1. Our Advertising Age
I believe it is in God's order for our ministers to advertise. We are living in an advertising age, when nearly everything is advertised. Everywhere we look, we see advertising on large signs along the highways and on the streets. If there is one technical matter above another that the Seventh-day Adventist evangelist needs to study, it is effective advertising, not cheap advertising. We should advertise, and advertise well. Our advertising should be so arrestive that even those who rush by in haste must read it. In order to make it so, we must put much into a little. Just one or two penetrating facts, stated in a few words, are essential in getting attention.
Although advertising should be strongly arresting, it should also be true. And it should be of such a nature as to call attention to the message, not to the messenger. It grieves me when I see advertising something like this: "So-and-So, Nationally Known Lecturer," or "So-and-So, a Lively, Interesting Speaker." • A Seventh-day Adventist preacher has no right to be "lively" in that way. If you have God's truth, you should, of course, be interesting. And anybody can be a lively speaker. But I tell you, friends, the man of God must be more than an interesting and lively speaker. Rather, he must be a powerful preacher of the Word, "a man with a message."
I have found the use of posters very effective. I am speaking of large billboard posters. You have to pay for space like that, and you will haze .1.43 study how to use it most advantageously. Otherwise you will only waste your money; and we must learn how to conserve the Lord's money. I use a poster ten feet in depth, and eighteen feet or more in length. Such a poster will attract attention. I think it is wise to have only one such poster in a town, but it should be placed in a position where it is not surrounded by other advertisements which detract from its dignity. Better have a poor poster and have it in the right place, than to have a large, attractive poster in the wrong setting.
Another thing I have found very helpful—but you cannot do it until perhaps the second week or later—is this: Have smaller posters or window cards printed, and ask the people in the congregation to take them and put them in their front-room windows. As people pass along, they almost always look at the windows, and the posters attract their attention. I find this a profitable and inexpensive method of advertising.
Then, too, I would have posters that can be placed on the streetcars. Another effective means of displaying a poster is to place one upon a frame twelve to fifteen feet long to be exhibited from a moving autotruck. Also, a push cart, with signs attached to either side, meeting at the top and practically hiding the man who propels it, is a method that can be used to advantage. The expense involved is not much, and it certainly attracts the attention of the people.
The first words of an advertisement are the most important. I think we ought to have a good quality of paper and ink, and we ought to have good cuts. Anything cheap and crude is out of date in advertising. If I use a handbill, I want it to be of such a size that it may be used unfolded. When people pick up a circular and find it folded right across the cut showing the face of the speaker, the first impression is not good. At one time I used the phrase, "Christ and the Crisis" as the first words of my advertisement, and employed it to good advantage. Everybody knew there was a crisis on at that time. I feel that we ought to have the word "Christ" or its equivalent, in the foreground of our advertising. Everybody is looking for a crisis to come in world affairs, and Seventh-day Adventists know the meaning of the crisis and have the responsibility of making that meaning known. Everything, therefore, in our methods and in our lives should be maintained on the highest and best order.
2. The Open "Airdome"
R. S. Fries (Evangelist, Denver, Colorado): Some years ago, while conducting a tent effort in Berkeley, California, I converted the tent into what was known as an open "airdome" [wrongly called drome], where the people came and sat in the open. We left the walls of the tent in place, and made an attractive entrance. People enjoy sitting out in the open air on a warm Sunday night, and the plan became popular. There is one disadvantage, though, and that is that you are subject to weather conditions. But there are several advantages to an open-air arrangement of this sort. One is.that you can secure a location in the center of town, where the fire regulations will not permit a tent to be erected. Sometimes a vacant lot can be secured between two good buildings, and this is an ideal location. Wherever the people are, there is where you ought to be.
L. E. NIER,MEYER (Evangelist. Salem, Oregon):
I, too, have found the open-air meeting very effective. When I first went to Indianapolis, I was asked to locate in a section of the city where we could not secure a hall or a theater.
We selected a desirable lot in that district, just around the corner from a theater. I took the side wall of our large camp meeting pavilion and arranged for a rectangular enclosure. In the rear of this we built a platform. We covered it on three sides and the top with flies from family tents, and left the front open. It was similar to the pavilions we see in pictures of African camp meetings.
In this enclosure we placed the pulpit, chairs, and piano. Later we arranged it so that we could drop a fly from a large family tent over the door in the daytime, thus completely enclosing it and making it waterproof. I took other flies from family tents and arranged them so as to cover several rows of chairs. Thus, in case it rained, the chairs would not get wet, and we did not have to take them in every night.
The best plan is to arrange the lights so high or so far out that the mosquitoes will not bother. The "air dome" is something new. People have never seen anything like it, and they really enjoy sitting out in the fresh air. One disadvantage is that there is no place to hold meetings in the daytime.
3. Six Points in Securing Interest
R. L. BOOTHBY (Evangelist, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) : I wish to present six points which I believe are fundamental in obtaining an interest in an evangelistic meeting:
1. Expect to do something.
2. Secure a proper location.
3. Have someone of prominence introduce you the opening night.
4. Make the sermon details attractive.
5. Secure names of interested people by offering free copies of sermons and lectures.
6. Convert the heart, and you will have an interest.
In my experience it has never been much of a problem to secure an interest. The problem has been how to handle that interest—how to take care of the interest with the facilities at hand.
Expect to do something. If you are going to have an interest, you must expect to do something. It was John Knox who said, "0 Lord, give me Scotland, or I die." I believe that we as evangelists ought to go into these cities and towns with the same determination to win that town or city for God. If we have that intense passion to win souls to God, I am sure the Lord will give us the interested people. At one time in a town of six thousand people we made preparation to take care of an audience of a thousand. When we went to a lumber company to secure lumber for the seats, we stated how much we would need, and the man said, "It must take a great deal of faith to expect an audience like that in a town of this size." But during the entire campaign the place was filled, and people stood up at the sides and in the back. The Master said, "According to your faith be it unto you." There is a difference between faith and presumption. God wants us to have a vision and really to do something. And I believe that God will help us to do that something when we have the vision.
The conference said they could not furnish the money for the campaign, and they left it for the church to work out. We called the church members together, and the brethren said they wanted to have a campaign. I said, "Well, we will hold a campaign on certain conditions. We will have a committee of five to handle the offerings, and I will counsel with them before any money is spent, and place plans before them from time to time in order that there may be full understanding." As a result, we finished the effort with $50 in the treasury, and a good harvest of souls added to the church. The Lord helped us to secure a free location in the heart of the town, and lumber was obtained for a small rental fee. We were in the midst of a coal-mining district, and our coal was donated.
I try to get the mayor to introduce me on the opening night. In San Francisco, the mayor sent a representative to introduce me; and that man became interested in the campaign and proved to be a great help to us. In Topeka, Kansas, we had the mayor give the speech of welcome on the opening night. If you can get some one of influence to introduce you and give you a welcome, it makes the people feel that there is something worthwhile in store, and this attracts them.
4. Forty-Corner Campaign1. M. HEALD (District Leader, Greater New York Conference): In New York City we carried on what was known as the "forty-corner campaign," in which brief ten-minute gospel meetings were held on regular nights at forty corners. On a platform which was built on an automobile, we ran a brief film on a little screen. We had good music and brief addresses, and then the workers scattered through the crowd and secured names and addresses of people who were interested. These names were followed up by personal visits or literature. This has proved to be a very good method of securing interests.
5. Press and Radio1. J. COON (Evangelist, Los Angeles, California): There are many ways of advertising that contribute to the success of evangelism. Announcements in the daily papers are valuable just preceding an effort. Make friends with the editors, and get in some short statements as news editorials. A well-worded announcement, coming over the radio for several successive nights, helps greatly. The advertising should be conducted in such a way that it does not answer the questions that we are trying to arouse in the minds of the people. Instead of satisfying interest, it should create interest. If in our advertising we answer every question a man may ask, he will conclude there is no need to hear the sermon.
A. D. BOHN (Evangelist, Spokane, Washington): There is, I believe, a large unentered field of opportunity open to us where we may obtain free time on the radio. I want to suggest that perhaps you could get free time on the most powerful radio station in your city. I have been broadcasting weekly for more than two years. Although I am well known as a Seventh-day Adventist, I am the Bible teacher of the station, answering questions on the Bible. I ask our church members to send in questions that I want to answer. I have been able during the past sixteen months to cover all points of the message three times, and have baptized fifteen persons as a direct result of radio work.
Go to the radio officials and tell them that you are capable of answering any question pertaining to the Bible or history connected with it, that you will give your time free, and that you would like to have them put you on. In two States—Illinois and Washington—I carried on this work for more than a year in each place. When I wanted to stop, they said, "Don't quit. Stay right on. The people are interested, and we want you to continue." They gave me fifteen minutes to start with, to see if it would work, and after two or three broadcasts they gave me half an hour. One station offered me an hour whenever I wanted it.
6. How We Got an Audience in the Early Days
I. H. EVANS (Ministerial Association Secretary): We did not advertise our meetings in a public way in the early days. I will relate an incident which shows the kind of ingenuity we tried to use to get the people to come to the meetings: When we first started our work in Iowa, Elder M. E. Cornell was one of the ablest speakers we had. He told me of an experience he had in raising up a church of sixty members. He went to a little village, selected a lot, and made arrangements for five men to be there at twelve o'clock on a certain day to help pitch a tent. He and his driver took his tent from the place where he had been working, loaded it on a lumber wagon with a hay rack on it, put on the poles, stakes, rings, etc., and started out for the new location.
Just before they drove into the village, he wanted to stop and feed the horses. The brother who was driving said, "It is only a mile to the village; why not wait until we get there?"
"No," said Brother Cornell, "stop here." It was then about ten-thirty in the morning.
At about ten minutes to twelve, Brother Cornell said to the driver, "Hitch up your horses right away, and let us get started." When they reached the outskirts of the village, school had just been dismissed for the noon hour, and the children were going home for dinner. "Whip the horses into a gallop, and make them go as fast as they can," Eider Cornell further instructed the driver.
The driver did not understand what it was all about, but did as he was told. The noise was deafening. The poles rattled; the ropes and chain rings jumped about. Everybody ran out to see what was the matter. They drove straight to the place where they were to locate, threw off the tent, the poles, and the stakes, and the five men who were waiting to help started driving stakes in less than a quarter of an hour. The people stood around looking on and wondering what was going to happen. That afternoon everything was made ready for the night meeting. The word passed quickly from mouth to mouth, and the whole town came out to hear. They held a ten-day meeting, including two weekends, and raised up a church that has stood for seventy years as one of the pioneer churches in the State of Iowa.