By Ronny Milliner
The Rivermont church of Christ recently decided to mail out an advertisement for our Bible correspondence course. Our aim was to encourage individuals to study their Bibles and hopefully render obedience to it. Some of the readers of this publication might be interested in some of the things we observed from this effort.
A Good Financial Deal
There were several ways we could have advertised the course, but I think we found a very good deal from a financial standpoint with the Val-Pak organization. They agreed to design, print, and mail the advertisement for four cents each. it would have been less if we had mailed out a larger number. To receive this low price we had to agree to a minimum of 10,000 mailing. Thus, our advertisement went into 10,000 homes for only $400.
Val-Pak is a national company and thus probably operates in your area. They mail a packet of coupons in one mailing for local companies, thus allowing those companies to share the cost of the postage. As one of our “heftier” members said, he always looks at those coupons to see what discount he can get at the local restaurants.
Designing The Coupon
Upon contacting the national headquarters the local representative informed us that the company had some guidelines for religious organizations. For example, we could not use the words “God,” “Jesus,” or “Christ” in the ad. This restriction ruled out our use of the name of the church in the ad. The reason they gave for this restriction was that any time they used these words they got “hate mail.” However, we felt we could live with these limits, and as you can see from the enclosed sample, it really did not take away from the ad.
We chose to add the coupon for the free cassette tape to encourage a prompt return of the coupon and to encourage further study after the course was completed.
Seeking The Lord’s Favor
Paul wrote in, Colossians 4:3, “meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains.” The church was encouraged to pray for, this effort that God would “open to us a door for the word.” I fear that we sometimes jump into things without ever seeking God’s help. How can we succeed if he is not working with us? After all, is such an effort not done except for his glory. We dare not leave the Lord out of our plans.
The Better Response
Our coverage was very broad, covering a wide make-up of people from a financial, social, and racial standpoint. I found it interesting that the responses from the poorer areas were three times greater than the mote affluent areas. Paul affirmed, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (1 Cor. 1:26). 1 wonder sometimes if we rule out as prospects the very class of people that really are more open to the gospel. Have we given up on the inner cities? Are the only worthy prospects of the gospel white, upper-middle class Americans? Shame on us if this is our attitude.
In spite of the fact that we now have people studying with us now that were not before we sent out the ads, plus the requests that are continuing to come in, we have some brethren among us with some pessimistic attitudes. One said we “wasted our money.” Another said, “It didn’t do any good.” And the attitude of yet another was that we just did it “for the preacher.” If we did it just “for the preacher” a “waste of money.”
But I would hate to tell these people who are studying the Scriptures that it was a “waste of our money.” I would hate to tell the student who wrote several good questions in addition to the course that asking and receiving an answer to those questions “didn’t do any good.” I would hate to tell the working mother who called saying how hard it was for her to study the Bible and had a concern for the spiritual development of her children that this effort was done just to please the preacher.
No wonder the church fails to grow in many areas when such attitudes are prominent. Instead of such pessimism, we should be on our knees thanking God for the responses we have and asking His use of us to bring these individuals to a knowledge of the truth.
Brethren, let’s sound forth the word of the Lord (1 Thess. 1:8). Let’s pray to God for guidance, blessing, and wisdom in our efforts. Let’s plant and water the seed and let God give the increase (1 Cor. 3:6).
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 18, pp. 549, 568
September 17, 1987