Jan Towell uses an analogy based on the Parable of the Sower to encourage teachers saying, “Keep Sowing.”
Dick Towell, Bob’s younger brother and an elder of the Lakeview Church of Christ in Tacoma, Wash, became a WEI Internet teacher about a year ago with Jan’s encouragement. Since then, he has claimed 511 students in 100 countries. He has kept impeccable records, and his observations have opened our eyes to many important lessons.
Dick often uses an analogy based on Jesus’ call to Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mat-thew 4:19).
Both analogies carry important tips for teachers. When we sow the seed (God’s word), some seed falls on good soil, and God gives the increase. Some seed fall son hard soil, some on rocky soil, and some in thorny soil and produces nothing. Our job, as teachers, is to sow the seed, water it, and let God do his work.
As fishers of men, however, we attract prospective students with English grammar mixed with reading assignments from the Bible. We set the hook quickly by responding with warm words of welcome, kindness, and encouragement.
When he first began teaching, Dick T. became discouraged by the huge number of drop-outs. This forced him to re-think his strategy. He began focusing on the students who showed an interest in learning. When a student dropped out, he claimed another from the student board, and kept doing this until he had as many good students as he could teach.
Dick’s second priority was to retain students by developing warm personal relationships with them. Dick says, “Always encourage them. Guide them through the lesson study process. Listen for openings, and wait for an invitation to move from their ‘secular’ space to their ‘spiritual’ space. Do not let your students slip away. View student retention as a mission. The [WEI] lessons teach them the Bible. Your priority is to keep the students choosing to study. Do not push the students away by correcting their essay thoughts too sharply. Do not let them drift away. Communicate, encourage, and demonstrate personal interest in them. Finally, rejoice.”
Dick has discovered that 35% of his prospective students become “real students”. Even if these students drop out before completing the basic courses, “they have invested much time in Bible study. They have much more knowledge of God’s word than when they started. Some will return, even months, or years later.”
Dick concludes, “The Lord is working on me, too. I am now an evangelist going, with the Gospel, into all the world. I am learning more perfectly how to love others. I am so encouraged in my own Christian walk.”