The giving of the third angel's message by radio in this modern age is taking on proportions scarcely dreamed of a few years ago. As radio continues to play an increasingly important role in public evangelism, the interest developed thereby should be effectively followed up. In the early days of radio broadcasting in our work, much was lost because of a lack of effective methods of following up the interests. But as radio evangelism has developed, effective plans for the stimulation of definite interest have been devised, and as a result a new day dawns in our ever-widening field of evangelism.
Radio broadcasting today is coming to its rightful place as an adjunct to the work of the public evangelist. While it is true that radio has always played an important role in advertising and building up confidence in the message of the evangelist, still it has proved its worth in a broader field than this. The experience of our radio evangelists in the past few years has proved beyond a doubt the effectiveness of the Radio Bible Correspondence School as a medium of developing a tangible interest on the part of the radio audience. With this added field, radio now takes on a much broader scope in the field of evangelism, and will increase and broaden the field of potential interest.
Since the most effective means of following up the interest developed by radio, however, will always be public evangelism, it should never be neglected nor substituted for by the correspondence school plan. Radio must always remain an adjunct to the word spoken to the visible audience. This cannot be emphasized too strongly. The Radio Bible Correspondence School, however, can become a tremendous stabilizing feature of a constant long-range program of public evangelism. The interest developed by the correspondence school plan should become a constant feeder to all our evangelistic efforts. This is true of both the national school conducted by the Voice of Prophecy and the local conference schools fostered by the local radio broadcasters.
I am strongly convinced that the recommendations from the recent Autumn Council at Cincinnati, if followed, will be effective in stabilizing the Bible school plan as an additional feature of our evangelistic program:
"Whereas, The radio Bible correspondence course method of evangelism offers widespread opportunities for winning souls to God's message ; and,
"Whereas, There is need of a wider and more careful use of this method ; therefore,
"Resolved, That such courses be launched and conducted in harmony with the following plans :
"1. That radio Bible correspondence course work among non-Adventists be not regarded as a substitute for public evangelism or personal effort, but rather as an additional means of reaching scattered interests and of making more effective the follow-up of radio contacts.
"2. That before any radio correspondence course plan is launched with the public by any worker or church, authorization be secured from the respective local conference and union committees; and that where such schools have already been launched, local and union committees make a survey of the situation and bring all such activities into conformity with the provisions of this policy.
"3. That in order to safeguard radio Bible correspondence schools, and to ensure continuity of operation, local and union conference committees give study to the plan of conducting the work of the school as a unified enterprise from the local conference office.
"4. That all radio Bible correspondence lessons intended for use in radio work, and all certificates to be given to those who complete Courses, be approved by the North American Radio Commission before publication."
Build Work on Lasting Basis
These recommendations should be carefully studied and followed by all our radio evangelists. It must be remembered that when a Bible school is launched, it must be as a permanent, well-established unit, conducted by competent leadership. Through close co-operation with the local and union conference officers, our radio broadcasters should seek to build their work upon a more lasting basis, thus founding strong, enduring, well-directed conference schools.
From personal experience, I learned the true worth of the Bible school as a contributing factor in our program of evangelism in the city of St. Louis. While it is not primarily essential that the correspondence school be conducted in connection with a radio broadcast, I believe time has proved that such a school is most successful when built around a strong broadcast. The reason for this is evident.
About six months after our Bible school was started, we held an effort in the central part of the city. Early in the effort we discovered that our best interests were coming from those enrolled in the Bible school. In fact, nearly all the converts baptized had their first contact with this message through this means. As the result of this and smaller efforts conducted during the past two years, nearly eighty converts were baptized.
Should there be those who, because of circumstances, cannot conduct a full-time evangelistic effort, the Bible school plan may still be a powerful factor in the program of soul winning. Interest thus developed may be followed to a successful conclusion by properly organizing the church members. In the St. Louis churches, lay members were grouped into what were known as Radio Seminars. These bands were made up largely of those who had been instructed in the art of giving Bible studies and in public speaking in the Bible instructor's training class and the Society of Missionary Men. With additional instruction in the art of visiting, these lay workers were assigned names of interested persons from the Bible school files, and were asked to visit them. The results in bringing interested persons to a decision have been surprising. After they visited those whose names had been assigned them, these workers reported back to the instructor of the Bible school. Then other lists of names were given them. When individuals came to the point where they should take their stand for the message and the lay workers felt the need of experienced help, then the pastor or the Bible instructor visited them to prepare them for baptism. Bible study groups and community Bible schools can thus be formed and conducted by those lay workers trained for this form of endeavor. The effectiveness of this work would be increased if public evangelistic meetings were conducted in conjunction with this well-organized approach by the lay members.
This plan will work not only in the larger cities, as it has in St. Louis, but herein lies a tremendous field of endeavor for our smaller churches in outlying sections covered by the radio broadcast. All available talent in our churches may thus be trained and utilized in helping to follow up effectively the interests developed by our radio programs. In the Missouri Conference, the president and the home missionary secretary are fostering this work among the churches. Truly, this is home missionary work of the highest type. Thousands of our church members should be going from door to door with their Bibles, giving this message and helping those in the Bible school to find their way into the fold.
Whether the interests are developed from the work of the local radio broadcasters or by the national Voice of Prophecy program, our evangelists and lay workers should put forth every effort to go out on the highways and byways and gather in thousands of precious souls who are now hearing this message by means of our greatly expanded radio facilities. Surely the time has come for the loud cry of the third angel. The world is to be lightened by a message that prophecy predicts shall go as "an angel flying through the midst of heaven." No doubt radio will play a tremendous role in the speedy finishing of God's work in the earth.