WITH this issue of THE MINISTRY we feature a new concept in soul winning —telephone evangelism. More people are using telephones every day. There are now 200 million in all parts of the world. Of these, 93.7 million are in the United States. It is time to put these telephones to use for God.
Such programs as Dial-a-Prayer, Smokers Dial, Drinkers Dial, and Dial the Answer, are already familiar to some of us and have proved their effectiveness.
Now it has been demonstrated that multiplied thousands can be reached in this same way with the full message and at low cost.
You will read with more-than-usual interest the feature article in this journal by Harold E. Metcalf, which appears on page 4. He reports that in eight months' time in Atlanta, 80,000 called and listened to the daily message, and 11,500 of these enrolled in the Study Guides.
C. M. Bailey, pastor of the Houston church of the Southwest Region Conference, has also ventured forth with this program. He writes, "We have been operating for nearly seven weeks, and the response has been tremendous. We have approximately 1,000 persons who have enrolled in the Bible school and are receiving progressive instruction. And we have a listening audience of approximately three times this number who have not given their names."
According to Pastor Bailey this program has involved the entire church membership in active missionary activity. The Health and Welfare department is caring for the needy that are found by this program. The members of the MV department are visiting the youth who call, and the laymen are busily engaged in follow-up work. On a recent weekend 1,500 contacts were made to encourage individuals to dial the number.
Other churches are also launching into this program or making plans to begin soon. C. E. Rudley writes from Shreveport, Louisiana: "With a minimum of advertising our telephone rings continuously each day. Of the number who call, an average of twenty a day will leave their name and address to be enrolled in our Family Bible School." He also states:
"There are backsliders now attending church because they want to hear more about the subjects presented daily on the telephone." In advertising it is made known that the program is sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
V. L. Roberts, president of the Southwest Region Conference, reports six machines now in operation in his field. In addition to two in Houston and one in Shreveport, there is one in Oklahoma City, Tyler, and San Antonio, Texas.
"Dial Truth" is the name used by Harold Lindsay, pastor of the Richmond, Virginia, church. During its first week "Dial Truth" brought an average of 500 calls a day in answer to a single two-line ad appearing in the local newspaper. A second and third machine had to be installed at once. Elder Lindsay has been carrying on experimentation and research in this field for some time, and it was due largely to his vision of the potentialities in this type of evangelism that led to the establishment of a special committee by the General Conference which was to explore the possibilities of telephone evangelism and submit recommendations that might give direction for this plan.
The special committee, under the chairmanship of D. W. Hunter, associate secretary of the General Conference, has now met. Presentations were made by Harold Lindsay and Harold Metcalf, outlining the unique opportunities of this type of evangelism. Representatives from Record-0- Fone and Code-a-phone were present to demonstrate the use and functions of the respective machines. Almost a full day was given to discussion. Out of this discussion came the following recommendations:
Whereas we ought to use every possible avenue for sharing the message of this hour; and
Whereas telephone evangelism is finding success with such programs as Teen Dial, Slim Line, Smokers Dial, and Dial Your Family Bible (as used in Southern Union); and
Whereas telephone evangelism offers the following unique advantages-
- It makes truth perpetually available-24 hours a day;
- It places an electronic secretary on duty 24 hours a day to record requests of the interested or persons in stress;
- It provides an avenue to homes in lands where radio and television time are not available to the church;
- It is a "private, in-the-ear" approach to people who would not want to be seen watching or listening to a religious program or attending a church service;
- It provides entrance to all homes with telephones;
- It provides entrance also to business offices at any time;
- The message can be re-dialed and heard over and over again, so that an important scriptural reference is not missed because it was given but once;
- A listener can hear something he likes and urge someone else to dial and listen to it, because it has not gone "off the air";
- The service can be linked to existing Adventist radio and TV programs; the Bible courses can be a part of their service;
- It pulls names by asking for an immediate response, now, to the message the listener has just heard, and his reaction is automatic;
- It can provide numerous bonafide-interest names for literature evangelist contacts as well as lay evangelism contacts as Bible courses are completed (10,500 names in Atlanta in seven months);
We recommend, That the General Conference give study to the implementation of telephone evangelism on a church-wide basis with guidelines established to assure quality and sound, coordinated' operation. These would give direction in the areas of (1) brevity, (2) effectiveness via a personal approach, (3) technical acceptability, (4) coordination with existing Bible correspondence schools, (5) well-planned follow-up.
Further recommended, That study be given the existing types of electronic equipment designed for this type of evangelism and specific information be prepared on its availability, qualifications, and cost; this information to accompany the guidelines, pending acceptance of the program.
—D. W. HUNTER, Chairman M. CAROL HETZELL, Secretary
We thank God for this new method for reaching the masses with the gospel. We pray for His guidance as these recommendations are implemented.