The Association Forum

A round table discussion on advertising and evangelism.

By various authors

By Robert L. Boothby

By J. L. Shuler

A Study in Advertising

By Robert L. Boothby

We are living in the age to which the children of God all through the centuries have looked with longing de­sire,— the time when prophecy meets fulfillment in the daily current events. It is a time not alone of intense in­terest, but one freighted with grave responsibility. The cities of the world are fast becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah, and the inhabitants of city, town, and hamlet have well-nigh for­gotten God, and are plunging on to perdition. In the midst of this situa­tion the Lord has established " a pe­culiar people " intrusted with Heaven's life-saving message, whose mission it is to " shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life." Phil. 2:15, 16.

One of the vital problems which must receive serious consideration by the ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom while in the realm of " the god of this world," is how most effectively and most appropriately to reach the minds of the multitude engrossed in the fri­volities of modern life, and attract at­tention to the message which God is sending them as the last and final ap­peal to accept His Son Jesus Christ as Saviour, Redeemer, present Keeper, and Guide out of the maze of sin's destruction into the peace and harmony of surrender which petitions, " Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."

In facing this problem, we are aware of the fundamental fact that all suc­cess in carrying forward our mission depends upon the power of the Holy Spirit guiding and operating in human channels. Without this, nothing can be accomplished in the spiritual realm. And yet our King has given to us a mind with which to grapple with the problems which present themselves iimbi a world of progress, and He expects u to study methods which are commen­surate with the present need in ef­fectively reaching the multitudes with the word of truth.

For our guidance at this particular time, we have this instruction:

"In the cities of to-day, where there is so 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. They must make use of every means that can pos­sibly be devised for causing the truth to stand out clearly and distinctly."—"Testimonies," Vol. IX, p. 109.

One of the principal factors in the " extraordinary efforts " needed to " ar­rest the attention of the multitudes," is the matter of advertising; and in this advertising there must ever be maintained the dignity of the message, while at the same time producing A" striking and attractive effect. We a appropriately warned against sensa­tional methods of advertising, but progress does not necessarily mean sensationalism; and " dignified " meth­ods do not restrict to those which, though good, have become obsolete through the changing conditions in the world. It is not my purpose here to set forth any certain method of ad­vertising which adequately meets the needs of the hour, for it is imperative that each minister give study to this question from the viewpoint of condi­tions in his particular field and adapta­tion to his own personality; but there are a few general principles governing modern methods of publicity in our day which may be worthy of some con­sideration in all places and under all circumstances.

1. Subject Titles.First of all 

p would mention the matter of subject titles. There is danger of becoming stereotyped in the phraseology of titles of subjects, and herein lies a large con­tributing factor to greatest success or apparent failure. We are on the stage of action where rapidity and inten­sity control. Things are happening—quickly, vividly, and on a large and venturesome scale. The running " to and fro " and the increase of knowl­edge so apparent in our day are pic­tured in the prophetic scrolls of inspir­ation; therefore we must conclude that it is expected that the children of God will keep abreast of the times, and use wisdom in announcing messages of truth which will not be out of order in the stirring issues of the day. This may involve dispensing with some of the " canned " sermons which have be­come stale and musty — not in sub­stance, but in conveyance; it may mean that some of the sermon outlines of bygone days will need to be revised, and give way to added life and fervor in presentation of the subject. But caution is necessary, that in the en­deavor to evolve new and modern titles for Biblical subjects, there is no resort to the exaggerated or the unreal. We must not advertise to furnish some­thing which we do not have; we must not raise questions which we cannot answer in a clear Biblical manner. In other words, we should not stretch be­yond our measure in order to attract attention, and make dashing state­ments which tend to deceive people, so that when they go away from the service they feel that they have not been furnished with what they were promised through the advertisement.

2. Use of Guts.—It is stated on good authority that 90 per cent of what we learn is imparted through visual edu­cation. Schools are now recognizing this principle, and much instruction formerly secured from books is now portrayed in pictures. That this is a true scientific principle, is revealed by the fact that the Bible contains many prophetic cartoons. There is a great deal of printed advertising put out to-day which is not read, but a picture in connection with it will catch the eye and rivet the attention. It has proved to be a decided advantage to use a striking cut in connection with display advertising in the newspapers, for folders, handbills, etc.

3.  Newspaper Advertising.One of the greatest mediums for advertising is the newspaper. Display advertising, accompanied by a good illustration, is very effective. Success does not de­pend so much upon the amount of space occupied, as upon the nature and the brevity of the composition and the approprialeness of the cut used. For newspaper write-ups, a few clear-cut comments will be accepted by the ed­itor more quickly than a long article. The copy should be typewritten, double spaced, and the first page should begin about halfway down on the page, to leave room for the editor to indicate the heading. The most striking sen­tences should come first, and the neces­sary details follow. The condition in which the copy is presented has much to do with the editor's opinion as to whether the cause represented is worthy of newspaper publicity. It pays to make a friend of the editor, and to take special pains to let him know that his co-operation is always appre­ciated.

I have found it a good plan to have at least two or three newspaper articles appear before the beginning of a series of meetings, and after the meetings begin I furnish the editor with a short write-up of each Sunday night service, which is usually printed without charge. I prefer to begin the news­paper publicity on the Monday pre­ceding the first Sunday of the meet­ings, as by this method I safeguard against any unfavorable propaganda which the local ministers might feel inclined to begin from their pulpits before I get started. Not all newspaper advertising has to be paid for. Prop­erly prepared news write-ups will be welcomed by editors. I usually depend on the " paid " advertising to help create a favorable impression on the editors leading to the acceptance of further reports.

Posters.—Placing attractive post­ers in street cars is quite a satisfac­tory method, and this privilege is usually granted free. A large framed poster carried by hand up and down the business streets on Saturday eve­nings is also effective.

In gospel advertising, it is the mes­sage, not the messenger, which is to be made known. It is true that the human medium for giving the message must be in evidence; but the principle always applies — advertise the mes­sage more and the man less.

Fellow workers, the third angel's message is the biggest thing in the world, and may the Lord help us to realize the importance of exalting it in a holy manner, that the multitudes of earth's perishing millions, may be attracted by it.

Topeka, Kans.

Successful Evangelism 

(Concluded)

By J. L. Shuler

Among the further factors which con­tribute to success in an evangelistic effort, are 5. Proper Location.— The location of the tent or auditorium should be in the most strategic and favorable point for securing an audience. We should make a study of the strategy of loca­tion, and note the divine strategy in the location of ancient Israel in Pales­tine at the crossroads of empire, the meeting place of the East and the West, or in the midst of the nations, as ex­pressed in Ezekiel 5:5.

6. Order and Neatness.— The meet­ing place, whether indoors or outdoors, should be neat and attractive, and in keeping with the truths we have to present. An ill-kept tent or untidy meeting place is out of keeping with our work. People will judge the mes­sage we bear by the kind of place in which we preach and by the kind of efforts we put forth to make the mes­sage known.

7. Advertising.— The advertising should be ample, well planned, and of a dignified nature. Let the emphasis in advertising be placed on the mes­sage, not on the messenger. In cities of medium size, and in smaller places, newspaper advertising has proved to be the most effective method of pub­licity. Special study should be given to sermon titles, that they may have strong pulling power in getting an au­dience. To give a concrete example: Two evangelists began tent efforts in two different cities of about equal size in the same State, but about one hun­dred miles apart. Both men began their series of meetings with Daniel 2, but one speaker had three times as large an audience as the other. Both men had excellent locations, both hadditil good equipment. There was no differ­ence in either of these features, except that the man who drew the larger crowd had the smaller tent. The names of the men had no special sig­nificance to the people of either city. Both advertised to the same extent, using the same mediums — newspaper, window cards, et cetera. What caused the difference in the size of the audi­ence? It is attributed solely to the drawing title given to the subject by one of the evangelists, and failure to give special attention to an attractive title by the other. It is a demonstrated fact that the same amount of money spent in advertising will, in one case, result in a small audience, and in an­other case in an audience three or four times the size, depending on whether the wording of the advertisement is weak and commonplace, or such as will attract and grip the attention. This matter of " catchy " or " pulling " titles needs the most intensive and wide-awake study by the successful evangelist.

8. Personal Work.There can be no real success without personal work on the part of the evangelist as well as of the other workers in the company. It is heart-to-heart work in the home that counts more than anything else. We read, " He who does faithful work outside of the pulpit, will accomplish tenfold more than he who confines his labors to the desk."—" Testimonies," Vol. IX, p. 124. It is worth while ever to bear in mind that there will be ten times better results where the proper personal work is done than where it is neglected. To open the way for per­sonal work, it is a good plan to dis­tribute cards on the second Sunday night of the meeting, inviting those who are interested in receiving free literature on the subjects presented, to write their names and addresses on the cards. This will enable the work­ers to begin personal work in the homes of the people at the beginning of the second week of the effort. The call for names should be repeated on several occasions during the series of meetings.

9. Self-Support.A successful evan­gelistic effort should be self-supporting. Sometimes this is not possible where high rent for hall or auditorium is required, but a tent effort should al­ways be self-supporting, and can be made so if the one in charge will really work to that end. Five suggestions on making an evangelistic effort self-sup­porting may be helpful:

a. Set your mind on doing it.

b. Take an offering every night.

c. Take the public into your confi­dence, explaining the expense involved and your plan for meeting it.

d. Make the third and fifth Sunday nights " dollar night," distributing spe­cial envelopes for the offering, on the order of the Thirteenth Sabbath Of­fering.

e. Call for a " thank offering " at the close of the series. By following this plan, I have seen the donation record, in four successive efforts, run as fol­lows: $721.67; $663; $768.79; $1,370.10.

10. Effective Preaching.In consid­ering this point, let us first inquire, What is preaching? A definition which appeals to me, is this: " To be like Christ, to stand in His stead and speak in His behalf, sensible of a divine com­mission, persuaded that we are His ambassadors, not by infallible sacer­dotal selection, not by the market law of demand and supply, but by the im­mediate, internal, and effectual call of God; and thus persuaded, to take the truths of the Holy Scripture, and un­fold, illustrate, amplify them for the enlightenment and persuasion; and un­der the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to have them intensified by profound per­sonal conviction fused in the fires of one's own soul, poured upon waiting ears and hearts from lips touched with God's altar fire, and accompanied by every possible adjunct of effective pos­ture and gesture and voice this is preaching."

Five suggestions for effective preach­ing are as follows:

a. Preach the message,the mes­sage of Revelation 14; not fanciful theories, not points of minor conse­quence or of. theoretical difference, not popular and pleasing lectures, not ir­relevant anecdotes, not sensational stories. Bring to the people " those things which most concern their pres­ent and eternal good."—" Gospel Work­ers," p. 147. It takes the preaching of the third angel's message to make Sev­enth-day Adventists. The men who preach on the great testing truths for this time in a straightforward, earnest, sincere, and winsome manner are the men who get results.

b. Preach the message with Christ as the center,the all and in all, the Alpha and the Omega, and all between. " If those who to-day are teaching the word of God, would uplift the cross of Christ higher and still higher, their ministry would be far more successful." " The Acts of the Apostles," p. 209. Our success in the past has been lim­ited, because we have often failed to preach Christ as we should. Christ as Creator, Christ as man's substitute, Christ our mediator, Christ as coming King in the light of the threefold mes­sage of. Revelation 14,— this should be our theme.

c. Preach the message with Christ as the center in a positive, dignified, plain, gentle, and winsome manner. Always hold to the affirmative; let the devil have the negative. Speak the truth in love. Avoid rash statements, harsh, overbearing expressions, or egotistical, bombastic words. Avoid browbeating the public, or stabbing some imaginary opponent with " Bible proof." Avoid light, flippant, joking words. Speak humbly, gently, using plain, chaste, dignified language, with illustrations of like character. (See " Gospel Workers," pp. 166, 169.) " As the dew and the still showers fall upon the withering plants, so let words fall gently when seeking to win men from error."—" The Ministry of Healing," p. 157. The way in which we present the message is a deciding factor in the results. Note this solemn statement: " When the theory of the truth is re­peated without its sacred influence be­ing felt upon the soul of the speaker, it has no force upon the hearers, but is rejected as error, the speaker making himself responsible for the loss of souls."—" Testimonies," Vol. IX, p. 441.

d. Preach the message with Christ as the center, in a positive, dignified, plain, gentle, and winsome manner, in well-arranged, short, pointed sermons. It is the well-arranged sermon which is remembered. Each successive fact should be bigger, weightier, more per­suasive than the preceding, and all tend to the vital conclusion. Each ad­ditional point should be like the suc­cessive blows of the hammer that drives the nail in place. The gist of every really good sermon can be stated in one sentence. Until you can put your sermon into one complete sen­tence, you have not mastered your sub­ject; you are lacking the essential cen­tral idea. The successive subjects in a series of sermons on the message should be like links in a chain. Ob­serve how the " continued stories " ap­pearing in the popular magazines, al­ways stop at the most interesting point, leaving the reader anxiously anticipat­ing the next installment. This is a principle which should be studied and applied in connection with holding the interest of an audience from night to night.

e. Preach the message with Christ as the center, in a positive, dignified, plain, gentle, and winsome manner, in well-arranged, short, pointed sermons, with a warm heart appeal in every dis­course. " Never should he [the min­ister] preach a sermon that does not help his hearers to see more plainly what they must do to be saved."-- " Gospel Workers," p. 153. Every ser­mon should convey a practical appli­cation of the truth of the gospel; every discourse should have its heart appeal. Herein lies one of the secrets for bring­ing the people to a decision for ac­ceptance of the message. The man who preaches night after night for six weeks, and thinks that by a few solemn appeals at the close of the series he will succeed in bringing the people over the line, is making a mistake. The mighty oak will not yield to one sharp stroke of the ax. It is the con­tinual drip of water that wears away the stone. There must be heart ap­peal in every discourse, from the be­ginning to the end, in order to bring the people over the line of decision. Under this plan, the acceptance of the

Sabbath becomes an advance step into a deeper spiritual experience. The provision of an " inquiry room," to which to invite those who wish especially to seek God in connection with any service, is a good plan.

11. Proper Binding off and Follow-up Work.We lose much by failure to bind off and follow up public efforts. Note this striking statement: " A min­ister might better not engage in the work unless he can bind it off thor­oughly."—" Gospel Workers," p. 368. When the evangelist closes a series of meetings and goes to another place, he should leave behind him full-fledged, rounded-out Seventh-day Adventists. No person should be baptized or added to the church until fully instructed on all points. A special baptismal class will aid in the accomplishment of this, also the placing of our truth-filled lit­erature in the homes of the new con­verts. The taking of people into the church who are not fully instructed and properly prepared for such a step, lies at the root of the large number of apostasies revealed in our annual statements. Such members prove a source of weakness in the church, and of discouragement to those outside the church. We have very definite instruc­tion regarding this:

"God would be better pleased to have six thoroughly converted to the truth than to have sixty make a profession and yet not be fully converted."—" Gos­pel Workers," p. 370. "How much better it would be for the cause if the messenger of truth had faithfully and thoroughly educated these converts in regard to all these essential matters, even if there were fewer whom he could number as having been added to the church under his labors."—Id., p. 99, edition of 1892.

It should also be borne in mind that even though the new members have been thoroughly instructed, they must be carefully looked after. Quoting again from " Gospel Workers," we read: " After individuals have been converted to the truth, they need to be looked after. The zeal of many min­isters seems to fail as soon as a mea­sure of success attends their efforts. They do not realize that these newly converted ones need nursing,— watch­ful attention, help, and encouragement. These should not be left alone, a prey to Satan's most powerful temptations; they need to be educated in regard to their duties, to be kindly dealt with, to be led along, and to be visited and prayed with."— Id., p. 322, edition of 1892.

All this means hard, wearing work; it also means joy and satisfaction, for " no joy can equal the assurance of being an instrument in the hand of God for saving souls." There is also an eternal reward set forth in the Scriptures: " He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Ps. 126:6. " They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteous­ness as the stars forever and ever." Dan. 12:3.

Brevard, N. C.


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By various authors

By Robert L. Boothby

By J. L. Shuler

August 1928

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