The Conducting of Tent Meetings

Tent meetings are especially practical in some localities, and constitute one of the most economical plans for holding public meetings yet devised.

BY J. F. PIPER

Tent meetings are especially practical in  some localities, and constitute one of the most economical plans for holding public meetings yet devised. When rightly conducted, they will interest the general public, and be a blessing to any community, fitly "publicizing" the heavenly message we bear. It is true that a tent meeting is sometimes associated with some undesirable element of fanaticism; but it has always been the plan of the archenemy to belittle the work and word of God, by endeav­oring to bring ignominy and reproach upon every plan that may be used to extend the kingdom of God. No method can be projected that will not be subject to his attack.

Great care should be taken to secure a desir­able location, one easy of access, and if in a moderate-sized town, on a main street of pedes­trian travel. It should be near transfer points of the street cars if possible, and convenient to automobile parking. After the location has been settled and the grounds leveled, unsightly places cared for and all debris removed, then the tent should be properly pitched, without wrinkles and "catch basins" in the top. A neat entrance should be constructed, and the seats arranged to give proper space for aisles in the tent. The rostrum should be built in propor­tionate height to the side wall and the pitch of the canopy top, so as to create a symmetrical appearance. A suitable place should be pro­vided for the choir. Some potted plants or shrubbery placed around the rostrum, and a few bright Scriptural mottoes, add much to the appearance and cost but little.

The lighting of the tent should be carefully studied. There should be a sufficient number of lights, yet so arranged as not to shine di­rectly in the eyes of the congregation. The lights for the choir, and the light for the desk, should be shielded, so the audience will not have to face a glare. Otherwise, some may stay away from the services because of this.

All seats should be adjusted and properly dusted at least an hour before the time of meeting. No wet or muddy spots should be allowed in or near the tent. If sawdust is used on the floor, care should be taken to see that there are no bare spots. Keep the grass and weeds cut around the tent. No unsightly pieces of canvas or tent sacks used for cover­ings, should be left exposed when meetings are in progress. Unused lumber and tools should be out of sight.

All persons connected with the meetings should be at the tent at least half or three quarters of an hour before meeting time, to greet the people as they come in, and to make them feel at ease.

There should be no laughing or loud talking among the choir members as they assemble. All should conduct themselves as is becoming to the sanctuary of God. After the sermon and the benediction, as the people are dispersing, let the choir sing a solemn hymn or two. And when they are excused, let them leave the plat­form with decorum. Their conduct may have a determining influence upon some who linger to hear the music.

The work of the tent master is very impor­tant. He should usually be the head usher. It is his business (unless otherwise arranged) to see that ushers are provided with offering plates, and are assigned to receive the offering. A sufficient number of persons should be spoken to before the services and should be properly instructed, so the offering can be taken in a few minutes without apparent haste.

When the tent has been vacated, the walls should be lowered and the guy ropes inspected. The top should be mediumly taut, and the side wall poles should be toed one against the other, that there be no drawing strain on any part of the canvas. The musical instruments should be covered for protection from dampness, and all song books gathered up and put away.

It is well that the tent be closed and care­fully fastened around the side wall pegs at night, so that if a storm arises the canvas will not be whipped to pieces. In case of rain, the top should be lowered a short way, lest it be stretched and the mesh of the canvas opened, thus causing the tent to leak. The side wall ropes also should be relieved of extra strain, as well as the guy ropes, lest the tent stakes be pulled from the ground. When the ground is sandy and loose, it is sometimes necessary to double stake certain points of the tent to make it secure. This can be done by driving an extra stake eighteen or twenty inches back of the regular stake and fastening either the guy rope or wall rope from one stake to the other, always using the half-hitch knot so that it can be loosened easily.

One of the most important things for the tent master to keep in mind is that the tent should be opened at sunrise, so air can circulate freely through. It is the dampness from the ground, with the sun rays in the early morning, that causes the canvas to mildew. Little black spots come in the canvas, and these soon become holes. In a short time a tent can be ruined by neglecting proper ventila­tion.

A tent master should be alert and be pre­pared for any emergency. When a storm is brewing, he should know that the ropes are properly taut; that his sledge is where he can get his hands on it, even in the dark; that the switch to the lights is properly protected and within easy reach. He must never take any­thing for granted, but must know for himself that things are as they should be. It may be necessary to lower the tent in case of a severe storm, and before he retires for the night everything should be so arranged that he will know just what to do in case of an emergency.

Seldom, if ever, should a tent be left un­guarded; and if ever, it should be for a very short period. Often through the day people will come into the tent to rest, or through curiosity; sometimes, to ask questions. They should be received courteously, their questions answered, and literature be given to them.

It usually falls to the lot of the tent master to see that the circulars, cards, or dodgers ad­vertising the meetings are distributed to the homes of the people. He may, and usually does, solicit the help of the church members in this task. He should carefully district the city, or that portion of it where the advertising is to be circulated, and assign to each street some one who will see that every home is visited and the people invited to the meetings.

If every worker will study and pray for the success of such meetings, and the evangelists give God's message with faithfulness, He will surely give the increase, and we shall see souls saved in the kingdom as a result of the effort.

Lincoln, Nebr.


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BY J. F. PIPER

August 1934

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