Impressive!—Tribute is too infrequently paid, in this cause, to consecrated art. The powerful appeal of the sacred masterpiece of the centuries is seldom capitalized on the screen in our public meetings—partly because of inaccessibility and cost, and partly because the crude coloring of amateurs, often exhibited, does not appeal. But skillfully colored and rightly used, effective pictures move the soul Godward. The divine story of redemption has really been the absorbing theme of the truly great artists of the centuries. Of course, many misconceptions of Biblical truth confront the compiler, but these can be avoided. That which is above criticism is amazingly varied. The powerful effect of impressive pictures was recently borne home to us through viewing an illustrated lecture on the plan of redemption, prepared by one of our denominational artists, with primary emphasis on the life and death of Christ. An extraordinary group of pictures was drawn from the masterpieces of the centuries, and the slides were exquisitely colored, being neither overdone nor underdone. These in turn were blended with appropriate music, and the resultant effect was exceptionally impressive. Greater study needs to be given to such wholesome mediums and adjuncts.
Cheapening!—When, in OM anxiety to draw the public to our meetings, we resort to the sensational in our advertising—whether in extravagant claims, intense action pictures, grotesque cartoons, questionable headings, publicity stunts, or overcrowded, highly colored, typically circus-style ads—we cheapen our appeal, and automatically erect a substantial barrier between us and the most thoughtful, careful, and representative type of potential hearers, who, when won, make the most substantial sort of Adventists. More than that, we lower the inherently high plane of our message, which is explicitly portrayed for us in the Spirit of prophecy. This message demands the best, the most representative, and the most attractive publicity that can be conceived. We are spokesmen for God. We represent the highest, holiest, and most sobering message on earth today. The announcement of that message to the world should harmonize closely with its spirit and content. Travesties here are singularly inappropriate.
Anonymity!—This is not to advocate general anonymity in evangelistic advertising, but merely to call attention to the fact that the largest evangelistic endeavor in our history—the Voice of Prophecy broadcast—is anonymous, and has been so from the outset. First it was a local, next a regional, and now it is a national hookup, over the full Mutual network, with an outlet of over 200 stations. There is no play-up of the man who broadcasts, no stressing of his national or international reputation, his personality or eloquence, the greatness of his Biblical knowledge, his world travels, etc. The man is hidden behind his message. When pictures of the Voice of Prophecy group are used—and pictures are proper—they, too, are unidentified. Some claim that the public will not be interested unless they know the name of the speaker, where he has been, what he has accomplished, etc. But is that contention not belied by the facts recited? Some of the claims occasionally made on certain of our evangelistic handbills would be amusing if they were not so disturbing. Do not some published claims to national fame have about their only basis in the evangelist's own newspaper write-ups concerning himself? Let us play up the message rather than the man. John the Baptist was content to be just a voice.
Preliminaries!—Preliminaries are an indispensable part of our evangelistic meetings. Announcements must be made. Information must be conveyed. Available literature must be announced, and numerous related matters must be cared for. But when an evangelist's fellow ministers, his immediate helpers, the members of the supporting church, and the listening public all alike complain of his inordinately long preliminaries, it is time for an evangelist to stop, look, and listen. Where there is such general and uniform criticism, there must be some substantial basis therefor. To ignore such criticisms, and in turn to complain of waning interest and lessening attendance, is not consistent. When people come several nights a week, a heavy draft is made on time, energy, and finance. The meetings should not be extended unduly. The least that the evangelist can do is to co-operate in the abridgment of all unnecessaries. Especially is this true when there are aftermeetings. Let us reduce the preliminaries and avoid those needless repetitions that wear out the saints and annoy the sinners. We should concentrate everything on the message of the evening, keeping that within its proper limits also. Everything should minister to this one end ; all else should be subordinated.
L. E. F.