Recent Autumn Council actions brought the Bible work into direct focus. Much time was given to a discussion of this need in our denominational evangelism. To bring the resulting actions to the attention of the entire field, we publish herewith two recommendations that affect our Bible instructors. For a number of years this work has been undergoing some changes, largely made necessary by war pressure and our expanding needs throughout the world. The discussion helped to clarify the thinking of our leaders on present-day Bible instructor needs.
The Autumn Council consideration of the Bible work centered on one of the most acute problems that have ever faced our work: Where shall we find field Bible instructors for our city evangelism? The fields at home and abroad need more trained workers for personal work. The Bible work is not the only profession that is experiencing a dearth, for women are greatly needed in various professions today; but in our denomination this has become one of the most urgent needs.
Briefly, we still recognize that a college course is important for a broader training of Bible instructors, and we should continue to look to our colleges to guide young people of ability into this profession. Our college courses should embrace ministerial, educational, medical, and publishing lines, but the Bible work should not be overlooked. However, we should recognize emergencies, and in the suggested plan for shorter training courses for Bible instructors we find a striking parallel to the expanded training program for various types of nursing service.
Procedure for Training Bible Instructors
Since the field at large, and our churches in particular, provide the best talent for the Bible work, selectees from this source are our surest prospects. Here is an opportunity for experienced Bible instructors to guide our conferences by making some wise suggestions. At the present time not many fields will be prepared to try out more than just a few promising women in local evangelism, for the purpose of receiving their immediate help, and developing them into full-fledged permanent Bible instructors. But we can make a beginning. It requires more than enthusiasm to be a Bible instructor; consecration and mental ability must also be considered.
Our experienced Bible instructors will need to cooperate with our minister-evangelists in giving some promising women an opportunity to learn the art. Some Bible instructors are known to do strong work in guiding and training others for this work, but some lack the necessary vision. A few have grown too conscious of the heavy burdens this service imposes, and are hesitant about enlisting younger people for the Bible work. The argument breaks down, however, when youth accepts the challenge of a difficult task. And the physical needs and comforts of the Bible instructor are already receiving more sympathetic consideration on the part of most of our employing boards. Bible instructors are coming into their own, and our conference leaders are showing a genuine interest in making the work of these consecrated women more inviting. They recognize the importance of the Bible work.
Provision for Necessary Adjustments
In working out these recommendations we assume that local adjustments must be made. Those fields in America that are more distant from our Theological Seminary will need consideration in the matter of the worker's transportation. On the other hand, some overseas fields may need to begin this Bible instructor training in their local schools. It is the sincere aim of the Ministerial Association to carry out the spirit of this recommendation in counsel with our leadership. There is nothing arbitrary about these plans. And in this connection it should also be made clear that the cause needs men as Bible instructors and personal workers, as well as women.
Because the average Bible instructor may be functioning in a somewhat restricted evangelistic group, or may even be confining her work to one directing pastor's supervision, there is a tendency for the outlook of some to become a little narrow. Each worker is helped by contact with others who carry similar responsibilities. Years of success in adding members to our churches may not always result in a broadening of thought or of vision. For this reason it is desirable that the more experienced worker also be granted an occasional leave of absence from her field activities in order to enjoy a refresher course at our Seminary. Every Bible worker should welcome such an opportunity, and our fields would do well to provide for the Bible instructor the same privileges that are granted occasionally to ministers and classroom teachers.
And so we rejoice that our second Bible instructor recommendation provides for our faithful, seasoned women in the work. Such a plan will bring courage and improved physical health to a large number who have longingly awaited such a day. Of course we will each need to use good judgment in developing this plan in our ranks. It will be important for our Bible instructors to counsel well with their conference presidents and to show a spirit of cooperation. No one should become dissatisfied or impatient when she is not given consideration as the first in her field to enjoy this privilege. Conferences may need a little time to work out equitable arrangements.
We rejoice in the thought that our leadership has so ably helped us in meeting the present need for developing a true Bible work for these closing days of our message. Bible instructors, feel free to write to us in the Minsterial Association about your reaction to these far-visioned plans, for in this way we shall learn how to proceed in unison. Bible instructor classes will be taught at the Theological Seminary March 2 to May 17. We will give you more details about these classes in the next issue of THE MINISTRY.
L. C. K.