Coordinated Evangelism in Sydney

G. E. Vandeman and others hold a reaping meeting in Sydney.

KENNETH H. MEAD, Evangelistic Coordinator, Sydney, Australia

THE intensity of the Bible prediction, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" indicates an involvement with public evan­gelism to the end of time—a program directed at the great cities of the nations, London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Sydney, the teaming, throbbing centers of civiliza­tion.

Despite explicit instructions we some­times find a hesitancy to implement methods and launch into the unknown. Peter faced that problem by the shores of Gennesaret when Jesus challenged, "'Push out now into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.'" Peter responded by say­ing, "'Master! We've worked all night and never caught a thing.'" However, a glim­mer of faith came through when he said, "'But if you say so I'll let the nets down.'" Then notice the staggering results, "And when they had done this, they caught an enormous shoal of fish—so big that the nets began to tear" (Luke 5:4-6, Phillips).*

Today the pessimist says we have satu­rated the territory when in reality we have hardly scratched the surface. We must guard against the complacency that the majority of the cities' teaming millions know about Seventh-day Adventists and their teachings. When we examine com­mercial advertising it is very apparent that millions of dollars are expended to satu­rate the market with a trade name. It ap­pears that people only become aware of a particular product after a mass-media advertising barrage. It seems apparent that it takes something out of the ordinary to at­tract them. In our great cities of today, particularly where there are populations of over one million, we need to utilize every legitimate method to reach the conscience of humanity and attract them to the gospel. Only extraordinary methods under the blessing of God can accomplish this.

Prior to 1966 Seventh-day Adventists in Sydney, a city of two and three-quarter mil­lion, employed all the orthodox methods of evangelism—central city missions, isolated suburban efforts, radio, Bible correspond­ence courses, and sporadic lay evangelistic projects. All these met with varying de­grees of success, yet it was often felt that more could be accomplished. The di­lemma, of course, was how?

With this background officers of the con­ference were impressed to take a new bold look at the future. Out of their research a new concept developed. Sydney's experi­ment was dependent upon established methods of evangelism. These did not have to be changed. The key to the new concept was coordination. This was the plan: It Is Written telecast; It Is Written personal lay evangelism; suburban public reaping pro­grams; George E. Vandeman's appearance and decision meetings.

A full-time coordinator and office staff gave personal supervision to the project while total participation by all conference personnel and lay members reinforced the structure.

Looking quickly at the above some may well ask, 'Where is the new pattern?" The answer is to be found in the initial ap­proach, which made provision for long-range planning, close liaison between all sections of the program, and mass-media advertising.

1.    Long-range Planning

Months before the telecast was intro­duced every aspect of the plan was care­fully analyzed. This included the financial budget, duration of the telecast, the num­ber of reaping programs and their loca­tions, advanced hall bookings, the staffing of these programs, and the time and place of the Vandeman decision meetings.

2.   Close Liaison Between All Sections

After the plan was established at office level and became accepted policy, initial briefing meetings for all conference per­sonnel were arranged. Selected church pas­tors were trained as instructors for ten regional lay training classes to cover forty-three of the forty-five churches in the con­ference. These men had the responsibility of organizing rallies for lay activities lead­ers, It Is Written secretaries, visitors, and survey callers. Fortnightly gatherings of the entire conference staff and similar meetings at church level maintained inter­est throughout the program.

3.    Mass-Media Advertising

Mass-media advertising utilized at every stage major city newspapers, radio stations, TV, postal invitations, and handbills.

The basis for later development was the personal delivery by five hundred lay visi­tors of the forty-lesson Faith Bible Guides at two-week intervals; each visitor was com­mitted to seventeen visits per student, the first six lessons having been mailed direct from the Bible school. A person-to-person contact has proved the most effective method of establishing rapport between the public and the church. During this time a Bible award was introduced for all those completing all test papers to lesson twenty-five. Such a plan made it possible for the lay visitor to introduce the pastor when the student personally received his award. In many instances Bible studies were ar­ranged at this stage. This award plan has proved so successful that it has been adopted throughout Australia as one of the most effective methods of substantially in­creasing the return of test papers and in­troducing Bible studies.

4.    Reaping Programs

Coordinated reaping programs were en­tirely new to this field. This envisaged thirteen evangelistic campaigns to be­gin simultaneously in strategic centers throughout the metropolitan area. It was necessary for the thirteen evangelists to de­cide upon a common subject, which in this instance was "Fantastic Finds in Ancient Lands—Remarkable Discoveries Throw New Light on the Bible Story." Having agreed on a topic, the workers found uni­formity was possible in handbills, press copy, and radio and TV commercials. The meetings were announced for theaters, halls, and churches, and the smaller pro­grams had the advantage of capitalizing on the high-quality advertising approach, which was standard throughout. City news­papers in connection with TV and radio advertising eclipsed the provincial ap­proach of local suburban papers and limited individual advertising. Of course, it is quite evident that small efforts running independently could not advertise in the city dailies under any circumstances.

A capacity attendance supported all pro­grams, and it was significant that in un­promising territory results were above the highest expectations. This demonstrates the tremendous potential of a coordinated approach where even local church pastors throughout a conference or state can capi­talize on the quality approach of the major efforts. This synchronized method may be adapted for use in large or small cities and to any number of evangelistic programs. While uniformity was the keynote to suc­cess in the Sydney venture, we were able to allow a degree of individuality in the hand­bills for each area.

The reaping program coordinated ap­proach as outlined is not dependent upon the support of a telecast. This method of evangelism, emphasizing quality and in­troducing time-saving factors at a lower over-all expenditure, can be utilized for any multiple evangelistic crusade.

In Sydney, three months after the begin­ning of the initial reaping campaigns the George E. Vandeman decision meetings were held in an auditorium seating five thousand people. For the third time we utilized the mass media approach in the following manner: seven thousand per­sonal invitations posted from the It Is Written office, ten advertisements in news­papers, eighty-four radio spot ads, TV trailers following the telecast, personal in­vitations by five hundred visitors to fifty-five hundred enrolled in the Faith Bible Guides. As in the regional campaigns, capacity attendances supported the pro­gram.

In every instance the coordinated ap­proach produces superior advertising at lower rates.

While emphasis has been placed on the monetary aspect of coordination and ex­cellence in production that not only ap­peals but is well-nigh expected by the gen­eral public today, we should not overlook the need of spiritual preparation and the maintenance of vital enthusiasm. Coordi­nation helps to produce these results be­cause every man in the field is cognizant of the other man's aims, and prays not only for his own success but for the success of his associates.

Pastor C. D. Judd, president of the Greater Sydney Conference, stated: "I have always believed that evangelism is the vital life line of the church. Every church pastor should be an evangelist to the com­munity. The coordinated plan operating in the Greater Sydney Conference has given our ministers a unique opportunity to conduct or associate in an evangelistic program. We even utilized the services of officers from the Australasian Division and Trans-Tasman Union Conference in this deeply moving experiment.

"When one of the ministers became ill it was my privilege to preach at one of our smaller churches. The story here was typi­cal of the conference-wide approach. Men and women were eager to hear the truth. One man stated: 'I now believe; all I need is a little push to put me in the church.'

"It has been a thrilling year in evangel­ism, and while we all have much to learn, yet God has wonderfully blessed our united efforts. One of our youngest minis­ters reported thirty new Sabbathkeepers at one of our churches last week, and there is every indication it will be a record year for baptisms in Sydney."



Advantages of Coordinated Evangelism

T0 INFORM the greatest number of  people by using the maximum avail­able means of advertising, with the mini­mum cost involved, is the desire of every evangelist who conducts a public evangel­istic program.

The advertising must be of a quality to arrest the attention of the cultured, the educated, and the churchgoer besides the masses of the population. To do this, whether on TV or radio, or by personal invitation or handbill, newspaper or pub­lic sign, is very costly. When one has a limited budget within which to work, care­ful planning must be given to consider which form or forms of advertising will be successful in informing the people of the meetings and bringing the maximum num­ber along. Usually the evangelist has to settle for something less than desired because of his limited funds. A coordinated evangelistic approach to advertising reme­dies this situation.

Everything is "Cheaper by the dozen," according to the cliché. This is so when an approach is made to advertising agencies by one who represents ten or twelve evan­gelists, all planning to open their crusades on the same night, using the same title and employing the same style of advertising.

By comparison, an effort conducted by me in one suburb in a particular city, us­ing a coordinated approach to advertising brought just twice as many people to my opening program as did advertising on my own behalf in a similar suburb in that same city just one year before. By coor­dinating my efforts with others, the same expenditure increased the avenues of ad­vertising (I was not able to use TV and radio the first time), besides enabling me to improve tremendously the quality of my handbills and invitation cards.

People from adjoining districts who may not have learned by ordinary methods that my meetings were being held were pleased to attend the opening addresses.

I enthusiastically support coordinated evangelism.

ARTHUR J. BATH, Evangelist

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KENNETH H. MEAD, Evangelistic Coordinator, Sydney, Australia

November 1967

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