There can be no doubt, pictures are efficient means of conveying thought. A significant picture, well chosen and presented at the correct moment, will induce thoughts and create lasting impressions capable of recasting an individual's thinking. The thirst of the public for graphic and meaningful pictures is demonstrated by the mounting sales of the ever-increasing number of picture magazines, movies, comic books, and television sets. None less than the Creator paid tribute to the value of pictures when He presented those startling views before Daniel and John—pictures that help Seventh-day Adventists so materially in sounding the warning against affiliation with the beast or the acceptance of his mark.
When we realize the value of pictures as instruments for shaping thought we naturally feel compelled to use them in our public evangelistic endeavors. As we respond to this urge let us remember that whenever we face an audience in any civilized country we have before us a group of people who, by means of the radio and the theater, are accustomed to seeing and hearing programs that are carefully prepared and accurately timed, so that the entire presentation blends smoothly and naturally from one feature to another without awkward breaks or pauses. Our programs and meetings should be just as carefully planned and skillfully executed, in order that we will not appear crude, unskilled, or ridiculous to the audience, whose impression of our message and of Christ will be influenced by what they see and hear. Let us do nothing that will lead people to associate clumsiness and outmoded methods of thought and action with our movement. Rather, our hearers should be given reason to know that we are wide awake and aware of the world in which we are living, and that our message is divinely tailored for this present generation.
Because projection equipment can be so very expensive, it is necessary for each evangelist to select carefully that which will best fit his particular needs and means. With proper planning, even inexpensive equipment can be used to produce professional effects.
First of all, if the focal length of the lens on the projector is so short or the screen so small that it is necessary to place the projector down in the audience, the meeting is already glaringly labeled as amateurish. The projector must be placed behind the audience, preferably in a projection booth. I have found that in the average-size church, hall, or tent, when using double frame 2-by-2 slides, the 2-inch-focallength lens produces a desirable-size image. (With single-frame slides the same size picture is secured when using a 5-inch lens.)
A few years ago a good brother who is a carpenter prepared a collapsible projection booth for use in my meetings. This booth is equipped with shelves and openings, so that it houses both slide and motion-picture projectors as well as sound equipment. By placing this booth in the rear of the room or tent, the operator is in a vantage point to check and control the sound and operate the projectors and record players. Though he can clearly see all that is going on, he is shielded from the audience, and thus his activities do not detract.
For my purpose I have found that a booth four feet square is quite adequate. The floor of the booth should be three or four feet above the floor level of the hall. The shelves for the projectors should be so placed that the projector lenses are at least six and a half feet above the hall floor, and the people walking in front of the booth will not eclipse the image on the screen. By giving careful thought to the construction of such a booth, you will find that there are a number of ways to make it readily collapsible and portable.
It is important to have the lights and projectors wired in such a way that there will be no hesitation or delay in getting them turned off or on. The familiar request, "Now, may we have the lights off, please ?" should be carefully avoided. In a well-planned program provision has been made for this moment. In the small and average-size effort it is usually possible to arrange to control the house lights and the projector from the pulpit. I have been able to accomplish this in two ways, either through the use of an ordinary three-way switch, or by means of a rheostat mounted on the pulpit. If the meetings are held in a place that is used exclusively for that purpose, it is a very simple thing to connect the house lights with the controls in the pulpit. In case a three-way switch is used at the pulpit, the house lights are connected to two of the terminals of the switch. The line leading to the projector is connected to the "hot" terminal of the same switch, and to the third terminal, which is not yet in use. With such an arrangement the throwing of only one switch turns the house lights off and the projector on, and vice versa. The speaker may be making an announcement, preaching a sermon, or introducing a song. Without any delay or hesitation a simple flip of the switch, conveniently located, darkens the room, and the picture appears on the screen instantly.
If, however, the meetings are being held in a hall that is used on certain nights by other groups, the same results can be obtained by working out a system of floor lamps and extension cords. In such a system the electricity can be conveyed from any convenient outlet to the pulpit by a heavy-duty extension cable of sufficient size to carry the load involved. Then the pulpit becomes a control station from which is disbursed all current used in lighting the hall, showing the pictures, and operating the sound equipment. Floor lamps placed around the room can receive their current from outlets in long, heavy extension cords leading from the pulpit. Because these cords are connected with the control switch, the floor lamps can be controlled at will. Thus, while the meeting is in progress the regular lights in the hall can be turned off, and the floor lamps used in their place. These can be quickly unplugged and stored away.
The three-way switch for controlling the lights and projectors from the pulpit may be replaced by a suitable rheostat. This produces a much more desirable effect, for it eliminates the sudden burst of light after the pictures, which is rather disturbing to some. When this rheostat did operate in a three-way circuit, my electrician solved the problem by connecting the house lights to the rheostat, and mounting a mercury tube on the control arm of the rheostat in such a way as to operate the projector properly.
By metal boxes and proper twist-lock outlets in both the booth and the pulpit, it is a simple matter to set them in place, plug in the proper cables, and in a very short time be ready to present a picture program in a professional way.
It is important to remember that the people like to see the speaker even though he is using pictures. And, of course, when singing it is quite necessary that the song leader be easily visible. A small projector, such as is commonly used for Bible studies or cottage meetings, serves very well as a spotlight. By placing such a light in the rear of the room, perhaps on the corner of the booth, and directing it toward the pulpit, the speaker may have the shaft of light spread sufficiently to illuminate a large enough area so that he can move about considerably and still be within the illuminated area. Of course, the spotlight must be so set that the light does not fall on the screen.
As a signal for the changing of slides, I have a pilot light in the booth which is illuminated by means of a doorbell push button on the pulpit. Thus, without attracting any attention, I notify the operator that it is time for another slide.
In my district work I have found that the small churches and companies enjoy well-prepared sermons and programs with pictures as much as the larger audiences. For use in such places I have prepared a small pulpit which I can take in my car. It can be placed on any table. This I have wired so that the floor lamps and projector can be controlled as described. In such cases I simply place the projector and spotlight in any suitable place in the rear of the room. With this include a good portable screen and an ample stock of slides, and any district pastor can add much life and interest to his work of soul winning.