WE USE nearly every means in our evangelistic meetings to capture the interest of the people—moving black-light drawings, motion picture films, the question box, special musical features, awards for attending, awards for bringing others, et cetera. But one of the most popular and beneficial features that I have discovered is a news commentary.
Our Tuesday evening meetings needed something special to attract a larger attendance (we hold meetings four nights a week —Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday). So on Tuesday evenings I started a news commentary that runs the entire eight weeks of meetings. Since this innovation, Tuesday has now our second largest night attendance. The news commentary is popular with Adventists and non-Adventists alike. One woman in central Oregon told me that she wouldn't miss Tuesday night's meeting for anything because of the news commentary.
This feature is not only attendance building but it has other benefits as well. The news commentary provides a wonderful opportunity to keep fulfilling Bible prophecies before the people. Rightly used, the prophecies "come alive." Through the news commentary the evangelist can keep the urgency of the message before the people. The fulfilling signs of Christ's imminent return are real, practical, and motivating, and should stir up the interest of all.
Tobacco, Liquor, and Diet
The health message can be often emphasized through news notes concerning tobacco, liquor, and diet. The way is thus prepared through the news commentary for the more complete proclamation of health reform.
A consciousness of the dangers to our religious freedoms can be generated through the news commentary, preparing the way for such subjects as the mark of the beast, the United States in Bible prophecy, et cetera. The fallen standards of the nominal churches can be presented in news notes that do not offend yet which effectively proclaim "Come out of her, my people." They also do much to add punch and confirmation to the presentation of the entire message.
Floods and Wars
I use some front page news items in my news commentaries. By showing the relationships of publicized events—floods, storms, war developments, tragedies and criminal acts—to Bible prophecy, a third dimension is added to the news and interest is kindled and the listeners want to hear more of the message. Unpublicized items are valuable also. They create an atmosphere of expectation and give the people added confidence in the evangelist as one who has the inside track on the news.
As Adventist ministers we have a storehouse of resources for a news commentary. There are news notes in the Review, MINISTRY, Youth's Instructor, Life and Health, and Liberty to say nothing of our specialized sources such as Listen News Service, Liberty News Letter, Church and State, the Arsenal (Pacific Press), On the Air (General Conference Public Relations Department) and others. All one has to do to make up a news commentary is to get together the scissors, glue, Bible, news sources, and a little imagination, and go to work.
Ten Minutes Only
The news commentary should not be too long. Ten minutes is about right. If it runs too long, interest will be killed; but a short enthusiastic commentary will spark interest. By using a Paul Harvey style, much can be included in a ten-minute commentary. The average news commentary can be put together in about twenty minutes if the materials have been gathered and marked during the week.
The news commentary need not be limited to evangelistic meetings, but can provide a useful and interesting feature for the prayer meeting service as well. And it is one feature that can be used over and over without losing its appeal.