Securing and Holding an Audience

Securing and Holding an Audience*

Securing and holding an audience is essential for successful evangelism.

By C. R. KINNEY, Evangelist, Brookfield, Illinois

A preacher must have an audience. He must understand the art of securing an audience, and he must also possess the ability to hold that audience. These two essentials make for successful evangelism.

There are various ways of attracting an audi­ence. Evangelists are "fishers of men." Fisher­men use different kinds of bait to attract the various kinds of fish. So it is with the evan­gelist. The meeting place (hall, theater, taber­nacle, or tent site), the equipment, the minister himself and his personal appearance, all have to do with attracting an audience, and will largely determine the class of people who make up the audience. A certain amount of advertising must be done by radio, folder, newspaper, etc. But the best kind of advertising will be the sermon each evening.

I do not think a minister ought to over-advertise himself. If he is a mediocre speaker, his advertising should be modest. If a minister advertises on a lavish scale, he certainly ought to fill the bill in the same manner when he faces his audience. Nothing is more pitiful and disappointing to the people than to see a man advertise himself in a big way and then not measure up to their expectation. After all, I believe it is more important to advertise the message than to advertise the speaker.

The subtle power of personal attraction is a quality possessed by few people. This magnetic quality is sometimes found in the voice, or the eyes, or it may be reflected in the whole per­sonality of the speaker.

The speaker should look his audience squarely in the eye, as this is the most effective means of riveting their attention. The eye is the "window of the soul," and eye communica­tion is effective. The speaker must be intensely earnest, with a sinking of self into the subject at hand. His subject must be larger than him­self, and he should have a thorough knowledge of it. He should be bold and fearless. A realization that he is right, a deep-rooted belief in the cause advocated, and a deep sense of duty give courage to the speaker. Sin in his life robs a minister of his confidence and power in the pulpit.

The place of worship should be made attrac­tive. The entire service—music, preaching, and everything else—must be interesting, and the message must be given "in the power of the Spirit."

When the minister rises to speak, let him commence at once with his sermon topic, with­out hesitation, preliminaries, or apologies. When he is through, let him sit down, and not wear out the audience. He should have mercy on the people in the pew. I believe that under ordinary circumstances, especially in evangel­istic preaching, the sermon should be brief and to the point. Don't try to tell it all in one evening. Stop at the highest point of interest. The audience will be pleased, and will come back again.

In every sermon there is a summit to be reached,—a climax. Here the speaker needs to bring his highest powers into play, to aid him in this final appeal. A minister's soul seems on fire as he sends these last burning shafts of eloquence into the minds and hearts of his hear­ers. The sermon should close with this climax. Nothing is more distressing than to have a speech "flatten out" toward the end.

In holding an audience, the speaker must make himself interesting. He must be alive, alert, and tremendously in earnest. And above all, the Spirit of God must possess him. Then the Spirit of God will grip the hearts of the people. An audience thus attracted will not be hard to hold.

* Presented at Lake Union Institute.

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By C. R. KINNEY, Evangelist, Brookfield, Illinois

November 1937

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