Visual evangelism offers many advantages in this modern age of pictures and illustrations. But no one may say that it is the only successful method of evangelism. Some of our most successful men of the past have demonstrated that pictures are not a necessity. However, visual evangelism is becoming increasingly popular and effective for the following reasons:
1. God employed visual education in giving instruction to His prophets. The Lord said to John, "Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter." John went up, and was shown newsreels of future world events. The Lord did not preach to him, but showed him four horsemen, a black sun, a bloody moon, falling stars, a woman clothed in the sun, a great red dragon, a seven-headed beast, a two-horned beast, seven flying angels with seven deadly plagues, a woman in purple riding a scarlet-colored beast, and a world lighted with the glory of three angel messengers. John saw all this and much more.
Six hundred years prior to this, Daniel the prophet stood on the seashore viewing mountainous waves whipped up by the four winds of heaven. With quickening heartbeat he watched as one after another of the four terrifying beasts came up and performed before him. On another occasion he was shown a rough goat and a ram fighting furiously, battling to the death. The master Teacher of the universe was thus making use of visual education as He instructed His prophets.
2. Pre-eminently a picture age. The most popular magazines of the day are using many pages of pictures to tell their stories. Recognizing the trend of the day, the newspapers are likewise using more and more pictures to present the high lights of the news. People like to see the news in pictures. This popular demand for pictures becomes more significant in view of the fact that these much appreciated pictures, viewed with interest by millions of people, are just plain black and white still pictures. Of course a magazine or newspaper printed in color is still more appealing.
The change that has come to the twentieth century stage is also convincing proof that this is a picture age. The stars of the stage have had to give way to the stars of the screen.
3. Slides are timesavers. By the use of slides the evangelist can make more points plain in one hour than he can without them. Not only are his Bible texts and historical quotations instantly available, but the pictures and illustrations used aid the audience to get the desired conception much more quickly. An old Chinese proverb suggests that one picture is worth a thousand words. Without slides, charts, or other visual equipment, it takes at least three hours to develop all the points necessary in the presentation of the 2300 days, the sanctuary, and the judgment. With the use of slides, the required time can be cut in half. During the World War II crisis our government officials proved that visual education is the fastest and most effective method of imparting knowledge. Almost all the important instruction given to our men in all branches of the service was taught with pictures.
4. Particularly Effective for Certain Subjects. It is almost impossible to effectively present certain subjects without the aid of pictures. Such topics as astronomy, archaeology, the calendar change, and many others are so much more understandable and impressive when presented with pictures.
5. Hold the Attention. Attractive slides will help the speaker to hold the attention of the audience without the aid of "bodily exercise," such as handkerchief waving, stage pacing, and other strange mannerisms so often employed.
Beautiful slides bringing the wonders of nature to the screen, or, reproducing the thrilling prophetic dramas of the prophets, help to attract and hold large audiences. This in turn can and should mean more souls and larger offerings.
6. Aid in reading bible. Thousands attending meetings where photographs of the Scriptures are thrown on the screen, read the Bible for the first time in their lives. God's Word will not return unto Him void, but will have a telling effect.
7. Help in song service. Slides make for a better song service since all can see the songs. This eliminates the expense and distribution of songbooks.
8. Sermons in slides. There are many wonderful sermons now available in motion pictures. "The Prodigal Son," "The Power of God," "The Birth of a New World," "Who Is My Neighbor ?" and many others can be used effectively in our work.
9. Assist Bible Instructors. Many of our experienced Bible instructors are now finding . that the use of slides in cottage meetings adds greatly to both interest and results.
10. Use in Radio. Visual evangelism is destined to become tomorrow's most popular type of religious radio program. Two hundred fifty thousand television sets will be sold in America this year. The radio listeners of tomorrow will soon expect to see as well as hear. Men of vision are beginning to realize that visual evangelism has a bright and colorful future, radiant with glorious possibilities.
11. Aid to Laymen. Visual evangelism as now being adapted by the Bureau of Visual Education of the Pacific Union Conference, for use by laymen, as well as ministers, may yet produce a mighty army of successful lay evangelists and thus become one of the greatest soul-winning agencies in the history of evangelism.