We are here discussing the territorially arranged Bible clubs, operating with a public meeting.
PLACE OF MEETING.—Ordinarily the Bible club meets in an Adventist home. When the work becomes well established, it may be wise at times to meet in a different home. The nucleus of the group is composed of our own people. A visitor may urge the club to meet at his or her home. Be sure that such a plan will be satisfactory as to location, seating, et cetera. A misstep may break the interest.
TIME OF THE MEETING.—Tuesday evening may be more desirable than Wednesday, as it does not conflict with the prayer services of other churches. "The Tuesday Night Bible Club" makes a good slogan. However, all clubs may not find it best to meet on the same night. Should the worker himself conduct more than one club, naturally he must operate on more than one night. I often have them on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, each group meeting once a week Following are some suggestions to our people:
1. Come on time. Be clean and tidy.
2. Teen-age children may come—some even younger.
3. Control your children. Keep them with you.
4. Bring your Bible. Bring an extra one if you have it, preferably one of good-sized print.
5. If you bring a friend, sit by him or her.
6. If someone near you needs help, without show of superiority, assist him in finding Bible references.
7. Let prayers and testimonies be very brief. Speak of Christ, the Bible, and the cross. Avoid such expressions as, "When I came into the truth," and the like.
8. Do not treat visitors as such; treat them as part of the group. Don't say, "We are glad to have you with us," rather say, "I enjoyed being here, didn't you?" Remember not to pray for visitors. It may be best to address members and visitors alike as Mr., Mrs., and Miss, as the case may be." Avoid creating the idea that you are trying to "rope people in."
9. Be faithful in attendance and in bringing others. Be prompt with lesson test papers. Pray much. Keep relaxed, pleasant, and courteous. Avoid frivolity.
10. Do not tarry long after the meeting.
GIVING -OUT BIBLE REFERENCES.—The instructor should check the texts in the lesson he plans to use, numbering them from one to twenty or less. Generally it is not wise to use more than twenty texts.
Write each reference on a narrow slip of paper (about I 1/2 by 3 inches). Number the slips. Thus everyone knows the order, and when his turn is coming. Bibles can then be open at the proper places. Explain this point so that every reader is ready when his text and number are called for. This avoids the feeling of fumbling, and saves time. Hand out the references before the meeting opens. This gives all something to do at a time when silence may be a bit on the tense side. Do not give one person two or more consecutive references.
OPENING THE MEETING.—Sing something together. A chorus may be used as a theme song if desired. It is well to .stand for prayer, and often to have two brief prayers. In time interested visitors may be asked to pray. You may wish to contact such before the service, to be sure they are willing. Special music may be planned to follow the prayer, or you may wish to save time and proceed with the lesson.
TEACHING THE LESSON.—Teach-directly from your lesson notebook. Let it be apparent that all are searching for truth together. Cover the lesson in thirty minutes, or at the most in forty minutes. It is not necessary to use all the texts or all the notes. Each student is to receive the lesson and fill out the test paper later anyway. Avoid argument. Postpone answers to most questions by saying, "That is a good question, and I think it comes in later." Don't profess to know everything. Be brief, earnest, pleasant.
TESTIMONY MEETING.—Do not necessarily call it a testimony meeting, but in most cases such a praise service is very helpful. The leader may start it off with appropriate remarks based on such texts as James 1:17 or Malachi 3:16. Speak of the blessings of the Bible, Christ, Cal vary, and the goodness of God. Ask the group to pray for you, and for some specific loved one or friend. The leader's testimony sets the pattern. Everyone asks for prayer for himself and for someone else.
It is generally better to have all remain seated. This helps the fearful. Arrange to have several speak before you reach a visitor. Emphasize the fact that God has been present in the meeting, using some idea as, "I have felt the presence of God's Spirit here tonight, haven't you?"
CLOSING THE MEETING.—When the five-minute testimony period is over have prayer for the special requests. Keep it brief. Then have some one pass out the lessons for the subject covered. Do not let students have the lesson during classtime. Have someone else take up the test papers for the week before, and pass out the lesson for the evening. The secretary of the group should see that the lessons are on hand. He is the logical one to pass them out.
Encourage each one to have a three-ring binder for the lessons. If they bring it along each time, lessons and test papers can be kept in much better condition. Point this out. It is surprising how adults like to go to school. Urge all to fill out the test paper and bring it back next time, but suggest that they come anyway, even if something happens to keep them from getting the paper work done.
Sing a hymn or chorus, and have the benediction. Avoid extended Biblical discussion after the meeting has closed.
The hostess will see that wraps are in readiness. She and the leader should be near the door in a casual manner to extend a perfectly natural and gracious invitation to return. Treat all alike. Don't "Brother and Sister" some, and "Mr. and Mrs." others.
During the week every church member of the group will be earnestly praying for the visitors who came. It is one of the most beautiful and satisfying experiences that can come to Seventh-day Adventists. United prayer for specific souls is almost bound to bring some fruit.
In most cases the instructor will grade the test papers. Mark them "Excellent," "Very Good," or "Good." Do not be too technical. Most papers will receive a grade of "Excel lent." Encouragement of the student is more important than strict grading.
Certifying Students in Bible Clubs
What shall be done about issuing certificates to those who finish ? Bible club work may be done without certification, but most will agree that the use of a certificate award is helpful. Shall we use a different certificate for each course we offer j or use one certificate and attach different seals for various courses ? We recommend the latter method for this progressive work.
TEN-LESSON UNIT SYSTEM.—At times one may wish to have but ten or twelve lessons in a series of Bible club studies. Again, he may prefer twenty, or even thirty lessons. To care for the diverse desires of men, and the needs of the various situations, we have set up a ten- lesson unit in the 2Oth Century Course plan for certification. At present they are as follows Introductory Course (10 lessons) certified as "A”.
Lessons 1-10 of Course I certified as "B."
Lessons 11-20 of Course I certified as "C."
Lessons 21-30 of Course I certified as "D."
Pre-baptism Course II certified as "E."
Further courses to be certified as "F," "G," etcetera.
The 20th Century Progressive World Bible Club Certificate is now available through your Book and Bible House at 10 cents each. Re member that this certificate is the only one is sued and serves for all the units mentioned above. The 2oth Century Bible Correspondence Schools use a different certificate for correspondence students.
Suppose you use Course A for Bible clubs with your fall effort. The certificate will bear seal "A." If, in the spring you use Lessons 11-20 of Course I, you issue seal "C." Those who already have taken Course A receive only the seal "C." New students receive the certificate with seal "C." Should you run twenty or thirty lessons in a continuous series, you simply issue the certificate at the end of the longer series, attaching the proper seals.
SHIFTING SCHEDULE OF TOPICS.—What if you wish to run a ten-lesson Bible club series such as Course A, but you desire to alter the schedule? The answer is simple. Just alter it. If you prefer to drop out some Course A topics and insert some from other courses, do so. As long as you use Course A as the main basis of a given series, certify that series with seal "A."
Suppose you plan a twelve-to-fifteen-lesson series? Simply select a ten-lesson unit, adjust as you wish, and then certify with the seal which represents the basic ten-lesson unit you used. You may even give a study or two of your own, or use some lesson not part and parcel of the 2Oth Century Courses. The fact that 2oth Century lessons are numbered does not hinder in any way the shifting about of the schedule, especially when you are working face to face with people.
SEALS AND SEAL DIE.—Dennison gold seals (size BB or C) are the proper sizes. Size BB is just over three quarters of an inch in diameter. Size C is one inch. I prefer the smaller size, because it will make possible the use of the certificate for more courses. Buy plain gold seals at office or stationer stores if the conference does not furnish them.
The little hand, steel dies to stamp or emboss seals may be purchased at Roovers Steel Seals, 3611 14th Avenue at 36th Street, Brooklyn 18, New York; or at their New York , office, 41 Park Row, New York 7, New York. Price in 1949, $1.50 each. Each letter requires a separate tool, as A, B, C, D, E. No skill is required to operate.
Where the conference fosters the program in a strong way, the certificate may be issued from the office of the home missionary department or the 2oth Century Bible School. This certificate is entirely different from those used in correspondence work. It represents face-to-face con tact.
The certificate reads, "This certifies that ———— has satisfactorily completed, under personal super-vision, the course of study indicated by the attached seals." We think it would be proper to use this certificate where door-to- door delivery of lessons is the plan followed.
If the conference plan is for each church or district to purchase certificates and supplies, do not hesitate. It will pay in souls, and in a re generative fire of divine enthusiasm.
How now shall we bind off the interest of Bible clubs? How can we prepare for baptism? This will be discussed in the next and final article of this series.
(Final Installment, "Binding Off the Interest of Bible Clubs")