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Mailer Madness -- Part 2

In the previous post, I shared the reaction from the street to the mass mailing done in San Francisco. The message from the street was that this mailing made us look like Jehovah's Witnesses, fundamentalists, and fear mongers.

The reaction from the church was drastically different. In this story from the Pacific Union Recorder, we find this:

When [Mark] Ferrell [Pastor of SF Central Church] met Steve Peden, evangelism coordinator of Project: Steps to Christ (, an ambitious idea emerged. Peden’s organization had just completed a mass mailing of 250,000 Steps to Christ to Washington, D.C., residents. Would something like this work in San Francisco?

With the 100-year anniversary looming, this might be the perfect time for something radical. At the monthly evangelism planning session, Ferrell presented the mass mailing idea.

A project of this magnitude is costly. The initial proposed budget was $262,000. “We’re not going to worry about the money,” Ferrell told the team. “We are going to pray.” As the Lord moved on hearts, members also began digging deep into their pockets. “And the money just started coming in.”

PROJECT: Steps to Christ, also has a story about the mass mailing on their website. In their description of the SF Project, they write:

This is a Heaven-sent opportunity for the Churches in the greater San Francisco area to take the gospel to every home in this great city through the mass mailing of the book, What's Next? Are You Prepared? (Special edition of On The Edge of Time for San Francisco). This faith venture has reached 414,445 homes with one of the most powerful resources we have for evangelizing the world—the printed page.

Two questions immediately come to mind:

1. Is mailing a book to a house really taking the gospel to that home?

2. Is the printed page a powerful evangelistic tool anymore?

They also provide how "successful" this mailing has been. Here are the stats:

Homes Reached: 414,445

Materials Requested:
Final Events DVD: 594
The Great Controversy: 528
Focus on Prophecy Bible Studies: 279
Foreign Language Bible Studies: 71
Prayer Requests: 408

If I'm being EXTREMELY generous, I'll say that this created 400 decent contacts.

So, what percentage of the homes "reached" provided at least one seed of fruit? 0.097%

I don't know about you, but I definitely agree that this was a radical idea but it was far from successful.

So, if you had $262,000 to spread the gospel, what would you do with it?


Anonymous said…
The Book Steps to Christ is not Gospel It is a do it your self kit of works based religion. The Gospel is the Good Shepard goes looking for the lost sheep--it doesn't mean dropping a road map to the sheep!
Courtney said…
If I had that kind of money to spend on an outreach mission, I would try and find out what is one of the major problems facing the surrounding community...homelessness, child care, etc. Then I would use the money to address the problem, and in the process minister to the community and in process spread Gods love. My vision for where I am now is to creat a legal clinic for those who cannot afford legal representation for civil matters (like contract disputes, Social Security disability disputes, Medicaid, and elder law issues). The best way to reach people is not through fear...its through caring about them.
Here, here Courtney!
Ryan Bell said…
I totally agree with Courtney! And I love your first question, "Is mailing a book to a house really taking the gospel to that home?" Of course, you know how I feel about this. The answer to that question is a resounding, "No!" It's like getting married over the internet, or worse. What is the matter with us, as a people?

I said to my wife this morning that this is a bunch of conservative people who have no idea how liberal they've become. They/we/the church has totally bought the dehumanizing notion that everything is a commodity that can be bought a sold on the market. Even the gospel is a commodity that can be "sold" by "mail order." How alien to the religion of Jesus.
Anonymous said…
This is one of those questions that defies a tidy answer. The evidence in Scripture is that there are all kinds of ways to share what we want to share about God with others. Even Christ's approach to evangelism differed radically from place to place and individual to individual. Sublime, like helping out at the wedding feast, to direct, like telling the rich young ruler to sell all he had. I would guess we would be critical of Jesus' techniques if He were here today. That said, some things seem to work better than others. And there is always the almost overwhelming tendency to do what we have done in the past.
Anonymous said…
Steps to Christ as a book in itself is not bad. However, what problems I have with some of these tracts, books, etc., that many well-meaning people attempt to spread like "the leaves of autumn" is that these publications are poorly designed.

Some examples of poor design are: compressing text of larger books into a two-column format per page (besides the Bible, who reads books that way, anyhow?), Illustration styles that reach a narrow target audience, clinging to design trends that are way outdated, and even using some images inappropriately (such as 9/11 tasteless).

I see many of these publications are designed how "we" as Adventists think they should look and appeal as if they were already Adventists, or at least Christians from other denominations we are trying to win over.

This is one reason I could never get into "literature evangelism:" why try to "sell" a product you aren't enthusiatic about?

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