Modern inventions have placed in our hands two mediums of rapid dissemination of thought to the masses ot mankind—the public press and the radio. It may be an open question as to which of these has the greater power of influencing the masses. Both have been brought into being in these days to be used of God to carry His last message to a dying world, in a short, quick work, to be done before Jesus Comes.
It is my conviction, however, that in the main we should recognize each of them as an advertising medium. The full message cannot be presented either over the radio or through the newspapers in such a manner as to make Seventh-day Adventists. To accomplish this—and this is the ultimate purpose in all our work—a more personal contact must be secured and maintained with the honest seeker after truth. Here is where our Bible correspondence school method comes in, to ripen the seed that has been sown in other ways.
For many years I believed that if we could reach the honest in heart in a city or community we could quickly finish the work, and I have been experimenting with various means of attracting the attention of such persons. I realized that when we held public efforts we put out our advertising material to attract sincere people to our meetings. But only those who attend the Meetings can be helped in such an effort. It has been my observation over a long period of time, both in the States and in South Africa, that at least ten per cent of any given population will gladly study the truths of our message if properly approached. Since we never get even one per cent of the population to attend a meeting, the question has long been in my mind, "How can one attract the attention of a large number of people who cannot be influenced to attend a public effort?"
Since the daily papers and magazines are read by most people in civilized lands, it seemed to me that if properly used, this medium of public information might be used to attract the attention of inquiring searchers after truth. For years I tried out this theory by writing articles for the newspapers—either paid or free articles. But through it all there was but little comeback of names. So it became evident that my method must be changed.
Finally, in 1938, in Cape Town, we tried a new method of writing, and immediately found the response much greater than we had even hoped for. When over three years ago we began a campaign through fifteen or more papers and magazines of South Africa, in both English and Afrikaans, we found that this method attracted the attention of many thousands of persons who wrote in and asked for the Bible lessons. Many asked for them in both languages. Up to the present time our efforts have been confined very largely to the European people, but we hope to branch out soon into the great native language areas. Already we have some fifteen thousand native black people taking the lessons in English, and the results among them in securing Sabbathkeepers is most gratifying.
Using Public Press to Get Names
How should the articles be written in order to secure the largest number of names ? Will a simple box advertisement, giving the name of the Bible school and inviting the reader to write for the free lessons, be effective ? Will an article that arouses an interest and satisfies that interest bring in names? The fundamental principles of salesmanship are fitting here: Raise a question or questions in the mind of the listener or reader ; create an interest ; present the facts ; and close the order. This same method should be followed in preparing an article to secure names, but it should not attempt to answer the questions raised in the article, for these must be presented in the Bible lessons which are to be sent out. Millions of people everywhere want to know the answers to such questions as the following:
- What about Russia and world peace?
- Will the Jews become a nation?
- What about the atomic age, and prophecy?
- When will they say, "Peace and safety" ?
- What is God's plan for world peace ?
- Will the four horsemen ride again?
- Where are our departed loved ones?
- When should I visit the medium or palmist?
- What is man's only hope?
- How can I escape the divorce court?
If the articles attempt to answer these questions, the results in securing names will be very, very small. But unless one secures the names of inquirers, there can be no results in the final harvest of Sabbathkeepers.
PREPARATION OF ARTICLE.—II is not necessary to write a long article. We have found that an article of three to four hundred words, including the advertising material about the Bible school, is quite sufficient. This will make a newspaper article of seven to ten inches long, one column, when set up with a box heading.
Take such a subject as "Russia and World Peace." Since this question already bulks large in the minds of thinking people everywhere, we can easily raise the question as to whether the Bible prophecies have anything to say about the prospects of peace in the world. Then quote one or two texts such as Jeremiah 25 :32; Ezekiel 38:16; Joel 3 A 0 ; and Matthew 24:7. Additional questions may be raised after quoting the text, and a statement made relative to the conditions in the world. Such statements should be those with which people are apt to agree. This is essential, for we must cover all disputed points in the Bible lessons which will be sent to the inquirer.
The article may then close with the statement that all the questions raised will be gladly answered if the reader will write to ____ Bible Correspondence School, or whatever name and address may be used. We have found that it helps as a rule to state that "stamps for reply will be appreciated, but are not necessary." Also one can sell many books by placing an advertisement at the conclusion of the article. We tell about a small book, if possible on the subject matter presented in the article. These sales go a long way in paying for the articles in the papers. However, the lessons and literature are sent out to the inquirer free and without future obligations.
Through following these simple principles we have secured the names of tens of thousands of earnest persons who desire to study the truths of the Bible. The names secured in this way are of those who not only read the article but take the time to sit down and write a personal letter, usually saying they are interested in knowing what the Bible says about such and such a question. When they have manifested this much interest, we believe they should receive the entire course of studies, unless and until they write and ask for the studies to be stopped.
People often come to our evangelistic services for a few times when the meetings first begin, but for various reasons they soon stop coming. Then later on, perhaps when the Sabbath truth is being presented, they drop into a meeting and are among the first to take their stand for the full message. Every evangelist of experience can testify to this. Then why should we stop sending lessons to people who have written in for them, if they fail to send back the first lesson? In Africa we are finding that the results are very good among those who never send back their lessons, yet when the whole truth is presented, they write in to say they have read all the lessons, and sign the covenant to keep the Sabbath.
If too much of one's budget is consumed in advertising to get names, of course there is not enough left to send out the lessons to all who ask for them. The radio is an excellent medium for advertising, although rather expensive. Our experience has convinced us that the newspapers and magazines are more ideal mediums for advertising and securinggreater results in names. By using this less expensive. medium, we have sufficient funds left to send the entire course of studies to all inquirers.
God has given us a wonderful truth to carry to the world, and has helped us to devise this new method of evangelism—the Bible correspondence school. I am sure it will be an effective means in finishing the work of God in all the world.