Make Effort Self-supporting

Are our soul-winning efforts having a corresponding increase with our funding?

By J. RUSSELL SPANGLER, Pastor- Evangelist, Florida Conference

Today we find our church speaking in terms of millions of dollars, rather than thousands, as it did a few years ago. We have remarkably fulfilled that section of the Laodicean message which states that we are rich and increased with goods. Are our soul-winning efforts having a corresponding increase?

With the inflationary prices of today, and the multitudinous attractions in the world to draw people away from our meetings, we wonder whether the days of self-supporting evangelistic efforts have faded into the past. In conducting a recent effort in Florida, we followed a few simple financial rules with good results, so that the conference was not called upon for a great outlay of means in supporting the meetings. In view of the following statement from Evange­lism we felt that every penny we spent was God's money, and must be used even mbre care­fully than our own personal funds :

"Our workers are to practice strict economy. God forbids all extravagance. Every dollar at our com­mand is to be expended with economy. No great dis­play is to be made. God's money is to be used to carry forward in His own way the work that He has de­clared must be done in our world."—Page 85.

The following is a list of seven unofficial rules which we aimed to abide by. We realize, of course, that there are many more ways and methods which might help the evangelist to receive larger offerings.

I. Nothing was purchased for the effort with­out trying to make reasonably sure that it was the best possible article for the money expended.

2. We planned to save as much money as possible, yet spend enough to avoid petty mean­ness. This was especially true in our advertis­ing. People can easily detect cheapness in this detail. The old saying, "It takes money to make money," applies even in religious services. In spending there is a happy medium which one must try to strike. On the one hand we are to practice strict economy, and on the other hand we have these words of advice : "Littleness be­gets littleness, penuriousness begets penurious­ness."—Evangelism, p. 90.

3. We laid the burden of finance on the church in a very direct manner. There is a two­fold reason for this. First, it will save confer­ence funds for the evangelizing of places where there are no established churches. Second, it greatly helps our people to feel directly responsible for the evangelistic effort. Jesus taught, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matt. 6:21. If our church members invest their meav in soulsaving ef­forts, we may well come to the conclusion that their hearts are with that work. This gives them a large and important role to play in win­ning souls to Christ. In harmony with this reasoning, we set aside one Sabbath before the meetings began for a special evangelistic finan­cial sermon and offering. Our people will al­ways respond with a true missionary spirit.

4. We refrained from overurging our audi­ences to give large offerings. Rather we let them feel that they were an integral part of the entire program, and thus we received excellent donations.

We might relate a sad mistake that was made at the beginning of our meetings. I gathered a number of so-called amusing stories which are designed to help gain larger offerings. After using these for several nights; we found our offering response was not too gratifying. 1n fact, one night we used an illustration concern­ing nickels and dollar bills. The moral was to give more than just a mere nickel for an offer­ing. When we received this particular offering we found more nickels than anything else. Therefore, we discontinued these amusing stories completely and spiritualized this part of the service. Instead of secularizing this func­tion, we transformed it into an act of wor'ship, and the results were surprising.

When we stop to consider, the offering is as much a part of worship as prayer or any other portion of the service. We are preaching a solemn message, and we have a fearful responsi­bility to carry it to the multitudes. The means by which this work is carried forward is a sacred and important part of true worship.

5. On Sunday nights we informed the audi­ence just where we stood financially. We pre­pared a slide showing the expenses and offer­ings to date. (Those who own and use the large slide projectors can use the prepared mats to make up slides of their own. Or one can place the figures on a blackboard each Sunday night.) This operation tended to make the people real­,ize they were a real part of the program, and without their help we could not carry on our work. Outside of the spiritual appeal for offer­ings, we felt that this mechanical operation did more to bring in large offerings than anything else.

6. We capitalized on the selling of books and health foods. This was not done from the plat­form, but rather by attractive displays in the rear of the tent. We had one special night set aside for a health food demonstration, which was very effectual. We gave away free samples of coffee substitutes and meat substitutes. It is well to have this near the beginning of the ef­fort, for one will be able to sell more foods as the meetings continue.

7. This point may seem trivial and unimpor­tant, but we found it worth noticing. The type of offering plate you use has something to do with the amount of donations received. A rather flat, shallow plate is more effective than deep one. The reason is obvious. Unique of­fering baskets may seem attractive, yet they tend to lower the amount of offerings received.

We feel that the points mentioned have helped us in a very definite way to make our meetings self-supporting. The conference gave us six hundred dollars to help us get started. Our expenses were over three thousand dol­lars, but our offerings completely .covered this amount, and we also paid back the conference the original six hundred dollars. We give God the glory for His abundant blessing in this matter.

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By J. RUSSELL SPANGLER, Pastor- Evangelist, Florida Conference

August 1949

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