Open-Air Meetings

EVANGELISM: Open-Air Meetings

second part of the article

Ministerial Secretary, Far Eastern Division


now let us here discuss the actual con ducting of the open-air meetings.  Your platform should be about table height. If it is too low, the people cannot see the speaker; if it is too high, the audience is too far away from you. For a successful open- air meeting the people should be crowded around the platform. The children usually crowd into this inner circle!

A 4' x 6' platform is just about the right size, for it provides room enough for a speaker and two translators, or for one translator, a musician, and the speaker. The upright poles in front, with a connecting piece on top, will be convenient for holding the two pressure lanterns. A small portable pulpit is then fastened at the front of your small stage.

I use a platform, the legs and uprights of which are collapsible. The entire outfit may be carried on the top of an auto. But be sure the understructure is strong. One night the plat form was too collapsible it gave way while too many young people were mounting it to sing. I had to give my talk standing on a chair that evening.

The masonite clamp boards used in offices are ideal for holding the enrollment blanks while the young people circulate among the people to enroll them in the Bible course. It might be well to make sure that your enrollment blank is printed so that the filled-in coupon is at the top, and is held firm by the clamp. The lower two thirds of the enrollment folder can then be torn off and handed to the enrollee.

These enrollment forms may be printed in two or three languages on one form. This is helpful in areas where the audience is made up of different language groups. Each clamp board will hold about thirty enrollment forms. A pen cil is attached to the board by a string. Some of the more energetic young .people will work with two boards at a time as they enroll the listeners. And how these young people enjoy These enrollment forms may be printed in two or three languages on one form. This is helpful in areas where the audience is made up of different language groups. Each clamp board will hold about thirty enrollment forms. A pencil is attached to the board by a string. Some of the more energetic young .people will work with two boards at a time as they enroll the listeners. And how these young people enjoy

At the beginning of the meeting the musician plays for about ten minutes while the crowd gathers. Occasional announcements over a loud speaker attract the passers-by to the gathering. After a song and prayer a ten-minute talk follows. The remainder of the time is used in telling the people about the correspondence course. The lessons are shown while some of their most interesting features are briefly told.

The fact that the course is free is stressed, and that students all over the world are now enrolling in the leading languages. As the musician continues playing, enrollment blanks are distributed from the platform. This helps pre vent the audience from scattering.

One of the most thrilling sights I have seen is that sea of hands reaching up for enrollment blanks. It reminds me of a picture on one of the covers of the Ingathering magazine. The enrollment blanks should be handed out as fast as possible. If there is a great throng, it is possibly better to have two on the platform to pass out these blanks. Stop and tell the audience that you have many assisting with pads and pencils to help them enroll. In such a crowd our young people move about, encouraging enrollments. Just as soon as some have enrolled, the young people begin bringing the coupons to the speaker. He holds them up to show how many are enrolling. This is done from time to time throughout the meeting to show the increasing number of enrollment coupons.

The meetings among the Chinese usually required two hours, but the Ceylon audiences did not linger so long. An hour and a quarter was usually sufficient. Of course, many keep coming and going during the meetings, but many also enroll. I repeat to the audience the purpose of the meeting and the titles of the lessons to be studied in the course.


Now about the children: It is good if there are three or four rows of them near the plat- iorm. If they are well-behaved, pass out the enrollment blanks to them and ask them to take them home to their parents. But if the children seem to be somewhat uncontrollable, then I ask a tall, strong assistant to stand on a nearby prominence, and point to him while I tell the children to go to him for their enrollment blanks. This offers opportunity to ask the adults to move up close to the platform for their blanks.

Just do not let a big gap come between you and the throng, for that would certainly weaken your meeting. It would be far better to have a few noisy children down in front than an empty space. During the music at the begin ning I mount the small stage, urging the audience to come nearer so as to make room for others who will want to draw close enough to hear.

The best locations for this type of meeting- are the crowded areas where milling throngs pass by. You should be off the road, so as not to disturb traffic, but keep as near the busy road as is safe. In Oriental village work it is not necessary to worry about traffic, and the village center is always an ideal meeting place, being the natural gathering place for the villagers.

I believe that in some of the smaller towns and rural areas of the homeland, as well as in the larger cities, these open-air meetings could be conducted very successfully.

A Wonderful Aid in Public Evangelism

Some workers prefer setting up a screen for showing pictures and gathering enrollments to the Bible course. However, it is important to keep on enrolling constantly during the evening meeting if tangible results are to be seen from each open-air service. Just think o£ the possibilities of this plan in some of the out-of- the-way places where our workers are called to hold a series of meetings! Open-air meetings should be held all over the area, enrolling as many as possible in the Bible correspondence course. A general announcement should- tell the public about our proposed meetings. Names gathered would become a mailing list for a letter of invitation and an opening handbill for the evangelistic campaign. Ten or twelve such meetings would prepare the public before the actual launching of the larger campaign.

How I wish that all over the world these open-air meetings could be speedily launched! A great door of opportunity is open before us. Our group has had the joy of handling more than ten thousand enrollments in this way. If souls are saved as a result, we shall feel eternally repaid.


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Ministerial Secretary, Far Eastern Division

February 1952

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