Camp Meeting in the Home Church
WILLIAM R. HARBOUR: Pastor-Evangelist, Michigan Conference
here is a suggestion to help bring an atmosphere of revival into the church in preparation for an evangelistic series. In Berrien Springs in the fall of 1950 we tried something that brought a real spiritual thrill to the people.
Most of our people are either farmers or students, and very few of them have the privilege of attending camp meeting during the summer. So we decided to have a little camp meeting right in our home church. Everyone knows that the real devotional heart of camp meeting is the early morning meeting. Therefore we made plans to have a week of revival meetings, including a six o'clock early morning session.
People were invited to come, dressed just as they were, on their way work. Farmers, mechanics, and plumbers were* welcomed, regard less of overalls, coveralls, boots, or jeans. House wives were encouraged to come, not worrying about house dresses or hair up in pins. We were not there to look at one another's dress; we were there to seek the Lord.
The meeting began without any preliminaries promptly at the stroke of 6:00 A.M. A hymn was sung, prayer was offered, and the speaker began. At 7:00 A.M. the meeting was closed without delay; this gave ample time for most folks to get to school or work. Those who had no special appointments to meet remained to take part in small prayer bands.
The attendance was excellent. A usual prayer meeting would see about 30 or 35, but these meetings started with 75 and went as high as 125.
The first Sabbath of the week was set aside as a day of fasting and prayer. Meetings were held morning and evening each day of the week and were climaxed with a final call of consecration on the closing Sabbath.
Speakers were invited from the Lake Union Conference office and Emmanuel Missionary College to fill the morning appointments. During the evening a special consecration series was given by the pastor. At the close of each service an appeal or altar call was given during which many found Christ anew, and some made a full surrender for the first time. Subjects of the evening meetings were as follows:
The Spirit's Call to Revival (need of consecration)
The Standard of the Spirit (perfection required)
Preparation for the Spirit (confessing and forsaking sin)
Transformed by the Spirit (conversion)
Led by the Spirit (walking in the full light)
Victory Through the Spirit (maintaining victory over sin)
Baptism of the Spirit (latter rain)
Rejoicing in the Spirit (how to be happy as a Christian)
The Spirit's Call to Service (call to work for Christ)
To help stimulate the interest of the church and also to keep the theme of the meetings before the people, a sign was hung just behind the pulpit, reading, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit." This was often referred to during the sermons and was repeated in unison by the audience a number of times.
At the beginning of each evening meeting the people stood and sang the theme song, "With Thy Spirit Fill Me," as the ministers took their places on the platform.
The main appeal of the series was directed toward the church members so no special attempt was made to encourage non-Adventists to attend. Nevertheless a number of our good neighbors and friends came into the meetings and seemed to enjoy them very much. One young woman was invited by her mother-in- law. She was deeply moved by the Spirit, and later brought her husband to the evangelistic meetings. We baptized both of them a few weeks ago, much to the thrill and joy of the mother. A high school girl showed quite an interest and even took part in the testimony service and in the prayer bands.
One of the church members was so stirred with a zeal to find a soul to bring to the meetings that she searched all over her section of town to find someone. After many vain and prayerful attempts, she talked with her neighbor across the back-yard fence one morning. She was surprised when the woman asked if she might attend the meetings with her some time. The neighbor became a regular attendant in spite of opposition in her home. One night after hearing "What and Where Is Hell?" she gave her heart to God and went home declaring that she had been converted. Immediately she lost all appetite for tobacco, gave up her tea and coffee, stopped eating pork, and began keeping the Sabbath. She is now a baptized member and is working for others.
We were thrilled with the effect the early morning meetings had on backsliders and on some of our straying members. A number of them came to the morning session and some of them listened to the messages with tears rolling down their cheeks. One brother came whom we had nearly given up as lost. Tobacco and the pull of the world were too strong, and after a series of Bible studies during the winter failed to revive him, he wrote a letter to the church board asking that his name be dropped. But he drove ten miles through the country to get to the early morning meeting. His heart was touched, and he is still with us. He is now an active member of our choir and doing well.
Immediately after the revival week of "camp meeting" in the home church, we began regular Sunday night evangelistic meetings and had a good series with fine results.
CHARLES M. MELLOR: Pastor, Ohio Conference
Pastoral counseling is as old as the ministry. All through the Scriptures we find the record of those who have been physically, emotionally, or spiritually confused, coming for comfort and guidance to the men called of God. How vividly is a ministry of counseling demonstrated in the work of the Master! As Pastor- Evangelist, the Lord Jesus Christ is the truest example.
The goal of spiritual counseling is to lead men and women into a true relationship with Christ and to shepherd them into the more abundant way of life. How important it is for us as ministers of the gospel to avail ourselves of better ways and means to understand rightly and direct those who come to us for help!
Volumes have been written covering the scope of pastoral counseling, but even yet not all is understood in this vast field. A few fundamental rules, however, may be of interest. We shall call them the "Ten Commandments of Pastoral Counseling."
1. A personal faith in God on the part of the pastor-counselor is imperative. How can we ever expect to guide our parishioners to a more abundant life when we ourselves are unstable in our own experience? It is the height of folly for us to expect to give that which we do not already possess.
2. Take knowledge of a person's emotional and spiritual level and work with him there. People are at different levels in their Christian development and growth just as they are of various chronological ages. In order for us to direct them to a standard or goal, it is necessary to work from the known to the unknown. How easy it is for us to talk with people in terms of what they ought to be, rather than what they are!
3. Learn to be a good listener. Listening is too often a lost art. Sir Arthur Helps has said, "It takes a great man to make a good listener." In counseling we listen more than we talk. Sympathetically listen until a bursting heart has emptied itself. Then, and not until then, are we qualified to point to the "better way."
4. Deal sparingly in what is known as good advice. If you instruct a person what to do, it becomes your decision, and usually goes in one ear and out the other. It is human nature to resent being told what to do. As one great pas tor-counselor has so aptly stated. "An ounce of insight into one's own difficulties is worth a ton of advice from others." By asking relevant questions, the counselor helps the consultant to understand himself.
5. Never appear to be hurried. The consult ant must be convinced in his own mind that his minister is worthy of his trust and confidence. Only by degrees does a person relax and tell his full experience. This process takes time. There is a tendency, especially in inexperienced counselors, to try to solve everything at one sitting. Often such a procedure does more harm than good. It is a recognized fact that it is better to have several short interviews than to try to crowd everything into an hour or two or perhaps three.
6. Cautiously avoid the spirit of censure and of pronouncing judgment. The words of Jesus are pertinent, "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:17. Usually when a parishioner comes to us for counsel, he is already under conviction, and we can be of material help only when we work and think in terms of love.
7. Re careful io take nothing for granted. When our church members come to us for guidance, it is easy to assume that they know how to read the Bible and how to pray, that they have an adequate conception of God and the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. Often it is humiliating to the shepherd of the flock to learn how spiritually illiterate some are, even some who have been in the Christian way for many years. In teaching our people how to study the Bible and how to pray, we will automatically solve many problems.
8. Control the situation. The pastor as a counselor should keep himself under emotional control at all times. He should never manifest an attitude of surprise, shock, revulsion, anger, or other extreme reactions. The minister should always remain in control of the situation. He should not allow the consultant to assume control of the interview even if he does have the freedom to empty the thoughts of his troubled mind to the one who understands.
9. Guide your parishioner to form his own solution of the difficulty. This is a must in skillful counseling. In its finest form it is helping a person to help himself and not doing something for him. As ministers we can do too much for our people, and thus they tend to lean on us as a crutch. That is not a healthy situation.
10. Learn to keep a confidence. Never should we violate the trust that has been placed in us. Never under any-circumstances prove traitor. What tragedies have happened when sacred confidences have been broken!
There are many who ask, "How do you get pastoral counseling started?" Often such ministers visualize people coming to them for help. But that idea is in reverse. Usually the minister goes to the people rather than the people com ing to him. It is by mingling with the people that we learn of their problems and difficulties, and how soon they sense our sympathy for them!