A Larger Approach to Larger Evangelism

We need to review anew our concept of soul-winning work and its place in our budget of finance and time.

By M. K. ECKENROTH, Evangelist, Tallahassee, Florida

We need to review anew our concept of soul-winning work and its place in our budget of finance and time. Evan­gelism has too long been relegated to the place of an adjunct to the ministry, rather than an integral part of the advance of the final tri­umphant movement. Too long the evangelist has been looked upon as one aspiring for per­sonal achievement, rather than to become a most vital cog in the machinery of the advent ministry.

The hour is past when we should look upon an evangelistic enterprise as merely starting a series of meetings during the summer months, with the hope of securing a few new believers to keep the spark alive a bit longer in some dwindling church. Evangelism today is defi­nitely a science requiring the most exacting qualifications. Modern evangelism cannot be measured by the standards or methods of yes­terday, any more than we can measure trans­portation in the terms and methods of a few years ago.

The Meeting Place.—It is trite to say that without an audience, no effort will succeed. Obviously, the larger the audience, the greater will be the potential possibilities of greater re­turns. The meeting place, its appointments, and its appeal play a large part in securing an audience and holding that audience.

We must make it easy for people to come to our meetings. Therefore we should secure a location that can easily be reached. Selection of the location depends on the type of effort held. A city-wide effort should be as centrally located as possible, and a sectional effort should be located in the heart of the particular section upon which emphasis is being placed.

It is basic to study your effort. Plan every detail of it before your first sermon is preached. This will take time and earnest prayer and con­centration, but it will pay large dividends in the final results. Modern evangelism demands skill­ful organization. Do not shun details, with an idea that they will work out by themselves. When your effort is planned, then you know how to proceed with your meeting place and the selection of its location. In one city a tent may be the perfect type of meeting place. In an­other city a tabernacle may be more suitable. Still another city may be best suited for a hall effort. Study must be given to the community.

Considerations of the Meeting Place

What are the surroundings of the projected location of the meeting ? Is the location con­ducive to worship? Does it have a good repu­tation? If there is a question about it, leave it alone. The reputation of the meeting place will largely attract or repel the type of audi­ence you are attempting to reach.

Dignity without stiffness is an absolute re­quirement for the highest type of public evan­gelism. By all means put forth every effort to make the meeting place attractive. Too little emphasis is placed upon this feature, of our work. How frequently our tents are soiled and quickly thrown together. We use bare boards for a platform, and a box for a pulpit desk. Our electric bulbs glare into people's eyes, and we string twisted, patched, bare, or broken elec­tric wires over the heads of the audience. A poorly constructed, and even more poorly let­tered, bulletin board is placed outside the tent flap, and we consider ourselves ready to go. Then we wonder why our attendance is small. We console ourselves with the comforting as­surance that we have given a sin-hardened city an opportunity to hear the message, and in the judgment they cannot plead ignorance! O the travesty of such self-deception!

Make the entrance to the meeting place as inviting as possible. Don't be afraid to spend part of your budget to make the place attrac­tive and to stimulate the attitude of worship. It is not a waste of money to make the entrance spacious and attractive by the use of flowers and shrubs, plenty of light, and by other de­vices. It is always best to avoid using steps, if possible. Use a graduated incline, or ramp, if necessary.

We have the grandest, loftiest, most exalted message in all the world. Why not clothe it with a commensurate cloak of beauty? A few quarts of paint applied to the center poles of the tent, or some other labor of love, will greatly improve the appearance. Do not hesitate to spend those few extra hours. We are not under the forty-hour-week limitation.

Things to Watch and Check On

By all means keep the meeting place clean, neat, and fresh looking. Use flowers, ferns, plants, etc., for a natural touch of God's beauty. Watch the ventilation. Use plenty of light. Make the platform attractive by using hidden spotlights, color combinations, etc. Keep your platform balanced. During cold weather have the meeting place comfortably warm, but avoid overheating. Use an amplifier if necessary, but by all means avoid "blasting" the ears of the audience. Provide a prayer room for your aftermeetings. Have a mother's room with cribs, beds, rocking chairs, etc., for the comfort of mothers. Install a speaker there if possible.

Put up an adequate bookstand. In my last two efforts the profits from the bookstand have covered the entire cost of all the literature used. After speaking on the health question, display our health foods. The volume of your sales will surprise you. Because of food ra­tioning, people are particularly interested in meatless menus right now.

The Advertising Feature of the Effort.—Perhaps the most discussed question of all is, How can I best advertise?

First of all, do not copy the other fellow. Use any suggestions you might glean from his approach, but adapt your material to your own personality and the needs of your meeting. Another's circumstances may have been differ­ent from yours.

Use every line of approach that is of high appeal and in good taste. Handbills, news­paper advertising, window cards, bumper cards, stickers, doorknob hangers, special invitations, outdoor posters, highway signs, blotters, street­car or bus posters, telephone invitations, re­served-seat tickets, free souvenirs, attendance cards, radio advertising—all these and many more can be used to reach persons in almost every walk of life.

The general principles previously mentioned also apply in a broad sense to our advertising. Dignity should be high on our list of "musts" when it comes to advertising. Spend sufficient time on the "layout" of the advertising. Give much thought to the general appearance. Vis­ualize it. Study it, and work it over, and re­work it. Use bold type, but do not overdo it. Make your advertising vigorous and aggressive. Let people understand that your meeting is alive, that something is bound to happen, and that they ought to be on hand when it does happen.

Let there be enough comment in the material to arouse interest and provoke inquisitiveness, but avoid telling too much in your subtitles. Do not betray the message. Let the public be so impressed, with your advertising that they will think your program the biggest thing in town. Let your personality speak; then the people will not be disappointed. Do not copy; adapt.

Use a good grade of paper or material. The cheap circus type of advertising will produce circus fruit. Good color combinations make the advertising material 25 per cent more ef­fective. U,se colors and combinations of colors that are in good taste. Fashion your advertis­ing so that the color combinations harmonize with the subject titles.

Let the headlines and titles be of a striking and moving type, but avoid sensationalism. Sometimes the line here is pretty thin. Keep the topics up-to-date. This requires much thought and study. Who of us have not spent literally weeks in search for a proper title for a sermon subject? Let that title give promise to answer a pressing need.

It is most undesirable to emphasize the man above the message. It is easy to overemphasize the greatness of the lecturer, so that he and his party seem to occupy more importance than the message. The words "popular," "great," "noted," "celebrated," "world traveler," and so forth, when prefixed to our names, add little important emphasis. I am unaware of any really "popular" Adventist lecturer among the rank and file of the world. Generally we are the target for the most "unpopular" comment when we begin our work.

Be sure to live up to what you say on your advertising. Cover all that you promise in your advertising. If you are unable to answer cer­tain questions, it is far better not to raise the issue at all. If you advertise "wonderful mu­sic," be sure not to disappoint. H you adver­tise a "lively gospel song service," be sure it is good, earnest, well planned, and well directed.

Avoid sensationalism. Let the advertising be simple, direct, forceful, and appealing in its simple dignity. Let us not be coarse, crude, bombastic, antagonistic, or cheap. Do not use ugly, old, and coarse cuts that have been out­dated decades ago.

Use of Radio in the Effort

I am an enthusiast for the use of the radio in our public evangelism. I have had the blessed experience of seeing dozens of people won to this truth by the radio ministry in con­nection with an effort. Truly we are only on the fringe of the vast possibilities of radio evan­gelism.

I have learned much personally from the radio work. I have learned the value of sim­plicity, coherence, and clarity, as well as punc­tuality, adaptability, and tact. Yes, its personal benefits have been many, and its fruitage has been excellent.

I try to get on the air about three weeks before the effort begins, and immediately pre­sent the Bible school plan. I publicize the "Bible School of the Air" in every way pos­sible—through the newspaper, window cards, handbills, friends of church members, etc. I say nothing about my meetings unfil about three or four days before they are to begin. Then I announce that the interest in the Bible school plan has been so amazing and encour­aging that I am sure many would like to hear these lectures, and see them illustrated in a pub­lic meeting. Then I proceed to build up for my opening meeting. The lessons are so ar­ranged that they follow along the same sched­ule I use in the tent or tabernacle. Thus the people have the message brought them several times—at the tent or tabernacle, in the lessons, and by radio talks.

Accompanying each Bible lesson there is a simple mimeographed questionnaire that the student mails back to me. This questionnaire can be answered by merely writing in "Yes" or "No." The questions are very simple, and I have found that as many as 6o per cent actu­ally return the questionnaires. It is simple to follow up the interest and call on the people as the interest develops.

All the lessons are sent out to those who en­roll, whether they send in the questionnaires or not. Experience has shown me that a num­ber of people who never write before the Sab­bath discussion, will write after the Sabbath is introduced. A high percentage of those eventu­ally accepting the truth by radio come from those who did not write before the Sabbath question was discussed.

We teach the lessons question by question, and carefully answer any question the student may have. We are careful to avoid any nega­tive presentation of the message. I am per­suaded that a rather informal, conversational style is the best.

As an advertising medium the radio is very effective. I have offered reserved seats to those of the radio audience who would write in for them, so that those who came from distances would be assured of a good seat. By this means I have never failed to have every seat filled on the opening night of my meeting.

Radio reaches the highest as well as the most humble family. It has been my pleasure to baptize doctors, teachers, nurses, successful businessmen; and recently the wife of a high State official who is a member of the governor's cabinet accepted the truth here in Florida, through the radio ministry. By radio we can carry the message directly to the people. Of course the greatest of tact must be used. We must ever be on the alert. One slip, one wrong word or phrase, one single unfortunate sen­tence, may be disastrous to the entire program. Great study, prayer, and consecration are es­sential for a successful radio program.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

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By M. K. ECKENROTH, Evangelist, Tallahassee, Florida

June 1943

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