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Eugene W. Prewitt

Educator | Speaker | Author

A Book on Magabook Leadership


Thoughts on Leadership in the Field

Dedication: To Heidi Young, my favorite person, an evangelist and one that has done her time on the front lines. Also, to Kyla Stemmler, the person who is responsible for the fact that I am writing this today and not some vague tomorrow.

How to Use this Book

The manuscript in your hands or glistening on your screen was designed as a companion book to a series of training and leadership videos. The videos are being designed as companions for real-life actual-doing of magaministry. If you read this paper fifty times before you try doing the work, you have little advantage over the man that reads it once carefully while practicing.



Team Management




Third Parties

Multi Program Administration

History of the Magabook Work




The work has been designed as a reference for all levels of magabook administration. That last decade has witnessed an explosive growth of the magabook ministry in the NAD. One could generalize that workers under Larry Carter, other workers under Oakwood College, and workers under Joe Martin, Rocky Davis, and Chris Buttery, have carried on with years of developing ideas, tactics, and methods in the work without significant collusion with each other.

Once a year or so, workers in the magabook work have gathered for a NAD Literature Committee. (real name?) While these meetings have been interesting, they have been ill attended and utterly too brief to have the kind of impact that more extensive meetings might have.

As a result of the comparatively frequent leadership meetings between leaders under Larry Carter, and similar meetings under Rocky Davis, the student leaders under these two men have gained an enviable advantage over less-connected persons.

Sharing fellowship and ideas with other gifted workers in one’s own field constitutes the primary source of this advantage. They continually discuss team-management. Workers of long standing fine-tune the canvass annually. Legal issues and organizational perfection receive recurring attention.

This interaction has built an effective framework of programs that have out-distanced the sales of most independent and sporadic canvassing enterprises. It must be commended. The unions and canvassing organizations that have sponsored these meetings deserve a share of our gratitude for the benefits the meetings have brought to our work.

To this truth I would add the words of Solomon.

“So I said ‘Wisdom is better than strength; But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.’” Ecclesiastes 9:16.

These words are fraught with meaning for budding leaders today. They want the strength that comes from united action and the wisdom that many minds may bring to a task.

Solomon uses a parable to illustrate a mistake in common administration. The wisdom of an out-class is despised. In Solomon’s parable a local city government faces a great enemy. The educated and honored among men are in desperate straits. The poor are in no better shape. But the king’s counsel does not include representation from the wisdom of poor men.

You can not greatly fault the proverbial king’s administrative choices. Those that are fit to guide the city are those that have demonstrated their fitness by well guiding their own businesses and fortunes.

But the king’s choices can be faulted a little. Not all wise management produces wealth. Goals of a different nature bring results equally dissimilar. A poor man in the city may have virtuous children, loyal friends, time for his wife and still more for personal piety. He may be happy quite despite his deficiency is pomposity.

And more than that, he may have more original thought.

In other words, men in meetings of their peers often have better tactical plans than strategic plans. When we know our goals, we devise tactics, or means, to attain them. In an illustration from war, tactical plans would be laid to secure a significant bridge. The planners ask the question, “How shall we do it?” Tactical reasoning is so important. Downplaying it would be ill judged.

But it remains to the strategists to decide which bridges to secure, or whether to secure any, or whether it is best to retreat and let the enemy repair the bridge for their own use before surprising them and taking it.  They ask the question, “What should we do?”

All the kings horses and all the kings men might have such a hard time deciding what to do about Humtpy Dumpty that they fail to address other urgent questions. This is the predicament of committees with strong king-like personalities participating. The strong may bring their strategy to the board with such power that questions like “What should we do?” receive scant hearing.

The history behind the meeting of professionals often determines the agenda even when a kingly leader does not. This leaves the creativity of the attendees to wrap around the problems that are brought to their attention. They work to answer the “How?” questions that are asked of them.

And answering those questions is good. Tactical work is needed.

But in the parable of Solomon, it was the poor man’s wisdom that saved the small city from a great king. Men not under the influence of pre-made agendas, but doing their work well, think “outside of the box.” They may address problems unthought of by a committee. Unrestrained by bureaucracy, they may experiment with methods and tools that just don’t fit with the already-developed system of others.

If their goals differ in some significant way from those heading the kingdom, it is not shocking that “the poor man’s wisdom is despised.” And more than that, when the poor man delivers the city we may be surprised at how little credit he receives. Men honor those they see. Poor men are invisible. Even when their wisdom moves a head of state, it is the head of state that receives the honor.

So says Solomon. For after the poor wise man delivered the city, “nobody remembered that poor wise man.” v. 15.

The introduction to this book on canvassing is also its first chapter. Leaders need to know sources of wisdom. “The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.” v. 17. This holds true, I would suggest, even if the ruler oversees men that are not fools.

I write this book with these thoughts in mind. I have worked with Larry and Rocky and Chris and with leaders that have contributed to the Oakwood programs. I have spent some time with Joe and more with leaders that have worked under him.

But for the most part, since 1993, I have run programs that operated outside of the systems headed by these men. This is no virtue. Nor is it vice. Remarkable success has attended these programs.

In the last twelve months I have run five canvassing programs. Three of these have averaged over $190 / person / day. The lowest of these averaged $149 / person / day. That program had only one student that had canvassed for a previous summer. Yesterday a team of sixteen students here in Arkansas sold just over $4,000 worth of magabooks. Discounting the first full day, the overall average is already over $200 for the program.

More than sales successes, our programs have produced top-notch leadership. We never need to import leaders that have not been through our system. And many of those serving in leadership positions, even in systems that have a long-standing program of leadership development, have risen to their current responsibilities through our ranks. I still receive calls every year from nearly every union in the NAD from responsible persons seeking quality leadership.

I lay the honor for this consistent pattern at the foot of God’s counsels. They have provided light where otherwise there would have been but darkness.

The weakness of operating out of the loop is that you miss much of the tactical wisdom that effective committees have developed. Your deficiencies may not be counter-balanced by the strengths of another. Your personal defects may mar the work under your hands in ways that they would not have, had you been accountable to some higher entity in your own field.

These weaknesses are weaknesses of omission and of character. I am grateful that they are not the type of weaknesses that will naturally play into the scope of this book. May all that is to come be wisdom. May it be heeded above the shouting of mistaken past experience.

— Eugene Prewitt October 27, 2003


Jump to Contents

Team Management 


Is your vehicle stocked? Do you know places you can go without stepping on other’s territory? Is there enough gas in the car to get you to your territory? Do you know where the key to your vehicle is? Do you know who is on your team? Do you have radios? Receipts? Water? Plastic bags? Your map? Are you sure?

There are few problems so serious as to warrant turning around and coming back to take care of them. But forty seconds of organized thought twenty minutes before you head out to work can save hours of wishing. Having a little card near the steering column with a readable check-off list is just what some leaders need.

Making Teams

The person making teams wields more power to do ill than to do well. Well-made teams do not bring success. But ill-made teams do certainly bring the opposite. This is so true that one could nearly let a computer generate random teams and have a better impact on the team than would his companion that makes the following common mistakes:

  1. The Duplicate-the-Successful-Day Mistake
  2. The Friends-Make-Joy-and-High-Sales Mistake
  3. The High-Sellers-Should-Work-With-Me-Cause-They-Do-Better-That-Way Mistake

The first of these solemn goofs plants the foundation of your day on wet sand. Making a team this way virtually says “The reason we did so well yesterday was because of our great team and territory.” Unbelief. Your sermons on faith can not compete with your illustrations in the science of team-making. Better, far better, to mix things up as much as possible after a high day and then give God the glory for the blessings of yesterday and those yet coming today.

The friends-should-work together mistake often grows into a veritable disaster in the team-making work: Requests. When students learn that you favor putting people together that want to be together, they will start asking to work with a particular team or a particular student. My strong advice: Do Not Surrender.

Perhaps on the eighth week you might have one day (this works good for crazy mornings) when, instead of making teams, you let everyone jump in the vehicle of their choice, with instructions to the drivers to take off when they have their quota of students.

But to put friends together often generally deflates a team. Talking much they tend to pray less. If young, they tend to accidentally wander from their street when their friend is working in an adjacent avenue. They tend to give each other sympathy rather than courage. You may find friends that have an opposite effect, a wholesome one. Nevertheless, this is the average pattern.

If you give in to requests for team placement you complicate an already complex problem. What will you do when a clingy friend requests to work with the buddy that is trying to get away from him? And how will you justify your no’s in the face of your yes’s?

More significantly, requests are a student-led version of the Duplicate-the-Successful-Day mistake. Do not let their inexperienced minds make it. Just say “No.”

Insecure leaders pack their teams with high sellers. Their inward thought is, if I can pretend to read it, if I have a low-producing team I will lose the respect of the students. Dear Insecure One, the students are not thinking about your team’s total. They are insecure, like you. They are thinking about how you must think they are not the best sellers. Or, they are uncomfortable with being singled out as a high-producer.

And you truly will lose the respect of your team if they feel that you, the man that will not give them what they want in territory and team making, take what you want in both. The best leaders, when making teams, give them selves a healthy dose of the lowest sellers and work to bring them higher. No day is so successful as that in which low sellers manage to reach average sales.

Another suggestion for team making: Have someone else do it. As a head leader you do not want to be responsible for giving yourself a team. No matter how careful you are, you will be suspected of tipping the scales in your own favor, unless you just refuse to take high sellers in your van. It is better for the students to see you take the recently made list from another leader and read out loud at the same moment you first see them the names under your own.

The same person should make the teams regularly and keep a record of past teams. Otherwise thinking patterns produce team patterns unconsciously and students find themselves working four out of five times with the same leader.

If you are the head-leader, do request to have persons put on your team that you need to address regarding some issue or another. These should generally be problem students rather than high-sellers.

If you are making the teams, pray, pray, pray, then make them quickly. Some hints to get you started: Take yesterday’s record of teams. Go through Ron’s team and give his students from yesterday back and forth to the two other teams. Then do the same for Bill’s team. Then for Gricel’s. This is painless, fast, and makes for great mixing day after day. Starting sometimes at the bottom and sometimes at the top of the list and occasionally leaving one person in each team that was there the day before, helps to keep students working with a variety of other students.

You don’t need to read the rest of this section

I mean, the relation of technique to high sales has been seriously over-rated. The truth is that quality driving skills, map-reading ability, effective program training, cultivated leadership personality, and spirituality among the team have much more to do with high sales than the details that follow.

On the other hand, when the advice in this whole section is followed well, the efficiency and power that it may add to your team would be noticeable.

But, again, if you had to choose between the basic leading gifts just listed and the score of those that are to follow, one would be better off with the former.

Leaving the building

Today is Wednesday, October 29, 2003. This is the second week of our magabook program. This morning, while the leaders were having a leadership conference, I called in the students and went over some facts. On Sunday we averaged 9 books per person before lunch. Yesterday we averaged 8. However, when you compare the end-of-the-day totals, Sunday was much better. After lunch on Sunday they sold another 8 books per person. Yesterday they sold two per person after lunch.

After relating these facts I invited the students to recall and contrast the lunch breaks on those two days. See the section on Lunch below. The big difference was energy. On Sunday they were excited and raring to go. Yesterday they slowed down, took 80 minutes for lunch, and had a good friendly get together.

As a team leader, leaving the base is one of the most important things you do in your management. High output leaders have a reputation for trying to be the first vehicle out of the parking lot. They seem to know instinctively that those three or four minutes of extra time in the field have a greater impact than any other four-minute interval during the day.

You can not afford to be running around looking for maps, radios, receipts, and lost students when it is time to exit the premises.  Inexperienced leaders, ironically, are hyper and calm at just the wrong times. They panic when things go wrong and drag when preparing to leave for their territory. This, at least, proves that they are capable of being hyper and calm in various circumstances. Now the key: reverse it. Rush to work and calmly face obstacles that arise later in the day. This is not to say that enthusiasm can safely wane when the blinker kicks off after turning onto the highway.

The trip to work

Leaders over the years have developed quite a system of on-the-way-to-work activities. The goal of nearly all of these is to keep the students spiritually motivated and focused. These ideas have included:

Reading paragraphs from Colporteur Ministry or books that are being sold

Praying Round the minivan

Singing songs, especially those with lyrics adjusted for canvassers.

Having a quiet time for all students to pray silently.

Choosing prayer partners and having the partners share specific requests

Asking students to check over their bags to make sure they have all they need

Asking students to check their bags to make sure their books are in good shape

Handing out radios


Each and every one of these is a great idea. The quiet time is perhaps one of the most essential and most often neglected.

All of the activities are preventive measures. Thoughtless and irreverent approaches to the holy work of canvassing are not inviting to holy angels. Bear in mind that the less mature the team the more essential that the leader take control of the atmosphere.

Ellen White gives a helpful corrective to attitudal ossification. She write that the youth must not be expected to be as sober as the sire. Their enthusiasm should not be interpreted as rebellion or spurned as distracting from holiness. The wise leader will find channels for the buoyancy of youth. Let them chant a slogan or sing a song. Let them laugh and be happy. Commend them for their enthusiasm and invite them to share prayer requests.

This will bring a calming without the need for a command. If someone continues to distract a neighbor during prayer time, consider waiting until you drop everyone else off to talk to him or her. Public exposure creates a wound that mortifies.

I write “consider” because it may be necessary to take the initiative and invite cooperation with an air of authority. But wrath need not be part of the process.

The Devil would like to enter the vehicle. A favorite tactic of his is to bring up movies or television programs as a subject of discussion. Students need to know what is expected of them. It is not fair to come down on someone for breaking an unknown rule. If you hear students speaking of movies or television, address them kindly with a plea to not talk about those things. Explain that we want to keep the mind clear of such distractions as a way of showing honor to the Spirit that we want to help us.

Correction or confrontation of any kind is a poor way to conclude the trip to work. An oppressive atmosphere is death to success. Are you arriving at your destination with a cloud in the air? Do something about it. Think positive. Remind your riders of past and current blessings, of prayers answered. Have a praise session before letting students out. Give them a chance to know that you are not mad at them and that it is OK to be happy.

Where to Go?

There is not as much science to this topic as leaders would like to think that there is. The Bible is plain that we are to “sow beside all waters.” Why? “Because we know not what will prosper.” Ellen White’s counsel is to tackle the work in a systematic way.  Do everything that can be safely done.

Are you in an area that has been worked before? Consider doing more of the country roads around the town than a previous leader might have thought to do. Consider driving further on cold or rainy days and trading a few minutes of rainy work for a few less minutes in a new area.

If you will not be in an area long enough to do it thoroughly, God’s counsel to us is to approach the affluent classes first. We meet them in the businesses and in the nicer subdivisions. Generally, business districts are located near middle-class housing. This is ideal for afternoon. But we will get to team management later.

How to drop

Quickly. With a little practice you can often drop off even an eight-man team in two or three minutes. Energy and celerity at the very beginning of the day dramatically increase the chance of your students working hard to persuade their customers.

A gentle, get-out-as-fast-or-slow-as-you-are-inclined drop off robs the students of a feeling that the day is going well. Even their feeling of security takes a hit. We all feel more secure under a leader that is taking charge and making things happen.

Practically, if you have driven into a sub-division, stop at an intersection and let out four people out…two to work forward combing and two to work backwards combing with an understanding of where they ought to cross over and work back. If you drive forward now a few blocks, you can let out two or four more with similar directions. Viola!

The very same directions work wonders in businesses.

Business days

There were days when magabookers didn’t canvass businesses. Can you believe that the idea of canvassing businesses was opposed when it was introduced? See the section on Magabook history.

Business canvassing fills a gap in the strategic efforts of canvassers to reach every person. Our students need to be able to walk from one customer to another. This is frankly not feasible in the beautiful country areas where many business owners, workers, and customers call home. We find them at work or shopping when we canvass industrial parks, strip malls, and downtown mercantiles.

During the early afternoon, when these operations are ripe for student visitation, many of the urban areas we would canvass are emptied of their homeowners. The hand-in-glove fit of canvassing businesses in the afternoon has prospered wherever it has been consistently used.

See the training section on Businesses for help in making your team a pro-business group.

Some activities are much more difficult in businesses than elsewhere. One of these is finding students. Ironically, students in businesses sell more books and need to be found more often. A leader with half his students in businesses and half in homes may find himself spending most of his time with the former half.

Some hints that can simplify the finding of students in businesses:

  1. Give bite-size territories with only 20 to 30 businesses between students
  2. Ask students to canvass a customer outside between each business, if at all possible. This increases their visibility by more than 800%. A student may only be outside for three minutes in an hour of doing businesses. But when canvassing customers, he is outside for about half of the time.
  3. Learn to ask in businesses strategically for help in finding him/her.
  1. Start asking in a business that you suppose they have already been to. This helps you save time (they can tell you how long ago he came by) and decreases the chance of you ruining his sale (places you ask are less likely to buy when they see him.)
  2. Narrow down the field by running (on foot) past many other businesses and asking another further down. This does not take nearly as long as driving in circles hoping that Mr. Magabooker will pop out of a door while you are driving by.
  3. Do not look for long. If you can not find him soon, take care of your other students. If he empties his bag, he will be happy. Students needing books are not really an emergency.
  4. Train your students well in radio rules. In this case, the once-you-call-don’t-turn-your-radio-off-until-you-are-found rule helps wonderfully.

The layout of a Business day looks more like a ruler than like a pancake. Businesses tend to follow main thoroughfares and their parallel streets within a block or two of the main thoroughfare. Exceptions would include industrial parks and medical parks. A general rule of thumb is to keep your door-knocking students working in the vicinity of the businesses you expect to be doing just before lunch.

With a large team it is wise to arrange for some business-working students to meet together with instructions to walk to lunch when they do. This simplifies the lunch-pick-up problem. See the section on picking up.

The businesses leading into a town, though scattered and looking a bit worn, are some of the very best you will find. Industrial parks produce better than most. These and a few other choice business types should be reserved for students with the wherewithal to recognize the opportunities. Other choice businesses include courthouses, fire stations, and new and used car lots. See the training section on businesses.

Businesses are ideal sources of comfort on cold, hot, or rainy days. ‘Tis always nice inside.

Rainy days

Imagine your team’s enthusiasm as a large block of ice and imagine your enthusiasm as a super freezer. Rain begins to fall on your team’s block of ice. You, dear leader, must have so much courage and buoyancy that you freeze the rain to the block before the rain melts the block to the ground.

If you have had some years of experience you will have your own wonderful-day-in-the-rain stories to share. Many of our highest days have been blessed with precipitation. The first obstacle to be overcome is the leader’s personal fear that rain will ruin the day.

Rainy days may be divided up into Thunderstorm days and drizzle days. During my last Tennessee program a thunderstorm tackled the town we were working with such ferocity that numerous trees fell in the road and on parked cars and into homes…and that in the neighborhood we were working in! My message on the radio was “take shelter.”

When rain is coming down in torrents, you can be sure it will not be coming down for long. Encourage the students to find a porch and wait until the rain has slowed before advancing. Sprinting between even two homes during the hardest rain will ruin a set of books and melt a good chunk of the block of enthusiasm.

Many sales have materialized out of rain clouds while canvassers were stranded on the porches of those that had no interest.

Drizzle days are more challenging. Thunder adds energy. Drizzle saps it. Apartments and businesses help students forget the drizzle. Drizzle helps student forget that they are stressed by apartments and businesses. Town houses are great if nothing with porches is available. Someone will give your students an umbrella.

But you should have umbrellas in the vehicle. They can be purchased at dollar stores and many other places for just a few dollars. Ponchos do not work well. Your job as a leader is to keep reminding students to be careful to keep their books dry and to keep them pumped and happy. If the rain is combined with cold, you must guard their health as well.

Police days

Perhaps some time in the near future our woes with police hassle will rise again. But for the moment they have become much less frequent in those parts of the country that are up-to-date in their jurisprudence. Since June 2002, our liberties as door-to-door evangelists have been broadened considerably by a ruling made in favor of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Four relevant rulings, three from the Supreme Court, have been made that offer the protection our canvassers require. Familiarize yourself with them. Keep a copy of a well-written legal-sounding letter mentioning these rulings. If you are the head leader, make sure each car has a copy of this material and registration letters. See the appendix for letters that you may feel free to copy and use as needed.

Legal Rulings

Espenosa v. Rusk, 10-21-1980, U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

Issue: Albuquerque solicitation ordinance. The court upheld the lower courts decision that the ordinance could not be applied to Adventist door-to-door fund-raising evangelistic work.

Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 1940, Supreme Court

Murdoch v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, 1943, Supreme Court

Issue: Whether ordinances against door-to-door solicitation can be legally used to prohibit Adventists from doing literature evangelism. The court held that they can not. Justice Douglas added “the mere fact that the religious literature is ‘sold’ by itinerant preachers rather than ‘donated’ does not transform evangelism into a commercial enterprise.” Murdoch, supra, 319 U.S. at 111.

Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc., etal. v. Village of Stratton, etal., No. 001737; argued 2-26-02; decided 6-17-02

Issue: Whether the village of Stratton’s ordinance, requiring registration and permission from anyone going door-to-door, violated the free-speech rights of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The court overturned the ruling of the Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit. The Supreme Court ruled that the ordinance did, indeed, violate constitutional freedoms. The ruling was worded broadly and was based partially on the cases of Cantwell and Murdoch, above. “Held: The ordinance provisions making it a misdemeanor to engage in door-to-door advocacy without first registering with the mayor and receiving a permit violate the First Amendment as it applies to religious proselytizing, anonymous political speech, and the distribution of handbills.” Pp. 913.

Sick and incapacitated days

I write elsewhere about how to handle dogs. This section is for leaders who have the apparent misfortune to have their students bitten, injured, or otherwise incapacitated during the canvassing day.

If your student is bitten:

  1. A. Ascertain the address of the home. If you can not confirm that the dog has had its shots, the dog may have to be killed and/or your student may have to have rabies shots. My life has been saved by those shots. I was bitten by a rabid bat when I was an infant. If you can safely do so, approach the owner of the dog to ask for evidence that the dog has had its shots. If you can not contact the owner and if the skin has been broken, do not take chances.
  2. B. Report to the parents the situation and give them what information is available. Students over the age of 18 should be responsible to contact their own parents. Remind them to do so.

If your student falls and breaks a bone, scrapes himself badly, or twists his ankle, be prepared to give first-aid attention. This section can not be a book, so consult a book. Sprains and scrapes do not usually require professional medical care. Puncture wounds (i.e., stepping on a nail) and broken bones do. Keep copies of your student’s medical-release forms in each of the vehicles. If you must take a student to the emergency room, alert some student in the group to field radio calls and keep students happily working in your absence.

Your student may not wish to visit the hospital. After a puncture wound, if the student does not have up-to-date Tetanus shots, unless the parents demand otherwise, he/she should have a Tetanus shot. If your student has significant pain in the lower abdomen and you are not able to rule out appendicitis, a trip to the doc is in order, and time can not be wasted. Gas pains and appendicitis, while differing greatly to the perceptions of medical professionals, are too similar to risk diagnosis by a magabook leader.

If you have practiced well the principles in this book about team management, you will be able to take the time necessary to treat a student without significantly setting back the success of the team. Students that have been instructed as to what to do if you are not back in time to pick them up can keep working.

Get a student on your side. Give them a map and instructions on where the students are. Give them the task of keeping students working together, close, and in a way that will make it easy for you to find them if you are not able to return for a few hours. If an emergency is too big for you and you can not take care of the minor student’s safety and get the injured student medical care at the same time, call an ambulance. Give the driver the parent’s contact information. Call the parents to let them know what is happening, and take care of your team.

Cold days

Do you love your students? They will answer that question largely on the basis of how you demonstrate care. If you freeze them and act like it is nothing, they will loose all desire to please you. If you take the cold days off for vacation as if that is what any smart person would do, it is not at all evident that you are doing anything special for them.

Better…motivate them to love the customers enough to work in the cold. Teach them how to dress. Warn them to wear thick socks, but not tight socks. Remind them to drink a lot of water (for this helps the body regulate temperature). Require them to take a hot-foot bath when they return home (for this will cut the chance of them getting a cold by half). Do not let on that you might quit early.

Then, if it is really very cold, do.

Pleasant surprises warm hearts. Also, if the day warms up, or sales are exceptional, or everyone is getting inside, or you find heated inside apartments, you can work the regular day without disappointing anyone.

Let students warm up in the car. Blow hot air all over them. Let them ride around with you for ten minutes or so and have them pray for specific other students. Do this for your young ladies especially. You will know which ones need it the most. Those with no extra cellulose and that are away from home for the first time will have low toleration for painfully cold fingers and toes.

Is it snowy or slushy? Buy (while the students are working) some nice warm large dry socks. Then, when everyone gets in the car and it is time to go home, have them all take off their wet cold socks and replace them with your dry warm ones. They will love you…and they won’t get sick.

VADD (Vehicular Attention-Deficit Disorder, breakdownimus-badtimeus) days

We, here at Ouachita Hills College, are updating our fleet of canvassing vehicles. Recently two nice minivans were donated for our use and we are praising God. The four that we started with last summer…have all ceased to exist as motor vehicles.

Leaders feeling weary and longing for the end of the program often find a strange part of themselves relieved when their vehicle breaks down during the canvassing day. It is the perfect excuse for a low day.

No, it is not.

The most important thing to say about VADD is that the AD in the middle may be criminal. Vehicles must not be left without proper attention. Certain things that can go wrong are dangerous. Leaders should know that their breaking system is in good repair. Tires should be well-treaded and their lug nuts tight. Under-carriage rust threatens tire supports.

While not one student has died in any of my programs of the last fifteen years…from any cause…that is no reason to relax vigilance on these points.

But this section is not about vehicular maintenance. It is about having a successful day with a less than optimal vehicle.

There are some sounds that the driver should learn to recognize.  The soft sound of valves that are low on oil, or the sound of tires that have a bulge, or that are loosely connected to the vehicle; these should be recognized by the leader. Young drivers who do not recognize these tell-tale signs may waste thousands of dollars by driving a few miles with an overheated engine or a few hundred yards with a tire that is about to fall off.

You may notice a recurring theme in this section of the book. So much of leading has to do with the psychology of the driver. I remember many times breaking down on the way to work. Typically my first reaction is to find a place for the students to canvass. I may send some walking up the road and some walking the other direction. I may send some walking cross country towards a village or department complex in the distance. My job one is to get them before doors.

When you’re leading a team without a working car, be sure to give directions that will allow the students to keep working and to keep finding places to work until you’re able to find them. Also give them directions about a place to meet you for lunch or for pickup in the event that you do not find them before that time.

Treat the emergency as if were fun.

If a student has AAA, they may help you get the vehicle towed to a shop. But before towing, there are some simple things that you should check. Is your car too hot? Will the engine turnover when you try to start it? Do you have gas? Do you have oil?

Again, this is not a section on vehicle maintenance. But spending hours fixing a vehicle that could be fixed in five minutes is poor use of your leadership day. You can take about one hour to find a way to get around before your students will be hurting. Rent a replacement if you must. Or call a  church member.  Borrow a car. Do not abandon the broken automobile unless you are willing to pay extravagant fines.

Do not forget to transfer books to the new vehicle before the old one is towed away.

Low starting days

My grandfather use to take a nickel, put it in his ear, shake a bit, and the nickel would come out of his sleeve. Amazing. Slight of hand has fascinated audiences for millennia. The Devil often works to make things appear what they are not in the hopes of causing some ill.

In magabook teams the less-than-lion-hearted leader often over-rates the significance of a slow start. Unfortunately, the way that a leader feels about the day lifts or deflates the enthusiasm and faith of the team. When a leader feels that the day has started low, little more is necessary to make it end low.

With a good conscience I can say that I do not have low days when I am leading. For the past several years I estimate that the over-all average in my team has hovered around $190/person/day. Only once in memorable history have I brought back a team that averaged less than $100/person.

I do not stack my teams with the highest sellers. On the contrary, I typically arrange to take a larger than average portion of the lower-selling students. 

Regularly, one to three times each week, I have a slow appearing start. What do I do about it? I don’t pay any attention to it. I recognize that it is an illusion. There are several things that make high days hard to spot early. One is that sales of sets take time. When a team is working and has just been dropped off, it will take about 30 minutes before you can expect that your high students will have closed their first sale, even if it only took them ten minutes to find it.

When they close that sale they may not contact you right away. If it takes them twenty minutes to find it and the sale is a large set, it may be an 45 minutes before they close it. But closing on a set every 45 minutes would cause a student to have 40 books for the day! In other words, if students begin needing bread at the end of the first hour, it is not too late to have a $200 average for the day.

But for the weak-spirited leader, it is altogether too late. He feels that he just doesn’t know what he is doing wrong. He thinks of moving territory. The things he tries tend to disrupt the students that are just getting back into the flow of canvassing for the day. They can feel a desperation behind the fact that they are being moved, or that he asked that they “pray hard, the Devil is really working!”

Ominous news of this nature takes away their boldness. They begin wishing things were different. All this undermines faith and puts Spirit-convicted sales just out of reach. Watching an almost-sale fall through further dampens their energy. By lunch…the team is having a bad day.

But what if I have been doing everything I know to do and have been content with the sales even though they appeared low, only to get to lunch and find that they really were low?  Yes, this has happened to me. Many times it is the way that a wonderful day begins. Every difficulty is a call to prayer. Lunch is a natural time to start working elsewhere and an ideal time to appear calm and hopeful. Expect much and make the break as energy filled and succinct as you reasonably can.

There are practical hints that help jump-start a lagging day. First, over-share good news. When something wonderful happens to one team member, make sure every team member hears about it. This is your excuse for checking on them and praying with them even though they have not asked for bread or pick-up.

You can still say “Angie just sold a seven book set” even 35 minutes after the fact if you are seeing one of your students for the first time since it happened. Thirty-five minutes goes faster when you are working door-to-door than when you are driving.

If you ask a student who has not sold anything “How is your day going?” you tempt him to complain. If he resists the temptation, you tempt him to feel ill that he has disappointed you. It should not take you long to start reading faces and to know before asking whether someone has likely sold a book.

If I can see that Conrad has a no-book look, I am not going to ask him how it is going. I might just jump out and work a couple doors with him while telling him the great news that “just happened” to Rebecca, then I will (if I don’t have time to work with him longer) leave again without asking.

Adding a feeling of amazement and wonder that Rebecca would do so well so quickly, and leaving with some speed, both of these tactics allow Conrad to keep his courage in the face of a not-yet-made sale. If I am surprised by Rebecca’s blessing, he subconsciously reasons, then I can not be so disappointed in the fact that he and others have not sold yet.

If you have not yet given the worship on comparing yourself to others, then you will have to recognize that some students will rather feel discouraged by the success of others than motivated by it. Don’t let that keep you from sharing. Let them know that others will be praying for them and move forward. You must develop an atmosphere during the program that welcomes happy reports. You need not indulge a student’s selfish desire to be doing at least as honorably well as the next person.

On the other hand, your feelings of disappointment that they haven’t sold anything must not find a lodging place on your brow.

Some days start slow because of mistakes made in the work of leading. Studying the rest of this section will lessen the severity and frequency of lower-starting days.

Out of Territory days

During the summer of 1999 I was leading one day in the famous 15-passenger Grandfather. As per usual, I was in a hurry to get away from the base. I had three programs that summer and this was my first day back in the New Jersey program after a two-week absence. When I was about ten minutes into the trip I realized that the head-leader and I had not gotten together on giving me a territory.

Where could I go? I did not know what was done and what was not. I made a guess that if I drove about one hour to a small town that there would be a good chance that it would be undone. I picked one and asked my students if the name of it sounded familiar to them. They said nay.

Arriving at the little town I found that it was an entire bed-room community of no-soliciting condominiums. So we began working. By the end of the evening we had sold over $2,000 worth of books and had half of the condominium development left to do. None of it was on the map. The next day it was raining and I thought it would be an ideal time to finish the area. So I returned, dropped my students, and within five minutes I discovered….that I had deceived myself.

The condominiums were set in such a way that I had not perceived the huge circle they were in. Instead of being half done, they were almost completely done from the day before! More than that, there was nothing else in the neighborhood to do. Adjacent cities were already done. There was a long day ahead of me…and no houses to do.

So I understand how you feel. What happened? I decided to redo the condominiums that we had done the day before. Remember, it was raining. What was the result of doing the area twice in two days? On the way home we added up our sales…and the ten students had again sold over $2,000 worth of books.

So one practical point where you are out of territory…if there is nothing else to do, redo something. Do not throw up your hands and quit.

But there are other things that can help. Here are places to scrape up a little more territory to finish the day.

  1. Look just outside the city limits for new small developments hidden off the road.
  2. Redo the restaurant/hotel strip in the evening if you did it before 3:00. Many will have different workers there.
  3. Put a brave worker in a large parking lot to canvass customers.
  4. Move two or three students to a village that is five to ten miles away after giving plenty of territory to the other students. If need be, move a few more. Leave them with a box of books to stock themselves with while you are away.
  5. Prevent the problem by working country-type areas during the daytime to save urban areas for the evening when they are home and will take much longer to do.
  6. Have a planned place to go before you start if you either run out of homes, or are required to leave by law-enforcement authorities. See section on police days.


Zoning laws in most cities require that apartment complexes be located in their own neighborhoods. Thousands of men and women live in these apartment zones. These zones are typically located within walking distance of shopping centers.

Apartments often bring together the international community. Many Latino societies prefer the dense urban environment of mass housing. Immigrants from communist countries, where most city-dwellers have a “flat”, also congregate in the almost familiar apartment neighborhoods. Indians and Orientals, both heavily societal, often fill entire complexes with their familiar relations.

And with the exception of condominiums, most apartment housing ranges from middle class to government housing projects for the poor.

You could learn all these things by working for a few years in a few cities, but perhaps reading it will help you learn how to use these facts to your advantage. When you spot an apartment complex, you can tell quite a bit about it just driving by it. Latino and Indian families love to be outdoors. The Latinos gather around the steps and talk, the Indians go for a stroll in small groups.

To a lesser extent, blacks also tend to be outside—the older people during the day and the younger ones in the evening time. Old white people are rarely out after dusk, but can be perceived by the abundance of reserved handicapped parking places that crowd the parking lots of retirement communities. Since Latinos and Orientals and Indians take care of their elderly at home, and since elderly blacks tend to stay in their home neighborhoods, retirement communities in the United States are mostly tenanted by whites.

So when you drive near a complex, look in the drive way. What races of people do you see? What kind of cars? Many old vans are evidence of a Latino community. Strewn garbage is evidence of a government housing project that has been abandoned to vice.

If you have Spanish titles with you, Spanish apartments are a great place to work in the early afternoon and near the beginning of the month. I write this hesitantly. If your students have a mind-block about not being able to sell to Spanish people, the plan will backfire. Counter-intuitively, persons that do not speak Spanish often do as well or better in Spanish neighborhoods as those that do.

But lower-class housing should not be a staple element of your canvassing plan except in those large cities where even the lower-class neighborhoods are flowing with money.

I use middle and lower-class apartments as tools for rain, cold, low-producers, and territory burners. In the last case, the person that smokes three streets in thirty minutes can be contained in a large apartment complex. DO NOT FORGET to make arrangements for the student to meet you somewhere and at sometime if you are not able to find him.

While others are doing businesses, apartments are great for those that you would rather not place in the businesses. Aim for those buildings that have lots of cars. Managers tend to fill buildings. Give apartment workers clear directions. What should they do if they are required to leave, or if they get done? (Suggest another complex within sight). Ask them to do only even or odd numbered doors or buildings. This allows you to place two people in the same complex without danger of them knocking on the same doors.

In large upper-middle-class apartments I have often left a box with an assortment of books under a bush for students to stock themselves with in my absence. Finding students in apartments is difficult and having a self-stocking box takes pressure off you when you are not able to find them.

One great idea, when doable, is to instruct students to do an apartment complex and then to do a street of regular housing. This allows you to search the houses, rather than apartments, when you fear they might be almost done.

Timid and easily deflated students are often afraid of managers, and consequently, of apartments. Do not torture them if you can avoid it. They will give a bad report of apartments and sour the enthusiasm that students should have about meeting so many people in such close proximity. If you hope to warm them to the apartment idea, give them a very small section with instructions to do adjacent homes afterwards. When they have a sale in the apartments, be happy for them and ask them to do a few more.

Remember that students are often expelled from even very large complexes in their first building. Do not drop students off without what-to-do-if instructions and leave them thinking the many doors will keep them for a long time.

The back doors to apartment complexes are often unlocked when the front doors require pushing buttons to get inside. Pushing several buttons at once often results in someone letting you in without you talking to anyone. Waiting outside for someone that is entering the building often saves you the trouble of pushing anything. Just walk in with them. In gated apartments with normal slow unguarded barriers, two cars can drive through when the barrier opened for one. But that is somewhat risky. Good news…when you want to get out, just drive up to the exit barrier and it will rise.

Such work makes canvassing feel like a spy business. This is fun for some young people and troubling to others. Involve the first class and place the latter class elsewhere. Students with fun written all over their faces receive a much different reaction at doors than those with guilt written there.

Condominiums are wonderful evening territory when new housing and well-lighted housing is not available. In winter months when the sun sets at supper, condos are always well lighted. They tend to be uninhabited until after 6:30. Place one or two students that love such housing there and let them have a wonderful time. Apartments after 6:30 take much longer than apartments earlier in the day.

Of course, start apartments from some place far from an entrance. That decreases the likelihood of meeting a manager sooner than later.

See the section on training for information on how to sell to the various racial and religious groups you will meet in the apartments.


The best times to scout:

On the way to work

On the way to lunch

On the way home

While home by looking at a map

With peripheral vision while leading

In the very few minutes after dropping everyone off to work

The worst times to scout:

When students are running out of territory and you need to find a place to put them

When you have a few extra minutes and would rather not work with students

Scouting is much overrated. When the twelve spies went scouting, it was a regular disaster. The territory was not what they hoped—too many intimidating factors. When you scout to make a strategy, you may be doing well. When you scout to see if you can find a “good” area, you virtually declare most area to be “not good.” This is unbelief and it produces little good.

I do very little scouting. I have often run ten man teams in unfamiliar territory without maps. We always have success. Scouting leaders are tempted to make large moves to get to territory that pleases them. But such system wreaks havoc to map organization. Rather than matching a team to territory, match team-members to niches in the territory you are near.

In other words, do the next street up the road. But use wisdom when choosing which student to place there. Be systematic and complete a section of your map. The very street you are most inclined to skip is likely the one with the greatest blessing. It is an enemy that is whispering to you that it is unworthy of your attention.

This all needs balancing. Yes, it is better to find an use high-income new-housing communities in the evening. Yes, you may have to drive a ways to get there. During lunch I often pull out the map and prayerfully chose where to go for the evening. Lunch is a natural time to make a significant move.

During those times when you are scouting early in the day, do not feel that you must drive up and down the streets to spot cars and kids. Drive on major roads and gather information about what kind of housing lies next to those roads. Even from a quick glance up the road you can perceive areas where person are home in the early day. When you move there you can work on the specifics of finding the best streets.

Softening pick-up Emergencies with Contingency Assignments

I have written something on this under the title “Apartments.” The leader that masters this simple technique will have lower blood pressure and younger-looking skin on his/her forehead.

Here is the whole thought: When you drop off the student, tell him to:

  1. A) Call you when he has a few homes left to do
  2. B) To wait only a couple moments for you when he is done if he has not heard you reply to him on the radio
  3. C) To never turn down his radio once he has called you and while he is waiting. In fact, he should check to make sure his volume is up when he calls you. (Students with their volume down may be able to call you easily but not be able to hear anything you say back)
  4. D) Most Important: Give them instruction as to where to go and what do to when they finish their assignment, if you are not there. If you want this to help you and not hurt you, be sure to tell them to go work on some street where you will be able to find them—not a major road.
  5. E) If you are putting them down for a very short street and plan to return immediately, point out a small group of homes they can be doing on the main road or nearby while they wait for you.

Point D, when practiced routinely, is most helpful in the event of a vehicular problem, police issues, student injuries, or other problems that unexpectedly take you out of the field. Students tend to feel uncomfortable when they are waiting and don’t hear from you. But when you give them instruction of where to go next, they feel that all is under control. That feeling keeps their personal enthusiasm from flagging.


The first day of work in a canvassing program has a number of predictable characteristics. One of them is a conversation between a leader and a new student that runs something like this:

Leader: “How did it go today?”

Student: “Oh, pretty good!”

Leader: “Wonderful! Tell me what happened?”

Student: “I sold four books! The man didn’t have any money, but he said that he would send it in and then I can send him the books. He will include extra for postage.”


Student: “I sold four books! The lady said that if I come back tomorrow she will have the check waiting for me.”


Student: “I sold four books! The family will come by the church here and pick them up sometime next week!”

Leader: “Oh.”

It is a difficult thing to break the news to new students that comebacks do not count, and that no one ever keeps their promise to come by the church and get the books, and that only one in every twenty offers to send in the money for a book is actually fulfilled.

It is especially hard to teach this to new colporteurs because it isn’t true in their case. They arrange comebacks at homes that would have purchased a book then and there had the student possessed a little more experience. These comebacks work better than average. But they still do not work as well as sales at the door.

See the section on Training for information about how to answer the “Please come back” objection. In this section we address leaders. Leader, be gentle with your excited new student. Let him be happier about his comeback sale than he would if he knew more. Acknowledge that he did well to lead the customer to desire the book. Offer to teach him later some methods that help people to get the books even when they request you to comeback.

Dampening the spirits of a new worker can do far more damage than a little information will do good.

On the other hand, do not promise to take him back. Let him know that if it is convenient, you may do it. And let him know that in the future he should be aware of some guidelines. Make these guidelines part of training. When should a leader take a student back to a comeback? When the customer (1) is the one that will pay for the book (as opposed to mom, dad, girlfriend, grandpa, etc.), when the customer (2) is sure he wants to buy (rather than, “wants time to think about it.”, when coming back (3) is convenient, and when  (4) there is a legitimate reason why the customer could not get the books when the student was there the first time. See the training section on comebacks.

Working with Students

The best leaders always do. A respected friend and colleague in God’s work, Nahor Muchiutti, has been in the habit of teaching that office workers are “blood-suckers.” One canvasser recently confided in me that, though he was the only full-time worker in his conference, the publishing director there had never spent a day working with him. Another publishing man, Dick Thomas, attempting to ascertain the reason for the success of the magabook work in the face of publishing woes elsewhere, commented that our students receive instruction and encouragement every few hours. This is in contrast with other areas of the work where that encouragement may come every few weeks or months.

Some of my students reading this will wonder why I have, for six years now, trained my students to work with their students, while spending little of my own time in the field. There are reasons, but you would have to ask me to find them. But not one of them will ever apply to the average magabook leader or administrator.

You will be tempted to think that you do not have time to work with your students. This is not true. Work with students for a few doors at a time. Join them at doors where a conversation is happening. It is in your interest to not work for long stretches at a time with a student. This is more important when the team is large and one leader is working as a ground leader. See the section below on ground-leading.

The dangers of not working with students are that the skills of students may actually degenerate over time. Elements of training that did not make it into practice during the first few days after they were taught are largely lost. Students are also easily discouraged. On the other hand, they are as easily cheered by a friendly person at their side.

So carry their bag, lift their spirits, and keep a step or two ahead of them in the race to the door. Make the work fun. Stop them to pray often.

Avoid the temptation to finish every sale. Most sales are made or lost near the end. Until you have watched a student lose a sale or two, you have little just concept of the most significant thing they are doing wrong.

When teaching the student you are working with at the door, teach few things. Teach the most important things. And teach things that can be worked on. “You are not thinking fast enough” is not a helpful correction. Neither is “The people don’t trust you.” Nor will you be much help if you say “You are doing every thing well. I don’t know why you aren’t selling.” You might feel that the latter comment is encouraging. But far from it, it rather causes despair. If even a leader can’t help me sell, my case is hopeless.

On the other hand, a reminder to look for objects in the yard and pictures on the wall can be very practical. “You need to learn your canvass for those two books.” “Let’s practice saying the canvass and smiling at the same time. ” It is usually one or two simple defects in a canvass that produce regular low sales. The hundreds of other little things done wrong are distractions.

Leaders have made a significant mistake in the last eight years. We have virtually refused to let students grow up and to become men and women that can handle difficulties. This is a danger of taking the principle of working with students to extremes. Students need to have success when they and their angel are at a door together without you. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this is even more true for low students. Give them something to try, something to work on, and give them time to work on it.

Two-leader Teams (Driver and Ground Leader)

I have always enjoyed having Shannon Parker (soon to be Shannon Eller) working as a ground leader with me. She practices what I am about to suggest.

1.  Ground leaders should not stay with a student very long.

2.  Ground leaders should work first with emotional students.

3.  Ground leaders should know how to teach canvassers.

4.  Ground leaders should feel their duty to infuse the day with enthusiasm.

Before I comment on these points, I will add a few points for the driver of a two-leader team.

  1. 1. The driver should rotate the ground-leader effectively (see 1-4 above)
  2. 2. The driver should resist the temptation to chit-chat with the ground-leader
  3. 3. The driver should take an active part in the training process, asking the ground leader what points he/she has been suggesting to each of the students
  4. 4. The driver should know how to drive safely and well, and should infuse the day with enthusiasm.

On these eight suggestions I would make a few comments. First, ground leaders should master the section prior to this one on leading in general. Then they will understand the first points better. Students worked with for too long feel out-of-control and helpless. This feeling defeats motivation.

Second, ground leaders do not need to know how to drive. But they must be professional teachers. A ground-leader that does not let students make mistakes, or that over corrects, will assure a gradual decline in student ability among the less talented students. You will actually see their sales drop.

Drivers and their ground-leaders are often friends. And the job of working together in this capacity is a bond-building one. But if the ground-leader is driving around in the vehicle, the observant students will feel abandoned. Have you ever felt abandoned? It is a sinking feeling and leads persons to seek for escape, or to feel a mild depression of spirits. Talk while you must move from place to place. Pray earnestly together. Then part again.

The last point should be considered carefully. Two-leader teams are often large. Only a minority of drivers are calm and confident enough to lead a ten-man team on a crazy day without becoming too nervous to be effective. Tension in the driver spreads to the team, and can even be a subtle influence leading to an accident.

If a ground-leader is used when there are less than eight students, leadership remuneration is affected. Persons volunteering to work with students as a “ground leader” ought to be given to understand the problem before they are asked to volunteer their time.

Dealing with Students in the Field, Students . . .

That complain

We can not hang them under the modern judicial system.

And that is good. Have you addressed the murmuring issue in your worships? If not, do so before another morning goes by . Complainers often forget the truths that would mute their woes. If the complainer lets his gripe fly in public, he made need a public reprimand. This is true especially if the student is complaining about the territory, the weather, or some unchangeable factor in the current canvassing situation.

I have had beautiful success with a precious young home-schooler who came to my program at the tender age of 16 with a tendency to be always belly-aching.  I took her aside early in the program and let her know how I appreciated her desire to learn and to please. And I suggested that I would be willing to help her complain less by reminding her when she was in danger of complaining.

You would be amazed how a few simple principles will help you win young people to reform their own lives. If you believe that they will succeed, offer to help, resist a tendency to be frustrated, quickly forgive, and often commend them for what they do well, most attention-seeking complainers will begin to disappear and be replaced with new men and women that, while appearing to have the same body, somehow have developed an entirely different mentality.

And they will love you for helping them through a character defect that others have mentioned, but regarding which none other has offered to assist.

On the other hand, your faithful troopers will occasionally let out a complaining word. Do not “make a man an offender” for a mistaken statement of unbelief. Gently ask them if they are claiming any promises and they will recognize their error without facing humiliation.

That are sick

Some persons have perfected the timing of illness. These stay home and pretend to be sick when they are little more than sick and tired of exerting themselves.

But this section is written regarding team management and those students who do not time their illness so very well. In some ways it is evidence that they are more likely really sick.

If they are female, you might want to read the appendix item on suggestions for dealing with periodic abdominal pains. Youth is a good age to learn that society is not always as kind as mom was and that working when in pain may need to become a regular part of life. The appendix is written by a lady. I will leave it at that.

Other common illnesses include back-pain, sprained ankles, head-ache and nausea. Students can work through back-pain and head-ache with a little encouragement. In the first case, have them carry just three books and a couple happiness (no bag). And check on them more frequently. In the latter case, recommend fluid intake (buy bottled water). A head-ache on a very hot day may be dangerous. Let the student cool down, give him water. Don’t put him back out until he feels better.

Generally, an ill student that can not work should recline on a seat (nauseous students excepted.) Sleeping is good for them, and being out of sight puts them out of mind and keeps their illness from exerting a general depressing influence on the team.

Talk gently, encouragingly, occasionally, and when it seems practicable, invite the weak one to try a few doors.

Have your attendant medical missionary (most groups have one person with an interest in this line) give treatments in the evening. If you notice that the ill one has been on a junk food or high-sugar diet, or has been staying up late, or otherwise abusing the body temple, suggest that a change in practice might hurry the recovery and prevent a relapse. (Skip this, of course, if it is false. Avoiding sugar will not cure chicken-pox nor decrease the chance of a relapse.)

That are discouraged 

If you could picture a discouraged person as a fragile piece of art hanging precariously from a sapling, and yourself as the weather, you might learn something of how to treat discouraged students.

Harsh is destructive.

Blame is ill borne by one so worn.

Love works better than it sounds. In John’s words, “love not in word, but in deed and in truth.” Do you care about your discouraged student? Let him know. Have his thoughts piled up until he could not see over them? Help him sort through the mess and to find hope. Do his familial relations repress his joy? Inform him that he has been inducted to a new warm family. Are his creditors nipping at his heels and depriving him of sleep? You may not be able to help with anything more than hope, but you can offer to connect him with someone that can suggest a way out.

Such hopeful words are “deeds” of love, rather than hollow expressions of affection. They bind hearts to yours in ways that open up avenues for teaching.

Warning: Is the discouraged one a young female, and thou a strong male? Then refer her to the kindness of a sister or you may find failed romantic projects being added to her list of woes. Read the paragraph again. You were not called to help her. No, you were not. No, that is not true. Don’t reason away the counsel of God’s servants through the centuries because this case seems different.

Over low sales

Keep stories at your command. Low sales are not indicative of low spirituality. Nor do they point necessarily to low evangelistic success. Happiness sales have frequently resulted in most precious results. Have you shared the worship thought regarding the loaves and the fish?  The Colporteur Ministry chapter on Help in Every Difficulty?

You must not appear disappointed in the sales of the discouraged student. Their difficulty compounds itself if they feel that they have disappointed one they appreciate. Are they comparing themselves to another? Remind them that they “do not know and can not measure the result of faithful effort.”

How can you give them hope? Work with them a while, or if you are base, have them canvass you, and suggest one change (frequently something as simple as “smile” or “speak louder”) and drill them until you can enthuse them with the thought they have improved remarkably.

Over home life

Abusive and unsupportive homes, and homes falling to pieces, and homes threatened with financial and health-related disasters (frequently the latter cause the former), all these are so common today as to hardly evince a special notice.

You can not take the burdens of your student’s families on your shoulder. In fact, she can not bear them either. You will have your work to do to lead her to face her own problems and to let her parent’s face theirs. God offers strength enough for her to bear her own burden. She may have to be about her Father’s business even when mother is frustrated at loosing control of her child.

Have her read “Let the Dead Bury the Dead” at You should read it and be familiar with its contents.

Over non-canvassing personal issues

Belittling someone’s problems may not help as much as you expect. Rather, try distraction. Promises, stories, praying with them…these make a difference. Pray with them. Yes, I typed that twice on purpose. God’s presence and Help alleviate the weight that comes with a problem, even before the problem is solved.

Over language problems

See the stories section at the end of this book for the story of Josie.  Foreign students, especially those that were gifted with communication skills in their home countries, find canvassing with poor English skills to be frustrating. Help them with their pronunciation of the canvass. Drill them on the sound of their B’s, D’s, K’s, T’s, P’s. Most language groups use softer consonants than we do. If you break through this barrier (of soft spoken consonants) you will double their understandability, and likely their sales.

Over relationships with people in the program

This is a small thing. But see above on belittling people’s problems. Suggest a reading of the chapter “Living with Others” in Ministry of Healing (and some copies of Colporteur Ministry as a supplement.) Then…distract. This is a maturity issue, often, and can not be fixed as well as it can be endured.

That are weary

When you are in the field weariness is more often lethargy than exhaustion. Run with them! Promote a team goal and ask for their greatest effort. Thank them (in advance) for putting in some extra push.

That are visiting the program

We love visitors. We welcome them. We do not pay them. If they are with us very briefly and come out with us, we do not charge them. But we do not pay them. They should know this BEFORE they get in the vehicle to head to territory.

Many times they will wear out and want to ride. You must oblige. Then set them praying. Otherwise they will keep you from praying. Suggest that they pray out loud. Give them regular prayer assignments. Rotate them from student to student while they are still willing to work. You can wear down your students with visitors.

While it is important for visitors to see a sale, you will find that your social and easily discouraged low-selling students will appreciate someone with them more than your producers. Give the visitors the job of encouraging their partners (as if it were a secret mission) and you will keep them from doing the opposite.

That are directionally challenged and/or LOST

I spent 45 minutes of this afternoon looking for a precious young man named Michael. He has been in America for three weeks tomorrow. One reason that I spent so long looking for him was that I made a mistake when I dropped him off. Mark this with care: Many times we lose students because we do a poor job of giving them directions.

In Michael’s case, I put him at a business and asked him to work up the street “combing.” He was not anxious to do businesses, so giving him combs full of houses after each block of businesses was intended to be a kindness.  But I had failed to locate a map and had neglected to notice that Michael’s combs were abnormal. They were super-short entrances to rows of houses that were parallel with the business road.

When I came to pick Michael up, about an hour after dropping him off, I began by checking a few businesses to see if he had been there. Since I had left him it had begun to rain torrentially. Michael was without a radio and was likely taking cover somewhere, so I knew I would have to track him down by asking questions.

The first business I asked said they had not seen him. When you get that answer, do not turn immediately on your tail and flee. Ask if they have been there for a few hours. When I was looking for Rahab today the young man I asked at Advanced Auto Parts said “no one” had come by. But when I asked if he had been there for a few hours, I lady poked her head out of the back room and said Rahab had, indeed, been there just recently.

I checked a business first, when looking for Michael, that I supposed he had already done. There are several reasons to begin looking where you think they have already been. The first is that it gives you a time line. When the person has seen the student, you may ask how long it has been since he was there. You can know when you are close.

If you overreach in your guess, the opposite is true. If he has not been there, he may be next door and you would not know it.

Another reason to guess close is that lost students are often there. Devil’s rabbits slow and snare your students and make them invisible. The fallout of that is: invisible students often have not gone as far as you would expect.

A third reason to search close is that every person you ask becomes less likely to buy from your student. You can waste a section of businesses just by looking through them all and asking questions about a student selling books. This harm does not come when you are asking those who have already had their chance.

The first five businesses I checked all denied seeing Michael. Checking the combs was difficult. Would Michael have turned around at the end of the short street? Or tried to go straight past the road full of houses? Or turn left or right on that road? And if he had turned, how long would he have worked on it?

I had three students on foot tracking him down before I found him…walking towards us from the place we were sure he had not gone yet. He had taken the parallel road far ahead and cut back to the main business road and had begun working his way back to where he had started!

Perhaps you can not visualize the situation. In short, he was not findable by simple searching. But God is on our side. And so he was found.

That are very immature

Rules Number One: Love your very immature students.

You will join them in their immaturity if you are frustrated with it. It is no sign of maturity to get irritated at childish antics. It may be a sign of old age, but not of maturity. Men of years and experience learn to chuckle when others boil.

I can recall several scenes of greatest irony when a particularly immature leader complained to me in a whining voice that his students were, in whatever words he chose to use, just a bunch of brats.

That are grown up visitors

Over a score of full-blown adults have worked in my programs. These have ranged in age from the mid 30’s to the mid 60’s. Occasionally retired individuals have also joined the ranks for a few days.

Leaders should bear in mind that elders are entitled to a great degree of respect. Short-sighted thinking might lead a driver to discourage adult participation in the magabook work. Visitors often have special needs. Many are not accustomed to walking for long periods. They have not been through your training.

I say “short-sighted” because these men and women have much to offer. Their report to their church will speak louder than will your own. Their love for the students will ease the program-host-church conflicts that tend to arise where the two entities operate with little informal interaction. Some of these adults may become leaders in the work.

Who should you put them with? Put them out last. Let them in on your plan. This will win them and weaken the temptation for them to feel that you are not treating them with proper respect for their age. Nehemiah followed this plan, and we gleaned it from him.

“Then I said unto [the elders, after inspecting the wall] . . . ‘come let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’” Nehemiah 2:17.

Feeling needed does much for energy and willingness. I might say to Mrs. Surewishi “You know, Mrs. Surewishi, I sure wish you could help me with Daniel. Most of the students have learned their canvass well, but he has some difficulties that they do not. He could use a mom-like figure to encourage him. He sometimes says awkward things at the door. Could you walk with him and encourage him and pray for him for a few minutes?”

My sister has just been primed to become a true asset to the program. Since she is trying to encourage him she will watch her negativity. Since he has difficulty, she will not judge the whole group by the mistakes that he makes. Because she will pray for him, he will do better. Students that have a harder time tend to enjoy company more than most. They face more rejection and need more comfort.

On the other hand, if a elderly saint is thinking of taking up the literature work part-time and is joining you to taste and see how it works, it would be better to put them with your most effective workers. However, do not leave your successful student with such a partner for long if they do not have a sale. Rotation helps shorten the day and provides a new start. Sales often follow new starts. See the section on “new starts.” It also provides a rest to weary elderly legs while they ride with you for a while.

That are riding visitors

But discourage persons, whether elderly or younger, that just want to ride with you all day. Their presence can be a weight on morale for the following reasons.

They remind students that they want to sit and take a break too

They talk to you and so you pray less

They talk to you and so you pray less

They make it nearly impossible to have the kind of heart-to-heart private conversations that are required when dealing with discouraged or otherwise in-need-of-attention students.

When a student is sick, but wants to come along rather than staying home, take them with yourself in your team. Do not, however, take them with you if you know that they will not be able to work during the day. See the section on dealing with sick students.

That are grown-ups working with the program as students

Many adults once roamed the streets of North America presenting our literature door-to-door. Since the day they left the work they have never felt quite right about it. If you are open to their help, or to the help of those that wish to join the literature work for the first time, forbid them not.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not difficult for mature persons to sell magabooks. As we age the methods that we use to sell books do go through an adjustment. But the total potential sales does not diminish with age. In fact, it may even grow in ones later retirement years.

As we approach our 20’s our customers begin to take us more seriously. Where they gave us money in our early teen years, they are now listening to the facts of our presentation. This trend grows until, in our midlife, we are treated as professionals in the fields we profess to represent. When this confidence wanes, our sympathy factor is already making up the lack. If you have the opportunity to observe a frail man with white hairs making a presentation at a door, you will detect much of the same kindness and rapt attention that is given to first graders.

Almost without fail the new literature evangelistic adult, after working with your students, will come to you gravely and inquire, “how can I introduce myself? I am not a student.” This seems to them to be a serious objection and one that stands between them and the work. Be prepared to treat the objection as one that has been successfully overcome many times.

The best answer will depend, to some degree, on the age of the canvasser. If he or she is already into their later years and relying on a great deal of human sympathy in their work, the best they can do is adopt a charity and use a portion of their earnings to help with that project. “I am working to put my grand-daughter into Christian school. Whatever you give….” “My wife and I want to use part of what we get from doing this to support a Christian medical team in Ghana.” If no project presents itself readily, become the project yourself. “The proceeds from the books are going to support me in this ministry of helping families in the area.” See the section on “Introduction for Non-students.”

For younger workers a savings plan can make a reasonable project. Saving for a future mission trip, for future education, for a child’s education, all can elicit a generous response. But if you are raising money to pay your monthly food and utility bills, it would be better introduce yourself as doing humanitarian work. The typical HHES introduction is well-suited to this need. They very some, but typically present the canvasser as visiting families in the area in the history of helping the families there.

Adults in a program should be advised, before being accepted, that the program is heavily structured and very rigorous. Many adults, especially those that have been unemployed for weeks or months, have cultivated too many outside relationships to allow them to be of practical value in a program. They have letters to write, bill collectors to appease, little things they need to buy, and a string of these things daily.

Let them know before you begin what is expected of them. To give them some extra lee-way in regulating their own life may be only reasonable. But if they are unable to work five days a week, unwilling to cooperate with the system, then kindly invite them to buy books and head to work on their own.

When separating from an adult you have trained, make peace regarding territory. This is especially important in school programs. See the section, “Sharing territory” under “Programs and Policies.”

That are know-it-alls

The blessings in the Bible are for those that hunger and thirst. Confront know-it-alls with their defect. Do not give them leadership until they indicate an anxiousness to have it and to take heed to instruction. Low sales are not reason enough to spend valuable time working with someone who will not admit he is doing important things wrong.

That need things

Usually, they need to visit the restroom. Or get a band-aid. Or to be dropped off at a drug-store or Wal-Mart. They want to visit a health-food store during lunch.  Or they hope to be dropped back at the church half-way  through the day. Or a church member wants you to meet them somewhere.

You are not superwoman. Leading teams is demanding. If you don’t have time, the needs of the team are paramount. He or she can get a taxi if it is an emergency. But more often, they can just wait.

Regarding the restroom…train on how to ask. But at the moment it is brought up it may be too late for that. Take them to the restroom. And tell them that next time they will need to look for a friendly person before it is an emergency. Many new neighborhoods that have no local gas station have porta-potties for construction crews. They are not locked. Male students understand the practical use that can be made of a forest. Do not tax yourself unnecessarily.

Female students do not like the woods, and at other times they may need to visit that drugstore more than you think.


Contrary to what you were told when you were young—playing video games did not help prepare you for driving.

If you scare your students, you are a dangerous driver. If they think your driving is fun, you are a dangerous driver. If your tires makes high-pitched sounds when you navigate corners, you are a dangerous driver. If you need to read the map, pull over or have someone read it for you. If you have a break-light on, it needs immediate attention.

If you do not have your own car, then you may be unaware of how expensive cars are. You do not need to drive as much as you think you do. Pulling over to work with students, to talk on your phone, to pray, all these are better than adding miles.

Will this section change the fact that canvassers have a reputation for being crazy drivers? No. The rumor is too fun to spread. But at the least, but it to rest in your program.

To balance this, the best leaders have always been fun drivers. The fun was not in the driving, but in the leaders. The sounds they make, their gestures, their facial expressions, their enthusiasm, take the sleepiness out of the ride to work.


Lunch is to a canvassing day what a wife is to a husband. What I mean is—lunch can make or break a day. It can add energy, or absorb it. It can be the place were enthusiasm is spread or where a feeling of defeat settles on the team. What can you do to make lunch a winner?

Time your pick-up for lunch well. When you are selling high, pick-up late. When you are selling low, pick-up early. Regardless, pick up when it is convenient. When you are moving two students and someone else calls for pickup—that is lunch time. It means zero-wait for four students, likely half of your team.

When it is nearing time for lunch, locate and/or relocate your most obscurely placed students. Pick up the ones that are most difficult to find first so that others will not sit in the van while you are looking for them. Move them to wear they have only a few doors to do while you pick up others. Give short assignments as you near pick-up time for lunch.

Know where you are going for lunch before you start picking up. Don’t travel fifteen minutes to get there. Put students working near the lunch location. Have business workers in the area with instructions to walk there when they meet (if it is near.) This saves a lot of time in picking up.

Start your “hour” clock from when you pick up your first student. Leave the restraint with your team when the hour is over. This means less than an hour at lunch, but gives an hour break from knocking doors.

Avoid team rendezvous at lunch. They make it difficult to time pick-up well and invariably (ok, almost invariably) lengthen lunch.


See Lunch, above. Pick-up time in the evening works much like pick-up time at lunch. “Clean-up” is fun, but counterproductive.  Pick-up is often complicated by the onset of darkness. Watch for porch lights. They come on when your student approaches a door, and stay on for a while after he leaves. They are a great way to trace a student to the home he has entered. Watch open doors. Watch the road while you watch open doors!

Do not work late unless you can pick up immensely fast. Do not work very late regardless.  Students will respect the time you assign them to serve you if you respect the time you assigned yourself to serve them.

Do you have students begging for one more door to meet their goals? Commend them for their excellent attitude! Then make them get it and sit down. If you find a place where two students are involved in a productive-looking canvasses and are about to meet, let your want-to-try again student hop out and do the last houses between them while you look for others. You will save time by preventing the first two to knock other doors, and by allowing yourself to look for others while they finish.

Be excited about the day! If you are excited, you communicate that you approve of the work of your students and they will be filled with a desire to please.

Small-town and country leading

In the last program I oversaw we were working out of Covington, Kentucky in advance of the 2004 ASI convention. North of our church site were some 300,000 urban homes within 50 minutes drive. South of our site were some 10,000 urban homes within driving distance.

I spent most of my time south. I have learned over the years that small towns, and even the highways that connect them, can not be judged by the lower-middle class appearance of the homes. These semi-rural areas have a keener spiritual interest, a livelier hospitality, a kinder approach towards discouraged students, and a tendency to buy. In the program just ended we averaged well over $200 per person per day in the country areas, even when working small clusters of homes along 20 miles of road.

Practical hints for those that are canvassing small towns:

  1. 1. Understand the section on blitzkrieging. If you have plenty of rural areas to last, you may want to blitzkrieg. This allows you to meet as many people as possible in the limited time you have in an area.
  2. 2. Keep students busy at homes with cars. A not-home experience is a little more difficult to handle when you have walked ¼ mile to get to the home. If you are working on a road with groups of two or three houses along it, put students working the same direction you are generally moving, or put them working towards each other. A student wandering into the wild yonder can waste a great deal of your time.
  3. 3. Be excited about Happiness sales. When doing small-town leading you will see some students were often. You must affirm them for their small successes if you wish them to feel confident.
  4. 4. Do country businesses. They are the best. The industrial businesses just outside of small towns often produce marvelously.
  5. 5. Have a populated area ready for the evening. Your rural area may burn itself up quicker than you expected. You do not want to have super sales all day only to have no where to work at 7:00 PM.
  6. 6. Do small bits of evening territory as you go by it…you will be too far away to come back to it in the evening.
  7. 7. Remember that students will slow down in the last ninety minutes. Do not save your best stuff so long that you will not be able to get it done. How can you time this perfectly? Put a couple, (or a few) students in it as soon as it is practicable. Then add or remove students to speed or slow the finishing of it. Rural areas have very small evening territories.
  8. 8. Don’t panic regarding your lack of evening territory. Middle class old people in small towns buy books in the evening. Precious.
  9. 9. Don’t have students on non-lighted roads after dusk. You will scare everyone—including yourself when you can’t find the student.

City leading

This is the normal thing that leaders are trained for in regional leadership training meetings. But in case you do not have access to these meetings, I will review the key suggestions.

  1. 1. Do not place students on opposite sides of driving obstacles. Railroads, four-lane highways, roads that become night-mares after 5:02 PM, roads beset with four-minute traffic signals, and roads destined to host parades later in the day; these are all examples of barriers that should keep you confined to one side or the other of them.
  2. 2. Use the streets with houses, rather than the business roads, to get back and forth.
  3. 3. See the notes on pick-up and lunch and drop-off for general information about these times.
  4. 4. Beware of dead spots. Slums in the south (northern slums often produce), Jewish communities, retired Irish Catholics, Federal Housing projects after the fifth of the month, and businesses on the main drag adjacent to a university campus, all these areas tend to deflate students. They are good places to take surveys. But all but your best will wilt if subjected to five or six hours in these places.
  5. 5. Make sure your students are leaving “crumbs” at doors. They should be reminded about calling before they enter a home, and about leaving their bag in a visible place outside.
  6. 6. Be prepared, if necessary, to do evening area all day long. While many are not home, those that are buy well in the afternoon. You will burn the territory and sell books. This is better than driving around looking vainly for a middle-class neighborhood near yuppieville.
  7. 7. See timing below.


When working in city environments, use the following graph as a model of the ideal way to match your territory to the time of day. It is often not practicable. When it can not be done, it should not be worried over.

8:00 AM to 11:00 AM Believe it or not, this is a great time to canvass. People in homes are still relaxed. Dad has headed to work and mom is lonely and thinking of calling someone just to talk. Look for single-story (think “one spouse working”) homes with children stuff. Businesses are better after they have had a few customers, after 10:30. It is hard to go to work to sell something only to have the first person in your business making a sales pitch.

11:00 AM to 3:30 PM Businesses and homes near the businesses; nice apartments, small homes with colorful cars and mowed lawns. Do long streets of Victorian mansions-turned-duplexes. These are mixed housing areas, ethnically and age-wise. Do the roads coming into town with scattered poor homes and businesses mixed.

4:30 PM to 5:45 PM Transition towards your evening territory. Finish the productive before-lunch areas. Finish business areas that can not be easily done another day. Do the homes that border your evening territory so that you can move students into the evening territory easily, and so that you can leave students there that you do not want to be burning evening territory. Remember that some students do much better in middle class than in higher class housing. Consider just letting them stay there when you move the others.

5:45 PM to 7:00 PM Do typical evening territory. Look for two-story homes with children, young trees, new cars. If you are in a bed-room community, remember that these people may not be home and relaxed until later. Save bedroom communities until the latest that you work. People are much kinder after they have had a super and wound down from their driving tensions.

7:00 PM to Pick-Up Well lighted best places, bedroom communities, middle-class areas that have been producing, areas full of cul-de-sacs, brand new subdivisions (if more than half the homes are inhabited. Otherwise, do these earlier in the day, or not at all).

Jump to Contents



Knowing the Canvass

Perhaps this is not the first article or book you have read on the work of canvassing. With that in mind I will not dwell long on the importance of knowing the canvass. I will, rather, offer a few pertinent observations.

First, in every program there seems to be one or two students who feel that they know their canvass when they can say “Hi, I’m Bob and this year we are doing something better than trying to sell candy. Do you want to see a good cook book? Choices has very health recipes and tastes super good.”

They feel, and almost rightly, that it is the thoughts of the canvass, not the precise words, that are useful. But here lies their problem….they know so little about canvassing that they do not recognize the powerful of the thoughts created by the words in the canvass.

Once they notice that their sales do not measure well with those that know the canvass they must either concede that the canvass is preferable to their guess-work talking, or they must conclude that customers do not like persons such as themselves. Why they tend to run with the latter option I know not. But they do. They think that customers must not like men or boys their age, or their race, or their size, or with the accent or national origin.

Another observation: Canvass writing should be done by professionals who have successfully practiced what they are writing. Magabookers across the United States have been saying something about the Great Controversy “portraying the greatest drama ever told.” I do not mean to attack whatever group of men first put those words into print.

But they are not a good canvass for the Great Controversy. Why? Because “greatest drama ever” is a synonym for “listen to my memorized speech.” Imagine how it appears at the door when students struggling with English, or with speech sprinkled with not-perfect grammar use the words “greatest drama.”

It would not be well for me to take up each canvass phrase by phrase and explain its purpose and benefit. When I say it would not be well for me, I mean that to the writing of books there is no end, and to much of it is a weariness to the flesh. But understand this. Know your canvass.

A final observation. Canvassing well requires active listening and constant prayer. The human mind is too weak to be listening well, praying well, and creating a canvass well simultaneously. Those that do not learn their canvass must either stop praying while at the door, have periods of silence in the canvass, or stop listening well to the customer. Any of these options is fatal to consistent sales.

You should know your canvass so well that you can be saying it while listening to the customer and while saying a silent prayer. That is when it becomes a tool in your hand.

While a canvassing teacher should train on the importance of knowing the canvass (see the next paragraph), it is a mistake to let students come to a program without solemn admonitions to know their canvass when they get there. I have thought of (have not yet decided) offering two different program fees—a moderate one for persons knowing their canvass very well the first day and a high one for those that don’t. The large fee would partially atone for the harm that comes to the program when a student arrives that does not know enough to benefit well from the initial training.

Four Most Important Things

Breathing, sleeping, a beating heart, and mental function are more important to the work of rebuilding a transmission than any amount of schooling. This is not to say that schooling has no value for those that would learn how to build a transmission. But some functions are so fundamental to success that not performing them can outweigh a great deal of thing done well.

In canvassing there are four things that are more important than others. They are so important that a man that does them all very well and neglects the other 200 canvassing hints in this book will sell more than the man that neglects two of these and does perfectly well 200 other special techniques.

In other words, a man may sell at 75% of his potential by mastering these four things. When a student is doing less than eight books each day, I am almost certain that among his canvassing defects a neglect of one of these four will be found.

They are:

  1. 1. Get the book in the hand.
  2. 2. Know your canvass.
  3. 3. Pray.
  4. 4. Smile.

Getting the Book in the Hand

On the first of these four, leaders should be aware that offending students do not know that they are failing to get the book in hand. In their opinion no one could get a book into the home that they just knocked.

Demonstrate, in the training, that people do take books when they are handed to their hands. This is easily done by walking up to any student while you are training on something else and handing them a book. They will take it.

Imagine that you are in a grocery store (I use this illustration in training) and your cart is half full. An elderly gentleman approaches your cart, looks in, and says “there it is! I’ve been looking for that!” and proceeds to remove the box of raisons from your cart.

How would you feel? The raisons are not yours. You have not paid for them. They belong to the store and the store doesn’t care who buys them. But you possess them. The fact that they are in your cart imparts a partial sense of ownership.

It works the same with our books. Until they are in the customer’s hand, he does not feel that he is seriously interested. He does not listen well to the canvass. He does not ask himself questions about the books. He will not buy them.

If he will not take the books, he is communicating a high level of disinterest. Treat him just as if he had said “I am not interested” (see below on that objection.)

If his hand are dirty, or if they support a pooch, or if due to disability he needs his hands to support himself, then use a flat surface as a substitute for his hands. Put the book there (suggest a table, or the hood of a car) and show him. Or arrange to evict the pooch. See elsewhere on dealing with dogs.

Smiling Science

On the third of the four “most important things,” smiling, much research has been done.

Did you realize that much of our non-verbal communication passes through miniscule movements of facial muscles? These micro expressions happen so quickly that we do not tend to perceive them consciously. Trained persons  focus on these expressions to determine honesty.

The rest of us feel the expressions and perceive them as gut reactions. “I think that man is creepy.” “I wouldn’t trust him.” “I like that guy.” These are all judgments made, often, based on nonverbal cues.

The canvasser must take charge of his non-verbal communication. And the place to begin is the face. The science of smiling involves much more of the face than the lips. In fact, lip-only smiles wear the smiler out and put a fatigued expression in the rest of the face.

But fatigue is better to express than displeasure. So smile with your lips if that is all you can manage at the moment. But the better plan is to cultivate a positive disposition by smiling….between doors. It is when we are not talking to a customer that we can work on our cheeriness. Sing and talk to God of your joys.

When we are at the door and begin to talk, our forced smile begins to fade. The more intent we become on the subject at hand, the less attention we give to our grin. It slips slowly away and is replaced by what some call the “neutral expression.” But the neutral expression is anything but meaningless. Its gentle features convey thoughts of pleasantness or stress, hopefulness or despair.

By cultivating positive reactions and cheery outlooks, we slowly change the nature of our natural expression. Perhaps no other activity promises to make such a positive change in the life and sales of the literature evangelist. I have watched personalities bud and bloom under the sunshine of hopeful thought.

It is difficult to teach someone to smile though a book. Find an African that glows in the dark when he beams and imitate him.

If you are teaching your students to smile, do not berate them for their failure. That would be like trying to get someone to enjoy split-pea soup by adding dirt to it every time they complain about it.

Rather, make a game out of smiling. “A little bigger…a little bigger!” Do not try to make someone who is on the verge of tears to act goofy or smiley. See notes on dealing with discouraged students.


Prayer, in general, should be a subject of a vespers program or a series of worships. The science of how to approach God, how to claim promises, how to find them, how to exercise faith, these are part of the blessed content of summer school in a magabook program.

In training on the fourth most important things, you should give a preview of the key prayer issues that will be addressed later in worships. Provide a practical list of things to pray for.

Some key points about prayer include that what we expect is relevant to what will happen. We must depend on promises. Our prayers must be bolstered by our energetic cooperation. We must pray repeatedly unlike the heathen—not to be heard for our volume of repetitions, but to demonstrate our dependence on God.

Practical things to pray for, and these form the bulk of what I mention in early training, include:

  1. 1. Pray for Quick Rejections – This works wonders, not only at saving time, but at defusing the sting of rejection.
  2. 2. Pray for your partner and for the person praying for you – This assures that every one has at least two people praying for them. And prayers by two are more effective than prayers by one. This is true largely because no man can take the credit for the answer to a group prayer, as if his special power in prayer brought the desired end.
  3. 3. Pray that the right person comes to the door – Not all housemates are equally open.
  4. 4. Pray that the person giving the donation will come back with a generous gift – This is the easiest way to sell more books
  5. 5. Pray that God will speak through you (and claim the promises that He will)
  6. 6. Pray that God help the person that is having the hardest time on that particular day.
  7. 7. Pray for Divine Appointments and that God will bring the people that will buy to you. – Then be bold enough to talk to those that break down on your street, or that are sick and home from work, or that are visiting from a different state.
  8. 8. Pray for “energy and cheerfulness” and that you will “do your best” and also do “better work” and that you will bring into your work the loving ministry of your Savior. – Make this a daily thought in your petitions.

Three Primary Objections and the Other Objection

There are three primary objections that your students will meet repeatedly that may disguise some level of interest. And there is a fourth major objection that expresses none at all. Focus first on the three. Students must come to view objections as hopeful before they are prepared to deal with one that sounds less hopeful.

The Three are:

  1. 1. What Church Puts this Out?
  2. 2. I don’t Have Enough Money?
  3. 3. Can You Come Back?

And the Other One is:

  1. 1. I’m not Interested

Objection One: What Church Put this Out? 

This question is most often expressed non-verbally by caution, by an unwillingness to become warm and friendly. And it is best answered non-verbally by making a statement regarding our affiliation to the Bible Story Company.

In other words, the student who routinely shows the Bible Story logo and materials in the back of the book will be asked about his denominational affiliation less frequently than those who show wait until queried to show the same.

There are other things that can be done to prevent the question from being asked. By mentioning your school and asking the customer with some enthusiasm, “have you heard of it?” you communicate that you have nothing to be hide. This squelches the customers thought that you might represent the Watchtower society.

But when the question is asked, though it come in any one of a myriad forms, it should be answered frankly and quickly. “I am a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, have you heard of us?” is a positive reply.

Evasive techniques work significant harm. The canvasser loses help from the Spirit if stoops to misrepresentation by a “these books are non-denominational.” And he may lose that Help just the same if he tries to say the same with misleading facts that are technically accurate—“This book was written by scholars from several different denominations.”

More than this, our voice and facial expressions betray our feelings of shame when we are hiding. The customer senses that we do not want to answer his question and concludes that the answer must be a negative.

The pattern of evasion leads to a habit of dishonesty and can corrupt the soul. It is a shame that it has not been repressed with greater vigor in the magabook programs in the North American Division.

Drill the students on this one. The pressure of the moment, when a customer asks “so is there some church that is behind this?” will warp the reply of those that have not been drilled. A mantra might be in order. Try the following:

Group Leader:  What church puts this out?

Group (Unison): Seventh-day Adventist Christian, have you heard of us?

Group Leader: (louder) What church puts this out?

Group (Unison): (with gusto) Seventh-day Adventist Christian, have you heard of us?

Group Leader: (now very quietly) What church puts this out?

Group (Unison): (in a hushed answer) Seventh-day Adventist Christian, have you heard of us?

Objection Two: No Money

This objection is sometimes confounded with the Come Back Later objection by its formulation: Could you come back on Friday when I get paid? Since both of these objections are handled in much the same way, it is not so essential to differentiate between them.

When someone indicates that they do not have resources enough to purchase your materials, you need to do some mental evaluation. Is the reason for this objection a lack of money, really? Or is it a camouflaged version of “I am not interested.” And does the customer know that I accept checks (and/or credit cards if your program accepts them)?

If the answer to the latter question is “maybe not” then a simple response is “Oh, we can accept checks.” If that does not solve the problem, proceed as if they knew you could accept checks.

If you are rather certain the objection simply expresses a lack of interest, proceed to the “not interested” objection and pretend they said it.

But supposing that you believe they are sincere in their profession of poverty, you should ask a reader question. Memorize it. It has been carefully worded.

“Sir, if you had the money, are these books something you would be interested in?” 

Then wait for a response.

If he says something like “umm, I am not sure. I have a lot of books….” then you are ready to proceed to “not interested” mode. See the section below.

But if he says, “yes!” or something nearly that pleasant, he has set himself up to be assisted.

“The reason I was asking is because they said that we can hold checks for up to three weeks. How long would we have to hold it for?”

If you know they don’t have checks, or if they indicate at this point that they don’t, modify the reply to “The reason that I was asking is that they said that we could take jars of pennies. We need a jar that is about this big (demonstrate the size of a quart) for a book.”

If the person really wants the book, we can help them in a number of ways. Beyond checks, cash, credit cards (if applicable) we can:

Hold checks

Cash personal checks

Take starter checks or out-of-state checks

If they explain that their spouse has the check book, we can:

Take checks out of order

If they are in town, we can wait while they run down to an ATM.

If they are in a home or business with other persons, even persons not interested in the book, we can facilitate a loan.

“I wish I could come back tomorrow—do you think (address someone that has been hearing you) you could give him a loan ‘til tomorrow?” or “Do you think that someone here could loan you $20 until Friday?”

When you have exhausted the financial options and the customers are still not able to buy, proceed to the Drop Down (see the section below). Or, if previous donations allow, and if the desire seems sincere, and the inability to buy reasonable (i.e. they are not just unwilling to have you hold a check), give them a book.

Objection Three: Come Back Later

Memorize this phrase: “I wish I could, but”

These words are like shaving cream—they protect from irritation. They are not like shaving cream in the shoes or in the bed. I am comparing the words to Gillettes’ intended use for the foam.

“I wish” communicates that there is no reason to try to persuade me to come back. I am already persuaded. I just can’t. It is not useful to explain that the reason that you can’t is that they wouldn’t buy if you did.

Follow your “wish” with some practical good news, “but you can still get something later when you want to [or, when your wife wants to, or whatever else makes sense.]”

“They gave us a sample book [hand them a different book and show the information in the back] that you can use to order. This book [canvass it] and they said to leave the sample for [close it].”

Choosing the different book involves more than guess work. You have four categories of literature: Devotional, Bible Reference, Health, and Children’s. If they have said “come back” on one category, it is more than just possible that they were not very interested in that category and were putting you off.

So give them a sample book from a different category. Think it through. If your first book was a health book, show a religious book. The have seen several categories, show the one that they have not seen. Many persons without children want children’s books. Many non-religious persons want something spiritual that they can understand.

The Other Objection: Not Interested

This objection is often crafter out of thin air before the customer has any idea what you are doing. You may hear it as you approach a person outside. Or it may be yelled through a door while you stand knocking. In these cases, before an introduction has been made, it should be understood to mean “I don’t like salesmen” or “I am afraid.” If you are approaching a person, just keep walking and smiling and reply (while you advance), “ok, that’s fine.”

These are precious words. They are a general answer to any number of uncategorized objections. “Ok, that’s fine.” Follow up with “just so you know who came by,

This phrase is also a precision tool. It is in past tense, intimating that the crisis of a pressure sale is over and that customer can put his guard down. We don’t use pressure sales, but he knows it not.

The next words are no less worthy of memorization: “they gave us a sample book.” The “they” refers to your training organization. See the sample book notes at the end of the Come Back Later section.

In whole, the response looks like, “ok, that’s fine. Just so you know who came by, they gave us a sample book.” And you hand them another book and start over.

If they are irritated at your religion, and they know you are not Jehovah’s Witnesses, and you have already tried a couple books, you might want to move directly from “not interested” to “drop down.” We aim to relieve stress through our answers, not to create it.


You can find the canvass for the Happiness Digest in the canvass in the appendix, or online at As a teacher of canvassers there are a few things you should know about HD sales.

First, they are the measure of a student’s persistence or tact. Students that are just giving up when told “no” will have low days interspersed with high days. When they are cheery, they sell more, and become more cheery and sell more…etc. And when they are down, they sell less, and become more down, etc.

Happy-D sales are a drill, or sorts, to engrain several points of your training into the practice of the student. They learn how to persist without irritating, and they experience how often a not-interested person can become a purchaser. They have small successes between their magabook sales that make dry spells easier to handle.

When students are selling less than ten HD’s in a day, they are doing something wrong. In my last program two students sold over 40 HD’s in one day. Here is a brief list, in order, of the most common problems leading to low HD sales:

  1. 1. Not showing the HD to “not interested persons.”
  2. 2. Not using the HD canvass – a finely calibrated tool
  3. 3. Persisting in a way that appears desperate or pushy
  4. 4. Not persisting with friendly persons
  5. 5. Persisting with irritated persons until they discourage themselves

These problems, when confronted and defeated, have the potential to revolutionize magabook sales.

In your training you will not spend much time on 1. This is better mentioned briefly and often encouraged by positive reinforcement when a HD has been sold. Point 2 is worth drilling on, especially when you are mid-way through a program and someone is still selling few HD’s. You should be a Happy D seller yourself.

Point 3 requires some training and is particularly hard to express in print. Our voice can sound “begging.” This is not good. And it can sound playful and innocent. This is good. By matching our voice and body language to the Happiness canvass, we can communicate that we have surrendered and that we are about to leave.

On the other hand, if our tone or body language contradict the key phrases in the canvass (“they” “gave us” “little one” “when you want” “later” “you can” “they said”), we undermine our own speech. Teaching this requires skill. You do NOT want to make HD selling sound complex. Teach some simple doable techniques that remove pressure from the situation. Take a small step back. Shrug your shoulders and smile innocently when you say “most people are giving….”

More commonly, the problem in point three is that the student is not using the canvass. Adjustments to it almost invariably make it irritating. People feel that the student is not listening to them when he professes to be broke. They feel that he is unwilling to take “no” for an answer. They perceive that he does not care for their feelings and just wants to make a buck. The canvass was written to defuse these feelings.

Point 4 is an alternative solution to learning and using the canvass well. By giving up while they are still friendly the student escapes the rejection associated with a pushy canvass. When they learn to use the canvass well the temptation to skip showing the HD will wane.

On Point 5 you can recognize those with a problem by the calls to the police and to the manager that follow the worker. Areas that he canvasses will be hard to do the next year. What to do when a person is irritated and knows who we aren’t? Don’t canvass a HD. Just ask “would you be interested in giving a small donation?”

This is also the appropriate response for persons who have said “no” three or more times in the course of the magabook canvass. They are in a habit that will make buying a HD difficult for them. Let them off easy and ask for a donation, then give them the HD.

Some people close so hard on magabooks that they can not have much success selling HD’s. They feel that if they sell many magabooks (15 to 30) that they shouldn’t be expected to sell many HD’s “because everyone that wanted someone got a book.”

But that is not true. The highest sellers have had consistency in both departments. During the highest week in magabook history, in our last program, when Kyla Stemmler sold over $2,300 worth of books in five days, she sold 68 Happiness Digests as well as 172 magabooks. If anyone could claim to have sold a magabook to everyone that was interested, she could.

“Well” and Warring Words

When you were five your neighbor friend, a five year old too, said “my daddy is bigger than your daddy” and folded his arms. You stood up a little taller and said, “well my daddy gave me a toy truck!”

You have forgotten all about it. But it happened. Well, maybe not. But the word “well” that appears in the sentence before this one, developed a meaning when you were young that it has never lost. You came to associate it with a war of words.

The word “well” is nearly a sentence in itself. It communicates “what you said might be true, but what I am about to say is more important and makes your statement insignificant.” In the tension-creating atmosphere of direct sales, you can not afford to have this word in your speaking vocabulary. You might think that you rarely use it, but when you feel that you have an answer to an objection, the word will urge itself into your mouth.

Eliminate it. When you train on not using the word well, and then practice canvassing, you will people suddenly using the word “actually” and “but” in a way that means the same thing as “well.” Some have found other creative ways to belittle their neighbor’s statements.

Instead, teach a proactive approach. Make a fun habit of responding to everything with “ok, that’s fine.” Say it in a sing-songy way. When people are down, have them canvass you. You will be surprised at how the warring words have slipped back into their spiel. Remove them.

Good, Beautiful, Precious, and other Hollow Words

When articles are shortened, they almost always improve in quality. A ten pound pick will penetrate much further than a ten pound sledge. The force is the same, but the point on the pick increases the force per square inch. That is an illustration of the nature of words. The fewer needed to express a thought, the deeper its penetration.

Too many sermons are like ten pound stuff animals. They are so wordy that the average follower loses the entire impact of what was being said.

But don’t longer speeches have more thoughts? Not necessarily. There are many ways that we have invented to expand our speech. One of them has been by the introduction of hollow compliments and meaningless commendations.

“This is a super car with good parts and a beautiful history. The owner was precious!” From a used car salesman such a line would be heard this way – “I don’t have any really helpful facts about the car to share. Its air conditioning doesn’t work, paint covers its rust, the tires are bald and bulging, but buy it, please!”

We have learned, subconsciously, to suspect fact-free compliments, especially when made by salesman. For this reason, the practiced canvasser should avoid saying things like “this is a good book on prophecy.” Better to give a fact. “It shows how prophecies have been fulfilled.” The hollow generalization creates a sense of distrust that makes closing unnecessarily difficult.

Making Friends

Some men have written books on this topic. I do not have time. On the positive side, we only have so much time in which to train our students in the art of friend-making. And they only have the capacity to learn a finite amount in the few weeks that we have to teach them. So what I present here may be an adequate guide for its intended purpose.

You will notice quickly that many of your students have, as it appears, a natural gift for making friends. These are people whose friends tell them “you would make a good salesman/preacher/teacher/etc.” While they will benefit some from what it is here, the contents of this part of your training are aimed at helping the larger and less able class.

It may be that you were also natural at making friends. This could, in your case, have actually hindered you in your ability to teach canvassing. You may not have ever thought through the skills that came so easily to you. And having never analyzed them, you were unable to explain them to those that knew them not.

Here are things you did well.

  1. 1. You quickly brought up topics of personal interest. You asked people about their families and jobs and volunteered information about your own as if you knew that they cared.
  2. 2. You listened to their stories and expressed sympathy or empathy in regard to their personal woes. You never belittled their problems.
  3. 3. You took a hopeful and courageous view of life that made your aura attractive.
  4. 4. You smiled a great deal, even when you were quiet.
  5. 5. You gave evidence of your sincerity by NOT smiling when talking about serious or sad things, and not appearing disinterested when talking about eternal things, and not sounding monotone when saying words that require enthusiasm (like, “you’ll love this one.”) You matched your voice and face to your words and communicated that way, with an ever-changing face.
  6. 6. You asked questions.

On point one you scored a home run. People need someone to talk to. They often prefer to share their deepest and most personal frustrations with strangers they will never see again. Have you ever confided in a stranger while traveling information that you had not shared with your friends? You can be that stranger.

People have trigger points, heart issues that touch deep emotional strings. Jesus said “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” This truth reveals itself through people who betray their own private fears by a word or a phrase.

It wouldn’t be true to say that it is entirely accidental. We test people to see if they really care by hinting at our own cares and waiting to see if they will take an interest and ask questions and listen. If they will not listen, we conclude that they do not really care.

Then listen for people to say something of an illness or family stress or financial burden or of a religious perplexity. Ask concerned questions. Think through what they are saying. Do you have a Bible promise you can share? Can you speak an encouraging word about what God can do for them? Can you communicate with your face that you are sincere?

We do not make friends just for practice. Our goal is to win the confidence of the man so that we can interest him in the truth that will change his life. Do not neglect to tie one of your books down to his felt need. Our books were designed with metaphorical handles. Does he feel doomed to illness? To family woes? To Biblical misunderstanding? Your books address the world’s greatest needs. Do not be ashamed to volunteer that you came door-to-door to help with just such problems and to share your remedy.

And pray, pray with your new friends.

Re-closing and Drop-downs

The memorized canvass looks pretty smooth. You introduce yourself, say a little about each book, tell them the price of the set, ask for the money…and viola, a ten-book set!

In reality, the process is somewhat more involved. When you have shown the books, the customer does not immediately respond to your close. This is a delicate time. Your strategy is to give a little reveiw and recluse, little info, reclose, check for buying signs, if none, drop quickly, close, recluse, check for signs, drop, close, drop down. Done.

The entire process may take less than 90 seconds. Here is a word for word transcript of a closing situation where the colporteur has shown eight books and closed, and has noticed no buying signals.

“you will love these books, especially this one on prophecy, and what we do is leave them for about $95 – $120. We take cash or check. And that one on family and health will save you that much money on your first unneeded doctor’s visit. And we leave them for a donation, most people give around $100, [no buying signal] and you can get just the devotional set, these four volumes for $40-$50. Pray for me too, I am doing this for a few more weeks. We take cash or check, whichever is better for you. Which ones would you be most interested in? [“not sure”] Ok, you can have this one as a sample [pick one]. [“I guess not today.”] Ok, that is fine, they gave us…[HD canvass].”

Key thoughts to keep in mind:

First, be ready to drop down quickly. You can imagine the customer’s interest as ice sculpture on a hot spring day. You can imagine the price of the books as a snow ball being rolled around the yard in the wet snow. The snow ball is growing rapidly.

When you close, the customer compares the height of his interest to the height of the price. If the price is much lower, he buys. If the interest is lower, he bulks. If they are about the same, he thinks…and the snowball grows and the statue sinks. Your only hope is to cut the snow ball (and the size of your set) in half and compare prices again before the interest loses more ground.

For reason it is a bad idea to drop from six books to five to four to three to two. You are always a step behind the shrinking interest. If you had dropped from six to three you could have saved the sale.

These closing skills need to be practiced. Find an experienced person to work with you on making them smooth.


Your students long for consistency in their work. Their stability will depend on their dependence on God’s power. Train on the need and usefulness of promises. You will speak about it in worships. Review it in trainings. Have the students memorize a promise. This is how you may help them get started in the practice of finding and using God’s precious promised provisions.

Working Efficiently

This can be a fun part of training. It is enjoyable for the students to see you imitating a lethargic student dragging himself from door to door, reorganizing his book bag on each porch before knocking the door, waiting four minutes at a home where no one answers, and then slowly hefting the bag from the porch before sighing and turning slowly to walk to the next home.

And they get as much glee from watching you jog to the door, knock immediately, and organize your books while you wait, and then hurrying to the next door if no one opens in a minute.

You can illustrate similar skills of efficiency for getting out of the car, stocking the bag when it is time to get out (as opposed to while the vehicle is moving), and getting to the car when it is time to leave for work.

The formula that regulates success is: S = P * E. Success equals God’s Power multiplying our human effort. But when the human effort is small, the Divine power is given in equal proportion. Give the students to understand that when we pray for miracles and then act lazily, we are praying (or working) hypocritically.

Working slowly brings weariness. Young students often think this formula through backwards in their mind. They think their weariness is producing their slowness. Help them through this. Teach them that earnest exertion stimulates the system and represses feelings of fatigue.

Quickie Canvass

We do not arrive at the door by invitation. For that reason we can not expect that we will meet everyone at a convenient time. Many will be on their way out. Others will have food in danger of burning, or a friend on hold on the telephone.

For these and other situations that make the prospect of giving a canvass look slim, the canvasser should be ready to give a highly abbreviated version of the canvass. When does well, this assures the customer that you recognize the value of his time and the seriousness of his time constraints. He may reciprocate that respect by slowing down and asking questions, or he may just pull out money for the book and close the door. Either way, the technique has worked.

Here is a sample Quickie Canvass that I might use if someone runs to the door and says “this is a very bad time, what do you have?”

“I’ll take 35 seconds. I’m a student selling books for my tuition. This one is character building lessons for children, this one is a healthy cookbook, this one answers questions on prophecy, and this one helps you deal with stress. The cook book is $20 and the others are $10 and all four are $45. I’m done. Pray for me too.”

One sentence canvasses can be made for all of our books. When you use a quickie canvass, talk louder, faster, clearly. These all communicate hurry and rush. Use a bottom line close and skip the compare business. You may give more information when the customer asks for information.

Keeping Control

“Hi, My name is Eugene and,” riiiiiing. How should you respond when the telephone goes off during your presentation? This is what I say: “Ma’am, go ahead an answer that. I’ll wait.” Why would I say that? Because she is going to answer the phone regardless of whether I give her permission to answer it. Lets imagine the scenario if I neglect to send her to the phone…

riiinnnng. “Umm, hold on, I need to answer that. Hello? Oh, hi, just a moment, I have someone at the door.” Then she says to me, “This is long distance, you will have to come back later. Bye.”

I experienced that many times before I learned to take control and send her to the phone. When you send her, this is what she says “Hello? Oh, listen I have someone here at the door. Can you call me back in a few minutes? Thanks. Bye.” That is how it works.

The same principle is helpful when the baby is in the bathtub, the roast is burning, or a child begins screaming. Your customer is not going to ignore her local emergencies while listening to your canvass. Give her permission to take care of the problem. “Go ahead, I’ll wait.” If you don’t say that, she will say, “I need to go. Come back later.” When you do take control, she will respond in kind and will expedite her business since you are waiting.

The fundamental tactic of staying in control also does wonders for preventing the development of Devil’s Rabbits.

Devil’s Rabbits

Rabbits have no venom. They threaten no harm against their enemies. They run fast and stop when they are out of reach. Chasing rabbits can suffice for a weekly exercise program. You may use that plan for a decade and likely never catch an adult bunny.

In the canvassing work there are pseudo-friends that draw the unwary canvasser into long and useless conversations. They either manipulate the conversation, or attempt to convert the student, or refuse to make a decision on the books.

Some Devil’s Rabbits are lonely people that need attention. Before I give you tools for extracting yourself from the bunny hunt, let me say a word about lonely, often elderly, rabbits. You should love them.

Three weeks after you leave the lonely old lady she will tell one of her friends, “you should have seen the sweet young man that came to my house a few weeks ago! He prayed with and talked with me. It was so encouraging.”

That is what she will say if you spend five minutes talking and then pray with her and then leave. And that is what she will say if you spend one hour talking with her and then pray with her and leave.

While your long-term impact on her will not vary a great deal between the ten-minute visit or the one-hour visit, your impact on the neighborhood will. The people that you don’t meet because of the extravagant amount of time spent at one home were in desperate need of the help you had to offer.

How may you escape from a lonely person, or worse, a demon-possessed one? It will require an act of your will. You will have to realize that it is rude to Jesus to let someone manipulate you, Christ’s servant. You may have to put up your finger to signal that you need to speak.

If the speaker refuses to take a breath, you may have to turn and walk away. Such extreme methods are required only in extreme cases where the manipulating customer refuses to recognize your right to speak. In lessor cases a simple invitation to prayer is a gentle and tactful way to bring a conversation to an end. Closing on the books normally, or with a finality with words like “Sir, do you want to buy this for $30 today?” will give you an understandable reason to leave when he says “no.”

If these methods fail to free you, you will have to just turn and go while the man drones on. This simple plans are more likely to work, however, if seconded by appropriate body language.

Body Language

How may you indicate that you are about to leave? By sitting on the edge of your seat, if seated. Then slide forward a bit more and start to rise. If you are standing already, pick up your bag. Put books back inside of it. Back up a bit toward the door. These hints will communicate your need to leave to all but the most hardened of speakers.

Body language has an advantage over verbal communication. What we say may be accepted or rejected. The thoughts we communicate by our actions are rarely doubted.

Physical Motion Vocabulary List

Step close to the door. As it opens, take a gentle step back and away from the door

Meaning: “I am meek. I will not stick my foot in your door. You can reason with me and I am will not push you into a sale.”

Put your foot in the door after it opens “to hold it for the customer.”

Meaning: “I won’t leave until you buy my book. I will force you to give me  money.” [VERY BAD]

Open your mouth while holding up a finger

Meaning: “Wait a moment, I have something else to say.” [Use this when the customer is closing the door on you before you have time to explain yourself. It will often slow-down the closing of the door and give you time to get a book in the hand.]

Heal lifts [lifting yourself up on your toes, then letting yourself down, many time in quick succession.]

Meaning: “I am excited about what I am doing. If you knew what I knew you would be excited too.”

Vertical nods

Meaning: “Lets be agreeable!”

Horizontal nods

Meaning: “I know you won’t buy anything, but I must keep saying my spiel regardless.”

Eye Contact While Talking about Money

Meaning: “This is legitimate.”

Eye Movement to upper left while talking about Money

Meaning: “I am making up lies and hoping you will buy because of them.” [Note: Our eyes tend to move to the upper-left when we are being creative or trying hard to remember. If you do not know your prices well, the movement of your eye will be detected subconsciously and will contribute to the opinion that you are a crook or part of a scam.

“I Love You” Look. [Achieved by saying “I Love You” in your heart while looking the customer in the eye and smiling. This changes the sound of your voice as well as micro expressions in your facial muscles. We, as humans, are very adept at reading micro-expressions in faces. One recent news article alleged that the reading of micro-expressions is even the basis of “intuition.” We sense people’s thoughts and feelings.]

Meaning: “I really care. My reason for being here is to help, not to get gain. I work for Jesus.”

Gentle hand motions and reverence for the books

Meaning: “These are books have great value and sacred truth. I am not a pressure salesman, but an earnest Christian.”

Hugging a book to your chest while you talk

Meaning: “I love this book!” [Note: Where words like these would likely be spurned at sales rhetoric, the body language is often believed whole-heartedly.]

Ducking the head a little [Note: Use this physical statement when you are about to try a final close or canvass after repeated rejections. You might even say, while ducking, “just one more book” and smile.

Meaning: I want to go on with my canvass, but I submit to your permission or lack of permission to do so. I am not being pushy.

Keeping eye-contact too long

Meaning: I will intimidate you into doing what I want you to do.

Not making eye-contact, or making very little

Meaning: I am ashamed of what I am doing. You would be ashamed of me too if you only knew!

Keeping finger in book – See Turning the Page when Needed, below

Say the Name of Jesus Reverently

In the book Colporteur Ministry we find a most precious promise. “Angels will draw near to soften and subdue the heart” as we speak the name of Jesus with love and tenderness. This promise, like all others, is true. And more than many promises, it is very helpful to the canvasser. When showing the Great Controversy, find opportunities to say the name of Jesus tenderly. Change your pitch when you come to His precious name in the sentence “It shows that Jesus is coming back, and what we can do to get ready.”

Do the same when showing other books. Find opportunities to speak of Jesus in a way that shows you love him. This will do much to break down prejudice, to soften and subdue those impulse to turn you away. Try it, for the sake of Dear Jesus. 

Turning the Page when Needed

When a customer is reading a page, especially a page that may contain controversial truths, you will do well to lead his attention to another part of the book. Yet if this is done overtly, he may suspect that you are hiding something. Here is how to turn it without such suspicious: Put your finger in the page that he is reading, as if you will come back to it. Turn to another page to show something, then turn the book back to the page where he was. The fact that you turned it back will remove his suspicion that you are hiding something. And the fact that he turned for a moment will have distracted him from his reading. He will not be likely to continue reading what he read before. This technique is especially helpful in relation to the Great Controversy and God’s Answers to Your Questions.


If you have not been trained on comebacks, you are likely to be quite excited by your first few rejections. I remember so many first-day students coming to the van window and saying, “I sold six books!” But when questioned about which books they need, they matter-of-factly explain that the man’s wife will be back later in the day and write the check. Then they will deliver the books.

Later that week each of the new students learns a valuable lesson in the university of hard knocks: A Happy-D sale in the hand is worth a 3-book comeback in the appointment book.

This is not to say that experienced and matured magabookers never return to finish a sale. But they have guidelines that determine whether or not they will invest the time to come back. Here are some of the best.

  1. Don’t come back if someone else than the person wanting the book will have  to pay for it. If the young man thinks his dad or his wife or his girlfriend will pay for the book, he doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does. Many secular minded persons think that their super-religious relatives or friends would want our books. Truth be known, the secular-minded man himself is a more-likely candidate for a sale than the spouse that is always on his back about going to church. Also, if you do come back, you will have to canvass the person with the month all over again. This is do different that doing a new door except that it takes longer to get back to a comeback than to walk to a new door.
  2. Don’t come back if the person doesn’t have a very good reason for the fact that he can’t get the book now but could get it later. The fact that he wants to think about it, or that he doesn’t want to give you a check, is evidence that the time spent in visiting him again would better be spent on an undone street.
  3. Don’t come back if it is inconvenient. Since you do not know what will be convenient later in the day, never promise to come back. Your leader may take you to an entirely different territory.

Ethnic and Religious Adaptation

Our canvass is written for the average Joe American and his girlfriend. They like the Bible and feel that they need to be healthier and they are in a hurry that produces constant stress.

This does not describe everyone in America. Learning something about many religious groups, and the ethnicities that often are cues to those religions will help you at one or two homes each day. You could learn all this information on your own if you asked questions every time you met a representative of an unfamiliar religion. And you may want to make a habit of doing that. There is much more that can be learned. The following paragraphs share a few helpful facts about a religion and a suggestion or two about how to reach them in a canvass.


In the 16th century the Catholic church in England was separated from the Roman Catholic Church by the king, Henry VIII. Since that time the sovereign of England has been the supreme head of the church and it has been called by the name Anglican. The equivalent of the Anglican church in America, and in much of the world, is Episcopalian, the Church of England. This church has been heavily influenced by modernism and has become one of the more liberal churches. In 2003 it gained notoriety for ordaining a gay Bishop in New Hampshire.

Episcopalians and Anglicans from the Caribbean and from Africa are a much more conservative group of believers. Liberal Episcopalians should be canvassed much like Catholics—they share reverence for Lent and other holy days, and for tradition. Conservative Episcopalians should be canvassed as Evangelicals.


The religion of Baha’i has been one of the fastest growing religions in recent years. It is Eastern in its leanings. The Baha’i picture themselves as peace-makers, promoting education and humanitarian interests world-wide. The year 1844 is important to the Baha’i and they have even made use of Daniel 8 to arrive at this date. This was an important year for their founder, an Indian, in his visit to the United States. Baha’i appreciate the Bible, and all other sacred writings, but would not feel inclined to exalt the Bible above other enlightened materials.

They are best canvassed on non-religious materials and would be interested in knowing the Great Controversy points to 1844 as the origin of a world-wide movement of truth. They would not likely be glad to know that you were studying to be a proselytizer (one who converts others to his religion) but would be glad to find that you intended to promote health, education, family values, and many other civic interests attended to by the Seventh-day Adventist message.


Baptists have a modified Calvinistic view of Salvation and are best known for their beliefs in Baptism by Immersion and Once Saved Always Saved. They tend to view Christians as saved and cults as lost. Cults are those that do not believe in the Trinity and in salvation by faith in Christ’s death as an atonement for sin.

There are several varieties of Baptists. Notable exceptions to the above information would be found among Free-Will Baptists (who do not believe in Once Saved Always Saved) and Primitive Baptists (which adopt a strict Calvinistic predestination model of Salvation and hold very strict standards of conduct—a lady with short hair would not likely do well at a Primitive Baptist door).

Most Baptists in the southern United States hold the King James Bible as the inspired version. Mentioning that the books (when it is true) are based on the King James Bible often helps.

But more important, Baptists want to hear your testimony regarding your accepting Jesus as your Savior and wanting to tell others about the Sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary to save them from hell. Many canvassers find the Baptists to be their favorite customers. Making your personal testimony part of your regular canvass will help a great deal many more people than Baptist.


Undoubtedly some are wondering why these religions have been grouped together here. They originated on opposite continents among different races.

But both have been Americanized and modernized to such an extent that they bear remarkable similarities in the States. It should be noted that Buddhism itself can be divided to categories, and one of these—Zen Buddhism—defies some of the observations here.

Buddhism recognizes no being that could be called an Intelligent Purposeful God. For this reason some have called it atheistic. But this is not strictly true. Buddhism and Quakerism look inside for their source of illumination and ethics. They are not impressed with the Bible. Many are vegetarian…but those that are not Anglo-Saxons are not likely to feel a need for an American cookbook. Health Power and Kids in the Kitchen and Pathways would be helpful books for them.

Zen Buddhists in the States are not so very similar to their counterparts in Nepal. The national versions tend to be the young seeker types. They may be very heavily into their religion, but they are candidates for whatever you have to offer. They are not as likely to be offended by the notion of an intelligent God. They are likely to be interested in your cookbook and are likely to want to spend a lot of time with you. Give them your e-mail address, sell a book, and go. They are likely involved in supernatural experiences and you would not want to have your time manipulated.


Roman Catholics are the most numerous church in the United States. This became true in the 1830’s when many Irish Catholics fled Ireland during a time of famine. Another flood of Catholics has been pouring in from the Latin countries south of the border.

Our books say a lot about the Catholic faith and I will not reproduce that material here. Catholic homes may often be identified by a statue of Mary or St. Francis outside. They pick up on words like “Lent” and are interested to know that we have books that are excellent for Lent Season. Lent is a time (prior to Easter) when the faithful spend more than a month in special meditation on the life and death of Jesus. Desire of Ages is a popular book with those that are pious.

Many Catholics are secular Catholics that do not have much interest in their religion. Catholicism produces apathy, and in those that think, atheism. Secular Catholics should be approached from the stress and health fields.

It would not be kind or wise to sell a Great Controversy to a Catholic that thought you had promoted it as a good Catholic book. But I have sold many Great Controversies to Catholics by showing Desire of Ages and adding “and we have a book on Prophecy, but it comes from a Protestant position on the topic of the Antichrist.” This warning has often raised a curiosity in those secular Catholics who are beginning to doubt their own religion. They wonder what this forbidden knowledge might be.

Now is a good time to sell to Catholics. Since the sexual scandals of this decade, many Catholics have entered a seeking phase.

American Catholics and Latin Catholics and Irish Catholics have much in common with their theology, but related to canvassing so very differently.

American Catholics are mostly the secular Catholics mentioned above. Latin Catholics are just open minded precious people that can expected to be interested in your most spiritual books. But they should be given a fair warning on the Great Controversy, regardless. They purchase several times more frequently than American Catholics

Irish Catholics, abounding still in those cities where they began to settle some 170 years ago. They carry white skin but often relate as conservative and pious Catholics.

Knowing the name of the local Catholic church is a helpful touch. When you suspect that someone is Catholic, you may ask with tact by asking, “Do you attend Saint Clairvoix’s”? Not only will this lead you to important information, but it serves to create a sense of confidence in you, since you are apparently familiar with the neighborhood.

Church of Christ

This is the denomination that denies it is a denomination. In their view, Jesus established a church, the Church of Christ, and this can be proven from the Bible. Man established other churches, and men’s churches are not Christ’s church. You would not make headway by trying to demonstrate to them that they are a break-away from the Lutheran Church.

They tend to believe (officially they do) that only members of the Church of Christ will go to heaven. They have an extensive tract society and have written a few interesting tracts for and against Seventh-day Adventists. If you mean a mission-minded member, he may be willing to take a lot of his time to convert you. Explain that you can not spend long, and ask for some of the literature. It makes interesting reading.

One of their beliefs is that it is not right for missionaries to go door-to-door (since Jesus said that when you are staying with a family in a town, you should not go “house-to-house” looking for other accommodations.) You will do best with the average Church of Christ member if you can promote yourself as working through school and not emphasize your mission intentions.

Some members are more open, and some independent churches (unassociated with the body described above) are precious and open people as a whole. Pray for wisdom to discern between the two. One helpful suggestion: When showing the Great Controversy, mention that Martin Luther never intended to start a denomination, but only to bring people back to faith Jesus as the head of His own church of believers. This is a truth that will resonate with them and will break down whatever prejudice might have been arising from their thought that you represent some sect or denomination.


A March 2004 edition of U.S. News and World Report featured the growing movement of Evangelicals in America. This body is in favor of the Ten Commandments, is against abortion, is for missions, and against a separation of church and state.

The article suggested that the growing power of Evangelicalism has been adapting itself to culture to such an extant that it is losing its ability to change culture. This is an interesting opinion worthy of thought on the part of those who think we could change more people if we adopted more of their culture into our worship. But that is not the theme of this book…

Tell them your testimony! Be excited! Speak of your love for Jesus and of how the Holy Spirit has been teaching you so much in your devotions. If this would be hypocritical, repent and be converted. Many Evangelicals are converted and they need the influence of a thoroughly converted believer in the present truth.

This group is, personally, my favorite group to canvass. With them, use references – “Do you know anyone else around here that goes to a Bible-believing church?” With them be friends.

Not many Evangelical churches have the word “Evangelical” in their name. Many are not part of a denomination at all and so they are less likely to ask you about your denomination. How can you recognize Evangelical churches? Listen for names like “Faith Tabernacle” “Hope Community Church” “Christian Community Church of Ableville” “Grace Fellowship” “Agape New Testament Church” etc. What do these have in common? They are names that would be made up by a pastor who was seeking to attract secular people to church. The last one would be made up by a pastor who has not been trained by Willow Creek. Its name is too odd to attract unchurched people. His church is likely small, but loyal to him.

Our canvass was written for Evangelicals, so not much adaptation needs to be made when speaking to them.


A European saying said “All roads lead to Rome.” If it had been written by a Hindu it might have said “Many roads lead to bliss.” Hindus do not hold a negative opinion of Jesus. But they do hold an unglamorous view of Christianity. They view it as narrow minded, as if a man could make a road and then say no other route will lead to the same destination.

When speaking to Hindus of Indian origin, do not be ashamed to canvass children’s books about Jesus, or to canvass religious books. Even if they know you are Seventh-day Adventist, you should not assume that your books will be unwanted. But ask questions about their religion, as one that is curious and open minded. This will remove from you some of the stigma of narrow-mindedness that could hinder your relationship. Avoid the word Christian in your canvass.

Emphasize your work to raise money for tuition. Hindus, like their enemies the Muslims, believe in giving to the poor. You will not need to convince them of this. Do not enter the home of a Hindu wife without her husband being present. Believe her if she indicates that she can not buy without him. But do ask for a donation and give her a book appropriate to the donation she gives.

And again, Indian Hindus don’t need an American cookbook. But they might buy it just to get something if you have nothing else they want. Better, show Health Power and Kids in the Kitchen.

For Hara Krishna, see Spiritualism


Remember, when canvassing a Jewish community, that Jesus and Paul and Peter and Jeremiah have all worked in one. You can recognize Jewish areas by the presence of large synagogues, and by little torah-holding containers on the door posts, and by candelabras (many-branched candlesticks) in the windows. Jews can be divided up into groups by their opinions. The most rigorous are the Hassidic Jews (think men with curls for side burns). The most liberal are the reformed Jews. The latter class are numerous in America. Many of them do not believe in miracles or the supernatural and are Jewish by their choice of rituals, rather than by their faith.

Because the liberal elements are strong, it is not a sure bet to speak to Jews about your avoidance of unclean meats and your keeping of the Sabbath day. Many of them do neither. On the other hand, if you are prepared for their non-responsiveness, it may be worth mentioning.

But more likely you will help them by canvassing health books and asking for a generous donation. Keep a firm upper lip and expect each door to be a searching person. If you let repeated rejections get you down, you will be unprepared to meet the needs of the person you were sent to help. All of the Apostles were chosen from among a Jewish community that eventually killed Jesus.

The Great Controversy has also sold well in Jewish communities as a history book describing the terrible things that have happened when Christians have controlled government. Jews are, like Adventists, concerned about the trends in the Religious Right. They are readers and intellectuals and appreciate the Constitution of the United States.


Martin Luther—our Favorite Man of the 16th Century! That may not be true for all Lutherans. Some things you should know: The Lutheran church is divided into four synods in the United States. The Wisconsin Synod hold a very Protestant view of the antichrist, the same view Martin Luther held. Other synods whole other views, and the Lutheran church as a whole has been moving toward reunited communion with the Catholic church. For this reason some Lutheran’s view Luther as an extremist.

But these are the same Lutherans who are not likely to buy your books. So if you know someone is Lutheran, let them know that you love Martin Luther (with some enthusiasm) and that the Great Controversy has many good things to say about that brave Christian.

Lutherans also like Lent season and Desire of Ages and devotional books for that time. God’s Answers to Your Questions has quotes from Lutheran Authorities. But they are on the Sabbath issue and it might not be in your interest to show them.


These churches share a common heritage in their respect for the teachings and doctrines of John Wesley. In general, the Methodist church has been liberalized a great deal over the course of the last 100 years. It is considered mainstream—a position John Wesley never would have predicted. When the church began moving left of the position the Wesley brother’s left them in, communions that kept closer to Wesley’s concept of holiness became known as Wesleyan.

The Methodist-Episcopal church is mostly a black denomination, conservative, and popular with Islanders.

These churches can be treated, in many respects, like evangelicals. But mentioning that the Great Controversy speaks of the ministry of John Wesley in chapter 14 you show that you are familiar both with their religion and with your materials.

Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) (LDS)

The Mormon church was created to be counterfeit of God’s truth. With a prophet, a sanctuary message, a health and family message, and an active door-to-door ministry, and a cataclysmic event attached to 1844 (the murder of Jospehh Smith), the church has often been confounded with Adventists. It does not help that the abbreviations of our denominational names share the letters S and D.

A big mistake that often prevents canvassers from selling to Mormons is the canvasser’s habit of telling people that he is not Mormon. Though most people consider the Mormons to be a faulty church, they like them anyway. They view them almost as they do the Amish, as a community of believers that have good character and are good citizens. The Mormon’s view themselves as Christians that happen to be closer to truth than others.

When you state that you are not Mormon, the non-Mormons feel defensive for the class that is being put down in that way. They may not say anything about it, but they like you less for the statement.

Mormons, on the other hand, are not as likely to be irritated as they are to be hurt. In truth, they are not deeper into Babylon than the others you meet, and may be closer to heaven than many others. If you are willing to see them as honest persons trying to be Christians, and if you relate to them that way, you will win them to like your books.

You can make friends by asking them a question or two about their religion, and by asking them what “ward” they belong to. (Their “ward” is a organizational unit, similar to our “conference” or “church district”). They love our books on health, children, devotional themes, and church history. They would not be as likely interested in prophecy, but many are. In short, show them sets. Expect the best.

Note: In Missouri, and occasionally elsewhere, you will meet members of the Reformed LDS church. They are headquartered out of Missouri (rather than out of Utah). They are a bit more conservative. They are more into prophecy. They even make charts using the 2300 days as years. Other than that, they are much the same as other Mormons.

Note Two: You will likely meet Mormon missionaries working where you are. Sell them books. Be bold.


Did you know you are a Hunif Muslim? Time to learn if you didn’t know it. A Hunif Muslim is a follower of the God of Abraham. To Muslims, who follow the prophet Mohammed, and who also believe Abraham and Moses and Jesus were true prophets, this is an important statement. As a Hunif Muslim you:

Do not eat Pork

Do not use Alcohol, Drugs, or Tobacco.

Do not associate yourself with the Roman Church (Muslims read “Christian”)

And you do believe that there is One God, and that there is a judgment to come, and that Jesus will judge men in that judgment on the basis of their works.

When you meet a Muslim, if you greet him “A-Salam-Alai-Kum” he will return the greeting “Alai-Kum,-A-Salam.” Find someone in your local church that knows this traditional greeting of 20% of the world, and practice saying it until you say it right. You will make friends quickly this way. The greeting means “the peace of God be upon you.”

As a Muslim, you are to handle your books on holy topics with great reverence. You may mention the terrible deeds of the Catholic church that are exposed in the Great Controversy, and you may mention how is describes how most Christians will be disappointed in the judgment because they had not submitted to God.

Ask a question or two about culture…this will help to excuse your cultural blunders, and will spare you from making others in the future…and will help you make friends. Muslims are kind and generous persons who do not want to be associated with the atrocities committed by terrorists. It would not be best to bring up the unpleasantries in the Middle East.


The Orthodox churches are very much like the Catholic church…but they would be unammused if you made that comparison. These churches split from each other about 1000 years ago and have been jealous of their position as being the right one since that time. But for canvassing purposes, they are like Catholics.

The Orthodox church was not nearly as evangelistic as the Catholic church. For that reason Orthodox churches are generally ethnic churches. Learning a little about Greece, Russia, Romania, and other centers of Orthodoxy will give you something cultural to talk about other than religion. And for these people, talking about something other than religion is best. The Orthodox churches tend to be very jealous for their members and to cultivate a detesting of non-orthodox religion. So make friends over a cultural issue, over your education, and then sell your religious books.


This movement, in its embryonic stage during the time of Ellen White, has swept around the world. There are many regions of the world where there are only three or four Christian bodies. One of them will be Seventh-day Adventist. Another will be Pentecostal.

The Pentecostals are not united. In this respect, and in others, they differ a great deal from the believers on the day of Pentecost. The various branches of Pentecostalism, all speaking in tongues, reproach each other. This is especially true of the United Pentecostal Church, a group that claims to have the truth on the nature of God and to be the only true church. This is resented by other Pentecostal bodies. Some Pentecostals are Sabbath Keeping. Some are Feast Day Keeping. Many are “Holiness” Churches and some of these use this word in their name. They eschew worldliness in the church and their ladies where dresses and have long hair.

Pentecostals will tend to want to evaluate your spiritual life on the basis of your relation to the gifts. A good answer, when accosted about the gift, is that you believe in the gift of tongues and that you believe that there are true and false manifestations of the gift and that “without holiness no man will see God” and that chapter 27 in the Great Controversy speaks of how to tell a true revival from a false one.

These are statements that are true, and that almost all Pentecostal’s would agree with, and more than that, it moves the topic away from tongues to the subject of true revivals. If you are asked directly whether or not you have spoken with tongues, I would suggest saying “I’m studying that gift.” This allows you to refrain from a commitment to have tongues prayed into you on the spot on the basis that you are being cautious.

But most meetings with Pentecostals will not be confrontational. Many are humble people and searching and were drawn into the movement recently and don’t know what to think. Some helpful facts for Pentecostals include a reference to the Revival chapter mentioned above. Also, the longest chapter in the book God’s Answers to Your Questions is the chapter on the Holy Spirit (called “The Comforter.”)

Prayer works wonders for Pentecostals. Your earnest petitions, while you speak, can keep the spirits away that would make the sale go awry.

Presbyterian/Reformed Churches

John Calvin is covered briefly in the chapter “The French Reformation” in the Great Controversy. He was one of the studious thinkers of the 16th century and he dared to tackle some of the most difficult passages of scripture. Unfortunately, he did not get everything just right. In particular, He concluded that the Sovereignty of God could not allow men to have free will.

Don’t bring up the issue of free will and predestination with Presbyterian or Reformed churches. If they bring it up, pray for wisdom, and unless impressed otherwise, canvass another book.

Like the Methodist and Episcopalian churches, the Presbyterian church degenerated significantly over the last 150 years. This came to a head about the time you were born and the church split. The church that held to the Bible as inspired and to the idea that homosexuality is wrong and to belief in Resurrection of Jesus and other fundamentals is now called the PCA, or Presbyterian Church of America. When you meet these, let them know that you appreciate the fact that their church stood up against those that opposed simple faith in the Bible.

Sabbatarians  (Churches of God, etc.)

There are a number of Sabbath keeping communions outside of the Seventh-day Adventist church. One of these, the Seventh-day Baptists, existed before we did. Most the rest are branches off branches off our own dear church. Sabbatarian Pentecostals are perhaps neither, though they were influence by defections from Adventist ranks.

The largest of the branches became the World-wide Church of God (Armstrong). This organization also promoted keeping of the Feasts of the Days. When Herbert W. Armstrong died (in the 1990’s) his church disintegrated, with the largest body repudiating the Sabbath and the Feasts. The break-away bodies that held to these doctrines are known collectively as the Churches of God. One Sabbatarian group that preceded this split was the Church of God, Seventh-day.

For the leaders of many of these churches, one of their key doctrines was a disbelief in the Testimonies as given through Ellen White. For many of their children and grandchildren, this has become a non-issue. Be glad to meet them. Talk of the Sabbath briefly, and of how it blesses you. And sell your books.


These are the men you see in airports with big turbans that you always thought were Muslims. Like Muslims, they believe in one God. Like Hindus, they think of him like a Hindu God. Truly, I don’t know much about them, and it seems I seem them at airports, but not in houses. Hmmmm. Use Google. And when you sell a book to one, e-mail and tell me what worked and what you learned.

Spiritualists/“I am a spiritual person”/Wicca/Pagan/Hara Krishna 

If a young man says “I worship the Devil” canvass him like you would a silly boy. Young men and some young ladies say things like that to get a reaction. If you act cool and don’t react you might even find him dropping the act and admitting that he is interested in spiritual things.

But there are many older persons who are sincerely involved in direct forms of spiritualism as their practicing religion. Many of these will buy books. But be on the look out for class-act Devil’s Rabbits (see section of colporteur lingo for the term Devil’s Rabbits.) Demon-possessed persons may be kind to a point, and them become super manipulators, unwilling to let you go. If that happens, just go. You do not need to be force politeness on someone who will not let you excuse yourself.

But for the plane-Jane spiritualist, pray earnestly. Do not say “God bless you.” And try to sell a Great Controversy. If you must, give it away for whatever they donate. If you find yourself meeting more than two a week, you probably won’t be able to afford that. We do not have any common ground with Spiritualists, so our health books are the way in and asking for a donation is the way out. You can always afford to leave Happiness Digests in these homes. Ellen White describes how God has chosen some of these to win them from Satan’s ranks and to make them eternal trophies of what God’s grace can do. Be part of winning a trophy.

Tribal and North American Indian Religions

We have worked with the North American Division mission to American Indians. Here are some things we learned.

American Indians often do not look different than typical Caucasians. You can recognize many of them by their license plates if you pay attention.

American Indians often are Christians. Do not assume they are followers of their ancient faith.

Reservations are cultural centers. Focus on health and family. Alcoholism is a significant problem among the Indians. Many do not recognize the source of their problems, but they do recognize their problems with family and health.

Witnesses (Jehovah’s Witnesses, as they are called)

The man who taught Adventists about the state of man in death, George Storres, defected from the Adventists cause after the Great Disappointment of 1844. A few decades later he was influential on the founder of the Watch Tower society, and that body adopted a similar belief regarding the mortality of the soul.

Unlike Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not enjoy a large volume of good favor with the general populace. Their evangelistic technique is more aggressive and more persistent. Their missionaries include men and women of all ages. They are viewed as cultic for their view of Jesus as a “man” and for their view of salvation as based on merit, and finally, for the nature of the authority the Watch Tower organization holds over its members.

Canvassers, new ones, should be cautioned that JWs (as they are often called) are willing to dialogue a great deal of time while trying to convert you. Further, they have a church-wide policy against supporting other religions financially, and against purchasing their books. And even more than this, some have overworked their neighborhoods and made it more difficult for you to reach those that live near them.

With this in mind, I would give a few practical pieces of advice:

  1. 1. Don’t take long, and excuse yourself if a doctrinal argument commences
  2. 2. Don’t speak of your desire to do religious work, but rather of your efforts to get an education.
  3. 3. Do feel free to let people know that you are not a Jehovah’s Witness. If you tell someone that you are not, and they respond that you are, move to point four.
  4. 4. When they tell you they are a Jehovah’s Witness, say “oh, neat! Then you what this is like, don’t you! How long have you been doing door-to-door work?”
  5. 5. Canvass secular books, ask for a healthy donation, and give away religious books when there is money to warrant it. They are willing to take gifts

Since using this technique, I have been able to leave religious books with about half of the JWs that I have met.

A good and tactful time to say that you are not a Jehovah’s Witness is when you have just shown the Bible Story logo. Say “and in case you are wondering who puts these out, it isn’t the Jehovah’s Witnesses; it is the Bible Story Company.” In many neighborhoods, this is unneeded, and even unhelpful.

But in those places where it is needed, it is very needed. And as these are overworked neighborhoods, they are the same ones where you will likely meet a Jehovah’s Witness. Your intonation when you say “in case you are wondering” should be nonchalant, as if it is no big-deal and you are just informing. If you sound like you are demeaning the JWs, you will lose credibility with the kinder persons.

When you do meet the JW, if you handle the situation well, he will view you as a wonderful potential convert and will be inclined to make a good impression on you by his generosity.

[Note: This concludes the section on the various belief systems. We continue with other aspects of training content.]

Introduction for Non-students

In your programs you will have mothers and grandfathers and young men who have finished school and home-schoolers that are raising money to buy fancy toys. Not everyone fits neatly into the “I’m a student working my way through school” canvassing plan.

Other suggested introductions falls into three categories. First, those that suggest the canvasser is doing a service to the community. These include the typical introduction of full-time big-bookers. An example for magabookers would be “Hello, my name is ____, and I am doing a special project in the interest of families and education. This year…”

The second are those introductions of those that are raising money for a certain charitable project (such as a mission trip, helping an orphan, putting a child through school). These are similar to the introduction in the canvass. “Hello, my name is _____, and I am working on a special project. This year, instead….”

The third are those designed for youngsters raising money for whatever project. These vary with the project.

Adults will do well to find some charitable cause to associate with their canvassing. It increases the generosity of the audience. If there is no other project, remember that you are a missionary. “Whatever you give allows me to devote myself to full-time ministry.” All non-students should be honest. Our close suggests that the money is going to help for school. This will need to be adjusted to represent the reality of the situation.

For more on Adults working, see Adult Workers

Enunciation and volume and voice culture

A recent spate of billboards advertising dental practice have left many Americans scratching their heads. These might intend to communicate a message like “very good service” but are written as transcriptions of what someone would say with their mouth wide open during a dental visit – “aairy ooud ervees!”

My point is that many things that canvassers say are just as unintelligible. If persons that you do not know often ask you to speak up, this section is especially for you. If not, it may be for you anyway. Read the book Voice, Speech, and Song for motivation and helpful information on this topic.

Regarding enunciation, concentrate on clearly stated consonants. For volume, talk louder than you think you need to. Traffic, music, customer ear-damage, all these make soft-spoken canvassers inaudible. Have a singing hobbyist teach you how to speak with your diaphragm and practice all day long as you canvass. This will make even your moderate volume speech carry better.

As a leader, keep in mind that quiet canvassing is the mysterious problem that keeps some students that seem to be doing everything correctly in practice from succeeding. You can notice tendencies to quiet speech during your testimony time. Persons that are hard to understand there are hard to understand at the doors. Help them and you will help them a great deal.

Care for inventory

Some students are discouraged to find their sales decreasing after the first week. They had been led to believe that they would improve! Then why the degenerating feature of their sales records?

When books are taken new out of the box, their corners are crisp, their covers glistening. These precious attributes create a sense of value, and they last for about three days in a well-made bag. They last about two minutes in the arms of a careless student. Corners catch on clothing as the arm swings; covers bend when the book is put into the bag; water accumulates on the outside of the cold water bottle and dampens the books; sweat from the arm wrinkles and discolors the uppermost book in the hand.

Books that lose their luster don’t pass muster. Customers express less interest and give smaller donations, and buy fewer sets.

Some books don’t make it out of the bag before they succumb to group abuse. The boxes are moved several times, thrown and occasionally dropped. Boxes are opened with knives, slicing into the cover of the top book. Stockers rip the covers off of boxes and the rough edges catch books as they are lifted out. Water bottles, or lunch bags with soup containers, leak and destroy entire boxes,

During the rain unfortunate students conclude that there is no way to protect their books. And so they do not protect them.

Groups of books that survived a few hours in a canvasser’s hand are abandoned on a vehicle seat where a sudden stop transforms them to poorly constructed paper airplanes. Bags with books in them are treated like suitcases.

And so by the end of the first week the sheen has disappeared from the books, the corners have begun to expand, and a few books in the bag are soiled or otherwise damaged. What is to be done?

For the leader, students should not be permitted to carry damaged books. The money they may save by selling one will not compare to the sales they will lose by the effort. Remove damaged books and replace them with new, whatever the cost.

For the student, concentrate on showing all the books in your bag every day. When you receive a donation that warrants a gift, give a book that has been in your bag awhile. This rotation of stock keeps books from staying in your bag until they look used.

Keep water and food away from stocked books, and away from books in your bag. Store your hand-books in your bag when they are not in your hand. Fold box tops back rather than ripping them off. Keep your books away from your clothing while you walk. Open boxes carefully.

Take shelter during crazy rain and bend over your books when walking through moderate and light rain. Keep your books away from your wet clothing. Keep a plastic bag in your colporteur bag to place around your books during rain, and another to place over your bag. Your books can stay dry during rain. Dry covers quickly before the water soaks in. Keep something, receipts perhaps, between your sweaty arm and the books.

In short, BE CAREFUL. The highest selling students always have beautiful books. Low selling students routinely have dog-eared books. It is not sufficient to remove damaged books every day. It only takes an hour of carelessness to damage the books in your hand. Only care will preserve your materials.

Remember that new books, similar to yours, cost $20 in book stores. Used books, similar to yours in nature, cost 50 cents in used book stores. Or ten cents in some. It doesn’t take a poor canvass to ruin sales.

The Door Approach

Doing the door approach perfectly well will not sell many books. Doing it defectively will certainly abort many sales. The most common mistake made by new canvassers is what I call the documentary approach.  The student speaks slowly and deliberately. Typically he uses the most proper version of his name – “William Sprekendedeutch” rather than “Bill”. And he usually embellishes the intro a little to emphasize the important points.

“Good afternoon to you, sir. How are you doing? I am doing good too, and my name is William Sprekendedeutch and I am a student at a Christian school and this year our school decided to do something more healthy that would help the community and would help us raise money too, so we decided not to sell junk food or other things like candy-bars and candles, and greeting cards, or magazines. Instead, we are letting people take a look at a wonderful set of books that you would enjoy….oh, ok. Bye.”

The problem with this introduction is: It is too long.

The goal of the introduction is to answer two nagging questions very quickly so that the customer can focus on the canvass. Those questions are “who are you?” and “what are you doing?” Answering them in 9 seconds or less is best. I just timed myself. Eight seconds flat. I said:

“Hello, my name is Eugene and I am a student working on a scholarship program. This year we decided not to sell junk food or trinkets, but to do something more lasting. Here, you can take a look.”

Time yourself. If you read too slowly, it will take about 15 seconds. If it takes longer than 15 seconds, you need to do speed drills on saying the introduction as fast as you can without garbeling it.

You see, you only have about 30 seconds of grace at the door, and if you don’t get to something fascinating in your canvass during that 30 seconds, you are often invited to exit the premises. You can’t afford to waste half of that time on an introduction.

For students who have English as a second language and who have strong accents, society is a little kinder to you. They listen and you can probably take 15 seconds without much trouble. You might also have a hard time reading this paragraph and understanding what it means. So trainers, this is for you. For your foreign students, speed up their introduction, NOT by making them talk so fast that no one can make out what they are saying, but my super abbreviating the introduction. Here is an example brief one.

“Hi, I’m Alex. I’m working my way through school and I’m not selling junk-food. Here…”

You may also want to help them abbreviate other canvasses so as to avoid words that are difficult to pronounce, or that sound like something a man struggling with English wouldn’t say. (The phase “The Greatest Drama ever told” is a classic example of a phrase that makes persons with an accent sound fake. I don’t use it in my canvass for that and other reasons.)

“My Hands are Full” “My Hands are Dirty”  or Their Carrying Their Dog!

There are times when putting the book in the hand is just not practical. But the principle of putting the hand into the possession of the customer does not change. There are some things that can be done to increase the chance of a book in the home:


  1. 1. Offer to wait while they put the dog away.
  2. 2. Let them look at your books with dirty hands. Most dirt comes off. It is worth the risk. If they have gooey greesy hands, then, umm, don’t do this.
  3. 3. Put the book down on their car, their table, or on the arm of their chair, or somewhere where they would put their things. If they can not look at it from that place, show it briefly from your own arm, and put it there when you are ready to show the next book.
  4. 4. Hand the book to their spare fingers. If they can get a grip on it with a hand while holding something in their arm, let them do it. You can turn the pages for them.

When they have their baby in one hand and something in the other and you can not do any of the above, go ahead and canvass the book in your own hands. But make it a brief canvass and close quickly. If the customer is interested, he will find a way to free his hands to take a closer look.

The Devil’s Dogs

In case you are bit, you want to be familiar with the leadership section on what to do when a student is bit by a dog. You will find it under the heading “Sick and Incapacitated days.”

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there was a canvassing instructor who taught his colporteur students that “Dogs don’t bite colporteurs.” Then, once upon a time in a land not quite as far away, that same instructor was, while canvassing, bit by a dog. Poor me. I was working with students at the annual self-supporting Bible Conference, held that year in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The bite didn’t bleed badly. The owner of the dog saw it happen and was able to assure me that the dog had had its shots. Apparently the dog’s previous master had died only a couple days before and the nervous animal was still showing unusual aggression.

Because of that bite a book was sold that would not have been, in my estimation, sold any other way. I am glad for the canine fang indention.

You, on the other hand, may have a deep-seated fear of dogs. You are not alone. One of the most doggie-terrified students that has ever graced my programs joined me last winter—in Knoxville. I did not inform her that that was the only city, of the hundreds I have worked in over a score of states, where I had ever been bitten.

My student was an Indian young lady whose parents lived in Kuwait. She would be paralyzed by the appearance of any dog. Neither tails wagging nor tongues sagging, nothing was evidence enough to Tania that she was not on the pet’s menu for supper.

Can you relate? God does not require you to go spelunking in the Lion’s Den voluntarily. Here are some practical ways to handle dog stresses:


  1. If the dog is coming at you, hold your bag in front of you with the wide end facing the dogs mouth. Your bag is too big for the dog to bite and he knows it. This is an old UPS trick to keep dangerous mouths at bay.
  2. If you are afraid of the dog in the fence, do not enter the fence. Yell for the owner to come out. Your yell works much like a door-bell. You can explain your fear of the dog as an explanation of your fear.
  3. If you are not afraid of the dog and believe that he is either friendly or sufficiently restrained, enter the fence with a prayer. Watch out for little dogs that circle behind to nip at your ankles. They account for a large portion of the dog bites that occur.
  4. Remember that in my programs we have knocked on about 3 million doors. About one in six of these has had an unrestrained dog, or about 500,000 loose mutts. Most of these have barked. Six of them have bitten. As if February, 2004, the famous victims are:

Nathan Stearman — Status: Alive and well, pastoring in Michigan

Ruth Heinamann — Status: Alive and well and doing Literature Work today

Lacey Klump — Status: Alive and well and teaching on the secondary level

Eugene Prewitt — Status: Alive and well and writing this book.

Judy [Namm] Ramos — Status: Alive and well and teaching on the elementary level

Unremembered Heroe — Status: Hard to say. But they were ok after treating the bite.

The most serious of these was the bite by Ruth Heinamann. Her muscle was bruised and she was sore for several days.

If I were to compile a similar list for the long-term effects after-work basketball games, it would be longer and more solemn. Be afraid of the court.

Because of the Skip-a-house-skip-a-blessing principle (see the section named accordingly), you should be creative in finding ways to approach homes that are guarded by dogs. Many times the dogs are tied or fenced in such a way that some door can be approached without getting within the dogs reach.

Do not worry much about wandering dogs, the kind that are in the street. These are almost always either friendly or timid.

Some signs may catch your attention as you move home-to-home: “I [pictured—a Doberman Pincher] can make it to the gate in 2.4 seconds. Can you?” “[Pictured, a revolver barrel pointed at you] Never mind about the dog, beware of owner.” The most frequent is still the “Beware of Dog.” How should you relate to the beware-of-dog sign?

Beware. Here are some ways to do it. Yell “here doggie doggie! Here doggie doggie!” and wait before unhitching the gate. Look both ways for the dog.

The Close

In 2002 I was visiting a school that had an ongoing canvassing ministry. While there I accepted an invitation to join the students in the their afternoon canvass. Graciously, the leader chose to put me with several of the more gifted students. One man responded to the canvass with a firm “no thank you.” The talented young lady making the presentation seemed not to have heard him.

I opened my eyes a little wider as she said something more about the Great Controversy…the book he had just rejected…and closed with a strong assumption of the sale. “I’ll make you a receipt and I can wait right here while you go and get the donation.” Then she began to scribble. At least, that is how I remember it. 

The man looked at her for a moment, stepped into his house, and retrieved ten dollars for the book. I couldn’t believe it.

I would never have made that sale.

To tell you the truth, I doubt Jesus would have made it.

In North America the literature work has often followed on the tail of sales trends. Sellers of insurance do not have the Holy Spirit at their right hand to make impressions in just the lines needed. Consequently they have worked to perfect the art of closing. I have heard men that I respect in the literature work say that “closing is 90% of the sale.”

Not in my programs.

Our top sellers, those that average over $300 per day, will tell you that we have spent precious little time training on closing techniques. They have, no doubt, learned their close. The know when to use it. They know their prices, the value of re-closing, the danger of dead-air-space.

But their assumptions of the sale follow a natural law…the customer must evaluate for himself the merits of getting the book and chose to have it rather than his money.  This distinguishes persuasion from manipulation. The manipulator determines the value of the merchandise and works to lead the customer to buy without validating the value.

The persuader magnifies the value and works to lead the customer to make an intelligent decision in harmony with the value. This is, in fact, easier. Intelligent persons see through manipulation and quite resent it.

Those with lessor insight feel that something wrong has happened and resent their weakness in making the purchase. Neither of these outcomes ought to please the evangelistic canvasser.

With that said, Jesus assumed the sale. His assumption of the sale conveyed a message. I would put it in words like these, “When I said to you, ‘follow me’ it was because I knew that you wanted to do the right thing and not to please yourself. I did not want to express doubt in your moral values by insinuating that you might prefer to be selfish. That is why I didn’t say, ‘If you want to, follow me.’ I believe in you.”

When the customer sees the value of the book and knows he has a need, it is an insult to his character to ask him if he wants to buy. Of course he wants to buy! At least, part of him does. That is the part that we appeal to when we say, “we accept cash or check, which ever is best for you,” or “you will love that one on prophecy” or “could you get me a glass of water too?”

Each of these phrases is based on the presupposition that the customer will make a principled decision.

The key to a successful non-pressure assumption is a convicting canvass.

And a convicting canvass without an assumption to bring the customer to a point of decision is a very obnoxious altar call. Conviction fades as boredom blooms or frustration flares. An assumption of the close is a courtesy. It acknowledges the time constraints of the customer and gives him the benefit of the doubt in terms of guessing at his spiritual choices.

Men are not oblivious to the implications that they are spiritual. They long to prove themselves worthy of that opinion. Young people who have long-since stopped attending church will talk like Bible-believing Christians to those that expect them to be spiritual.

The phrases “And pray for me too” and “Could I get a glass of water too?” carry particular force as moral encouragements. Each of them could be written as a small paragraph of helpful sentences. When we say “And pray for me too, I am doing this for a few more weeks” we are saying:

You and I are on the same spiritual side of the battle.

I believe that God answers your prayers and that you are sincerely spiritual

I know that you want to help me.

I am not just trying to get money, I am sincerely spiritual also. (If you ask for prayer in a light, nearly flippant way, the message about your spirituality comes across much differently.)

When I say “too” it is because I perceive that you want a book

And when you say “Could I get a glass of water too?” you are saying:

You are a generous person.

Can I step into your home for a minute while you I drink the water?

I know that you want to help me.

When I say “too” it is because I perceive that you want a book.

These closes work most effectively when the canvasser has made friends. And they serve, because of their warmth and sincerity, to help in the business of making friends.

On adapting to holidays, special, or tragic events in the news

I have had annual bouts with the Fourth of July, Easter, and Halloween. Here is the gospel of holiday canvassing: People buy books on every day of the year except Christmas.  Thanksgiving is mostly a day-time holiday. The Fourth and Halloween are primarily evening holidays. Easter is a morning holiday.

So when you canvass on the Fourth it would be well to stop before dusk. And when you canvass on Halloween (the sun goes down very early on October 31 regardless of where you are in the states) it would be well to stop before 7:00 P.M.

We have had significant success on these holidays, and lessor ones as well. People are home and these are great times to do upper-class housing developments.

In 1996 I had a program in Maine where we made canvassing the evening of the Fourth optional. Those who opted out were promised a ride to a local fire-works show. As the evening drew on a fog rolled in from the sea. It was so thick that the fireworks were canceled. Everyone came home to meet the canvassers who had chosen the better part. It was one of the most successful evenings of the summer.

Easter brings to mind the scenes of Christ’s passion. What theme could better compliment our work? Some effective canvassers have modified their introduction for the holiday, “This Easter we decided not to sell junk-food….” The Desire of Ages and Jesus Friend of Children are appropriate Easter specials. On one Easter a man I was canvassing stopped me in the cookbook canvass and asked if $20.00 would be enough for it. I said yes and he closed the door and went to get the money.

When he returned I said something like, “Thank you so much. I should have told you that we have a special book for this weekend. Even though it is much larger, I could leave it for the same price if you preferred to trade.” Then I showed him Desire of Ages briefly. He looked at it and said something like, “yeah, I’ll take that one instead.” Amen.

Special types of customers

Ellen White speaks of those who have no “special adaptability to this work.” This term, adaptability, is most appropriately used here. The ability to meet the needs of a great variety of customers is one of the keys to consistency in the work. The odd cases often outnumber the normal. Here are some special hints for working with certain classes of students.

Blind, Deaf, or otherwise handicapped

Young people will find not better time than their first summer canvassing to learn the difference between caring and pitying. People like to know that someone cares. They grow weary, or irritated, at being pitied. This is especially true of handicapped persons.

It may be wise, some times, to just ignore handicaps and to canvass handicapped persons like you would any other. But if you are not ashamed to ask, it is appropriate to ask in a friendly and curious way, “did you have an accident some years ago?” or “were you born blind?” The mistake would be to ask as if you feel great pity for the unfortunate soul. They have learned to deal with their issues just as you have learned to deal with yours.

Exceptions to this rule would include persons who have very recently suffered a stroke, had a crippling accident, or have contracted a debilitating disease, and that have not yet made peace with their situation. These may expect and appreciate a little expression of sympathy and an offer of prayer.

Remember that they are diseases, such as MS, Parkinson’s and cerebral palsy (some cases), that can cause a man appear to be mentally handicapped (because of lack of coordination) though his mind is functioning perfectly well. Those with Parkinson’s are often trembling. Those with cerebral palsy (unaccompanied by mental retardation) often speak awkwardly, but intelligently. Talk with these persons for awhile. They are more lonely than many of the elderly. And they have active minds that are very susceptible to the truth of your books. They handle their own money.

And they, like other handicapped persons, want to be helpful. There is nothing as wearing on the human soul as feeling that one is a burden on those that are around him. Ask for a donation for your books and say a warm and gracious thank you. You will have given more than you have received.

The blind can buy books for their relatives. And even more importantly, you can connect them to Christian Record Braille, the Adventist organization that will happily provide them with Adventist publications in Braille…for free! They have large lending libraries of records and CD’s with audio books. Get the name and address of Blind persons interested in these services and contact your conference for an idea of how to contact Christian Record Braille.

Deaf persons are great customers. Many can read lips. Speak distinctly and look them in the eye while you talk. Others can not. Write a brief introduction on paper and point to key points on the covers of your books. Take your time. They read. Recognize their homes by noticing that lights go on and off when you push in the door bell.

The Rich

Step One to selling to wealthy individuals: Recognize the statistical fact that they are our best customers. Though they may be increased with goods, yet it is true that the moderately rich persons we canvass are not generally the oppressors of society. They are hardworking professionals that are anxious to promote education and promising young people. They like the beauty of our books and appreciate the quality of our literature.

A mind block is what prevents some students from doing well in these areas. Expect that you, too, will be rewarded for following God’s counsel to target the upper class of society. (You can find this in Colporteur Ministry. There you will also find a hint: Speak to them your simple testimony and of the love of Jesus.)

The rich have recognized the value of time. Make your first canvass brief. Be warm, but not wordy. Show a variety of books quickly. They like to make choices, and may buy all that you show.

Use your extra information, especially those points that show that you know your material. You want to give evidence, subtly, that you are a careful student. Turn to specific pages. Mention specific chapters. Pray for them. Close on sets. They will be decisive. Be thankful that those who are not interested turn you away quickly and firmly. They respect your time. Go forward bravely and you will find searching persons.

The Poor

Where are you working? Poor area in the southern states is not the same as poor area in the northern states. Poor area in industrial towns is not the same as poor areas in retirement communities. Poor-looking area in the country is not the same as poor-looking area downtown.

And then there are shades of poverty. By poor, do you mean small single-income homes with mowed grass? Or do you mean government housing projects? Or do you mean areas where the city routinely has to demolish condemned homes?

Before addressing methods, it is important to explain some differences between these poor areas.

The northern part of the United States, generally, promoted industry in the 19th century. At the same time, the southern part of the United States sported an agrarian society. The consequences of these patterns are still with us. Poor areas in industrial areas often house low-income factory workers. While these persons are poor, they are also self-reliant, disciplined, and have some money.

Poor areas in agrarian societies often house migrant workers, and these are often illegal aliens. As farm machinery began to replace man-power, these areas became centers of high unemployment. This has tended to influence the cultural norms, allowing unemployed persons to feel almost at home living at the expense of the wealth land-owners and tax payers.

Where farms have remained small and family oriented—namely in country settings—and where men have purchased their own property, appearances of poverty are often misleading. Country folk save money. And they kind of enjoy their house just the way it is. Your grandmother may be typical of this body of Americans. If she lives in the country, she doubtlessly has a pleasant disposition. Country grandmothers do. City retirement places are a different story. See the section on canvassing the elderly for help in those area.

For poor areas in industrial towns (generally northern towns, but including southern towns that happen to have significant industry) remember that poor people do have money. When they say they don’t, they often mean that they are not truly interested. Show them another book and close. Use the tactics headed under the no-money objection.

For poor areas with high unemployment, work quickly. Recognize discipline when you see it. An organized living room, a flower garden well care for, a well constructed porch that is newer than the home—these are evidences of an ordered life. Canvass such a home as if it were in a development.

On the other hand, homes surrounded with beer cans and pieces of cars, those where the television is blaring during the working time of day and the children are playing outside in drooping diapers—give them a fair chance. But don’t show a ten-book set. And don’t let the busybodies talk your ear off. Stay in control of the situation, deliberately and simply, show a couple books. Close and if the customer will not make a decision, decide “no” for him and drop down.

It is possible to have good success in unemployed areas, especially near the beginning of the month. But it requires drive and a willingness to stay business like. You will sell there by seeing many people and selling to those who want to buy.

Leaders, many of your students will take most the summer to develop that level of discipline. Avoid high unemployment places.

I will close this section with a special note on poverty in Spanish-speaking areas. Latino families do not place a high value on independent living. They prefer community. They don’t mind being cozy. And they live in poor communities.

How is it that Spanish-speaking canvassers are the champions in the our English-speaking division? View a Spanish house as a business. You want to talk to the manager and to all hopeful customers. In the Latin culture prices are not set, they are negotiated. Your high-end price comparisons will be important here. The price on the back of the book will be important. You trying to learn a Spanish word will induct you into the family. Latin families are pious. Say the name of Jesus reverently. The families are warm. Be friendly briefly and close. Stay in control. Suggest borrowing when money is an issue…it is more likely to work here. Pray with the people. And if you are not selling, move quicker. You want to get to the receptive pocket of homes before it is too late.

Elderly Persons

Every summer I have a student, most often a female, which loves to canvass “old people.” How did they come to enjoy those men and women rich in experience?

Old people are easily won and are prone to adopt grandchildren. They have a culture of understanding and marvel when they perceive youth holding to old-fashioned values. We all should love to canvass them. But alas, many prefer not. The experience of this larger class is that the well-advanced in age have a “fixed income” and “aren’t interested.”

Here are ways to turn that experience around:

  1. 1. Speak lovingly about your own grandparents. Ask them where their grandchildren live and then comment on how you wish you could spend more time with your own grandma. (or, if she no longer lives, how you wish she were around to spend time with.)
  2. 2. Ask the mature person, after the first or second sentences, if you are speaking loud enough for him to understand. If you get a non-committal, or nonsensical, response, double your volume.
  3. 3. Display some familiarity with the issues facing older persons. Mention that your book (one with large print, like Peace Above the Storm) has large print and non-glare paper to make it easy to read in the morning when it “is hard to focus on the page.” Mention grief in your canvass—elderly people have acquaintances and loved ones dying regularly.
  4. 4. Don’t sit down. Be the one asking questions, especially a few questions that would allow the older person to teach you something. The need to feel needed moves men and women to do many things. Fill that need. But stay in command of the situation. Recognize situations that are holding you back and free yourself.
  5. 5. Love them. Say you love them in your heart. It will change the nature of your smile. Be courteous. Pray with them, and earnestly. Love begets love. And old people hate it when others are taking advantage of them. Con artists often capitalize on the helpless aged people with money. Then you must care. Use less assumption than you would with a younger person. Letting them make their own decisions will increase your creditability.
  6. 6. Don’t make them afraid. Don’t ask to enter their homes. Don’t move quickly. Avoid elderly neighborhoods after dusk.

Many grandparents are raising their grandchildren today, and they are having a hard time at it. Show old people children’s books.

Believe that they will buy, and they will. The key to success in Grannyburge is many small sales.

Police Officers

If you are doing this (magabooking) in the United States, what you are doing is legal. Know the nature of the legal rulings mentioned in this book. If you feel that you are being naughty, it will show all over your face and will keep an officer from trusting you or taking a serious look at your books.

But aside from our mental blocks—our fear that we will be arrested—there is no reason to doubt the interest of an officer you have not canvassed. Officers are recruited from that very portion of society that we most enjoy. They are recruited young, have a steady income, often have an attractive wife and small children that they love to come home to.

Canvass them with boldness—in their car, at the door where they live, at the police station when you arrive at it. If they are parked, yell a greeting at them and wave before you approach the car. You do not want to make them nervous. It is best not to canvass one who is asking you to leave. And if you are concerned that you may be in violation of a local ordinance (though local ordinances are trumped by the rulings of the Supreme Court) be sure while canvassing an officer to mention that you are a Seventh-day Adventist missionary. This will make it easier for him to recognize that you are legit.

Getting in the Home

What to do to get in

I am not very skilled at this. Mostly what I do is make friends and the people invite me in. Also, I ask them for a drink of water, and they invite me in. Also, when they are getting money, they invite me in to wait for it. While I am there I often show more books and sell more books.

Mostly what I know about getting in is: Don’t put your foot in the door. And also: Don’t dip your head and walk in like your father was trained to do. You might get into the house, but you may also get the heart slammed in your face. Better: Ask about the pictures that are just inside the door, make friends with the children, after showing a couple books to an interested person, ask if there is a table where you might show them the rest of them.

But for magabooking, if they don’t invite you in, you can do your work just well at the door. Trying too hard to get in many waste your time and limit your good will with your customers.

The weather will get you in sometimes. God can arrange that for you.

What to do once you are in

Sell a set. People make big decisions in their homes. If mom and dad are both there, show everything. $100 to $200 is not as much money as you think it is.

Then get out. Eating supper or taking time to just sit and talk—these turn the living-room into a disaster area.

Special Objections

Someone [selling something else] has already been by

Hear: “The Devil is afraid you will bless this neighborhood.” We have sold successfully over top of every type of salesman. If you can reach your leader, it might be wise to move in front of the salesman (so he is redoing your homes.) But if he is long gone, or moving is impractical, worry not. Different people will come to the door; you will make a very contrasting impression; you may want to start with a devotional book like He Taught Love to make a distinction. Experiment. Do what works best.

Many times people say this when it is not true. Salesmen may have been by, granted, But it might have been last month. Also, if the salesman came through early in the day, then many people have come home since that time. If he came just recently, it is likely you can switch sides of the street and have virgin territory. Pray and be wise. Your “not to sell junk-food or trinkets” line was designed to help with this situation. Are you still using it?

Someone [from your group] has already been by

First, remember that she might have met them at a business, or at the neighbor’s place, or she might have been outside when your partner did the other side of the street, or she might just have seen a bunch of your group in the neighborhood when she came home and invented an excuse. The objection may not be true.

But if several people mention it, it probably is. Alert your leader. Keep working. Many times God has allowed these kind of apparent mistakes because the first student missed an important opportunity. Perhaps someone has come home, or perhaps he only showed the cookbook and gave up at a home that would have purchased a set of message books.

When they say that someone doing the same thing was by just a few weeks (or days) ago, I interpret that to mean “I am not interested” and reply, “Oh! Ok. This is one they gave me for this area for those that had seen the other books earlier [pick any book, it is true for all]. You can use it to order others later.” Then canvass the book as a drop down.

I have more books on this topic then I’ll  ever read….

This is a rather odd form of the “I am not interested” objection. Pretend that is what they said. See the section on that objection.

Five salesmen have been here just this week

This is usually a lie. Truly. People use it to get salesman to leave the neighborhood. Treat it as a “not interested” objection.

I am putting my own children through college

Why is this an objection? In effect the person is saying “you are just asking for money.” They do not refuse to buy from Wal-Mart on account of their children’s tuition. What is the solution? Exalt the value of the books. Stop speaking of donations. Speak of price. And more importantly, show  a different type of book. They obviously were not interested in the one you showed first.

Why don’t you get a real job?

Smile big and ask “have you ever tried this?” Perhaps add “I chose this work a way I could add value to the community while earning my tuition.” Don’t be sensitive to this insult. Those that spend moments thinking about it and feeling wounded will hear it more often. Satan pays attention to what works.

[The customer is very young]

Are you sure you want to sell to someone that is nine years old? I don’t recommend it. In fact, I would suggest a policy of not selling to anyone under the age of 14 without their parent’s permission. And I would not suggest trying to sell to the twelve-year old child and then ask him to talk to his parents. They will not feel that that was the appropriate channel for the sale. Ask to speak to the parent before showing the book. The young person will probably stand around if you were friendly enough when you asked.

If parents are not home, still do not sell to the child. A twelve or thirteen year old person that has his own job and some of his own money might be an exception, but it is risky. You could ask him to call his parents and ask if it is OK for him to buy it.

You could face a very uncomfortable legal situation if you or your students sell to a minor that is judged too young to resist the sales pressure. Sell to people old enough to think things through and to say “no” when they are not interested.

When in worship someone gives a testimony that “a ten year old boy bought a GC!”, handle it carefully. Thank the testifier for trying to help the “child,” and then comment that no one is to sell to children under the age of 14 without parental permission.

[The customer may be senile, have Alzheimer’s or dementia]

Someone else probably handles their money. If you suspect a lack of mental ability, do not try to sell. Ask if there is a relative that you could talk to. If not, wish them a good day. Give them a Happiness Digest. Do not stay long. You could be suspected of trying to take advantage of the elder person.

Business canvassing

Why are businesses intimidating? There are a combination of factors that keep them out of most students’ comfort zone.

First, people expect you to sell well in businesses. Life comes with enough pressures and the expectations of fellow workers can be oppressive.  Second, businesses often repeat the same excuse – they do not allow soliciting. This robs workers of their courage. Third, there is no door to buffer the initial exchange. In this respect, businesses are like canvassing parking lots and people in their yards.

But for all these things, my students have come to love businesses. I have had several programs in the last year where I took out a team in which every student requested businesses. What moved them?

Business people have jobs. They are all ‘home’ and they are all active (as opposed to being retired or juvenile). Most have children. Many are just waiting for a customer and have nothing better to do than to listen to the student.

Perhaps even more importantly, money is worth less in businesses. In the home it is important to use fifty cent coupons. A few dollars will buy a meal. Ten dollars can do many things. Checks are only occasionally written for more than $500. And money spent is a personal loss to personal savings.

In businesses men purchase buildings and vehicles. They look at balance sheets that include numbers in the 100’s of thousands of dollars. They win contracts for tens of thousands. They negotiate five minutes to save $800 on a maintenance project. Ten dollars will do nothing. And a thousand dollars spent has no impact on the personal life of the spender. Money is spent more freely.

But what special techniques can be used to win people in the businesses? I teach less of them than I use to. I have come to realize that students sell better in businesses even when they are treated like walk-in homes. In other words, businesses produce more sales even when they are canvassed just like homes.

But there is a lot to know about businesses canvassing. See the section on leading for hints on how to manage a team with businesses. Here are points on training students for doing them.

  1. 1. Train them on the same day that you let them practice.
  2. 2. Train them primarily by prefacing their introduction with “Is the owner or manager available?”
  3. 3. Train them to canvass one or more customers in the parking lot of businesses when they leave them. Customers are often better buyers than the workers in the store.
  4. 4. Train them to start with people in the shops and shipping departments behind businesses. These are more youthful, more likely to buy, and less likely to ask you to leave. After speaking to them you may proceed to the front desk.
  5. 5. Train them to ask the owner “Is there anyone here with small children that I should show these to?” after canvassing him.

Special Training on Selling Special Books

Product knowledge and one’s personal appreciation of the product will be the most significant variables in determining which books a student is likely to sell most. Learn page numbers, chapter themes, paragraphs to read. Any time you show a particular facet of your book to a customer he is likely to conclude that you are sincere and trustworthy. More than these general facts, there are some specific hints that can help you sell some specific books.

The Great Controversy

This past summer (2004) there were two teams (one in Michigan and one in Kansas) that were run largely by my students. Between them they sold more than 3,000 copies of the Great Controversy. This is not normal for colporteur programs. How did they do it? There is no doubt that the students appreciated the book, emphasized it, and studied it. Here are some other pointers.

The Great Controversy is not often sold by emphasizing its historical content. While this content should be mentioned in the canvass (i.e., “covers the last two thousand years and shows how prophecies have been fulfilling), do not give it more attention.

What generally-felt needs are fulfilled by the crowning book of the conflict series? It answers the question “Why had God allowed sin and suffering?” in chapter 29. It puts Revelation into story form and makes it easy to understand. It speaks of Jesus’ Second Coming and of what we can do to get ready for Him.

It is important when showing the Great Controversy, or other books, to use the first person rather than the second person. In other words, rather than saying “this book will help you understand Revelation!” say “Revelation was difficult for me, but this book helped me understand it much better.” The second statement, said humbly, invites the customer to be vulnerable about admitting that he too needs help.

Show pictures in the Great Controversy. If the picture you open to is the page on spiritualism (avoid this) mention that the book shows the “dangers of spiritualism.” This will keep them from suspecting that you are promoting the dark arts. If the picture opened is Jesus and the man before the Ten Commandments, smile and offer “Isn’t beautiful that Jesus has His arm around us in the judgment?” This is a book where you especially want to take notice of the section on saying the name of Jesus reverently.

The Desire of Ages

Is this your favorite book? Many would concur if you answered yes. Testify to the impact this volume has had on your life and you will not keep it in your bag for long. This is the key to selling it. Those that testify distribute several each week. Those that do not may not put out one in a month.

Pathways to Health and Happiness

You must know that this book was initially titled the Ministry of Healing. Ellen White gave it to the church to help sanitariums rise out of debt. It was written to be sold. In this book you will find something for everyone. There are sections on how to overcome depression, how to overcome addictions, how to improve marital relations, how to raise children, how to improve social skills, how to save money on medical expenses and how to control weight.

More than this, the book contains a veritable summary of the Desire of Ages. For the customer that means that it shows how we may imitate Jesus in his work of caring for the sick. It presents his life as a model that will soften our hard natures.

Know all these things and practice pulling out the most relevant of them in each situation.

God’s Answers to Your Questions

Contrary to popular canvasses, this book is not non-denominational. Neither was it put together by believers from 40 different denominations. Perhaps this is the book that is most often misrepresented by canvassers using canvasses that are untrue. Don’t follow suit. You will do better not even to mention the idea of denominations. Suffice it to say that “these answers are taken from the Bible” when you are showing the book.

By fibbing you may sell lots of these books, but you will not win souls that way. You will associate the truth of God with your personal dishonesty and decrease the chance of a customer being prepared for the Mark of the Beast test.

On a positive note, this book has quotes from such notables as Dwight Moody, the Southern Baptist Convention, John Wesley, Martin Luther and others. See the chapter on the change of the Sabbath. Using these quotes will help you. But be prepared to turn the page when needed.

Non-sales issues addressed in Training:

Accounting Issues

You may think that the summer will be over when it is over. This is not so. Students, their parents, and their relatives will be indignant at the paltriness (smallness) of their scholarships. They will fee that you have cheated them, broken your promises, charged unreasonably, recorded inaccurately.

During training you can do things to prevent the post-summer-accounting trauma. First, have a written version of your financial policies available for all to read. I keep a copy online at Feel free to read it for ideas.

Secondly, you want the students to sign a paper that they have read and understood the financial policies and that they understand that the written policies, and not verbal statements or agreements, will be the basis of judging all financial issues.

Thirdly, you want to let the students know how to organize their money, how to fill in a total sheet, and especially – to whom they should have checks written. They should know whether you accept credit cards. They should understand that they are to use the prices you have recommended.

Discipline issues

Do not spend much time on these extra issues, and especially not much time on discipline. But make a strong and early statement that students are required to do what they are asked to do by leaders. Make them understand that insubordination (for other than reasons of conscience) is grounds for dismissal.

And let them know what forms of discipline may be administered by whom. Fines are the most workable forms of discipline in most programs.


These are great things to go over on the first day of a program. Key ideas: Radios are not for talking to your colporteur partner. They are not for being silly. Students are responsible when they are lost. (If you do not have them mark them in some way, this will be unenforceable.

Create a chore list. Read it. Post it. Have some leader be responsible for seeing that students keep up with their assigned tasks. Here is a sample chore list from one of my programs. These chores were to be changed once a week or less. I sometimes leave them the same for an entire program.

Accounting: Adolph 

Radios: Becky

Kitchen: Calista

Breakfast Prep

  Sun – Tues Dale, Eric, Felicia

  Wed – Thur Gretchen, Helen, Isaac

Breakfast Cleanup




Trash Removal: Matt

Men’s Bathroom: Neil

Ladies’ Bathroom: Oprah

Church Orderliness: Qualia

School Orderliness: Russell

Stocking Vehicles: Sam, Ted, Ursula

Checking auto fluids: Vallero

A good idea at this point, to save time and to prevent problems, would be to break up the students into groups with the a leader over each group to explain what is involved in fulfilling their duties. One leader could take the kitchen crew (Calista to Lyle) and explain what the church expects in terms of using its kitchen, and what you expect in terms of cleanliness, health, scheduling, and punctuality. Another leader could take the cleaning people (Matt to Russell) and explain which trash cans need to be emptied at what times, what rooms need to be cleaned and to what extent each day, and what is expected in the bathrooms.

Training is also the time to explain the daily schedule in moderate detail.

Principles about sharing non-sales issues

Artistic teaching – etching on open minds carefully. This definition deserves attention. The principles below may transform mundane announcements into colorful captions. But not one or all of them can make logistical issues (like those above) into sales training. Here is the most important principle regarding non-sales sharing: Be very brief, positive, up-beat. Be done. Go on.


Affirmation vs Negation

Class participation means learning. When students do not expect that they may be called to give an answer, their minds tend to wander. Often inexperienced, or poorly trained, educators defeat their own goals by neglecting to ask questions and to encourage responses.

Asking questions well will, itself, summon more responses. Here are examples of bad questions:

“OK class, what is the number-one reason people do not buy books?”

“Just think, what makes a mother want to buy a children’s book?”

“Who can name the three causes of discouragement?”

Each of these inquiries demands that the audience read the questioner’s mind. Let us take the first question as an example. What is the number one reason that people don’t buy books? Why, obviously, it is because they are not interested. Actually, it is because the price is too high. Well, the truth is that the number-one reason is that we don’t pray enough. Of course, the number one reason is that there are not enough colporteurs to meet them, so they don’t get a chance to buy. But more fundamentally then that, the number one reason that people do not buy books is…nothing. People do buy books. It was a trick question.

When you ask such an open-ended question, one that could have several valid answers, your audience becomes timid. They fear to give a wrong answer. Often this timidity grows a few minutes after a brave soul raises his hand. “Umm, is the number one reason that we don’t show them the book that meets their needs?”

If the teacher, wise and experienced, recognized the open-ended-ness of his question at this juncture, he might save the situation. “Excellent answer, Keith! If we showed people the book that satisfied their desire, they would be much more likely to make a purchase. My question was too vague. There are many important reasons people don’t buy books. I was thinking of a different one . . ..”

But the same type of teachers that do not recognize open-ended questions often fail miserably when they receive an answer like Keith’s. “Nope, Keith, that isn’t it. Anyone else want to try?” What do you think? Who is going to want to try to read your mind and face public humiliation when they fail?

This principle of teaching covers, not merely poorly worded questions, but even well worded ones. “Who here can tell me one of the three basic types of objections that we trained on yesterday?” If anyone dares to give an answer, and that answer is the right answer to a question you didn’t ask, acknowledge and affirm their answer as much as you can. You wish to elicit responses.

So when Sheila raises her hand and calls out, “When they say ‘I am a Jehovah’s Witness!’” You might respond, “Thank you, Sheila, yes, that is right, religion is one of the three basic types of objections that we talked about yesterday. Who can name another one?”


The uninformed teacher often gets into an unfortunate cycle. His hearers pay little attention, so he talks longer to help them get his point, so they get bored and pay less attention, so he talks longer to help them get the point, so they get more bored and pay less attention.

Magabook trainers often fail for similar reasons. They are some sure ways to lose the attention of your audience. And if you fail to recognize that you have lost that attention, the possibility of remedying the attention deficit declines.

How may you lose your audience? Insult them. Bore them. Drone. Preach to minority.

You insult your audience when you take 30 minutes to tell them something they understood in the first two minutes of your talk. This is the natural effect of current methods of trying too hard to teach some idea such as “walk fast” or “put the book in the hand” or “knock the doors loud enough for people to hear.” It may be fun to make a skit to illustrate the quiet knocker or slow walker. You may get laughs. People may even pay close attention to the skit. But you have insulted your audience. Whatever you have to say after the skit is unlikely to be remembered with much clarity.

You bore them when you teach them things they already know. Imagine you are in an 8:30 leadership meeting. Sheila remarks that yesterday she saw Todd not smiling at the doors. Rick remarks that several students are not smiling and that we should train on that again.

Rick, you are right that we need to address our not-smiling students. But if you were to take a poll of those somber-faced missionaries, you would find that they all believe in smiling at the door. If you must speak on smiling at the training, be creative and be quick. But a better plan is to remind them about smiling during the time for sharing experiences.

All you have to do there is affirm someone who was choosing to be happy. You might comment, after an experience, “Brad, what do you think would have happened at that door if you had come there with a glum look on your face instead of smiling the way you did?”

But even better than that, follow this principle: Deal with individual problems on an individual basis. Have Todd practice, in the car while other students are working, practice saying his canvass with a smile. You might say “Good Todd! Now say it again with an even bigger smile! Good!! Now even bigger!” The exclamation marks represent playful excitement. The exercise will do more for Todd than a repetition of the first-day’s training could ever do.

That is what I mean by saying that we should not preach to the minority. Preaching to the whole group, at week six, because a few slow students have not yet mastered getting the book in the hand, on the need to do it. You are wasting the time of the class of students that pay attention to training. And why? So you can waste your breath training the students that obviously do not pay practical attention. This is not a wise use of time.

Some men and women are better fit to type on computers than to speak up front. When they are made leaders, do not put them in charge of training. Animation and enthusiasm are essential elements in education. If you are assigned to teach, por favor, do not drone. Jump a little. Read the section on training your students on the use of voice. Practice what you preach in that sermon.


Informal teaching methods work. You may use them in your canvassing instruction. Be close to your students physically. I often kneel on the front pew when teaching persons in an audience. This creates an atmosphere of warmth.

But do not lower your volume to match your proximity. Always address the most distant of your hearers in your speaking. Project with plenty of power for them to catch every word. Modify your volume as a means of emphasis. This will help maintain attention. But you may learn how to project even a whisper with your diaphragm. Muddled or quiet speech invites the listening mind to wander. It requires effort to corral a wandering mind.

Scheduling of Curriculum

Many magabook organizations have tried to schedule a program of training that would, over the course of the summer, thoroughly cover the various aspects of the work.

There are a few problems with this plan. First, students practice too much. If they knock 1100 doors (10 days) before you teach them how to make friends, they will have already acquired quite a habit of approaching the door. This will be difficult to modify, much more difficult than it would have been in the first two or three days of the program.

Second, many students can learn in two days what we teach them in two months. We hold them back by waiting to deliver the goods of helpful information.

Third, logistical information must take a part of early training. If you do not overwhelm (in a positive sense) your students with a great deal more practical information, they will experience initial lack of success (from a lack of enthusiasm created by super-boring logistical instruction.)

So I recommend a thorough-going instruction during the first three days of the program, with students selling even before they are comfortable, but not before they have been trained to know the four most important things, the major objections and answers, the canvass, and the close.

For more information, see also the section on Leadership Meetings and Training

Common Mistakes

Thou shalt not train for two whole days before sending the students to the street. They can not learn much until their feet are wet, and fear will grow terribly during those two days of “instruction.” They will not concentrate well, and will recall with even less luster. Send them out to watch an experienced person and you will see them succeeding right away.

Common Omissions

Many programs neglect to train on the word “well” and similar fighting words. This is a significant omission. Many fail to address body language. Again, students are crippled. Most neglect to train on practical things for which to pray. Few opportunities would be more ill to ignore.

Believe in Your Students – They Can Sell

Uurna Urtnasan had her highest day yesterday…just over $330. Yesterday was Sunday and her second highest day was with me last Thursday…just over $300. One of my leaders didn’t hear about either of these milestones. Maybe because we averaged $300 on Thursday in my team, and while several students had their highest day yesterday, one hit 50 books. Uurna’s blessings were overshadowed.

When I put her on his team this morning and suggested that she would do well in businesses, he seemed unbelieving. You see, she had sold just over $30 with him last Wednesday. He has demonstrated remarkable leading skills in the last couple weeks and her sales contrasted so sharply with others in his team that he concluded that she must be a low seller.

The truth is…she is female. And like many powerful and precious members of her gender, she is very sensitive. On Wednesday, in his team, she made a wrong turn. He corrected her. My theory is that she felt terrible. I talked to her about that this morning. She knows that when she feels terrible that she does not do well. I encouraged my leaders this morning to be aware of our most sensitive students and to treat them gently. If I found one of them on the wrong street, I would likely not even mention it. I want them to have every reason to remain confident.

My leader’s mistake this morning was expecting little from someone who he thought had a habit of producing little. Bill Krick, one of the most successful magabook leaders in North America, started in Washington D.C. averaging about $50 each day in magabook sales.

To say “believe in your students” strikes some leaders as vague. How do you “believe” in them? One practical way is to not work with them for a very long time at the door. When you stay with a student at the door for more than 30 minutes, the sensitive student is injured. If you sell, she thinks that she can not sell without you. If you do not sell, she thinks that she is so bad that leaders can not even sell with her.

What she needs more than your long-term presence is a very-little bit of how-to instruction from what you saw when working with her, and a big chance to sell something on her own. Over-leadership keeps potential men and women in a childlike stage of depending on leadership.


It doesn’t work.

I have done studies on this. While recruiting trips are fun and many times a great blessing, and while they do bring a student or two some times, the “some” is more pertinent than the “do bring.” In the data that I collected a few years ago I found that I put almost my entire recruiting budget and time into visiting several hundred, perhaps a thousand, youth. Some score of these indicated an interest in the work. With repeated calls and e-mails and various forms of contact, two of these eventually came.

I spent a lessor portion of my time praying earnestly for students. The few that I knew personally I asked to talk to their friends. I asked each leader to bring those that he could. From that little bit of work and almost zero expenditure, the rest of the program was filled.

And yet I promote recruiting trips. Why? They are wonderful excuses to share the gospel with young people and to find those one or two who are serious-minded enough to leave their friends and families for the summer and join a group of missionaries they do not know.

For filling up programs, I recommend method two…having each leader and student bring who they can. And pray earnestly that God will bring the right students.

But the techniques in this section are all aimed at finding the select few that have, like Lot, preserved some sort of spirituality in the environments where we find them. This is not to say that we find them all in Sodom. Lot grew up in Haran, among God’s special family descended from Shem. Shem was still alive. And it was while Lot was in Haran, not while he was in Sodom, that God called him to leave his family and join Uncle Abram in dark-county evangelism.

Where can we find students? Here are a number of sources worth trying:

Local and not-so-local academies

More distant self-supporting academies and institutions

Your union’s college

AMACUS (Adventist organization of Students attending public universities)

Relatives and friends of your past students

Large Conference Churches (often have ten-grade schools and spiritual students in public school, and students being home-schooled. Ask the pastor for names and recommendations.)

Here are some practical hints on recruiting.


  1. Don’t count interests before they have invested money in getting to the program (i.e., have purchased a plane ticket, bus ticket, or otherwise. Young people that do not have personal friends coming to your program have a long history of changing their minds without informing the program.
  2. Call the students that you really want often. Pray with them. Teach them something about the Bible over the phone. Begin to deliver on your promise of a spiritual blessing. Not communicating with accepted students after their acceptance works the same way as calling and asking them to make other plans.
  3. Talk to their parents. When the parents are on your side, all runs more smoothly. Requiring parents to get copies of medical records, sign medical releases, photo-copy health-care insurance documents, all these things actually make the parents feel better about the program.  Send the parents an unsolicited informative letter with phone numbers, addresses, contact names, etc., for the program.
  4. Your personal time with students in the dorm will do more than your up-front time in meetings. Your up-front time in meetings will make your time in the dorm much more effective. It makes a statement regarding your legitimacy.

Since I have succeeded in bringing so few students on my super-short recruiting visits to schools where I know not a soul, I will not write a great deal about the way to do that successfully. Maybe I will ask someone else to write about that.

Where I have had amazing success is in recruiting students that already had some knowledge of our programs from their friends that have worked with us. These students are usually found in places where retired leaders of the magabook work have taken up their life callings as teachers, physicians, missionaries, and pastors. So here is the hint: Keep in contact with past leaders. They will always be recruiters. Their work, because it is ongoing and backed up with the influence of their character, carries power.

Jump to Contents


Feeding an army – the general that neglects this duty to fill stomachs will suffer. His soldiers will demonstrate less courage. Morale will plummet. An officer’s neglect in this line need not take the form of battalion-wide fasting. By providing meager fare, or worse, by serving the fare in such a way that the soldiers feel unloved, he may undo everything his pep-rallies did.

End of metaphor.

Canvassing demands the best that men have to offer. If you expect your team to produce, you must feed them the very best spiritual food.

Many program leaders so little understand the spiritual needs of their students that they view worships as an opportunity for propaganda. I do not mean that they take advantage of the time to tell falsehoods. “Propaganda” need not be false. It is agenda-driven information.

A symptom of this type of thinking is sermon-prayers. When men pray “And dear Lord, please help us to remember that we should walk faster between doors and that the leaders have good advice and that we should listen to them, and teach us that our attitude and unity have more to do with our success than we think, and we know that we should think twice before giving up after a rejection, and we pray these things in . . .” and then take the name of the Lord in vain, you have evidence that they have a shallow concept of spiritual needs.

In simple words, worship talks are not the time to demonstrate your spiritual wisdom, to make people excited about some new project, or to preach peace and safety. The Monday-morning worship hour may afford time for training, prayer, song, and experiences. But it must provide time for the Holy Bible to speak to men’s hearts.

I am very tempted to make this section very long and explain how the present-truth for this time ought to determine our agenda for spiritual worships. But that would double the size of this book. To read more that I have written on present truth, see other articles I have published online at

Contrary to conventional wisdom, worships may be solemn without being counter-productive to sales. For years I have taught soul-searching truths in the morning and God has followed up with record-producing sales in the afternoon.

Repeated experiences have shown me that some truths are more relevant to canvassers than other truths. Many of these may be presented in program worships with wonderful effect. The following list includes topics and passages with key thoughts. I have found these truths to prevent many of the Devil’s tricks from tripping up my students.

Great Faith and Weak Faith

This worship, for me, often extends over two or three mornings. Great faith is mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 8 and Matthew 15. In both places it is characterized by unselfishness, earnestness, confidence in the face of apparent hopelessness, pushing through difficulties. In both places Gentiles possess the Great Faith. Weak faith is mentioned in Matthew 14 and 16, on either side of the Great Faith story in 15. In both cases it is characterized by forgetting past blessings, thinking about earthly-realities and not about heavenly realities, thinking about personal inability, and by dismay or desperation. In both cases it is possessed by the disciples of Jesus. In the first of the two, Peter’s weak faith is sufficient to enable him to walk on water momentarily. Weak faith leads to an up-and-down experience. And Peter’s weak faith was sufficient to lead him to cry out to God for help when he was sinking. Jesus saved Peter when he cried. But weak faith misses the Joy’s that come from remembering and resting in God’s provisions, power, and past miracles.

Growing Faith

The disciples wished to have more faith, so they asked Jesus to give them more. Luke 17:5. He responded by teaching them two principles. First, faith does not come by magic. Like a mustard seed, it must grow, and grow greatly, by taking advantages of all that surrounds it. Some people believe on Sunny days but let go of faith on discouraging days. Some people cry out to God in rainy days, when things are going wrong. But they forget to beg mercies of him when things are going well. Our test is to grow like Mustard seeds, from very small to very large by taking advantages of good days and bad days, by believing always. Seeds grow and gather nourishment from the decaying matter around them. Our test will be to gather courage from the cowardice of others, loyalty from their treason.

The second principle that Jesus taught was that God does not owe us anything for the good things we do in service for him. Growing faith never prays like this “Please give me such and such because I have given up so much for you.” Jesus said, “When you have done all you were asked to do, say ‘I am a profitless servant. I have only done my duty.’” Lu. 17:6-11. We are to do all that we are asked, but growing faith will count that as duty, not as work for wages.

Joy by Faith

Hebrews 11 and 12 speak of how we should relate to the future. We know that joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Jesus had the fruits of the Spirit. But was he joyful at Calvary? Hebrews 12 has a surprising answer. “For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross.” Faith allows us to enjoy the future, to set our affection on things above, to be content as strangers and pilgrims. It does not take away our pain, but it is a choice to let future joys have their proper impact on us here and now. We may endure our cross and live with the shame. How? By being motivated by faith in God’s promises of future triumph and glory. That is why Jesus could say “in the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer.” Good cheer by faith does not depend on current circumstances for its source of joy.


We speak what we believe. The Spirit of Faith is to speak as if God’s word is true because you believe it is true. Ps. 116:10 quoted in 2 Cor. 4:13. It is not enough to have an opinion that Jesus is coming back soon. The spirit of Faith is to speak as if it is true. Abraham was “strong in faith, giving glory to God” in Romans 4 and was made an example to us because he had the spirit of faith.

The spirit of unbelief is to act and speak as if God’s word isn’t true. God said “All things work together for the good of those that love God.” When we talk or act as if the events in our day are against us and for our harm, we talk unbelief. This is why God treated murmuring so harshly in the Bible. It cuts off God’s power from the body. It was punished by death in the Israelite camp (I Cor. 10:10) and we can not tolerate it in our program. We are to talk and act as if our faith were invincible.

Bold as a Lion

Solomon wrote that the righteous are bold as a lion, but the wicked flee when no man is chasing them. Pro. 28:1. If you have paid attention to the experiences that have been shared you may have noticed that many time we sell to people that we approach outside, people that we canvass in strange situations (mailmen, construction workers, stranded persons, real examples from recent sales are best to use.) Our boldness takes them off guard. It is evidence that we work for God. It is a characteristic of the righteous.

When we neglect an opportunity to speak to someone getting into their car, someone sitting on a bench, someone working in the shop out back, we are running when no man is chasing us. This is the spirit of unbelief. Unbelief is choosing to do what you are inclined to do, as if God was not available to help you do what needs to be done. Faith is bold. It does not quiver in the face of new and unheard-of-‘til-now objections.

The Holy Spirit and the Latter Rain

There is more to this topic than can be well summarized. It was the favorite theme of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the blessing that brings all other blessings in its train. See articles on the Latter Rain and preparation for the seal of God at if you do not find a wealth of precious material in your own study of the topic. The object of the teaching of Jesus was to lead men to feel their need of the Holy Spirit. We would do well if that were our aim also.

Sowing Beside All Waters, and Sowing in Tears

The Rich Young Ruler was a no-brainer of a conversion project. Any of us could have, at the moment he approached Jesus, have brought him into the church. But Jesus failed to do this. It is doubtful that any of us would have worked to convert Saul of Tarsus. But Jesus succeeded in doing this. He was also a rich young ruler. But he was not as interested in the teaching of Jesus as was the earlier ruler.

We are not well adapted to reading thoughts. God’s counsel to us is to sow beside all waters. When we skip a house, we skip a blessing. Let’s say this together, “skip a house, skip a blessing.” [this makes a great slogan].

Sowing does not feel as rewarding as Reaping. Our difficulties in sowing may bring us to tears. How many of you have been brought to tears during a canvassing day? Should we keep sowing when we are down? Ps. 126.  Remember that you do not know and cannot measure the result of faithful effort. One young man that left a free copy of just a New Testament in the first millennium would never have guessed the result.

The host he gave it to was converted, began teaching, was martyred, his followers kept teaching. Some of his persecutors were converted. Some of them were martyred. Some were banished and started a revival in France that became known as the Albigensians. Over 1,000,000 of them were slaughtered for their faith by Innocent III and his successors. From one free half-Bible came a million martyrs. In the resurrection the man who gave the book while wandering far from his home will reap in Joy.

Is. 53 and Matt. 10

Matthew 10:25 teaches that the servant should be satisfied to be treated the way his Master was treated. How was Jesus our Lord treated? The chapter that Ellen White quoted more than any other, except John 17, is Isaiah 53. [Only a solemn mood would be appropriate for sharing the following thoughts. A light or authoritarian mood would counter the influence of the passage.] Lets look at that chapter. How was Jesus treated? He was despised. Are we content to be despised? He was rejected of men. Not many persons are contented to be always rejected of men. Not many make a life-work of canvassing. People hid there faces from Jesus. Are we satisfied when people pretend they are not home? The Jews considered Jesus to be cursed of God. Are we content when men consider us to be deceivers and cults, or scams and liars? “By his stripes we are healed.” Are we satisfied when we are wounded while working to help others get to heaven? “He was bruised for our iniquities.” When youth mock us, drunks curse us, police harass us, are we content to be treated like Jesus? It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Lord.

Abraham and Your Calling – II Cor. 12:9, I Cor. 1, Rom. 4:17-24

Abraham was incapable of having children. Weak faith would have considered this fact. It would have thought about his age, the age of Sarah, the fact that they had failed to have children. The evidence from history and biology, experience and reason, all opposed the statement of God.

Abraham did not consider his own weakness as a reason God could not work a miracle. This qualified Abraham to be the father of the faithful. When God works through a strong man to do a work of might, men do not tend to notice. But when God works through the weak man, he has an opportunity to give glory to God. Men notice. You see your calling, brothers, that God chooses weak people to do his work.

Paul said he would rather be happy about his weaknesses because they gave God a chance to show Divine strength. When God chooses us and gives us great responsibilities, we should be aware that it is not likely because we so adept and special. It is more likely because we are in great need of the truth that He gives us to share. Sharing the truth implants it in the soul like nothing else. When God sees a weak man that needs a truth to be deeply impressed on him as his only hope of true conversion, God often entrusts that man with a message to preach.

So we should not be high-minded when we do well or are given honor. We have God to glorify and self to fear. Many of the most effective men in Adventist history left God after serving the Lord faithfully for many years.

David’s Darkest Day

I Samuel 29-30, emphasis on 30:36.  David had been rejected of Israel. God told him that even the town he had saved in ch. 23 would deliver him up to Saul if pressured to do so. David had fled and had been wandering with his few faithful men. He had pretended to join Achish, his enemy. Now his lies got him into trouble. Achish’s generals were suspicious of him. When he returned home, the Amelekites, famous for torturing those they conquered, had burned his city and taken the women and children captive…including his two wives. All he had left was his few faithful men. Then…they started talking about stoning him, they were so grieved at losing their families to torturers! Israel, the Philistines, his family, his men, everyone and everything had gone wrong.

Then “David encouraged himself in the Lord.” When it looked like he was going to die at the hands of his ex-friends, with his house just burned and his wives enduring indecencies and torture, with his nation rejecting him and his king after his life, he took courage in God.

Then things began to change. Before 48 hours had ended…Saul was dead. The Amalekites were also. David’s family was with him again. He was invited home to his country. His men rallied around him, and then his nation opted to make him king. “Worry is blind and cannot discern the future, but Jesus sees the end from the beginning. In every difficulty, he has his way prepared to bring relief. Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish and a plain path before their feet.


To tell this story well, you need to read it for yourself. You can find it in D’Augbigne’s History of the Reformation of the 16th Century under the book on the English Reformation. It will make you cry if you follow it to Bilney’s death. The lessons are self-explanatory.

Intercessory Prayer

Numbers 14, 16, 20; Ps. 106:23; Ez. 22:30-31; I Sam. 12:23; Joel 2:17-19, 23; many other passages. The science of intercessory prayer is an ideal vespers talk. It can not be well presented in 25 minutes. Key thoughts from these passages: The story of the Exodus prefigures our time prophetically. Moses was called by God three times in Num. 14 and 16 to separate from the wicked Israelites and to start a more holy nation. Many feel they hear that same call today. How did Moses respond? The calls were a test of his sacrificial love. Instead of separating, he passed God’s love test by praying for the people. The arguments he used in prayer worked. An exception was the leaders-are-sinning-so-don’t-punish-the-common-people argument of chapter 20. In the same chapter, after the leaders were dead, “the whole congregation” rose up against Moses. If Moses had not prayed, the people would have been destroyed. The ten-tribes were destroyed because God could not find an intercessor to stand in the gap for them (in Ez. 22).  Our duty to an unconverted church is the same as that of Samuel. He said it would be a sin for him to stop praying for the church. He also said he would “teach” them the good and the right way to live. That is our duty…pray and teach. The latter rain, in Joel 2, falls after God’s true people become intercessors. [See article on this topic at]


This story is found in the chapter The Swiss Reformer. Froment was a man with limited education, poor communication skills, and an unattractive appearance.

Comparing Yourself to Others, Being happy at their success

[The practical object of this worship is to prepare the team to be encouraged by leaders telling them about the sales of others.

Meeting Kirsten Ailey, who is 7 years old and who was born on January 23, 1997. One day I was at a canvassing retreat in Oklahoma at the Wilwoka Woods camp and I was walking to my cabin and saw a boy and a girl playing and picking flowers. I asked them their names and the boy said his name was Justin. And the girl said her name was Kirsten. And I told them that I was afraid of horses (because I had had two bad experiences with horses when I was younger.) And Kirsten said I didn’t need to be afraid. Then she needed to go get her bike, so I told her ‘bye’ and was ready to walk back to my cabin and she said I could go see the horses. But I was afraid. So she said that she would take me and I was glad that she could help keep me safe. And her brother came also.

Comparing Yourself to Others and the Sin-Sale Relationship 

Worship Testimonials

Worship Sharing Times

Corporate Prayer

Attendance and Respect for Meetings

Jump to Contents

Program and Policies

Getting Started with a Program – The First Two Days

Boxes in bags, forms filled out, people picked up, rules set up, canvasses learned, and all these things without spending one entire day at base. (this is not a sentence…just ideas to remind me when I get around to writing this part of the book).

Fiscal policies and responsibility

Much of the material in this section could be copied into or out of a codebook from any of the Unions. As financial policies vary some from place to place, you will find here a little information on those variances and some value judgements regarding the best policies to put in place.

What is certain is that you will never regret making your financial policies known and putting them in print and having students sign that they have read and understood them before letting them work. Few things make students as unhappy as feeling that they have been tricked financially.



Credit Cards

Large Donations

Personal Donations (customer to student)

Personal Donations (church member to program)

Foreign Students/Workers

School Matching Funds

Damaged Books

Bad Checks

Liability Issues

Leadership Pay

Program Fees


Travel to and from Program

Bonuses, Fines, Fees, and Penalties

Inventory Financial Issues and Reporting

Program Accounting

Diet Policies




Music and More

Weekend Plans and Responsibilities

Church Programs

Time off 

The Kitchen

Leadership Meetings

In your leadership meetings, do not make up the day’s team. See the section on making teams. Making teams is a one-person job that wastes too much time when given to a committee. If you have no agenda items to use up your meeting time, make your leadership prayer time longer.

“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord and thought upon his name.” Mal. 3:16.

Leadership meetings provide many opportunities. On the positive side, they allow time for dialogue over issues such as territory, discipline, personal needs of students, and training. On the negative side, they provide opportunity for mice to play while the cats are in a huddle. It is wise to have a responsible student that understands that he/she should keep an eye on what is happening during leadership meetings. Of course, this is superfluous with older and more mature programs.

Another negative opportunity is the chance to talk about student’s problems and problem students. Do you ever remember seeing a group of grown-ups come out of a private meeting where you had good reason to believe that they had been discussing your faults? Just the thought is demoralizing.

We, as student leaders, are honestly not so very mature that our discussions regarding erring students are likely to do a great deal of good. If a wrong has certainly been done, leadership meetings will have to address it. If rebellion is in the ranks, leadership meetings may have to briefly acknowledge it.

They may well assign the problem to prayer and appoint a leader to befriend the erring. But they will act foolishly if they indulge their human tendencies to want to talk all about the bad they have heard and seen. A program where leaders submit to such carnal cravings would do better were there no leadership meetings at all.

I will wait until a later section to make my point that programs can not afford to have socially immature leaders. Leadership meetings do not bring men to maturity.

They may, however, bring men nearer to God. Prayer by leaders in agreement works wonders in a program.

Daily short scheduled meetings are the ideal. Leaders too busy to meet with their co-leaders are either poor delegaters or worse schedulers.

When you neglect to gossip, make teams, or tell meaningless stories at your leadership meeting, you may find that the meeting does not take much time at all. The meaning is a great place for the program head to hand out jobs that need to be done. This makes early meetings more useful than late ones. I am speaking of late in the morning.

Leadership meetings at night are harbingers of a rough end-of-the-summer leadership job. Monkey see monkey do. Late night meetings ne’re have few. While leaders chat, grumpies stew, girlies laugh, and ladies too. Mischief grows, devotion sinks, and attitude next AM stinks.

In prose, while leaders talk at night, students do too. Without leaders around, tired students surrender to their tendency to be grumpy and begin to talk negatively. This robs your team of power and rest. Troubled minds do not knock-out (i.e., dose off) as quickly as restful minds do.

If you hold your meetings at night you must either have a floating schedule (for you can not predict with any certainty when the leaders will return) or you must have a late schedule. In the first case you must neglect the students at the very time they need the most supervision. In the latter case you fail to enforce your lights-out policy (or lack thereof) and start on the weary road to eight-week burnout.

Leadership meetings during meals may be convenient, but they rob you of rare and precious quality time with students. Better far have them during some specified time when students are doing their stocking, vehicular, cleaning, and kitchen chores. This keeps them busy. I recommend the half-hour before breakfast as a great time for meetings.

Duties in the Leadership Meeting

Territory Assignments

This is not the section on how to manage a team, but it is helpful, sometimes, in leadership meetings to remind rookie leaders of basic management principles, especially if it seems they are finishing their assigned areas too quickly. First-year leaders often have romantic ideas of ideal days with afternoon territory full of lower-middle class young families near a business district complete with a Taco Bell.

And they have equally unrealistic expectations for evening, as if every day should afford them a new subdivision with young yuppies. These kind of expectations tend to towards a wasting of more realistic territory where there are as many old people as young, and more poor than upper-middle class.

But even worse than the wasting of block areas, false visions of super-territory lead many leaders to neglect country roads leading into small towns, and streets that have no parallels. If your leader of a five man team says she has finished a town with 10,000 people in two days, he needs some reminding of these things.

Practical hints on territory assignments: Assign whole cities rather than dividing them. Dividing cities, when not very necessary, increases manifold the chances of leaders redoing territory done by another. Make your divisions never so clear-cut, yet when a car breaks down, a police says “leave”, territory runs out, or a driver makes a wrong turn, confusion will result.

Hint Two: Save the locations closest to you, or the best locations, for half way through the program. If you save them until last, you will be surprised at how slowly they get done when everyone is selling books. If you do them at first, your sales may not show much of an increase even as you increase in ability. Your extra knowledge is offset by driving further or doing more difficult areas. This robs you of a major morale booster…increasing success. Also, when you first start a program many students are not doing their best. To hit your prime territory right away will almost waste it.

Training Plans 

What will you train on today? The leadership meeting is a helpful place to find ideas. Those most qualified to give suggestions are those that have been most often working with the students. It is not true, however, that an effective training script can be drawn from the observed misdemeanors of the previous day. Here are a few reasons:

  1. 1. The slower students are making mistakes that no one else is making. These should be addressed individually to avoid boring or belittling the others.
  2. 2. Memories are not methodical. By training from observations alone you will fail to teach a great many important things.
  3. 3. Too many mistakes are made. If you try to train on the whole lot of them training will last two long. Early in the program you may train for 40 minutes or so. At the very beginning you may even train for a few hours—on the first day, and perhaps on the second. Later in the program you will want to reduce training to 15 to 20 minutes.

So have a leader that reviews the various points of training mentioned in this book and that takes responsibility for making sure that each point is covered in its turn.

And the meeting is where you will determine the method of training. Who will train? What kind of illustrations will be used?

Reporting sales and experiences 

Consider the following statement:

“Let those who gain such an experience in working for the Lord write an account of it for our papers, that others may be encouraged. Let the canvasser tell of the joy and blessing he has received in his ministry as an evangelists. These reports should find a place in our papers, for they are far-reaching in their influence. They will be as sweet fragrance in the church, a savor of life unto life. Thus it is seen that God works with those who cooperate with him.” 6T 336

The monthly paper published by your union thirsts for reports of evangelistic success. Satisfy its desires. If you and your students will write brief accounts of your most touching stories, you can give these to the church that is sponsoring you. Who do you give them to? Ask the head elder “Who is the communications director for this church.” Ask the Communications Director to write a short article on how the church has been helping the students and on the experiences that they are having. Then give him, in hand, your sheet of experiences. They will go somewhere.

Asking students to write their experiences aids them in remembering and strengthens their faith.

Sharing Territory with those Outside of the Program

While I was working with the college program in Oklahoma we developed a significant amount of interest in the local area. Several retirees took up the literature work and were coming to me for books. One family that found itself needing more than its ministry salary provided, sent its children with me selling books. They did so well and enjoyed it so much that they asked their parents to take them out again and again.

Then one of our most successful students had to leave the school in the middle of the term. Soon he settled down just south of our metropolitan area…and took up full-time canvassing of magabooks. The local academy, at my suggestion, began developing a magabook industry.

Soon there were issues regarding territory. The cream of the business districts was being done on a who-can-get-there first basis. Persons working just a few hours were unwilling to travel more than ten to twenty minutes, so the territory closest to the school was used up in just a matter of weeks. The retirees and the family didn’t care to be thorough. They needed a large enough area to be able to pick and choose what they wanted to do.

Sooner than later the college students were driving forty-five miles to get to their place to work despite the fact that 300,000 people lived closer to the school.

We do not own our territories in the work of the Lord. Who is to say that one canvasser has more right to an area than another?

A common territorial problem arises from overlapping canvassing superstructures that prevent territorial disputes only within their own structure. HHES and FHES run programs in the very same cities and sometimes in the same weeks without any clue of their overlapping until one student knocks on a door that was knocked by another just a few days before.

These two canvassing organizations usually use different books, but in the magabook work they share more than territory. They use the very same literature. In the summer of 2002 a program run by ASI in Ohio found itself continually running into neighborhoods that had been done by a group from Oakwood that same summer. And in Maryland, this past summer, my students encountered neighborhoods that had been done by an independent group of workers. Spanish neighborhoods are often done by regular full-time workers.

If you run into an area that has already been done, it will be better if you have read the section on “Finding that your territory is already done.”

My practical point here is that leaders need to communicate. Especially should local church schools, academies, and independent canvassing agents that use magabooks seek to communicate with the organizations that might plan to operate canvassing programs in their areas.

One practical way to share territory is to use it over and over again. Territory can be used annually and only improve in productivity. Using it twice or more each year has an opposite effect. The over-repetition irritates.

Morale and Discipline


“Thou shalt not do any work. Thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor they maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gate.”

Program heads carry a weight that they little comprehend. The Sabbath has been set aside as Holy. If we keep it Holy, we can expect to meet with God. Holy and Reverend is His name.

The fourth commandment, setting aside Holy Time, honors the employer with sacred duties. He must not allow “any” work of those under him to carry over into Sabbath hours.

While we can not carry on our backs the moral choices of our students, we must take responsibility for so ordering the Friday that students are easily able to do their duties, and be home in time to adequately prepare for Sabbath.

The edges of the Sabbath are to be guarded. If I so plan my Friday that any unexpected problem that arises will make me late for day, I have broken the Spirit of the day regardless of whether that problem materializes. In other words, we have not kept the Sabbath unless the six working days have been spent in working preparation for it. Part of Friday’s preparation is to organize the day so that even a minor tragedy will not delay the welcoming of the Sabbath.

Practically, I have learned to have chores done before allowing students to leave for their various Friday activities. And leaders are admonished to be back a minimum of three hours before Sabbath so that personal preparation can be made even if they are an hour late.

The Sabbath is a poor day for giving guilt trips. Friday is the day for soul searching.

Ordering Books

Whole Sale Distribution

Accepting and Rejecting Applications

Jump to Contents

Third Parties


Your hosting church

Your students’ families

Those that want you to sell their books/products

The ABC’s and Publishing Houses

Academies and Running their Industries

[idea: not essential, with spiritual group, to pay students for sales. Some think “no pay, little effort.” But the highest programs in history have been no-pay programs…like the one we are in right now.]

Female Health Issues – Not Detailed


Back Problems 


I am writing this section from the waiting room of the local Dodge-Chevy dealership. Outback sits a legend in canvassing history—Grandfather. His mileage stands at 238,450. I know because I just told the man at the service counter desk. Yesterday Grandfather was host to another amazing day. With just seven students, that venerable vehicle contributed to the distribution of 154 books…well over a $300 average for the students in the team. Incidently, the other team yesterday averaged $240, bringing the total average to $275. That might also be a record…for the highest program day average for the entire program.

Such exploits have been regular fare for Grandfather. I estimate that in his seven years of service that he has worked an average of 140 days each year, or 980 days total. He had hosted an average of about 9 students. And they have averaged about $160 per person per day. A little math tells me that Grandpa has distributed about $1,400,000.00 worth of magabooks.

That comes to about 7,000 boxes distributed in half of the 50 states.

But Grandfather wasn’t feeling well. His eyebrows weren’t working. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining. And is left eye only worked when fully dilated.

If today were a Wednesday, I would be writing this under the VADD section under team management. But today is Friday. There is no team and no emergency. I am the program head and am waiting for a ride from one of the other leaders. Between my feet is a colporteur bag. Heavy and thoroughly covered, it contains almost $19,000 in checks and cash destined for a Bank of America.

Our vehicles are precious. Program heads have a lot to do with the efficiency of their fleet. Here are things that need to be done.

Put someone in charge of checking fluids. This should include transmission fluid and brake fluid. If you have to choose someone who is not gifted with basic mechanical knowledge, you should give him some basic instruction. He should check the transmission fluid when the car is in neutral with the emergency break on and the engine running.

He should clean the top of the master-cylinder before opening it to check the brake fluid. A little dirt falling into that container can cause eventual brake failure. He should never check the coolant level while the car is hot. If he adds water to the car, he should make sure that the color of the fluid is still quite green.

Drivers should know how to recognize signs of fluid problems:

Lack of coolant: High temperature on gauge and heater not working well

Lack of transmission fluid Slipping, not changing gears.

Burnt transmission fluid Smells burnt when the dipstick is held to the nose.

Low steering fluid Medium-high-pitched sound with some feeling of vibration when


Low break fluid, air in lines Have to push brake in further than normal, brakes feel soft, or

peddle will not depress. If these symptoms are combined with a scratching sound, the problem is likely brake pads that need replacement.

Low oil Lifters can be heard making a “ff-ff-ff-ff-ff” sound, the speed of the

sound varying with the speed of the engine, and the volume of the

sound varying with the lack of oil. Less oil, more sound.

Driving with bad brakes is terribly dangerous. Driving while overheating, with low oil, water, or transmission fluid can, very quickly, turn a $30 problem into a $2,000 problem. Drivers should have some accountability, should know ahead of time that they are expected to be intelligent in these basic things.

There are other mechanical problems that drivers should be able to recognize and deal with without resorting to the mercies of an unknown local mechanic. Your job is to make sure they understand these things. They should know that the following symptoms point, most often, to an inexpensive fix:

Shaking of the car:

Stop the car but leave the engine running. Does the shaking stop also? If the answer is yes, then the problem is very likely a tire problem. This can be dangerous. It could be that a tire is bulging, and bulge is ready to burst. It could be that the lug-nuts have become loose and the tires is in danger of coming off. What to do? Tighten the lug-nuts with a lug-wrench. Lug-nuts can feel tight, even when they are very loose, if the tire is pressing against them.

You can not safely check their tightness with your fingers. Tire problems afflict even rental cars and low-mileage vehicles. If the lug-nuts are indeed tight, then look the tires over for bulges, missing tread, or other misshapes. If you can not see a problem, drive slowly on the shoulder with your emergencies on until you come to a place where someone else can diagnose the problem.

If the shaking seems to center around a certain engine speed and to subside when you pass that speed and or when you decelerate to below it, then the problem is most likely a loose screw, bolt, or broken piece.  If the shaking is the only symptom, you may have nothing to worry about. Have a mechanical friend look for it when it is convenient.

Showers and Facilities




Arranging for Funding for a Program

I am writing this from Wewoka Woods Camp in the Oklahoma. I was invited here yesterday, May 21, 2004, for a meeting with Mario Martinelli and Bob Burnett, and James Bokavoy. These are the men that are sponsoring part of our program this summer.

The meeting has been a bit complicated in ways that make it ideal for writing this section. Funding is, perhaps, one of the most common sources of mismanaged programs. In other words, when there is money to run a program, it will be run whether or not there are efficient workers to run it.

Thanks to God, both Mario and Bob recognize this point. Bob said to me, as we were parting yesterday, that he would rather withdraw his offer to finance an additional student program under my charge than to see me scramble and try to put a defective one together. Many administrators are not that far sighted.

And Mario had funding for four programs this summer that he has chosen to cancel because of an inability to recruit sufficiently qualified heads.

So my first point in this section is: Don’t feel that you must run a program just because there is money to do it.

Some of you are hoping the second point will be on how to get the money. But I want you to read the whole section, so that will be hidden somewhere in the middle.

My second point is: It does take money to run a program. Many programs have been run with insufficient funds. It can be done. I have run zero-subsidy programs before. But there are expenses in a program that might not be expected. Below is a budget of what a program with 16 students and three vans might cost during the summer of 2004:

$ 3,300 Gas: 3 vans * 11,000 miles * 20 mph = 1650 gallons * 2.00/gal

$ 6,400 Rent or Purchase and Maintenance on vehicles

$ 1,300 Insurance on the vehicles

0.3% Workman’s Compensation Insurance

$ 3,600 Electricity and Water costs, three months, 20 people

$ 3,500 Radios (20 @ 175.00 each). Radios have a three-year life, batteries a two-summer life.

$   400 Bags (16 @ 25.00)

$   700 Receipts (10,000 printed, in duplicate) (price may be $300 if printed in large quantities)

$ 1,200 Install a shower with a small water heater in the church

$ 2,800 Food for breakfast, Fridays, and Sabbaths

1.1% Bad debt (0.6% in northern areas)

50% Commission to Students

15% Commission to Leaders

19% Cost of Goods Sold (25% if program does not receive the base price for magabooks)

$   500 Telephone costs for leaders cell phones

$   400 Gifts, cards, kitchen equipment, and miscellaneous supplies

$ 2,500 Retreat Expense (end-of-program entertainment)

Those adding these expenses together should keep in mind that other unexpected expenses do occur. Property, for example, may be damaged or stolen. But even if this list were complete, it adds together to come to:

85.4% of sales plus $26,600.  To run this program with no subsidy would require that 14.6% of sales = $26,600. That, my friend, has never been accomplished with a 16 man team. Never. It would mean averaging over $10,000 per student in sales.

But programs “without subsidy” have been successfully run. How? They have been subsidized by a combination of blessings, corner-cutting, and hidden subsidies. Students might subsidize a large part of the expenses through a program fee. In most unions this is about $150 per student. That would come to $2,250 in subsidy from the students themselves.

Radios, cars, bags may have been donated.

The program might work without receipts or radios, workman’s compensation insurance, or a retreat. And the local church often foots the bill for the increased utility expenses and the shower installation without charging the students. Often members help with the kitchen and with food expenses. All these amount to hidden subsidies that stretch into the thousands of dollars.

I received a letter this week from a pastor in the Kansas-Nebraska conference who felt that the programs should need a subsidy since the colporteur work should support itself from sales. This brother had a misunderstanding of the difference between supporting the workers and supporting the superstructure that trains and encourages them.

The chart below represents sources of funding that are typical for my programs:

  1. 1. Direct Subsidy of $10,000. This is usually paid by a conference or HHES organization, and sometimes by a collection of local churches.
  2. 2. Indirect Subsidy of utilities and showers
  3. 3. Shared expenses on vehicles, radios, bags, that are used in multiple programs, reducing these expenses by about 50%.
  4. 4. A program fee of about $110 per student.
  5. 5. Retreat Expense: Fundraised from local church members; done very cheaply.

It should be observed that the success of the sales program is crucial to the budget working. For example, 10% of sales is about right to cover auto expense in a program that averages $130/person/day. If the program averages $170, that allows an additional  $3,000 from the 10% to help with funding. If the program averages $80, that amounts to a $3,800 deficit in auto expense budget that must be met from somewhere.

How do you raise money for the direct subsidy of $10,000? Gather information and make a presentation to your conference committee. Conferences want to know:


  1. 1. That other conferences think this is worth $10,000. Have documentation
  2. 2. That their young people will be blessed by participating. Bring students to the meeting to share.
  3. 3. That there will be follow-up. Get local pastors on board before going to committee and get these to submit a brief plan for following up on the leads.
  4. 4. That you have a track record. Many have had messy programs and want no more repeats. Have a list of references with phone numbers of people you have worked with in the past.

Common mistakes that lead to money problems include:


  1. 1. Ordering too many books
  2. 2. Ordering books in too small a quantity to get good shipping costs
  3. 3. Ordering books by 2nd day air, or overnight. This doubles costs to 38% of Goods Sold.
  4. 4. Driving too far to get to territory and driving too much in the program.
  5. 5. Have cold cereal and other expensive foods for breakfast. (If you average $4.00 per person for meal, you will spend $4,500 more than the budget above allows. The target is about $1.60 per person per meal.)
  6. 6. Theft on the part of a student

Some conferences require a 5% commission on all sales made under their organization. This is not as expensive as it sounds. For that 5% you typically get the use of radios, bags, receipts.

Arranging for Housing for a Program

Bags, Radios, Receipts

Working with a Bible Worker

Jump to Contents

Multi-Program Administrative Issues

Program Heads

The administration of God’s people, as organized under Moses, had leaders of tens and leaders of fifties. These would correspond roughly with our leaders (leaders of six) and our program heads (leaders of twenty). Not everyone that makes a good leader of ten has been gifted with the skills to make an effective leader of 50.

Program heads are the names that carry on in magabook history. Ineffective administrations have often offered the position of program director to men or women as a perk or sign of favor. They have reasoned that if the man can sell books, and if he poses no threat, that he will do well.

I am resisting the temptation to name a number of men that were so unfortunate as to be made program heads when they possessed neither push nor enthusiasm. Others have taken the role without experience in the magabook work. Publishing directors can not reasonably assume that one that has made a success at some other form of canvassing ministry will naturally run a top-notch magabook program. Others as gifted as he have taken years to learn the skills that are partly responsible for their consistency.

Neither will consecration, alone, make a man an able administrator. The devotional man, loving retirement and shrinking from confrontations, may make a ready student leader. Souls like him are needed everywhere.

But put him in the position of general and mutiny will be lurking around the corner. His tendency will be to let discipline slack until he sees that it must slack no further, and then to react with uncharacteristic firmness.

A technique could hardly be better calculated to create rebellion. True teachers understand that kind and very firm discipline must mark the beginning of their term of teaching if they are to have any hope of maintaining order. True program heads understand the same.

Many students have asked me what the secret is to being a successful leader. Here are some observations I have made regarding those leaders that have had the greatest success under me.

Being One

Perhaps the world of leaders would not be offended if I listed by name the men and women that have been head-leaders under me, either at school or for a summer program. This list is not all-inclusive, but does represent some of the most effective leaders in magabook history. They are listed in alphabetical order. Amen. I am not comparing them to each other.

Christine Bothne CB

Chris Buttery CB

Jerod Holloway JH

Joan Kang JK

Peter Kang PK

Kamil Metz KM

Rene Metz RM

Zigi Metz ZM

Shannon Parker SP

Glenn Peters GP

Adam Ramdin AR

Ester Ramdin ER

Isreal Ramos IR

Henry Sanchez HS

Cestmir Stovicek CS

What do these people have in common? For starters, not much genetically. They are one third women, one fifth black, one fifth Latin, one fifth Czech, one fifth Korean, one fifth Indian, one fifth Caucasian Americans. If I added myself to the list, I would be the only representative from that class that is rumored to dominate administrative circles—the white American male.

One thing that seems to unite them is having K, M, P, B, S or R as an initial. More than 90% of us do. But the one that does not share these initials lacked nothing that the others possessed in leadership talent. Maybe initials are not an important factor.

If you are hazy about the point of the last paragraphs, I will make it plain: Race and Gender have little or nothing to do with one’s qualification to be a program head. But the traits that do make superior heads do tend to be found more often in males.

The program head should know how to sell books. But super sales ability is not required. RM and AR both have thrilled teams with their leadership skills despite their merely average sales ability.

Program heads should never appear to be desperate and frantic about problems. All of these leaders have this in common. Those that take the principle the furthest…to the point of always being confident…create the highest student-satisfaction.

Program heads should have experience with life. They should know something about cars, about food, about money, about training, about spiritual things, especially about present truth. They should no how successful programs can be…by experience.

Program heads must be self-disciplined. A man that does not put devotions before social life, that does not control his appetite and regulate his schedule, who fusses over pain and inconvenience, will not fill well the office of program head.

Ellen White has a lot to say on the qualifications of a man at the head of any branch of God’s work. You can find her statements in the book Publishing Ministry. Two of them are below.

The men placed at the head of departments in our publishing work should be carefully chosen. And just as soon as a man reveals a heartless, unfeeling spirit, he should be dismissed, for he is working against Christ, scattering away from Him. The undershepherds of the flock of God are to keep their own hearts sweet with the love of Christ, opening the windows of the soul heavenward, that the light of heaven may fill its chambers. Then they can reflect light to those with whom they associate, revealing God as the health of the countenance.–Lt 140, 1901.

The man at the head of any work in God’s cause is to be a man of intelligence, a man capable of managing large interests successfully, a man of even temper, Christlike forbearance, and perfect self-control. He only whose heart is transformed by the grace of Christ can be a proper leader.–MM 164.  {PM 255.1-2}

A Program Head must love his students. When I read the list of leaders at the head of this section, I can hear all but two of them saying things like “I love my students!” or “This is a really good group.” Leaders that verbalize to men outside of their group their dissatisfaction with their own students reveal a spirit that neutralizes their power for good. Students know the difference between being enjoyed and being tolerated.

And as a rule, just as we love those that love us, we enjoy those that enjoy us. We tolerate those that tolerate us. This principle holds equally for all leaders, but I mention it here in the head-leader section because disciplinarians frequently fail to love their students. When the mantle of correctional responsibilities falls on your shoulders, may heaven have blessed you with a heart that thrills at every good thing that exists in your students.

The man or woman at the head of a magabook team must be able to speak with authority. Jesus did. The leader that can not bring his students to attention without great effort should not be placed at their head.

If I could summarize these characteristics, I would say that a program head must have common social sense, energy, push, love, and intelligence. This is why they are in such demand. Every one of these qualities is uncommon.

Making One

There are two ways to find the program heads that you need for your program. The most common method is to recruit them. My own deficiency is verbalizing leader-appreciation, combined with the quality of the territory under my care, alerted me to this method. Almost all of my early leaders worked for other unions after working for me. Many that were student leaders under me were elevated to head programs under the direction of others.

You may recruit program heads with money, freedoms, flexible schedules, salaries, Bible-belt territories, and perks.

But this method, while good for you, can not be said to be best for the work.

Let each publisher and general agent [publishing department secretary] work enthusiastically to encourage the agents [colporteurs] now in the field and to hunt up and train new workers. Let each strengthen and build up the work as much as possible without weakening the work of others. Let all be done in brotherly love and without selfishness.–Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 327, 328. (1900)  {CM 137.3}

If you want to change the world, recruit new workers and recognize latent powers. This is how Jesus formed the team of apostles.

In the common walks of life there is many a toiler patiently treading the round of his daily tasks, unconscious of latent powers that, roused to action, would place him among the world’s great leaders. The touch of a skillful hand is needed to arouse and develop those dormant faculties. It was such men whom Jesus connected with Himself, and He gave them the advantages of three years’ training under His own care. No course of study in the schools of the rabbis or the halls of philosophy could have equaled this in value.  {CT 511.2}

Once Jesus had recognized these potential workers, how did he develop their talent? He mentored them. He brought them to work with him, to watch and learn. They were to catch more than his methods…they were to catch his spirit.

The most complete illustration of Christ’s methods as a teacher is found in His training of the twelve first disciples. Upon these men were to rest weighty responsibilities. He had chosen them as men whom He could imbue with His Spirit, and who could be fitted to carry forward His work on earth when He should leave it. To them, above all others, He gave the advantage of His own companionship. Through personal association He impressed Himself upon these chosen colaborers. “The Life was manifested,” says John the beloved, “and we have seen it, and bear witness.” 1 John 1:12.  {Ed 84.1}

The whole chapter in Education that begins with the paragraph above ought to be mastered by those in the highest positions of responsibility. Not to boast, but to demonstrate how literally I mean that, I volunteer the fact that I memorized it word for word seven years ago. I will not write here more of the essential information you can find there.

But I will give a few hints on how to develop program heads. Watch your leaders when things go wrong. Listen to the comments that students make about them in their absence. Watch for the person that sees work that needs to be done and does it. Social butterflies are not program-head material. Neither are social deadbeats.

When you see the winning combination of qualities, begin burdening. Give him or her more than their fair share of difficult tasks. Do they wimper? If not, talk to them about what they may become. Do not start the burdening process before understanding the section on leader retention.

Finding One

See above. Find a embryonic one. That is the end of this section for men with the experience necessary to implement it.

But others may pick up this book that need a leader to do what they have no idea how to do themselves. This section is for you.

Step 1 Pray earnestly

Step 2 Visit and look over the call-book forum. There you will find posts by men that have been trained in how to do the work, and offers from those that are looking for someone to come do it. Post your call. Call those that interest you.

Mind you, Step 2 still remains a dream as of May 4, 2004. In case it is still a dream when you read this, here are a few more hints.

There are three canvassing schools in the North American Division. Beyond that, there are five unions that operate leadership training programs. That is the good news. The bad news is that the supply has not approached the demand for quality leadership any time in the last dozen years. Without a miracle you will not find the quality person you are looking for. Hence, Step 1.

Souls East, Souls West, Ouachita Hills College, Big-book student programs; these combined sources provide the field with an annual output of about twenty new leaders. New leaders are not typically program heads. Call and ask for advice. See the Appendix for contact information for key men and schools.

Avoiding the Incompetent

Demand a track record. The way to avoid the incompetent is the same way that you can almost assure that you will not find the leader you are looking for. Men with a track-record of leading success have calls lined up. But you are better to have no program at all than to have one horribly led. If you can not find an experienced person with proper character, take a less experienced person with proper character.

This is much preferable to a more experienced person that is depressed or slow or somber or lazy or mean or immature.  The man with character will develop experience. The man without character will sour the reputation of canvassing in your realm for longer than you might imagine.

Make sure your potential leader has read this book and worked with a successful program. If he lacks the latter qualification, send him to work with one before giving him weighty responsibilities.

Immigration Issues and Information

Immigration laws are always changing. This section is a guide, but can not be understood to be an up-to-date commentary on immigration law. Nor has this section been written by a lawyer. It is a testimony regarding what I have learned by experience.

Foreign persons with a green card, as permanent residents, may be employed as American citizens.

We have had other foreign individuals working in the literature work under several different visa types. These include F1 (student) visas, J1 (exchange student) visas, R1 (religious worker) visas, and B1 (visitor/business) visas. In the latter case, the students work only as volunteers. They can not be legally recompensed in any way, whether through third parties, or with gifts.

The F1 students can work legally if they have been approved for off-campus employment. Otherwise they can not work, unless it is from the campus of their own school. Schools, like Ouachita Hills College, that give college credit for the literature work, may define their campus to include those areas where they conduct their various colporteur programs.

R1 students, sponsored by some portion of the Adventist church, are often brought to the states to take part in the literature work. Their case is the easiest. When they relocate they should, within 30 days, send in a form notifying the immigration office of their new location.

Helping a student get an R-1 visa is a fairly simple process. The student must be sent a letter of invitation crafted to meet legal requirements. Such a letter may be obtained by church-related institutions. Contact Ouachita Hills College and request a copy.

We suggest careful scrutiny of foreign applicants for employment. The R-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa. If your man gets his visa and uses it to immigrate, it will jeopardize the success of future applicants. Additionally, some countries have rackets of persons willing to lie and work a scam to get into America.

Leader Retention

How not to keep leaders – from my experience

Forget to affirm and support and thank them for their labors.

How to keep leaders

When to let leaders go

Coordinating with Conference Evangelistic Thrusts and Local Church Campaigns

Jump to Contents

History of the Work and What Can be Learned from It

The use of CD-ROM’s

The use of Health Power

The use of smaller numbers of books

Working with children and schools

Short Programs

Innovations that became standard

“Happy D’s”

Winter Programs

Doing Businesses

Legend and Reality in Magabook History

Lake Ponchatrain Story

The No-Ticket Story

The Dead Rat Story

The Backdoor Story

The Barefoot Story

The Columbus Escape Story

The $1000 Honeymoon Story

The Happy Nickel Day Story

The First Summer Program – 1992

The Sheryl Knowles Story

Jump to Contents




Acceptance Letter

Maybe-Later Letter

Medical Release Forms



Registration Papers

Feel free to use these letters when working with city governments and municipal laws.


Amity Seventh-day Adventist Church

PO Box A

Amity AR 71921

Chief of Police

101 N. Harlow Dr.

Springdale, AR 71121

Dear Sir or Madam:

This letter is written as a courtesy to the law-enforcement agencies of your municipality. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is conducting a missionary effort in your area. Missionaries will be visiting the doors of your citizens, beginning October 7, 2004 and concluding October 26, 2004.

You will find attached a list of the missionaries, a description of the vehicles being used, and a list of contact persons with phone numbers.

The missionaries are distributing Seventh-day Adventists literature, offering free Bible instruction, and praying with and for the people. They are also asking for donations to support Seventh-day Adventist educational work.

Some municipalities have laws regarding solicitation. If your city is one of these, we are confident that your laws exempt churches from their restrictions.

If your laws do not explicitly exempt churches, you will want to interpret them as though they did. This is the only way your city code can be understood in light of the legal rulings mentioned below. These are listed here for your information.

You may want to share them with your city attorney.


Eugene Prewitt

Missionary Conductor

Legal Rulings

Several decades ago the Supreme Court of the United States protected the church’s right to sell its literature as part of its evangelistic work. This right was substantially expanded in a 2002 ruling.

Here is a brief summary of the rulings most relevant to your case:

Espenosa v. Rusk, 10-21-1980, U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

Issue: Albuquerque solicitation ordinance. The court upheld the lower courts decision that the ordinance could not be applied to Adventist door-to-door fund-raising evangelistic work.

Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 1940, Supreme Court

Murdoch v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, 1943, Supreme Court

Issue: Whether ordinances against door-to-door solicitation can be legally used to prohibit Adventists from doing literature evangelism. The court held that they can not. Justice Douglas added “the mere fact that the religious literature is ‘sold’ by itinerant preachers rather than ‘donated’ does not transform evangelism into a commercial enterprise.” Murdoch, supra, 319 U.S. at 111.

Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc., etal. v. Village of Stratton, etal., No. 001737; argued 2-26-02; decided 6-17-02

Issue: Whether the village of Stratton’s ordinance, requiring registration and permission from anyone going door-to-door, violated the free-speech rights of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The court overturned the ruling of the Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit. The Supreme Court ruled that the ordinance did, indeed, violate constitutional freedoms. The ruling was worded broadly and was based partially on the cases of Cantwell and Murdoch, above. “Held: The ordinance provisions making it a misdemeanor to engage in door-to-door advocacy without first registering with the mayor and receiving a permit violate the First Amendment as it applies to religious proselytizing, anonymous political speech, and the distribution of handbills.” Pp. 913.


The city of Springdale should be aware that the Adventist church has a right to do its door-to-door ministry within the bounds of the city limit. This letter is written to inform the city of these rights.


Student Contract

Accounting Forms

Legal Employment Forms


Bread, Crackers, Crumbs, White Bread, Wheat Bread, Loaf, Bakery, Slices

Administrative Assistance

Code 65

“GB” “PTL” 


Combing, to the T, Follow Your Curve, Crossover

GA, DA, GC, Peace, MFJ, SB, JFC, SK, CB, MC, HP, KK, etc.

Happy D

Devil’s Rabbit

Smokey, Tank, Grandfather, Betsy, Ellie (ie, L. E.), and other affectionate vehicular nomenclature 

The “Morning” (includes 2:30 PM for example) and the “Afternoon” (starts at about 4:30 PM for example).


Periodic Abdominal Pains – A Mother’s Advice

Trouble Shooting  Low Sales

  1. 1. Do you know your canvass – No, Learn it. If this doesn’t solve the problem, go to 2.

Yes, go to 2.

  1. 2. Do you smile warmly at the door – No, cultivate this virtue. If this doesn’t solve the problem, go to 3.

Yes, go to 3.

  1. 3. What promises have you been claiming – None, find promises, study prayer, and pray earnestly for help from heaven. If this doesn’t solve the problem, go to 4.

One or two sometimes – good, but if you haven’t been searching for promises and treating them as powerful elements in the Word of God, you may be demonstrating a lack of felt dependence on the Word. Search more, claim more. Believe more. If this doesn’t solve the problem, go to 4.

I claim promises earnestly and regularly. – go to 4

  1. 4. Are you finding more than two or three people a day that will look at your books but won’t take them in their hands?  — Yes, then you need help with your technique of getting the book in the hand. Ask for help. Does this solve your problem? If not, go to 5.

No, they take my books. – go to 5.

  1. 5. Do your books look as good as new? – No. Then replace them immediately and take better care of them. Does this solve your problem? If not, go to 6.

Yes, they look beautiful. Good. Go to 7.

  1. 6. Do you have family with serious problems in their life? Or do you have serious issues of a personal nature that are distressing you?
  2. 7. Do your sales go up and down, or are they consistently low?
  3. 8. Do you give up when the customer first says “no”? or do you routinely get donations for less than ten Happiness booklets?
  4. 9. Do you typically sell the same few titles every day?
  5. 10. Do you seek sympathy by sharing your negative experiences? Or do you speak or think of your tiredness, the bad weather, the unreceptive people, or other unpleasantries during the day?
  6. 11. Do your low sales reflect a general pattern for the team? In other words, is the whole team doing poorly?
  7. 12.

Jump to Contents






Churches of God











Church of Christ




Jehovah’s Witnesses

Indians, American

Reformed Churches



“Are you saved?”

Making Friends

Stocking, Care for Books

Rainy Days, Care for Books


“Satan Worshippers”



Foreign students – speech

Foreign students – laws




Industrial areas

Urban areas

Rural areas

Country areas

Adult Workers



Body Language

Book in the Hand

Businesses, Canvassing

Businesses, Leading

Children, canvassing the


Church Programs



Cold Days


Comeback Later Objection


Comebacks when Leading


Controlling the Canvass

Damaged Books

Desire of Ages, Canvassing the

Devil’s Rabbits




Door Approach

Door Approach for non-students


Drop Downs, Canvassing for


Efficiency and Speed




Experiences and Stories

Eye Contact

Fiscal Policies

Funding Programs

Getting in the Home

Getting the book in the hand

God’s Answers to Your Questions, Canvassing for

Great Controversy, Canvassing the

Ground Leading


Hands Full or Dirty



History of Magabooks

Holiday Canvassing

Host Churches



“Know your Canvass”


Lawsuits and Liability

Leading, Businesses

Leading, the trip to and from work

Leading, choosing territory

Leading, dropping off students

Leading, in the city

Leading, in the country

Leading, leaving the base

Leading, lunch time

Leading, pickup

Leadership Meetings

Leading, Rainy Days

Leading, with a discouraged student

Leading, with a sick student

Leading, with Vehicle Problems

Leading, with weary students

Legal Rulings


Liability Issues

Lights Out

Medical Emergencies

Name of Jesus, Say Tenderly

Pathways to Health and Happiness, Canvassing for

Police, canvassing them

Poor, canvassing the

Rainy Days




Rich, canvassing the

Risk Management

Skipping Homes or Customers

Sick Students

Team Management

Turning Pages Subtlety

Wealthy, canvassing the

Week One – Discipline Issues

Week One – Getting Started


Ideas maybe not in book:

Dead air space

Questions in the voice

Keep weight supported by customer

Loosing your hands, a critique

Jump to Contents


(5) Comments

    • I am afraid, Bryant, that it may never happen. And if it does, it will be so long from now that I won’t remember to notify you. I hope you find what is already written helpful.

  1. Hello Eugene,

    I was looking at your website as a result of seeing you on UTube and also I had heard about you “years” also. When
    you were a Magabook leader. I have canvassed for over 33 yrs. big books. Well, I want to ask the question – is the
    book done yet?
    Because if it is – I would love to purchase a copy.
    God bless you as you continue to serve Him,

    Pattie Morris LE
    Carolina Conference

    • Hi Pattie, it is as done as it is ever likely to be, and you found it on my site. If you want to finish it and print it, be my guest. And if you contact the Michigan Conference, they produced a book on training that is partly an adaption of my book, though with so much other material added as to not be mine in any sense.

      Thank you for caring about the truth and for doing God’s work for 33 years.

      Be faithful,


  2. Great information Eugene. Very informative and well written. Ahh the 15 passenger van. Awesome training material sir. God’s continued blessings.

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