulties55


08. How to Deal with those who Entertain

���� False Hopes90


09. How to Deal with those who Lack

���� Assurance103


10. How to Deal with Backsliders109


11. How to Deal with Professed Skeptics

���� and Infidels114


12. How to Deal with those who Wish to

���� put off a Decision until Some

���� Other Time 133


13. How to Deal with the Deluded138


14. How to Deal with Christians who Need

���� Counsel, Rebuke, Encouragement or

���� Comfort150


15. Some Hints and Suggestions for

���� Personal Work171


{In separate CDLF etext files:}



01. House to House Visitation183

02. Cottage Meetings192

03. Parlor Meetings202

04. The Church Prayer Meeting205


05. The Use of Tracts213

06. Open-Air Meetings222

07. Tent Work234

08. The Use of Autos, Trailers, etc. 241


09. Colportage Work244

10. Services in Theaters, Circuses, etc. 248


11. Organizing and Conducting a Gospel

���� Mission254

12. Meetings in Jails, Hospitals,

���� Poorhouses, etc.268

13. Revival Meetings273

14. The After Meeting284

15. Children's Meetings295

16. Advertising the Meetings305

17. Conduct of Funerals314




1. How to Prepare a Sermon321

2. Preparation and Delivery of Bible

���� Readings332

3. Illustrations and Their Use337

4. Teaching the Bible344

5. Textual Sermons in Outline356

6. Topical Sermons in Outline454

7. Expository Sermons and Bible Readings

���� in Outline486















In our study of the various forms of Christian

activity, we begin with "Personal Work," that

hand-to-hand dealing with men, women and children.

We begin with it because it is the simplest form

of Christian work, the kind that every one can do.

It is also the most effective method of winning

lost souls. The Apostle Peter was brought to Jesus

by the hand-to-hand work of his brother Andrew.

Andrew first found Christ himself, then he went to

Peter quietly and told him of his great find, and

thus he led Peter to the Savior he himself had

found. I do not know that Andrew ever preached a

sermon; if he did it is not recorded; but he did a

great day's work when he led his brother Peter to

Jesus. Peter preached a sermon that led to the

conversion of 3,000 people, but where would

Peter's great sermon have been if Andrew had not

first led him to Christ by quiet personal work?

Mr. Edward Kimball, a Boston business man, led D.

L. Moody, the young Boston shoe clerk, to the

Savior. Where would all Mr. Moody's wonderful work

for Christ have been if he himself had not been

led to the Savior by the faithful personal work of

his Sunday school teacher? I believe in preaching.

It is a great privilege to preach the Gospel, but

this world can be reached and evangelized far more

quickly and thoroughly by personal work than by

public preaching. Indeed, it can be reached and

evangelized only by personal work. When the whole

church of Jesus Christ shall rouse to its

responsibility and privilege in this matter, and

every individual Christian become a personal

worker, the evangelization of the world will be

close at hand. When the membership of any local

church shall rouse to its responsibility and

privilege in this matter, and each{10}member

become a personal worker in the power of the Holy

Spirit, a great revival will be close at hand for

the community in which that church is located.

Personal work is a work that wins but little

applause from men, but it accomplishes great

things for God.


There are many who think personal work beneath

their dignity and their gifts. A blind woman once

came to me and said, "Do you think that my

blindness will hinder me from working for the

Master?""Not at all; it may be a great help to

you, for others seeing your blindness will come

and speak to you, and then you will have an

opportunity of giving your testimony for Christ,

and of leading them to the Savior.""Oh, that is

not what I want," she replied. "It seems to me a

waste of time when one might be speaking to five

or six hundred at once, just to be speaking to an

individual." I answered that our Lord and Savior

Jesus Christ was able to speak to more than five

thousand at once, and yet He never thought

personal work beneath His dignity or His gifts.

Indeed, it was the work the Savior loved to do. We

have more instances of our Savior's personal work

recorded in the Gospels that of His preaching. The

one who is above personal work is above his





Let us look at the advantages of personal work.


1. ALL CAN DO IT. In an average congregation there

are not more than four or five who can preach to

edification. It would be a great pity, too, should

all attempt to become preachers; it would be a

great blessing if all would become personal

workers. Any child of God can do personal work,

and all can learn to do effective personal work.

The mother who is confined at home by multiplicity

of home duties can still do personal work, first

of all with her own children, and then with the

servants in the home, with the butcher, the

grocer, the tramp who calls at the door, in fact,

with everybody who comes within reach. I once knew

a mother very gifted in the matter of bringing her

own children up in the nurture and admonition of

the Lord, who lamented that she could not do some

work for Christ. I watched this woman carefully,

and found that almost every one who came to the

house in any capacity was spoken to about the

Savior, and she was, in point of fact, doing{11}

more for Christ in the way of direct evangelistic

work than most pastors.


Even the one shut up at home by sickness can do

personal work. As friends come to the sick bed, a

word of testimony can be given for Christ, or even

an extended conversation can be held. A little

girl of twelve, the child of very poor parents,

lay dying in the city of Minneapolis. She let her

light shine for the Master, and spoke among others

to a godless physician, to whom, perhaps, no one

else had ever spoken about Christ. A poor girl in

New York City, who was rescued from the slums and

died a year or two afterwards, was used of God to

lead about one hundred men and women to Christ,

while lying upon her dying bed.


Even the servant girl can do effective personal

work. Lord Shaftesbury, the great English

philanthropist, was won to Christ in a godless

home by the effective work of a nurse girl.


Traveling men have unusually good opportunities

for doing personal work, as they travel on the

trains from town to town, as they stop in one

hotel after another and go from store to store. A

professional nurse once came into my Bible class

in Chicago, and at the close of the meeting

approached me and said: "I was led to Christ by

Mr.--- [a traveling man connected with a large

wholesale house]. I was in a hotel parlor, and

this gentleman saw me and walked across the parlor

and asked me if I was a Christian, and when I told

him I was not, he proceeded at once to show me the

way of life. I was so startled and impressed to

find a traveling man leading others to Christ that

I accepted Him as my Savior then and there. He

told me if I ever came to Chicago to come to your

Bible class." I have watched this woman for years

since, and she herself is a most devoted Christian

and effective worker.


How enormous and wonderful and glorious would be

the results if all Christians should begin to be

active personal workers to the extent of their

ability! Nothing else would do so much to promote

a revival in any community, and in the land at

large. Every Pastor should urge this duty upon his

people, train them for it, and see that they do



2. IT CAN BE DONE ANYWHERE. There are but few

places where one can preach. There is no place

where one cannot do personal{12}work. How

often, as we pass factories, engine houses,

lodging houses and other places where crowds are

gathered, do we wish that we might get into them

and preach the Gospel, but generally this is

impossible, but it is altogether possible to go in

and do personal work. Furthermore, we can do

personal work on the street, whether street

meetings are allowed or not. We can do personal

work in the homes of the poor and in the homes of

the rich, in hospitals, workhouses, jails, station

houses, and all sorts of institutions -- in a

word, everywhere.


3. IT CAN BE DONE AT ANY TIME. The times when we

can have preaching services and Sunday schools are

quite limited. As a rule, in most communities, we

cannot have services more than two or three days

in the week, and only three or four hours in the

day, but personal work can be done seven days in

the week, and any time of day or night. Some of

the best personal work done in this country in the

last twenty years has been done on the streets at

midnight and after midnight. Those who love souls

have walked the streets looking for wanderers, and

have gone into dens of vice seeking the lost

sheep, and hundreds upon hundreds of them have

thus been found.


4. IT REACHES ALL CLASSES. There are large classes

of men that no other method will reach. There are

the shut-ins who cannot get out to church, the

street-car men, the policemen, railroad

conductors, sleeping-car men, firemen, the very

poor and the very rich. Some cannot and others

will not attend church or cottage meeting or

mission meeting, but personal work can reach them



5. IT HITS THE MARK. Preaching is necessarily

general; personal work is direct and personal.

There is no mistaking who is meant, there is no

dodging the arrow, there is no possibility of

giving what is said away to some one else. Many

whom even so expert a Gospel preacher as Mr. Moody

has missed have been afterwards reached by

personal work.



THE PERSON DEALT WITH. Even when men are aroused

and convicted, and perhaps converted, by a sermon,

personal work is necessary to bring out into clear

light and into a satisfactory experience one whom

the sermon has thus aroused, convicted and




best workers told me a few weeks ago that she had

attended church for years, and had wanted to

become a Christian. She had listened to some of

the best-known preachers, and still was unsaved,

but the very first inquiry meeting she went into

she was saved because some one came and dealt with

her personally.



comparison whatever between what will be effected

by good preaching and what will be effected by

constant personal work. Take a church of one

hundred members; such a church under an