An aggressive evangelistic program does not necessarily mean a great outlay of money or an unnecessary expense. It is not the will of God that an evangelistic company should become so expensive to a conference as to use so much of the means in the Lord's treasury that other men in the field are hindered in their specific work. While it is true that we must take every justifiable means of bringing the truth of God before the people, and we are to employ the various modern inventions to attract and arrest the attention of the people, we should remember that these mechanical inventions will not take the place of the living preacher.
"In this age of extravagance and outward show, when men think it is necessary to make a display in order to gain success, God's chosen messengers are to show the fallacy of spending means needlessly for effect."
"When the worker makes his labors so expensive that others are unable to secure from the treasury sufficient means to support them in the field, he is not working in harmony with God's plan."—Gospel Workers, pp. 346, 355, 356.
At this time.when there is so much attraction in the world to lead men and women away from the gospel, it is necessary to use not only one device in attracting the attention of the people, but every justifiable means. But besides this, we must exercise great faith in God and His leadership. We must organize our work and carry on a systematic program, both in the giving of the gospel and in the raising of necessary funds to support our program. It is necessary, many times, to incur heavy expense to carry on the work of God in a representative way in the cities, but we should not necessarily expect all our means to come from the treasury of the conference. Note this statement from Testimonies, Volume VII:
"I am greatly encouraged to believe that many not of our faith will help considerably by their means. The light given me is that in many places, especially in the great cities of America, help will be given by such persons."—Page 40.
In order for an evangelist to learn to carry special responsibilities in the raising of necessary funds to carry on his evangelistic program, the conference president and treasurer should co-operate with him in allowing him to carry an account separate from his personal account with the treasury. The conference president and executive committee must permit an evangelistic company to operate as far as possible as a separate subsidiary or independent department, in order for the evangelist to develop financial leadership. It has been my conviction for some time that we develop weak financiers among our evangelists because too many times the executives of a conference feel that all business arrangements for each worker must come through their department.
Unfortunately, our colleges fail to put proper emphasis on the importance of ministers' understanding business management. Theological students are taught how to preach, but they are not taught how to run a successful business for the Lord. I believe every evangelist should be required to take a strong commercial course, and great emphasis should be placed upon methods a financing and managing a campaign. The evangelist should learn how to make a financial investment that will bring proper returns during his campaign. I am not talking about investing in stocks or bonds; I refer to booking such programs as will bring liberal financial returns. This denomination could have far more workers in the field if this were done. We are far from being overstocked with workers, according to Luke 10:2.
In order for an evangelist to carry the financial end of a campaign, he must become convinced that finance is a part of the gospel that he is commanded to preach by the Lord Jesus Christ. Surely the passage, "Be . . . not slothful in business," refers to the evangelist as well as to the treasurer or a lay businessman.
In my own experience in financing an evangelistic campaign I have made it a point to study every phase of the campaign—the subject arrangement, the spiritual appeal, the guest speakers, the music features, the moving pictures, etc.—in the light of financial gain or loss to our evangelistic services. Our budget for the entire campaign is prepared before we start. We count the cost of each department of our evangelistic organization, and each leader assumes full responsibility for operating within his allowed budget. It is just as easy for the company to learn to save $5 as it is for each to raise $5.
Methods of Raising Financial Quota
I believe it is necessary to educate your audience on the importance of a balanced budget, as a definite church responsibility. It does not take long for an intelligent audience to decide that you are running your program and your campaign on a business basis. Organization has a great deal to do with the impression you leave upon the minds of your listeners.
In my efforts, we try to let the audience know that we are not after their money ; nevertheless, while we are giving the message, we expect the bills of the revival campaign to be paid as well as, if not better than, the bills of the amusement places. It is well, as far as consistent, to let the audience know the actual cost of the effort as soon as possible, and the amount of money you expect to raise during the time of the series of meetings. In that way they become as anxious as you to bring in the necessary funds.
In the raising of means in connection with our campaign, we set aside two special nights each month, during which time special emphasis is placed on finances. We carry on a regular educational program to prepare the people for this extra offering. The second Sunday night in the month is designated as dollar night, and the last Sunday of the month as the night for balancing the budget. During the last week of the month we use cartoons to illustrate our financial appeal, and our music department has prepared a song which the people sing every night during the week to give special emphasis to the privilege of giving Christ and the Bible to the world. Envelopes are passed out at the close of each service during the last week of the month. We find that the people respond readily to such an educational program on finances.
Our subject arrangement is planned in such a way as to help us in our finances. We spread the lectures on "The Sabbath," "The Change of the Sabbath," and "The Mark of the Beast," and other heavy subjects over a period of fourteen to sixteen weeks, and thereby hold our audience over a longer time, and receive larger offerings. Through observation I have discovered many times that our evangelists place all these Sabbath lectures together, within a short period of time. And by the time they are through with these lectures, they have lost their audience, their finances, and their converts, and it becomes necessary to close their campaign in disappointment. Considerable study should be given to this phase of our work.
Guest Speakers for a Campaign
I wish our evangelists could be educated to the value of good guest speakers. Such a speaker can be not only a real spiritual help but also a financial gain to a campaign. There was a time when I felt that the evangelist should be the only speaker throughout the campaign, but through experience and observation I have come to the conclusion that this is incorrect. The evangelist should, of course, prepare the entire subject arrangement for the series, and then be able to give enough leadership to bring the campaign to a successful conclusion regardless of how many guest speakers are brought in through the lecture series.
An evangelist could learn an object lesson from a contractor. In construction work the contractor does not have to do all the work in order to produce good results. He is in control of the blueprint and directs not only one workman but many on the same job. A guest speaker should never be brought in for a Sunday night meeting, but rather during the week, for under ordinary circumstances, the evangelist will always have an attendance on Sunday nights. It is during the week that he needs, special help, and if he can draw an extra audience during the week, it will mean some extra financial help as well as increased attendance.
The, evangelist should be prepared to pay the expense of the guest speaker, and there will be no objection on the part of the conference administration so long as he is able to balance the budget, and come out on the right side of the ledger. But he should have enough judgment not to bring on a speaker, at large cost, who is ,not able to hold an audience. The right guest speaker is usually a good financial investment. When an evangelist calls another speaker, he must take into consideration the value of free publicity, and the speaker's ability to hold an audience.
The same thing holds true in a moving picture, a music festival, or any spiritual entertainment that can be booked during a series of lectures. The evangelist should ascertain the power of a picture, or the drawing appeal of a musical group, as well as their cost to him and the amount of money they are capable of raising. He, as well as the conference president or treasurer, must have an eye for business.
The evangelist who wishes to operate within his own budget must keep strict account of all his expenditures and income. He should have a bookkeeping system and record file of all his campaigns, and should submit a monthly report to the conference treasurer, which shows his income and his outgo of money. By his records he will soon be able to know just what kind of financial budget to arrange according to the size of a city.
The conference executive committee's financial responsibilities do not cease after each worker has been assigned his field. Even though all the workers have been very careful about the needless expenditure of funds, it occasionally becomes necessary for the conference to assume further financial responsibility by definitely helping in certain places or cities. This is sometimes more important than showing a large surplus in the treasury at the end of the year. I read in Gospel Workers:
"In some conferences it has been considered commendable to save up means, and to show a large surplus in the treasury. But in this God has not been honored. It would have been better if the money thus laid by had been wisely expended in supporting diligent, efficient laborers in needy fields."—Pages 456, 457.
We can see that in order for a conference to carry on a rounded financial and spiritual program in the field, the church of God, the conference officials, the evangelists, and the pastors must work in harmonious action in the finishing of the work of God in this generation.