EXPERIENCE taught me early in my ministry about the unique contribution the Bible instructor makes in evangelism. Working with one of these dedicated, trained personal evangelists, we formed a small team. The Lord blessed with fruitage and a new church of believers was formed.
Unfortunately, the conference Bible instructor has become a member of a rare breed. People are deeply concerned about the diminishing numbers of certain animal species. How many Seventh-day Adventists are concerned about the declining number of Bible instructors, and how deeply? In my view, this is a calamity involving an unnecessary and extremely costly loss to the Advent Movement. The tragic shortage could be resolved if enough men in leading positions see it as one demanding high priority in denominational planning. We have seen more difficult problems conquered.
Women, whether single or married, can make an invaluable contribution to soul winning and a finished work, if trained as Bible instructors. Marriage need not be a deterrent. I would like to see a plan of training developed that would attract, among others, every young woman engaged to marry a theological student and every woman married to a minister. Its product would be trained Bible instructors, professionally trained social workers, or, ideally, both combined in the same individual.
How can the few Bible instructors we do have make their contribution to the church and the world more effective? How can such increased effectiveness make a contribution toward solving the problem of their scarcity?
To find an answer let us notice the ministry of Jesus. Jesus' teaching ministry consisted not only in opening the Scriptures to the understanding of His followers, but He spent considerable time training these new converts both to preach and to heal. Then He actually sent them out on a mission to homes, ministering to people where they were.
One thing that makes this work so effective is that the Bible instructor may multiply herself and her results in souls brought to Christ through training lay members.
Candidates for the training are found everywhere, in every church. I have found Adventist laymen everywhere eager to learn how to teach the. Word of God to others and lead them to a decision. The Bible instructor has the unique experience and the professional skills needed to give to laymen not only theoretical knowledge, but on-the-job training. In every church may be found women of ability who can be trained to do this gospel ministry. A few may develop into full-time workers in conference employ. Hundreds of others can give part-time volunteer service, giving one or more Bible studies every week.
The blueprint indicates that it is the pastor's nicest work to train lay members for service. I believe it is the Bible instructor's nicest work to train and develop other Bible instructors.
Certainly not all who join classes develop into workers. Yet many do. There would be fewer casual ties if the candidates were person ally selected, if the classes were smaller, and if the theory were combined with on-the-job training. The Bible instructor who is constantly engaged in giving Bible studies in homes, is in an ideal position to give this on-the-job training.
Jesus provided a complete ministry to the whole person. He taught His followers to both preach and heal. Social work as well as medical work is a healing ministry. It is based on the one-to-one case work relationship. It offers marvelous insights into understanding human personality and methods of working with people.
The gospel record says the men Jesus trained and sent out came back with joy to report their experiences. We can imagine how much joy they brought to the heart of Jesus, their Teacher. I know this kind of joy. Every Bible instructor can know it too. It comes through making our ministry for converts a complete ministry.