By W.C. Moffett
The automobile, the radio, the lure of amusements, and the growing indifference to things religious, make it increasingly difficult to reach the masses in our congested centers of population already satiated with sensationalism. With but little time in which to do the work, surely as men who understand the times we ought to avail ourselves of every means which Providence has supplied in these last days for cutting short the work. Wherever we have capable evangelists who can attract and hold large audiences, it is false economy to cramp their efforts by hiring cheap halls that automatically cut us off from reaching the better class of people. Neither does it pay when large audiences are drawn in, to let the golden opportunity slip by failing to back the effort with a sufficient corps of workers to gather in the harvest while it is ripe.
Just a year ago our Boston evangelist, Elder R. S. Fries, secured a centrally located hall on the first floor on the principal street in a city of over one hundred thousand, where we had no church organized. A considerable sum was paid out to rent this hall for a solid series of meetings each night in the week for six weeks, and for a Sunday night follow-up which has continued to this time. A church of fifty-live members has resulted and others are awaiting baptism. The offerings during the meetings and the tithe that has come in since have more than covered all the expenses of the effort. In addition to this, one of the new converts paid in $550 tithe and turned over $5,000 to the cause. An aggressive effort of this sort produces a cumulative result that makes it possible to take on more workers and build up a conference.
Whatever other methods of advertising may be resorted to in order to build up the attendance, we believe that the greatest publicity is obtained at the minimum of expense by well-prepared advertising in the newspapers. This reaches thousands of people that cannot be reached by any other form of advertising.
We also firmly believe that the time has come when our leading evangelists will greatly multiply their usefulness by utilizing the radio wherever it is possible to make reasonable contracts with local stations. Two of our men in southern New England are now speaking to thousands in this way as against a moderate audience that has been packed into a hall and church heretofore. Many Catholics are listening in who would hardly dare to attend our public services. And it largely takes the place of other forms of advertising, so that the actual expense, after the extra donations are taken out, is not greatly increased. Many of the interested people write in so that the contact for follow-up can be made. The other day we learned of a lady in Canada, one thousand miles away, who had never attended our meetings, but who is keeping the Sabbath from listening in on the Sunday night broadcast of our Providence worker, Elder J. E. Shultz.
The use of motion pictures is in the experimental stage, but it looks to me as if they are making more rapid headway than did the stereopticon in its early stages. Personally, I can see no difference religiously between a picture that is standing still and a properly selected picture that moves, providing it is the right kind of picture in the right place. We have seen attempts to use the moving pictures that have done far more harm than good. On the other hand, one of our workers started meetings in a city where other capable ministers had failed to get a hearing, used very carefully selected pictures, and for the last two years has been speaking to a full house in his Sunday night meetings.
At the same time we are fully convinced that the big thing, once we get the people to our meetings, is to grip their hearts with the message for today. We can never compete with the popular churches in imposing ritual, elaborate display, and pleasing fables; neither can we compete with the theater or moving picture when it comes to thrills.
Thousands of people who are unsatisfied with the husks of worldly pleasure and the chaff of human oratory and traditions, are seeking something better. Men and women turn to us dissatisfied with their churches, tired of the pleasures of sin, with hopes blasted, and crushed with the cares of life.
If from a heart filled with the peace and joy that the world can neither give nor take away, there pour forth in every sermon streams of living water, many a weary soul will drink to thirst no more; and by the simple testimony of a transformed life, like the outcast woman of Samaria, many others will be drawn to the living Christ.
After all, for ourselves we believe that when the results are counted up, it will be found that the preaching of the message in simple lines by a Spirit-filled messenger will count more than all, the paraphernalia an evangelist can accumulate, which sometimes proves a weakness in the long run.
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
A Personal Survey of Field and Methods
By A.E. Sanderson
Dualism the past eighteen months it has been my privilege to labor in thirty-six States and forty conferences, in the interests of the increased circulation of our church paper, the Review and Herald. Having formerly engaged in city evangelistic work for about twenty years, I, have especially appreciated the opportunity which this eighteen months' tour has afforded for visiting with the city workers, observing their methods, plans, and work in the various cities throughout the country.
I have found most of our city evangelists very busy conducting efforts in tabernacles, halls, churches, and tents, and have been impressed anew with the fact that we are living in stirring times, when events of great importance and significance are taking place. Conditions in this world are rapidly changing. We are told that " great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones."—" Testimonies," Vol. IX, p. 11. I believe that we are now witnessing the " final movements," for thousands of people in the cities throughout our land are inquiring as to the meaning of these things. I am convinced, from what I have seen, that the earnest, consecrated minister who is following right methods, and is backing up such methods with untiring labor, earnest prayer, and faith, will not fail in obtaining large audiences, and that God will crown his efforts with success.
Were you to ask me how I would approach the city problem if I were to re-enter that field of endeavor at this time, I would say that I would aim to follow carefully the methods and principles set forth in that wonderful chapter in the " Testimonies," Volume IX, entitled, " Methods of Labor." It is no ordinary effort which will bring satisfactory results today. We are plainly told that " in the cities of to-day, where there is much to attract and please, the people can be interested by no ordinary efforts. Ministers of God's appointment will find it necessary to put forth extraordinary efforts in order to arrest the attention of the multitudes. And when they succeed in bringing together a large number of people, they must bear messages of a character so out of the usual order that the people will be aroused and warned."
As in the past, I would make use of charts, blackboard, pictures, et cetera, for we are instructed that ministers " must make use of every means that can possibly be devised for causing the truth to stand out clearly and distinctly." At the same time we are warned that we " must carefully guard against anything that borders on sensationalism," and avoid " everything of a theatrical nature." We are to work " with simplicity, humility, and graceful dignity."
I am strongly convinced that cheap, flashy advertising should be avoided. Honest advertising, of a most dignified nature, brings best and most permanent results. Cheap methods of labor are unfruitful. I am fully persuaded that there should be no copying after the unwise methods and mannerisms of some modern evangelists, but that we should ,cling closely to the dignified style of preaching which characterized the proclamation of the message in the early days.
Then, also, I have a strong conviction that to-day there is need of keeping close to the old-time method of preaching the word,— comparing scripture with scripture, making less use of our own words and of quotations from popular writers. I believe that there are sufficient topics having direct connection with the third angel's message, for the evangelist to use in preaching, without having to resort to such subjects as companionate marriage, and other sensational and often questionable topics. Not lohg ago I was permitted to read a letter written by a member of a large city church, in which the following statement was made concerning the sermons which were being preached by one of our ministers: "He is lecturing on everything nowadays except the third angel's message,— just like the popular churches. Some of the things he said on Sunday night, regarding passion, birth control, and other delicate matters, were enough to make one blush, and I feel that such matters should not be discussed in the pulpit. I hope he will not make the outside world think that we like such lectures, for I know there were many people who were very much disgusted."
All cheap, sensational, theatrical, flashy, and catchy methods should certainly be eliminated from our city evangelistic work. The true spirit of this message, as manifested in the life and work of the earnest, humble, pioneer workers, must characterize all our work to-day. The third angel's message is a stirring, thrilling, solemn, warning message, and I believe it will stir the hearts of the people everywhere if it is presented in a deeply spiritual manner.
Washington, D. C.
The Tabernacle Plan
John E. Ford, associate with Elder C. T. Everson in the various large city efforts in the North Pacific Union, refers to methods of procedure in their. intensive Tabernacle efforts, as follows:
a. Cards.— A printed card is placed in every home in the city each week. This card is 3 x 4 inches in size, bearing on one side an announcement of the Sunday night lecture, and on the opposite side the announcement of the four week-night meetings and the following Sunday night service. The city is divided into sections of about two hundred houses, and church members are assigned to the various sections for the distribution of this literature.
b. Banners.—Occasionally during the series of meetings, banners are placed upon the street cars, announcing that the meetings are in progress.
c. Newspaper Advertising.—Every Saturday night or Sunday morning an appropriate advertisement appears in the newspaper having the largest circulation in the city. Smaller advertisements are placed in other local newspapers. During the week an occasional advertisement appears in the papers, announcing some outstanding subject. The editors are usually quite willing to publish daily a brief report of each meeting.
d. Blotters.— In business houses, offices, and public buildings, advertising blotters are frequently distributed.
e. Bill Board.— If the Tabernacle is located where pedestrians pass it, a bill board is posted each day with an announcement of the subject for the evening service.
f. Radio.— Broadcasting over the radio once a week has proved to be an effective means of advertising.
2. Order and Nature of Meetings
a. The Sunday Evening Service.—Preceding this meeting, at the appointed hour of 6: 45, the workers meet in the " prayer room " of the Tabernacle, and engage in a fifteen-minute preliminary prayer meeting. At seven o'clock the members of the church assemble with the workers, and another brief prayer service is held. At 7: 15 the song service begins. At 7: 45 the meeting is opened in the following manner: Hymn, Prayer; Special Music Number by Choir, Announcements, Taking the Offering, Passing Out Cards for the names of those who want literature, Special Song; then the Sermon, which concludes with prayer, but not with song.
b. Week-night Services.— The program for the week-night services is the same as for the Sunday evening meeting, except that the song service begins at 7: 30, and no names are taken for literature.
c. The After-Meeting.— At the close of many of the services an appeal is made to the people to indicate by raising the hand the desire for prayer, and in the after-meeting following these people are given simple instruction as to how to find Christ and become fully surrendered to Him. When the testing truths are presented, the request is made for all those who are willing to follow the light, to stand. The Sabbath keepers in the audience are usually requested, in advance of such a call, to stand in response to the appeal, and this helps to encourage the people who are making decisions.
d. Workers' Meetings.— On Monday of each week a workers' meeting is held, at which arrangements are made for sending out literature, arranging for personal visits in the homes of the people, and considering plans for the week.
e. General Schedule.—Meetings are held every night except Saturday and Monday. After the Sabbath truth has been presented, church services are held in the Tabernacle on Sabbath morning, and a sermon every Sabbath afternoon at three o'clock. A call is made at the close of each of these services for those who desire baptism, and special instruction is given in a special service on Saturday night. Sometimes we arrange for a doctor to give a health lecture on Saturday night. On Monday nights we have a meeting in the Tabernacle for the new converts, in order to make them more fully acquainted with our faith and organization in general.
3. Order of Subjects
The order of subjects cannot be definitely stated, as this is a matter subject to change by the length of the campaign. Generally speaking, the topic for the first week is Heaven; for the second and third weeks, Hell, Spiritism, and State of Dead; from the fourth to the sixth Sunday night, the Sabbath question is presented. Following this, on nearly every Sunday night for several weeks, some phase of the Sabbath question is presented, relative subjects being presented during the week, culminating in the subject of The Mark of the Beast. Other phases of the message follow until the close of the campaign. But all the true spiritual setting is stressed.
4. Securing Names
As to our method of getting hold of the names of interested people, we pass out cards each Sunday night, with pencil attached, announcing that literature pertaining to the subject of the evening will be mailed without cost to all who will place name and address on the card. The literature is mailed just as soon as possible after the meeting. Then the names are segregated according to sections of the city, and a Bible worker is assigned to visit the people. At first the Bible worker's aim is to get acquainted and to urge the people to attend the meetings as often as possible, rather than seek to make an appointment for Bible studies in the home. This plan is started the first week of the meetings, and continues all the way through. We find it of real value.