When will the ninety-nine hear?

On news stories concerning evangelistic meetings.

Kermit Netteburg is an instructor in evangelism at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan.

The conference committee voted Evangelist J. R. Hunter a budget of several thousand dollars to rent a hall, produce brochures, buy advertising space and time for a campaign in Middleville. Ryder, the local church communication secretary, dutifully circulated a news story about the evangelist's imminent appearance in town. The local media picked this up and publicized the fact that Jim Hunter was coming.

About five hundred non-Adventists came out the first night. Naturally, everyone was excited about the terrific turnout.

Night after night the attendance continued high. More than one hundred were baptized, and the crusade was termed a glowing success. The new members, inspired by the evangelist's well-thought-out mes sage, gained a grasp of present truth that will most certainly sustain them through the first months of their church membership. Other Adventist members were also inspired by hearing the gospel once again and by seeing the new members join the church. Everyone gives thanks to God for the successful proclamation of the gospel in Middleville.

But no one else in town has heard the message. Even in successful campaigns such as this, one hundred persons baptized are but a tiny percentage of the population. The Good Shepherd might be heard saying, "Here is the one, but where are the ninety-nine?"

Your church communication secretary has the answer.

News articles about evangelistic meetings that draw large crowds are legitimate news. News media are in the business of covering news. Someone, most likely the church communication secretary, should write and submit this news story.

Writing news articles about the sermon content of evangelistic meetings is virtually unworked territory. But there are two good reasons by Kermit Netteburg why a story about an evangelistic sermon should be written and published.

First, a meeting that draws a large crowd is news. Newspapers have a hard time ignoring an event that affects a great number of people; they'll be likely to cover your meeting. Second, the Lord wants the message published to all the world, and He'll guide that news story through the office and into print. Don't be shy about asking God for His help in getting these articles published. He is vitally interested and will be your greatest ally.

Speech stories are written according to a predictable pattern that can be used over and over again without making the article sound repetitious. Anyone preparing such an article should remember, however, that the news is about what the speaker said, not a Bible study. It is fine to tell Bible truths in the news article, but remember to attribute them to the evangelist.

A suggested pattern for this kind of story is outlined below. With a few days' practice, this outline can be developed into a news story in about thirty minutes. That thirty minutes could plant the seed of truth in some person's mind who other wise would never hear the gospel message.



Sample outline for speech story of evangelistic sermon


Paragraph 1

Lead with the main point of the sermon. Attribute to the speaker by title, not name. Include when and where details.

Paragraph 2

Use direct quote from speaker restating his main point. Identify speaker by name at end of quote.

Paragraph 3

Say why evangelist is in town. Tell details of evangelistic campaign—how long, where, times. Indicate attendance.

Paragraph 4

Paraphrase a clarifying detail of speaker's main point. Attribute the para phrase.

Paragraph 5

Use direct quote from speaker restating this clarification. No attribution necessary.

Paragraph 6

Paraphrase a secondary point of significance. Start, (NAME), also stressed . . .

Paragraph 7

Use direct quote re stating secondary point. Attribute at end of quote by referring to speaker in some new way.

Paragraph 8

Paraphrase or quote other points of interest from sermon. Perhaps mention a few proof texts used by speaker. Attribution not mandatory.

Paragraph 9

Mention the topic, not necessarily the title, of next meeting. Indicate time, place, and invitation.

Use short worthwhile quote from speaker about next meeting.

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Kermit Netteburg is an instructor in evangelism at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan.

February 1978

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