Part 1 - Introduction
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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.
While Unity centers and study classes are independent organizations and are not under the jurisdiction of the Unity School, yet we wish to give whatever assistance we may in helping each center and study class to carry on its ministry and to raise the standard of the ministry. If the leader of each center and study class, as well as the workers in centers and study classes, will always endeavor to be true to Truth, we are sure that all the problems which ordinarily arise in the work will be satisfactorily solved.
(The questions following each lesson are to be answered and sent to the Field Department; after these answers are received the next lesson will be forwarded.)
Reason for Center or Class
The success of any organization or institution depends primarily upon the degree to which its executives understand and follow the underlying purpose of the institution or organization. One of the most essential things in connection with the operation of a Unity center or study class is that the person desirous of carrying on this work should thoroughly understand the purpose underlying such a movement. There can be but one reason for organizing a center or study class along Truth lines, and that is for a fuller expression of Christian principles than is ordinarily permitted in the regular church organizations.
The Center’s Mission
The commands of Jesus Christ, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel,” “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons,” should be the ideals governing every center and study class throughout the world. To carry on a ministry of this kind, every worker should have a thorough realization of Truth. The individual who conducts the work should ever strive for a greater realization of the knowledge and the power of God working in and through him. Unless he has clear realization of this fact it will not be easy for him to impart it to another. Furthermore, to operate a center successfully according to the Unity ideals, one should have a sincere desire to serve. The highest service is to help another to obtain a clearer realization that the working power of God is in every person.
Dealing with the Seeker of Truth
To deal most successfully with those who come for spiritual service, the leader should understand the various states of consciousness through which individuals pass in their search for Truth. Desire for Truth is the first step in this search; the very fact that one has become interested in Truth and has taken up an active search for it shows that he has taken his first step toward Truth.
The second step consists of accumulating thoughts and ideas about Truth. This is accomplished by listening to teachers, leaders, and others who are expressing their ideas about Truth, and by attending study classes where the exchange of ideas is carried on.
One must be careful to gain a clear realization of the Truth contained in these ideas. This is accomplished in periods of meditation which are observed in connection with the ministry of a center or study class.
The next step in the development of these individuals who become interested in Truth is that of self-expression. It is not enough for the leader of the center or study class to occupy the time of the class in explaining to the student his own ideas of Truth. If carried too far, this will defeat its own purpose. An individual grows, not by what he hears some one else express, but by what he himself is able to express. The leader should take into consideration all these phases of individual development and should provide the most effective means for their accomplishment.
The purpose of a study class is not fulfilled merely in giving an opportunity for the leader or teacher to express his ideas of Truth. One of the purposes of a Truth center is to develop coworkers. Every center or study class should be considered as a normal, training school for the purpose of developing coworkers, not only those who are capable of assisting with the teaching work of a center, but also those who are capable of taking a vital part in the healing ministry of a center. The greater the number of individuals who become active in carrying on the work of a center or study class, the stronger the center is sure to become. When a work is conducted and supervised by one person, the work can never outgrow the capacity of that person. Furthermore, when a leader monopolizes the means that a center has for expression, the center has lost sight of its ultimate purpose, that of producing individuals who are thoroughly capable of making their own contact with the Spirit of God and standing upon their own divine realizations. Persons who can contact God and who rely on their own realizations automatically become teachers and healers, and though all of them may not wish to take up active work in the center, they should be encouraged in passing the good word on to others in their own way and as the Spirit leads them.
Unless the center sets about the development of individuals who are capable of taking a part in its activities, the work of the center is limited. When the leader sees that service is the ideal, he can readily set about the development of additional workers, that the Service service may become as far-reaching as possible.
It should be realized that there is no individual who is the teacher. When “the Spirit of truth is come, he shall guide you into all the truth.” The Spirit of truth should be the recognized teacher and leader of every center and study class. When the sovereignty of the Spirit of truth within each individual is recognized and given a chance to manifest, the individual not only becomes self-supporting, but is capable of taking an active part in the ministry of the center.
The Strong Point in Organization
There is no other organization so strong as the one held together by a common purpose. Spiritual unity is always stronger than unity upon any other plane. Many workers bound together in spiritual realization are a tower of strength to meet the many demands that may be
made upon the center or study class that teaches and practices the principles of practical Christianity.
Supplement Church Work
In a center conducted along the lines here designated, no antagonism is likely to arise between the center and the churches. The ministry of the center is not to build a new organization but to establish a center of vital spiritual service to a community. The work of the center or class is but supplementary to that of the churches; it will no doubt be only a short time until the churches recognize this fact, and admit the center or study class to the church. This is a condition to be desired; a condition toward which every sincere center or study class should direct its efforts.
In fulfilling the purposes of a Unity center or study class, it would be well to organize classes for systematic study of Truth and for developing the realization of Truth through regular periods of meditation. The Unity School especially recommends the book, “Lessons in Truth,” as the textbook for the first course of study. When a class is conducted upon right principles, each individual member of the class is accorded the opportunity for expression of his own realization of the various subjects under consideration. This enhances his spiritual development and aids in a most vital way to lift him to the plane where he can become an active factor in strengthening the ministry of a center.
Co-operative Meditation and Healing Services
Each study period and meeting should begin and close with silent meditation. Silent meditation will strengthen the spiritual realization of individual members who attend the class. It is well, particularly in centers, to establish regular healing meetings at which various members of the center take an active part in sending forth the realization of the healing power of Spirit. In such meetings is the real strength of a center, and when this phase of the ministry is developed to a great degree, the center will be a strong factor in lifting the consciousness of the community from a material to a spiritual level.
Well-being of Community
When one has this broader view he will never attempt to make a “one-man affair” out of his center or study class, because he will hot wish to have the entire spiritual and physical well-being of a community rest upon himself alone. In a material way we always appreciate other individuals' taking an active part in lifting the material burdens which are sometimes thrust upon us. We should not appreciate having our fellow men leave the entire physical well-being of a community to us; in fact, we should be quite inclined to complain if this were the fact. Sharing of responsibility is much more advisable in the work of carrying on a spiritual ministry. Our attitude should be like the attitude that Jesus Christ took when his disciples reported that others were healing the sick, but not doing it in His name. His reply was: “He that is not against us is for us.”
When a teacher sets out actively to produce other teachers and healers, the weight of responsibility is considerably lightened, so far as he is concerned -- not that he has less to do, for such a teacher is always more active and finds more to do than the one who is simply trying to carry on his own personal ministry.
Summing up, it would seem that the primal object of a center’s ministry is to acquaint its individual students with the power and the presence of God within themselves, and to establish them in conscious relationship with the Spirit of truth within themselves, so that they automatically become teachers and healers. Following this plan, there can be no question as to the ultimate growth and prosperity of a study class or center in any community.
- What do you understand to be the underlying purpose of a study class or center?
- Should individual expression be encouraged among the students? Why?
- What should be the relationship between the teacher, or leader, and the students?
- How does the training of additional workers help in the growth of a center?
- What constitutes the strength and the character of a work?
- Explain the attitude of Unity centers and study classes toward the churches.
- Should you encourage your members to withdraw from their churches and affiliate with your center?
- What is the value of co-operative, systematized study?
- Of what help is the silence in these study periods?
- Why are healing meetings of great importance?
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