"As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ." 1 Cor. 12:12.
In this mechanical age in which we live science has perfected such precision and accuracy in the construction of motors and machines that a difference of one-hundredth part of the width of a single strand of hair in one intricate piece would throw the mechanism out of balance.
Improvements are being made constantly in these delicately constructed machines. If all this is true in the .mechanicalfield, how much more important is it that we be making improvements in the religious field. There is no greater science than that of soul winning, and we must not stand still in this greatest of all sciences.
For the successful operation of a conference with its respective units—the executive, departmental, ministerial, church, and member—there must be the precision of co-operation, co-ordination, and response that is to be found in a delicately balanced machine.
There is nothing quite so impressive to me as a perfectly performing mechanism, whether it be a small wrist watch, the family automobile, a giant bomber, or a great locomotive capable of drawing a hundred cars. And there is nothing that is quite so disturbing and distressing to me as an engine that is not functioning as it should. Nothing seems so helpless as a great piece of powerful machinery that has been put out of commission.
In returning from our evangelistic meetings in Monrovia on the night of the wreck of the California Limited, I made my way through the lines up to the scene of the wreck. The first sight that met my eyes as I arrived at the scene was the two wrecked locomotives—one lying pathetically helpless on its side, like a slain giant, the other tilted at a forty-five-degree angle, mortally wounded.
And there they lay, absolutely helpless despite the fact that each had a hundred tons of potential power. The place for those locomotives was on the track. For usefulness, they had to be geared to the rails and connected with the coaches.
The Southern California Conference is one or the important units of Christian power in this old world. Not only are our churches and parishioners dependent upon this great instrument of power, but also the world field is 'dependent to no small extent upon the smooth, precise, and dependable operation of this great religious mechanism of spiritual power.
We dare not carry the analogy too far, but we can refer to departments in the Southern California Conference as cylinders of an engine. Our ten great denominational departments are ten huge cylinders of impressive power. These ten departments in the Southern California Conference, as listed in the Yearbook for 1945, are as follows: (1) educational, (2) home missionary, (3) temperance, (4) radio, (5) medical, (6) publishing, (7) religious liberty, (8) Sabbath school, (9) Y.P.M.V., and (To) the Book and Bible House.
In this conference we have eight men heading these ten important departments. The General Conference in regular session, the Spring and Autumn Councils, and the Executive Committee of the General Conference lay plans and prescribe special enterprises and endeavors to be carried out by the membership. (We elect them to do that, and we expect them to do it.) The execution of these plans and campaigns is eventually passed on to the local conference. The local conference secretaries, in turn, pass them on to the workers in the various districts. But along with this information, they give methods and suggestions to help in accomplishing these directives.
Imagine how helpless we would feel if we, as workers, did not have the help of our able departmental secretaries. Take, for example, the In-gathering campaign. Word reaches us that the In-gathering date is June 4 to July 18. We are in the midst of an evangelistic effort which will take us into the month of August. We have a building campaign on for our church and church school, the Bible instructor is busy in the effort, and all our lay leaders are busy making a livelihood. The outlook appears discouraging. But instead of this, we have a conference home missionary secretary to whom we can turn for help. He is a resourceful man, an expert in his field. He sends plans and materials. He gives expert assistance and maps out our whole campaign in this emergency situation. He becomes a public relations man and aids us with business firms. He even writes a poem for us, to provide the necessary spark to set the church in motion.
Suppose in one of your churches you need a school and a schoolteacher. Your educational secretary is your resource man, and he comes to your assistance immediately. A blue law threatens your city, and you call for the religious liberty secretary. The young people's work is lagging; your M.V. secretary is your assistant, ready to help you. The Sabbath school needs an impetus, and you call for the conference Sabbath school secretary. And so we can go right down the line of our departments and find able assistants. But let us not call on them only when in trouble. If we seek their advice and counsel ahead of time, we will often be kept out of difficulty. Thus we see that we as workers have trained experts as our helpers.
On the other hand, the worker should consider himself as the departmental secretary's assistant for the district in which he labors. With a spirit of mutual co-operation on the part of the departmental secretaries and the workers, the conference thus becomes the efficient spiritual machine that God designs it should be.