One of the ways which we have found successful in enlarging our week-night crowds is to have a Bible-marking class. This class has many advantages, not only to help draw a larger attendance, but also to familiarize the people with their Bibles. It aids in impressing the texts indelibly upon their minds and in indoctrinating them in the message.
Our whole evangelistic campaign centers on bringing the people to Christ and His Word, or bringing them closer to Christ if they are already Christians. We use four methods to accomplish this. First, the sermonic presentation of the subject from the public platform. How thankful we can be that in these dark days of earth's history we have a real down-to-earth message of hope for those who are searching for the light. Brother evangelists, we ought to be preaching this message with more power and surety than even the pioneers of the message, for we can see, as they could not, the actual fulfillment of the last-day prophecies.
Second, we send out our sermons in printed form through the mail the first week, and then by the evangelistic workers from then on. This gives the people a chance to study the sermon and look up the texts in the quiet of their own homes, and see whether the things the evangelist is preaching are really Biblically true.
Third, we conduct a Bible-marking class on the subject presented the previous Sunday night. This class I wish to emphasize in this article and will discuss in detail.
Fourth, we offer a printed home Bible study course, using our own mimeographed Bible lessons. By having our own lessons we can carry out the same lines of thought that we have used in the public presentation, and also have the lessons follow, at once, the sermon that is given on the subject. Instead of waiting for these lessons to reach the people by mail, the evangelistic worker takes the first lesson with him on his first call at the home.
In the public service we try to get as many to sign up for these lessons as possible. Then, if they have not done so, it is the duty of the worker to sell the idea to them when visiting in the home. The worker shows how simple and to the point the lessons are, and what a help they will be in understanding the sermon subjects. A large majority of the interested people take these lessons. Each week the worker calls for the finished lesson and leaves one or two more. He persuades the student to keep the lessons up to date, and is there to help if any difficulty arises or the lesson is not finished. We have had as many as three fourths of our students finish the course, and most of them finish by the time the public services end.
By using this method we can plainly see that even though a person might lose out on one of the public sermons, the lessons bring it to him, and his interest is kept alive.
We also use a step-by-step health course, showing the people how to intelligently change their wrong dietary habits for correct health-building ones. At the close of the evangelistic series demonstration classes are held. In this way we are able to indoctrinate them thoroughly before they are brought into the church membership.
Now for the Bible-marking class and how it is conducted. It is usually held on Tuesday evening, preceding the main service, from 7 to 7:45 P.M. A blackboard is used to illustrate the marking, or better still a pictograph machine, showing on a screen the very text already marked.
The first step is to give the key letters used for the subject, the opening text, and the name of the subject. These are to be written on the flyleaf in the back of the Bible as follows:
SC—Psalms 50:3-5—Second Coming of Jesus.
Turning to Psalms 50:3-5, we have the text marked like this:
3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him.
Since this subject is dealing with the second coming of Christ, the part of the text which brings out that thought is made to stand out by underlining. A marginal line is drawn along the side of the verse or verses used. In the margin the key letters and the consecutive number of the following text of the study are written. Then turning to Hebrews 9:28 we find that it is marked the same:
28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Here again the glorious fact of His coming stands out by underlining. The same procedure is followed until the entire subject is marked in the Bible. A study usually consists of about twelve texts. In the margin beside the last text this is written: "SC-End." Colored pencils are used for marking, and are furnished by us. The student brings only his Bible.
At the completion of the Bible-marking course, a certificate is given in recognition of faithful work, and even a novice Bible student is then able to give a good, clear study on any subject marked. (A certificate is also given for the completion of the home Bible course.)
I believe we will find as preachers that marking Bible texts helps us in our study and public presentation as well as helping our interested people. I am certain of this through experience in a number of evangelistic campaigns.