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The Hyles Church Manual
10. The Sunday School
Let us first be plainly understood by saying that nothing will take the place of the Word of God and consistent teaching of the Bible in the Sunday school. No amount of promotion, no amount of organization, of God. A consistent Bible-teaching program is necessary in the building of a great Sunday school.
Our discussion will be under three main topics: (1)
the planning of the Sunday school program, (2) the preparing of this
program, and (3) the promoting of the program of a great Sunday school.
(1.) Every worker in our Sunday school must be a converted, born-again person.
(2.) Every person who teaches in our Sunday school must be an active member of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana.
(3.) We require faithfulness on the part of all of our Sunday school teachers and workers. By this we mean: faithfulness to the Sunday school hour, faithfulness to the morning preaching service on the Lord’s Day, faithfulness to the Sunday evening service, faithfulness to the Wednesday evening service, as well as faithful attendance to the Sunday school teachers’ and officers’ meeting preceding the regular midweek service on Wednesday evening.
(4.) We expect loyalty from our Sunday school workers. certainly no Sunday school, or any other organization for that matter, can be built successfully without loyal workers, loyal teachers and a loyal staff of helpers. The Sunday school teacher should be loyal to the church program, loyal to the ministry of the pastor, loyal to the Gospel and to the Word of God.
(5.) Every Sunday school worker is required to be doctrinally sound. by this we mean they should adhere to the doctrines of the church. They should certainly believe the Articles of Faith adopted by the church and be loyal to the teachings and doctrines of the Word of God.
(6.) We require that each of our Sunday school teachers and officers live a separated life. No one should open the Word of God to teach it to boys or girls or men or women in the Sunday school unless he is separate from the world. no teacher should participate in such questionable amusements as drinking any kind of alcoholic beverages, dancing, gambling, or other habits that would be detrimental to the testimony of Jesus Christ and the work of building a great Sunday school.
(7.) Last, but not least, is the important
qualification of having a love for souls of men. Every Sunday school teacher
should be burdened for souls and should be actively participating in
reaching people for Jesus Christ.
How, then, are our lessons chosen? Approximately in the month of September, our teachers and officers meet to discuss and pray about the lessons for the following year. Suggestions are presented, a discussion is conducted, and finally we vote upon what we think we should teach for the following year. Maybe we are in a building program, and we should have special lessons geared to our building program. Perhaps we plan to have a great enlargement campaign, and we plan our lessons around the program of the year. After we have discussed and prayed concerning the material for the new year, then we vote and decide concerning what subjects, Bible lessons, etc., we shall teach in our Bible Sunday school for the new year.
We have taught in our Sunday school the book of Romans
verse by verse. We have taught the book of Acts chapter by chapter. We have
taught famous people in the Bible person by person. We have taught the
little books of the Bible and the insignificant characters of the Bible. We
have taught Bible separation, Bible stewardship, and other important
doctrines, subjects and books from the Word of God. This is how we choose
The first thing I would like to say about the finding of the space is this: a Sunday school does not have to have adequate space to grow. The church at Jerusalem had, it is said, over twenty thousand members and no church building. To be sure, it is an asset and an advantage to have proper space for our classes and departments. Once again may I emphasize, though it is an advantage, it is not a necessity. A great Sunday school can be built under adverse conditions and with limited space and improper lighting and building facilities. The only thing stops the work of God is the lack of faith in the people of God. When people have a mind to work, have faith in God and stay busy at the main task of reaching people for Jesus Christ, I believe that Sunday schools can be built even without proper space.
Here in the city of Hammond we had a tragic fire in
1964. Six hundred nineteen thousand dollars of our property was swept away
overnight. In spite of this fact (minus $629,000.00 of our Sunday school
facilities) we continued to grow. And today we are averaging one thousand
more in Sunday school than we were at the time of the fire. At the time of
this discussion we are utilizing a furniture store, a Knights of Columbus
Hall, an apartment house and other inadequate facilities; and, through it
all, the work is going forward. God is blessing and the Sunday School is
growing by leaps and bounds.
Beginners-ages four and five
Primaries-first and second grade
Juniors-third grade through sixth grade
Junior High-seventh and eighth grade
High School-ninth grade through twelfth grade
As we think about the division of classes and
departments, our attention is turned toward the adults’ division of classes.
We have found it necessary to have many types of adult classes. I teach a
large auditorium Bible class. Last Sunday we had 583. We have had as high as
1,100 in this class on a special Sunday. This class is the largest in our
Sunday school. However, we have many other large adult classes. We have a
young couples’ class, a couples’ class for middle-aged friends. We have a
class for unmarried adults, a class for college-age adults, a men’s Bible
class, and several ladies’ classes. These classes each perform an unusual
and unique purpose in the building of our Sunday school. We have it helpful
also to have classes for the deaf, the retarded children and many, many
other groups that oftentimes are overlooked in the building of a Sunday
1. Have a separated life.
2. Have a daily private devotion.
3. Have a daily, clean and pure thought life.
4. Start studying the lesson on Monday.
5. Have proper motives in the teaching of the Word of God.
6. Prepare yourself physically to teach.
7. Prepare yourself mentally to teach.
8. Prepare yourself spiritually to teach.
9. Pray daily for each pupil of your class.
10. Visit in the home of each pupil every quarter or very three months.
11. Visit all of the absentees.
12. Be a pastor to your pupils.
13. Attend the teachers’ meeting on Wednesday evening.
14. Support the entire church program.
15. Be faithful to every public service of the church.
16. When absent, contact the superintendent at least three days before the Sunday on which you are to be absent.
17. Have a monthly class meeting.
18. Organize the class properly.
19. Get up early enough on Sunday morning not to be rushed before teaching the Word of God.
20. Brush over the lesson again on Sunday morning.
21. Make the classroom attractive.
22. Greet the class members as they come in.
23. Meet all visitors before the starting of the class.
24. Properly introduce the visitors, making them feel at home in the class.
25. Enlist every new member possible.
26. Spend the maximum time of five minutes on announcements and business so you can get down quickly to the teaching of the Word of God.
27. Ask all visitors to fill out visitors’ slips.
28. Each teacher should tithe.
29. Leave the quarterly at home. I could not say enough about this. The cardinal sin in a Sunday school class would be for a person not to teach from an open Bible.
30. Teach only from the Bible.
31. Do not make any pupil read or talk.
32. Have an interest getter or a point of contact for the lesson.
33. Have a written aim for the lesson.
34. Stay on the subject of the lesson.. Do not allow anyone to get you off of the subject at hand.
35. Be the age of the pupils as you teach.
36. Teach until the bell rings or until it is time to dismiss the class and prepare for the morning service.
37. Take your class directly to the auditorium.
38. If you have lost people in your class, sit with them in the morning service.
39. Keep the Lord’s Day holy.
40. Make the work of the Lord the most important thing in your life.
These forty things are presented to our teachers and officers at the opening of each Sunday school year. This is one way in which we prepare the program. We dwell on separation at these meetings. For example, we teach our teachers how to prepare the lesson. We teach them to prepare themselves, to prepare the pupils, to prepare the classroom, and to prepare the lesson. In the preparing of the lesson we teach them to start studying the lesson on Monday afternoon. We suggest that every teacher read the lesson material from the Bible at least seven times before he begins to prepare his outline. We suggest they read it one time for content, one time looking for types of Jesus Christ, another time looking for thoughts, another time with helps, anther time with a classbook beside the Bible (so as to be able to apply the lesson to each pupil in the class), another time to outline the lesson and prepare it for the Sunday school class on the Lord’s Day.
Then we discuss at this annual course how to present a lesson. We teach our teachers to present the lesson only from the Bible. We teach them to seek limited participation from the pupil. For example, we never say, “What do you think about verse 2?” Why, they may think ten minutes about verse 2. Consequently, we seek limited participation. Ask questions that demand only a one-word answer or a very brief answer-a fill in the blank, a multiple choice, or some other question, or some other type presentation that will require participation, yet on a limited scale.
There are many other things that we offer in this
annual course. Time Would not permit us to discuss each of these.
At this Teachers’ and Officers’ Meeting, during this time from 6:30 until 6:50, we also introduce new workers. We do it like this: “It is a real joy to have Mrs. Jones teaching with us in the Primary Department. Mrs. Jones, would you stand, please. Mrs.. Jones, would you please stand, please. Mrs. Jones, on behalf of the many workers, teachers, superintendents and officers of the Sunday School of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, we welcome you to our facility. We trust that God will bless you in your new class and make your stay with us a happy and profitable one as we serve the Lord together. Let us all give Mrs. Jones a hand.” (All of the workers join in giving an applause to Mrs. Jones, welcoming her to the faculty and staff of the Sunday school of the First Baptist Church.)
From 6:50 until 7:10 we teach the Sunday school lesson
to our teachers. The pastor has made a three-page outline prior to the
meeting. This outline consists of an aim, a point of contact, an
introduction, a body and a conclusion to the lesson. An example would be a
follows: the aim: to teach my pupils the truth concerning the keeping of the
inside clean as well as the outside; the point of contact: Teacher, bring a
cup or a platter to the class on the Lord’s Day. Shine to a high gloss the
outside of the cup but leave the inside dirty. Ask your pupils if they would
like to have a drink of water from the cup. Of course the answer would be
negative. Ask them why. They will reply that the cup is dirty. Immediately,
you have their attention. You are about to teach them the story of Jesus’
rebuking the scribes and Pharisees for having external cleanliness but
internal filth. Do you see the point of contact? The interest getter has
gotten their attention directed toward the lesson. This outline also
consists of a memory verse and questions and answers concerning the lesson.
Some of these may be true and false questions; some, multiple choice;
others, underline the right answer; others, fill in the blanks; but theses
questions are the close of the lesson outline as presented each Wednesday
Let us review. From 6:30 until 6:50 we promote. From
6:50 until 7:10 we teach the lesson and present the outline. From 7:10 until
7:30 we present methods, plans, and ways to apply the lesson to the
particular age level involved. I could not emphasize too strongly the
importance of the weekly Teachers’ and Officers’ Meeting.
We have discussed the planning of the program; we have
discussed the preparing of the program, and now we come to discuss the
promoting of the program. Let us remind you once again that the program
itself is the most important part of the Sunday school. Consistent
week-by-week teaching of the Word of God and the preparation of the teacher,
the pupil and the worker is tremendously important. However, it matters not
how much we teach the Bible and how well we teach the Bible if no one is
there to hear us teach the Bible. Then we have become as sounding brass and
tinkling cymbal. Consequently, we must spend much time, energy and effort in
the promoting of the program.
When I was a little boy I fished in the creek near our house. I fished for crappie. I would get one hook, one line, one pole and fish. One day I noticed a fellow beside me who had two hooks and two minnows on one line. I thought that was a tremendous idea. Perhaps that would even double the amount of fish that I would catch. So I put another hook on my line. Later, I added the third hook to the same line. It wasn’t long that the tremendous idea dawned upon me that I had two hands; consequently, I made two poles. When I say I made two poles, I mean I made two poles. We used a limb of a tree and I put three hooks and three minnows on each pole. Finally, I decided to make a third pole. Consequently, I had three hooks on three different poles, giving me mine chances to catch the fish instead of the previous one chance.
One day I saw some men coming out on the creek in a boat. They went down the creek a bit and pulled up a big line, and there was big twelve-pound catfish on one hook and another big catfish on another. I said, “Fellows, what kind of fishing do you call that?”
They said, “It is trotline fishing.”
“That is for me,” I said. “Never again will I fish with one hook and one minnow and one pole. I want to put many hooks in the water.”
Now the average church fishes with one hook, one minnow, one line and one pole. This is the preaching of the Gospel from the pulpit. We at First Baptist Church have many hooks in the water. We throw our trotline in the water after the Sunday evening service ends. Then all week long we keep the hooks out in the water. On Sunday morning during the invitation we simply pull the hooks out of the water and se how many fish we find on each hook.
The First six months of 1966 my secretary gave me the report that 1,400 people had walked the aisle-either receiving Christ as Saviour or joining the First Baptist Church. That is in six months. In the first six months of the year, 721 of these had followed Christ in believers’ baptism and had been baptized in the baptistery in the First Baptist Church of Hammond. These people were not preached down the aisle. Oh, maybe a few came in response to the preaching, but 85% of these people had been dealt with or won to Christ in the home prior to their walking the aisle. This is what we call trotline fishing.
Jesus said to go into the streets, the lanes, the highways and hedges, and bring the halt, poor, sick, the blind to Himself. And so, we go where they are.
Let us notice for a few moments the hooks that we keep in the water in our visitation program: The first hook is the pastor’s personal soul winning. No one can build a great soul-winning church unless the pastor is a soul winner. The pastor himself should lead in soul winning. Every Sunday he should have someone prepared to walk the aisle professing publicly his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The second hook we throw in the water it the staff. Each member of our staff is required to witness for Jesus Christ. My assistant pastors, yes, even the secretaries are required to spend at least four hours a week witnessing to unsaved people. Our staff last year brought over six hundred people down the aisles of the First Baptist Church professing Faith in Jesus Christ.
The third hook that we put in the water is the hook of our Sunday school teachers. Last year our Sunday school teachers led 411 people to Jesus Christ. We constantly put before our teachers and officers the importance of soul winning. Every Sunday of the year some teacher or officer brings someone down the aisle professing faith in Jesus Christ.
The fourth hook we put in the water is the deacon hook. We have sixty-six deacons here at First Baptist (one for each 100 members of the church). These are dedicated men, not chosen because of their financial position or social standing or emince in the community, but rather chosen because of their love for Jesus Christ and their love for the souls of men. These deacons bring souls to Jesus Christ and their love for the souls of men. These deacons bring souls to Jesus Christ. Every Sunday of the world some deacon brings someone down the aisle receiving Christ as Saviour.
A little girl who moved away with her family from our city and visited another church said she didn’t like the church. someone asked her why. “Well,” she said, “at the First Baptist Church at Hammond, the pastor stands behind the pulpit and the demons sit on the front. At this church the demons don’t sit on the front.” I am sure she was a little mixed up. She meant deacons, but she said demons. I am afraid that in far to many cases the word demons is more descriptive that the word deacons, for God did not intend for the deacons to be somewhat of a Wall street financier, but rather God intended for deacons to be men of compassion and burdened for souls. And so our deacons lead people to Jesus Christ.
The fifth hook we have in the water is the work with the handicapped. Our church has one person who uses several others to help in work with the handicapped constantly. The shut-ins receive periodical visits with a tape recording of the services and personal take format he pastor. It is nothing unusual for someone to roll down the aisle in a wheelchair. It has happened that some have been rolled down the aisle in hospital beds. We have a constant agreement that any handicapped person who is won to Christ can have a wheelchair, a hospital bed and ambulance service to come to our service.
A few weeks ago, in fact in the last four weeks, we had two people roll down the aisle in wheelchairs the same Sunday professing faith in Christ or being added to the church.
Our sixth hook in the water is the work with the deaf. On a recent Sunday we had fifty-one deaf people in our deaf section. Our deaf and hard-of-hearing work brings about fifty people to Jesus Christ every year. Last year sixty-one people came down these aisles professing Jesus Christ who were deaf and hard-of-hearing. This is a tremendous ministry of our church.
Another hook we have in the water is the rescue mission hook. Our church owns and operates a full-time rescue mission. We will average about two men per Sunday walking the aisles in our church for believers’ baptism who were saved in our rescue mission. Hundreds of others are saved each year in our rescue mission who do not actually stay for the Sunday services and come forward in our church.
Another hook we have in the water is our visitation committee. We have divided our city into fifteen different sections. Two fine, well-trained people are chosen to visit in each section of the city. For example, lets suppose that you and I are chosen to visit in section one. It would be our job to visit every new person who moves into section one. It will be our job to visit every person who visits our services from section one. These two people are chosen like Sunday school teachers and officers, and they are responsible for making a good visit in section one or their particular section of the city. We call this our visitation committee. Week by week people are brought down the aisles professing faith in Christ by these people.
Another hook we have in the water is our bus ministry. The First Baptist Church operates forty-five bur routes. We bring as many as 1,500 people to Sunday school and to preaching service every Sunday. Yes, I said to preaching service! These people stay for the preaching of the Word of God. We have, I suspect, sixty or seventy people in our church who do nothing but go from house to house in certain neighborhoods and communities inviting people to come to church and Sunday school on our buses. We will secure a bus, enlist two or three workers, give them a certain section of our area, and they will simply work their section filling up their bus. Our buses will average through the year, I suspect, eleven hundred to twelve hundred people per Sunday, and many are saved who ride the buses to Sunday school and to the preaching service.
Another hook we have in the water is the hook with the Spanish-speaking people. In the Calumet region we have many Spanish-speaking people; consequently, we provide for them a Sunday school lesson in Spanish. Many Sundays we have Spanish-speaking people who come down the aisle professing faith publicly in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Another hook we have in the water is our work with the retarded-children. There are literally hundreds of thousands of children in our great metropolitan area who are retarded. We provide for them a Sunday school class with trained workers. Many of the parents, unable ever to attend Sunday school hour and stay for the preaching service because we have a work for their children. Numbers of these have professed faith in Christ and have been saved in our services.
Another hook we have in the water is the hook we call the obituary column. A committee of people in our church reads the obituary column every day in the local newspaper. The family of every witness from the First Baptist Church. Still another group is the hospital group. We have a group of people who visit hospitals and win people to Christ in the hospitals.
Then, we have another hook in the water. We call it our honors team. Someone checks the newspaper daily and sends a letter of congratulation to every person who wins an honor. Let’s suppose that you have been selected citizen of the month. You will receive a letter of congratulations from the First Baptist Church along with a gospel tract and a card to fill out if you are interested in a visit from our church or one of our soul winners. Let’s suppose that your hog won a contest in the Country Fair, the Future Farmers’ Association, etc. You would receive a letter from our church congratulating you. Of course we may even send one to the hog, but we want the people in our area who receive some mark of distinction to know the First Baptist Church congratulates them and thereby they receive a gospel witness from our church.
Another committee chicks tragedies that take place. For example, if a person has a fire, he receives a letter of sympathy from the First Baptist Church and a gospel witness and a card to fill out. If someone has a car accident, a letter from the First Baptist Church, a gospel tract and a card to fill out.
Every person who marries in our area receives a letter of congratulation from the First Baptist Church, a tract and a card to fill out.
Every couple who has a new baby receives a letter of congratulation from our church, a gospel tract and a card to fill out.
So you see these hooks are thrown into the water after the services on Sunday. The visitation team, the pastor’s visitation, the staff’s visitation, the Sunday school teacher, the rescue mission, the bus ministry, the retarded children’s class, the Spanish-speaking class all of these hooks are in the water all week long. On Sunday we simply pull up the trotline and find the hooks that have fish on them, and they come forward professing faith publicly in the services of our church.
There are other hooks we have in the water-our youth visitation. Just last evening one of our young men stood in the service and said, “We had fourteen saved last week.” These were led to Christ by the teen-agers and young people of our church in youth visitation. We have a youth visitation night when the teen-agers go forth and win other teen-agers to Jesus Christ.
Another hook we have in the water is our ladies’ visitation. Each Friday morning our ladies, several of them, go out to visit and witness to those who need Jesus Christ.
There are many, many other hooks we have in the
water-enough for now. I trust you get the idea. The preaching of the Gospel
from the pulpit is not enough. If one is going to build a great Sunday
school and a great soul-winning church, he must have many, many different
facets of this program, reaching every area and every type of person
imaginable. This is what we call our trotline fishing.
We do this by newspaper advertising. Every week of the world a big advertisement, advertising the Sunday school of the church and the services of the church, is placed in our local newspaper.
We also do this by the radio ministry. We have a “Radio Bible Class” taught by the pastor on Sunday morning from the auditorium. We have a daily ministry. This daily ministry, called “The Pastor’s Study,” is used greatly to promote the work on the Sunday school. This, added to our nationwide radio ministry and other forms of publicity locally, adds to the promotion of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Sunday school.
Now, as we think of promoting the program of the Sunday school, let me suggest a few things of planning a year’s program for the Sunday school. In the first place, I would suggest that you plan the natural high days for the year. As the year begins, or sometime before the beginning of the year, the pastor and those interested in planning the program for the year should get down a calendar, look at the calendar, and plan the activities for the year.
The first thing we do is plan the natural high days. These days will include Easter, Promotion Day, revival Sundays, etc. We do not plan special activities on these days, for these days take care of themselves. People come to Sunday school on Easter and other natural high days will take care of themselves.
The second thing we do is plan the natural low days. Now there are natural low days in the year. One is Memorial Day weekend. Another is Labor Day weekend, the Fourth is July weekend, etc. Especially when I was pastoring smaller churches would I plan something extra special for these natural low days.
Then we plan for the natural low season. The natural low season, of course, is the summertime. We have heard about the “summer slump.” We have heard about the attendance going down in the summertime, and, certainly, in our area especially is it true. Many of our people have four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and some even thirteen weeks’ vacations, making the summertime a very difficult time of growing the Sunday school. Consequently, we plan something for the summer.
It has been our policy now for a number of years to have what we call the “Carry-the-Load Sunday.” Each department is requested to “carry the load” one Sunday of the summer. Each department has a given Sunday when they promote a big, super colossal Sunday. The first day, for example, is the Beginners’ day. The Beginners promote a big Sunday. Now, when they have a big crowd, the adults have a larger crowd. We do not have a single beginner child (age four or five) in our Sunday school who knows how to drive; consequently, the parents have to drive them to Sunday school.
The next Sunday the Primaries have a big Sunday; and the next Sunday, Junior I; and the next Sunday, Junior II; and the next Sunday, Junior High. Each department has a big Sunday. Because of the bigness of one department’s attendance, the entire Sunday school is helped because of the family coming with the person who has the big Sunday. So we plan for the summer season. In this time the pastor, or one of the pastors, goes to each department on their big day, preaches a gospel sermon and gives a n invitation trying to get people saved in each department-an annual tour of the department. These people who are saved come forward in the public services.
The fourth thing we do in the planning of a year’s program is plan for a special holiday. By this, we mean we plan something special for regular holidays. We plan something special for Mother’s Day. Just this last year we gave a little ball-point pen with a flower on top of it (you have seen these artificial flowers on top of ball-point pens with the words “Happy Mother’s Day-1966) to each mother who attended. We made of all these flowers a beautiful, Hugh corsage (I guess six feet high), and each mother received one of these ball-point pens with lovely flowers on the end. Mother’s Day is planned.
Something is planned for Father’s Day, for Thanksgiving Day, for Christmas and other special holidays. Some little something that will bring the people on these holidays certainly is advisable.
The fifth thing we do in planning the annual program is plan special seasonal days. Such things as “Back-to-school Day” when school starts, “Old-Fashioned Day” in the summertime, the fall “Kickoff Sunday” or “Round-up Day,” the church’s anniversary, perhaps the pastor’s anniversary and other anniversary occasions or special seasonal days are good to promote. These promote easily, by the way.
The sixth thing we do is to plan days for special activities. If you are going to have a vacation Bible school, why not have a “Vacation-Bible-School Sunday” and let it help your Sunday school attendance. If you are going to have a big youth camp, maybe you could plan a “Youth-Camp Sunday,” and the activities should be integrated into the Sunday school program and increase the attendance in the Sunday school.
Number seven, plan a ten-week spring program and a ten-week fall program. Beginning on the last Sunday of March and going through April and May and into the first Sunday of June, we have a tremendous spring program. Beginning with the last Sunday of September or the early Sundays of October, we have a fall program lasting through the early Sundays of December. These programs are the programs that become the life’s blood of our church. These programs are built maybe around contests, special drives, awards for those who bring so many visitors, etc. During one program we had New testaments engraved in gold given to every visitor or every person who brought as many as ten visitors during the ten weeks program. On the front of this Testament engraved in gold was a picture of the First Baptist Church.
We have church contests and departmental contests. We give prizes. For example, we have an annual Bible conference near here at Cedar Lake, Indiana. We have a contest each spring. The top ten people in the contest bringing visitors receive some help in attending this Bible conference. The first prize, for example, would be motel rooms and meals for the family who brings the most visitors during the contest. The second prize would be the same thing. The third prize perhaps would be just a cabin with meals, and the fourth prize would be the same thing. The fifth prize would be maybe just the cabin for the week, and the sixth prize would be the same thing. This creates a tremendous interest in our spring program.
Let me make one suggestion. Never have a contest with only one prize. If someone gets far ahead, others will give up and only one person is working. I would suggest that several prizes be given in every contest making it possible for the ones who are behind not to give up.
I would also suggest that the prizes be of a spiritual nature. We never give a prize unless it has a spiritual connotation. For example, we give Bibles, Christian books, commentaries, or maybe a trip to a Bible conference. These prizes add to spiritual growth. Also we give prizes the publicize the church. We would give ball-point pens with the church’s name on it, the pastor’s name and a Scripture verse. Only things that advertise the church or give spiritual benefit are used as prizes in our promotional program. We also plan a similar program in the fall.
The eighth thing we do is plan four big, super colossal days each year. We have one big day each quarter-the kind of a day that will double the attendance. I am of the conviction that a church that runs a hundred in Sunday school can come nearer having 300 on a big day than she can having 150. A big goal challenges people. A big goal instills in people a tremendous desire to do something big for God. Oh, we have played church long enough. We have played “little” long enough. It is time that we decided to do something big and launch out in the deep and build a great, growing Sunday school for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me share with you some of the big days and special occasions that we have used here at the First Baptist Church.
(1.) One is “Old-Fashioned Day.” This is an annual occasion and is one of the most enjoyable days in our church. We do not set a specific attendance goal on this day but we do try to have it on a weekend that would normally have allowed attendance than usual. A good time that would normally have a lower attendance than usual. A good time for “Old-fashioned Day” is the 4th of July weekend or the Labor Day weekend. We have on this day a collection of antiques that we should. Such items as old-fashioned churns, wash pots, spinning wheels, clocks, Bibles, curling irons and smoothing irons are brought and displayed for this special day. Many people bring antiques that others are interested to see. We use on this day an old-fashioned organ. We pass hats instead of plates. We use a mourners’ bench at the altar convert with old, worn-out quilts. We have a creek baptizing in the afternoon if weather permits or maybe in a pond nearby. In the evening service we have coal oil or kerosene lamps and lanterns lighting the building. The electric lights are all turned off. Our people wear old-fashioned costumes for this day, and so many wonderful things highlight “Old-Fashioned Day.” We preach old-fashioned messages, and old-fashioned songs are sung. We may sing fifteen stanzas of the “Old-Time Religion.” What a blessed day it is. It is not a novelty day, but rather normally the power of God comes and many are saved and people are brought back to the old-time religion of faith in Jesus Christ and remember the worship of yesteryear. This is “Old-Fashioned Day.”
(2.) Then we have the church’s birthday. On this day we could have a big birthday cake. We have had birthday cakes weighing as much as seven hundred pounds. We send out candles to each person in the Sunday school; he brings his candle for the birthday cake. A large candle is lighted for the department that reaches its goal on this particular Sunday. It is the “Church’s Birthday Sunday.”
(3.) Another day we have is “Back-to-school Day.” Personal letters are sent to the school students. A lovely gift is given to every person going back to school. A corsage oftentimes is given to each of our lady schoolteachers, a boutonniere to each of our men schoolteacher to come to “Back-to-School Day.” We have a special prayer of dedication for the schoolteachers and for the school students as we promote “Back-to-School Day.”
(4.) Another day is “Baby Day.” On “Baby Day” we have a special letter sent to the parents of the babies. We give a little gift to each child-perhaps a blue Testament to the boy babies and a pink Testament to girl babies. Maybe a little corsage is given to each mother or baby.
(5.) We have AHD an annual “Homecoming Day” in some of our churches.
(6.) “Picture-Taking Day” is a good day to have. Each class has its picture made. There are other days. On “Record-Breaking Day” a record is broken over the Sunday school superintendent’s head if the department’s record is broken. On “B One Sunday” we sent some vitamin B-1 pills out one time and asked everyone to “B One”: “Absentee Sunday,” “Good-Neighbor Sunday,” “Christmas Sunday,” “Ladies’ Rally,” “Mens’ Rally,” Round-up Day,” “Pack-the-Pew Day’ and other days are used in promoting the Sunday School of the First Baptist Church.
The biggest business in all the world is the Sunday
school and the reaching of people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps
no other facet of our church organization reaches more people than the
Sunday school. Would God that every church across America that believes the
Bible would launch out into a great Sunday school drive reaching more people
and more people and more people. Let us challenge our own people to reach
more and more for Jesus Christ. Let us build our Sunday school to the glory
of God and the salvation of those without Christ.
11. A Teachers’ and Officers’ Meeting
The teachers and officers of the Sunday school of the First Baptist Church meet each Wednesday evening from 6:00 to 7:30. From 6:00 to 6:30 we enjoy a meal together. The meat is provided by the church, and each teacher is requested to bring a covered dish. At the close of the meal an offering is taken to defray the cost of the meat.
From 6:30 until 6:50 I lead the entire teaching staff in promotion and inspiration to do a better job. During this twenty-minute period we recognize new workers, and we compliment classes and departments that have done good jobs. Oftentimes we scolded, rebuke, inspire, congratulate, etc. Here we set our goals, make our plans, and vow to do a better job.
From 6:50 to 7:10 I teach the Sunday school lesson to all of the teachers who teach from the junior age and up. (The primaries, Beginners, and Nursery Departments go to their own rooms to plan their work.) A three-page outline with an aim, point of contact, introduction, body, conclusion, questions and answers, and memory verse is given to each teacher. This outline is prepared by the pastor each week. We also give each worker a little paper called the Echoes. This is simply a little promotional sheet to inspire the workers to do a better job and to inform them concerning plans for the Sunday school.
Then from 7:10 until 7:30 the teachers go to their
individual departmental levels where the teachers of the various age groups
are taught how to apply the lesson to their particular age level.
1,510. The corresponding Sundays give us a growth of 1,320 for three years, which is 440 for an average growth per year. I think that is wonderful. You may notice that the last year has been the best year. It has been this way all of the time. This past year has been the best in every case, and many Sundays we are funning 600 or 700 more than we did a year ago.
Now, notice the balcony duty listing in the upper right-hand column. The Junior High School Departments will have it this coming Sunday. I think that last week we had twenty-five workers. Once again, be sure to instruct your workers that it is not their job to create more problems than they solve in the balcony. I often look up in the balcony and see four adults sitting together. That is not the purpose. The idea is for them to scatter so they can be in reach of every child that is misbehaving, rather than getting up and misbehaving to correct a child.
Now a few words about the attendance last Sunday. Some of the departments did very well and some did not do so well. The Nursery had 105. Beginners, you were way down last Sunday. Maybe it was because of the weather, but you had only 135, which is about eighty down. Primaries had 224, which is some down. Junior I, 256, which is some down. Junior II, 226. Down just a little bit? Junior High I, 77 down a little bit. Junior High II, 61; High School, 178. It looks like everyone was down about 15% except the adults. We can thank the Lord that the adults had 1,380. This gave us a grand total of 2,830. Now let me say this: Since everybody was down, I would suggest you do some thinking about contacting the absentees.
I know you are tired. I know you have worked hard, but now look! I also know that Sunday is the Lord’s Day. Let’s not slack up.
How many of you work on buses? Will you raise your hands, please. Let me suggest that you give some time Saturday working on the bus routes and doing the best you can to get the bus crowds up. Whose bus broke down Sunday? I would suggest very definitely that you contact the people and tell them that you are going to be by this Sunday. Tell them what happened, etc. I understand that it will be warmer next Sunday.
I am going to suggest that we make three visits per teacher between now and Saturday. If every class (we have about two hundred classes) increases by three we will have six hundred more people. We will not have 1,380 adults besides all of the other classes this coming Sunday. We were up this last Sunday because of the building program Rally. We normally have about 1,000 adults besides the teachers. We are not going to have 2,800 in Sunday school Sunday if you do not do better than you did last Sunday. I am asking every teacher the Sunday School to visit three absentees that would have been here last Sunday had it not been for the weather. I would ask you to do more except for the fact that you have been busy this week. You have been teaching. You have been cooking. You have been entertaining preachers. You have been busy, and I know it. I also know why this is true. I know that most of the work in an endeavor like this falls on your shoulders because you are the church. You are the inner circle, and you are the finest folks we have or you wouldn’t be teaching.
If the Sunday school has a “normal Sunday” this coming Sunday, we are going to have to get these absentees back. For example, we will not even have 2,500 Sunday if Beginners have only 135. Where are the beginner workers? Lift your hands. Now you understand, if you have 135 Sunday, we won’t have a normal 2,600 Sunday, which is our average during the winter months. Primary workers, lift your hands. If you have 224 and everybody else has corresponding attendance’s, we will not have 2,500 in Sunday school Sunday. Junior I, I hate to say this because you are usually up, but you were down Sunday too, and so were Junior II, Junior High, and High School. If everybody has what you had last Sunday, and the adults have a normal crowd, we are going to have about 2,300 in Sunday school, and that would be a catastrophe!
Remember, I am asking every teacher to contact three absentees this week. I do not want you to contact those who have not been here since 1932. I am not concerned this week, basically, about the fellow who has not been here in a year of six months. What I am concerned about mainly this week is the fellow who is normally here but was not here last Sunday.
Three Sundays ago we had the bad snow-27 inches! The next Sunday we had another bad snow-11 more inches! Then the attendance was 1,584, which was the smallest attendance we have had in years. Then last Sunday the adults were up and carried the load. That means the children who were absent last Sunday in your department haven’t been here for three Sundays. You hear me! Three Sundays can make a habitual absentee. You can wreck your class in a couple of snows.
You say, “Well, they will come back.”
Some of them won’t. There are at least three in your class that if you will get them back Sunday, you will save them. What is our motto? Absentees are...what?
Teachers: Absentees are people.
Somebody said the other day, “Where do you lose them?” We have five hundred Juniors but only a couple hundred Junior Highers and High Schoolers. You lose them when some teacher does not visit them when they are absent.
“Well,” you say, “High Schoolers will be High Schoolers.”
No, teachers will be teachers.
You say, “It is juvenile delinquency.”
No, it is teacher delinquency. That is the problem.
You start a child when he is a Beginner or in the nursery, and if you will visit him every time he is absent, you will never lose him! Everyone who becomes a backslider missed one Sunday for the first time.
All right, let us visit three absentees this week. Now that is not too much. Ordinarily we ought to visit more than that. How many teachers will say, “I will pledge to the Lord that I will visit at least three absentees between now and the Lord’s Day.” I am very serious about this. Would you raise your hand up high, way up high. Keep them up. If you will do it, we will have 2,600 in Sunday school.
Look, this is not my work. This is God’s work and it ought to be done right. We ought to do it in season and out of season. In know you will.
Now I want to say a few words about one or two other things. You will notice in the upper left-hand column of the Echoes that the dates of the spring program have been set. The dates will be April 2 through June 11. That is eleven Sundays. Plans for the spring will be presented to the teachers and officers in the March 8 meeting.
This is the lull before the storm. This is the inner period between the fall program and the spring program. Until the weather hit us we were having a wonderful winter. Last winter we tried so hard to top 2,000. If we had 2,000 or 2,100, we were very pleased. Until the big snow came we were averaging over 2,600 for this winter.
Let me give you some interesting statistics. Do you
recall a year ago when we decided to be “number six in sixty-six” and
everyone got a pennant? We had 2,400 and something, and we thought we were
off to a tremendous start. That was a big-drive day. I mean, that was one of
the biggest days that we had ever had. Do you recall that? We gave everybody
a pennant. We had, I think, 2,442. We thought we were off to a big
start-2,400! Now then, the next winter, without any push at all, we have
averaged over 2,600. We can have 3,000 a Sunday this spring if we don’t drop
too far in the wintertime.
Introduction of New Teachers
Please notice that the lessons for the new quarter are listed in the lower left-hand corner. A new series of lessons will begin the first Sunday of April. For twelve weeks we will study the twelve apostles.
Next, notice the calendar of coming events. May 21st. is promotion Day. By the way, we have changed Promotion Day from the last of September to the last of May. May 28 will be the first day in the new classes.
March 13-15 will be the Canada trip for Primary and Junior I teachers.
All right, that concludes the first part of this
TEACHERS: Baby Christians.
The third epistle was the epistle to the church at
Corinth. As soon as Paul left Corinth (now think hard) somebody came in and
spread something. They spread the fact that Paul really did not have the
right to be a what?
All right, we come to the fourth epistle, Paul’s
epistle to the Galatians. Now the Galatian people were guilty of doing some
sewing. What was it that they sewed?
Then we come to what letter?
PASTOR: It was probably the largest church in the
group and it was also a very influential church. Ephesians is a beautiful
doctrinal book telling about the heavenly life in Jesus Christ. Now think
hard. Who carried the book of Ephesians from Paul to Ephesus?
Now, Romans is a reminder of Paul’s coming. First Corinthians is a letter to baby Christians. Second Corinthians is a letter vindicating Paul’s apostleship. In Galatians, Paul is rending the veil again. Ephesians is the heavenly letter to the great church, and Philippians is a thank-you note from Paul to the church at Philippi.
Now let us review Colossians. the book of Colossians
was written because somebody came to Paul and told him about an error in the
church at Colosse. What was the fellow’s name?
That leads us to the book of I Thessalonians. Get your outlines, please, and look at I Thessalonians.
The first thing I would like for you to do is to get something that is made of metal like a fountain pen, spoon or knife and hold it in your hands, please. All right, if you have it, raise it up. Now I want you to beat it on the table very loudly. Keep doing it. Everybody keep doing it. Okay, you may stop. I will tell you in a minute why I had everybody beat on the table. This is the point of contact for Sunday. Have all of the kids make noise.
Now I want to show you why I gave you that for a point of contact. Look in I Thessalonians 1:8. “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord.” Those two words, “sounded out,” come from the same Greek root word that Paul used in I Corinthians 13:1 where he said, “I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” With a noise like that of sounding brass and tinkling cymbals the church at Thessalonica sounded out the Word of God.
Now beat on the table again. With that much racket you are supposed to get out the gospel.
Take your Bibles and place a marker at I Thessalonians
1. then turn to Acts 17. To me the church at Thessalonica was a very unusual
church and a striking one in one respect. Look at verse 1 of Acts 17. “Now
when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to
Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews.” Hold it! “A synagogue of
the Jews”-what do we already know? When Paul was in Philippi, did he go to
TEACHERS: They had at least ten responsible Jewish men
in the city.
Turn, if you would please, to verse 4 chapter 5: “But ye, brethren are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” He also taught more about that, for in II Thissalonians 2:5 he reminds them, “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?”
Wait a minute. What “things” does he mean? Look back up to verse 3: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
Perhaps you have said, “I am just like Paul. I am just going to preach Christ and Him crucified.”
No, you are not like Paul. Paul was here three Sabbath days and told them about the Antichrist, the day of the Lord, the rapture, the falling away, the son of perdition, the Man of Sin, and the Lord’s coming as a thief in the night.
Look to verse 15, please, of chapter 2 II Thessalonians: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught.” He taught them how to serve God. He taught them the doctrine. He taught them the traditions of serving Christ, etc., and he was there just three weeks.
Now please notice your outlines. I think it might be wise if you would give your class the proper order of these epistles. We have the chronological order here for you, and on the other side we have the example of scrambled order. I would suggest that you give your class the scrambled order and ask them to unscramble it, you see. You could write them all on the board scrambled up and ask someone to come up to the front of the class to the blackboard and put a “1” by the first one that was written and a “2” by the second and so on. See how close to the proper order they can get.
I want you to look at I Thessalonians again and notice
the opening of it. I want you to notice Paul’s relationship to his people.
“Paul and Silvanus....” Whom do you think Silvanus is?
PASTOR: Right. “...unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now notice Paul’s tender expression in verse2: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.” It is amazing how quickly Paul could fall in love with God’s people. In this area he spent only about three weeks. Yet he said that he thanked God for them and that he prayed for them. “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the sight of God and our Father.” Notice he said, “I thank God for you. I pray for you, and I remember you.” Although he was there but a little while he fell in love with them.
“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord.” I like that. A preacher ought to be able to say that if you are following me, you are following the Lord. “...having received the work in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were examples to all that believed in Macedonia and Achaia.”
Now notice what kind of church it was. “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything.” Again we find the words, “sounded out.” He said they were sounding out the Gospel. Like sounding brass and tinkling cymbal they were noisy in getting out the Gospel.
“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven.” Now I want to give you the real reason why Paul wrote the book of I Thessalonians. This is what I want you to remember about the book when we review in the coming weeks. Paul had talked to them very much about the coming of the Lord. You cannot read I Thessalonians without reading a lot about this great truth. The people in Thessalonica fell in love with the coming of the Lord, but after Paul left they got worried. They said, “We know that we are going to be raptured. The Lord is going to come, but Paul didn’t tell us much about the dead people. What is going to happen to the dead?” So they sent word to Paul that they were concerned about the dead folks (those that had died in Christ). What would happen to them? The book of I Thessalonians was written to explain this matter to them. The key verse is in chapter 4, verse 13: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep.”
Perhaps somebody who was saved had just died and they couldn’t understand what would happen. They knew that the Lord was going to come back, but they did not understand what would happen to the brother who had died. Paul wrote the entire book to explain to them about the dead in Christ, and the events accompanying the rapture.
I think if I were you I would go over the future events with my class this Sunday. I would go through the rapture, judgment seat, marriage of the Lamb, tribulation, revelation (coming of Christ back to the earth), the millennium, the great white throne, and Heaven and Hell. Every child in our Sunday school ought to know what the rapture is. The word “rapture” ought to be a household word. “Millennium” and “great white throne” ought to be household words also.
Because the Lord is going to come, Paul speaks about what the Christians ought to be. The last few verses of I Thessalonians 5:10-22: “Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore....”
Anytime you see the word “wherefore,” that means something has gone what?
“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” He said you ought to respect your pastors. Pray for them and esteem them very highly.
Not very long ago a little lad ran to me and said, “Hello, Jack.”
I picked him up and held his face in front of mine and said, “What did you call me?”
He said, “B-B-B-Brother Hyles.”
We don’t allow that “Jack” business at our church. The children ought to be taught to respect the pastor, not because he is a man but because he holds an office. Paul said that the leader should be respected because the Lord is coming.
“Now we exhort you, brethren [all of this is because the Lord is coming any minute], warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”
Now see verse 16: “Rejoice evermore.” Why? The Lord is coming! “Pray without ceasing.” Why? The Lord is coming! “In everything give thinks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Why? The Lord is coming! “Quench not the Spirit.” Why? The Lord is coming! “Despise not prophesying.” Why? The Lord is coming! All of these things we are supposed to do because the Lord could come at any minute.
Now look at the questions at the close of your outlines. Close your Bibles and let’s see how well you do.
First we have scrambled words.
(1) Mitoyht-This man joined Paul as a youth to
accompany him on many of his journeys, and he was with Paul at the time of
his writing this book.
(2) Another one of Paul’s fellow travelers was-lassi.
(laughter) This could only happen at First Baptist Church. Well, who is it?
PASTOR: Now we have the true or false questions.
(1) Paul’s earliest and main opposition in
Thessalonica came from the Greeks.
The Christian in Thessalonica were not only believers but they sounded out the Word of God. They were looking for the return of the Lord. They were concerned, however, about the Christians who had died. Paul told them that the dead in Christ would rise first. Then he said that those which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall rise. He said, “They shall be caught up in the air.
Now the general questions: How long will the
Christians be in the air?
Now note the memory verse:
(1) Review. Here is our review board that we have been using every week. You will notice today’s letter is here with a dart on it as it is every week, To review this, what do we do? Take these off, mix them up, and ask the class which identification belongs with which book of the Bible, or we can do it by turning the identifications up, etc. Then we can ask the class, “What did we learn in the book of Romans?” The Gospel is the word we chose to use. “First Corinthians was about what?” Baby Christians. Review the class about each one. We also take down the names of the books, mix these up, and ask the class to place them back in order.
All right, this is the first point-review.
(2) Give your introduction to the book as you have in
the lesson, and open today’s “letter.” February 19 we are going to study I
Thessalonians. Inside of our envelope we have a letter. Now, of course, we
want our class to learn that the epistles were letters, so that is why we
have a letter here. It is from Paul. Do you see his return address in the
corner? It is written to the Christians at Thessalonica. Let’s see what Paul
said. We suggest to our teachers that they read the letter briefly and make
the reading of the letter the main part of the lesson, stopping to
illustrate the different points. We rewrite the letter very simply to fit
fifth grade boys and girls. We might say:
I thank God for you and I pray for you. I remember
that even though I was there for only a little while, you were so nice to
me. You have been a good example to everyone around you. You have really
sounded out the Gospel in a wonderful way.
(3) After you introduce the book of I Thessalonians tell your class that you are going to teach them something about the Thessalonian Christians. Here are the points. I have them all written out to show you. Here are the things about the Thessalonian Christians. I have covered up the key word, you see. The reason we do this is to make the class curious. When you uncover each word as you make each point, you will have their attention. If you should happen to lose their attention between points, you will surely have it when you uncover the next card because fifth and sixth graders will want to know what is underneath. We reveal just enough to make them curious. We also use different colors. That creates interest, doesn’t it?
So we sill teach: The Thessalonian Christians suffered PERSECUTION. We will teach about this. They returned from their IDOLS. They were good EXAMPLES. We will teach about the fact that they were good examples. They had a wonderful TESTIMONY. They looked for.... For Whom did they look? JESUS. They served God.
Now I can cover these words again and review my class by asking them to tell me what was under each one.
All right, that will be the next point on your outline. The first point was review. The second was the introduction. The third was to teach the general things about the church of Thessalonica.
(4) Teach about the rapture. After teaching about the
church at Thessalonica go back to the reading of your “letter” and read:
At the end of your lesson where you have the scrambled words you could play a game and have the class participate in this manner. I am going to show you in scrambled letters the name of the young man who went with Paul on many of his missionary trips. Now if you know the answer, don’t say it aloud. Raise your hand, and I will let you come up and arrange the letters in the proper order. Are you ready? Raise your hand if you know. All right, Mrs. Hand, come up and see if you can show us the proper way this name should be. This is a heavy piece of paper with one edge folded over and stapled to make a little pocket, and the letters are written on cards. We use this quite a bit at the junior age. She says it is T-I-M-O-T-H-Y. Is she right? Right. Very good.
This is the name of another young man who was with Paul. Who knows the answer to this one? Meredith, would you come up, please, and see if you can show us the right name here. Is that right? S-I-L-A-S. Very good.
Okay, this is something that Paul did for the Thessalonian people every day. What did he do for them every day? Will you come and fix this for us, Verlie.
You can do this with the fill-in-the-blank words as well as the scrambled words on the outline.
With all of these different illustrations, of course, you could not fail on your lesson. We have used class participation. We have aroused their curiosity by covering up the words. We have used review. We have used printed things and, Junior II teachers, why do we use printed things? It is because you learn better when you see and hear than when you just hear. Right? We reinforce learning by seeing and hearing, and we also have something to use for our review from week to week.
12. The Bus Ministry
1. A housing project. All over America there are government housing projects where thousands of people live. Many such projects form a little town located in just one building or perhaps a few buildings. In such a case the bus would have to make only one stop or, at most, a few stops. Then, too, most of the children in such a project know each other and would consider it a privilege and a delight to have a weekly trip their friends. Such a project makes it easy for the worker to contact his absentees and saves time that normally would be spent in the driving of a lengthy route. A church should comb the area for such projects in the beginning of a bus ministry.
2. An apartment house area. This is very similar to the above and offers the same advantages.
3. A trailer court. Once again we have a concentration of population which makes it easy to work the area and easy to pick up the passengers. This also means just a few stops at the beginning of the route followed by a trip straight to the church.
4. An area cut off from the community. It is unbelievable what an expressway can do to a church’s area. The same is true concerning a busy railroad, or an industrial area. Psychologically people may feel they are much farther from a certain church than they really are. In our area there are two states involved. Though the state line is only five blocks from our church, it is considered by some as a geographical barrier which meant we have to work harder across the state line even though it is less than half a mile away. When there is a community isolated for any purpose, it becomes a good area for a bus route, and it certainly needs concentrated attention from the church.
5. A poor area. There are still people in this world, believe it or not, who cannot afford the luxuries of life and to whom a bus trip to the church would seem a big thing. It could well be the highlight of their week. Slum areas, poor areas, and housing developments should be seriously considered in the starting of bus routes.
6. Schools or homes. These are exceptionally good places to start routes. A church may be located within ten or fifteen miles of a college where many of the students, no doubt, would appreciate a free homes for juvenile delinquents, or any other institution which provides dormitories and living quarters for its constituents. These are excellent places to send buses and, once again, we find a concentrated population.
7. Another town. There are churches located within ten or fifteen miles of small towns who have no evangelistic, Bible-preaching work. In many instances these churches send workers to the nearby towns informing the citizens of a bus ministry. In thirty minutes a bus could informing the citizens of a bus ministry. In thirty minutes a bus could cover the little town and bring the interested people to the services.
8. Country roads. Many years ago in a rural pastorate
we found this a very beneficial way to reach people. Since people who live
in rural areas have no street addresses they are oftentimes overlooked in
the church’s evangelistic program. A route beginning approximately fifteen
miles from town and covering every rural home into the town can reach many
people for Jesus Christ. As I dictate this chapter, I think of scores of
people whom we have reached through this method. Many of them are now in the
ministry or in full-time service for the Lord.
Perhaps an even better way is to locate a private leaser of buses. Such a company can make a profit by leasing buses at $10 to $15 a trip. The company who owns the buses takes care of all of the upkeep, insurance, etc. The total church outlay is the rental buses.
It is our conviction that when the church really gets
into the bus business and reaches hundreds of People for Christ, God
intervenes and supplies their needs. We have had many miraculous answers to
prayer in our bus ministry. It is unbelievable how God has provided. When
God looks down and sees a church interested in reaching sinners. He desires
to help them do so.
1. The director. Someone should oversee the entire bus program. This can be the pastor, another staff member, or an energetic, creative layman. This person should be a real “live wire.”
2. Bus captains. These are the key people. They are responsible for house-to-house visitation to obtain new riders and to reclaim absentees. Normally such a captain would spend from two to four hours a week just going from house to house lining up people to come to Sunday school on buses.
3. The bus driver. In some cases the bus captain drives his own bus, but usually there is a driver in addition to the captain. The driver, of course, drives the bus, is properly licensed, and sees that the route begins on time. He must be faithful to his work. The captain rides the bus but oftentimes must go to the door to get the riders, etc.
4. The parkers. As a bus ministry grows so does the
need for space to park the buses. Each bus should have a designated place to
be parked on or near the church property. It should be met by a person
specifically chosen to park the buses. This person should have a clipboard
with a list of the buses. He should write down the number of people on the
bus, the number of the bus, and the arrival time of the bus. Below is such a
How then are these workers recruited? The pastor and the director of the bus ministry should be on the lookout for those in the church who make many trips with their cars to bring people. These people should be contacted and offered a bus.
Many fine bus captains develop from people who live a great distance from the church. These people could save money by starting a bus route in their neighborhood. Such people oftentimes find it difficult to visit for the church since they are strangers to the community. Using a bus, however, provides them with the opportunity to visit in their own neighborhood, to provide transportation for their own family, and to help tremendously in the evangelistic ministry of the church.
Doubtless, the best way to enlist workers is through the preaching from the pulpit. Periodically the pastor should preach on the importance of the evangelistic outreach of the church. He should stress very strongly the bus ministry and ask for people who want to dedicate themselves to this ministry to come to the altar. Immediately their names and addresses should be secured and a meeting should be held to organize them into bus workers.
Just recently I was asked to go to a distant state to preach one night on the bus ministry. At the conclusion of the service I gave an invitation for those willing to work with the buses. Over forty people volunteered to do so. We asked them to meet with us in a departmental assembly room after the service, where we explained the bus ministry thoroughly and organized a new bus ministry. The first Sunday 332 people rode their buses to Sunday school. We should never forget that the inspiration of the pulpit is the important thing about building any phase of a church program.
It should be made clear that any person in the church
who desires a bus route may be provided with a bus.
This money may be put in the church budget or it may
be raised over and above the church budget. Many churches have found it
helpful to use the Wednesday offering for the bus ministry. This is an
exceptionally good idea. Other churches allocate one Sunday evening offering
a month for the bus ministry. This is also a wise suggestion.
Upon starting a bus ministry, or anything else in the
church for that matter, a weekly meeting of the workers should be held. Our
meeting is conducted for about fifteen minutes immediately following the
Wednesday evening service. This is a period of training and promotion for
the bus ministry.
There is no way to have a hot bus ministry and a cold pulpit. Inspiration must come constantly from the pulpit if there is to be a successful bus program.
2. The pastor should share the blessings of the bus ministry with the church family regularly. To be sure, there will be opponents to the bus ministry. Some people will say it is too expensive. Others will not like the class of people brought in. Others will not like the irreverence it causes in the public services. Then there are those who just do not like anything different. The pastor should constantly refute this opposition by sharing the blessings of the bus ministry with the church family.
3. Contests among the buses can be a tremendous thing. Since seventy-five percent of our bus riders are children, we find it very easy to excite them over contests with the other buses. Prizes can be awarded to the top one-third or one-fourth of the bus fleet. In some cases, where fewer buses are operated, the winning bus can receive a prize. At this writing we re in a bus contest. The top ten buses and the workers of these ten buses receive a special prize. Sometimes the prizes may go to the bus workers, and at other times they may go to the entire bus. On one occasion the winning buses were taken to a small airport where each child was taken for a five-minute plane ride. This was not as expensive as it may seem. The children who were waiting on the ground were served refreshments and played games.
4. Gifts may be given periodically to all who ride buses. For example, if the Sunday school lesson is on “The Loaves and Fishes” each child may be given a goldfish in a sealed plastic container filled with water. There are any number of little novel ideas that could be applied to God’s Word or a specific Sunday school lesson which would delight the average child.
5. Each captain should also plan his own promotional ideas. If the director is working to promote the bus attendance, and if the pastor is joining him in such an endeavor, then each captain should also be seeking ways of promoting attendance on his bus. The more people seeking ways of promoting attendance on his bus. The more people thinking up ideas and working at attendance campaigns, the better it is.
6. The captains should keep a roll and contact all
absentees. Each captain should consider his bus much like a Sunday school
class. Not only should he seek new riders but he should be contacting those
who are absent so as to have a minimum turnover on the buses.
After the service is over the captain reclaims his riders at the door of the church or department where the rider is located. The children should never be left to shift for themselves. They should be taken tot he door and then, at the door, taken in orderly form back to the bus.
Each child is returned to the front of his home, which
is exactly where he was picked up. The captain should then see that the
child goes immediately to the door and into the house. He should not leave
until the child is safely inside the door.
After an area is chosen, buses are secured, workers are enlisted and trained, and necessary preparations are made, we come to the actual starting of the route. Many times it has been my privilege to start a bus route. Oftentimes I have gone to the assigned area, found a group of children playing, gathered them around, and asked them how they would like a thirty-mile bus trip with all expenses paid on which Bozo the clown or some other famous character would entertain them. After I got them excited about it, then I went to their home and inquired if their parents would mind the child participating in such an endeavor. The parents are told about the careful planning of the bus ministry. Many of the things already mentioned in this chapter are mentioned in this initial conversation. They should be set at ease concerning the safety of the bus, licensing of the driver, choosing of the workers and captains, etc.
Usually the parents will make some excuse like, “We
just don’t want to get up that early and prepare breakfast for the
children.” The answer to this is a very simple one. Explain to them that in
the starting of the route you are providing hot chocolate and doughnuts for
the children so they can have breakfast on the bus. Much care should be
taken to be friendly, courteous and understanding. Remember, you must sell
them on yourself first. The only representative of the church is you and
they must be sold on you, the worker. Once two or three families have been
enlisted, they can help in enlisting other friends. On the initial bus route
a planned activity should be presented. Fun, recreation, breakfast, and
other activities are provided to insure a good time for all.
2. Delinquent children. This can be a problem but it
need not be. In some cases children ride the buses to church, get off the
buses, run around the neighborhood until time to reload and never enter into
the Sunday school class or the church service. This can be eliminated by the
proper use of stamps and stamp pads. Each Sunday school class or department
can be equipped with a stamp pad and a stamp with the initials of the
church. This stamp should be about the size of a nickel as shown below:
3. Lost children. As a bus ministry grows it becomes
increasingly difficult to avoid children becoming lost. This problem can
also be solved with the use of a stamp. Each bus captain stamps the hand of
each child with the number of the bus as he boards the bus. For example, the
captain of bus #1 places a stamp on the back of each passenger’s hand as
A portion of the church can be reserved for the bus children and volunteer workers can sit with them during the preaching service. One worker for each five to ten children can help discipline them and keep them quiet during the service.
In some churches the bus ministry has grown to such proportions that the church must provide a special preaching service or services for the bus children. In such a case an assistant pastor should preach to them. If the church has no assistant pastor, some God-called preacher or preacher boy could go and preach to these bus children. Of course this would not occupy all of the time during the preaching service. hence, well-trained workers can be provided to care for them during the church service time. This should not be just a time of coloring and having amusements and entertainment. It should not even be a time limited to a Sunday school type service. There should definitely be preaching. We find it wise to have a choir, special music, offering, sermon, etc. In addition to this church type service, a well-trained worker may have some time of entertainment and inspiration for them. This has proven very helpful in many churches in the reaching of bus children.
5. Criticism by members. Probably in every church there are people who will rise in opposition against a bus ministry. These, thank the Lord, are usually in a minority and because they are, they should not be allowed to dictate the policies of the church. They should be dealt with very kindly and yet firmly.
I recall when I first came to the First Baptist Church and started our bus ministry, a well-to-do member came to me and said, “Pastor, what are we going to do with all of these little bus kids?”
I said, “I don’t know what you are going to do with them but I am going to love them.”
Then the member said, “If they stay, I leave.”
Thank the Lord, that is exactly what happened. The bus children stayed and he left. We felt we got the best of the deal. No minority born in the “objective case” and the “kickative mood” should be allowed to stop the progress of God’s work and the reaching of hundreds of people for Jesus Christ.
Used properly and organized effectively, a bus
ministry can be a tremendous asset to a church, and more important, a church
can be a tremendous blessing to thousands of people by the proper use of a
13. The Sick and Shut-ins
1. The people of the church should be trained to call the pastor or the staff when they are ill. It is amazing that people call the doctor and call their friends but simply expect word to get back to the pastor about their illnesses. Constant stress should be upon informing the pastor there is illness. It should also be emphasized that friends of sick people should alert the pastor as to their condition so that no one will be overlooked.
Once a lady came out to the public services and said to her pastor.
“Well, I was sick and you didn’t come to see me.”
The pastor replied, “Did the doctor come?”
“Oh yes, many times.” said the Lady.
“How did the doctor know you were sick?” the pastor asked.
“Well, I called him, of course.”
Then the pastor said, “Maybe I could have seen you many times, too, if you had called me.”
It is very important that contact be made with the pastor or the office concerning the sick and shut-ins.
2. A card file should be kept of all visits to the
sick and shut-ins. When a person enters the hospital or becomes sick enough
to need prayer, the church office should be called. Immediately, a card
should be made in the church office for this person. On the card should be
the name of the patient, the hospital, and the room number. Then the pastor
or staff member should list each visit made to the parties. This file should
be kept as a permanent one for future reference. Oftentimes members may
become offended because a certain person was not visited at their request.
Proof of this visit can be given if a card file is kept. Below is a card
taken from the files of the First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana:
4. The names of the sick should be included on a
weekly prayer list that is mimeographed or printed and given to the people.
When a person calls to say that he is sick or has his name called in as
being ill, the entire church family should be notified. The best way to do
this is to mimeograph or print a prayer list and give it to the congregation
weekly. At First Baptist Church in Hammond we have for years passed out such
a prayer sheet in the Wednesday evening service. This prayer sheet is kept
by the people for the entire week. Not only are the sick listed but others
who request prayer. We have also found it helpful to list the names of the
people who are having birthdays during the week, and we encourage our people
to pray for each person on his birthday. This enables each member of the
church to pray for the entire membership once a year. Below is a sample
2. Out-of-town hospitals
3. Sick at home
A few weeks ago I was in a hospital and was witnessing to a dying man. He knew he was dying and had called for a preacher. I found that he had never been saved. Carefully I told him the plan of salvation and led him to the Lord Jesus Christ. Realizing that he would die in a few moments, he was so happy that he had found Christ on his deathbed. I then tried to lead him to assurance and so very soberly and carefully I asked him, “Where are you going when you die?” He looked up at me through tear-filled eyes and said, “Kentucky.” We both laughed when we realized that ha had misunderstood my question. He was telling me that his body would be shipped to back to Kentucky. He laughed as he went to Heaven. It is always important to inquire as to the condition of the soul of one in the hospital.
Then a brief prayer should always be given at the
bedside. It should be a prayer of faith, praying for healing, grace,
comfort, strength, etc. I have found it helpful simply to hold the hand of
the patient as I pray this prayer.
1. The visit is usually a lengthy one lasting anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour depending upon the condition of the shut-in and the degree of interest the shut-in has in spiritual matters.
2. A gift is taken to the shut-ins. Since the visit is made only once a month it is made to be a very impressive one. The pastor may take a gift or his representative may simply say, “The pastor sent this gift to you.” Sometimes it is a small box of candy; in other cases, a small bouquet of flowers. A book is a splendid gift for a shut-in. Each shut-in receives a lovely remembrance from the pastor.
3. A tape recorder is taken by the visitor and a
personal taped message is given by the pastor. The visitor prepares the tape
recorder and plays this tape. The pastor speaks to the shut-in something
Once again it is a real joy for me to spend some time with my shut-in friends. Many times I have been to the beautiful city of Washington, D. C., and crossed the Potomac River over to the famous cemetery not far from the Washington National Airport. In this great cemetery, where President Kennedy is buried and where the bodies of many of our great statesmen lie, there is a grave called simply “The tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” Military guards are posted here, for this man represents the millions of little soldiers who have died for their country. Yes, little as far as man is concerned, but who can say one who dies for his country is little.
When I think of the Unknown Soldier and the unknown soldiers I think of you, our shut-in friends. You write no books that will be read by thousands of people. You preach no sermons that will be a blessing to millions. Your names are never in the headlines of religious periodicals, but I wonder if the Lord has a beautiful monument in Heaven to the unknown soldiers such as you-unknown on earth but well-known in Heaven. I think that among these unknown soldiers would have to be included our shut-in friends.
All of that was said to say this: God knows what you
do. He knows your prayers. He knows your sincerity. He knows your heart.
What you do for God, the prayers you offer, the kindly deeds you do, the
gracious spirit you manifest does not go unnoticed. The great recorder in
Heaven records your faithfulness in prayer and the great unknown soldiers,
my prayer warriors, and my faithful, loyal friends. May God bless you as you
continue to pray for me, other preachers, and other Christian workers. Rest
assured that there is a place in our hearts for the “unknown soldiers.”
4. For those who are able and who desire to hear it, the music and sermon from the previous Sunday are played.
5. The visitor should be a good listener. Realizing that shut-ins talk to few people and want to talk and be heard, it is very vital that the visitor listen carefully to the needs of the patient and be interested in listening.
6. After giving the gift, playing the pastor’s
personal message, playing the music and sermon from a recent service, and
listening and conversing for awhile, the visitor then says, “Could we pray
together before I leave?” A Prayer is offered which is a little more lengthy
than the one at a hospital for there is more time. This prayer should be
more personal concerning the needs of the shut-in.
For the sake of the church, for the sake of the power
of God, and for the sake of the shut-ins, let us not neglect them but make
them feel that they are a vital part of the church life.
14. The Youth Program
God has been good to give us wonderful young people in all of our pastorates. Over eighty young men are now preacher boys are scattered throughout the world preaching the same Gospel that I preach.
There are many ways to conduct a youth program. We will not attempt to give all of them or even many of them but simply to outline the type youth program we have endeavored to carry on in our churches.
1. Every public service is a youth activity in itself. It is a serious mistake to gear the public service only to the adult level. At every service we try to have something that will be both appealing and helpful to the youth. As I go to other churches across America, Canada, and other countries, I find many places where the audience is made up mainly of middle-aged and older people. We simply must gear our services to have an appeal to the young people as well as to the adults. Young people respond to dynamic challenge and dedication. This should be present in our public services.
2. The usual youth activities would include such things as Sunday school, Training Union, and the regular activities of the church. Dedicated, faithful, loyal people should fill these positions. It is just as important that a teacher of young people be an example as it is that he be a speaker. Young people are great hero worshipers. We should place before them the kind of people whom they can emulate and who can be the proper examples for the youth to follow. This same thing is true in the Training Union and other regular activities of the church. There should also be Sunday school parties and Training Union socials as well as spiritual activities sponsored by these groups.
3. The young people should be soul winners. We teach our young people that soul winning is not just for the preacher, not just for the deacon, not just for the adult, but also for the teen-ager. He is periodically taught a course on Soul winning. He is trained to be a soul winner just like the adults are. Then a regular night is set aside for youth soul winning. On a recent week, for example, our teen-agers won seventeen people to the Lord Jesus Christ on their designated soul-winning night. Following is a brief outline of this soul-winning activity.
(1.) The prospects are secured from the membership of the church. Periodically we have an announcement made publicly for those knowing of unsaved teen-agers to turn their names into the church office that we might contact them about Christ. Then we also have what is called an inside-church census. This is a survey of all the families of our church. We ask each person to list on this survey the name, address, age, sex, and spiritual condition of each person that lives under his roof or in the same dwelling unit. From this survey we get the names of teen-agers who may be contacted about the Gospel. Prospects also come from visitors to the services, new moves into our area, visitors to the Sunday school departments, and visitors to the youth activities.
(2.) Transportation often poses a real problem as few of the teen-agers are allowed to drive. Hence, transportation is provided by the people of our church who volunteer their own time and the use of their cars to transport the teen-agers from visit to visit. This also provides a chaperon for the young people. They go two by two. This means that there will be a driver and two teen-agers in each car. The driver remains in the car during the visit to enable the teen-agers to do all of the soul-winning.
(3.) Boys and girls do not visit together. The boys visit together as teams and they visit male prospects. Men drivers drive the boys. The girls visit together as teams and they visit female prospects. Lady drivers or a man and wife team drive the girls to their assignments.
(4.) Much fanfare is made about the soul-winning visitation. The young people are made to realize just how important it is. Many of these young people have gone out into the world as adults knowing how to win souls, and they continue in the soul-winning business. Many become preachers, missionaries, music directors, etc. The soul-winning program of our young people is a vital part of our church life.
4. The young boys often go soul winning with the pastors. It is not an unusual thing for a pastor to take a teen-ager soul winning with him. It has been my joy to win scores of people to Christ while soul winning with teen-agers in our church. What a thrill this is, both for the pastor and for the youth.
5. The pastor seeks to counsel with each senior before graduation. As a young person enters his senior year of high school the pastor seeks a personal conference with him in order that they might discuss the future together. The Pastor inquires as to the plans made by the young person. He, in turn, seeks the pastor’s counsel concerning decisions that need to be made. Discussed at this conference are such things as vocation, college, the choice of a mate, service, etc. This little get-together lets the young person know that the pastor cares.
6. The youth choir. This is discussed in more detail in the chapter on the music program. Each Sunday afternoon at five o’clock the teen-agers of our church meet for a youth choir practice. At this writing approximately one hundred teen-agers attend this practice. Then the youth choir begins the Wednesday evening service by marching into their places in the choir. The boys are required to wear dress shirts and ties and the girls are required to dress appropriately for church. The adult choir is used in the Sunday morning and Sunday evening services leaving the Wednesday evening service for the young people. This is not considered a novelty. The young people are made to feel their importance in this place of service. A title may be given to such a group such as the Teen Choralies or some other appropriate title.
7. There are also special activities for college-age young people. It is wise to provide a special Sunday School class for college-age young people. They have little in common with the high school group and will be much happier in their own Sunday school class. Through this Sunday school class social activity is planned and provided. This is usually a weekly activity. A wide variety of events should be planned.
8. It is wise to divide the high school from the junior high. Many of the youth activities include both the junior high and the high school ages, but even on activities that include both groups, the groups could be divided. For example, if two buses are used, the junior high school group could go on one and the high school young people on the other. If one bus is used, one group could sit in the front and the other in the back. It is wise, however, to have activities periodically for the high schoolers only. There is a vast difference between a senior in high school and a student in his first year of junior high. The Junior high students do not mind going to activities with the senior high students but the senior high students need to be alone often and such opportunities should be provided for them.
9. There are many splendid youth camps throughout the nation. Each Christian young person should have the privilege of attending such a camp. Such a opportunity will provide not only for the spiritual enlightenment but also for the social development of the young person. The cost for such a week is normally less than $25.00. If a church has buses, a camp could be chosen which is some distance away, and the bus trip itself would add to the enjoyment of the week.
10. It is wise that a church secure a youth director. In some cases this could be a full-time employee. In other cases it could be one of many duties of a staff member. In smaller churches, and in some larger ones, it is found necessary to use a volunteer worker from the church membership. Of course, all of the work should be done under the supervision of the pastor and should be church-centered and church-directed.
11. A weekly youth activity should be planned. Young people are on the go. They need to be kept busy. Because of this, it is wise to provide some kind of activity for them each week. We have found if advisable to have this activity either on a Friday evening or some time on Saturday.
12. There are many types of youth activities which can be planned. Some youth directors find it wise to meet with the young people in the junior high and high school departments. At this meeting each person makes suggestions as to the type youth activities he enjoys. From these suggestions a list is made. The youth director then adds his ideas, compiles them with those of the young people and submits the list to the pastor for his approval. These activities should be divided almost equally between spiritual and social. Of course, even the social times should have a time of devotion and spiritual emphasis. For example, as the young people ride to a social event they can sing gospel songs, pass out tracts, give testimonies, and, in general, permeate the atmosphere with Christ-centered activity.
These are planned at least two weeks in advance and usually a month or more in advance. Below you will find a list of youth activities that have been found successful:
1. Christian films
2. Bible quiz
3. All-day outings or trips
4. Banquets and parties
5. Boat rides
6. Sight-seeing tours such as radio and T.V. stations, airports, city, industrial plants, museums, zoo, etc.
7. Camp fire sings
8. Wiener roasts
9. Rescue mission services such as the Pacific Garden Mission, etc.
10. Youth camp--Bill Rice Ranch
13. The list of suggested activities is then submitted to the pastor for his approval. No activity of any kind in the church is planned without the approval of the pastor. This is vitally important concerning the youth program. Any new type of activity should simply be explained to the pastor for his approval. This may be done in writing or through personal conversation.
14. No youth activity, or any other church activity, should be planned during the weeks of revivals, Bible conferences, and other church wide activities. The young people should attend these meetings regularly.
15. Activities are chosen appropriately to the season of the year. When the weather permits, such things may be conducted as hayrides, wiener roasts, outdoor songfests, etc. When driven to the indoors, attention would have to be turned to parties, quizzes, banquets, films, museum trips, etc.
16. The promotion of these activities is handled in several different ways. First an announcement is printed in our teachers’ and officers’ paper, the Echoes, which is a newsletter for our Wednesday evening teachers’ and officers’ meeting. The junior high and high school superintendents then make this announcement at their respective Sunday school opening assemblies.
The youth activity is then printed in the church bulletin. This announcement, as all announcements, should involve the meeting place, the date, the time, the activity, and the cost.
The pastor announces and promotes the activity from the pulpit, and then, of course, the next activity is always promoted at the present one.
Then on various occasions the opening assemblies of the departments are visited by the youth director so he may promote the activities personally. Sometime the young people themselves prepare skits for the promotion of the event.
17. We have found that our adults are very willing to help the young people to grow in grace and to build their lives around the church. Our adults volunteer to help in such matters as bus driving, being camp counselors, cooking for banquets, etc. This is a wonderful way for some adults to serve the Lord Jesus Christ who do not have time or talent to do so in a more spectacular way.
18. Many times bus transportation is used for youth activities. Sometimes this is simply a matter of driving across town. At other times it is driving five hundred miles to a youth camp. Several things are noted when such trips are taken:
(1.) All drivers are properly licensed men from the church.
(2.) The young people are greeted at the door as they board the buses and they are required to dill out a card of registration. (This helps give you prospects for your youth soul-winning visitation.)
(3.) Young people are then reminded that they represent Christ and the church and that they are to act accordingly. They are reminded that there will be no such actions as hand-holding, love-making, etc., and that their behavior must be above reproach.
(4.) They are also reminded as they board the bus that the group goes as a group, stays together as a group, and returns as a group. No one is allowed to drive his own car and meet the bus at its destination. They go on the buses or they are not allowed to go.
(5.) A prayer is then offered asking God for safety and blessing, and off we go for a good time in the Lord.
19. There are expenditures involved in most youth activities. We have found that the young people appreciate the youth program more if it costs them something. Add to this the fact that we feel the tithes and offerings should not be used for foolishness. We find it necessary and best to have a small charge for the youth activity. This cost should be kept low and, of course, it should be announced at every activity and at every announcement about the event that those who cannot afford to pay are just as welcome as these who can. The cost would range from as little as 25 for a wiener roast up to several dollars for a formal banquet.
It is also wise to have a regular budget set up for the youth activity. There is an item in our church budget for the youth program. This can be used for spiritual activities and for honorariums for guest speakers, singers, etc. First Baptist Church of Hammond allocates only $15.00 a week for the youth fund. This means the youth program must be supplemented by a small charge at most of the activities. It is customary not to plan anything that will cost more than a dollar unless, of course, it is a banquet.
20. All of the above activities should be adequately supervised by the youth director and adults whom he chooses. It is wise to have at least one adult for every ten young people. The reason for this are obvious ones. These adults should be recruited from the congregation, and they should be very faithful, spiritual and separated people who believe in what the church is trying to do.
21. It is good to have a special time of prayer for the college students. Each Wednesday evening at our midweek service some time is given to praying for the college students. Each week there is a different “college student of the week.” A letter is read from him and prayer is offered on his behalf.
22. The “College Campus News” is a little paper that
relays the news from home to the college students. It is published monthly
and is a link between home and college.
15. The Church Nursery
Not only does a nursery eliminate disturbances in the services and allow visitors to hear the plan of salvation but it also frees parents to work in the Sunday school, sing in the choir, etc. It also provides the ladies of the church an opportunity for service. They will respond to this opportunity if the importance of the task is properly presented by the pastor.
Few things make a better first impression upon visitors as a beautiful, clean, well-organized nursery. Immediately the visitor gets the idea that this church cares and knows what it is doing and does it well.
We will divide this chapter into two main headings:
the organization of a nursery and the proper procedure for the nursery.
2. A census should be taken to find the need. Then a meeting could be conducted with those interested and a list of all of the babies could be made. At this meeting the parents should be invited and they should be set at ease about the future of the nursery. It should be a meeting that is impressive so as to tell the parents that they may feel secure as they place their baby in the nursery that is being organized.
3. The locating of facilities is very important. Most churches do not have adequate facilities. However, the best facilities should be given to the nursery. Many churches have lovely adult classrooms and leftovers are given to the nursery. We have found that the opposite is the wise plan in the drawing of a church. Give your best and most commodious facilities to the babies. The next best should be given to the beginners, then primaries, juniors, and on up. An adult will be more impressed when his children are cared for properly than he will if much care is made for his comfort and little for his children.
When choosing proper facilities, several things should be taken into consideration. The location should be as near the auditorium as possible, yet far enough away so the noise will not interfere with the service. The nursery should be as near the level of the auditorium as possible in order to avoid the danger and discomfort involved when parents are required to carry babies up several flights of stairs.
Tile floor is certainly advisable for a nursery. If this is not available, then some other nonskid material should be used.
If at all possible, there should be a division between the bed babies and the toddlers. It is best to have four rooms for the nursery-age children one for bed babies, one for toddlers up to their second birthday, one for two-year-olds, and one for three-year-olds. This is, however, often impossible. In such cases, room dividers may be used. At any rate, the children who are on the floor walking should not be allowed to get close enough to touch the bed babies.
It is also wise to have plumbing facilities very near to the nursery or, better still, in the nursery.
4. The basic equipment for a nursery would include cribs and mattresses. (These are often donated by members or even by local merchants. At any rate, they could be purchased at discount stores.) Small cribs may be used for babies six months and under and larger cribs for babies approaching their first birthday. Since they take less space, the more small cribs that can be used, the better.
Other equipment needed for the starting of a nursery would be rockers, a cabinet, a blackboard, a coat rack, a clock, a PA system from the auditorium enabling the nursery workers to hear the services and the message, an intercom phone to the ushers’ station or a PA room to be used in case of an emergency, bottle warmers, playpens, jumper chairs, and toys. (One-piece washable soft toys are highly preferable.)
Most of the above equipment can be secured through a church shower or a special offering taken for the purchase of such materials. Many people have lovely nursery equipment stored away at home that will probably never be used again. They would love to donate it to the church. In some cases, they can simply let the church borrow the equipment. At any rate, sacrifice somewhere else but provide for the babies and see that they have the best of equipment.
5. The needed supplies can be brought as donations by the church members. A baby shower would be very appropriate. These supplies should be secured: sheets, Kleenex, baby powder, Vaseline, plastic bags, washcloths, blankets, and even extra clothing. Oftentimes a baby becomes sick in the nursery and will soil his clothing. It certainly leaves a good impression in the minds of the parents if they can return to find that their baby has been supplied with clean, dry clothing even through the emergency.
Many churches are small and the church nursery budget is limited. As aforementioned, a special shower could be given, a special offering could be taken, or, as many churches have found advisable, the Women’s Missionary Circles can provide supplies for the nursery.
6. The enlistment of workers is a very important phase of any church activity or, for that matter, any thriving institution. The proper enlistment of workers should include the following:
(1.) All workers should be approved by the pastor. This is true in every phase of the church program.
(2.) A meeting with a group of mothers and faithful ladies of the church can be held where the need for nursery workers is explained and the idea of working in the nursery is sold to them. The pastor could conduct this meeting or, if the nursery director is persuasive, she could conduct the meeting. The need should be presented and the idea should be sold to these ladies. (All the workers in our nursery are mothers.) At this meeting it should be emphasized that working in the nursery is a service for the Lord. It is like teaching, singing, superintending a department, being a deacon, etc. Here is a chance for spiritual service, service that will be rewarded at the Judgment Seat, and service that is pleasing to God. It should be emphasized that this is a means of soul winning. Unsaved people can now hear the message of hope without interruption. How important it is to stress this upon the minds of the group.
(3.) The workers should be well-groomed, clean, pleasant, and faithful.
(4.) Both permanent workers and substitute workers should be used. This should be explained at the aforementioned meeting. Some may have a desire to work regularly on a schedule basis; others, perhaps, would rather be substitute workers to be called in case of emergency. Each job is important and sufficient workers should be enlisted for both permanent and substitute work.
7. The workers should be assigned. First, the children should be divided by ages as it is easier to care for children nearer the same age. As mentioned before, the bed babies should definitely be separated from the children two and three, if possible. Each worker should have the same assignment each week. In other words, each worker should become an expert in her own particular age level.
It is also advisable to have one worker for each six children. When the attendance is one to six, use one worker; seven to twelve-two workers; thirteen to eighteen-three workers, etc.
It is also advisable to have different workers on
Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. Now it may be
satisfactory for one worker to work two of the three services but because
the nursery workers also need spiritual nourishment they should be allowed
to be in at least one service a week. It is highly preferable for them to be
in two serves of the week. Of course, this would fluctuate with the
conditions of each individual church.
2. The room should be set up according to the developmental level of the baby. The atmosphere should be conducive to his age level.
3. The nursery should be open at least fifteen minutes before each service. This is a minimum. Thirty minutes is even more desirable. One reason for this is that the Sunday school teachers is the other departments should be in their places at least fifteen minutes before the service. Consequently, the nurseries must be open even earlier for the use of their children.
4. Enroll all babies and keep their cards posted.
Below you will see typical enrollment cards:
5. The child’s name should be written on a blackboard along with instructions as given by the parents. Each bed is numbered. When the child is placed in the bed, the number from the should be written on the blackboard and beside the number the child’s name should be written, and any special instructions for the day should be listed. This is not only a double check but it also gives added temporary instructions that the parent would give the nursery worker that would not be listed on the enrollment card. Also little bins, or cubbyholes, may be made for the purpose of depositing the diaper bag, etc. Each of these little bins should be numbered. The number on the bin, the number on the bed, and the number of the blackboard should correspond. It is very important that the children’s equipment such as diaper bags, diapers, bottles, etc., be kept separate. Along with this, bottles, diaper bags, etc., should be marked. Toddlers and babies who play on the floor should be marked with some means of identification. This may be done by writing the name on a bracelet made of bias tape and fastened with a snap or gripper. You may also use a tag that can be pinned to the back of the collar.
6. The doors should be locked to keep the children in and the parents out. The nursery is a place for children and not for parents. It is best to have half doors so the baby can be deposited over the half door without the parent entering the nursery. THIS SHOULD BE THE LAW OF THE MEDES AND PERSIANS! When parents come inside, it creates more confusion and causes the children to cry more. It is always best for the children not to see their parents. Especially is this true in the case of the toddlers. When the parents are dept. out and the babies are kept in, it helps the organization, sanitation, privacy, and protection of the babies. Babies should be discharged from the nursery only to the parents or to the one who brought the baby, if this is not the parent. When the parents see that the nursery is operated properly, they will be comforted by this kind of arrangement.
7. Educate the parents and get them interested in the church nursery. Occasionally send out a mailing to all parents giving the room assignment, marking tag, etc. The proper kind of procedure and the proper kind of communication can sell the parent on the nursery. When the parent is sold, complete confidence is developed and rules are happily followed.
8. The workers should be in uniform. White uniforms may be purchased at a nominal cost and will present an efficient appearance. Perhaps few things will do more to settle the minds of the parents than to see a clean, uniformed nursery worker come for the baby. These uniforms are owned by the church. If possible, a dressing room should be provided so that the ladies can change after they arrive. In some cases uniforms can be secured that simply can be worn over the dresses, then these can be removed and placed in the uniform room or the dressing room.
9. As implied before, we ask each worker to work one service a week in the same room
at the same time. On Sunday morning this would be both Sunday school and the preaching service. On Sunday evening it would be both Training Union and the preaching service, and on Wednesday evening it would be both Teachers’ and Officers’ Meeting and the preaching service.
10. It is always best, if possible, to play the nursery workers. Of course, no one will get rich on what they make working in the nursery but if a salary could be paid, for example, a dollar an hour, it would encourage the worker to be on time and be in uniform. It would make him more responsible as an employee rather than a volunteer, and it would give liberty to the nursery superintendent or pastor to call upon the worker for extra service above his regular time. A bulletin board should be secured. The time should be kept on time cards, and the cards should be placed on this bulletin board.
11. One person should be assigned to get substitutes for the nursery. This person knows who is to work and is the one to be contacted in case a regular worker must be out. A proper substitute must be chosen. She must be one who meets all of the qualifications of the regular workers.
12. Appreciation for the workers should be shown. Periodically at a service, special and public recognition should be given to the nursery workers. Their names could be read, they could stand, and receive a word of commendation from the pastor and a resounding “Amen” or grateful applause should come from the congregation.
It is interesting that oftentimes we overlook the most
important things because they seem small. Few things are more important in
the building of a church than adequate nurseries. There are many ways to
operate a successful nursery. We have offered a skeleton outline of one. May
God help it to be used of the Holy Spirit to make our services more
conducive to reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
16. The Music
Probably nothing affects a preaching service or a congregation any more than music. One might only listen to a well-produced radio broadcast or television program to find the real effect that music has on our emotions. Though we do not realize it, music makes a mystery more mysterious, love more loving, a comedy more humorous, a tragedy more tragic, and subconsciously makes a presentation reach its fullest impact upon the observers. I have often taken a trip only to find myself going slower or faster depending upon the type music being played on the car radio.
A friend of mine once managed a cafeteria. One noon he took me to observe the people as they chose their food. He asked the organist to play a waltz. The speed of the cafeteria line lessened and the people chose their food more slowly and deliberately. He then asked the organist to play a march. Immediately as the tempo accelerated, the customers moved more quickly, though the people never realized the effect music had on them.
Music in a preaching service is either a vitamin or a tranquilizer. It is either an asset or a liability. It is either a stimulant or a sedative. It is needful that our churches know the importance of the right kind and proper use of gospel music. Those involved in the music program of the church need to know how to direct music to the heart and how to prepare both congregation and preacher for the message.
Music plays a big part in the Word of God. When Moses
crossed the Red Sea, he sang. Deborah and Barak composed a song at the
defeat of Sisera. Hannah sang because of God’s promise to hive her a son.
Mary sang after the annunciation. Others in the Bible such as Joseph, Simon
and Hezekiah gave expression of their joy in song. In Revelation 5:9 we
find, “And they sung a new song...” The psalmist said, “And he hath put a
new song in my mouth.” In Heaven the four living creatures will sing around
the throne of God. Singing is one of the enjoyments on earth that can be
transferred to Heaven.
Evangelism is an atmosphere. Music can help create this atmosphere. Let us notice, first, music in the service itself.
1. The pastor is pastor of the music program.
It is a dangerous thing for the pastor not to oversee every phase of the church program. It can be a catastrophe for the pastor to take his hands completely off the music. Though the music director certainly should have freedom and liberty to carry out his program, it should all be done with the approval of the pastor. The pastor should constantly retain his right to have veto power. It should be understood that the music director is under the pastor, and that his main concern is to please the pastor and to prepare his heart for the preaching of the Word of God.
It is tragic but true that many preachers would preach better if the sermon preceded the music. In this case the music director is a failure, regardless of the quality of the music or perfection of the presentation. The word “bishop” in the Bible is translated “overseer.” The right kind of pastor “overseer.” He should oversee the music as well as every other part of the church program.
Many pastors have lamented the day that they turned the music of the church over to a music committee. Often these committees grow in power and authority and make a slave of the music director and a figurehead of the pastor.
We have followed the plan of hiring a qualified music director who is given complete control of the music program under the supervision of the pastor. If the music director is not qualified, or if he is not of a deposition suitable for such a plan, he should not have been employed. If he is qualified, he should not be annoyed.
2. A well-planned prelude should set the pace for the service.
If the service is to be evangelistic, the prelude should be evangelistic. It should be started at least ten minutes before the service. It should consist of familiar gospel songs played up to tempo and loudly enough. It should be well planned and well prepared. We allow only sacred music to be played for preludes and offertories.
3. Always start the service on time.
Of course, this will be up to the music director. If one hundred people are present at a service that starts six minutes late, six hundred minutes are wasted. this is ten hours! The Bible says we are to give an account for every idle moment and to redeem the time. I wonder how many hours the preachers and music directors will have to account for at the judgment seat. If the services are to start at 11:00, but then start at 11:03, someone is dishonest.
4. It is often good to start the services with the choir.
An important part of any venture is the beginning. If the choir marches out and immediately presents a well-planned opening song or chorus, it will do several things. First, it will quieten the crowd. Secondly, it will make friends immediately of the first-time visitors, and then also, it will remind the congregation that this service is well planned and prepared. This opening could be a special choir arrangement, a stanza of a choir arrangement that has been used previously, a chorus of the opening hymn sung well, or a well-prepared chorus. At this part of the service a giddy-type chorus should be avoided. This should be a big-type number, one that will say to the people, “This is going to be a great service. More is to come.”
5. Use gospel songs.
We feel that the old songs and hymns are the best for congregational singing. We use the same type songs for both morning and evening. Such songs as “Amazing Grace,” “How Firm a Foundation,” “Rescue the Perishing,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” etc., are certainly as appropriate for Sunday morning will eventually act as a sedative or evangelism.
6. The pastor chooses the appropriate songs.
It has been my policy for many years to go through the songbooks and approve songs we use for congregational singing. I do not choose the particular ones to be sung on a given Sunday, but simply decide what songs may be used in our services. There are some songs in the book that are not good for congregational singing and some that the pastor might feel would not help the desired end for the services. The use of these can be avoided by simply going through the songbook and checking the songs the pastor approves for congregational singing.
7. Introductions should also be planned ahead.
After the pastor has approved the songs to be used for congregational singing, the music director or the organist should decide on a good, short introduction for each hymn and mark it in the hymnals used by the organist and pianist. In this way the accompanists will never be unprepared for the playing of a good, lively introduction regardless of the song named by the song leader. Many services have been harmed because the organist played introductions which were much too long and musically incorrect.
8. The choir should practice congregational songs.
The choir should practice the next Sunday’s congregational songs in the choir practice. This will serve a twofold purpose. First, it can serve as a warm-up for choir practice. This also prevents “hallelujah breakdowns” during the song service on the Lord’s Day. If the choir members know the songs to be sung, it can often save embarrassment to the song leader at the public service.
9. The pianist and organist should have the list of numbers.
The pianist and organist should have the list of page numbers prior to the service so they can have their books open to the proper page before the song is announced. They should start playing immediately upon the announcement of the members. Because we have found it best to have the numbers announced twice, at the conclusion of the second announcement the organist and pianist immediately start playing the “marked” introduction.
10. Announce the page numbers distinctly.
We announce each number twice. These numbers are easily misunderstood: 270 could be 217; 350 could be 315; 118 could be 180. It might even be wise to announce such numbers first as “numbers one hundred eighteen.” and then announces as “1-1-8.”
11. Song leader selects and records hymns used in public services.
It is wise for the song leader to keep a record of the hymns used in the public services. In this way he guards against overusing a few gospel songs and excluding other good songs approved by the pastor.
In selecting the songs for a particular service the song leader should choose a peppy one for the first number. Too many services begin with a slower hymn, such as “Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us,” and this is not conducive to establishing an atmosphere of evangelism. “Love Lifted Me” or “He keeps Me Singing” would be better at the beginning of a service. The slower songs could be used later.
12. The congregational song leader should leave the preaching to the preacher.
Occasionally one comes across some song leader who likes to tell his favorite story between stanzas and will pause and preach awhile during the song service. The song leader should remember that his job is to lead the singing, not to philosophize or exegete the song before, during, or after it is sung.
13. Have a familiar gospel offertory.
The pianist or organist should never be used just as a “filler.” The offertory is a definite part of the service. It should be carefully and prayerfully planned and well presented. Though I have a great love for classical music, I feel that the church is definitely not the place for it, and we do not allo9w its use in our services. Our offertories are taken from well-known hymns and songs so that the people can be blessed while the music is played. In fact, no instrumental selection is ever played unless it is a familiar one so that the people can be blessed by the message. If a trombonist, organist, pianist, or harpist were to play an unfamiliar number, people should be given the page number so they could open to the song and follow its words.
14. We should remember that music is a means to an end.
Music is not an end itself. It should never take the place of preaching. Let us prepare the people’s hearts for the preaching of the Word. In nearly a quarter of a century of preaching we have yet to take a Sunday morning or Sunday evening strictly for a musical program. It is always preaching. If a cantata is presented, it is presented on a weeknight, Sunday afternoon, or right before a service. People know that they can always find preaching at our church. Our music is not an end but it is an important means to an end.
15. The choir should set the pace for the service.
In other words, the choir should be an example for the congregation. The choir should not whisper or misbehave in any way. They should be obviously responsive to the preaching at our church. Our music is not an end but it is an important means to an end.
16. The invitation number should not be announced secretly to the choir during the sermon.
It is not uncommon for a pastor’s message to be hindered by the music director whispering the number to someone in the choir and then the chain reaction starts. It is certainly disconcerting for choir members to be opening their songbooks at the most crucial part of the message.
17. The organist should not take liberties during the invitation.
The pastor is in complete charge of the invitation. The organist should never decide to play softly at the close of the message or at any time during the invitation. The organist should play only at the pastor’s request.
18. Start each invitation with the same song.
This is so the choir will know what the number of the invitation will be, avoiding the error in the aforementioned part. For years we have started our invitation with “Just As I Am.” People know what it is going to be. The choir knows what it is going to be. Hence, much confusion is avoided.
19. We use only the choir on the invitation.
We do not want the people reaching for their books. Even this much movement will take the sinner’s mind off the Gospel. We simply stand for the invitation, and the choir starts to sing. For this reason our choir never goes down to sit in the congregation during the sermon. They are always behind the preacher, ready to sing the invitation hymn.
20. The choir rehearses the invitation numbers at choir practice.
The invitation song is always sung up to tempo, never slowly. It is led by the music director as a special number is led. It has been rehearsed at choir practice an sung in full voice as a special number would be sung.
It is a shame the way an average invitation is sung so slowly. It is no wonder that people do not respond quickly to the invitation.
21. Use the same invitation song as long as people are responding.
It can be detrimental to the service for one song to be stopped and another started while folks are walking the aisle and others are in the “valley of decision.” For this cause we continue to sing the same song as long as people will respond. We simply repeat the verses over and over. When folks stop coming forward, then we consider changing the number.
22. Only the pastor changes the invitation song.
It is the pastor who feels the heartbeat of the invitation. It is the pastor who knows when another song is needed. The invitation can be changed with the following statement of the pastor: “Now as the choir sings, ‘Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling.’ would you come forward and receive Christ as your Saviour.” Note that the page number is not announced. The choir knows it and the congregation does not need it. Hence, all of the invitation numbers are changed only by the pastor if he feels led to make the change.
23. The choir should sing after the closing prayer.
In our service we do not use a benediction, nor do we use a choral response, or a sevenfold amen. Hence, the service is closed with a prayer followed by the choir singing such songs as “He lives,” “A New Name Written Down in Glory,” etc. This sends the people home on a joyful note.
24. The organist and pianist play a joyful postlude.
The service should be closed on a high plane, and the people should leave with a spirit of joyful thanksgiving. The right kind of postlude helps to stimulate this mood. This should also consist of familiar hymns. “Praise Him!” and “Ring the Bells of Heaven” would be appropriate kind of hymn to play for a postlude.
25. The piano and organ should be tuned regularly.
Few things can hurt a service any more than having the musical instruments out of tune. Little things should be cared for in a public service. The tuning of the piano, proper lighting, proper heat and ventilation, proper adjustment of the public address system and other things are of vital importance for the success of the service.
26. Special groups, as duets, trios, quartets, should be well prepared and well planned.
No such number should be sung unless it has been rehearsed properly. Those who sing should be sitting in the choir or right in the front together. We have found it wise to have a special number after a prayer. As soon as the prayer is closed, they should be behind the pulpit and the instruments should play the introduction immediately. There should be no lulls in the service.
Normally, our singing groups are not introduced. They should be dressed properly and taught to stand properly. They should avoid offensive gestures, smiles and facial gestures at the people in the audience, and improper posture.
Why should the Lord’s work be done less efficiently than a television program? Why should a nightclub be better prepared than a church? God’s business is the biggest business in the world. Let’s act like it. The slipshod way the average church operates its music preparing the special numbers. Special numbers are oftentimes given by people who are not prepared and who dress sloppily, slouch up to the pulpit, clap their hands, chew their gum, smile at the boyfriend, and go through the motion of trying to be a blessing. The local burlesque plans better than we do. God pity us.
27. Special groups should be organized.
(1.) Each singing group should consist of people approved by the pastor before they are approached about singing in a special group.
(2.) There should be a weekly practice for each singing group. It might be wise for all ladies’ groups to practice at the same time, having the nursery open or a baby sitter available for all of the children. A good time to have these ladies practice would be during the graded choir rehearsals. This provides a place for the children while the mothers practice.
(3.) Each group should consider the possibility of dressing alike. Certainly each group should carefully plan their attire when singing in the service.
(4.) A singing group should be named. This name should be something more than “Ladies’ Trio,” “Men’s Quartet,” etc.
(5.) The pastor or music director should keep a card file on each group. On this card should be listed every song this group knows well enough to sing and when and if they have sung it. From this file the pastor and music director will know at any moment what group and numbers are ready for presentation.
(6.) Each group should have a captain who can be contacted by the pastor or music director. The captain is responsible to inform other members of the singing group.
(7.) The music director should either practice with each group or have a competent person in charge of each group to insure the best preparation and presentation.
28. Have an active graded-choir program.
Remember that the efficiency and effectiveness of such a program will not only give the challenge to learn music better but gives the lasting impression as to the way God’s work should be carried on.
(1.) The choirs should be graded by departments. There should be a beginner choir, a primary choir, a junior choir, and a teen-age choir.
(2.) There should be a weekly rehearsal. This may be any time suitable to your situation. Many churches find it convenient to have it after school. At one pastorate we found after school on Monday to be a splendid time. We could announce it heartily on the Lord’s Day and then it would be fresh in the minds of the boys and girls for Monday.
(3.) There should be some definite rules about dress at the rehearsals. Boys should be required to wear ties and girls should be required to dress neatly. At one church we even provided white shirts and ties for the boys and matching skirts and blouses for the girls. Of course, there were those who complained, but they felt a sense of pride, and it also taught the boys and girls to dress properly. This is greatly needed in these days.
(4.) There should be a weekly workers’ meeting for the discussion of curriculum, etc. This meeting could be held immediately before the choirs meet or at any other convenient time during the week. We have found it helpful to keep a definite order of curriculum in our choir programs. Such things as scales, rules of music, song leading, etc., maybe taught to a smallest boy or girl. A meeting of directors may help with the planning of such a program.
(5.) Children line up at the door and march in. This is a time much like the Daily Vacation Bible School. This will help the children to learn obedience and will also help the order and discipline for the entire session. They will line up at different doors of the auditorium and march in quickly and quietly for an opening assembly of all choirs. Then each choir is sitting together during this assembly.
(7.) Choirs then march in line to the individual practice rooms. Notice before the child is ever taught music, he is taught how to dress properly, he is taught discipline, and he is taught to follow orders. These are vitally important to any organization.
(8.) Use choruses first in the choir rehearsal. Boys and girls should get the idea that choir practice is fun. Start off with choruses that they like to sing and gradually work into the curriculum of the day. This curriculum should always contain the learning of some musical knowledge as well as the rehearsal of some song the choir plans to sing. It should include such things as constant practice on how to stand and sit together, how to hold the songbook, how to stand during performance, etc. The same methods of standing, sitting, holding books, etc., we use in the adult choir should be taught to the entire program. By the time the children become members of the adult choir, this habit will have become part of them subconsciously.
(9.) Have a surprise once a month. This surprise will be in the form of refreshments or a guest, such as a ventriloquist or magician, etc. The actual day of the surprise should not be announced. it should be about once a month on a different day of each month and should come as a complete surprise to the boys and girls. This should help them to come regularly.
(10.) A different choir should sing in the church service once a month. This should keep the boys and girls interested and keep the parents happy. It will also help the attendance at the public service.
(11.) A roll should be kept of choir members and a letter sent to absentees. We have found it beneficial to have three types of letters and cards sent. One for the first absence, one for second absence and one for the third. These are sent to each absentee each week. It simply lets them know we care.
29. The adult choir should be properly organized and well trained.
Members should be enlisted properly. The enlistment of choir members should be done the same way that Sunday school teachers are enlisted and a challenge should be presented to a potential member personally. To ask folks in the congregation to come to the choir shows the sign of both the lack of concern and the lack of preparation. How a choir member is enlisted will determine to a great extent his interest and faithfulness to the program.
30. Choir practice should always start on time.
Nothing encourages tardiness like the leader being tardy in starting. If only two people are there, he should start the moment it is scheduled to start. Nobody wants to miss anything. Then, too, we aid our people in developing slipshod habits if we are delinquent in starting on time.
31. Choirs should be organized properly.
The choir should have a president and he should be given time to preside briefly at each choir practice. He could welcome new ones in the choir, say a word about any social activity the choir is planning, and briefly make necessary announcements. Then it is often wise to have group captains and maybe even a secretary, social chairman, etc. The practice always should be well planned and conducive to conducting God’s business with dignity.
32. Each group captain should keep an attendance record.
Absentee letters and postcards should be sent and even visits made to insure a good choir practice attendance.
33. Each choir member should have his own seat.
He should be required to see that it is filled at all times. Some churches even find it wise to have the person’s name on the seat.
34. The choir practice should last approximately one hour.
It should include the rehearsing of congregational songs for the next Sunday. It should be spiritual as well as informal and gay.
35. It is wise to practice a special at least three weeks before it is presented.
This will insure each choir member having enough practice to guarantee a good presentation.
36. It is good to present some new members to the choir each week.
Nothing will hurt choir practice attendance any more than a lack of a challenge. Few things present less challenge any more than a lack of number of “repeats.” People respond to something new, and the choir is challenged to faithfulness by knowing that something new is waiting for them at every practice.
37. The choir director should choose choir music carefully.
In our church services we use no anthems. We use arrangements of gospel songs. The choir director should select these carefully so that the performance of these arrangements will add to the atmosphere of evangelism.
The choir arrangements should be suited to the overall ability of the choir. The use of extremely simplified arrangements fails to challenge the members. Interesting selection will keep up their interest if care is taken to avoid overly difficult numbers which would discourage and embarrass the choir.
38. The choir arrangements should be studied by the studied by the director before the rehearsal.
Because the director is the “leader,” he should be prepared to lead the music. It is disconnecting for choir members to give their time to the rehearsing of selection with which the director is not thoroughly familiar.
When a choir director is personally prepared, he can more efficiently and confidently lead the choirs in their rehearsing of the specials for the Lord’s Day.
39. The choir should have some social life together.
About four times a year the choir should have some planned social activity. This would help develop a choir spirit. this is necessary for the success of any organization.
40. Some general music suggestions.
(1.) A piano class. Many churches are plagued by a lack of qualified pianists. The church pianist could have a piano class one hour each week. In a year’s time these people would be qualified enough to play the simple gospel songs and could be used as accompanists as needed.
(2.) A song leaders’ class. Most churches need departmental song leaders. Adult men could be trained for this by the church music director. This should also be a weekly matter. In a few months the Sunday school could be staffed with qualified departmental and class song leaders.
As the reader has probably surmised, music is very
important to this preacher. It is important enough that we should be giving
it our best. This is the greatest business in all the world and is worthy of
nothing less than out best!
17. The Women’s Missionary Society
of First Baptist Church Hammond, Indiana
June 24, 1966
1. To provide Christian fellowship for the ladies of our church.
2. To inform the ladies of missionaries of history and of the present time.
3. To provide a means for the ladies to assist the missionaries whom we support, and to suggest missionary projects for our Girls’ Lamplighter Society.
4. To provide assistance in our local work.
II. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
1. Elected Officers: President, Vice-President, Program Chairman, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, Song Leader, Pianist.
2. Appointed Officers: Spiritual Life Chairman, Used Clothing Chairman, Membership Chairman, Circle Leaders, Registration Chairman.
3. Duties of each officer:
(1.) President: To oversee the entire work of WMS, to appoint officers, to preside at all the general meetings, to call meetings of circle leaders and general officers as needed, to visit each circle during the course of the year in order to learn the pulse of each group and to get acquainted with the ladies of these groups, and to perform any other duties that would involve arranging for general meetings and aiding the circle leaders to organize their meetings and groups.
(2.) Vice-President: To preside over the general meetings in the absence of the president, to take care of newspaper publicity, to type announcements for the pastor to make from the pulpit and to be printed in the Sunday bulletin, to work very closely with the president as the president’s “sounding board” before bringing ideas or recommendations to the other officers and circle leaders.
(3.) Program Chairman: To arrange for the main speaker and program for the general meeting.
(4.) Secretary: To keep minutes of all the general meetings and all the officers’ and circle leaders’ meetings.
(5.) Assistant Secretary: To read and take minutes in the absence of the secretary.
(6.) Treasurer: To take the offerings at the general meetings; to care for paying the bills; to have the checks for nursery workers, speakers, any who have spent money for general meeting expenses; to send checks to those organizations that are written into our budget; to keep the books; and to read the report at the general meeting. (The books are audited by two ladies at the close of each WMS year-these ladies are appointed by the president. A checking account is maintained at the local bank so that everything is done “decently and in order.”)
(7.) Assistant treasurer: To read the treasurer’s report in the absence of the treasurer at the general meeting and to assist in taking the offering at the general meeting.
(8.) Song Leader: To choose the music to be used at the general meetings and to arrange for special music at the general meetings.
(9.) Pianist: To play the piano at the general meetings.
(10.) Spiritual Life Chairman: To meet with the president during the summer to choose a spiritual theme for the WMS year that begins in September; to choose Scripture verses to fit this theme for each month of the year; to compile the monthly prayer sheet that is used in the general meeting; and to arrange in advance for a lady to lead in prayer during the prayer time of the general meeting. (The prayer sheets are mimeographed in the church office, but the subject matter is provided by the Spiritual Life Chairman. She compiles the news from letters received from our missionaries and adds the verse for the month and a poem on devotional thought. Occasionally all the missionaries, the college students, or the servicemen are listed in addition to the missionaries’ prayer requests. Enough copies of the prayer sheet are made so each lady can take one home to use in her daily devotional time.)
(11.) Used Clothing Chairman: To assist the superintendent of the mission keeping the church’s used clothing room organized. (We maintain a used clothing room, with racks and shelves for clothing, shoes, scarves, etc., brought by members of the church from time to time.)
(12.) Membership Chairman: To send each new lady member of the church a form letter which welcomes her to the membership of our church and also invites her to attend the WMS general meetings and circle meetings. (Periodically a list of the names, addresses and approximate ages of ladies who have recently joined the church is obtained from the church office. The membership chairman utilizes this list as do the leaders of the circles in personally inviting the new ladies to attend the meetings.)
(13.) Registration Chairman: To take registrations after the Sunday services for the general meeting that is to follow the next Tuesday, to take registrations over the phone at her home until noon the Monday before the meeting, to arrange the names of the registered ladies into alphabetical order so that she can receive their payment for the luncheon as they arrive for the general meeting. (We never sell anything or serve any meal with the purpose of “making” money. All the work of our church is carried on by offerings. The luncheon cost cares for the expenses of the general meeting.)
(14.) Circle Leaders: To act as president of her own circle, organizing her group with volunteer and/or appointed officers.
(15.) Nursery Chairman: To call nursery workers for each general meeting, giving their names to the treasurer so that they can be paid the $2.00 for the afternoon that we pay in addition to furnishing their luncheon meal.
4. Members: Every lady member of the First Baptist Church of Hammond is automatically a member of the WMS. She is therefore welcome and invited simply to attend in order to become active. No dues are paid and there is no required number of meetings to attend in order to join. Every announcement concerning a general meeting of WMS is for every lady and her guests. Every circle announcement is made with her in mind if she cares to come.
(1.) The general meeting: The entire group meets together once a month in what we call the general meeting.
(2.) The circles: The entire group is divided into circles, each circle meeting separately once a month at a time other than the time of the general meeting.
1. General Meetings
(1.) The Luncheon: We meet at 12:30 the first Tuesday of each month in the church fellowship hall. A different circle each month takes care of the meal, and another circle cares for the decorations. We charge .75 for adults and .25 for children. The money collected for the luncheon is allocated in the following manner:
a. The serving circle is allowed $35.00 for purchasing food in addition to the dishes they prepare individually. (Those serving are not required to pay the .75 charge.)
b. The decorating circle is allowed $4.00 for supplies.
c. The two nursery workers each receive $2.00.
d. In order that the serving ladies need not miss the meeting, our rescue mission men clean up the kitchen and are paid $3.00 for this task.
e. Any remaining funds are applied to the cost of decorations for the annual Mother-Daughter Banquet, which is held in May.
f. Payments to outside speakers are made from the offerings taken at the general meetings.
a. Group singing is led by the song leader while tables are quickly cleared.
b. Business includes the following:
(a) Reading of the minutes of the previous general meeting and the officers’ meeting as well.
(b) The treasurer’s report.
(c) Announcements of future WMS meetings.
(d) Announcements of any plans for the work of WMS.
(e) Recommendations. (Any recommendations brought to the ladies have been discussed thoroughly by the officers or officers and circle leaders so that a minimum amount of time is spent on voting or any items of business.)
c. Special music is presented.
d. A prayer time for our missionaries is conducted.
e. The program is presented.
(3.) Types of Programs
(a.) The director of the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.
(b) The lady in charge of the women’s work at the Pacific Garden Mission.
(c) Any of our missionaries who are in the area.
(d) Our own staff members.
(e) Devotional speakers from within our own group of ladies.
b. Films of the mission fields where our missionaries are serving.
c. College meetings conducted by our own college students singing, testifying, and speaking. Also, films of colleges we would recommend are shown so that the parents can be informed.
d. Skits portraying the work of our staff.
e. Christmas musical programs presented by our own singing groups.
f. Tape recordings from our missionaries. (These are provided by us, but made by the missionary so we may “get acquainted.”)
g. Tears of our parsonages, our rescue mission, and the Pacific Garden Mission.
h. Installation service for the new officers.
(1.) Division of the ladies is based upon various things-young married ladies’ circle, deaf ladies’ circle, single ladies’ circle, others with mixed ages contain ladies convenient to a central location. The ladies are free to choose any convenient circle.
(2.) Names of the circles are chosen from the names of countries where our missionaries serve. (If more countries’ names are available than needed, one circle could bear two countries’ names until there is need for another circle to be formed; for instance, Japan-Mexico Circle.) If the church should at any time decide not to extend support to a certain missionary for some reason such as retirement, etc., the change is more gracefully made if the circle is not named for individual missionaries but rather for the field is which they serve.
(3.) Meeting time-once a month. Some meet in the afternoon, some in the evening, some the second Tuesday of the month, some the third Tuesday-the meetings vary. Sometimes a potluck is chosen by a circle to be served at lunch or supper time; sometimes the circle chooses to work at the church during the day on some project that can better be done there; or they meet at their regular meeting time in the home of one of the circle members.
(4.) Officers of the circles-leader, co-leader, secretary-treasurer, corresponding secretary, devotional chairman, project chairman.
(5.) Programmed followed in a circle meeting:
a. A time of devotions and prayer is led by a member of the circle arranged for by the devotional chairman. The devotions are given either from a book selected by the WMS officers, who have purchased a copy for each circle, or from the thoughts compiled by the person presenting the devotions.
b. A report on a missionary’s work is presented. This is in the form of a book report about some past missionary or a compilation of letters and materials obtained from missionaries whom we now support. Two methods have been used for these reports. Some years a list of books is given to each circle, and a schedule is drawn up for ladies of the circle to present the reports to their own circle. Other years “roving speakers” are selected. Each speaker (a lady from our church) presents her book report to a different circle each month according to a schedule drawn up by the WMS president. Both methods work well if careful check is kept on them-books selected and “roving speakers.”
c. Correspondence is read from the circle’s missionary, shut-in, college student, and/or serviceman.
d. Time is spent on a project which requires sewing, etc.
e. Refreshments and fellowship usually conclude the meeting.
1. For our missionaries: The types of projects which we undertake for our missionaries are, of course, dependent upon their needs and the feasibility of shipping because of weight, duty involved, etc. If we can determine duty ahead of time, we’ll send to the mission board of the particular missionary a check designated for that missionary in the amount of the duty which he will have their needs are, asking them to state specifically their personal needs and the needs of their mission field. Of course we can guess their personal needs many times. WE know, if they have a family, items of clothing and reading material, such as subscriptions to Reader’s Digest, Sword of the Lord, etc., might be enjoyed by them. Food items that they cannot buy would be a real treat to them: cake mixes, soft drink mixes, certain canned goods, etc. On some fields used clothing us badly needed and boxes of it can be sent. Bibles can be purchased through Bible societies and sent in out name to the mission field. Quilts are a needed item on many fields, both for the use of the missionary and also the people on their field. We make and but baby clothes each year, for these are needed items in many places.
(1.) The used clothing room on the church property is well stocked. We keep not only donated clothing but also newly-made quilts and baby clothes to be distributed among our own repairing.
(2.) Baptismal robes constantly need replacing and repairing.
(3.) We help bereaved church families. It is determined how much food is needed for the meal after the funeral (and perhaps for longer periods of time than this) and decided what kinds of dishes and how many should be brought. Circles take turns providing dishes and help. The church budget allows for buying a large ham for any bereaved family.
(4.) Our ladies do things around the church that are not included in the custodian’s duties: wash the artificial greenery in the auditorium, mend songbooks, clean the church kitchen (cabinet, refrigerators, etc.).
(5.) Our church maintains a rescue mission. The Ladies make personal effect bags and fill them with shaving cream, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. They also bring handkerchiefs, socks, etc. We have had schedules for the different circles to bring dessert dishes to the mission.
(6.) Each circle is provided with names of shut-ins, servicemen, and college students from our church family. On their birthdays and at other special occasions cards are sent with the assurance that the ladies are praying for them. To the shut-ins visits are made periodically, taking baskets of fruit and other gifts at Christmas, Thanksgiving and perhaps at birthdays.
V. FINANCIAL STRUCTURE
1. Budget-General Meetings: The budget is set up at the beginning of each WMS year (the fall) designating sums to different organizations, such as Child Evangelism, World Home Bible League. Pacific Garden Mission, etc. We try each year to review the merits of each designation, and if we feel that there is some reason for not using the Lord’s money in support of a group, we do not recommend to the ladies that we support them again.
2. Extra Needs-General Meetings: When we hear of special needs throughout the year, we consider them and vote upon whether we can send money.
3. Circles’ Finances: The offerings taken in the circle meeting are disbursed according to the wishes of the ladies attending that circle. Many times recommendation is made by the general group that all the circles help in one certain project.
VI. THE YEAR’S WORK
1. How decided:
(1.) By officers and circle leader during the summer.
(2.) With a twelve-month period in mind, plans are made for September through August. (New officers are installed in the June meeting and actually take office in July, carrying out plans for the July and August general meetings that were made by the outgoing officers.)
(3.) By individual circles. (Some choose to meet during the summer; some do not.)
(1.) Made up by officers.
(2.) Contents to be of aid to all ladies attending.
(3.) About 4” x 6” in size, mimeographed and bound in
book form. Listed are the names of all the officers with their phone
numbers; names of our missionaries and their addresses; a separate page for
each month of the year showing the verse for that month, the names of the
serving and decorating circles for that month; circle names, times of
meeting and their leaders’ names and phone numbers; and other helpful
information to which the group can refer throughout the year.
18. The Baptismal Service
“That’s right, “ replied the teacher. “Now another question: Who baptized John the Baptist?” This was a real stumper. Finally, after much deliberation, little Johnny’s hand went up again. “All right, Johnny, who did baptize John the Baptist?”
“Brother Hyles did,” replied the boy.
This took place in a little country church in east Texas in 1949. I was the pastor of the little country church. The teacher was one of our fine teachers, and Johnny was one of our beginner boys. Johnny said a great deal about his pastor in that little statement. He was saying, “My pastor must have baptized almost everybody because he baptizes so much.” He was also saying, “My pastor puts a great stress on baptism and even John the Baptist would have been pleased to have Brother Hyles baptize him.”
Johnny was right in one respect. Brother Hyles does place a big emphasis on baptism. To be sure, baptism is not necessary to salvation, but it is necessary to obedience. There are several reasons why it is important. The first is, baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We should tell the world immediately upon salvation that we believe in these basic truths.
Then, baptism also pictures what has happened to us at salvation. It is somewhat like an X-ray. An X-ray reveals internal conditions to the human eye; baptism reveals salvation to the human eye. One says to the world, “Look, let me show you outwardly what happened to me inwardly. As I go down into the water, I am showing you that I have buried the old life; and as I rise from the water, I am showing you that I have risen to walk in the newness of life. I am a new creature and I want you to see it.”
Then, baptism also identifies us with Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
Baptism is one of the few things that we can do exactly as Jesus did. Oh, yes, we are to strive to be like Him. We are to follow His example. The first and best way for a Christian to do this is by obeying His command of baptism. Jesus places a great deal of emphasis on baptism. This is shown so vividly by His inclusion of this ordinance in the Great Commission. Had it not been important to Him, He would not have included it in what we commonly call “The Great Commission.”
In March of 1965 I went on a tour of Bible lands. It was my privilege to baptize four people in the Jordan River. We walked out into the Jordan River just where the Sea of Galilee flows into the Jordan. With the Sea of Galilee in the background and the Promised Land framing the scene, I, like John the Baptist, baptized in the Jordan. As the five of us walked into the river, a group of nineteen believers sang:
On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.
I am bound for the promised land;
O who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.
It is, however, my privilege to enjoy that same thrill Sunday after Sunday, as newborn babes in Christ follow the command of the Saviour in believers’ baptism. It is my desire in the next few pages to help pastors and churches around the world increase their number of converts and the number of baptisms. May God use these remarks to fulfill that purpose.
1. Baptize both Sunday morning and Sunday evening, and baptize the converts immediately upon salvation. We should make it easy for people to be baptized. It is a step of obedience. It is the first step of obedience after salvation. Many churches could double their baptisms simply by baptizing on Sunday morning as well as Sunday evening, by having the baptistery filled at all times. and by having necessary preparation for such services.
This is not foreign to New Testament practice. In fact, in the New Testament, baptism immediately followed salvation. Acts 2:41 says, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Notice the words “the same day.” Hence, on Pentecost the converts were baptized immediately.
Now turn to Acts 2:47. “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Notice that the converts were being added to the church daily. since the converts were being baptized before being added to the church, this would lead us to believe that they continued baptizing converts immediately upon salvation.
In Acts 8:37 and 38 we read, “ And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart; thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” Now here was a man whom Philip had never seen. He was of another race and another country. He was just traveling through, yet he was baptized immediately.
Now turn to Acts 9:17 and 18. “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.” The Apostle Paul likewise was baptized soon after his salvation.
We also found the same thing in Acts 10:47 and 48. “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” In the house of Cornelius Peter had preached. Many had been saved. Then they were ready for a baptismal service.
In Acts 16:14 and 15 we read. “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.” Here again we have a convert. Here is a lady that perhaps Paul had never seen before, yet she was saved and immediately baptized. In this same chapter we have a similar story. Look at Acts 16:33. “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” Note the words “the same hour.”
Believing that our church should follow the New Testament pattern, the First Baptist Church of Hammond has practiced this for a number of years.
2. Have a baptistery. It is absolutely amazing how many churches have no baptisteries. It is even more amazing to find Baptist churches without baptisteries. Because the word Baptist new names baptizers, it is unbelievable to find that many churches will have pews, chairs, choirs, pulpits, etc., but no baptistery. It seems to me that the first thing a Baptist church would want to have would be a baptistery. Not only should a church have a baptistery, but it should be filled at every service for immediate use.
3. Clothing. In many cases people are asked to bring an exchange of clothing with them to the baptismal services. This, of course, means that the convert cannot be baptized in the same service when he is saved. It is far more convenient for the church to provide baptismal robes or smocks for the new converts to wear. This is a worthy project for the ladies’ group in the church such as the W. M. S. We have found it wise to have all sizes and keep a generous supply available. We also keep an ample supply of underclothing for the converts.
4. Scores of towels are kept available for the converts to use. This means that the convert has to bring nothing with him for baptism. he may be baptized on the “same day,” as was the case in the book of Acts.
5. We have found it wise to keep a generous supply of hair dryers available (especially for the ladies). These are especially useful for preventing the converts from catching colds, etc., in the wintertime and in colder climates.
6. We provide plastic caps for the ladies with which to cover their hair if they prefer not to get their hair wet.
7. Both men’s and women’s dressing rooms must be provided for the preparation for baptism. In these rooms are kept the aforementioned supplies such as hair dryers, smocks, towels, etc. It is also wise to have restroom facilities adjacent to these dressing rooms. Inside the dressing rooms there are little stalls about the size of a telephone booth where people dress for baptism. It is best to have the dressing rooms on either side of the baptistery with a door leading from each into the water. These rooms should be attractive, well lighted and clean.
8. Helpers are needed. There are many people involved in making an immediate baptismal service possible. First, there are the folks who work at the altar talking to the new converts and explaining to them that they can be baptized immediately. These workers also point them to the door leading to the stairs and to the baptismal room. Just inside the door there is another worker who is waiting for converts pointing to the stairs leading to the baptistery. Then at the top of the stairs there is another worker to show which is the ladies’ room and which is the men’s. Then there are three to five ladies who work in the ladies’ dressing room and three to five men who work in the men’s dressing room passing out towels, smocks, etc. In general, they simply help the converts in their preparation for baptism. Then there is another worker at the top of the steps leading down into the baptistery who explains to the convert how to be baptized before he enters the water.
There are two other men helping me in the water. While I am baptizing a man, one of my helpers in the water is getting a lady down into the water. While the male convert is leaving the baptistery, the lady convert is entering. While she is being baptized, by other helper is preparing another convert and helping him down into the water. After the lady leaves, a man comes, then a lady, then a man, etc. This enables us to baptize four or five converts a minute without any appearance of rushing and without taking less time with each person in the actual experience of baptism. We will baptize an average of twenty-five to thirty each Sunday morning, and the entire baptismal service takes only about ten minutes.
9. The baptismal service should be an impressive one. It should be done smoothly and gracefully. People should get the idea that it is not a hard thing to get baptized. Often people do not want to get baptized because they are afraid of the water. Many times this fear is created, or at least enhanced, by a pastor not taking the proper care in the actual administering of the ordinance. If it is done in a crude jerky way, it may strike fear into the hearts of people, especially little ones who will not want to get baptized because they are afraid of the ordeal.
The pastor stands facing the people and points the
convert facing to his left in front of him. He then moves a little to the
right of the convert so the congregation can see him. It has been my policy
for years to raise my right hand in the air and put my left hand on the
elbow of the person being baptized. Then I say,
Often I am asked why I do not allow the convert to hold on to my arm or wrist as I lower him under the water in order to give the convert more assurance. This is because I believe baptism is a picture of salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith and not by holding on, hence, I do not like for the convert to hold on to the preacher. It is a small point, to be sure, but I feel that salvation is not perfectly pictured if the convert is holding on to the pastor. I would certainly not make an issue of this point, however.
10. Include the subject of baptism in a sermon almost every Sunday. Just one sentence could be said about baptism each Lord’s Day. In other words, the general atmosphere of the church should be that for a Christian not to be baptized is a sin and that to be obedient a new convert must be baptized. The people should get the idea that baptism has nothing to do with salvation. However, they should be made to feel that it is a very important step, and that when they get saved. God wants them to be baptized. This certainly does not deviate from the scriptural practice and the example as set forth in the Book of Acts.
Now look at Matthew 28:19 and 20. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Notice if you would please, the imperatives in these verses: Go, teach, baptize and teach. you will notice the simple command of Christ is that we go and tell people how to be saved., baptize them after they are saved, and teach them to do what God commanded us to do. Since God’s command to us was go, get people saved and get them baptized, then we are to teach others to go, get people saved and get them baptized. Notice the divine order: Go, teach all nations, baptize and then train them to be soul winners. This is God’s plan.
It is sad that many churches make it difficult to get baptized. Take this same logic and use it about other things that a new Christian should do. Should we let a new Christian wait awhile before he tithes? Should we make it hard for him to tithe? Should we make it hard for a new Christian to quit drinking and smoking? Should we advise him to go back to the bar for awhile until he is sure he is saved? Or should we make it easy for him to quit his sins and start tithing? The sad thing is that many of us do not look upon baptism as being an act of obedience on the part of the believer. So in many cases we actually hinder him form being obedient in baptism.
Let us carry out the Great Commission to its fullest, remembering that people are lost without Christ and need to be saved, and they, too, need to be baptized and trained to go back and bring others to the Saviour.
Let’s increase our converts and our baptisms.
19. A Soul-Winning Experience
His growth in grace is evidenced by the fact that
Brother Doug has become a deacon in the First Baptist Church of Hammond.
MRS. HILES: It is not too common a name.
PASTOR: Oh, is that right?
MR. HILES: Well, I’m not playing anywhere right now.
Before we moved here I did a little work in Nevada in some of the clubs.
I think that you will find, Kathy, that we do have a
lot of people, but I think you will find our church to have a little-type
spirit, maybe. We don’t play big. We don’t act big. Actually, we are just a
lot of little people and we love the Lord. I think that you will find after
you have been here awhile that we are like the country church back home, and
we hope you will come back to see us again. What church did you belong to,
Kathy? Do you have a church membership?
PASTOR: Oh, I see. You are interested in the Catholic
I always say that the church is like a bus station. It doesn’t take you to your destination; it is simply a good place to meet the bus that will. So the transportation to Heaven is Jesus Christ. A lot of people meet Him at the church, but you can flag the bus down on the highway too and catch it. So you can be saved in your home as well as you could at church.
Let’s forget for a few moments, Doug, that I am a Baptist and that you are considering Catholicism, and let’s just think about one thing. I know in our Baptist churches oftentimes people come to me and say, “Pastor, though I have been a Baptist for many years, I really do not know that I am going to Heaven.” I am sure that in the Catholic church, or even the Methodist church, there may be numbers of people that may belong to the church but, as some Baptists, they do not really know that if they died they would go to Heaven.
Let me ask you, Doug, do you know that if you died
tonight that you would go to Heaven?
PASTOR: I see. Then you feel that a person cannot know
he is saved until he dies. Is that true?
The first thing that you have to know is that you are
a sinner. Let me show you here in the Bible, Doug. In Romans, chapter 3 and
verse 10, I want you to notice the first thing I mention is that we must
know that we are sinners if we go to Heaven. Do you see right there? Romans
3:10, “As it is written, there is none....”
The second thing you have to know, Doug, to become a
Christian is that God has placed a price on sin. All of us are sinners and
there is a price that must be paid. That price is found in Chapter 5 and
verse 12, where it says, notice, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into
the world...” and what by sin, Doug?
The first thing we notice is a person is a sinner. The
second thing is there is a price on sin and that price is death, which
ultimately will take the person to Hell. Do you understand that? That is the
MR. HILES: Yes.
MR. HILES: Yes.
PASTOR: Now, Doug, the fourth thing you have to know
is that if we would put our faith in Jesus Christ as our Saviour, God will
wee that faith, and count it for righteousness, transferring all of our sins
to Jesus and imputing His righteousness to us. This means the moment that
you put your faith in Jesus Christ, God sees Jesus with your sins and sees
you with His goodness. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing today to know that
every sin was forgiven?
Now, we cannot keep the commandments or even live a good life unless we have God’s help. A person must be first born again, receiving comes in us to live. then He lives through us, works through us, and lets us live the kind of life we ought to live. But it is the faith that makes us God’s children.
Now, Doug, let me ask you this: Romans 10:9 and 10
says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt
believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be
saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness [that is the way
you do righteous-believing]; and with the mouth confession is made unto
salvation.” Did you see that?
PASTOR: Doug, that is a very serious matter. Kathy is
a Christian, and you are not a Christian. If your apartment were to burn
tonight and both of you would go out into eternity, Kathy would go to Heaven
and you would go to Hell. You would never see her again. That scares me,
Doug. Do you believe, Doug, that Jesus Christ took your sins and died for
you on the cross that you might have eternal life?
Doug, while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed, I am going to ask you to do something that God would have you to do. I am going to ask you to talk to God in your own words and ask God to forgive you and tell Him tonight you are receiving Jesus Christ as your Saviour. Go ahead and do it, Doug. God will help you. Go ahead, out loud. I hope you will.
Well, Doug, maybe it is a little hard for you to pray.
Maybe you can’t think of the words. I am going to ask you then to repeat
after me this prayer. If you mean it with all of your heart and you do
tonight want to receive the Saviour, I am going to ask you to say to God
from your heart now, “Dear Lord, Forgive my sins.”
MR. HILES: And save my soul...
MR. HILES: And I trust Him to take me to Heaven when I die.
PASTOR: Doug, while our heads are bowed, if you meant that prayer and you did receive Christ as your Saviour, making this the hour of hours of your life, I am going to ask you, as a token of it, to take my hand. Amen. God bless you.
Our Heavenly Father, I am so glad that Doug has received Christ tonight. I am glad that he by faith has turned to the Saviour. I pray now that you will help him to realize that if he is sincere that his faith has been counted for righteousness and he is your child. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
God bless you, Doug.
Now let me ask you a question, Doug. Over here in the
Gospel of John, in the third chapter (one of the greatest chapters in all of
the Bible) I want you to see this verse: “He that believeth on the Son hath
everlasting life.” Doug, are you believing on the Son of God tonight?
Doug, now that you have received Christ as your
Saviour, the next thing you ought to do is come to the services and let me
tell the people that you received Him. This doesn’t mean, necessarily, that
you are joining the church but simply means that you are telling the whole
world that you are a Christian. Would you be willing to come Sunday to the
services and when the invitation is given at the closing of the service,
would you be willing to come forward and let me tell the people what has
happened in your home today?
MR. HILES: At the First Baptist Church in Hammond...
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