"God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God" (Ps. 62:11). A question raised, though seldom in preacher-to-preacher discussions, is this, Where is the real power in the Christian church? Is it really in the elected officials, whatever their standing? Well, few of them will deny their helplessness without the support of the many pastors and evangelists who man the outposts. "Aha," says the pastor-evangelist, "then the power is with me." The genuine pastor knows better, for where would he be without the laymen who carry the programs? "Well," boasts the layman, "then I'm the 'big wheel.' " Not according to Romans 10:14. According to this, the layman certainly needs his pastor. As for the power to hire and fire, everybody can get rid of somebody all along the line. Needed now more than ever is the wise counsel of the apostle Paul: "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. . . . And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary" (1 Cor. 12:18-22). It is therefore a just conclusion that since everybody needs everybody else, in whatever branch of God's service a man may be, let him therewith be content. Let us brighten the corner where we are, for the church is so organized that one man can occupy only one corner at a time. Power? I thought David settled that. It "belongeth unto God," said the psalmist, and it is dispensed to each man in his corner, according to his faith. Enjoying your corner? I like mine!
E. E. C.
This question has been submitted to us: "Is a Sabbath school superintendent, or any other leader of public worship, justified in calling upon a member of the congregation at random to offer prayer? Should not such a one be informed in advance of the meeting?" This points up a real need of the true understanding of prayer.
Anyone who undertakes to address the Eternal God as a mouthpiece of the people should realize the responsibility he is assuming. Perhaps it is this realization and a feeling of unpreparedness that causes embarrassment and even fear to grip the heart of the one who is thus called upon.
Public prayer should be taken seriously even by the minister who has had much experience in this service. During a lecture before a group of church teachers in the Temple church, Los Angeles, Dr. Robert J. Taylor said: "Ask any man who knows and he will tell you that he spends far more time in preparation for his public prayer than he does for his public sermon. Praying is harder than preaching." Do we realize this?
Speaking to the congregation for God is a task that demands all there is of a man. But how much more taxing it is to speak to God for the congregation! To choose someone in a hurry to offer a public prayer is not wise. If visitors are in the congregation, especially those coming from well-ordered churches, they may receive very unfavorable impressions of the whole program. But even more serious, it is dishonoring to God. Therefore we should exercise great care in the selection of the one to offer the prayer.
If a member is asked at a moment's notice, he has little opportunity to prepare himself in heart and mind for this service. One's words and thoughts should really be the words and thoughts of the group, thus enabling all to open up their hearts to God. We are wise, therefore, to see that the one delegated to lead the congregation in prayer has been given ample opportunity to make his petition both appropriate and meaningful. "Lord, teach us to pray."
R. A. A.
The January 5, 1962, issue of Christianity Today carried a pointed comment on a tendency among "an increasing number of influential churchmen to discount numerical data." Perhaps the craze to treat church life like a big business, to organize, analyze, and assess the church's success on the basis of percentages and financial achievements, is passing.
"In prospect for 1962," says the news note, "is a growing revolt against statistics as an index of spiritual health. According to key observers of the religious scene, American church leaders are increasingly skeptical of arithmetical approaches to religious vitality." The kingdom of God would have been established long ago if "counting sheep" and massive organizing could do it. That is why ecumenicity with its massive world church concepts can never replace the evangelical fervor that concerns itself first with the souls of men. The churches must hold those they have reached, and also go out and win the lost, and when that is the case all else, including essential organization, falls into its proper place.
H. W. L.