The Task Supreme*
BY N. J. Aalborg
I Believe that the greatest danger and cause for concern among Seventh-day Adventists lies not without but within the church. Our chief cause for fear is our own spiritual condition as a church and as individuals,— the crisis in our own hearts and lives. The vital question for each to answer is, Have I that living connection with God which will keep me true in the hour of trial?
We do thank God for the large class of loyal believers in the church to-day. We meet them everywhere,— faithful, earnest, devoted souls. We have great confidence in these members. But what about the many careless and indifferent ones in our churches, the men and women who have lost the advent hope out of their hearts? What can we say or do to arouse them from their stupor? Their feet are treading the downward path, and unless they can be aroused, they will be found among those who oppose God. A great work needs to be done in all our churches for these lost and straying ones. A great spirit of true, spiritual revival and evangelism must fill our hearts, and we must reach out, not alone for the lost in the great world, but for the lost among our own professed brethren. The time is here for us to seek to save those of our own number who are as verily separated from God as those who have not known Him.
We must serve the churches through evangelism, and evangelism and Pentecost are inseparably linked together. As the result of the preaching of the gospel on that day of Pentecost, three thousand souls were brought into the kingdom of God. The present need makes an evangelistic advance imperative. Evangelism must be a passion with us to-day as it was in the days of the apostles. Evangelism is the first work of a Spirit-filled church, and what Jesus made primary His church dare not make secondary.
Where the church membership is enlisted for service in an evangelistic campaign, new spiritual life and power become apparent. The spirit of lethargy is removed, and gives way to joy in the glorious endeavor of Christian service. The church members realize that religion is not only real, but that it is the one thing necessary. And as new groups of believers are added to the church as the result of the united efforts put forth in the campaign, a new thrill of joy and enthusiasm and earnestness permeates the entire church membership. All strife and factional elements melt away. When people are really winning souls for Christ, there is no time left for petty quarrels. Such little things become submerged in the one supreme task.
Revive! Restore! Recruit! Retain! These great incentives should stir our hearts:
Revive the whole church for a great evangelistic advance.
Restore the indifferent members to earnestness and zeal.
Recruit soldiers of the cross from the ranks of the enemy.
Retain our ground, and never retreat.
The Test of Leadership
By G. W. Wells
A Duke of Austria is quoted as having said that Napoleon on the field of battle was worth a hundred thousand fighting men. The background of this remarkable tribute is the fact that Napoleon did not send his men onto the battlefield, but he led them there. True leadership involves entering the conflict, and in the midst of the battle imparting courage and cheer to the men in the ranks. The man who is a home-stayer, an ease-lover, a self-protector, is not qualified to be a leader; and for such a one to attempt to lead means sure defeat.
The greatest need of the cause of God is large-hearted, clean-thinking, hard-workng, Spirit-filled men. For such men God is calling, that He may station them as leaders in the onward march of His forces against the powers of darkness. The leaders whom God calls and uses may not always be ideal or perfect in character, but God wants clean men, men who will work, men who hate sin and love righteousness, who give their lives in loving service for the Master. He wants men who will follow in the footsteps of Him of whom it is written, " Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people."
Conference officials, ministers, departmental secretaries, Bible workers, colporteurs, church elders, or officers in any capacity, may well ask themselves these questions: Am I a leader for God? Am I winning souls, or simply marking time? Am I extending and building up the cause of God where I am? Am I meeting the standard I have set for others? Do I work in Christ's name and for His glory? Am I really His child? Have I been a leader in sacrificial giving, earnest working, and spiritual service?
The old year is soon gone. The new year is right upon us. Shall we not review our own lives with great seriousness, renew our allegiance to God, and by His grace follow Him wholly, and be found workmen who need not to be ashamed, true leaders for God?
Washington, D. C.
Relief for the Pastor
By J.W. Christian
An oft-repeated question presented to conference presidents to answer is this: How can the pastor-evangelist look after the individual and collective interests of his church, spiritually, educationally, and financially, leading out in all mission campaigns — Sabbath school, Big Week, Midsummer, Harvest Ingathering, et cetera — and at the same time find opportunity for real aggressive evangelistic work in behalf of the people not yet acquainted with the third angel's message?
Undoubtedly it is true that no class of workers is under such heavy pressure of detail duties as wide-awake, energetic pastors. The secret of the successful pastor, aside from consecration and the operation of the Holy Spirit, lies in his ability to organize and enlist the latent forces under his charge. It is utter presumption and means positive defeat for a pastor to attempt to take charge personally of every activity of the church. An understanding of the principles of organization, will convince the pastor of a church that his members are like soldiers, and as such are to be well organized and trained to help perform the duties which devolve upon the church as a whole.
The election of officers in the church is not for the purpose of bestowing titles upon individuals, but to bring to the aid of the pastor the consecrated talent of men and women to share the responsibility of leadership. The successful pastor will be quick to recognize the ability of his associates, and know how to roll back upon them tactfully the responsibilities of their respective offices. He must ever stand by, with words of encouragement, counsel, and personal assistance; but the officers of each department of the church work should be made to realize that the responsibility of success or failure rests with them.
When the pastor works on this principle, and with strong Christian confidence trusts his associates to carry their respective lines of work, even though it may be done, somewhat differently from his own method, he will find himself greatly helped in the prosecution of his many-sided task, There are specific duties appropriately resting upon the elder, deacon, treasurer, clerk, and the officers of all ranks in our various departments; and when each does his part, the pastor is relieved to be free for his evangelistic duties.
During the past few years I have observed with much interest and gratification the successful operation of organization along this line in the church. It has demonstrated its success in our largest churches, and also in smaller churches, and affords the pastor-evangelist time for conducting at least two public efforts during the year, which result in a harvest of souls.
Organization is Heaven's plan, and the workman for God cannot ignore this provision if he would measure up to the full standard of leadership. As in a conference, so in a church, the leader accomplishes most by allowing his associates to bear their respective lines of responsibility, thereby fulfilling in the truest sense the inspired statement, " We are laborers together with God."