The writer has recently had the privilege of conducting city-wide campaigns in two of Britains largest cities, Birmingham and Manchester. We thought the readers of THE MINISTRY and our fellow evangelists in other lands would be interested in the techniques and methods that have lately proved successful in this country.
The cities mentioned have a combined population of about one and a half million and are heavily industrialized, Birmingham being the center of the automobile industry, and Manchester, of the cotton trade. In Birmingham we had the joy of baptizing 101 in the first year, 57 in the second year, and 24 in the third year, a total of 182 added to our three Birmingham churches. In Manchester, which has proved to be a much more difficult city, we have thus far baptized 80 believers as a result of our first year's work. We are now in the midst of a second series from which, with God's help, we anticipate another good harvest.
We would like to emphasize right away that the source of our inspiration has been that wonderful blueprint, the book Evangelism, by Ellen G. White. We do not hesitate to testify that the closer we have followed this blueprint the greater has been our success.
First, we have proved that it pays to book the best and largest hall in the city. Anything else is too small for the message we have to proclaim—and too expensive. The best halls will cost more, but they advertise themselves and thus save money in the long run. In both Birmingham and Manchester we were able to book the best theater right in the heart of the city, known to everybody, and well served by public transport. Now, while this is an important factor, there is another that we have found to be of equal importance. If we would obtain large results, we must not only start in the right hall but must remain in this primary hall right through to the first baptism, or at least until the gospel message has been given in its fullness. Every change of location takes a heavy toll of one's audience. In Birmingham we were able to remain in our central theater for twenty-eight and twenty-four weeks respectively, and in Manchester, for twenty-one weeks. It should be understood that we used the theaters only on Sundays, and that in Britain we hold, at the most, only two or three meetings a week in our campaigns.
We live in a changing world, therefore our techniques must be kept up to date. Some years ago our evangelistic audiences were made up largely of converted people seeking further light, but today we find that the majority of the men and women who come to our meetings are without church affiliation. This is a challenge, and demands that we preach Christ, make strong appeals for conversion, and have altar calls and after-meetings. Thus again we follow the blueprint, making Christ the center of our message. There is no experience comparable with that of winning a soul for Christ and then helping him to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour" (2 Peter 3:18).
It has been our custom in the past to present the Sabbath truth on the sixth or eighth Sunday, but when we postponed the presentation of this truth until the twentieth Sunday, we more than doubled our baptismal figures. After all, if we give men an opportunity to fall in love with the "Lord of the Sabbath," they will gladly "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." A truly converted man or woman finds no difficulty in accepting the full gospel.
Our experience has shown that nothing quite takes the place of the printed sermon copy and the coupon incorporated in the program for securing names of interested people. In both Birmingham and Manchester we received well over one thousand names. Folks are not so interested in what someone else may have written about the subject of the evening, but they do want the actual message given by the evangelist. This has the greatest appeal and should be printed, not duplicated. We have also learned to appreciate the "premium card" and "free gift volume" technique, and usually introduce this feature on the second or third Sunday of the series.
Many of our evangelists in this field use films and black light. However, in Birmingham and Manchester we used neither, preferring rather to be known as preachers of the Word only. We used visual aids, but always in the light, the writer having a strong aversion to preaching in the dark.
In Manchester we experimented with two ideas that were new to us. In the first of these we tried to follow this counsel: "The truth presented by the living preacher should be published in as compact a form as possible, and circulated widely."—Evangelism, p. 130. In an endeavor to follow this counsel we included the following announcement in our advertising material: "If you are unable to attend this great service, you may still obtain a free printed copy of this vital message. Write: Sunday Series, Palace Theater, Oxford Street, Manchester." In response to this announcement we received more than 600 requests for the sermon copy, which we sent through the mail faithfully week by week. Unfortunately, with our small staff and some 1,400 campaign names to visit, it was not possible to follow up these extra 600 names as we would like to have done. Nevertheless, after presenting the doctrines we were glad