Welcome to the Theocratic Ministry School
AROUND the earth, in upwards of 200 lands, millions of students are benefiting each week from Theocratic Ministry School education. Some are new. Others have attended the school for many years. The school is conducted in tens of thousands of locations. Wherever you live on earth, the same program of education is available to you. People of all ages, ethnic groups, and educational backgrounds are receiving this theocratic instruction, free of charge.
When the school was inaugurated in congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1943, its purpose was stated in these words: “To prepare all ‘faithful men,’ those who have heard God’s Word and proved their faith therein, to ‘be able to teach others’ . . . to the one end of making each one . . . better equipped to publicly present the hope that is within him.” (Course in Theocratic Ministry, p. 4) The school’s objective has remained the same to this day.
Really, what is the best thing that any of us can do with our God-given gift of speech? The Bible answers: “Every breathing thing—let it praise Jah.” (Ps. 150:6) When we do that, we bring joy to the heart of our heavenly Father. We give evidence to him that our own hearts are responding with gratitude to his goodness and love. No wonder Christians are encouraged always to “offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name”! (Heb. 13:15) With a view to helping you improve in your ability to use your God-given gifts to praise Jehovah, we welcome you as a student in the Theocratic Ministry School.
While public reading and the arts of speaking and teaching are given much attention in the school, the benefits of Theocratic Ministry School education are not limited to that. As you participate, you will be helped to cultivate such valuable skills as personal reading, listening and remembering, studying, doing research, analyzing and organizing, conversing, answering questions, and putting thoughts down in writing. The Bible itself and Bible-based publications will provide the basis for study and for comments and presentations given in the school. As you fill your mind with the precious truths found in God’s Word, you will learn to think God’s thoughts. How beneficial that can be in every aspect of life! Of the value of God’s Word, 20th-century university educator William Lyon Phelps wrote: “Everyone who has a thorough knowledge of the Bible may truly be called educated. . . . I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without a Bible.”
How to Benefit to the Full
Of course, in order to benefit fully from the education provided in the Theocratic Ministry School, you, the student, must make a personal effort. The apostle Paul urged his Christian associate Timothy: “Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons.” (1 Tim. 4:15) In what practical ways can you apply yourself?
If at all possible, attend the Theocratic Ministry School each week. Make wise use of this textbook, Benefit From Theocratic Ministry School Education. Print your name in the space provided for it on the title page. Always bring the book with you when you attend the school. This textbook is also a workbook. When you read in it important points that you feel will help you, underline them. Use the generous margins to write down practical points that you learn during discussions at the school.
A printed copy of the program to be followed in the Theocratic Ministry School is provided separately. The schedule will also include details as to how the school will be conducted. You may find it practical to keep the schedule in this book, where it will be handy.
In preparing for the weekly school sessions, keep in mind that the Bible is the principal textbook. Give priority to reading any portion of the Bible that may be scheduled for the week. If you are also able to read in advance the material for the various program parts, this too will be very beneficial.
During the school, there may be opportunities for audience participation. Take full advantage of these. Getting involved in such discussions is an important factor in remembering what you hear and being able to put it to use in your personal life.
Of course, all students will have opportunities to give talks or demonstrations before the congregation. Make good use of each one of those opportunities. Really apply yourself to improve in whatever speech quality has been assigned to you. You will be given counsel with a view to your continued progress. Welcome that personal help. In your book, make a note of specific suggestions as to what you might personally do to improve. Since it is difficult for a person to perceive himself the way others do, the loving, Bible-based suggestions and counsel provided can contribute significantly to your progress. That is true even if you have been enrolled in the school for many years.—Prov. 1:5.
Would you like to make more rapid progress? If you show personal initiative, that can be done. Study in advance the material that is to be covered in each student talk. If a substitute speaker is needed, you will be in a position to volunteer, and that will give you more experience. When others give talks, listen carefully to how they handle the material. We learn from one another.
Additionally, if your circumstances permit, you can accelerate your progress by personally studying ahead in this textbook. After you have learned well what is in the next 15 studies, proceed to work your way through the “Program for Developing Ability as a Speaker and a Teacher,” beginning on page 78. First, study each lesson, and do the exercises that are outlined in connection with it. Apply in your ministry what you are learning. This can greatly enhance your progress as a speaker and as a teacher of God’s Word.
Your Theocratic Ministry School education will help to prepare you for what matters most in life. Since we are alive because of God’s will, to praise him is to realize the very purpose of our existence. Jehovah God deserves praise of the highest quality. (Rev. 4:11) The education that we receive in the school is a means to accomplish this so that we may think clearly, act wisely, and communicate effectively the marvelous truths from God’s inspired Word.
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FEATURES OF THE SCHOOL
• A weekly program of reading, study, and research centered on the Bible
• Instruction in public reading and in the arts of speaking and teaching
• Participation in class discussions
• Opportunities to give presentations before the congregation
• Personal assistance to help you progress
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SKILLS THAT ARE GIVEN ATTENTION
• Listening and remembering
• Personal reading
• Doing research
• Analyzing and organizing
• Answering questions
• Putting thoughts down in writing
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A FOUNDATION ON WHICH TO BUILD
The ability to communicate effectively is an art. Not everyone does it well. Many textbooks have been designed to help people to improve in this area. However, the Creator, the One who endowed humans with the ability to speak, knows more about speaking and teaching than any human speech instructor. His only-begotten Son cooperated with him as the Master Worker in producing the human brain and the organs of speech as well as all the other marvels of creation.
As angels and then humans were brought into existence, that Son served as the Word of God, the primary One through whom God himself conveyed instruction to them. (Prov. 8:30; John 1:1-3) That Son was sent to earth as the Lord Jesus Christ. Concerning him, the inspired record says: “The crowds were astounded at his way of teaching.” And those who heard him testified: “Never has another man spoken like this.” (Matt. 7:28; John 7:46) Over 40 times Jesus is spoken of in the Gospels as Teacher, and with good reason. There is much about speaking and teaching that we can learn from him.
The Bible also contains a record of how Jehovah God used men and women from many backgrounds to accomplish his will. Some of them delivered brief but powerful messages. Many did not speak before large audiences, but they faithfully shared in giving a witness concerning the true God and his purpose. Apparently, most were not eloquent speakers, but God blessed their efforts. We can learn from what the Bible tells us about how they carried on their ministry.—Ps. 68:11.
Of course, the Bible is not a textbook about public speaking. But for those who read with discernment, it contains valuable insights regarding effective speaking and teaching. Benefit From Theocratic Ministry School Education endeavors to build on that foundation.
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