THOUSANDS of additional baptisms could be gained each year in our evangelistic crusades by employing an easy, simple method that is not being used.
The Master Evangelist compared soul winning to fishing. One of the first steps in landing a fish is to get a bite or a strike. This is comparable in evangelism to finding a person whose interest can be aroused to learn what God wants him to do.
We all know that the more interested persons we find, the more baptisms there will be. Any effective method that does this (and there are many), will increase the baptisms from the crusade. This is as sure as the fact that the more wheat you put through the hopper in the mill, the more flour you will have.
Thousands of dollars are being spent in newspaper advertising in our crusades. In this advertising we are missing a splendid opportunity for finding some potentially interested persons who will not attend this meeting.
I refer to the plan of using about three inches at the bottom of the ad in a free offer. The words "Extra Special Offer" in large bold faced type will gain attention. Then offer an attractive booklet, and a Bible correspondence course, which will be mailed free from Los Angeles or Thousand Oaks, California. There should, of course, be a coupon on which a person can fill in his address. On the coupon a local post office address to which it is to be mailed should be indicated.
Make no mistake about it, this will result in names of interested people who will not attend the meetings at the first, but may be aroused to attend later. If they don't attend, they will be indoctrinated by taking the Bible course.
In the free offer, a local telephone number should be listed. Many do not want to bother with responding by writing and mailing. They prefer to call for it by telephone. The local telephone number should be at the home of some Adventist who has agreed to receive the calls and make a list of the names and addresses. Of course, the right type of person should be chosen for this.
The booklet is mailed to those who respond by mail and telephone. A mimeographed letter is enclosed telling that the first lessons of the free Bible course, which they requested, will be sent to them in due time by the Voice of Prophecy or Faith for Today.
Then in a few days a worker makes a follow-up visit to each of these homes. He inquires whether they received the material they requested in the mail. He urges them to attend the meetings. It is good to hand them copies of the first two sermons of the crusade. These will help to stimulate their interest to attend. He urges them to be sure to follow through on the Bible course. The worker also endeavors to estimate what type of interest the person has.
After he leaves the home he writes on the card bearing this person's name some relevant information concerning this interest. Further follow-up for a series of Bible studies is made as seems appropriate.
These people may not be won in the campaign during which their names were secured, but they may be good interests for a sub sequent campaign in this same city. Thus one campaign can help prepare the way for another. In every evangelistic series we ought to sow as well as reap.
If in addition to the ad for publicizing the opening of the crusade other ads are used as the meetings progress, there should be a free offer at the bottom of each ad. This could offer a free copy of the opening sermons or some other free literature.
Here is something from my personal observation. It took place in a city with a population of 750,000. Directly adjoining it are a number of smaller cities that make a total population of around one and a quarter million. Two large central crusades were held, with all our churches in the area taking part.
There is a morning and after noon daily paper published in this city, with a combined circulation of 300,000. It is an excellent medium for reaching this populous area. The rate per column inch for church advertising is $12.29.
At the opening of each of these crusades large ads costing more than one thousand dollars were placed in this newspaper to help secure an attendance of non- Adventists.
In neither crusade were free offers of the kind suggested in this article used to reach the many readers who did not attend the meetings. What a splendid opportunity was missed. Hundreds of names of potential interests, in addition to those who came to the meetings, might have been secured for another crusade or for a series of Bible studies by qualified laymen.
Think of the newspaper ads that were used in MISSION '72. If all of them had contained at the bottom an appropriate free offer, thousands of additional interests would have been contacted. These with the right follow-up would have been fine material now for MISSION '73. I appeal to my fellow evangelists to begin now to include this feature in all newspaper advertisements.