JOHN W. OSBORN: Pastor-Evangelist, Southern California Conference
Earth's last generation is a picture- minded generation. It is becoming more and more accustomed to having facts presented through visual means. The children of the world have been quicker in capitalizing on the value of visual aids than the children of light. Because approximately 85 per cent of all knowledge reaches the brain through the eye, great effort has been made to convince, persuade, and sell through visual media.
The value of using visual aids in the presentation of the everlasting gospel is repeatedly stressed by the Spirit of prophecy. Speaking of the use of charts and other illustrative material, statements like these are made:
"Such methods will be used more and more in this closing work."—Evangelism, p. 205.
"Instruction has been given me clearly and distinctly that charts should he used in the presentation of truth."—Ibid., p. 203.
Whether we like it or not, we are preaching to minds accustomed to pictures, moving scenes, and images. We may deplore the fact that people are becoming less and less able to pursue abstract logic and consider their mental food unpalatable unless served up in visual form, yet we must recognize this to be the state of affairs. We may console ourselves with the thought that we are winning many souls without "gadgets." But in view of the counsel given us in the book Evangelism and the scientific facts which support it, is it not true that the number of souls won might be greatly increased by a skillful use of visual aids?
The problem, then, is not, Shall we use them? but How shall we use them? It is the misuse of visual aids that causes some to make light of their value. There are basic principles which must be followed if they are to be a real> contribution to the giving of the message.
First, they must be simple. Complicated mechanical devices often detract rather than add. The audience's attention is drawn to the device rather than to the purpose for which the device is used. A complex device may result in a bungling of its operation, which may distract the audience to the exclusion of the truth intended to be illustrated. Then too, involved illustrative material may be time consuming in preparation, altogether out of proportion to its value. The importance of simplicity is stated in these words:
"The use of charts is most effective in explaining the prophecies relating to the past, the present, and the future. But we are to make our work as simple and inexpensive as possible." —Ibid.
As mentioned in the above statement, our visual aids must also be inexpensive. The cost of a device is not necessarily an evidence of effectiveness in its use. There are exceptions to this, but generally speaking, a less expensive device will serve the purpose equally well. Furthermore, an accumulation of costly visual equipment makes moving costs greater, because of extra bulk and the need of more careful handling. Therefore, in considering the best visual methods to use in a given sermon, one should ask himself the question, How can I do this most economically?
Visibility is another important factor to keep in mind. Whatever device, chart, or demonstration is used, the man on the back row should be able to see it clearly. Lettering should be large enough and laid out with sufficient white space to make it easily seen by everyone. It is as irritating for persons in an audience not to be able to see what you are demonstrating as it is for them not to be able to hear what you are saying. Younger evangelists, as they accumulate their equipment, must keep in mind the fact that as they become more experienced they will be speaking before larger audiences. Therefore they should prepare their equipment with the larger audience in mind rather than the present attendance. Often a device can be made more clearly visible by spot lighting it with a, high-wattage floodlight.
Attractiveness is another principle in the choice of visual aids. The public eye is accustomed to the very best, whether it be color pictures in print or on the screen, or three-dimensional advertising. Charts, pictures, and devices of inferior quality cheapen our message in the minds of many listeners. Some become offended and refuse to return to our meetings. Good art work executed by those of experience may cost a little more. However, it is not expensive but cheaper, in the final analysis. If the device is homemade, it can still be most acceptable if care is exercised in its making.
An evangelist who uses a great many pictures should constantly be weeding out slides that become worn and out of date. It would be better to use far fewer pictures or even none at all than to use slides that are out of date or of inferior quality. Remember the public today is accustomed to the best in pictures.
The visual aid should be practical. It should serve a definite purpose. Never should a device be used for the device's sake. It is unfortunate when a sermon is built to fit the device rather than a device built to fit the sermon. Occasion ally some succumb to the temptation to build a sermon around an appealing device. This is a matter of the tail wagging the dog. No man landscapes a lot and then proceeds to dig a foundation and build a house. He builds his house first and then landscapes the lot to fit the house. No man should prepare a device first and then proceed to build a sermon around it; he should prepare his sermon and fit the visual aid to the sermon.
Finally, there should be variety in visual aids. It is granted that some have used one type with good success, but this does not deny the principle that variety greatly increases interest. A diet of potatoes alone may be enjoyable to some, but most people prefer a variety in foods. By the same principle the use of charts, de vices, demonstrations, blackboard, object lessons, slides, et cetera, used individually or in combination, will add greatly to the interest. The element of suspended interest can be very skill fully used when more than one type is employed.
It is granted that visual equipment is not the open sesame to success in public evangelism any more than a physician's medical instruments are the secret of his achievement. But as a physician without his instruments is handicapped in his work, so the evangelist who ignores the value of visual-aid tools cuts down his own efficiency in the winning of souls.
How valuable the eye is in transmitting the message to the minds of our hearers is illustrated in the following enlightening bit of information: "Odor must be increased 33i/| per cent before the nose is aware of a change. Sound must increase 10 per cent before a change is detected. But vision can detect a change of one per cent. On this basis the eye appeal is ten times better than the ear appeal."
As evangelists we have not exploited the great possibility of visual aids to the fullest extent of their value. It is reasonable that we should do so in view of the fact that "such methods will be used more and more in this closing work."
Evangelism for the Blind
C. W. DEGERING: Editor-Manager, the Christian Record Benevolent Association
Reliable agencies estimate that there are JA_ approximately four hundred thousand blind persons in the English-speaking countries of the world and from eight to ten million in other language areas. Although this group is not a comparatively large one, it does constitute a very peculiar and definite challenge to the Ad vent Movement in its evangelism program.
There are varying degrees of blindness, but a quite generally accepted definition today is that "a person shall be considered blind who has a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with proper correction." In other words, one is listed as blind who, with corrected vision, sees at a distance of twenty feet what a normal- sighted person sees at two hundred feet. A 20/200 vision means in percentages an 80 per cent loss of vision.
That the physical and spiritual welfare of the sightless has a very definite claim on the interest and sympathy of Heaven is evidenced by the unusually large number of references throughout the Scriptures to them and their condition and also by the personal ministry of Christ in their behalf while He was on earth. The following statement by the prophet Isaiah has special significance to us today:
"And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; and I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them." Isa. 42:16.
This prophecy is meeting its fulfillment in connection with the Advent Movement in the work of the Christian Record Benevolent Association. Organized by action of the General Conference Committee in Battle Creek in the fall of 1899 and dedicated to the production and circulation of embossed religious literature, the organization has grown under the blessing of God into one of the oldest and largest distributors of Christian reading matter for the blind. More than eight million pages of embossed material are issued annually. The Christian Record is a General Conference organization operated under the direction of a board of trustees elected at the biennial sessions of the Autumn Council. It is maintained by the contributions of our own people, the public, and an endowment income.
Five monthly periodicals are issued at the present time: The Christian Record, a non- sectarian fifty-six-page religious journal; The Bible Expositor, a forty-page definitely doctrinal journal; The Sabbath School Monthly, a slightly condensed edition of the regular Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly; a fifty-six- page condensed Braille edition of the national health journal, Life and Health; and The Children's Friend, a twenty-eight-page compilation of religious, moral, and character-building stories and articles for those of the junior level. The first three publications are issued in New York Point as well as the Braille, grade \\/z . The combined circulation of the five publications is close to 14,000.
During the fall of 1950 the little volume Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, by Ellen G. White, was issued as the first of a series of Talking Books—recordings on 33 ys r.p.m. records—and placed in the regional branches for the blind of the Library of Congress and in the libraries of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in Canada. Steps to Christ is now being processed and should be in circulation by the time this issue of THE MIN ISTRY reaches the field. Other volumes will follow as time and funds permit. The Government provides reproducing machines free to the blind.
The association also issues and distributes a Braille edition of the Voice of Prophecy Bible Correspondence lessons and maintains a circulating library of several hundred Braille volumes, mostly denominational books.
But in the work of evangelism, organization, property, equipment, publications, and policies are not enough. In labor for the sightless perhaps more than for any other class, there must be the personal ministry. It should be tactful, courteous, intelligent, and sincere, but not in any spirit of pity. The latter is often resented and closes doors of possible interest. The association is prepared to supply suggestions to those particularly interested in personal effort for this group.
All regular services are free to the blind regardless of race, color, or geographical location. In suggesting names for the mailing of embossed publications, a person should determine whether the addressee can and does read Braille, grade li/2, whether he is already receiving our publications, and whether he wishes any of the services. Blindness does not presuppose an interest in or desire for religious matter.
The blind were very definitely part of Christ's ministry, both physical and spiritual. Those who would follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus in His work will find time, opportunity, and methods effectively to minister the Word of God to those who sit in .darkness.
Correspondence regarding subscriptions or other services available through the association should be directed to the Christian Record, Box 66, Lincoln 6, Nebraska, U.S.A.
Integrating Our Laymen Into the Church Program
A. D. BOHN: Home Missionary Secretary, Pacific Union Conference
Victory for the church of God looms on V the horizon. Is it not time now for an all-out effort? To do this successfully we must follow the plan laid down in the Bible and the Spirit of prophecy.
An urgent call today is being sounded for every minister in every church to train and prepare church members to visit every home everywhere. Evangelism, pages 353 and 354, says, "Let the minister set the members at work. They will need to be taught how to labor successfully." But how can this be done? In Gospel Workers, page 196, we are told that the minister should first train the church members before he seeks to reach unbelievers. A minister is wise who visits his church members in their homes and then individually leads them into service for the Lord. "Let him labor for them individually."
I have had gratifying success as in my humble way I have tried to carry out this suggestion. I called at a doctor's office. He was a very busy man. I said, "Doctor, I read the other day that doctors should preach and win souls. Why don't you preach and win people for God?"
He said, "I am so busy now that I can hardly get sleep enough. I don't know how I could do it."
"Well," I answered, "I don't know how you can do it, but I do know God says you should do it."
This good man gave serious thought to what I had said. He went to a nearby Seventh-day Adventist church, and three nights a week he held meetings. From 200 to 250 people were in attendance every night, and 39 were baptized at the close of the doctor's meetings.
On another occasion I was visiting at a home, and in the course of conversation I said to the sister, "I believe the Lord would be pleased if you would take an interest in the Dorcas work." Her interest was enlisted, and she became a successful Dorcas worker and leader.
Chatting with a salesman, a member of the church, I felt impressed to mention the colporteur work to him and said, "I think you ought to pray about selling our good books, going from house to house and winning souls." He did, and became a successful colporteur.
By merely offering personal suggestions we can lead people into the work of God. I recall that one of my church members was losing his way, so I suggested that he go with me a night or two a week while we visited interested folk. He came, learned how to give Bible studies, and was soon studying the Word with his neighbors. Forty-two have already been baptized through this good man's efforts. Today he is a strong Christian worker.
"The minister who shall educate, discipline, and lead an army of efficient workers will have glorious conquests here, and a rich reward awaits him when, around the great white throne, he shall meet those saved through his influence."—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 308.
Yes, fellow workers, we can rejoice in our conquests for God here and now. Discovering that it would involve a very large expense, another minister and I decided that instead of pitching a tent it would be well to send out the church members to visit the homes of the people and then follow up the interest by meetings in the church. Altogether 120 of the church members visited 1,200 homes. After three months meetings were started in his church. More than 800 people came out the first night; half of these were from the homes that had been visited by the church members. Already 130 have been baptized, and on Sabbath morning there are more than 100 non-Adventists in this minister's prophecy class.
The Lord's instruction on this point is clear: "Every church should be a training-school for Christian workers."—Ministry of Healing, p. 149. If we follow this instruction, we can separate the church into a number of classes for training—perhaps three as follows:
1. Instruction in Evangelism. This includes training our people in how to introduce themselves at the door, what to do after they enter, and how to present the truth to the people, as well as other phases of evangelism.
2. Literature Class With a Literature Leader. While the class in evangelism is being trained, the literature class is visiting and opening homes for those who will later give studies.
3. Medical Missionary Work. In this class, doctors, nurses, and dietitians train the church members to care for themselves and their neighbors and to cook healthful food.
This type of training was conducted in two of our city churches. In one church thirty were baptized, and in the other thirty-three. All these people were brought in by the members of the church who had been trained to work for their neighbors. Our people will respond to the call to ring their neighbors' doorbells. This is one of the best plans that we have in the church today. Wherever this plan is being followed, as many as two and three times the number are being baptized as previously.
"Let . . . workers go from house to house, helping where help is needed, and, as opportunity offers, telling the story of the cross. Christ is to be their text. They need not dwell upon doctrinal subjects; let them speak of the work and sacrifice of Christ." —Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 228.
Another Pentecostal experience awaits the church, and it will come as the church members arise and, with hearts aglow with the love of God, visit their neighbors. Today God calls for every-member evangelism. Nothing short of this will meet God's ideal. But as workers we must lead the way. If this plan is followed, we will by God's grace double our membership and at the same time conserve our gains.
By: Ben Glanzer
Our workers will welcome a recent and up-to-date statement regarding the Catholic position on "the insufficiency of the Bible alone as a rule of faith." Father J. A. O'Brien, Ph.D., has published a new booklet The Church: The Interpreter of the Bible, which was printed August 17, 1950, by Our Sun day Visitor Press, Huntington, Indiana; The booklet begins with the subtitle "Why the Bible Alone Is Not a Safe Guide in Religion."
Then on page 24 appears this statement:
"Not Contain All Teachings"
"Thirdly, the Bible does not contain all the teachings of the Christian religion, nor does it formulate all the duties of its members. Take, for example, the matter of Sunday observance, the attendance at divine services and the absention from unnecessary servile work on that day, a matter upon which our Protestant neighbors have for many years laid great emphasis. Let me address myself in a friendly spirit to my dear Protestant reader: You believe that the Bible alone is a safe guide in religious matters. You also believe that one of the fundamental duties en joined upon you by your Christian faith is that of Sunday observance. But where does the Bible speak of such an obligation? I have read the Bible from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelations, and have found no reference to the duty of sanctifying the Sunday. The day mentioned in the Bible is not the Sunday, the first day of the week, but the Saturday, the last day of the week. It was the Apostolic Church which, acting by virtue of that authority conferred upon her by Christ, changed the observance to the Sunday in honor of the day on which Christ rose from the dead, and to signify- that now we are no longer under the Old Law of the Jews, but under the New Law of Christ. In observing the Sunday as you do, is it not apparent that you are really acknowledging the insufficiency of the Bible alone as a rule of faith and religious con duct, and proclaiming the need of a divinely established teaching authority which in theory you deny?"