During January and February, 1 984, Pastor David Anderson, of the Fredericksburg, Virginia, church, and I united in an evangelistic series, using the "Good News for Today" multimedia program of color slide/sound presentations. Based on our experience, we are convinced that this program is a tool that can greatly help evangelists from novice to most experienced. For the beginning evangelist the "Good News for Today" program offers the finest presentations along with a measure of security because of the pressure that it removes from the program. The series provides twenty-four complete sermons covering major doctrinal points complete with narration, musical back ground, and slide-changing synchronization. Once the evangelist throws the switch, a half-hour presentation follows that holds the audience's attention such that few preachers could improve upon. Each ends with a musical appeal that can be easily personalized by the evangelist.
In our series at Fredericksburg we decided to focus on three points of interest: the multimedia presentation, which began without announcement at 7:30 P.M.; a twelve-minute health talk advertised as "Health, Fitness, and Life Extension"; and finally a half-hour sermon by the evangelist. A miniconcert with either organ, piano, or vocalists ran from 7:15 P.M. until the lights were dimmed, and of course, we used special musical selections as available before the health talk and the sermon. Our program was full enough to require that we watch the schedule carefully or else the last portion of the evening might end up anemic for lack of time!
Attendance at our series was low at the opening, possibly because of very severe weather, the fact that it was held in a church, and other factors of which we are unaware. However, attendance continued to build throughout the series, and members of long standing declared it to be "the best-attended series ever!"
You can order the same "Good News for Today" audiovisual materials that we used from the North American Evangelistic Research Foundation, P.O. Box 962, Eagle, Idaho 83616. Don Gray, secretary of the Idaho Conference, who led out in developing this series, is himself a successful evangelist. A new series of color slides for evangelism has been long overdue. Here is the listing of the twenty-four titles and a summary of their content:
1. On the Edge of Tomorrow: prophetic signs of Christ's coming.
2. An Ancient King's Dream: Daniel 2.
3. Satan, Hijacker of a Planet: origin of Satan and evil.
4. Searching for the Real Messiah: the historical Son of God.
5. The Better Choice: the home of the saved.
6. O God, I'm So Lonely: evidences of God in nature and the universe.
7. Give Away Your Guilt: salvation in Christ.
8. The King Is Coming: the second coming of Christ.
9. God Speaks: confirmation of the Word of God.
10. A Day to Remember: major presentation of the Sabbath.
11. The Rest of the Story: change of the Sabbath.
12. God's Guardrail: the ten-commandment law of God.
13. An Empty Tomb: baptism by immersion.
14. The Other Side of Death: nature of death, resurrection, and life.
15. Bitter Harvest: the final disposition of the ungodly, hell.
16. A Thousand Years' Vacation: the millennium.
17. Your Summons to Court: inevitability of the judgment.
18. God's Last Day Church Identified: Revelation 12.
19. Sometimes I Wonder How to Thank Him: stewardship of life.
20. More Than Pie in the Sky: health of the body and spiritual health.
21. Search for Survival: God's plan for survival, His future for us.
22. Prophetic Beasts I: Daniel 7, introduction of little horn.
23. Prophetic Beasts II: review, little horn, antichrist, mark of the beast.
24. Sealed for Eternity: mark of the beast and God's plan for His people.
The series comes in several different formats—from the most expensive triple-projector, computerized version to a single-frame filmstrip edition suitable for home usage. Here are the formats a pastor might consider:
1. The full outfit with 7,300 slides, three carousel projectors, cassette player, computer, and amplifier with speakers. An investment of $4,000 to $12,000, depending upon the quality of equipment, is required for this outfit. Slides, cassettes, and scripts alone can be purchased for $830, or no more than ten cents per slide! Please bear in mind that this outfit is complex, and its operation cannot be left to a novice. However, the effects it produces are powerful.
2. An economy public auditorium model with two projectors instead of three. No computer is needed. Instead, an Entre dissolve unit controls the two projectors. Don Gray's team has chosen the 4,000 best slides for this package. The cassettes as well as the scripts are identical to the largest unit. The slides, cassettes, and scripts for this version are only $375. Equipment costs will range between $1,200 and $1,500 depending on quality. For approximately $2,000 a church or pastor can equip himself with this very high-quality outfit.
3. Filmstrip versions for home usage requiring only one projector can be procured for $200 for double frame or $159 in single frame. In both cases cassettes and scripts are included.
This outstanding series of audiovisuals can be used in various ways. My personal preference is not to crowd an evening's program too much. I believe our times demand a streamlined program. There fore, I would use the audiovisual presentation, fully automated with the cassette, on as big a screen as possible, using lenses as powerful as I could afford, and complement each presentation with a strong evangelistic sermon. Put Bibles into the hands of the audience either on an award basis or by lending them. The sermons should complement, not repeat, the subject presented in the audiovisual. I suggest a typical evening's program that begins at 7:15 P.M. with a miniconcert, even if it uses recorded music. Promptly at 7:30 P.M. dim the lights and begin the multimedia presentation without announcement or further delay. Immediately at its close, turn up the house lights, roll up the screen, and let the emcee welcome the people. Announcements, prayer, offering, and special music follow. The sermon should begin no later than 8:15 P.M. so that it is completely finished five or ten minutes before nine o'clock. The people need to know that they will always be on their way home by 9:00 P.M.!
This multimedia program lends itself to other presentation styles as well. Use it with a seminar in which the audience is seated at tables with notebooks and Bibles. Enter to soft music, and at 7:30 P.M. have the seminar director open the meeting with greetings, prayer, and announcements, after which the multimedia program is presented. He might even make a few remarks about it by way of introduction, indicating details to watch for. A special musical selection can follow after the close of the visual, and the remainder of the time is devoted to a Bible-study, seminar-style teaching session in which questions and discussion can take place freely.
Another possibility is to use the multimedia program in a conventional evangelistic format but end the service with it rather than using it at the beginning. A normal sermon can be presented, which the evangelist might wish to coordinate closely with the content of the visual presentation, closing the evening with it.
A word about advertising. We live in a day when evangelists are paying for direct-mail announcements of meetings, usually using colorful brochures, with Biblical beasts and other "attractions." For my next crusade I am going to follow a conviction I developed in my work with the one-day professional growth seminars for MINISTRY. Initially we used a colorful folder to announce our seminars, but gradually I became convinced that many things about the folders acted against what we were trying to accomplish. The folders were quite costly as well. To experiment, we ran a series of seminars using the folders, and then we ran a series using a simple, properly worded business letter carefully designed to project a professional appearance. In every case the letter brought greater results!
I suggest you try a well-prepared letter (mail it third class, however) announcing your series. Cover a target area that you can afford to circularize four times: (1) ten days before the opening night; (2) five days before the opening night, making sure delivery occurs on or after the Monday preceding the opening night; (3) five days after the opening night; (4) during the latter part of the second week of meetings, but before major subjects are presented. I believe the cost for such a system would be minimal and do as much good as a multicolored folder. If you cannot write in a dramatic and persuasive way, have someone else write the letter for you, but be certain that it is grammatically impeccable, letter-perfect in production, and on the finest quality paper. In short, it should look as good as a letter coming from the president of General Motors! If these elements are present, I believe it will be the most effective piece that can find its way to homes.
Pastor, minister, local elder, let's do public evangelism! With the assistance that a series such as the "Good News for Today" program can give us with its strong emphasis on prophecy, there is little reason why we cannot "turn the world upside down" for Christ!