Capitalizing Empty Stores

Evangelistic meetings held in empty store buildings have, I believe, usually proved rather unsatisfactory, to those of our workers who have tried this method.

BY H. C. HARTWELL

Evangelistic meetings held in empty  store buildings have, I believe, usually proved rather unsatisfactory, to those of our workers who have tried this method. This is probably due to the fact that these store build­ings are ofttimes in the business section of the city, and the better class of people look upon evangelistic meetings held there as mission work, or possibly some sort of Pentecostal group with whom they do not care to associate.

We have recently tried an experiment in the city of Little Rock. We found a neat-looking empty store building in a residential section of the city, about two miles away from the business district, in which we decided to hold a series of meetings for a period of four weeks. We were impressed to give this effort the name of "Neighborhood Meetings," and we designated the meeting place as "Community Hall." We felt that these names would give the people of that section the impression that the meetings were being conducted_ in-their own neighbor­hood as a special favor. The building was ar­ranged attractively and could seat 250 people comfortably. We used the stereopticon to il­lustrate each subject during the twenty-four meetings of the four weeks. As an added at­traction, we used appropriate motion pictures for fifteen minutes, beginning at seven-forty each evening.

Four weeks is not long enough to bind off an effort and bring people to an intelligent deci­sion; but a real interest was aroused, and the hall was well filled night after night. The at­tendance ranged from 150 to 250 each evening, and the same persons came night after night. The cost of the effort was $150. The offerings amounted to $51, and we sold some of the equip­ment that had been purchased for the meetings for $25, so that the net expense of the effort was only $60.

These meetings are being followed up with personal visits and Bible work, and we believe that there will be ten or fifteen additions to the church within the next month or two. We were requested to submit a little statement of our experience, and so we send in this report, em­phasizing the viewpoint from which the effort was carried on—using an empty store building, in a residential section and calling it "Com­munity Hall," and the services "Neighborhood Meetings." The experience leads us to believe that this plan will work successfully almost anywhere in a residential section.

Little Rock, Ark.

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BY H. C. HARTWELL

December 1936

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