The congregation for which I preach recently started a program of phone-in-evangelism which I personally feel will be a great asset to our work. In this article I would like to share with you some of the advantages of this method of preaching the gospel.
We purchased a Sanyo M139N Telephone Answering Device. This machine costs about $180. This device has message tapes which run from 30 seconds all the way up to 180 seconds depending on how long you want your message. 1, personally, am using the 120 second tape. I record a message about 100 seconds in length which leaves about 20 seconds for the caller to leave any comments, addresses, etc. at the end of the message. I merely turn the machine on after making my message and theoretically I could go on a two week vacation if I wanted to and the machine would take every call that came in.
The advantages and various applications of this approach are many. Most people are willing to give sixty seconds of their time to listen to a religious message; much more so than a 15-30 minute message. People probably use the phone more than any other electronic method of communication and thus the potential for reaching people is nearly unlimited. Phone-in-evangelism has several big advantages over radio evangelism. Radio evangelism chronically has very little feedback from the listener. If the listener has a question or comment to make they must sit down and write a letter which is not always convenient. Even with the phone-in, question and answer radio broadcasts, only a limited number of calls can be taken and seldom are names and addresses asked for or given. With the telephone answering device the caller can leave his name and phone number or any comments. This provides an easy, convenient, and accessible method of expressing an interest in religious matters. Also the caller can phone the message any time of the night or day whereas with radio work the listener must listen at a certain time each day which is not always possible.
The cost factor is a huge advantage. Once the answering device is purchased there is no cost except occasional service to the machine. Service contracts can be purchased for about $35 per year which is very reasonable considering that many of these devices handle 15,000 calls per year. The telephone company is dropping their monthly charge for approved telephone answering devices as of April, 1976. This charge normally was about $3.50 a month for hooking the machine into their lines.
Thus far we have been averaging about 200 calls a week. We had some business cards printed with the name of the program and the number to call, which incidentally, is the only form of advertising we have been using thus far. I use these cards extensively in doing hospital work. I have been changing the message about three times a week and will change it more often if the situation dictates it.
If you would like to see the literature on this machine just write: Earnest H. Greene, 1728 Main, Kansas City, Missouri 64108. I am sure he would be glad to give you any information you requested.
Truth Magazine, XX:26, p. 13-14