By Jack Gibbert
I confess to moments when I wonder what possible good advertising on the back pages of Truth Magazine and other papers does. I find myself mumbling to myself, “who reads them?” or for that matter, who cares?”
In more enjoyable moments I find myself reflecting on the numerous blessings the Haygood congregation in Virginia Beach has received as a direct result of them. We have had many visitors in the summer months because of them. We have had young Christians sent to its by preachers who were concerned enough about them when they left home to take time to direct them to us. Last month a sister in Christ whom I had never met, called me and told me of a young couple coming our way that very day. Seems they were new converts and knew nothing about the issues. We had to locate them before they began at a liberal church or we would lose them. Many are the letters from concerned parents whose children have moved into this area. All of these attest to the good these ads do.
However, it’s a sad commentary, but non-the less true, that many of our preaching brethren make no effort to steer Christians to faithful churches when they leave their areas. I would hate to recount all the cases of brethren in this area from “faithful” churches who are attending with the liberals because they did not receive any instruction on institutionalism when at home, or they did not get any information about faithful churches in this area when they left home.
Brethren, do you read these ads? Do you have a copy of Brother Wallace’s “Directory?” If not, why not? Do not tell me you are sending out well-taught people who have too much conviction to go to a liberal church. I see the fruit of many a “big name” (conservative type) preacher in & liberal churches of Tidewater. If you cannot give them conviction, at least give them an address.
Let us look at just two cases that indicate that for some, these ads do no good. Just this month I received a call from a preacher at the other end of the state. Seems he got a letter from a well-known preacher asking him to get in touch with the nearest sound church to Norfolk, as there was a lady in that area who should be contacted. Well, I contacted her and she and her husband came out to services the next night. But.. . Why did this brother have to contact a preacher at the other end of the state? Does anyone not understand that a town with the name of Virginia Beach will not be located in the mountains of Western Virginia? Are preachers who can read Bible maps and find such places as Corinth and Ephesus unable to find Norfolk on a map? It’s a port city, on the coast, and even if one did not know that Norfolk and Virginia Beach are adjoining cities and part of the same metropolitian area, surely they would conclude that Virginia Beach is closer to Norfolk than Richmond or Martinsville. Hence the question, “What good is advertising?”
The other case relates back to last summer when an article was printed in Truth Magazine. It was written from a town where I had preached and the brethren know me (at least I thought they did). The article named every congregation in the state standing for the truth except two, and here is what it said about the area where those two churches are, “One of the most neglected areas is Tidewater containing such major cities as Norfolk, Newport News, Hampton and Portsmouth, an area with well over one million people.” Now I do not believe for one minute this brother was being unkind toward me or toward brother Milton Smotherman who preaches for the New Port News congregation, but I do believe it was a careless oversight on his part. The “Haygood” congregation was formed over five years ago and we believe it is holding forth the truth faithfully as well as boldly. These two examples go to show why I ask the question, what good is advertising?” We have at times grown and been blessed by ads, but I truly believe there are far too many examples of this not being the case simply because preachers have failed to take a little time to research them and direct Christians to faithful churches when they leave their area.
What good is advertising? For me, it’s a vital part of my ministry. No one leaves “Haygood” without being directed to the nearest sound church. In some cases, where special handling is necessary, I will call ahead and prepare the other end. It you are the type whose responsibility to Christians ends when they walk out of your door, advertising is a waste of time and money, but if you feel responsible for where folks go when they leave you, it’s a vital part of your ministry.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 48, pp.11-12
October 11, 1973