HOW TO ORGANIZE FOR EVANGELISTIC CAMPAIGNS
By: John R. Rice
Did Jesus feed the five thousand people in the wilderness as an unorganized mob crowding around Him, each one to grab for himself the bread and fish? No, He organized His workers and had the crowd divided into orderly, seated groups. Mark 6:39-40 says, “And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.” To feed five thousand people takes organization. To preach the gospel to five thousand people in a union revival campaign, or to one thousand, or two thousand, takes organization.
Jesus did not need to advertise the feeding of the five thousand. The people were there and they were hungry. He merely needed the crowd divided and seated, and His workers instructed as to the carrying of the baskets of bread and fish along the rows so each one could get the food. But when Jesus was about to make a tour of the whole country He sent the twelve out first, two and two, with authority and clear instructions. When, according to Luke 10:1, “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.” First there were six and then thirty-five committees, of two each, each committee with a route specified and with careful instructions given for their journey and work!
You see it is not wrong to have organization, but right and necessary. It is true that the twelve apostles just by seating the people in orderly ranks in fifties and hundreds did not satisfy their hunger. Organization would not take the place of food. But the right kind of organization helps to get the food to the people who need it, and the right kind of organization will help get the gospel to the people who need it, too, in revival campaigns.
Let it be remembered that when one church has a series of evangelistic services, the regular church organization functions to attend to necessary details. The church already has a choir and probably a choir leader. But the union revival campaign will not have a choir unless a new one is organized, singers enlisted and an adequate leader provided. A local church already has people provided and a routine developed for handling the finances, but all that must be planned anew for a revival campaign; and instead of the deacons or the church finance committee, a strong finance committee for a union campaign must be provided brand-new. The local church which plans a revival campaign already has a building. But a union, city-wide campaign must secure a city auditorium, a high school auditorium, an armory, or perhaps a big tent, with seats and lights and platform. There is much more need for organization in a revival campaign than in a one-church evangelistic effort.
It is certain that no revival can come without the miracle-working power of the Holy Spirit. Revivals come from God. But God wants men to set the stage for His working. God wants men to pay a price and to get things ready for His blessing. When Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead He commanded the by-standers, “Take ye away the stone” (John 11:39). He would not call
Lazarus back to life until others did what they could do. And then when Jesus had raised him from the dead He told others, “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:44). It is up to Christians to roll away the stones from the door of dead souls so they may hear the voice of the Son of God. It is up to Christians to help them take off the grave-clothes of death and be set free in the liberty of the gospel. God does not do for us what we can do for ourselves.
And that means that if God’s people do not get a great auditorium, do not advertise the meetings, do not organize to bring out the lost people to the services, then God cannot give the great revival that He longs to give. Men must do their part. And organization is a portion of that which men have to do to have a revival from God.
A New Organization Needed for Every Revival Campaign
Jesus said that we are not to put a new patch on an old garment, nor put new wine in old bottles. So it is not wise to depend on old organizations, formed with a different purpose in mind, to do the work of a great revival campaign. Each united city-wide revival is a new project, a glorious, important project that demands the very best. There should be a new enlistment of all the pastors and Christian workers and churches and other institutions that will unite in the campaign. Each one should again consider and carefully decide to go into the campaign completely, with no reservation. A new chairman should be elected who will feel that the having of a great revival campaign is the biggest thing in the world, the biggest thing he could possibly lead in, under God. New committees should be appointed, the most suitable pastors and Christian laymen, the men most enthusiastic and most capable, for the particular work desired of them.
In some cities there will be a temptation to have the same organization continue year after year for revivals. Usually that will not be wise, I fear. In one city a big sign announcing the campaigns is put up every year. Since it is the same sign, it can never have the name of the evangelist nor the dates. It is the same faded sign with nothing new, no new attraction, every year. If you have the same committee they will likely put out the same kind of advertising every year. That saves trouble and saves thinking, just to let things run in a rut. But a rut is not a revival, and any time you save work and save thinking you are not promoting a gracious revival from God. God wants people to take time to think and do hard work in promoting such a campaign.
Sometimes a ministerial association will be tempted to simply have the chairman of the ministerial association act as chairman of the campaign, and the treasurer of the ministerial association act as treasurer and chairman of the finance committee of the union revival campaign. But a cultured pastor who may serve beautifully to preside before thirty ministers may not at all have the executive ability to organize and lead in the preparation and enlistment for a great city-wide union campaign. And the man who can keep good books on the $20 in the ministerial association’s fund may not at all be sufficient as finance chairman of a campaign that may cost $25,000 in a large city. The easy way out is not the best way to have a big revival campaign. In most cases it will be wise to have a new setup, a new agreement, a new organization. If a man does unusually good work in one capacity in a great union revival campaign, he may be asked to do the same kind of job next year. But he should be selected on merit and not simply by virtue of some office which he may happen to hold in a Christian business men’s committee or the pastor’s association.
A custom has arisen in many northern cities to have a little tent campaign run through the summer. One preacher may be brought in for one week and another for two weeks, etc., until the summer is past. Thus, those who like to have something to attend may go to the little tent meeting and the pastor may have a vacation during the time, but no very great results are usually expected nor received in such a tent campaign. All the advertising is planned in some small and routine way. The crowds are not large, the plans are not large, and God has little chance to bless. I have come to the point that I almost never accept an invitation to be one of a number of speakers in a routine series of services. Almost never is there a genuine, all-out effort at great revival. This merely illustrates what I am saying, that a union revival campaign is the biggest thing in the world and should have the benefit of new, fresh organization with the best efforts of the choicest people, under God’s leading.
By having a new organization for each separate large revival campaign, the chairmanship can be given to different groups as seems wise, jealousy among churches and denominations is avoided, and a democratic atmosphere maintained among the ministers and laymen of the many churches all interested in such a revival campaign. And such a plan will make for the largest cooperation and the most earnest work by those involved.
The General Campaign Committee
The general campaign committee should include the pastors of all the cooperating churches and the heads or some other representatives of other cooperating institutions like rescue missions, Christian colleges or periodicals. Christian laymen’s committees, the Gideons, the “Youth for Christ” organization or other such active Christian groups, ought to be represented on this general committee where possible. In some cases it is preferred to have both a pastor and a layman of the church, or the pastor and two laymen of the church, on the general revival committee. At any rate, the committee ought to be honestly representative of the churches that are cooperating in the campaign, and this general committee is to put on the campaign for the churches and Christian institutions and people of the city or town or area represented in the big campaign.
Let me make some suggestions about the organization of this large general committee sponsoring the revival campaign:
1. If preliminary work has been done by individuals or by smaller groups, let them report to this large general group and turn over the responsibility to this larger, more representative group. Very often a revival campaign will originate in the hearts and minds of one or two or of a few. The initial interest and prayers and activity for a large campaign may originate in a Christian laymen’s committee, or in one church, or with a couple of pastors, or with a rescue mission superintendent or Y.M.C.A. secretary. It may be that one or two, or a handful of Christian people have done the preliminary work, have suggested dates for the campaign, have found out what auditorium is available, what evangelists can be had, etc. Perhaps they have contacted the pastors of various churches and have called this meeting into being to consider the revival campaign. It seems to me that as soon as the larger group is willing to go into the matter of a campaign honestly, pledging themselves to have such a campaign, all of those who have done preliminary work should now submit themselves to the larger committee. Perhaps three or four pastors asked one man to serve as
temporary chairmen until the preliminary details could be worked out. He should now offer to resign and ask the larger group to select a chairman. They may re-elect the same man as chairman who has been temporary chairman, or often they will want to elect another man who has wider experience and leadership in the city. Perhaps those who did the preliminary planning have in mind a certain auditorium which is available at a certain price. They should turn in their report and make their suggestion, but leave the final settlement in the hands of this larger committee. They may have in mind an evangelist. Very probably he will be acceptable to the larger group, and possibly they have been called together on the understanding that such a man can be secured. In any case, the matter must now be left in the hands of the larger general committee. Pastors and churches must feel that they have a democratic part in the plans for the campaign so they can feel full responsibility to do their part.
Of course some things will have been already settled. Nearly always some problems, usually about the evangelist and the approximate time of the campaign, and perhaps the auditorium, have already been settled before the large general committee comes together. But they should heartily vote, in such case, to make the campaign their own. And then all temporary officers should be expected to be superseded by permanent officers, elected for the campaign, from the larger group. Christians should be as brotherly as possible and as large-minded as possible in giving others a chance to participate and do their share in the campaign.
2. Certain general officers must be selected. A chairman will be needed. His duties are primarily to preside over the meetings of the committee, and as an executive to encourage the committees and work with the evangelist and his helpers in the administrative leadership of the campaign. He will nominally preside on the platform during the public services of the campaign, perhaps, but in actual practice, of course, the evangelist must be in charge of the services and must have a free hand. But he should know that the chairman is there to back him up and cooperate with him and to lead the pastors and the workers in the campaign, under the evangelist’s direction.
There must be a secretary of the campaign. He will keep a record of the decisions of the committee, will probably write to the evangelist and do other official correspondence and record-keeping for the committee. The secretary might also see that decision cards are printed, that those filled out are distributed to cooperating churches preferred by the converts.
Then there should be a treasurer who will probably be the finance chairman of the campaign. Of course the secretary and the treasurer are simply servants and agents of the committee and will not set the policies of the campaign.
3. In large campaigns it will probably be necessary to have an executive committee, smaller than the large general committee, to attend to most of the business. In a small town or in a small section of a city there may be seven or eight churches cooperating in a revival campaign. All the pastors of cooperating churches would need to be used, perhaps, as chairman of committees, and all, if possible, would need to be present in any business sessions regarding the whole campaign. In such case a special executive committee would not be needed. But in Chicago at this moment (May, 1946) the campaign is sponsored by over two hundred churches and many Christian institutions and organizations besides. Even with twenty-five or thirty churches and with other Christian institutions, it would be very difficult to get thirty or forty men, or perhaps fifty, together to settle all the details of a campaign. In larger campaigns, then, there should be a special executive committee. This committee should consist of the general chairman, the secretary of the committee, the treasurer, and the heads of the subcommittees.
4. I suggest that committees be appointed on the following matters:
(1) Prayer meetings.
(2) Building or tent.
(7) Personal work.
(9) Children’s work.
(10) Young people’s work.
(11) Outside services.
The work of these committees is desperately important. They all require real work and thought and planning, and some of them will require the best and hardest work, all the time that can be put in, before and during the campaign, by several workers. Again let me insist that you cannot have a great revival campaign without enormous labor and a real working organization.
The work of these committees will be discussed a little later.
5. Let prayer and brotherly love abound in every committee meeting. The revival is the Lord’s blessed business. Every step ought to be taken only after the most earnest prayer and waiting on God. Let every meeting of the general committee begin with prayer, and oft-times long periods of prayer ought to precede any important decision. Let every subcommittee have prayer about all of its problems. Prayer is desperately important, that God’s wisdom may be given, that the right plans may be made all the way through
It will also require much patience and brotherly love. Many of the ministers and church members will be laboring with others they have not previously known. Groups that have been somewhat suspicious, each of the other, will now find they must be charitable toward the convictions and the prejudices of others. One of the most delightful results in revival campaigns is that people who really love the Lord Jesus Christ and long to see souls saved find they have much in common with all the other blood-bought children of God. If brethren be charitable and kind, they will find that the things they agree upon are much more important than the things they differ on. Where men believe in the blood of Christ, believe in the holy Word of God, believe in regeneration, the new birth by faith in Christ, they ought to be able to overlook the denominational idiosyncrasies and opinions and differences. As godly men pray together they will come to have a deeper love one for another and sweet fellowships will ripen and bear fruit through long years ahead. Let the men of one denomination have patience with others. As far as possible, without any compromise of essential convictions, let each group defer to the other. See that each church and group has proper representation. Where men are gentle and patient and prayerful and humble; where men wait on God for the clear leading of the Holy Spirit, the organization can be successful and the plans can be according to the will of God and can terminate in a great revival, under God.
Special Committees of the Campaign
The work of the special committees is the very heart of a great union revival or evangelistic campaign. I feel that I am not qualified to do more than humbly suggest about the principles and methods that should guide these committees in their work. But I hope that my suggestions can at least open up to the minds of the readers the problems involved in a great union campaign and show at least some of the ways these problems have been met in successful campaigns.
1. Prayer Meeting Committee
Prayer meetings for the revival campaign should begin as soon as plans are well formulated.
(a) I suggest a weekly meeting by the pastors for prayer about the campaign. Perhaps this should be the whole general committee and others who are interested. It might follow the ministerial association meeting on Monday, or it might be at some other hour during the week.
(b) A series of cottage prayer meetings to meet once a week should be planned, wherever possible. At least one such prayer meeting should be planned in a home every few square blocks in the city so that within easy walking distance everyone can get to a prayer meeting centered around the revival campaign. Such prayer meetings should continue every week preceding the campaign. Sometimes these prayer meetings should continue through the campaign also. See that a home is offered and a leader appointed for each meeting. Sometimes it is wise to suggest topics and Scripture. See that there is not too much talking but some Scriptures, a few simple suggestions about prayer and then requests from those present, and then all should spend the remainder of the time in honest prayer to God for the campaign.
(c) It is often wise to have a half hour of special prayer in a prayer room preceding the evening services of the campaign. To make this successful will take real planning and a burden on the hearts of some of God’s people. The pastors should lead such a prayer meeting. It should not last too long, should allow people time to get to their seats by the time the song service begins. A simple announcement of prayer meetings each evening is not enough. I think it is unseemly to have to plead and beg in a public service
that all should come to a prayer meeting the next evening preceding the public service. Public announcement will not get the people there. It takes organization and private agreement. Fifteen minutes in a room where people come in and kneel and spend the whole time in prayer is much better than a longer period with a good deal of talking.
(d) Often there need to be some extended seasons of prayer during the campaign, either a whole afternoon given to prayer, or perhaps a night of prayer. In such cases the prayer meeting committee should see that pastors are appointed to lead. Each pastor should lead perhaps an hour, in which time he could read a few Scriptures and make suitable comments and call for requests and then ask everybody to join him in prayer. Most of the time should be spent in prayer. Then the next pastor could take charge at the appointed time, have perhaps a verse of a song, some Scripture and comments and requests and prayer. In some cases it has seemed wise to make each pastor responsible for the leadership for only thirty minutes. In that case, the tendency is to spend too much time in talking. Most of the time in such a night of prayer should be given to actual praying. Sometimes it is not wise to insist that people stay all night, but plan the meetings through the night and then if, at two or three in the morning, everyone’s burden is lifted and it is felt wise to close the meeting, that can be done without embarrassment. People ought to be allowed to come when they can and leave when they must. Often if plans are made for some extended prayer meeting to last several hours, great victories may be had as a result. The right kind of prayer meetings need to be planned ahead of time and organized.
2. Building or Tent Committee
This committee should help select and secure the auditorium, or provide and seat and equip the tent. How big an auditorium? I think it should be large enough to hold the combined Sunday evening services of the cooperating churches which are within two miles and which dismiss their own Sunday evening congregations for the campaign. Some of those will not attend the campaign, but many outsiders will. The auditorium ought not to be a church building, if a large neutral auditorium can be secured. A church building will be associated with one congregation in the minds of the public. Many unconverted people, non-church-goers, will attend the effort in a large, central, neutral building who would not attend special services in a church auditorium. It will be easier to get the cooperation of newspapers, of the city government and the public schools and radio stations if the services are held in a large neutral auditorium and are not connected, in the minds of the public, with one local church or one denomination. A city
auditorium, a high school auditorium, a big theater, an armory-these have all been successfully used in campaigns. The auditorium committee should find the rental price of the auditorium, if there are rental charges, and report back to the general committee. The committee ought to be able to report how many can be seated in the auditorium, what arrangements can be comfortably made for the choir, what rooms are available for dealing with inquirers at the close of the meetings and for prayer meeting services, etc. Loud-speaking equipment (usually necessary in a large campaign) should be adequate.
If the campaign is to be held in a tent you may figure that it takes about seven square feet of area to seat one person. This allows for platform and aisles. If a tent is to be used, the tent committee would be responsible for seeing to the seating. Sometimes folding chairs may be rented from funeral parlors or a seating company. Sometimes benches from a city park can be secured for a union campaign without expense. Sometimes benches may be made out of lumber and then the lumber sold secondhand. Sometimes the lumber is simply rented for the period of the campaign. In a tent meeting the tent committee will need also to see about the lighting and the building of a platform. A speaker’s platform for a tent 60 or 70 feet long might be 18 inches high. For a tent 100 feet long it might be 24 inches high. For a tent 150 or 160 feet long it ought to be 30 or 36 inches high. If the choir platform is flat, then the song leader should stand at least six inches higher than the choir platform so he may be seen well by the
choir. Thus it is possible to make the choir platform six inches lower than the speaker rostrum. However, a platform elevated with a step for each row of choir seats is preferable. The choir is heard much better when the second row is higher than the first, and each succeeding row a few inches higher. Sometimes the elevated choir is not feasible because of the expense or because the tent wall is too low.
Lights in a tent should be as high as possible. Those over the platform should be shaded on the front to save the eyes of the congregation. In seating a tent it is best to have a section of seats directly in front of the evangelist instead of an aisle. Do not have an aisle down the center but have a row of seats down the center and aisles on each side of that, then other sections of seats, etc.
It is understood, of course, that the decisions of the building or tent committee that will involve expenditure of money must be taken to the general committee for their approval or the expenditures must be within a budget set by the general committee or the executive committee.
3. The Committee of Ushers
Ushers can have much to do with the success of a campaign. In a large campaign do not have ushers walk down to stand before the platform for a prayer before the offering. Have one seat reserved for an usher at the end of a row, and another about each ten rows back. When time for the offering comes let ushers stand at their places, be ready to start the plate or pan moving for the collection after prayer. Some of the most influential Christians in town ought to be selected as ushers, prominent and successful and respected Christian men of the community. Ushers may meet people as they come into the auditorium and give a songbook to each person and then turn people over to other ushers who take them down the respective aisles, and then ushers in the aisles seat the people. There ought to be a good head usher who will be present every night, who will call his ushers together for instructions and will guarantee that enough men will be on hand every night to do the work well for Jesus’ sake. A little session with the ushers in which they are taught their duties, questions are answered, and the importance of their task is laid on their hearts, will prove very beneficial. It is a real service for Jesus Christ.
4. The Music Committee
The music committee should see about songbooks. Usually the song leader will be selected by the evangelist, and not by the music committee. Sometimes the evangelist will bring a pianist, but otherwise, the music committee should see that capable pianists are available. Usually good volunteers are available. Probably if a pianist comes every night faithfully, he should be paid, even though he is a volunteer worker; but each local committee can decide about that. It is usually best to have two grand pianos in a building or tent seating a thousand or more.
The music committee should plan for a choir of approximately one-tenth as many singers as there will be hearers in the audience. I like for people to volunteer for this work from all the choirs of the cooperating churches and other volunteers who like to sing. All these should agree to be present at least five nights per week, unless providentially hindered. Then the choir should have a secretary to keep a record of those who attend. I like to give a book, or show some other favor, to those who are present in the campaign at least five services per week, say sixteen times in a three weeks’ campaign, or twenty-one times in a four weeks’ campaign. It is never satisfactory to expect the choirs of one or more churches to lead in the music one night and the choirs of other churches to lead another night. One can never have an adequate choir without a nucleus of the same people who come night by night, who know their places, and who can be depended upon.
Songbooks may be bought outright, that is, inexpensive revival books which may cost fifteen or twenty cents per copy, and then sold after the campaign is over. Or they may be rented from the evangelist, the revival campaign committee paying for any books lost or destroyed.
5. The Finance Committee
This is an important committee. In my judgment the best plan for financing a revival is that the offerings, taken each Sunday afternoon and night and each week night of the campaign, should be used to defray the budget expenses of the meeting. These offerings should go into a fund to pay for the advertising, for the auditorium, songbooks, rental on pianos, transportation and meals and hotel bills for the evangelist and his helpers, etc. Then the last few days of the campaign, perhaps from Thursday night through the closing Sunday night, love offering envelopes ought to be passed out to the people so that they may give to the support of the evangelist. Sometimes the revival campaign committee will want to pay the song leader a set amount of salary per week, and perhaps the pianist or an advance man may be paid also, if the committee desires. However, if the budget expenses of the revival campaign are very large, it may, seem too much for the campaign committee to pay the evangelist’s helpers out of the
campaign budget. In that case it will probably be wise to agree with the evangelist to take one love offering for him and his helpers. Then the evangelist may pay his own workers according to his private agreement with them. There are advantages to the evangelist in paying his own workers. They are more likely to look to him as director of the campaign, and to follow his leadership. And then, as an evangelist, I personally like to trust the Lord about the expenses of the workers whom I employ to help me in a campaign. If a campaign committee feels that the expenses will be easily met and if they want to pay the song leader and any other helper, then I have no particular objection, but I always offer to pay my own workers if the committee so desires.
Some people feel that it is wisest to raise the expense of a campaign privately, or by offerings from the churches, before the campaign begins. Sometimes that may be advisable, but usually it certainly is not. There is no more wrong in taking an offering in a revival campaign than in a Sunday morning service in a church. It ought to be done in the spirit of Christ and people ought to give, if they give at all, in His name and without undue pressure. But a revival is worth the expense of a campaign and people
who are blessed will want to give and will get a blessing out of giving. It will take more pressure to raise the money privately before the campaign than it will take to raise the necessary expenses during the campaign.
The offerings taken for the evangelist in a revival campaign are thoroughly Scriptural and right. The Scripture says, “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (Gal. 6:6). Those who are blessed by the teaching and preaching are commanded to give to those that do the teaching or preaching. Again, I Corinthians 9:9-11 says: “For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” An evangelist who sows spiritual things should expect to reap from those blessed by his labors. To deprive Christians of the privilege of giving a love offering to the evangelist who has greatly blessed them and has helped to win their loved ones to Christ, is clearly contrary to the Scripture and would be doing a great injury to those who would be blessed by giving, as God has commanded, to the speaker.
In my judgment, it is important that a budget be set up for the expenses of the campaign, not counting the love offering for the evangelist (and perhaps his workers). The finance committee should sit together and estimate expenses. How much will the auditorium cost for the campaign? How much for the rental of seats, if rented? How much for songbooks? How much for the rental of pianos? How much for the building of a platform? How much for advertising? For radio time? How much for the transportation, meals and hotel bills of the evangelist and workers? Perhaps the finance committee ought to ask other committees, publicity, entertainment, music, building committees particularly, about what expense they think they will have. Then after carefully planning a budget, reducing the estimates of the other special committees when necessary, the budget should be presented to the whole general campaign committee and there can be talked out until there is agreement. No committee should be allowed to spend money beyond a certain restricted budget agreed upon with the general committee or with the executive committee. The finance committee should know how much money it will be necessary to raise during the campaign, how much per service should be needed, and so should make its plans prayerfully on that basis. The Lord’s money should be spent economically and carefully, ‘providing things honest in the sight of all men’ (Rom. 12:17). Obviously, some good business
executive would be valuable help on the finance committee, along with a conservative pastor experienced in directing the affairs of a large church, etc. There probably ought to be three members on a finance committee, though sometimes there are more.
A word will be in order about the remuneration of the evangelist. I think it not wise to offer to pay an evangelist a set sum. In the first place, no greatly used evangelist likes to feel that he is a hired man, working for any set amount of money. In the second place, any amount that might be set as a remuneration for an evangelist might be a bone of contention and the occasion of slanderous talk. One of the favorite lies of Satan is that evangelists are out for the money. When I was in Seattle, Washington, one man reported that his lodge brethren, who fought the campaign, were telling it about that I had refused to come to the Seattle campaign sponsored by sixty churches without the promise of a thousand dollars a day! I suppose that very few people were foolish enough to believe such a charge. But if it were said that I would not go to a revival except for the promise of a hundred dollars a week, it would be really hurtful and many would believe that the evangelist was simply out to make money. So, personally, I never agree with any committee for any amount. In a few cases the committee has decided on some amount they would pay me. I always refused to discuss the matter, told them to do whatever they felt they should, but that I would not be a party to any agreement of any kind as to how much money I was to receive for the campaign. Any payment by the week is likely to be embarrassing, and it is my judgment that the happiest and easiest way to pay an evangelist is simply to pass out love offering envelopes and allow the people to give as God lays it on their hearts.
I think it needless to say that the evangelist should not take his own love offering. Certainly he will not want to do so. And there will be no need for any pressure. Let the people simply have an opportunity to give as God puts it on their heart. Honest words of encouragement from pastors who know the labors of the evangelist should be welcomed, but there should be nothing unseemly, nothing to cause offense to the public.
In my judgment, the amount of the offering for the evangelist should not be announced publicly. The executive committee, of course, should know how much the offering is, and all pastors who want to know should have that privilege. The general public will not know of the evangelist’s heavy expenses. Sometimes I have spent over a thousand dollars on a campaign to be cared for out of my love offering. In one campaign I gave away over fifteen hundred dollars worth of books at printing cost. One who did not know might have thought the nine hundred dollars I received from the campaign was extravagant pay. But the mind of the evangelist surely should not be overmuch occupied with the amount of the offering, and it is a sad mistake to have the minds of the people on money and to leave the impression that the amount of the offering to the evangelist is of special importance. It is only important that people do right and that no offense be given. God will take care of His evangelists if evangelists will do right and trust the Lord and if the people be given a simple opportunity to do what God lays on their hearts.
Often if the expenses of the campaign are heavy it may seem wise simply to pass out the offering envelopes for the evangelist the last two or three nights of the week, with instructions that the people should bring back their love offerings for the Sunday afternoon or the closing Sunday evening service. Personally, I always leave the decisions about such details to the pastors, and I feel that evangelists generally would be willing to do the same thing.
Let me say that I know fairly intimately the leading evangelists of America. I know that they are not overmuch concerned about the remuneration for campaigns, and I believe they would all unite with me in urging that there be no controversy about it and no special pressure but that wise measures simply be taken to let the people do what they will feel they ought to do in the care of God’s evangelist, after the other expenses of the campaign are met. I know that Dr. Hyman Appelman has turned thousands of dollars into Jewish evangelism, Dr. Bob Jones carries the enormous burden of Bob Jones College, and I continually carry the burden of getting out thousands of dollars worth of Christian literature each year. The Spirit-filled evangelists whom I know are faithful stewards of God’s money and do not want anything to be done in a campaign that would bring reproach upon the cause of Christ or upon evangelism and evangelists.
6. Publicity Committee
Dr. Wells, in another chapter of this book, has discussed briefly the question of publicity in a revival campaign. The work of the publicity committee is important, but it is specially important to center the publicity about the evangelist and about the sermon topics, etc. This committee should not forget to stress the number of churches and other Christian organizations involved, and perhaps the names of these churches and organizations should often be printed. The world is properly impressed to find that churches of many denominations are cooperating for the salvation of souls. Many a Jew or Catholic or worldling will attend a
campaign which is obviously not sectarian and which obviously represents a large cross section of Christian society. Don’t forget to keep before the people the time and place of meetings, the name of the evangelist and perhaps of the song leader, and then play up sermon topics and the results of the campaign. Earnest, faithful work can get lots of deserved free publicity in the newspapers and perhaps some billboards offered free if they will be hand-painted. There may be other free mediums of publicity. Workers can be enlisted to give out cards or handbills with information about the coming services.
7. The Personal Workers Committee
Every revival ought to have a lot of earnest, Spirit-led personal soul-winning effort, both in the services and out of them. A personal work committee has several duties:
First, it may gather earnest Christians together for some Bible teaching on soul winning. The little book by Dr. W.H. Houghton, president of Moody Bible Institute, Lesson in Soul Winning, is a good textbook for a few lessons, when taught by an earnest and Spirit-filled pastor. The pamphlet may be had free for this purpose from Moody Bible Institute, Chicago. Or the little handbook by Dr. R.A. Torrey, the Vest Pocket Companion for Soul Winners, which is now published by the Sword of the Lord Publishers at
Wheaton, Illinois, has 118 pages and is composed principally of collections of Scriptures for use by soul winners with some special instructions. This handbook by Dr. R.A. Torrey has been wonderfully blessed of God and the personal workers might learn from it what Scriptures to use in dealing with various cases and may memorize the verses and pray together. Training of soul winners in some special classes is often advisable.
Second, the personal work committee should have charge of the counseling room where those who come forward are brought for further instruction and for prayer. In this counseling room a select group of workers, recommended by the pastors, should deal with every person who comes forward. These workers ought to know the plan of salvation, ought to have experience in bringing assurance to doubters and experience in actually winning souls. Usually pastors should do most of this work. I have found it best to have the personal workers in the congregation and then they can come forward with those who want to go to the altar, or they can come to the counseling room as they are needed. The personal work chairman should always have in mind workers so he can summon them at once. Ushers should stand near the evangelist to direct those who come forward into the counseling room.
In my judgment, after one has come forward to the altar, I think it is usually well to have a prayer in which the new convert can tell the Savior that he is sorry for his sins. If repentance has occurred before coming into the prayer room, instruct the sinner about baptism and the infilling of the Holy Ghost.
It seems best to encourage every born-again person in the audience to be ready to help those who need to come to Christ. Any mother should be encouraged to come with her child, any wife with her husband, any friend with his friend, as they come forward. I like to have those who bring the lost ones forward to go with them into the counseling room. But usually those who work in the counseling room, perhaps usually pastors, should take charge of the new converts as they come into the counseling room.
Sometimes it is wise for the personal work committee to spread out the personal workers through the congregation where, when occasion arises, they will be at hand to speak to sinners, during the invitation.
8. The Entertainment Committee
Perhaps there ought to be an entertainment committee to see that hotel reservations are made for the evangelist and his party, that there is someone to meet the train or plane or bus when the evangelist arrives. Proper arrangements ought to be made for meals. Often the evangelist will stay at a hotel many blocks from the place of meeting, and it would be both a courtesy and convenience to have a car offered to take the evangelist and other workers to and from the services. The entertainment committee will add much to the comfort and happiness of the evangelistic party.
It is my conviction that evangelists should stay in moderate priced hotels, and not in the most expensive rooms. An evangelist ought to have a room with a comfortable bed, and ought to have a private bath. Sometimes a suitable room in a private home can be found where the evangelist will have the privacy he ought to have. The evangelist and his party ought never to be expected to go from house to house for meals. It takes too much time, it dissipates the evangelist’s strength and it may cause a levity of mind that hinders prayer and hinders the best usefulness. It is my own custom to take without question whatever room is suggested and to eat at any place which is provided, except that I will not intentionally eat meals in a restaurant or coffee shop which serves beer or liquor of any kind. The entertainment committee should secure convenient and comfortable quarters for the evangelist and party, but not the most expensive quarters, certainly.
9. The Children’s Work Committee
Every evangelistic campaign should make much of children’s work. I feel that only occasionally is it best in a campaign to have a children’s meeting every day. It takes much strength of the workers, it has a tendency to reach only a limited number of children. Usually one big children’s rally each week, and that probably on Saturday, is the best and most fruitful with special services in schools when possible. A children’s work committee will work with the Child Evangelism teachers, the K.Y.B. Club (Know Your Bible Club), Boy Scouts, and all children’s workers who will want to help in such campaigns. Sunday School workers and often secular school teachers who are Christians should be enlisted. The evangelist should be the speaker if he is willing to take that burden, and he is the best-qualified one to do it in nearly every case. There should be songs and choruses, perhaps a flannel-graph lesson or any object lesson, but certainly there should be a gospel message with plain Bible preaching in simple terms. And there should be an invitation. Sometimes I give to the children a Gospel of John, or a little pamphlet of my own, “What Must I Do to Be
Saved?” which is popular with children and adults. Often I give for a second or third children’s rally a pencil with Bible verses on it, or some other attractive souvenir. In Miami, Florida, some schools turned out the children early for a great mass meeting of children in near-by churches, and hundreds were converted. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, I went from public school to public school preaching the gospel, giving out booklets on the plan of salvation and having the cordial cooperation of the school leaders and of the teachers. The children’s work committee should do a big work in the campaign.
10. Young People’s Committee
The young people’s committee has a good work to do. They should help reach certain groups of young people for the choir. Perhaps they could arrange for a big mass meeting of young people Sunday night just before the Sunday evening service. Certainly they should try to arrange a big cooperative mass meeting on Saturday nights where “Youth for Christ” and other rallies will combine with the campaign and when the evangelist, of course, will bring the message. Youth committees can be specially useful in enlisting young people from the colleges and high schools.
11. Committee on Outside Services
In a good revival campaign there should be a good many services outside the central auditorium. There should be a special committee for this work. They will arrange for radio services. Many radio pastors will gladly surrender their time for the evangelist during the campaign. Churches will cooperate by putting the evangelist and song leader on their radio programs. Sometimes a special daily half hour of broadcast time on a local radio should be purchased by the campaign committee for the evangelist and campaign. Then other services should be planned in high school and college chapels, before luncheon clubs, and in shop meetings. Perhaps this committee on outside services might help to arrange for the evangelist to speak in Sunday morning services in some of the larger churches. Often the evangelist will need to rest on Sunday morning. Sometimes it will be preferred that he not speak in any of the churches Sunday morning since, in a large campaign, he cannot preach in all the churches. The local situation and the desire of the evangelist will determine that.
12. Delegations Committee
This committee is one of the most important of the campaign, and it is almost impossible to overestimate the good that can be done by the delegations committee. And beyond any doubt, the work of the delegations committee is the most difficult work that will be done in the campaign outside that of the evangelist himself. The object of the delegations committee is to get large groups of people committed to come to the meetings and sit, each group together, on selected nights. By this means some unsaved people and backsliders can be gotten to the services who otherwise might not hear the gospel. The delegations committee will have a
large part to do with the attendance at the campaign and particularly with the attendance of lost people.
I suggest that the delegations committee begin with groups of Christians. Early in the campaign the evangelist may address most of his messages to church people, to bring them to prayer, to personal soul-winning effort, to penitence for their shortcomings. Pastors, church officers, Sunday School teachers and workers should be enlisted in the campaign as early as possible. Perhaps the first week each church in the campaign might select one night in which they would make an earnest effort to get their entire membership present. But as soon as possible much effort should be made to get large delegations that will include lost people.
“Sunday School night” is a good time to get lost people to the services, the lost people who are on the fringe of the churches, the relatives of church members, etc. Often Sunday School night, if carefully prepared and planned for, may have the largest attendance of the campaign and result in many people being saved. My recollection is that in the Cleveland union revival where I preached February 11 – March 11, 1945, we had some 2,200 people present on a Monday night, Sunday School night, in the midst of a blizzard when otherwise it is likely we would not have had over a thousand people present. I think there were ninety conversions that night. In Huntington, West Virginia, when twenty churches on the east side cooperated in a union revival campaign in the East Side High School on Sunday School night a large class of men sat on the second row, and I think eight men were converted out of that one class on Sunday School night. Many others were saved from other classes and other Sunday Schools.
Effort should be made to have the high school come in a body, to have business college groups come together, or other colleges. Then one night it may be possible to get a great delegation of railroad workers. In Roanoke, Virginia, there are two railroads which have shops in the city, and on “railroad night” there was a contest to see which of these two groups could have the largest attendance. A good number of unsaved people were brought along by that plan, and some were saved.
But let me say an earnest word of warning here. Simply to announce from the platform, or to announce in the newspapers, that “Friday night the National Business College will be our guests,” or that “Pennsylvania Railroad employees are invited to come and sit in a body on Thursday night,” will not get results. If you want the business college group to come, then first sell the business college administration and faculty on the plan. Ask for permission to have a service in the school, give out special cards announcing the service, perhaps. See that cars are available for those who will want to come, if this is necessary. Give detailed instructions about when to be at the auditorium, and see that enthusiastic workers are enlisted within the business college itself.
In a certain northwestern city it was announced that the workers of a great lumber company would be special guests on a certain night. An officer of that company, an earnest Christian, was brought from a city many miles away, to bring a word of greeting to his own employees who should have been there that night. There were only one or two present from the lumber company. Announcements on the platform and in the newspapers will not do the work. You must find some interested workers, get cooperation from the inside. Get teachers to help get students. Enlist organizations to bring their members. Have shop meetings in a manufacturing plant. Get foremen on the side of the revival. Get a great group of people to vote in a shop meeting that they want to come. Offer some special souvenir to workers in that factory who will be present on that night. Have them sing one of the choruses of the campaign, perhaps, if they are not timid. I say, every delegation must be worked up from the inside. It will take labor, expense, and long planning ahead of time. The delegations committee has a most important work to do.
The above suggestions about the work of the committees do not nearly cover the field, but I hope they may be helpful.
And now a closing word to this chapter about the organization. Let me earnestly urge that pastors sit on the platform together, if at all possible. The evangelist needs their immediate presence and prayers. The community needs to see that the ministers of the various churches are of one mind in this tremendous matter of saving souls. The churches need to feel that their pastors are out in front, taking the lead in this mighty work. It is a symbol of the unity necessary for the campaign to have pastors on the platform. Let the pastors often be recognized. Have them stand. Have them give testimonies. Have one pastor lead in prayer one night, another night. Make much of God’s ministers. Pray much about the organization. Deal kindly and gently with brethren who are slow to come to agreement. And may God bless the plans for revival campaigns all over America!
(The above material was published by How to Have a Revival, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1946.)
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