The messenger of the Lord says: "Now is the opportune time to work the cities; for we must reach the people there."—Evangelism, p. 78. This is a great challenge to the ministry of God's remnant movement, for in reality the harvest is great, but the laborers are few.
One of the determining factors of the city evangelistic campaign is the place where the meetings are to be held. We are instructed by divine guidance to choose a hall that is representative of the everlasting gospel we are commanded to preach. In some cities there are fine auditoriums to be rented which will adequately fit the evangelist's need. However, this is not always the case. There are times when the minister of the gospel will search for days without finding a suitable public auditorium.
In our recent campaign a careful study of the various halls in all parts of the city was made. Only two were available, and these were definitely second rate. After careful consideration by our evangelistic group, it was decided to use our own church auditorium, which is a fine building, well located for a regional campaign.
A fluorescent sign was constructed for the front of the church, which read, "Prophecy Speaks Auditorium," and a colorful poster advertising the "Prophecy Speaks Lectures" was placed on our bulletin board.
Before the opening date of the campaign a three-panel return business card was distributed to the several thousand homes in the vicinity of the church. Thus before the first meeting a promising list of interested people was obtained.
A problem that confronts our evangelists holding meetings in a large city church is that of our own church members coming early and taking the choice seats. To solve this problem, we reserved seats for all nonchurch members who requested reservations beforehand. Seventh-day Adventists were permitted to have a reserved seat if they brought one or more non-church members with them. This plan assured our visitors good seats in the choice section of the church auditorium, and worked successfully.
One important factor in a successful church campaign is adequate advertising. The masses must know about the meetings. Our experience in the past has demonstrated that the newspaper affords the best means of gaining the attention of the public. If possible, it is well to dominate the church page of the local newspaper with an attractive advertisement. Two factors, other than size, are important in making your ad attention arousing. First, it is advisable to use some kind of picture—either a cut of oneself, or better, a picture illustrating the message. Second, be sure to utilize the advantage of white space. Most church advertising is painfully crowded. If the material is well balanced, with plenty of spacing, it will be like an oasis in a desert.
Special stress should be given, urging our church members to invite their friends, relatives, ' and neighbors to the meetings. It has been inspiring to me to see the fine group of individuals who come as a direct result of this method, which is the most economical of any type of advertising.
Handbills were not used in our meeting. For the first ten weeks of the campaign, a two-page newspaper was published. The headlines of this newssheet always featured the title of the coming Sunday evening lecture. The advantage of the "Prophecy Speaks News" over the conventional type of handbill is that every person who reads it receives some of the message, even if he fails to attend the lecture. Also, our own church members manifest a greater interest when they know that each paper they distribute contains something on our beliefs.
It is thrilling to both the church members and the evangelist to see every seat in the auditorium filled, with extra chairs being set up to accommodate the crowds. Several individuals who were attracted to our evangelistic campaign started attending the Sabbath services even before the testing truths were given.
After the second sermon on the Sabbath truth was presented, the eleven-o'clock church service was devoted to evangelistic themes. Topics of special interest were chosen so as to attract general attention. Invitations were sent to all attending our regular Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday evening evangelistic meetings and also to our church members. Not only did these invitations bring a large group of visitors to the church, but several Adventists who had not been seen in the church for one or two years began coming to services.
Most evangelists are agreed that the best place to hold a series of meetings is in a rented hall centrally located. It would be desirable if each city had such auditoriums, but often this is not the case. If in these cities we have well-located and representative church buildings, certainly it would be worthwhile to consider the possibility of holding a campaign in them.