There are many today who think of evangelism as passé. When the word is mentioned, their minds immediately revert to sawdust floors, leaking tents, and shouting preachers. But today the picture has changed. The sawdust floors have given way to wall - to - wall carpeting; the leaking tents have bowed to bright air structures, and the shouting preachers have welcomed well-modulated public-address systems. The only thing that has not changed is the message, which is still being proclaimed today with the same vigor and positive assurance as it was in days gone by.
Living as we are in the midst of a materialistically centered society, the importance of pleasant, attractive, comfortable surroundings cannot be overemphasized. People today are accustomed to the utmost in comfort in their homes, in their churches, and in their places of leisure. If we are going to attract them to public meetings we can offer them no less. We must not detract from the message being presented by setting it in cheap, distasteful surroundings. The proclamation of God's Word deserves the very finest. This is what we are striving toward in public evangelism today.
The modern air structure (picture No. 1) serves as an ideal edifice for evangelistic meetings. It is entirely portable, and if attractively and tastefully furnished, can be a great drawing factor. In fact, many people, especially in rural areas, find the air structure is more comfortable and attractive than their own churches.
Many different names are used for the air structures. We call ours the Cloud Tabernacle because of its dazzling white cloud-like appearance. The front entrance bears the name in blazing gold letters over the door. On each side of the door stand tall walnut-stained louvered panels, graduated in height from ten feet to nine feet to eight feet (picture No. 1).
As one enters the tabernacle his eyes are immediately drawn straight down the center aisle to the large, open family Bible on the altar table and to the golden cross immediately above it on the front of the pulpit (picture No. 2). Spotlighted from poles high above the auditorium floor, they create an atmosphere of quiet, peaceful meditation (picture No. 3).
The platform itself is 20 feet wide by 12 feet deep and rises 2 feet above the floor. It is flanked on either side by walnut-stained Philippine mahogany paneling extending back along either side of the platform. Three sets of steps lead to the platform, one on each side and one at rear center. The draperies, which are of beige antique satin, are arranged in a semicircular fashion, forming a pleasing background for the pulpit and speaker.
Moving now to the outer aisles, we find on each side six simulated shrubs that are made of plywood with sheet metal light pans attached to the back (picture No. 4). Each shrub is 4 feet by 4 feet and contains three 150-watt bulbs, which provide three lighting levels.
The floor of the auditorium, a heavy matlike material, has evoked much favorable comment from our guests. We first line the ground with heavy building paper to minimize moisture and weed growth, and upon this we place our wall-to-wall carpeting. It makes a durable floor that is also pleasing to the eye—and feet!
This then is the modern air structure that is being used to a great extent in public evangelism today. It is large and roomy (the Cloud Tabernacle is 40 feet by 80 feet and similar structures can be obtained in larger sizes) and it lends itself beautifully to the particular needs of evangelism.
Many centuries ago God said to His people, "Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them." As the people of Israel gave of their best talents to build a suitable dwelling place for the great God of the universe, may we today provide only the finest, that the glory of God may find its dwelling place in the hearts of men and women.