What a wonderful privilege it is to be workers together with God in this the greatest hour of all history! We have just returned from the General Conference session, and the impressions of that wonderful gathering are very vivid. During our brief stay in San Francisco a number of our people came with observations and suggestions regarding the conduct of the work. It is interesting as well as helpful to listen to our brethren and to keep in touch with their thinking.
They love the work of God. The great majority are wonderfully loyal to it. We may occasionally meet someone who comes forward with some impractical idea, but most of our people manifest good sense and have sound judgment. They invest their means in the work, and their hearts are -in it. I recall two observations in particular that were made by those who appeared to me to be sincere and solid Adventists. "Tell our workers," one group said, "that we like to hear the old doctrines preached in good plain language without frills and adornment." This may not represent the thinking of a large segment of our people, but we do well to ponder it.
Our members are hungry for truth. When we preach on the fundamentals of our faith our people are nourished and strengthened. Sermons should, of course, be carefully thought out and the words well-chosen to express what study and the guidance of the Holy Spirit have brought forth. To present a message in such a manner that it is obscured by mere words is to miss the real purpose of preaching. Words alone, no matter how beautiful they sound and how -well chosen they may be, do not bring encouragement and strength. It is the clear, appealing mes sage that lies behind the words that reaches the heart and affects the life. The other observation was, "Tell our workers to keep out of politics." Those who brought this earnest appeal recounted how workers had come to their church and in their sermons had referred to politics in a way to bring embarrassment to the church members. The remarks made caused some present who were not of our faith to ob serve that, although they had been led to believe that Seventh-day Adventist ministers kept clear of political matters and devoted themselves to the preaching of the Gospel, evidently such was not the case. I am quite sure that such a remark applies to only a very small group of our workers.
I could wish it applied to none of us. Surely we have enough to talk about regarding the great task assigned us without feeling the urge to devote valuable time to political matters as such. There are times when a preacher can refer to some great political issue as he unfolds the prophetic picture, but any passing reference should be brief and certainly should not reflect the political opinions of the preacher. Party politics is not our calling. A study of those preachers who have greatly influenced communities for God reveals that they were men who lived far above the partisan spirit of their time. They spoke for God, and the people recognized that they were heralds of a divine message.
John the Baptist was .such a man, and he is the type of the Advent message. The political problems of- his day were very real. But when the people or the soldiers or the tax gatherers came to him for counsel, he had a message for each of them, yet he kept far away from the involvements of current political issues. So influential was his message that all men mused in their hearts, wondering whether he was .the promised Messiah. His influence must have been deeply spiritual. If our sermons are the antitype of his, then they must also be . spirit-filled messages, prophetic in character and backed up by a "Thus saith the Lord." In view of these things, brethren, let us aim to bring constantly to our people the spiritual food that nourishes and to set such examples before them that they never need apologize to their friends for what we say or do. Let us lift our congregations above the level of ordinary thoughts into the clear atmosphere of heavenly thinking, so that all our members will leave the place of meeting inspired for consecrated service. Time is fleeting, and our task is tremendous. Shall we not determine to crowd these sunset hours with our highest and noblest endeavors, and thus hasten the appearing of our Lord and Saviour and the end of the tragic reign of sin?
The Future of "The Ministry"
Ever since 1928 THE MINISTRY magazine has been going from the offices of the General Conference Ministerial Association to the homes of our English-speaking workers around the world. For the first twenty-two years LeRoy E. Froom was the able editor. He guided the paper from its beginning as it grew from a miniature exchange of ideas into the fortyeight page journal it is today.
Thirteen years, ago Miss Louise Kleuser and the present editor joined the Ministerial Association and became associate editors of THE MINISTRY. Then four years ago, when Elder Froom's work was changed, the editorial work of this journal passed into the hands of those of us who were called to carry the responsibility of the work of the associa: tion. Shortly after that Mrs. Towery, who had done such excellent work as the office editor of the magazine, was called to take up other responsibilities. Ben Glanzer then joined our staff, and for the last four years he has carried the burden of much of the detail planning and the layout as well as the circulation and advertising of the journal. Some very definite changes were made at that time in the format of THE MINISTRY. This last General Conference session brought other changes in our staff. Two new secretaries were brought into the Ministerial Association. Walter Schubert, who for the past eight years has been the association secretary in the South American Di vision, and Earl E. Cleveland, for years union evangelist for the Southern Union, were called into the association as secretaries. We are happy to welcome these stalwart leaders, and while their work will be largely in the field of evangelism, they also have become a part of our editorial staff. The accompanying picture shows your editors as we met recently in Washington.
The purpose of THE MINISTRY from its inception has been to deepen the spiritual life of our ministers and workers, to inspire a larger and more fruitful program of evangelism, and to become a medium through which our workers can share the techniques that have brought success in their fields of service. Messages from our leaders setting forth the great principles of endeavor in the Advent Movement have proved to be one of the greatest influences in molding the thoughts of our workers around the world. And as our Bible instructors, medical missionaries, evangelists, college Bible teachers, pastors, and musicians have blended their thoughts in these pages, this journal has become more and more the inspiration and guide of our worker force everywhere. Recently a group of our brethren were discussing some things with your editor when one of them made this remark, "Even the advertisements in THE MINISTRY make the journal worth while to us. Not only are we able to keep abreast of the times, but we get leads to the kind of materials we need to make our work a success."
The production of a journal of this kind is no small matter, however. As we have emphasized on other occasions, THE MINISTRY is not a journal of church news, but rather a journal of instruction, ideas, and spiritual inspiration, unfolding the things that make church news. Its columns are open to any and to all. If you have something to share with your fellow workers, then here is the medium, and we invite you to make use of this journal. In stating this, however, we would not give the impression that we are running short of copy. Far from it! Our big problem is to find space for all the excellent articles that come to us. We find that readers of THE MINISTRY are just like readers of any other journal; they like short articles full of inspiration, ideas, and tried techniques.
Remember, we are dedicated to your service, and we trust we shall not disappoint you. As we gather in our association councils we remember our workers in prayer, and we ask that you remember us as we seek to serve you, not only through the columns of this journal, but through our direct service to the field in ministerial institutes, college and field workshops, Semi nary extension courses, evangelistic councils, and periods of devotion, such as Weeks of Prayer and workers' retreats. It is also a taxing but joyful responsibility to be called to recommend and channel the kind of books that are calculated to make valuable contributions to the worker's library as well as his own spiritual development.
There is a fellowship in this Advent mes sage that makes us a united worker family. May God bless us all as we move forward together in the accomplishment of a great task the giving of the gospel to all the world in this generation.