In recent months we've been talking much about finishing the work. We have been praying about it and studying ways in which this might be accomplished. We've asked for re-dedication on the part of both ministry and laity. We've emphasized evangelism, an all-out effort on the part of every one of God's children to share the good news of a soon-coming Saviour.
We've spoken of visiting homes, of distributing our literature far and wide. The printed message of God's love must go everywhere. We've voted funds for evangelistic campaigns, and urged everyone to participate in them. We've encouraged lively support of It Is Written, Faith for Today, and Voice of Prophecy programs, with a follow-up ministry to take advantage of the long lists of interests stirred by these programs.
But there is a larger pulpit that is being left empty or that is being abdicated to preachers with messages of less urgency. There is a pulpit not confined to four walls and a limited seating capacity. It is a pulpit that can reach thousands upon thousands who may never think of attending a church service or an evangelistic meeting. Science has prepared it for the Lord's use, and we should fill it—the pulpit of the airwaves.
More than eight hundred religious radio and television programs are broadcast in the United States every week. The format of these programs includes talk shows, straight preaching, interviews, personal witnessing, dramatic presentations of religious themes, and fire-and-brimstone sermons. Some are sophisticated, top-quality productions; some are homespun presentations. Some are taped in private studios, but many are prepared in the station it self and kept for airing at the appropriate time. Often a radio speaker can tape several programs at one time, so that he need not repeatedly interrupt his other ministerial duties.
Last year the Christian Broad casting Network, with its center in Virginia Beach, Virginia, spent some $20 million sending out gospel pro grams to 130 commercial TV stations and more than 3,500 cable hookups in North America. They think telling the story of Jesus is worth it.
Jim Bakker, of Charlotte, North Carolina, a newcomer to TV, claims an audience of 20 million on 181 stations and more than 4,000 cable systems in the United States and 12 countries south of the border. Viewers can telephone a number flashed on the screen from time to time to respond to the program. Last year callers pledged approximately $25 million, and several hundred thousand people visited Heritage Village, headquarters of Bakker's program. Newsweek declares Bakker is planning to follow in Oral Roberts' footsteps with a Christian university where young people can be taught to use the media to win men and women to Christ.
Seventh-day Adventists are doing something in radio and television locally, nationally, and internationally, but it is not a tithe of the proclamation that a people expecting Jesus to return in their day should be doing. In 1976 the Adventist Church was heralding the good news from 3,406 radio and television stations. Adventist World Radio proclaimed God's message on 2,019 broadcasts from four stations. Voice of Prophecy, Faith for Today, It Is Written, the Quiet Hour, and Breath of Life are doing a great work worldwide. We praise God for their powerful witness. Some 30,000 persons have been baptized as the result of our airwaves ministry. But we should be doing much more!
The question rises before us: Why are not more of our ministers using this gift of communication to herald the Advent message? Why do we confine ourselves to small congregations when we could mount a larger pulpit and feed a larger flock? Mate rials such as prepared scripts are available from our Communication Department. Those who have a radio or television presence should not neglect this area of ministry.
Even though conducting a radio or TV broadcast might mean extra preparation, surely this wider ministry, this unseen audience, should be reached, must be reached, if we are to fulfill the gospel commission.
I want to challenge our local pas tors and evangelists to give the mes sage wings in your area! Let God's Word "fly in the midst of heaven." Fill the airwaves in your section of the vineyard with the message of Jesus' soon return! Get into the larger pulpit! Reach thousands where now you are reaching hundreds! Let's get the work of God finished and go home!