Some were set aside to be "evangelists; and some, pastors." In this text is found divine sanction for the existence of these two classifications of workers in the church. This text is a protection against the ever-present tendency to emphasize the importance of either of these two classes Of workers at the expense of the other. The evangelist and the pastor must each fill his respective place, one -representing the ministry of reconciliation, and the other the ministry of sanctification.
It is true that the evangelist may do valuable pastopal work and the pastor may do successful evangelistic work, but the evangelist must not be judged by his pastoral ability or the pastor by his evangelistic achievements. There is a place for both, and the work of both is important. Any question as to relative importance is like the old question regarding the most important leg of a three-legged stool.
The pastor is continually preparing the way for evangelism. Sometimes preparation for an effort is considered to be the work of a few weeks or months. The facts are that the success of an evangelistic endeavor may be affected by the work and influence of the local church and its pastor during many years previous to a series of meetings. We must face the fact that our converts will become what the church is. For example, if there happens to be a fanatical trend in a church, new members who share that trend will be welcome, and will soon he in positions of leadership. Those of more balanced mind will be under constant suspicion regarding their orthodoxy. On the other hand, if a church is well balanced, the result will be balance and symmetrical development in the lives of its new members.
In the hands of the pastor rests the task of shaping the spiritual life of the church, and thus of preparing the way for the proper development of the new members when they become a part of the church. This task of shaping the church can be done, not by spasmodic effort, but by a consistent program of spiritual education and activity. It requires fervent love for the flock, intense study, diligent visitation, dynamic preaching. Such pastoral work, whether the pastor realizes it or not, is preparing the church for the next effort, whether that effort be this year, next year, or many years hence. The condition and degree of preparation of the church when the effort begins represents in a large meausure the sum total of the work of the pastors who have gone before.
Preparing a church for an effort involves more than getting people to give and work. It is easier to persuade people to give than it is to persuade them to live. It is easier to get them to work than to get them to pray. A praying, right-living people will give and work, but the converse is not necessarily true.
It is my firm and studied conviction that thousands would have accepted our faith if our churches had rightly represented its high standards. The ministry of reconciliation can proceed no faster than the ministry of sanctification prepares the way for it. The Lord will not work miracles to bring new members into a church that is unprepared to receive them. Do we look forward to a time when thousands will be converted in a day? Our best preparation for that time is for our churches to lay aside contention, indifference, and low standards, and become more Christ-like.
In order to justify its existence our faith must produce men and women of outstanding Christian character. The world has a right to expect that of us, and the greater our achievements in that direction, the greater will be the willingness of men to listen to our doctrines. Only a converted church can convert sinners.
In addition to spiritual preparation for an effort, there are certain specific, tangible things that pastors can and must do. In the first place, every effort should be made to strengthen every department of the work of the church. Frequently we hear people express the feeling that when things are not going well, the remedy is an effort—some "new blood," they say, to add spirit to the church. But before we go out searching for "new blood" we had better set our own house in order, to properly receive new members.
We want our new members to attend church regularly. Have we educated our old members to do so? We want all our new members in the Sabbath school, and as many as possible at prayer meeting. H our old members are not there, what can we expect of the new? We desire that our new members send their children to our church schools. We must see to it that our old members patronize the school, and that the building and equipment are in such a condition that we will not have to apologize for them. We want new members to .be proud of the church. If it is dirty, unpainted, and unkept, how can they feel drawn toward it?
We hope our new members will receive continued inspiration from the services of the church. They must not go away spiritually hungry. The transfer from the evangelistic service to the church must not be an anticlimax. It may be that the church service will heed to be revamped, in order to make it serve the spiritual needs of the congregation. Perhaps order and reverence need to be improved. Possibly the music is inadequate. It may be that the service is long and wearisome. Preparation for an effort includes planning that will ensure the right kind of spiritual food for the new converts after the evangelist leaves.
We want new church members to take seriously their financial responsibility to God and the church. This end will be attained not merely by teaching but by the generous example of the church members who have supported the church for years.
We desire new members to participate in the missionary activities of the church. If on their first visit to the Dorcas Society, the mailing band, or the missionary meeting, they find themselves practically alone, will they continue to attend? The time to anticipate this problem is before the effort begins.
Some seem to be of the opinion that an effort will work a marvelous miracle in the lives of our own people—that, as a result, differences will be laid aside, the indolent will be awakened, and the weak will be made strong. The facts are that the average church member is quite the same kind of mortal after the effort as before. The time to make the necessary change in the church and its membership is before, not during or after the effort.
In this connection a note of warning might well be given. While all these types of preparation are desirable and necessary for the best success of an effort, we must remember that we live in an imperfect world where we never quite reach the ideal. If we wait for every circumstance to be propitious for evangelism, we will always wait. We must do the best we can to make the most complete preparation possible, and at the same time keep the work going. We must strive constantly toward the ideal, but we must not forsake evangelism until perfection of preparation is reached. We must remember that after we have done our best, the power of God can bring success despite our mistakes and despite the shortsightedness of others.
The pastor's relation to evangelism involves not only preparation for the effort but also following up the work of the effort. Generalizing, we might say that the same kind of work that constitutes good, sound preparation will, if carried on after the effort, make for successful follow-up work. In other words, the pastor who prepares well for new members will be able to care for and hold new members. What an ideal situation it is, especially in a large center, when the same pastor who prepares for the effort can remain to do the follow-up work. He knows the people and the problems, and if true to his task, he can greatly increase the fruitage of the evangelistic endeavor. We read in Volume IV of the Testimonies:
"After individuals have been converted to the truth, they need to be looked after. The zeal of many ministers seems to fail as soon as a measure of success attends their efforts. They do not realize that these newly converted ones need nursing,—watchful Attention, help, and encouragement. These should not be left alone, a prey to Satan's most powerful temptations; they need to be educated in regard to their duties, to be kindly dealt with, to be led along, and to be visited and prayed with....
"No wonder that some become discouraged, linger by the way, and are left for wolves to devour. Satan is upon the track of all. He sends his agents forth to gather back to his ranks the souls he has lost."—Page 68.
When the devil makes a return trip to gather back these souls, someone needs to be there to protect them. This is part of the work of the pastor, and it ranks in importance with the work of. the evangelist who brought the people into the church.
There should be no interim between the effort and follow-up work. The new converts should be tied to the pastor before the evangelist leaves. The pastor should feel as much interest in these new members as if they were his own converts. He should be faithful in visiting, in indoctrinating, and in enlisting their efforts in the church. This process of establishing the new members should continue as long as the need for it exists. If conditions are such that the church cannot have a regular pastor, local leadership should be trained to carry on. Never, at the end of any period of time, should a church be left helpless and unprepared to care for itself.
Evangelism is expensive. It costs money and requires the talents and time of many of our best, workers. Furthermore, the salvation of new converts is bought by the infinite sacrifice of the Son of God. We must do everything in our power to hold those who have been purchased at so great a price. It is folly to baptize them, then let the devil reclaim them. We read in Gospel Workers:
"Pastors are needed,—faithful shepherds,—who will not flatter God's people, nor treat them harshly, but who will feed them with the bread of life,—men who in their lives feel daily the converting power of the Holy Spirit, and who cherish a strong, unselfish love for those for whom they labor."—Page 185.
God called Peter to break down the walls of prejudice and opposition in old Jerusalem and rescue men from the grasp of Satan. He also called James to spend his life in Jerusalem, shepherding the flock that Peter and others had brought to Christ.
God called Paul to go to the outposts of earth and raise up churches, but He also called John and Timothy, who pastored some of the churches that Paul raised up. Of John we read in Acts of the Apostles, "As the years went by and the number of believers grew, John labored with increasing fidelity and earnestness for his brethren."—Page 553. Here is a picture of effective pastoral work—a growing church and a devoted pastor, laboring "for his brethren."
Of Timothy we read, "To Timothy had been committed the care of the church at Ephesus," and again, "He [Paul] had important counsel and instruction for the young man, to whom so great responsibility had been intrusted."—Ibid., pp. 498, 499. Yes, in Paul's day pastoral work at Ephesus was a "great responsibility." In our day pastoral work in the hundreds of churches scattered throughout the field is also a great responsibility. May God raise up pastors like James, Timothy, and John, who can hold and mold the converts who have been reached by evangelists like Peter, Paul, and Apollos. Only thus can a balanced program be carried forward for the converting and sanctifying of souls.