The idea of giving Bible readings is said to be heaven born. This means of imparting God's word has occupied a prominent place in the proclamation of present truth from our earliest days. Undoubtedly it is evangelism in purest essence. God plainly indicates that teaching of Scriptures by the Bible worker in private homes is not of a related nature, but actually a part, and a most important part, of evangelism itself.
The vocation of the Bible worker—teaching Bible truth to small groups in homes—is such an essential phase of evangelism that when it is omitted the success of a preaching effort is largely nullified. The efforts of the Bible worker in connection with public evangelism are therefore actually indispensable. The exalted character of such personal labor is emphasized by a statement in Volume IX of the -Testimonies," which reads, "Of equal importance with special public efforts is house-to-house work in the homes of the people."—Page iii. We are not left in doubt as to the nature of the service to be rendered in the homes of the people, or of its essential bearing upon the success of the public proclamation of the message. The quotation continues:
"As the result of the presentation of the truth in large congregations, a spirit of inquiry is awakened, and it is especially important that this interest be followed up by personal labor. Those who desire to investigate the truth, need to be taught to study diligently the word of God. Someone must help them to build on the sure foundation. At this critical time in their religious experience, how important it is that wisely directed Bible workers come to their help, and open to their understanding the treasure house of God's word."
If there has been a tendency to underestimate the vital importance of the Bible worker, such pointed instruction from an authoritative source should forever banish the trend, and lead to a restoration of the divine plan of having competently trained Bible workers teaching the Bible in homes. When such personal labor is overlooked or neglected, precious opportunities are lost, and the public effort fails in large measure to advance the work.
Before an effort has progressed to the point at which openings in homes are secured for Bible readings, the Bible worker can be very useful to the evangelist. Her time can be profitably employed in distributing literature and advertisements in the community, and in forming acquaintances among the people who attend the meetings, with the purpose of encouraging and strengthening their interest. If perchance the ability to give simple treatments, or to teach healthful diet and cookery, is a part of the worker's equipment, her value and influence are further enhanced. Such talents make many openings of a fruitful nature. In the homes of the people is found the most fruitful field of ministry. The work has but begun when the message has been publicly presented. The Bible teacher, whether it be the Bible worker or the evangelist himself, is occupying an exalted and necessary position in the plan of public ministry. Too many ministers have contented themselves with pulpit oratory.
Provision has been made for the man who is not provided a Bible worker by the conference. Intelligent members of the church are material right at hand, who, with a little counsel and training, can do very acceptable work, and bring many souls to Christ.
"Church members are to do evangelistic work in the homes of their neighbors... By lending or selling books, by distributing papers, and by holding Bible readings, our lay members could do much in their own neighborhoods."--Id., pp. 33-35.
"Among the members of our churches there should be more house-to-house labor, in giving Bible readings and distributing literature."—Id., p. 127.
The Lord has His plan for sowing the gospel seed. If we will be obedient enough to sow according to His will, we shall so multiply the seed that His word may reach thousands who have never heard the truth. The Bible worker is indeed an evangelistic laborer, and in the eyes of the Lord she occupies a place of equality with that of the evangelist himself. It is not the Lord's purpose that ministers should be left to do the greatest part of the work of sowing the seeds of truth. Bible instructors can take their places in the work, and the Lord will work through them. They can do a work that reaches the inner life. Their work is needed now. As we come into a sacred nearness to Christ, we shall see wisdom in more fully following the divine plan.
*Paper presented at Pittsburgh Evangelistic Council, January, 1939