We have all been distressed to see persons come into the church, apparently in good faith, remain a short time, and then drop out. In my own work I have tried in many ways to remedy this situation. The baptismal class has given some help; but it seems as if we need a more extended course of instruction than the usual class of this kind imparts.
It is natural for those who have been Adventists for a number of years to forget what a break one must make with the past to become a member of this church. It is our duty as workers to see that our new members are not only converted, but also thoroughly indoctrinated, if we would make sure that they will stay with us. To meet this need with one group of interested persons, I organized a class in Sabbath school to give special instruction.
How We Organized the Class.—First, I talked over the problem with the church board and the Sabbath school superintendent, and obtained their consent and co-operation in organizing this special class. A number of persons who were contemplating church membership, but who were not yet regular attendants at the Sabbath services, were visited by the Bible worker and myself, and urged to become regular members of the class. The Bible worker was the teacher.
Special Attention Needed.—A class of this kind requires more attention and needs more encouragement than other Sabbath school classes. The teacher must be more than ordinarily well qualified; for it will take tact, Patience, and much hard work, coupled with a real interest in each member, to make the class a success. If possible, it should be arranged for this class to retire to a room by themselves, when the regular Sabbath school begins its review. In this way, they will have more time to spend with the teacher, and quiet for prayer and heart-to-heart appeals. The class should return to the main room in time for the closing exercises.
How to Conduct the Class.—The class is conducted the same as any Sabbath school class. The names of those attending regularly are enrolled on the class card, a record of attendance is kept, and the offering received. However, instead of studying the lessons in the Quarterly, we use the little book, "The Bible Made Plain," the cost being met as a regular item of Sabbath school expense. The class takes one lesson a week, and six months are required to complete the book. The members are urged to study daily, and encouraged to come to the class prepared to discuss the lesson. They are visited during the week, and given any necessary help.
Taking the Class Into the Church.—Upon the completion of this special course the members of such a class who are ready are baptized and brought into the church. They then begin the study of the regular Sabbath school lessons, either in a class by themselves or as members of various other classes. Of course it is understood that during the last weeks of this special class, at some suitable time outside the Sabbath school hour, the members will be given an intensive course of study covering church organization, and the duties and obligations involved in church membership.
Practical Results Obtained. — (1) Members of such a class, who have usually taken Bible studies or attended a series of meetings before joining the class, come into the church thoroughly familiar with the doctrines. By attending this class, in addition to other instruction received, they get the subject matter in a different way, and are consequently better informed. (2) They come into the church through the Sabbath school; therefore they have the Sabbath school habit before they join the church, which is highly beneficial. (3) They come in as home missionary workers. In our church we have the fifteen-minute home missionary service between Sabbath school and church, and the Sabbath school classes are the home missionary bands. Hence these inquirers are led naturally into active missionary work. They have their part in the campaigns. It is not uncommon to find them leading some of the older members in real, active service. (4) They have established the churchgoing habit before they come into the church.
As I look over the work of this special class for the past year, I am convinced that it has justified itself in many ways. Some of the finest people in our church today have entered it through that class.