Recently I saw an attractive sign advertising that a particular church was on a particular street. The uniqueness of this sign inspired a desire to see the church. I found it at the end of a dead-end street. It was a most undesirable location for a church that was to be a "light" set on a hill. But it was quite attractive and wholesome in its appearance. The sign had done something for me. It had stimulated my desire to see the church. Somebody behind that sign had salesmanship for the gospel. He "compelled" me to go and see his church.
Fortunate is the man who pastors a church on the most prominent street in the city. To be situated so that thousands pass your church daily is a distinct advantage from an advertising point of view. And the church on a donated lot are surely long since past. The church planning committee, with the guidance of the conference leadership, should carefully investigate every possible location with the precision of an artist. Its location should be chosen with the soundness of judgment the banker exercises. Its architecture and design should be as beautiful and representative of this gospel we have been called to preach as the world's finest hotels or business places. Dignity and appeal cost so little when sprinkled with conservative judgment and reverent worshipfulness.
We are privileged here in Seattle to pastor the Green Lake church. It is on the east side of beautiful Green Lake, which is fed by springs and is a beauty spot in the north section of our city. A Jewish gentleman owned the property and had planned to build his home there and retire. But when our brethren told him of our desire to build a monument to God for a Sabbath-keeping people, his heart warmed and we secured the property.
The setting overlooking the lake is ideal. This Gothic-design brick structure has winsome attractiveness to the general public. Thousands of people pass it daily. They admire the church and are sure it is the home of a fine congregation. But how shall we convert their casual glance into a determined desire to see within the walls of our church, so that their feet will bring them here in person?
Nearly four years ago certain businessmen developed a city location map that showed the whole city, and placed it in strategic areas. Attached were cross references on the guides listing the numbered buildings, business and park areas, churches, schools, and other important sites. It was covered with glass to protect from the weather and was lighted at night. The handles could be turned at any time of day or night to identify a location. On the east side of Green Lake was our number and under "Churches" on the guide was listed —"#46, Green Lake, Seventh-day Adventist Church, 6350 East Green Lake Way."
Several times after church, while greeting visitors at the door, I was told that our church location had been found from this outdoor city map. The investment for our church was only $33, but it was an excellent advertising medium.
Of course, every church has a dignified bulletin board outside, which identifies the church, lists the name of the pastor, the weekly services, and if at all possible the name of the coming sermon for Sabbath or Sunday night.
For several years we have followed the plan of having a picture of the church on the reverse side of our calling card. This has proved to be an excellent aid in establishing this church in the mind of interested people we talk with. The question, "Is that your church? I've passed it many a time and wondered who the preacher was," or some such inquiry, has often been asked when a calling card was presented.
Another plan we have followed is to send to all visitors a postal card of welcome, inviting them to worship with us again. And on this card is the same picture of the church. Repetition and emphasis drive home the point. But, beloved, if on our letterheads or calling cards or signs along the highway we tell people we have a friendly church, we must surely be a friendly church. This is a constant task, to alert members, and especially leaders of the church, to be on duty always to show that we truly are a friendly people who know the Lord.
The newspaper weekly ad listing location of church and such pertinent information is always acceptable if the church budget will allow. Certain radio stations announce community programs and will often publicize certain types of community projects of the church. Do we take advantage of such opportunities?
Some time ago the Public Relations Department of the General Conference developed a fine highway sign with basic material to which the name of church or city and street address were added. This reflec-torized sign, inexpensive and attractive, is a fine medium of communication to the general public at a minimum cost. It is really frustrating to drive through a city, look in the telephone book, and not find the address of the Seventh-day Adventist church. But this has happened many a time in many a place.
The yellow pages of the telephone book are really a must, I believe, for every Adventist church. Pastors may change and move, but the church stays on. Recently one of our ministers left our conference to accept a call to another field. One day someone called, wanting to know how to reach this minister's church. He had called and had found that the telephone had been disconnected. But at least he could get in touch with our church because we are listed in the yellow pages. My fellow minister's church had not been so listed:
Where you can, enter your church name, location, and time of services in such public directories as those kept in hotels, motels, YMCA's, and other such institutions. This is an added opportunity. Particularly is this helpful to servicemen who are moving about. Also visitors on vacation appreciate such information. But more than that! What goes on within the mind and heart of others who are not particularly looking for the Seventh-day Adventist church? What seed is being sown there?
How about that multitude of people who used to walk with us but do not today? When they see the church sign and church information listed in public directories, what impact does it make? It could be that many of the visitors who come in quietly and worship with us were moved by the Holy Spirit to come back and fellowship with us because they saw the sign or the announcement in the directory or telephone book.
In connection with the recent opening of our Health and Welfare Center we distributed cards throughout the community stating that this service was presented by our particular church and listed its location. All communications that invite people to attend our meetings in our churches, whether they be evangelistic, social, or community projects, likewise list the information of name and location.
If the whole church is conscious of the need of creating in the mind of friends, neighbors, and the community at large an image of the place of worship we love, then a greater impact can be made upon our community than perhaps we have ever realized.
Our sincerity, our honesty, our conviction, our earnest invitation to worship with us, whether it be by highway sign, church bulletin board, or special announcement of a program or project, even in the yellow pages of the telephone book, should appeal and win hearts for the kingdom of God. Isn't that our mission in life? Is not that why these churches have been built? If they serve only as a place where the faithful assemble and worship God on His day for 60 minutes, then the church has missed its calling and failed its God.
The witness of the church must be heralded to men everywhere by the medium of advertising in every conceivable form that is high in standard and principle, so that countless men will hear and heed the call of the gospel. Angels could do this task with higher skill and greater effectiveness than man ever can. But God has chosen us, His ministers and laborers, to tell men everywhere that Jesus died, that He rose again, and that He is coming soon.
The masses will not come through the doors of our churches to hear us recite these foundations of the gospel. But men will be constrained by the power of the Holy Spirit to view our signs, to be attracted by our advertising in all its avenues. Then when interest ripens into conviction, the feet will bring the heart. At the foot of the cross men will see the Saviour and worship and adore Him in all His glory. Who can gainsay what miracles of His grace may begin when someone sees an attractive sign that tells all men that we are the bearer of glad tidings? And who can estimate the influence of the simple announcement, "Welcome to the Seventh-day Adventist Church on--------- Street"?
Brethren, the harvest is ready. Multitudes are in the valley of decision. Every medium for soulsaving must be used to its fullest extent now, while the coming of Jesus hastens upon us. May the potential of church advertising and the possibility of this medium be developed so that men everywhere might be pricked in their heart and say with Paul, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"