Charts Their Use and Abuse

Ever since 1842, charts have played a prominent part in the presentation of the advent message.

By C. A. REEVES, Evangelist, London, England

Ever since 1842, when Charles Fitch prepared his historic chart ("The Great Controversy" page 392) to illustrate the visions of Daniel and Revelation, charts have played a prominent part in the presentation of the advent message. We think of Captain Joseph Bates pressing on from place to place. Wherever he could gather a company of people in some schoolroom or by the roadside, he would hang up the inevitable chart to impress more strongly the truth of his words. Speak­ing to city evangelists, the Spirit of prophecy counsels:

"in the cities of today, where there is so much to attract and please, the people can be interested by no ordinary efforts. Ministers of God's appointment will find it necessary to put forth extraordinary efforts in order to arrest the attention of the multitudes. . . . They must make use of every means that can possibly be devised for causing the truth to stand out clearly and distinctly."—"Gospel Workers," pp. 345, 346.

"By the use of charts, symbols, and representations of various kinds, the minister can make the truth stand out clearly and distinctly. This is a help, and in har­mony with the word of God."—"Testimonies," Vol. IX, p. 142.

Everyone is interested in pictures. We are living in a picture-conscious age. This is proved by the large and increasing number of illustrated papers published, and by the wide­spread attendance at the cinema. Therefore, in utilizing every aid that will help to reach the minds and hearts of the multitude, the wide-awake and successful evangelist will not overlook the use of well-chosen charts. He will seek to "teach by illustrations," as we are admonished to do in "Counsels to Teach­ers," page 234.

We should appeal to two of the senses at one time—the ear and the eye. And tests show that a fact seen is remembered 90 per cent bet­ter than a fact heard. Along with oral preach­ing, therefore, should go visual teaching. Charts help to make the message stand out vividly.

In the preparation of charts it is necessary to remember continually that the effective value of a chart is in what it suggests to a con­gregation, and not in what the speaker sees in it. A chart intended to portray some special feature should have that feature very clearly shown or indicated. And in order to bring this point clearly before the people, it might be necessary sometimes to exaggerate some­what the object, or special feature.

I think it best to avoid the use of a chart which shows a number of unrelated prophetic symbols, or one depicting many different lines of time prophecy. The people grasp the sub­ject more easily when the chart is made to illustrate one topic rather than a number of topics or prophecies. The very mass of ma­terial on some charts has tended to overwhelm and confuse.

The more complicated time prophecies, such as the 2300 days and the millennium, are best presented from a chart that can be built up step by step as the preacher develops his theme. The attention of the people is held as they watch the gradual unfolding of the prophecy before their eyes. There is thus no possibility of their anticipating what the speaker will say next or of their attention's wandering to later sections of the time prophecy still undealt with.

I have found that a good size for such a chart is fifteen feet long by five feet wide. The base line of the time prophecy is provided by stitching a length of black tape, half an inch wide, along the bottom of the chart, twelve inches from the edge. Small hooks are fixed at appropriate places, so that cards show­ing certain dates or events can be located on the chart as the address proceeds.

In the general preparation and use of charts, the following points might profitably be kept in mind:

1. Obtain the services of a skilled artist. Se great a message as ours is surely worthy of the best that thought and art can give.

2. Use material on which the paint does not crack when the chart is folded.

3. Make charts large enough so that details are easily seen by the audience.

4. Use bright and contrasting colors.

5. Avoid giving the prophetic symbols too fearsome and hideous an appearance. I have heard of people who actually had nightmares after seeing a prophetic monster of this type.

6. Generally speaking, we can find good copy for charts in the illustrations in our standard denomi­national literature.

7. Avoid the use of old-fashioned charts, which because of their out-of-date appearance fail to do credit to the cause we represent.

8. The preacher must not sermonize about the chart. The chart should illustrate and be subservient to the address.

9. Always aim for simplicity, accuracy, and dignity in the use of charts in an evangelistic series.

*Paper presented at British Ministerial Institute, Watford, England, May, 1938.


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By C. A. REEVES, Evangelist, London, England

February 1939

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