Everyone recognizes the fact that that which appeals to the eye as well as to the ear makes a more lasting impression than that which appeals to the ear alone. Unfortunately the enemy of all souls likewise recognizes this fact, and capitalizes heavily upon it. How many youth, our own youth, are led astray through satanic appeals to the eye—the almost irresistible cover displays on the magazine stands; the psychology of modern advertising of "forbidden fruits ;" the great white ways of the theater districts and the movies themselves; the attractions of amusement parks, carnivals, and circuses. These are strong appeals to restless, action-loving youth.
Then would it not be well for the gospel worker to provide counteracting appeals to the eye, of a legitimate nature, in order to hold our youth? And in making this extra effort to win and hold our young people by "visual education" methods, he will find an increased interest and attendance on the part of older ones as well. After all, isn't that one of the big goals of the worker for God—to increase the number of his listeners in order to increase the number of his sheaves?
From pioneer days we have recognized the value of visual appeal in making explanations simpler and impressions deeper. One could hardly imagine a Seventh-day Adventist series of meetings without the familiar representations of the beasts of Daniel and Revelation, and various other charts and diagrams. But these have always been used with unbelievers in mind. Why not hold our believers with similar methods?
The first pastor I remember, as a child only four years old, was a chalk artist, a painter, and a lover of children and young people. All of us knew when we went to services that we could count on something of interest to add zest to his message. I was too young to get much of the message, but I still have a vivid picture of some of those chalk drawings. Although the words, "Truth crushed to earth shall rise again," were a mysterious saying to me then, I have never forgotten the truth illustrated in one of his drawings. I have not forgotten the time the minister preached on tithe, and illustrated it by taking out a roll of money and counting out a tenth; or the time he broke a bottle over a stone on the pulpit to illustrate Jeremiah's prophecy concerning the return of the Jews; or the time he had a youngster come forward, and wrapped thread about him, gradually increasing the number of strands to the place where he could no longer break them. How could one forget the text about being "holden with the cords of his sins" after such an illustration?
At the time I write this article, our Sabbath school lesson is on the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of Judah. How vividly did I hear this story told and illustrated years ago. The speaker had constructed the semblance of a city from cardboard boxes of various sizes, with windows and doors, cut,in. This was placed on a large sheet of tin, and the city was enclosed by a wall of fireproof wallboard. Inside the boxes, unknown to the beholders, he had placed kerosene-saturated rags. As he described the soldier casting the firebrand into the temple, he lit a match' and thrust it through one of the windows. In a moment the whole city was in flames, and as we watched the blazing scene, he was able to drive home with vivid reality the lessons of the story.
From observation and experience I have found that one of the very best and simplest ways of holding interest, and keeping up attendance in a series of meetings, '-'be they Sabbath school, young people's, church services, or evangelistic efforts, is the chalk talk. "Truth made clear through eye and ear by ten-minute talks with colored chalks" not only makes vivid impressions, but holds the animated interest of every age from tiny tots to tottering centenarians. There is something about a speaker picking up a piece of chalk to draw that causes the eyes of every person to fasten upon him, and the ears of all to be attentive to his every word.
Many of my readers are no doubt thinking, "That is all very fine for those who can draw, but I have no talent or ability for anything like that." To all who feel that spiritual chalk talks are an asset to a gospel worker ; to all who feel that it is valuable to be able to illustrate their talks and sermons as they go along from point to point, I wish to say, If you are interested, you can do it. In subsequent issues of the Ministry there will be given complete instructions on just how to go about it—materials, equipment, methods, and a few "tricks of the trade" which will make it easy for you whether you are now able to draw a thing or not. The biggest thing you will need is the will to devote a little practice to it. Information will be given regarding where to get helpful books on the subject, and there will be definite examples of chalk talks which you can work up and give the next Sabbath or Sunday night. Definite ideas for synchronized illustrating of such sermons as Daniel 2 will also be given.
Chalk illustrating is one effective way to attract without resorting to the spectacular, but of course it can never take the place of those prime essentials—sincerity, earnestness, and genuine love for souls. Following is an example of a simple chalk talk which can be used in a special program, or preceding an evangelistic meeting. It is adapted from one of the illustrations found in the book "Crayon and Character," by Griswold.
Chalk Talk No. 1—"The Key to Failure"
(This talk can be used most effectively in a temperance program, or as an independent preliminary attraction to almost any kind of meeting. One might begin by exhibiting a bunch of keys, and talking about keys in general terms. Ask one of the boys in the front row to spell "key," and as he spells it, make the first step in your drawing, thus:)
(Draw out from your audience in a series of questions the fact that keys are for the purpose of opening and shutting doors; of locking and unlocking.)
"Most keys are made of metal, such as these you see here in my hand, and are subject to the will of the possessor. But there is a key of which we shall speak which is very different, and, sad to say, it is not always subject to the owner's desires. Too often it works against the possessor's wishes and to his great detriment; for mostly it locks the very doors he would enter, and opens the doors he would avoid. Yes, it even goes so far as to force him through them.
"All have heard of the familiar 'Key to Success,' but have you heard of the 'Key to Failure'? It would be well for all of us to know about this particular key, in order that we might save ourselves the heartaching experience of being caught with one on our hands. For once we have it, it is almost impossible to lose it, and very, very hard to get rid of it. Let us see what this key is."
(Beginning with the tail of the "y," continue the line to complete the key, thus:)
"Note what this key does : It locks the door to Health and opens the door to Disease. (A few interesting facts could be presented here, bearing out this statement.) It bars the way to good positions and opens the way to poverty; it locks and bars the way to a life of purity and honor," etc.
(From here the speaker may build up his own talk in his own way. He may find use for such expressions as "Drink dims, darkens, deadens, and damns ;" "Alcohol ruins internally, externally, and eternally ;" "Gin degenerates," "Whiskey weakens," "Rum ruins." One can get much helpful information, songs, poems, stories, and quotations on this subject from the booklet "Temperance Flashlights."*
Sinful to Sig.—Before the Revolutionary War many religious groups considered it sinful to sing anything but psalms. The playing of an orchestra was especially taboo in a church. Recently Professor Theodore M. Finney, of the University of Pittsburgh, asked permission to browse through a Moravian church in the village of Litz. He found, hidden away, manuscripts that dated back before the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Most of it was too difficult for any but the most accomplished musicians to interpret and was written in the style of Mozart and Haydn; but the Moravians liked music and no doubt hid these efforts to "save their necks."--Herald of Holiness.
* The booklet, "Temperance Flashlights," is now out of print, but some may have the book in their library.