YOU CAN DO IT!
T. Pierce Brown, Evangelist
There are thousands of small churches and millions of Christians throughout the land who are doing very little to spread the good news of the gospel, not necessarily because they do not care, but partly because no one has helped them to see how, and then helped them to do it.
This article is an attempt to motivate and encourage you, individually and/or collectively, to start and continue a program that will be rewarding spiritually for all those who participate, and will do more for the spiritual and numerical growth of the church than any one thing of which I know.
I have been preaching from the pulpit and radio for about half a century, and involved in teacher training, personal evangelism and correspondence Bible course work for almost that long. In fact, I was involved in correspondence Bible course work in 1945. I do not know of any method of winning souls that has more potential for advancing the cause of Christ than correspondence Bible course work.
Let me suggest some reasons why, and some methods by which you can do it. If you can not get the whole congregation involved at first, start by yourself, and as good results are seen, others will help.
First, any person who can be encouraged to get involved will profit in the following ways: 1. He will feel a sense of self-worth and commitment to the greatest task on earth. Do not underestimate the value and power of that. 2. He will be re-invigorated in his spiritual life by studying all the questions on the Bible courses he is grading. 3. He will do more in-depth study than he ever did before as he seeks to find answers to the related questions his students will raise. 4. He can develop more periods of spiritual fellowship as he works with others in a concerted fashion. It will not merely be “eating and talking fellowship”, but one that has real depth and power as there is a joint-participation with each other and with God in this all-important task. 5. The greater knowledge, spirituality, confidence and maturity that will be created by this kind of preparation and work will help each person be a more effective personal evangelist in all sorts of situations outside the area of correspondence course work. 6. It will do more to eliminate bickering, talebearing, indifference, drop-outs, low contributions, and all other church problems than almost any amount of preaching will do. 7. It will help to provide “prospects”–the best kind one can have–for personal evangelism followup, whether that followup be open Bible study, film strips, or any other kind.
These are just some of the values of getting involved in such a work. Now let us suggest some simple steps by which you can get involved. Then we will see some principles that will help make the program a continuing and successful one.
First, decide on the Bible Correspondence with which you are going to start. Order a group of them and see which is best for your situation. When I have begun with one, I usually continue (that is, offer my students the opportunity) with a more advanced one until they have finished at least two different courses.
Second, do not ask for volunteers. This may surprise you, for most of us probably tried to do it that way for the first several years. Select specific persons who have demonstrated an ability and concern to stick with a hard job, and inform them of the hours of hard labor it will take to do it. However, when you have found a few teachers, if you can enroll every member of the congregation first in taking the course, you will discover some other teachers by the time they have finished, as well as increase the knowledge, spirituality and cooperation of the congregation in the project.
I would like to urgently suggest another thing which I have found has the ability to multiply by at least 10 the amount of work that can be effectively done. Since there are so many computers in use today, if you have one, or have access to one, do the following things: 1. Get answers to all the questions with a more detailed explanation of the reason for the answer than a simple TRUE-FALSE or word to fill in the blank. A person who misses a question needs to know in more detail why another answer is better. These should be filed on the computer in such a way that they can be accessed and incorporated into the response you make to the student with only one or two key strokes. It does not make sense to have persons spending hours writing out the same kinds of answers over and over. 2. Get a good data base so you can keep a compete record of each student, make mailing labels and reports of various kinds, etc. 3. Get a list of tracts with answers to all sorts of questions that are asked. For those questions about which you can find no tract, write, or get someone else to write a short answer for each question as it comes and file it on the computer to use for such future questions. I have a file of almost 300 or so subjects of this nature on which I have no tract, but can answer the question in about one minute on my computer.
The greatest problem I have found with the program over the years is not in the congregations where I got it going, but in the congregations all over the country to whom I sent the names and addresses of those who had completed the course that they might be followed up and helped in whatever way they needed help. From the reports I received, it appeared that thousands were never followed up. This is a shocking, shameful thing, for many of them were the best prospects a church could have, since they had already learned the truth about many things, and had already shown good interest by continuing through 30 or more lessons of study.