Future Leaders of the Church

To secure able men for the ministry is an object of transcendent, urgent, world-wide concern to the church of the advent movement.

By L. K. DICKSON, President, Northern California Conference

To secure able men for the ministry is an object of transcendent, urgent, world-wide concern to the church of the advent movement. If the church is to develop in order to meet the growing needs of this critical hour, it must find able men for its ministry, in ever-increas­ing numbers. What calamity, next to the with­drawal of Christ's presence, should be more dreaded than to have young men of genius and of large equipment withhold themselves from responding to the call of the Christian minis­try? Yet this is by no means the least danger which is now impending.

No human society can hold together and realize great objectives without thoroughly qualified leaders. The remnant church is no exception. In all past history, in whatever in­stances the church has proved inadequate, it has been because of inadequate leadership.

If the church of the advent movement is to meet successfully the momentous problems which press upon it now with great insistence, there must be an increase in the number of competent men forthcoming for the gospel min­istry. Marvelous have been the achievements of the thin line of the advent ministry around the world. But no record of the past will suffice for these days through which we are now passing. This is a new day. Many more men of talent and consecration are now needed to guide the religious thinking of our people and to help them meet intellectual difficulties concerning momentous religious subjects.

This is a time of theological readjustment and restatement. It is a period of uncertainty and unrest with reference to religious things. A critical spirit which is asserting itself with great vigor, is calling in question fundamental doctrines and even accepted rules of conduct.

The widespread religious indifference, which is more largely due to uncertainty about Scrip­tural truth among Christians themselves than is generally realized, must be dealt with at the sources. Stalwart service can be and must be rendered now by those who will restate funda­mental facts and unchanged truths in terms that will make them vivid and vital to others. Such declaration is one of the greatest require­ments of this age. At no other time has it been so much needed and demanded as in an age like this, dominated by the scientific spirit.

It is also encouraging to note that never before have honest men longed more for con­fident spiritual and religious leadership. But only those can actually guide and lead who themselves know what men are seeking for, who understand the point of view of those whom they would help, and who can speak to them in the language of their day. The preaching of the third angel's message involves all this.

The work of the ministry is so comprehen­sive that it requires strong men to carry it on. As one prominent minister has said: "I do not conceive my work as that of a professional teacher, preacher, or even prophet. It is some­thing of all of these; but is something more than the sum of all these." Such a work calls for all-round, symmetrical, thoroughly fur­nished men—the best that can be produced by this people.

Distinctive emphasis must therefore be placed on the need for men of ability rather than upon the need for merely greater num­bers. What is meant by men of ability? They must be men of genuine and thorough Chris­tian integrity; men with a message and a mission; men of personal force and strength of personality; men of sound physical consti­tution who have the requisite common sense and self-control to care for their bodies, thus ensuring maximum working efficiency; edu­cated men of mentality and proper habits, de­termined not to stagnate intellectually: men who are able to organize, lead, and inspire others to work; men possessing the ability to sympathize and make friends; and above all, men endued with the Holy Spirit.

The ministry must now be possessed by men of heroic spirit like Knox, at whose grave it could be said, "Here lies one who never feared the face of man." "The only profession which consists in being something," said Woodrow Wilson, "is the ministry of our Lord and Saviour—and it does not consist of anything else."

The present is a time of unprecedented op­portunity. Talk about crises has certainly been overdone, but beyond the shadow of doubt, the present is the time of times for pressing the advantage which the forces of the advent ministry now have on virtually every conti­nent of the globe. The number of aggres­sive leaders to guide the forces of the church on this and every other continent, is entirely insufficient. Many more true leaders, who are themselves inspired by a vision of the needs of the world, must enter our ministerial ranks.

A host of young ministers is needed, men who are so ordering their lives and so proclaiming the truth that the members of the churches both see and seize the opportunity to finish the work quickly.

Something must be done, and done quickly, to fill up the ranks of our ministry. A most definite movement should now be made to in­spire a larger number of our young men to heed and accept their call to the gospel ministry.

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By L. K. DICKSON, President, Northern California Conference

December 1937

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