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METHODS AND IDEALS for CONDUCTING CENTERS AND STUDY CLASSES
The Field Department of Unity School of Christianity
917 Tracy, Kansas City, Mo.
Success not in Numbers
The leader of a Truth center or study class should always realize that the success of a work is not dependent upon numbers. Some of the most successful Truth organizations in the country started with only one or two members who stood by Truth until Truth became a conscious working principle in their daily lives. Naturally, as a result of this attainment, these individuals became the nuclei around which larger and more effective ministries were built.
Work to Increase Christ Consciousness
Instead of seeking to build up a large class, the leader should work to increase the realization of the power and presence of Spirit in those who come. This realization will produce fruitage and in due time will bring about a larger work.
Sometimes a leader who has felt that the important thing was to build up a large following has made the mistake of resorting to social functions in order to increase the attendance at classes in the center. If one will give this matter a little thought, he will see that a following attracted because of social activities will stay with the center only if such activities are continued. This does not mean that a center should have no social affairs, but social gatherings should have for their main purpose the promotion of a better understanding and acquaintance among members of a class or center.
Advertising may be considered somewhat in the light in which social functions are considered. However, most centers have found it advisable to announce their activities in the regular church notices of the Saturday or Sunday issues of newspapers. The advertisement used is in the form of an announcement, and has none of the features of display advertising.
Known by Our Works
The old business adage that a satisfied customer is the best advertising is true in the work of the center. One who works on this theory will build up a more stable ministry than can be built by any other method. Any advertising that is not backed by actual service to mankind will not be of much value to the center.
Bringing out New Workers
In a previous lesson of this series we suggested the idea of training additional workers to take part in the ministry of a center. There are several means by which this can be brought about. At first, individual expression is fostered in the study classes where the students meet to study and express the ideas and ideals which come to them. Soon the students outgrow such a class, and then are ready for additional work. Such workers can be placed in charge of study classes, particularly in their own neighborhoods.
It is also very helpful to have, within the center, auxiliary clubs such as men's clubs, Good Words clubs, and other clubs that may meet the needs of the center. The juvenile work, such as Sunday schools and children's clubs, is also a good avenue for developing the material within a center. Some persons will be found particularly adapted to the children's work; they should have an opportunity to develop their capabilities in this respect and at the same time render a valuable service to the children and to the parents of the children. Many parents have become interested in Truth because their children first became interested in it.
The Young Folk
There is a splendid opportunity to develop material in the young people, young folk from the ages of sixteen to twenty-one can be organized into clubs of their own. Although they may have many social features, clubs of this character have very successfully taken up a systematic study along Truth lines.
Forming an Organization
The question of organization is often brought up. We are asked whether it is advisable for a society to organize with a president, secretary, and other officers. This is a matter for each center to decide for itself. We believe that all the activities of a center or study class should be carried on in a businesslike manner. When organization is kept simple and is used as a means to better service, it is well, but when the organization becomes the predominating thought it hinders the work.
In regard to naming centers and study classes, we wish to state that we have no objection to such organizations using the name "Unity." We have found, however, that where the name "Unity" is used, the students attending such a center or study class demand the same kind of teaching that is given by the Kansas City school.
Leaders and organizations should not overlook the fact that our general purpose is to give spiritual service to our fellow man and that we are not building up a sectarian organization. Each center and study class is an independent unit of service, and it should seek to establish and preserve its identity as such. We suggest that you choose for your center or study class a name that will designate your own independent identity, that will not easily be confused with the names of other centers. It is well to use the name of the city in which you live, as a part of the center's name. The name "Unity Center (or Society) of Philburg, Pa.," shows that the center is presenting the Unity teachings; the name of the city designates the location of the center.
Phrases to be Avoided
Centers would do well not to use the name used by the Kansas City school or by any of the various departments of the school, particularly the healing department. "Unity School of Christianity" is the name of our corporation; "Silent Unity" is the healing department of the incorporated school here in Kansas City, and is so known throughout the world. We especially request that centers do not use the words, "Unity School" or "Silent Unity," but refer to their own organizations as "Unity Center," or "Unity Society," and designate their healing departments as "Healing Ministry," or some other name entirely unlike the name of Unity School's healing department.
It should be remembered that in the field of service there is no room for the idea of competition and that every one who has the capacity to help his fellow man has a place in the field. Persons can at least be encouraged to take up the work as Spirit guides them, even if it is not in the particular center or class to which they have come for advice.
Be original. Spirit has its own revelation for each one, for each study class, and for each center. Be independent, be yourself; only as you are original will you fill your particular place in the universal scheme of things. Have only one fixed idea in connection with your work. Let your standard be the very highest that you are capable of conceiving, the Christ standard.
Every center or study class, as well as every individual, faces problems from time to time. However, if all problems are approached in the right spirit they need not be in any sense disturbing, any more than the new problems that arise in the study of mathematics should be disturbing or distressing to the faithful student. The student will find mathematics easy if he will faithfully pursue a course of study that will acquaint him thoroughly with the principles involved. So it is with the problems of an individual, an institution, or a study class.
Seek Spirit First
If all problems of a center are met first by a period of silent meditation wherein each member keeps his mind open to the guiding wisdom of Spirit and lets the problem rest in Spirit, there will be no question as to the satisfactory solution of that problem. Remember that Spirit is the unerring guide in the settlement and solution of all difficulties; therefore Spirit should always be sought first. The more one ponders the difficulties that confront him, the larger they grow; but when Spirit is sought in the beginning, the importance of the problems is minimized, and through a faithful application of the power of Spirit, the problems are altogether eliminated.
Traveling Lecturers and Teachers
Every center or study class sooner or later reaches the point where it desires to receive the message of Truth from traveling lecturers and teachers. This desire is not actuated by hope that the traveling teacher or lecturer will give something new, but that he will present Truth from a new angle. The visiting speaker is often a great help, not only to the class itself, but in interesting new people in the work of the center or study class. When care is used in selecting lecturers and teachers who conform to the standards and ideals maintained by the center, such a lecture engagement is usually found to be profitable for all concerned.
Sale of Truth Literature
The handling of Truth literature is another important phase of the ministry of a Truth center. The use of the printed page has proved very effective as a means of spreading the message of Truth. In the selection of literature for sale or for free distribution, care should be taken that the literature chosen conforms to the high standard by which the center or study class conducts its work.
The handling of literature through the center offers an increased revenue, as all publishers extend a liberal discount to centers and study classes handling their literature. A department for the distribution of free literature is helpful to a center. This work reaches out into new channels that literature sold by the center would fail to reach.
Keep in Mind the Purpose
The fact should be kept in mind that, regardless of how a center or study class is organized or conducted, it is an instrument of Spirit and its primal purpose is to give forth the message of God to man, in order that man may be lifted above the sense of limitation and into the consciousness which was his in the beginning. The individual who conducts a center upon this basis must attain success. He must build a work that will help to reconstruct the consciousness of man, as well as lift the individual leader into a greater realization of the power and the presence of God to bless and to redeem all mankind.
Taking up The Work
In taking up the work of establishing a center or study class one should be fully assured that he is led by Spirit and that his sole purpose is that of service to mankind. No one should take up the ministry of Truth as a means of making a living, for such an idea is entirely inconsistent with the principles involved. Neither should one attempt to discontinue his present sphere of service and to enter the field with the idea that he will at once find himself established in the work with a sufficient following to finance the movement. Of course it is possible to enter the work in this manner if one is confident that his spiritual leading is clear, and if he has the courage and the faith to carry out this program in spite of adverse conditions.
The Best Course
Ordinarily the best course to pursue is to continue in your
present capacity and branch out by serving those whom you meet in your everyday life. This may be done silently to begin with, but when you become a radiant center of service there will be attracted to you those who will openly ask for help. Later an evening or afternoon study class may be organized to meet once or twice a week. The work will grow from this beginning, and if the main objective is to live the Truth and apply the Truth, the increase along all lines will be assured.
- Does a successful work depend upon a large attendance?
- Is it wise to depend upon social functions to attract a following to your work?
- What methods would you employ in advertising your work?
- What would you do to bring out additional workers in your center?
- Of what importance are auxiliary clubs, such as men's clubs, Good Words clubs, and so forth.
- Why is it advisable to encourage the children and the young people?
- Do you consider it necessary to organize the work of your class?
- What part do originality and independence play in the work of a center?
- What should be your general attitude in handling problems that arise in connection with your work?
- What should be the character of the literature handled by Truth centers?
- Give an outline for conducting a meeting.
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