George P. Taubman Digital Archives
Men's Bible Class
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A Heart for Men
"When Taubman arrived in Long Beach in 1915 he found a church of 600 with a men's class of only about 35 in attendance. He brought with him a heart for ministry to men and a real ability to know and meet their needs that would cause his Men's Bible Class to become the largest such organization in the world at that time.
"When Taubman took the class on, he moved immediately to have the class meet in a location apart from the church, and [sic] idea that took the whole group by surprise. Within a month of his coming the men of the class had built a new annex, apart from the church facility and the class began to meet there. The first day in the new annex was July 11, 1915, and there were 73 in attendance. By October of 1915 the attendance was over 100 and within another year it had grown to more than 150. By 1925 the attendance had risen to over 1500 per Sunday and the class had an active membership of over 3,000 men (1).
"From 1925 through 1938 the class maintained an average attendance of 1000 or more and at times averaged above 2000 for long stretches (2). The class conducted a special session on Mother's Day each year and on other special occasions where larger audiences were often in attendance. The largest single day attendance took place on Armistice day, 1923 when the world's record of 31, 034 men gathered in Lincoln Park to hear Taubman preach.
"What was it that made Taubman's class so successful? How did he attract so many men, and more importantly, how did he hold them so that they became actively involved in the class? The answers are found in who Taubman was and how he thought about men and ministry and how he taught those men to think about others.
The Program of the Class
"The program introduced by Taubman was different from every other idea of church. He bagan by having the men sing secular songs, many of which had absolutely nothering to do with church but which were popular among the men of the day and which were fun to sing. Often the songs were patriotic songs (3). These songs created an atmosphere of acceptance and a mood of patriotism in the class that was a great draw to men. So wonderful was the singing that people were said to have come from other places and cities to visit the class just to hear the singing of the men (4).
"After the singing, the class always had a patriotic service that included the playing of "Colors" by the band; the saying of the pledge of allegiance to God, to Country, and to Flag; the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner;" and the recognition of every veteran or serviceman in the crowd (5). The fact that the early success of the class came during and just after World War One leads us to the conclusion that this patriotism was indeed one of the most significant factors in the early growth of the class.
"The class session itself was a drawing factor for the men. The class was conducted informally, which was a totally new concept in that day.
(1) Taubman, "Men's Work," The Lookout, 8 February: 13.
(2) The Lookout.
(3) Taubman, "Men's Work," The Lookout, 22 February 1925: 12.
(4) Harding, "Religion With a Punch" Sunset Magazine, February 1923: 15.
(5) Harding: 54.
Kragenbrink, Kevin R. George P. Taubman: "Conservative Christian Church Evangelist and Champion of the Men's Bible Class Movement." Thesis (M.A.) Pepperdine University, 1991: 87-91.
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