1. As to Location.—For a tent or tabernacle effort, the lot secured should be within one block of the street car line, with ample parking space so people can park their cars nearby, and not be obliged to walk a long distance. The location should be in a creditable residence section, even though the expense involved may be considerably more than in some other sections. It is very important to choose the right location, and it has been demonstrated that a well-located lot pays larger dividends in the end than does a cheap lot in a poor location. Even though a lot is offered free of charge, that should not be considered sufficient cause for deciding to locate where conditions are not the most favorable.
2. As to Use of Denominational Name. —Unless I am in a place where Seventh-day Adventists are numerous and well respected, I do not disclose my religious affiliations, but announce our meetings under such a name as the "Bible Chautauqua," setting forth the Bible, and the Bible only, as our creed. I consider that the instruction found on pages 119, 120, of "Gospel Workers" is a safe guide. It reads as follows:
"In laboring in a new field, do not think it your duty to say at once to the people, We are Seventh-day Adventists; we believe that the seventh day is the Sabbath; we believe in the nonimmortality of the soul. This would often erect a formidable barrier between you and those you wish to reach. Speak to them, as you have opportunity, upon points of doctrine on which you can agree. Dwell on the necessity of practical godliness. Give them evidence that you are a Christian, desiring peace, and that you love their souls. Let them see that you are conscientious. Thus you will gain their confidence, and there will be time enough for doctrines."
I believe that lack of tact on the part of the evangelist in his opening advertising results in the loss of many souls. In. the series of meetings just closing we have baptized more than a hundred persons, all of them adults, with the exception of four or five. These people represent the best class of citizens, and many of them have told me that had they known we were Seventh-day Adventists, they would not have come near the meetings. Tactfulness will counteract prejudice.
Many times ministers wonder why they are not successful in securing the interest of the people. Perhaps the reason lies in being poor fishermen, and that they need to cast their net on the other side of the boat, or, in other words, change their tactics. The successful fisherman does not plunge into the water and make a great commotion. That would only frighten the fish away. But he quietly waits until the bait he offers attracts interest, attention, and is quickly followed by a bite.
We are admonished to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves," and we should study to understand the meaning of this suggestion. When the Baptists announce a meeting, the Methodists and members of other denominations do not feel interested to attend, because they are prejudiced against what they consider the Baptists teach. When the Methodists announce a meeting, very few Baptists attend, for the same reason. Such being the case, why should Seventh-day Adventists, with all the misrepresentations attached to the name, expect to receive a ready response from people of different denominations, unless prejudice is removed? And how can we break down prejudice unless we can get the people to come and hear what we have to present?
It is further stated in "Gospel Workers:"
"God's workmen must be many-sided men; that is, they must have breadth of character. They are not to be one-idea men, stereotyped in their manner of working, unable to see that their advocacy of truth must vary with the class of people among whom they work and the circumstances they have to meet. . . . Many souls have been turned in the wrong direction, and thus lost to the cause of God, by a lack of skill and wisdom on the part of the worker. Tact and good judgment increase the usefulness of the laborer a hundredfold."—Page 119.
Generally, twenty-five sermons are preached before the people know the name of the denomination I am connected with, and by that time they have become rooted and grounded in Bible study, and their confidence is established, so that they are prepared for the testing truths of the message. More than three hundred people have been brought into the truth in this city, and are firmly established on all points. This is not due to wonderful oratory, unusual music, or gorgeous display; but by being tactful in breaking down and preventing prejudice, it has been possible to secure the unbiased investigation of truth by people of all religious affiliations, and when truth is brought to them in this way, it grips the soul.
3. As to Sermon Synopses.—The conference has printed synopses of my sermons to serve as an aid to us in getting into the homes of the people. The sheet of paper (regular typewriter size) is printed on both sides, with the subject of the lecture appearing in large letters at the top of the front page. At the close of the service, I refer to the synopsis of the sermon which is available without charge to all who are sufficiently interested to place their name and address on a card, so that we can take the synopsis to them at their homes. The result has been that we are simply swamped with calls for visits and Bible studies after the second night of the meeting. The synopses of the first week's sermons are delivered during the second week, and so on week by week. In connection with the sermon synopses, we use Present Truth extensively. We find this an excellent means of getting into the homes of the people.
4. As to Brevity.—We advertise to close our meetings at nine o'clock, and promise the people who come to the meeting that we will be true to our advertisement. The time of the sermon never exceeds thirty-five or forty minutes. We give only one phase of the message at a time, making it as simple and brief as possible, so that people can understand and remember it.
5. As to Christian Courtesy.—Nothing of the nature of "throwing mud" or running down other denominations is permitted to enter into our evangelistic work. Even in listening to the sermon on the mark of the beast, Catholics who are in the audience do not become offended, and yet the bold statements of truth are not modified in any way. The "truth as it is in Jesus" will win its way into the heart, and the true light will dispel darkness.
6. As to Special Features.—We use slides, and sometimes we use moving pictures, to illustrate the sermons. We conduct a Question Box service at the beginning of the meeting. Questions are placed in the box at the rear of the tent or tabernacle, and while the song service is being conducted, I look the questions over, and then answer them at the close of the song service, the same night they are turned in. There are usually from eight to fifteen questions to be answered every night. I find that the immediate answer of the questions proves to be of special interest to the audience, and they conclude that when the evangelist can answer questions as they are handed in, he must have a good knowledge of the Bible, and thus their confidence is strengthened.
The methods and special features indicated may not be different from those already in use by our evangelists, but I consider them a large contributing factor to the success which continues to attend our efforts as the years of service roll by.