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This Question of Cooperation!

A BIBLE INSTRUCTOR

[EDITORIAL NOTE. The following article has grown out of a problem that may need an occasional discussion. It is possible that some ministers as well as Bible instructors may be helped by these mutual suggestions. One Bible instructor here gives expression to some points others have often wanted to discuss. We think it best not to mention her name, however. Happy relationships in our work are characteristic of our mission. We are not idealists, but rather realists, and since there is still room for improvement for the most matured Christian, let us talk it over in kindly fashion. We invite every minister to stand by! L. c. K.]

Today we hear much said about cooperation, for all successful people in public life recognize that they must give cooperation to those with whom they work and receive the same from them. When these leaders speak of cooperation it is generally understood that they expect cooperation from those whom they lead. This is certainly a necessary condition for success in any field. But though I would not minimize the importance of this phase of cooperation, may I suggest another phase as applying to the work of the minister and the Bible instructor.

In the Bible work I have tried to cooperate with my associate minister, and have had real joy thinking that I was doing that. I have sought counsel as to the subjects to be presented to my readers, how to give certain studies, with whom to continue studying so as to use my time to the best advantage, and what other duties he might like me to perform. I enjoy trying to cooperate in this way.

However, there are times in the work of the Bible instructor when she, in return, greatly needs the cooperation of her associated pastor. Having done the best she can, and having now come to the end of her resources, she feels the great need of his help to bring her readers to the point of decision. This may mean making some subject more clear, especially to a doubting mind. The average Bible instructor feels that her pastor could give her just such help, but dare she go to him? She knows that he is a very busy man. He has more to do than he can possibly attend to. What would he say or think about her work if she were to go to him for help in these special cases?

This would not mean that he would need to go with her to the homes of the people, taking over all her studies, nor would it diminish her responsibility for these souls. Often have I thought that just a little help from the pastor at the right time would result in many more souls being led to Christ.

If I am any judge in the matter, right on this point the work of the Bible instructor could be made far more enjoyable and productive in winning souls for the message. I would appreciate a discussion of this problem in THE MINISTRY.

Shall We Discuss Cooperation?

By: Louise, C. Kleuser

Workers engaged in winning people to our message are dependent upon one an other's help in a very special sense. The enemy presents strong opposition to losing one soul on his side, and the gospel worker is ever in conflict with him. By the very nature of the conflict workers must stand together, upholding one another's hands. Because our ministers and Bible instructors are especially responsible for increasing our church membership, cooperation between them is most imperative.

To take a negative attitude on this question of cooperation would be depressing. It would also be unnecessary, for where in this present world of misunderstanding might we hope to find a group more united and helpful? Those not with us point to our wonderful brother hood as a miracle. However, we may still hope to help one another while progressing toward perfection. While the world is in confusion and human relations are strained, our workers are constantly pressing together for a better understanding of their mutual problems. College courses, institutes, workers' meetings all have aided in this direction. We cheerfully help one another in every department of our work. Any worker failing to cooperate is so decidedly out of step with his team that he must either learn to move along with his colleagues or step aside.

Generally speaking, Bible instructors remain enthusiastic about the ministers with whom they are associated, and our ministers also express increasing appreciation of the work of these Bible instructors. Their problem arises when we cannot add more of such faithful, noble women to the working staffs of our conferences.

There is today the growing pressure of church administration. The minister lacks time for at tending to the detail tasks of winning new believers. He is dependent upon skilled assistants, trained and matured workers. He is also too busy to continue teaching the willing young woman who may be lacking preparation for the Bible work. She must know her work as well as he knows his. It takes more than willingness and soul-winning zeal to be an efficient Bible instructor. Among many other qualifications it requires unfailing charity, keen judgment, in tuition, culture, untiring energy, bighearted- ness, and a deep understanding of human nature, besides thoroughness as a Bible student.

This last-mentioned qualification must mean more than a knowledge of a hundred texts and where to find them. It must mean a constantly increasing familiarity with the Word as a teaching avenue for the development of sound Christian character. The goal in soul winning is the ultimate perfection of those souls she visits. More than might be concluded at the beginning, the selection of a Bible instructor would require a well-balanced personality.

Appealing to Our Ministers

Now addressing our ministers on the question of their cooperation with their Bible instructors, I would cautiously venture to make a few suggestions to my ministering brethren. Since the most skilled in our work may still continue to grow in grace as well as in the knowledge of God, let me briefly list a few points for our ministers' consideration.

I. DEALING WITH THE BEGINNER BIBLE INSTRUC TOR.

1. Helping the Bible instructor to get properly located. (See The Bible Instructor, pp. 331-335.)

2. Talking through what you expect of her. Planning for regular councils.

3. Guiding her in her church duties. (She is a soul winner, not a deaconess.)

4. Building a wise and friendly relationship between your family and the Bible instructor.

5. Maintaining your dignity as a minister, but not to the point of straining relationships in the work.

6. Building confidence for the development of your combined work.

7. Helping her to meet people. Publicly calling attention to the Bible instructor's work.

8. Concentrating with her in the homes of the people for decisions for the message.

9. Discovering together that you are supplementing and strengthening each other's work.

10. Upholding each other in the face of success and opposition.

11. Sharing success by words of appreciation when reporting your evangelistic work.

12. Guiding the beginner to grow into her profession, to work with your successors.

 

II. DEALING WITH EXPERIENCED BIBLE INSTRUC TORS.

1. Treating your assistant as an equal in ability and experience.

2. Respecting her as a godly woman who is doing a hard task in gospel work.

3. Assuring her of your confidence in her judgment and methods of labor.

4. Planning an occasional outing or social event in which she may join your family.

5. Allowing her to rejoice with you in your inspiring experiences and sharing hers in the same manner.

6. Avoiding any occasion that might bring about a lack of confidence in each other's work.

7. Believing that when she calls on you to visit a home with her, her visit is very important.

8. Refraining from cautions or insinuations that hurt her delicate nature. Most Bible instructors are experienced enough with life to understand the necessary precautions that must be taken when men and women work together.

9. Encouraging your Bible instructor occasionally to venture out in untried paths of duty. She may be a good public speaker, or may have influence with youth. Keep her work from monotony by developing her for large responsibility.

10. Allowing her to relax an extra day or two after a most strenuous period of evangelism. .She will need it.

11. Refraining from making the most casual remark to any church member regarding some point of her inability.

12. Giving her the opportunity to continue developing under other ministers. Do not expect to keep your wonderful Bible instructor.

Kindly Counsel to Our Sisters

Since cooperation involves more than the other party, we sisters will recognize that this problem of cooperation should be dealt with personally. A peevish woman does not belong to the Bible work. A sensitive person must overcome her failing, as well as her associated minister should improve by giving her better cooperation.

Paul stated that a woman's place in gospel service is that of assisting in the ministry. We sisters are not competing with preachers or church administrators. Ours is a most enviable mission we are ourselves! Nevertheless, many a sister in our denominational work is a mighty coordinating force in soul winning. Again, many a noble woman in this ministerial profession must continue to stand on her own feet, so that her busy associates may have more time to help the spiritually feeble back on their feet. Bible instructors know what Israel ought to do and do not waste their time discussing what the brethren should be doing.

A Bible instructor should never be self-assertive, never a know-it-all, and never a corn- plainer. She must be the very essence of Christianity, with the feminine touch. Ever willing to help, ever ready to be spent, a true Bible instructor puts the most noble construction on every effort on the part of her associates. She will interpret what might be considered even limited cooperation as the best to be expected under pressing circumstances. The remedy is always found in our going the second mile. And, sisters, this is exactly what our Bible instructors are doing the world around. They are respected for their unobtrusive service. They rest in the satisfaction that it is a great privilege to serve their Master while they cooperate with their brethren in the proclamation of the message.

 

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January 1952

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