The office of a “Volunteer Captain” is not mentioned in the scriptures. Nevertheless, back in the early 1900s, such an office was suggested to coordinate the work of tract distribution by a congregation of Bible Students. We have adapted the recommendations given in this post with suggestions that may prove beneficial for groups who wish to serve in this manner today. Such an office, however, is scriptural, in that this office would simply be an assignment as a deacon. The word “Deacon” means servant, and signifies one who can do any kind of service. Thus, any congregation is free to appoint a deacon for any such service as needed. Such a person does not need to have an ability to teach as elder. Some business talents can prove quite helpful. Nevertheless, any brother or sister with a normal education could learn what is needed to perform the role of a volunteer captain.

We explain its operation for the benefit of those unfamiliar. Various publications are put out for general distribution to the public. These are usually called “tracts”, but sometimes magazines and other literature might be used. Preferably, a tract or leaflet may be used that includes an invitation to attend local meetings, or perhaps a special public meeting.

The suggested method is that in each Bible Study class, or congregation, a Captain be elected to take the supervision of this volunteer work of distributing tracts. He in a general way districts the city and asks for the election of, or is given authority by the congregation to appoint, enough lieutenants to take charge of the different divisions of the city as he outlines them. Maps of various districts may be clipped, printed or drawn up, numbered for identification, and perhaps pasted on some form of card. Then, as many of the dear friends as can arrange their affairs to suit, meet every Saturday and/or Sunday (or any other day of the week as can be arranged) for tract distribution, each being enrolled as a worker under the general direction of the captain and the special care and direction of the lieutenant(s), in the areas assigned. If any in a congregation who wishes to participate in this work on other days then that one should get an territory assignment from the volunteer captain, or the lieutenant(s).

There should be a general agreement by the congregation beforehand as to what literature is to be distributed over what time periods. For example, for three months, one tract and/or other publication might be distributed, then for the next three months, another tract and/or other publication would be selected. In this regard, the class may wish appoint a committee of two or three to select and recommend tracts for distribution approval by the congregation.  Of course, any of the friends can print up tracts. Nevertheless, there are tracts offered for free by several of the service organizations amongst Bible Students that individuals as well as congregations may order for distribution. Usually these tracts have a space that allows the local class to add local infomation; one could use a rubber stamp kit to add this information, or use a computer and printer to print the information on labels which could be attached to the tracts.

In some cases, a tract master can be provided in pdf or other format that can be easily printed locally. It is recommended, however, that congregations present their needs to the publisher for such tracts through their volunteer captain. The volunteer captain, in turn, will need to plan in advance for any “campaign” recommended. Likewise, each volunteer, upon learning of the congregation’s decision to distribute a certain tract, should try to determine how many tracts he or she could use over the period of time allotted and report this to the volunteer captain in time enough for him or her to order the quantities needed.

In some cases, the group of volunteers may decide to actually knock on the doors and give a short witness concerning the literature. This we highly recommend, especially if one is distributing booklets, books, or magazines. If there is no answer, then a tract or literature can be left somewhere outside, or slipped under the door, if possible. If this method is used, it is recommended that a tract be planned by the planning committee to be distributed with such a book, booklet, or magazine. In other words, it is recommended that the campaign consist of distributing two pieces of literature (the tract and other book, booklet, magazine, etc.) where someone is home, but one piece of literature (the tract by itself) where no one is home.

In all cases, when leaving literature outside a home, one should make sure that it is left somewhere that it will not be blown away. However, it is against the law in many countries to leave such literature in a mailbox, but in some cases, if a mailbox is attached to the outside wall, there may be a little room to put a tract behind the mailbox, leaving part of the tract in view. Care should be taken not to pull the mailbox from the wall, or do any kind of damage at all to the mailbox or any other property.

Some have distributed magazines, books and booklets, from door-to-door. This is also good. If this is done, we recommend that the doors be knocked on, and that a brief introduction of the magazine be given. One could then leave the magazine and a tract at the homes where someone is home, but only leave a tract at the doors when there is no one home.

Each individual volunteer should be encouraged to keep a record of individual homes covered, with what literature, and, if possible, obtaining names and addresses of people who seem to be interested, so that follow-up work can done.

In this way the distribution is thoroughly done, no part skipped and none need be done twice with the same literature.

Many of these companies of volunteers, after having completed their work of distribution in their own city, go out in little bands of two or three or more to adjoining towns and cities where it is known that there is no congregation or group active in preaching the message in general appreciation of the truths as shown in “The Faith Once Delivered“. If there is a such a congregation, or any individual, in the area, any efforts of witnessing in the volunteer work should be coordinated together, if possible. Again, the work will have better success if someone is in charge of mapping out these areas and territories assigned. Thus the work of circulating the Good News is done in a most thorough manner.

Nothing in the above suggestions should be understood as restricting any individual’s own freedom to distribute Bible literature; each conscecrated Christian is free to use his own judgment in what literature to use, and when and where to distribute that literature.

Some Bible Students publishing houses that print literature that could be used in volunteer work, and that also appear to be in general agreement with “the Faith Once Delivered”. We do not necessarily uphold all views presented in the publications provided. Some of these will provide names and addresses of any who request the literature advertised, so congregations or individuals may provide local follow-up:

Dawn Bible Students Association
Pastoral Bible Students Association
Christian Discipling
Chicago Bible Students

There are other also; if you know of any others, feel free to provide info in the comments below.

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