Pointers for Preachers

Machinery or Mission, Shepherding the Flock, "The Old Ring"

MACHINERY OR MISSION?

Commenting editorially on the World Council of Churches recenth held in New Delhi, India, Christianity Today has a para­graph on "Machinery and the Kingdom" which will interest our readers:

"Ecclesiastical machinery functioned actively through all phases of the Delhi Assembly; the mechanism of resolutions and program enjoyed special prominence. This growing preoccupation with organization rather than with mission has periodically troubled leaders distressed over ecu­menical programming—the endless series of con­ferences, consultations, commissions, and commit­tees apparently substitute a passion for dialogue for the passion to witness. And the disposition to limit democratic processes within ecumenical gatherings at times irked the press."—December 22, 1961, p. 23.

The tendency to submerge witness in organiza­tional machinery is old and ever-present. The World Council of Churches is building up an im­pressive piece of machinery. An estimated half mil­lion dollars was spent on the New Delhi meeting. A "formidable structure of divisional and depart­mental committees" exists, and a 250-office head­quarters building costing S2.5 million is to be erected in Geneva.

The same editorial points out that floor debate was prohibited on certain items of business, and continuous press coverage was curtailed in sectional meetings—devices by which, complained the writer, the ecumenical leaders have more than once con­cealed the eliminations and revisions of the editorial committee's final drafts.

Those of us who saw the palace of the League of Nations in Geneva both in its heyday and at its demise, may live to see the monolithic church with its mammoth machinery. And we may need to re­member that if "the kingdom of God is not meat and drink," neither is it machinery and devices. Or­ganization, political devices, machinery, may ob­scure the church's mission and delay the coming of the kingdom.

 H. W. L.

 

SHEPHERDING THE FLOCK

 Few men have either the capacity or the opportunity to serve a church as long and as faithfully as Dr. Ralph Sockman, who has just completed forty-four years of service as pastor of Christ's Church, known as "the cathedral of Methodism," in New York. For 30 years he has been known from coast to coast as a radio preacher. In his valedictory sermon Dr. Sockman declared that New York was "still the church's greatest chal-lenge," and the need for religion in that great me­tropolis is "growing even more imperative." Empha­sizing that the world "requires the gospel of salva­tion and not merely a gospel of security," he urged that Christians should forget themselves in saving others.

We have mentioned this outstanding preacher for two reasons. First, to point out the incomparable joy and satisfaction that comes to the soul of a min­ister who fully dedicates himself to the work of a shepherd, and second, the enrichment, both spir­itual and intellectual, resulting from one's con­tinual growth in larger concepts of truth, and pub­lic contacts. These are aims every minister can and should accept.

It was Dr. Sockman's conviction that to be called to pastoral work was the highest honor that could come to a man. That is why he refused to be side­tracked. More than once he was elected to the office of bishop within his own church. But each time he refused, saying he felt one could make a richer con­tribution to the cause of Christ by staying close to the people and ministering to their needs. A truly excellent example for a pastor-evangelist!

Dr. Harold Bosley, of Evanston, Illinois, succeeds him, but any man will be challenged who tries to walk in the footsteps of Dr. Ralph Sockman.

R. A. A.

 

THE "OLD RING"

"Tell Me the Old, Old Story" happens to be one of my favorite songs. And further, the imparting of the revelation of the love of God to dying men is indeed a frightening privilege. Hence, great care is necessary in the presentation, that essential truth be not altered. But is the "old ring" also a necessity? To be sure, the "old ring" met the need in its time. But our times demand a fresh revelation, an approach geared to space-age mentality. How the truth is told determines to a great extent the quantity and quality of the audience. The man of God need not fear saying the same thing in an­other way. To be sure, one must not make such a radical departure as to obscure truth, but a few fresh texts have been known to liven up a sermon. It is no compliment to the speaker when the faith­ful settle down to slumber when he rises to speak, because they know where he is going. Let us con­tinue to go there, but now and then by a different route, thus giving the old gospel a new ring.

E. E. C.

 

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April 1962

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