While these chosen disciples were men of latent possibilities, yet they were not prepared for the delicate and important work of representing His name and cif teaching the special truths for the time. Christ, after selecting these men, trained them for service. He taught them the truths of the Word of God, so that they became mighty in the Scriptures. By precept and example He instructed them how to meet and deal with the various types of human beings.
They watched with keen interest how Christ adapted Himself to the various situations which arose as He came in contact with those who were characteristically different—the spiritually proud Pharisee, the honest seeker for truth among the wealthy, the poor and illiterate, the cynical, the apparently indifferent, He demonstrated before the disciples a wise and kindly approach to the varied types and personalities.
The disciples had much to learn and more to unlearn, but by close observation and willingness to follow their Master's methods they became qualified, and thus by the power of the Holy Spirit they were enabled to do the deeds of omnipotence.
Christ is our example in all things, therefore we should copy His methods of labor, especially when it comes to selecting and training helpers. Our Lord, by His Holy Spirit, has given to the church various gifts, and among them is the gift of helps or helpers, and these are to be found among the lay members of our church. The question may be asked, Do we appreciate this gift? and if so, are we utilizing it as God ordained? The counsel of the Spirit of prophecy is very definite on our responsibility in this matter.
"In every church there is talent, which, with the right kind of labor, might be developed to become a great help in this work [missionary work]. . . . There should be no delay in this well-planned effort to educate the church members."—Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 117-119.
The training of the laity is of primary importance, and every Bible instructor should consider it a privilege to enter into this field of endeavor during the interim between pressing evangelistic efforts, and before such efforts.
Because of the instruction given in the Spirit of prophecy and the existing need in the local church, as well as the earnest desire on the part of some of the members to get into a definite line of service and with the encouragement of the local pastor, I felt compelled to conduct a training class for the lay members of the Capitol Memorial Church in Washington, D.C. Some preliminary work necessarily had to be done in order to ensure success. This was accomplished by public announcement, personal contact, and by enlisting zealous members as publicity agents, who visited a few talented but disinterested members, arousing their interest to unite with the class.
Although the entire church membership was notified about the class, the primary purpose was to select certain ones who possessed possibilities for development. Included in this selected group were young men and women of talent. These were given special attention and added help. Youthful talent is always needed in the Bible work.
What was our textbook? The inspired Word of God, from which the great Master Teacher taught His colaborers. The fundamental doctrines of the Advent message were studied, also difficult Scriptural passages, thus was the student fortified with knowledge and assurance for the time when he should be obliged to face questions of opponents.
"Every church should be a training-school for Christian workers. Its members should be taught how to give Bible readings. . . There should not only be teaching, but actual work under experienced instructors. Let the teachers lead the way in working among the people, and others, uniting with them, will learn from their example. One example is worth more than many precepts."--ministry of Healing, p. 149.
In connection with our study of Bible doctrines, instruction was also given on practical methods for presenting them. This included the "do's" and the "don'ts."
Just as Christ demonstrated His methods to His disciples, so we united the practical with the theoretical by having the students give studies to each other in the presence of the teacher. In addition to this, I had the class participate in actual field experience by accompanying me whenever studies were given and visits made with prospective church members.
Such a Bible training class produces its fruitage both in the spirituality of the church and in the blessing of increased membership. If God's plan for training lay members in our broader Bible work program were faithfully carried out, we would ere this have seen the fulfillment of such endeavors as spoken of by the messenger of the Lord. "In visions of the night representations passed before me of a great reformatory movement among God's people. . . . Hundreds and thousands were seen visiting families and opening before them the word of God."—Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 126.
Is it not the privilege, if not the solemn duty, of the Bible instructor to share in training the church for such a work? Of course her pressing schedule allows such a heavy program only occasionally. joy unspeakable will fill the heart of the worker as she sees this divinely appointed plan entered into by those for whom she has previously labored.