A New Outreach Through Adult Education

HAVE you been looking for a new approach in conducting your evangelistic campaigns? If so, read on. . .

Evangelist, Northern California Conference, at the time this article was written

HAVE you been looking for a new approach in conducting your evangelistic campaigns? If so, read on.

Most of us are familiar with revival-style meetings incorporating a motion picture, song service, announcements, offering, evangelistic sermon, call to raise hands, appeal song, and on selected nights an altar call.

Because the revival-style approach appeals mainly to fundamentalist religious groups, we have been experimenting with methods that will draw from a larger segment of the population.

Adult education reaches people on every rung of the social ladder. Lawyers and doc tors are attracted as well as those who have little formal education. If a certificate or diploma is offered, the program is even more effective.

Adult-education classes have several ad vantages over regular evangelistic meetings:

1. The people can be pre-enrolled, enabling the evangelist to gauge his attendance ahead of time.

2. The people are enrolled for the en tire series. (In evangelistic meetings they often select only certain topics they want to hear.) In adult education every class is important.

3. Homework can be assigned, such as printed health and Bible lessons. If the student misses a class, he makes it up by filling out the lesson at home.

4. The students can be graduated at the close of the series. This aim keeps the interest high. The people attend the final classes as well as they do the first.

5. Every visit has a purpose. The pres sure is off. If the prospect misses a class, you take the lesson to him, thus doing him a favor. He comes to every class possible because he does not want to put you out. The psychology of this method is tremendous.

General Procedure

In our program we have a health class and a Bible class. To avoid letting the subject matter decrease in interest as the classes progress, we begin with health topics of high interest and build toward the top-rated subject. In the Bible portion we cover general noncontroversial subjects the first two weeks, then introduce doctrine.

There are several ways to conduct the classes:

1. Using pictures, either slide or motion pictures, with the evangelist narrating.

2. Lecturing, using a chalkboard and visual aids (being careful not to preach).

3. Using interviews with a moderator, panel, and the evangelist (or a doctor in a health class).

Whatever method is used, the class should be informal and relaxed. This atmosphere helps in establishing rapport with the students. A stiff, formal atmosphere creates a barrier between the evangelist and those he is trying to reach.

I personally prefer the interview format, because professional medical personnel can be used in the health class without sacrificing participation of the evangelist. If the doctor is not a good speaker, the panel can carry him along without losing the interest of the class.

People like an interview format. It is widely used in television and radio, and people are comfortable with it. Also, an interview lets the evangelist control the subject matter because the presentation follows his outline.

My experience reveals that the question-and-answer method is an effective teaching tool for both the health and Bible classes, for questions focus attention on important points in the presentation.

The Nightly Program

The song service, offering, and special music do not fit into a class setting, so we have dispensed with these aspects of the revival-type meeting. We avoid making the entire program religious by waiting to have prayer until the Bible class convenes. We do just as well financially with contribution boxes at the back of the class as com pared with offerings taken in revival-type meetings. People usually give large donations, although less frequently. We consistently get $25, $50, or $100 checks, with a $300 check our best contribution to date.

The order of service is simple, but it must be followed. People will lose interest if the classes are too long or the program drags. Here is the schedule we follow:

6:58 p.m. Introductions and welcome

7:00 p.m.

Health class interview
7:30 p.m.
Questions from the class and class participation
7:40 p.m. Announcements
7:45 p.m. Prayer for the Bible class Bible class interview
8:25 p.m. Questions from the class and class participation
8:30 p.m. Announcement of the next class and class dismissal

We use panel interplay on the announcements to keep them interesting. We also keep them short. Each night we encourage new students to enroll, encourage all class members to fill out the printed lessons, check out books from the lending library, place contributions in the boxes provided, and tell friends about the classes. We also announce the topics for the next three classes.

Attendance Awards

We do not give away a lot of prizes, but we do give every student a Bible to use in the Bible class, free copies of the eight-page lesson nightly, and a couple of supplementary books if their lessons are kept up to date. This is enough to give away.

The lending library is one of the most successful ideas we have incorporated into our program. In our small campaigns we check out more than a hundred titles. We have a good assortment of paperbacks and full-message books, including health books. A few large sets make the library more impressive. We do not carry more than five or six copies of any one title, but we try to include books for the major health and Bible topics we present.

Most of our classes are held in a rented store building that we open as the Community Education Center. Fire regulations require two lighted exits and two fire extinguishers (check with authorities for regulations in your area). We construct the platform eight inches off the floor with concrete blocks, three-quarter inch ply wood, and wood paneling.

We use a large desk (or table) instead of a pulpit, bar stools, a black-light chalk board, and a rear-projection screen. At the entrance to the classroom we have a table for enrolling students and correcting lessons, two file cabinets for storing lessons, and two literature racks for the lending library. We use a Graflex motion picture projector and a Kodak 850 carousel slide projector.

Using Laymen

Laymen are an integral part of our evangelistic team, and are used in visiting as well as in the meetings. Every visitor who attends has a layman assigned to him. The layman takes the lessons to him whenever he misses the class and gets to know him in his home. Women work at the table enrolling new students, keeping record of the attendance and lessons completed, and correcting the lessons students turn in. Men help in seating visitors, passing out mate rials, taking care of the lights and equipment, and straightening up after each class.

A nursery for small children increases attendance. Four or five women will be needed nightly in the nursery. We have found that motion pictures can be educational and entertaining to the children (our women show them forward and back ward).

Doctors, dentists, and nurses can be used nightly in your health class. They will add prestige to your series by their very presence. The medical workers should be scheduled well in advance.

Adult education is a new approach to evangelism, but I have found it effective in reaching people not touched by more conventional approaches.

Why not incorporate this new idea into your program, thus taking advantage of every means possible to reach those for whom Christ died?

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Evangelist, Northern California Conference, at the time this article was written

May 1972

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