Pointers for Preachers

Power in the word, The people's choice, Clean-out touch-up day


Dr. Martin Niemoller recently addressed a group of Bible Soci­ety patrons in Britain, using his wartime experiences to illustrate the strength de­rived from God's Word. Martin Niemoller was ar­rested in 1935 for publicly opposing Nazi paganism. In 1938 he was imprisoned. He spent seven years in a concentration camp.

In a tunnel leading to the German court a Chris­tian policeman shouted a text of scripture as this godly man was led before his accusers. When he was transferred to a concentration camp he was somehow allowed to retain his Bible. In gratitude for this he regularly stood under his cell window and repeated aloud texts of scripture for unseen passing prisoners to hear.

On one occasion a Nazi S.S. guard was court-martialed on a capital charge. Dr. Niemoller went to him, and after the condemned man had con­fessed his sins and found forgiveness, the two men celebrated a unique communion. The only avail­able elements were water in a tin cup and a crust of bread saved because of the pastor's having a toothache.

After relating several experiences Dr. Niemoller, speaking in quiet, searching tones, asked his Bible Society audience: (1) "Do we read the Bible regu­larly day by day?" More than fifty-five years ago his father had told him: "The Bible doesn't belong on the shelf but in your hand, under your eye, and in your heart." (2) "Do we need Jesus in our heart? If we live with the Book and expound to others our inner convictions and experiences, we shall have Jesus in the heart."

Dr. Niemoller said he was disappointed that Christians everywhere were frightened of commu­nism, whereas it is communism that ought to be afraid of Christianity. "If only we Christians would listen to the witness and be what we ought to be —the salt of the earth and the light of the world!"

H. W. L.


Favor with the people is no sure index to the value of a minister. As is often the case, a good personality, oratorical and executive ability, does not necessarily keep one in permanent good favor. Popularity is fine when not purchased at the expense of principle. There is a tendency in some quarters to "let things slide" or "leave it to the next man" if someone's feelings are involved. Men who, though not hasty, are faithful in the discharge of responsibility may not win a popular­ity contest at the end of a tenure, but their de­parture is indeed with clean conscience. There is more to faithful ministry than "holding things together" and "keeping everybody happy."

The watchman must take care lest his charge become the home of every unclean and hateful bird. To be sure, this phase of his work will tarnish his glamour, but it will nourish the famishing flock, restoring their confidence in the church and its ideals. Happy is that man who is concerned less with being the people's choice than with receiving the approval of the Almighty.

E. E. C.


Strange as it may seem, a church edifice may often be­come the catchall of every sort of refuse, dust-covered literature, old Quarter­lies and Ingathering magazines, broken chairs, stools and tables, torn or backless hymnals, out-dated goal charts, clothing, and other archaic oddities. This situation often obtains where there is no official custodian to bring such matters to the attention of church leaders. The unsightly accumulation of years reflects neglect rather than deliberate littering —a lack of someone having authority to clean out all valueless and antiquated articles in corners, closets, basement, children's rooms, storerooms, and behind closed cabinet doors. The church is God's house even in these out-of-sight places.

Gather the elders, deacons, department heads, yes, even the church board if necessary, and ex­plain what needs to be accomplished. Take them on a tour of the church building—in and out of hidden recesses. Suggest to these leaders that they make a survey of materials not being used and for which they do not see immediate future use. If too good to discard, it may be that some other de­partment or some other church could use them. Observe the little jobs that need to be done, such as repairing worn carpets, replacing old hinges and locks, tightening wobbly chairs, repairing and re-finishing pews, filling cracks in plaster, and paint­ing where necessary. Most of the men in the church will be happy to serve and demonstrate their handy­man talents.

Call a special day, an official day, so everyone can be in on the profitable enjoyment. Promote it weeks in advance by way of your church bulletin, personal letters, and from the pulpit. Have each work section well organized and a leader chosen who has been briefed and prepared for his particular responsibil­ity. Have brooms, mops, brushes, paints, and all necessary tools on hand for the big day. Have a conveyance ready for hauling away the trash.

Make it a day of special fellowship for the workers. The women could prepare a good noon meal. Obviously, this is essential not only for the social time but to maintain happy workers for a full dedi­cated day. As a by-product of the day the pastor will find members suggesting ideas of value for improving methods, correcting faults, and enhancing the physical aspect of the church. Be appreciative of all that is done. Warm Thank-you notes to each worker will enrich the accomplishment and assure a ready response to another clean-out day you may wish to have at some future time.

A. C. F.

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December 1960

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