Empty Pulpits

Already the shortage of ministers is apparent.

HAROLD L. CALKINS, Pastor, Temple City Church, Arcadia, California

RECENTLY there has just been con­cluded a Voice of Youth series, in which thirty young people participated as speakers, plus many others as ushers, sing­ers, and greeters, and in friendship teams. Three of the speakers have said they would like to prepare for the ministry. They felt the thrill of presenting the Word of God to the nonmembers who were present. Last summer, when the youth were home from school, one of them was asked to speak for five minutes at the beginning of each church service. Youth at a nearby church learned a certain Bible study and gave it at several different homes, while other teams learned other studies and followed in order until the entire series was covered.

There are many other methods of inspir­ing youth with the joy of direct evange­lism. Elder Gordon Balharrie suggests that at Walla Walla the Theology Club con­duct a vigorous recruiting program in the academies to interest young men in the ministry. Note that in Table 1, the most decisive age is 16-18 (academy juniors and seniors).

Inspiring MV programs could be pre­pared for the Kit magazine upholding the sacredness and the rewards of this calling. Reading course books emphasizing the same points in a thrilling way and biogra­phies of successful pastors and evangelists could be presented. An attractive leaflet might be prepared for pastors and elemen­tary and secondary teachers to use, showing the glory of the ministry above the glam­our of secular callings.

Men are moving mountains these days—with slide rule and atom bombs. Men are spending their lives in labs and factories to make planes go faster and plastics tougher and spacecraft safer. Technology offers a big challenge to youth. Medical schools are crowded with boys who want to relieve suffering. Law, teaching, and farming at­tract others to meet man's needs. But what about the problems no scientist, no tech­nologist, can help? What are the biggest jobs our generation has to lick? So far, man has done better improving things than people. The big jobs nowadays are with people—their fears, their aspirations, their inner needs. We need more young men to say with their lives, "Count on me to tackle the deepest needs of man."

The tragedy of life is the unnatural human effort to live without God. The sad­dest spectacle is the off-beat faddist who wants to preach—God's funeral! More ar­rogant than Khrushchev, they say to God: "We will bury You!" Can't we help youth see that the man who helps others to see God is helping man with his deepest need? The church can do more—if it has a good minister—to influence the character and happiness of people than any other force. The minister has a strategic job. Knox was the symbol of Scottish independ­ence. He influenced not only the religion but the character of the nation, more than any man in Scottish history. Wesley led a peaceful revolution. In open fields, from wagon endgates, he addressed throngs of the poor factory workers and outcasts. His work literally prevented a British parallel of the French Revolution. God can call and equip young men for an even grander work in these last days. We can give them the challenge to respond to that call!

There are in my congregation men who make jets, rockets, and spacecraft compo­nents that travel fast and far, but what is this compared with the privilege of remak­ing men and women who will travel from world to world, honoring God for all eter­nity. There is no higher calling than that of working with Christ in the redemption of mankind. Other lines of work are honor­able, and one can serve God in them, but to be a preacher of the gospel is a special calling. Moses' work of shepherding Jeth­ro's flock was an honorable work, but what was it compared with leading a nation out of bondage into a new relationship with God? Elisha was honestly engaged in farm­ing, but what a loss to the work of God if he had never heard or responded to the call to the prophetic office. There are those today who must be called to leave the plow, the sheep, the hot rod, the ball diamond, and take up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let us encourage them to do so.

It is disturbing to note that proportion­ately more candidates for the seminary still come from the plow (rural areas) than from the urban centers. (See Table 2.) What can we do in our cities where thou­sands of talented young men are giving their lives to secular pursuits? Are rural pastors doing a more effective job of inspir­ing youth? Are city boys overly impressed by the material things provided by more lucrative professions? Or is it that the city pastor does not command the status in the eyes of his people that the rural pastor does?

We live in a materialistic culture. Youth are influenced by the culture and ideals of their surroundings. It is "like people, like priest" (Hosea 4:9). A new esteem for the sacredness of ministerial office above secu­lar callings would not only help youth ded­icate their lives to it but would be a bless­ing to the laity as they learned greater reverence for all aspects of God's work.

Regardless of the competition the world gives us in appealing for the minds and talents of youth, let us do all we can to win the finest, the brightest, the most dedicated to the service of Christ, not as a new crop of artificially begotten denominational cheer leaders, but as true-born sons of the heavenly Father.

Already the shortage of ministers is ap­parent. With the B.D. training program and the increasing number of churches to be served, the need becomes more acute. The eighty-six churches of the Southern California Conference each have one pas­tor, plus 21 associate pastors scattered among the larger churches. Some of the largest churches have four ministers to care for their congregations. As the size of the churches increases, more and more quali­fied workers will be required. Then, too, we must prepare for that mighty ingather­ing of souls when the Holy Spirit is poured out. There is no greater work to hold be­fore our youth. It is not low salaries, girl friends, or parental objection that keep them away. It is lack of guidance—the call­ing of God through a human voice.

"The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest" (Matt. 9:37, 38).

Here is the response of one youth: "The call . . . is like the call of the sea to the one who loves it, or the call of the ether to the eagle. He responds because he has become sensitive to God's purpose; be­cause even if other walks of life attract him, he knows he cannot be satisfied by any of them; because he sees his fellow men grasping for that which they cannot find. There is nothing that could be written in the sky that would be as miraculous as man's turning away from money, business, and everyday rating in society, to answer the challenge of the Christian faith to serve God and man in an intelligent, self-sacri­ficing way. The Christian, educated in the task of service, does not need to conjure up a vision for a great call. He has eyes to see, and once he sees, he answers with the service required, and more."

Theology, the queen of the sciences, must be put at the apex of Adventist academic structure to give meaning to all other sciences and to life itself. Our youth will respond.

"With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world!"—Education, p. 271.

(See PDF for Table)

of First                                                                                                                                                                 of Final

Age              Impression          Decision

10-12              10 %

13-15             23 %               5 %

16-18             29 %             30 %

19-21             14 %             26 %

22-24                7 %            22 %

25 and over   7 %          17

TABLE 2

 

 

Occupation of Fathers

 

 

Farmers

25

%

Skilled workers

19

 

Ministers

15

%

Small businessmen

14

%

Unskilled

9

%

Tradesmen

8

%

Big businessmen

5

%

Teachers

3

%

Doctors

2

%

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HAROLD L. CALKINS, Pastor, Temple City Church, Arcadia, California

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