At one of our recent workers' meetings held in Seattle for the ministers of the Washington Conference, together with the doctors of our field, a helpful paper was presented by J. E. Young, district leader and pastor for the Olympia district.
Elder Young is a man with about twenty years' experience teaching in our schools, having been principal of various academies. He has never claimed to be an evangelist, but has a burden on his heart for souls. and accordingly laid plans in his district which have netted good results. He used the 20th-Century Bible Course to good advantage in his district by enlisting the help of our lay members. To those taking the lessons he is known as the instructor, and the lay members who assist him are known as his assistants. After the interested people study the lessons, they are helped by the instructor and his assistants, and by the time they have finished the lessons they are ready to become good, solid Seventh-day Adventists.
Following this plan, Elder Young had the privilege of baptizing fifty-six people between October 5, 1946, and October 4, 1947. This is an excellent record, and an example that may well be emulated by many of our workers.
D. H. SPILLMAN. [President, Washington Conference.]
The gospel commission text (Matt. 28:19) gives direction to our procedure: GO! TEACH! BAPTIZE! There are evangelists, and there are pastors. Each has his place in the great vineyard of the Lord. In this paper consideration will be given to the pastor or district leader and to his work. His assignment of many duties and responsibilities will not need to be mentioned here. His assignment is like a coat of many colors—varied, multiplied, and intriguing.
A text of Scripture will help to further introduce the subject : "And I will give you pastors according to Mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." Jer. 3:15. This is God's formula. This text is good enough for a pastor's daily menu. A pastor according to the heart of God ! A pastor who will feed the flock. A pastor who will feed the flock with knowledge and understanding. That is something The flock becomes like that upon which it is fed. What pastor would not like a wise and understanding flock, or a district of such flocks? Usually a pastor reaps about what he sows, only more of it, unless he moves before harvesttime.
After the pastor has borne the burden and responsibilities of his district during the "heat of the day," after the goals have been reached and passed, the budgets balanced, the bills paid, and a good record made, he will still feel that there is something lacking if there has not been a substantial addition to the flock over which he has been given charge.
It was in February of 1946 that we came to the Olympia district. All was well. In the five churches comprising the district there was no 'One that we had ever seen or heard of before, so things should get off to a good start, we felt. There was just about time enough to get our things in out of the rain before the Signs campaign needed attention. I rather like campaigns anyway, so that promised to be interesting. Then came Ingathering-. That was just nicely over when the call came to go to Auburn to get things ready for camp meeting. I had made pastoral calls on most all the parishioners of the district, had conducted several funerals and a wedding, and felt that there was nothing to worry about just then.
After the camp equipment had been put away, men were to return home and go to work. Some tent or tabernacle companies were arranged for a number of the workers in certain sections. Others went back alone to their fields of labor. We returned too. By count the year was half spent, and not so much as one soul had been buried with the Lord in baptism in all the Olympia district. I began to ponder and plan.
At a business meeting I indicated that it was not the intention of the pastor to occupy his time running the churches, but rather that he expected the elected officers to see to that job. To my surprise, nobody frowned. And I thought, "He that does the work of ten men surely does a. great work, but he that puts ten men to work does a greater work."
Then for eight consecutive weeks we held lay-evangelism meetings for the district in the Olympia church. We seriously weighed the "foolishness of preaching," and gave prayerful study to "the work of winning men from sin to holiness." A measure of the burden fell on some hearts. We decided to work with the 2oth-Century Bible Lessons. But how ? One might inspire a number of persons to join in on a field day, but how could we get them out to work on one project week after week for three or four months? That was something else. Aside from that there was the statistical report which showed that hundreds of Bible lessons were being given every year with but negligible results. Only a scant few of the many readers ever became persuaded to flee to Christ for refuge and cry for mercy. But difficulties notwithstanding, some of the laymen caught the vision.
One day I asked D. L. Olsen, of the home missionary department, regarding his department's granting certificates upon the satisfactory completion of the 20th-Century Bible Course if we carried on the studies in the field and if I corrected and graded the papers. He looked at me, then that satisfying smile appeared, and he said, "O.K., professor, go ahead." That gave the necessary impetus to the plan that was being born.
In using the 20th-Century Bible Lesson plan, you must find homes that will open to the study of the Scriptures. The layman, or "assistant" often knows of such a home, or is able to finsl one. When he calls at the home to make final arrangements for the day and hour when the first study is to be given, he explains the program fully, and leaves Lesson 1 and 2. He explains how the lessons are to be studied and how the question sheet is to be filled out and mailed to the instructor. (To most people, pastor or preacher are frightening terms.) He explains how the instructor corrects and grades the papers and returns them to the reader, and how a certificate is issued upon satisfactory completion of the course. He also makes every reasonable effort to have both husband and wife and children, if there are any old enough, to study the lessons together.
During the ensuing week the reader studies the lesson and writes out the answers to the questions. Some readers will do as many as two and three lessons a week. The assistant in the meantime informs himself fully on the lesson by study and research. On the day and hour appointed he returns to the home to study the assigned lesson with the reader, and leaves Lesson 3, or 3 and 4, as the case may be. At this time the assistant usually receives the answered questions and mails them to the instructor.
The instructor corrects and grades the papers, notes the prayer requests and the comments_ He writes some appropriate line on the paper, initials it and mails it back to the reader. A work sheet is kept on the instructor's desk on which the names of all the readers and the assistants in the district are listed, and the progress of each is indicated. Thus the instructor is able to keep in touch with the progress of all the readers in the district. That is most important. The work sheet also serves as a check on the assistant. It keeps him aware that the instructor is looking for the weekly, answer sheet of his reader. It also encourages the reader when he learns that he is one of a group of readers who are sending in their question sheets each week.
When the reader has progressed to Lesson 12 or 15, the assistant arranges with the reader to have the instructor come with him to the reader's home to begin a review of the lessons already studied. Usually that is a very happy occasion. After introductions the instructor takes over, beginning with the first lesson. It is the intention to review several lessons at each sitting. If the family has not been meeting together before, the instructor may make an effort to bring them together. It is important to work for the whole family. We find that men are as interested in the study of the Bible as women.
The instructor makes arrangements for the next appointment before he leaves. He usually returns once each week, and as long as necessary. The matter of inviting readers to attend Sabbath services is considered in each case.
The assistant continues with his weekly visits and studies in the reader's home. This is important. He is not to discontinue because the instructor has entered the picture. In case either the husband or wife has not been taking the studies, but has become interested since the instructor has entered the program, then let the one in advance delay until the other catches up, so that they may both finish together.
Along about Lesson 26 or 27 the instructor will plan to be up with the assistant in his work. He will work out any remaining problems, and prepare the readers for baptism. It is just that easy, for there is power in the Word.
If it were possible to find five or six assistants in a district, who would each give one study a week, the results could be most glorious. Where there are not enough assistants to keep the instructor occupied with reviews, then he will give the studies himself. The program in this case is followed in the same manner as when the assistant gives the studies, except that less time would be spent in reviewing. The records on the work sheet should be carefully kept in either case.
The certificate is usually given at some special occasion or at baptism. Our records show that 98 percent of those who begin the 20th-Century Bible Lessons complete the course. They also show that 95 percent of those who complete the course embrace the truth and present themselves for baptism. And it is most gratifying to note that most of the time husband and wife accept the message together. In the Olympia district in 1946 and 1947 more men than women were baptized. The 20th-Century Bible Lessons help to make this good record possible. Try it!