I have found the Bible study correspondence school to be very effective in my radio follow-up work. For my opening offer, I framed a letter as follows:
"And now friends, I have a special offer which will appeal to every listener interested in Bible study. We are launching a Bible Study 'Correspondence Course which will be free to every listener who cares to enroll. This is a correspondence course consisting of twenty-three lessons dealing with the oustanding doctrines of the Bible and the most important Bible prophecies. We are launching this school to foster a greater interest in systematic study of the Bible.
"Now this is how the course is conducted : You just drop me a card in care of this station stating that you wish to take this course. On receipt of your card I will mail you Lesson I with a letter of instructions. You then will write out your answers to the test questions at the end of Lesson I, and mail them to me. Your answers will be read and corrected, and any omissions will be filled in. Then your corrected paper will be mailed back to you with Lesson II, which you will next answer and mail to me, and so on until you have finished the twenty-three lessons. A certificate will then be issued to you on completion of this course. Write me this week, and you will be enrolled immediately. Remember, there is no charge whatsoever, and there is nothing to buy at any time. You will never regret taking this wonderful, comprehensive Bible course."
In launching this course we have used the twenty-three Community Bible School studies just as they are. However, the Ministerial Association has been asked to arrange for these lessons to be adapted for the radio correspondence school plan. Model answers will be prepared to mail back with each corrected lesson. This will be a great strength to the course. With these model answers as a guide, it will be less difficult to obtain help in correcting the large number of papers which 'come in.
When the enrollments come in during the first week, I mail each one who enrolls : (a) A letter of instruction telling how to proceed with the course, (b) the study "How to Understand the Bible," (c) Lesson I of the set.
It is planned to prepare a printed letter of instruction with the new correspondence course. At present I am using a mimeographed letter. This letter should contain such items as the following:
- Assurance that those who enroll will not be charged for the course, or asked to buy anything. Explanation that the course is financed by voluntary contributions only.
- Request that name and address be placed on each lesson sent in.
- A list of some of the topics to be considered later in the course, so that they will not hesitate in starting the first lesson.
- Urge that they do not fall out by the wayside.
- Ask them to invite their friends to enroll if they enjoy the course.
- Explain that even though they may not be able to complete a new lesson every week, you want them to keep their lessons coming.
- Tell them they may keep the printed lesson sheets, and mail in only their written answers to the test questions at the end of each lesson.
- Explain that you are glad they have enrolled in the course, and you know they will greatly enjoy their study of the Bible.
Correcting the Answers to the Lessons
When their answers come back, corrections or additions should be made with red pencil. Thus they feel that their lesson has received personal attention. Any personal notes added are a tie to the heart of the student. It costs nothing, and greatly encourages them, to put at the top of the paper, "Good," "Very Good," or "Excellent !" Never put down a discouraging mark.
Only occasionally will a minister have time to correct these papers himself. He will, however, have to answer most of the special questions raised by the students. A capable lay Bible teacher can correct the papers, and the minister's work is thus greatly augmented in supervising hundreds who are systematically studying the Bible. Having to write out the answers to every point makes the correspondence course a remarkably strong method of getting the truth into the hearts and minds of the readers, and having each paper corrected whets the interest of the enrollees. A form letter is sent to those who do not send in a lesson for several weeks. This encourages them to continue the course.
The voluntary contributions which come in far more than cover the cost of the course. You receive far more in gifts than if a charge were made for the course.
From week to week vary your announcements about the lessons. Read parts of letters of appreciation, of which you will receive a great many. Bring in opinions about the course from week to week, by those who come from various walks of life—such as a judge, a Sunday school teacher, a twelve-year-old girl, a boy in the army, a blind man who dictates his lesson answers, a shut-in who has longed for an opportunity to study the Bible systematically, a minister, a busy housewife, a businessman, etc. Keep encouraging others to join. Every week you will receive new enrollments. Some of our own people will enroll. They are greatly benefited by the course, and will help financially, too.
In a note in the union conference paper, ask our people to invite their friends and neighbors to enroll. In several cases we have had groups studying together, with one of our members helping them write out the answers to their test papers. Some of these put all their lessons in one envelope and send them in together. In some instances we have whole families taking the course together.
In my broadcasts, I advertised the course for several weeks, and the enrollment passed the thousand mark, with very little effort. It appears now that about thirty to thirty-five percent will actually complete the course, which is a very good percentage. I plan to begin announcing it again in the fall when the new, adapted lessons come out. Our Kansas City correspondence course is carried on by Miss Alta Nesbit. [See page 38 for supplemental discussion.—Editor.] Elder Lindbeck of St. Louis had more than five hundred enrollees after offering the course for only a few weeks. He has many ministers enrolled, and is seeing wonderful results.
One woman sent in the second lesson, saying that her sister who had enrolled had died before finishing the second lesson. Her sister had exacted of her a promise to finish the course for her. This woman has since been baptized.
This morning's mail brought a well-written lesson on "The Mark of the Beast," from a minister in Kansas. Every answer is correct. I wish you could read his paper. Last week he put a postscript on his lesson : "This course is bringing to my attention Bible truths I had never heard of before. For this I am deeply grateful. I am presenting these things to my congregation and praying that God will guide me in finding truth."
An influential couple here in Kansas City, Missouri, began taking the course. She was choir leader in one of the large churches. They are now faithful members of our church.
Last week a lesson came from a wealthy businessman here in Kansas City. One question. was answered thus : "This means that if I am to be saved, I must keep all God's commandments. It means that I must observe the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath, and take my stand with God's people." He requested five extra lessons to take with him on his six-weeks' vacation.
But I must not relate more of the stirring experiences that come to us in every mail from seventeen States and two provinces in Canada. As interests develop and mature, we turn them over to the local conferences.
City-Wide Canvass for Enrollment
Elder Senecal, in Wichita, Kansas, is launching a city-wide canvass of homes, by the lay members, to get the public to enroll in the radio correspondence course. He has prepared and addressed postal cards which describe the course, and has a blank which the people are to fill in, signifying their desire to enroll in the course. This card is mailed to the radio station. I believe this excellent plan should be carried further ; that is, supplying these cards to our people in every church in the conference and neighboring conferences, asking them to explain the plan to their neighbors, and endeavor to obtain their enrollments.
One of our colored ministers in the Kansas Conference, Louis B. Reynolds, is launching a correspondence school through a newspaper Bible column which he conducts in a Topeka paper. Already enrollments are pouring in.
It seems that there are unlimited possibilities in the correspondence-school plan. Every little while I learn of someone whom I have never seen coming into the truth from this radio work. I wish all our radio men would give this plan at least one trial. It would mean tens of thousands all over the world systematically studying our message.
In five years of radio work I have tried many different methods, but this is by far the simplest and most effective. It brings in an immense weekly mail which pleases the station officials. It brings in funds to support the course—and radio time costs. It centers the minister's endeavors in all types of scattered follow-up work. And finally, under the Holy Spirit's guidance, it brings soundly established souls into the fold.