The Canadian Union Conference devoted five periods of its session to a general discussion of problems commonly met in ministerial work. In harmony with the wishes of the Ministry magazine, a digest of the problems and the solutions offered is presented, that all the workers of the world field may share.
Three Questions Answered
1. How can the ministry secure the attendance of newly converted members at the regular Sabbath morning service?
If the Sabbath school and church services were made attractive enough, the opinion seemed general that there would be no difficulty in getting new converts to attend. If those who profess to accept the truth do not attend when it is possible to do so, that is evidence that they are not ready for baptism. If, however, the worker himself does not attend Sabbath school, he could hardly expect his converts to do so. It was considered unwise to take prospective converts to Sabbath services in cars provided by the worker or the church, as experience indicates it makes weaklings out of such converts at the very start. "Every chicken should break its own shell" was the way one successful evangelist summed it up. The time to begin getting converts to attend Sabbath services is as soon as the Sabbath truth is presented to them.
2. What is the responsibility of the pastor in getting the membership to work?
The success of all soul-winning efforts devised by our church depends on success in this particular. The pastor should not attempt to carry the responsibility that the church itself must bear, but he must do his part. He is a leader, and leaders must lead. A good leader will be a good worker, but he must be more than merely a worker. He should be an organizer, able to detect talent in members and set them to work.
However, unless he himself is enthusiastic, he will often meet great difficulty. But enthusiasm alone will not suffice. He must be a man of God, deeply spiritual. This was recognized as the basic qualification of a good leader.
3. What is the worker's relation to the local, union, and General Conference program?
Even though a worker sees no light in a certain feature of these programs, he should carry it out nevertheless. If some campaign seems to interrupt an evangelistic effort, he should seek counsel from his conference president instead of ignoring the program.
The question of combining campaigns (such as the Big Week and Ingathering) so that more time might be available for evangelism, was discussed, but it was unanimously considered to be undesirable. But these campaigns should be quickly completed when their times' come, and thus the desired seasons for evangelism will be available.
The matter of lay evangelism received consideration. Lay members engaging in evangelism should know and live the message, have a burden for souls, and cooperate with the conference. The conference in turn, although not promising to finance lay efforts, should lend encouragement and help by holding lay preachers' institutes, providing projectors and reels, if possible, and literature. It would be a generous gesture on the part of a conference committee to grant some small sums toward proper expenses incurred by these efforts. But to advertise a readiness to finance all lay efforts would, it was said, kill the layman's movement, and make it impossible for it to accomplish its mission. It was brought out that neither president nor home missionary secretary alone is entrusted with responsibility for lay efforts. They are under the direction and approval of conference committees.
Church finance came in for a share of live reviewing. One avenue of giving that can be built up is the Sabbath school. This can readily be done by getting our full membership interested in attending, a feat best accomplished at the time a new convert is brought into the truth.
Relief money should be tithed, the same as any other income. But difficulties are freely conceded. In some cases, where relief is in the form of goods and not money, it was thought that the member might be able to sell magazines to earn the cash for tithe. Otherwise, the members should be counseled to keep a record of all relief received, and when opportunity comes, they can then give to God His portion of all that has been received.
To inspire greater faithfulness in tithing, our churches should have the matter presented to them as it is, not as a mere duty, but as a privilege. As an additional help to such presentation, a report of the total tithes and offerings given might be read before the church once a month. At our camp meetings it would be wise to devote an hour to a review of the tithing plan, and extend an invitation to the audience to testify of their experiences. A compilation of the most outstanding stories told could be presented in a tract and distributed to the constituency of that conference as an inspiration to all. Members who do not pay tithe are subjects for personal labor. If, after faithful labor, members persistently agitate against this God-ordained plan, they should be disfellowshiped the same as agitators against any other commands of Scripture.
Preparation for baptism—a timely question as our roll of yearly apostasies mount—received its share of reviewing. It was agreed that candidates should be examined by the church board before being recommended to the church body for membership. A questionnaire to be signed by all candidates and filed at the conference office was advanced as an excellent plan.
The interest shown in the round-table hour indicated a relish that would have kept its edge even had it been possible to devote much more time to discussions of these and kindred topics.