Truth teaching has been greatly simplified by using the different sets of graduated studies now published for home Bible study. With their appearance, our evangelism entered a new epoch. A wonderful contribution was made thereby to help truth seekers to study the message step by step. Since their day we have grown very conscious of the place that individual Bible study should hold in our evangelistic work. But these various types of lessons have thrown the whole Bible study plan into definite molds. We have now become so Bible lesson conscious that even our most experienced Bible instructors have wondered whether there is still a place for their original material, or whether they would not do well to confine their efforts solely to teaching this message by means of these prepared lessons.
These helps which we classify as mechanical devices must be recognized as a very important feature of our present-day evangelism. We dare not minimize their contribution, for the approval of God has already been evidenced by their ministry. However, Bible teaching that must grow out of the plans for the message we are galled to give should not be thrown into molds that will reflect merely the ideas or plans behind some particular system of lessons. Rather they should remain the Bible teacher's personally expressed message and should reflect his or her own ideas in presenting it. In other words, it would be a real tragedy for the cause were all our Bible instructors or evangelists to confine their personal work and teaching merely to using these prepared lessons.
With every mechanical plan in evangelism comes the danger of substituting mechanics for actual personal work. Soul winning dies out when the personal touch is lacking. Standard drugs and remedies have their place, but who will venture to say that we have passed the day of personal diagnosis, prescriptions, and medication, The more serious the nature of the disease, the more important the personal treatment of it. And this is especially true in soul-winning work in an hour when we see how every malady of sin holds sway in the lives of our readers.
When in our work we begin to stress or lean on our mechanical helps more and more, and crowd out the Spirit's help, it is high time we take stock of our objectives and begin anew to strengthen the old foundations of our evangelism. Valuable as these plans and their organization may be, with their elaborate office system, index cards, numbers, and symbols, a soul in the balance is more than a mere number or a subject to absorb doctrine wholesale. Let us not substitute mechanics for "knee-chanics"I The Bible reading prepared by us personally, with much prayer, and indited by the Holy Spirit, has the power of our own personality and appeal.
These prepared lessons belong in our busy program of evangelism. They are a help to our workers in creating study interest, before inquirers come in touch with our visiting teachers. Such lessons supplement our evangelism in a follow-up way, stressing and emphasizing the truths already presented. They are most effective for home-study groups. Bible instructors in our work are few in number, and many a busy evangelist must find a plan whereby interested people can be kept studying our message in a progressive way without personal Bible teachers. The question-and-answer or outline methods used in these prepared lessons have real value in personally directed Bible study.
Our concern is due to the fact that Bible teaching and personal work among us must remain personal work projects in order to be successful. Personal work must be just personal enough not to be general. Let Bible instructors continue to be powerful teachers of our message, giving prayer and study to their own Bible readings. Let us all keep the personal touch in our Bible teaching.
L. C. K.