Cartooning as a Feature in Evangelism

Visual education has not only become a popular phrase among educators today, but has been generally accepted by world rulers and political and social leaders. It can also be used in the work of the gospel.

By Henry J. Meissner, Oklahoma Conference, Gospel Cartoonist

Visual education has not only become a popular phrase among educators today, but has been generally accepted by world rulers and political and social leaders. In an age of speed and precision, charts, maps, pictures, and cartoons are used to great advantage in the propaganda of some great cause. '1 he public does less abstract thinking than it did twenty-five years ago. We live in an age of signs and symbols which speak loud and fast. The prophet Habakkuk records what God said: "Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. . . . At the end it shall speak, and not lie." There is need to­day for impressing more strikingly upon the mind the prophetic scenes recorded by men of old. Much of what the public perceives by ear is forgotten. But what is perceived by the eye usually makes a lasting impression upon the mind.

Chalk Talks Classified.—Chalk talking may be arranged under five main classifications : (I) Trick drawing, which is planned to sur­prise by unexpected development. (2) Dex­terous drawing, prepared to excite admiration by the skill and dexterity of the performer. (3) Sentiment drawing, to awaken cherished mem­ory or stir emotion (including religious and patriotic emotions). (4) Illustrations and por­trayals, to present a scene, illustrate a story, or portray people (again this may be religious). (5) Crayon or chalk cartoons, to picture an idea, impress a truth, or mold opinion. (6) Gospel cartooning. This feature is the most fascinating of all to me and covers all five chalk-talk avenues.

The minister, evangelist, or Bible instructor who can surprise his hearers by an unexpected development of some truth; who can draw it with surprising skill and dexterity ; who can awaken and stir cherished memories and re­ligious emotions ; or who can illustrate lofty scenes and portray the great people of the Bible and still stay in the background himself, may become the ideal gospel cartoonist. Like the evangelist who becomes the mouthpiece of the Spirit of truth, the chalk-evangelist's mes­sage becomes more and more illuminated, until his personality is eclipsed by the message he presents in picture and from his lips. By no means does he lose his personality. It is similar to a great artist and his instrument—the music momentarily eclipses the performer. Therefore, in the cartooning part of the drawing lies the acme of achievement for the chalk talker.

Cartooning is very direct. When the idea is pictured, it stands out frankly The crayon or chalk is not a crutch to the speaker, but an extra blow of the hammer. While his art is but a means of expression, the cartoonist con­veys to an audience the results of his observa­tion, and pictures the conclusions reached by keen thinking. Thus the message he brings is strikingly presented.

One need not be a skilled draftsman or a trained artist to picture ideas through car­toons. Mr. Patterson's matchstick men are used in yet simpler form by many Bible teachers, Sunday school and Sabbath school workers, in teaching simple lesson truths visually. The chalk cartoon is for everyone, from the most skilled cartoonist to the beginning chalk talker. Anyone can picture ideas by cartoon methods—in his own individual way. For example, one evangelist's small boy observed his father's efforts. One day he pictured in crude strokes his father triumphantly seated on the devil, and a newsboy calling out, "Extra! Extra! Evan­gelist floors the devil." A few crude chalk marks have great power. I have seen a cartoon­ist walk about the platform for forty-five min­utes with a piece of chalk in his hand. He then drew on the easel a few lines which were to the point and satisfied his hearers. I believe there are among our evangelists, pastors, and prospective ministers, some few who have natural talent for art. Many others could use this means powerfully. The way is open to put the gospel into pictures and cartoons.

Where there is an evangelist and an associate evangelist, one of the two might do the gospel cartooning one evening a week. This feature will be a drawing card for a large crowd. The regular speaker prepares the way for the car­toonist with his practical and doctrinal cartoons. One striking way to attract and indoctrinate people right from the start is to have the very charts and beasts and images drawn life-size while the regular evangelist speaks. Using two persons in one presentation was once thought to be a hindrance, but experience is showing this to be a mistaken idea.

The evangelistic effort with which I am con­nected is planned in such a way that once a week we use a specially featured lecture. All subjects are advertised a week in advance and the special feature draws a good crowd.

Three Types of Lectures Used

I use three types of lectures. In one I draw and speak, with some special hymns to illustrate the main points of the sermon. (See accompa­nying picture.) I illustrate this by drawing the two ways, the cross-way to Calvary, the eternal city, and the home of the saved.

The size of the easel is eight feet by eighteen. This drawing was made without colors, but the Holy City can be pictured much more effectively with colors. The hymns may be omitted in this type of lecture.

In the second type of lecture only the car­toonist draws while the evangelist speaks. The cartoonist develops one or more large-size car­toons to illustrate Bible truths. The picture is developed as the evangelist proceeds with his sermon. If it is on the sanctuary services, the Lamb of God, Christ our high priest in heaven, the judgment hour—all can be well illustrated. This lecture takes two evenings.

The third kind of lecture is a series of quickly sketched cartoons. From five to ten of these may be used. However, not all are drawn dur­ing the lecture. One may be drawn, and an­other may appear under this one, already pre­pared to drive home a point. When this second one is torn off, there may be another under it which needs only a few lines to be completed. Here less talking is done, and more drawing.

We have found in this unusual method that two men working together as one never will distract from the point, nor will one draw attention from the other. There are many angles to this gospel cartooning which cannot be written into one article. We hope many others will see light in the use of the crayon for a more attractive service of evangelism. So far we are using this striking method only as a special feature and as a help in indoctrinating new believers. It truly makes Bible truth plain.


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By Henry J. Meissner, Oklahoma Conference, Gospel Cartoonist

May 1943

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