The "heaven-born idea" of giving Bible readings was introduced into our work in 1882. The Lord directed in this plan of using Bible texts to answer doctrinal inquiry. We smile a bit as we remember that the early Bible reading consisted of one hundred and fifty texts. Naturally, we feel that progress has been made in this art, but we also realize more now than ever before that the plan of giving Bible readings is a most effective way to teach the Bible.
Our trained Bible workers may feel they need little help in developing comprehensive and convincing Bible studies. Experience has taught them many points on logic and textual sequence. They have worked their hands into this art even as the good housewife learns to make nutritious bread. Individuality marks the efficient worker's construction of a study. But we are "never too old to learn" more progressive techniques which have grown out of the profession and the expediencies of our times.
Many Bible workers can hardly evaluate their own work. Often they work by themselves. Where there are teams of city workers, the program may require following the evangelist's plans entirely. Some evangelists think they hardly need professionally trained Bible teachers. They prefer picking up their workers here and there, women who are naturally good visitors and enjoy contacting people. But when such methods are overemphasized, some workers soon lose the art of teaching, and develop into mere routine workers, shorn of their power as teachers. We regret this trend.
Our work must be evaluated on the sound basis of successful, soul-winning teaching, and skillful 'personal work. The evangelist is primarily called to preach the Word to large audiences ; the Bible worker to teach individuals and families. One's calling is to preach; the other's to teach. There should be a distinction between the Bible worker who is a teacher, and the worker who is temporarily used as an aide to the evangelist. The latter may never develop into a Bible worker. The hunting dog scents the game, and runs it down, but the hunter's shot secures the game. Hunting dogs play their part, but the skilled aim and the sure shot of the hunter mark the real success.
Let us develop the fine technique of constructing logical, convincing Bible readings that align the points of truth in battle array against the errors of Satan. Let these truths clinch the arguments, so that good teaching will be the Bible worker's real charm. Let us adapt our textual arrangements to the needs of each inquirer. This will prevent teaching in a rut, for it will challenge constant study.
Bible teaching requires that the Bible worker take the proper time for study just as the evangelist does in his preparation of the discourses he preaches. This type of teaching will be as a "nail in a sure place." New outlines, inspirational theme headings, more challenging introductions, and a stronger hoisting of the capstones of the studies should lead to better and more inspirational teaching. There must be amusing, and the fire must burn first in our own souls. Let us be done with lifeless messages and stereotyped questions. The hour demands dynamic teaching. Refreshing manna from heaven is needed. Let every Bible worker become a master of the art of giving Bible readings.
Elements of a Bible Reading
I. The Bible Reading Plan. GW 192, 193.
1. A "heaven-born idea."
2. Convincing method for truth teaching.
3. Adapted for personal work.
4. Suitable for all language groups.
II. Preparing the Bible Reading.
1. Begin with prayer. DA 362.
2. Diagnose the need.
3. Choose the subject.
4. Jot down points to be taught.
5. Gather the necessary material.
III. Constructing the Bible Study.
1. Organize texts into three divisions.
2. The introduction—brief, challenging propositions.
3. The body—weight of argument.
4. The conclusion—appeal, comfort, capstone.
5. Outline clearly.
a. The title.
b. Related subheadings.
c. Points for development.
IV. Using Scripture in Bible Studies.
I. Asking questions to stimulate thought.
2. Making statements that declare factual truth.
3. Having reader investigate texts to prove truth.
4. Combining methods.
Art of Personal Evangelism," p. 34-50, and "Fundamentals of Bible Doctrine, by A. J. Wearner, PP. 12, 53.
Outlining: Ministry articles by Frank L. Yost and Mable A. Hinkhouse, February, 194.1 ; August, 1942.