May 11, 2016
Problems with Outreach
I believe you do have one big advantage (over DK) and that is the modern day Internet to get people reading your stuff and eventually gathering physically.
Maybe yes and maybe no; or perhaps a better response would be in some ways yes and other ways no. Let me explain.
It is true that we have many more ways to reach out not only to local, state and national people, but to the whole world. In the other hand, the competition for attention has multiplied many times over. For everything that goes viral there are a million items that are ignored.
Experience taught me the pros and cons and technology in reaching out to people.
After Curtis and I parted ways with the LDS church way back in 1978 we decided to reach out to them in an attempt to bring them some enlightenment, especially on the subject of reincarnation and the principle of the gathering, which seemed to be lost to their consciousness.
We were inspired by the LDS scripture which reads:
For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it– D&C 123:12
We figured that this applied to the LDS church as much as any of the others because many truths that had dawned on us were just never presented to the church. We decided to give the LDS members an opportunity to find new truth. We figured that a lot of them would gladly receive it.
For our first major effort we picked on Idaho Falls which had a high density Mormon population, about 300 miles from Boise.
We rented a conference room at the Holiday Inn and ran ads in the local daily paper. Then we went down there three days before the event and passed out flyers all over town. I can’t remember the topic but I think it had something to do with the mystery of God and receiving revelation. We thought it would stimulate interest but evidently there was something in the ad that raised a red flag.
The big day finally came and Curtis and I prepared to receive the multitude of seekers storming the door.
We waited and waited and waited and no one came. As we were about to fold up and go home one lone soul finally drifted in.
It was a sixteen-year-old kid.
We welcomed him and asked him what caused him to come.
He said he came to call us to repentance.
Curtis and I looked at each other and we didn’t have to speak. We knew what each other was thinking. This was worse than no one showing up. It was adding insult to injury to have a brainwashed kid show up calling for us to repent from seeking the mysteries of the kingdom.
This was indeed a needed wake up call. From that moment on we knew we had an uphill battle if we thought we were going to attract Mormons with teachings that are out of the box.
This did not cause us to give up. Instead we doggedly reached out for the next two years. We read about the great success of early Mormon missionaries having tremendous success departing without money and just living off donations from people. The LDS church abandoned this many years ago but because it was commanded in the scriptures we decided to try it out.
It turned out to be a disaster. We were lucky we did not starve and were able to make it back in one piece.
We asked ourselves, what was so different back in the 1830’s that accounted for their great success. The church, of course, thinks it was just the teachings and the Holy Spirit, but that doesn’t explain it. The modern LDS missionary often only converts a couple people after two years of hard work whereas some of the early missionaries converted thousands in a few months.
We contemplated long and hard on why the early missionaries had such great success and finally the reason dawned on us.
The main reason was that the various people in small communities were starved for entertainment. Often weeks went by with nothing happening causing the people to be half bored to death. Then when some strange preacher or entertainer came to town the whole community turned out to see them.
So the tactic of the early missionaries was to first go to the center of town and find the central bulletin board and then post a notice of a meeting to be held the next day or two. Within hours a number of people read it and started spreading the word. Then when the meeting was held the people starved for entertainment turned out to see the strange Mormons who were said by many to be agents of the devil himself.
So it is interesting that not having radio, TV, the internet or any other modern means of communication actually worked to the advantage of those who wished to reach out to the people.
In DK’s day he had radio and the automobile, but had a more difficult time than in the old days. Now with the internet and convenient mobile devises that have an outreach to billions, unless one is lucky enough to go viral, the difficulty in reaching out is as difficult as it has ever been for there are millions of competitors out there.
In the old days there were fewer people but often there was little or no competition for attracting attention to the message.
Interesting to think about.
Copyright 2016 by J J Dewey
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