It is increasingly evident that the correspondence method of teaching the Bible is becoming one of the most effective means for soul winning. It is evangelism on a broad scale. There are several essentials which should be carefully observed by those who wish to do this sort of work effectively. We might name them as follows :
I. Securing a proper class of readers.
2. Treatment of the names when secured.
3. Effective presentation of the studies.
4. Obtaining decisions through correspondence.
5. Effective follow-up from the office.
6. Personar contact in the field.
Some have asked whether it might not be well to select names from the telephone directory or the city directory, and send to them a course of lessons. But we have found by experience that this is a waste of time and money. The best type of names come to us as a result of persons seeing our articles in the newspapers and magazines. Persons writing in as a result of hearing our broadcasts are of high quality. Another excellent method of securing names is for our church members to ask friends, relatives, and neighbors to sign up for the lessons. However, all should understand what they are signing for, and names should not be sent in promiscuously by church members or students or friends.
We have been very fortunate in Africa in securing a great volume of names by the use of the methods just mentioned. As a consequence, we have not lost ten per cent of the first m000 names thus secured. The names of our enrollees are a sacred trust to us, and from the first we have determined to put into their hands a full course of Bible studies, unless they definitely ask for the studies to be discontinued. We have found that of those who do not send in test papers, nearly as many ultimately take their stand for the Sabbath and the other truths of our message, as of those who do send in papers.
Our students are found in every part of Africa, and there are a number of sections in Europe and Asia Minor from which we have rec,eived names. And they come from all classes of people. It is true that to send the entire course of lessons to all who register requires us to maintain a large staff, and also greatly increases the cost of the Bible school as such. But the results thus far obtained fully justify us, we believe, in putting the larger percentage of our money in the Bible school rather than in advertising. We are not prepared to handle over 40,000 to 50,000 names a year, and when that number are registered, we cease securing enrollments for that year.
We have now been operating this correspondence school for two and a half years, and through the method of trial and error we have worked out what seems to us the most effective means for securing final results in Sabbathkeepers.
present series of studies presents the truth without fear or favor, and a number of requests are made throughout the series for decisions on controversial questions. First, there is a decision on consecration and conversion. Next a decision on the question of tobacco and alcohol. Literally thousands have signed the temperance and tobacco pledge card. Then when the tithing question is presented, another decision is called for. Consequently, we have a large following of faithful tithepayers. Our Bible school organization retains the tithe from students until the person is baptized and joins the church.
The last six lessons of the course deal with the law of God and the Sabbath question. Two more decisions are called for during the study of these lessons. With the final lesson a covenant card is enclosed, and our students are asked to make their definite decisions to keep the Sabbath of the Lord. A very large number of honesthearted people have signed this decision card. Recently they have been coming in at the rate of about a hundred a month.
OFFICE FOLLOW-UP.—With the large numbers of Sabbath decisions which we have obtained in the past two years, and the ever-increasing number coming in, we have found it necessary to organize a correspondence Sabbath school, and have set up a separate department in our organization to care for this interest. Our territory is very large, and the interested ones are scattered over great distances. It would, therefore be a long time before all the people could be contacted. We feel that we are holding the interest in most of the cases through our Sabbath school department. From the letters we receive daily we see the good effects of this department of our work. One speaks of the little Sabbath school he has in his home. Another tells how he goes out in the woods and studies the lesson, keeping the Sabbath as best he can. From a large State prison comes a letter from an earnest group who study the Sabbath school lesson, and keep the Sabbath as best they can. Many sound conversions have taken place in this prison in the past two years.
PERSONAL FoLLow-up.--We know that ultimately our students must come in contact with one of our workers, so as to be baptized and join the church. We have given much thought to the responsibility of the conference for the follow-up work, and the best method to be employed. Some of our fields have already appointed workers to do nothing but follow up the Voice of Prophecy Sabbath interests.
We long ago dropped the idea of trying to follow up ordinary interests, because the numbers are so great. Our conferences and mission fields are doing their best to follow up the Sabbath-decision interests. We believe that, with workers giving their full time to this work, much more will be accomplished in the months before us than has been done in the past.
The generous financial support we receive from our students reveals how deep is their interest. Their offerings are larger on the whole, and more continuous, than can be secured in a public evangelistic effort.
We feel confident that God can and will use this method to finish His work quickly in all the earth. We are literally in touch with the masses, with the educated and the uneducated, with the rich and the poor. Representatives from every class are taking their stand and are being baptized.