WE ARE often told that the work would have been finished long ago if we had worked along right lines. Today I will deal with one particular aspect of our work that I believe needs serious reviewing.
In many places our people have become religious weaklings. In our larger churches they expect several ministers to be at their regular service most of the time. I have often wondered if we are not falling into the ways of popular religion in this respect. What should be the attitude of ministers and people to this question? I am very happy that the Divine Blueprint lays down in clear, distinct, and concise lines just what plans are to be followed. If we had heeded the Lord's counsel in this line, the work may have already been finished.
When new converts are brought into the truth, they should be set to work for others not of the faith. This work should be started before they are even baptized.
Those who take their stand for the truth are to be organized into churches, and then the minister is to pass on to other equally important fields.
Just as soon as a church is organized, let the minister set the members at work. They will need to be taught how to labor successfully. . . . The power of the gospel is to come upon the companies raised up, fitting them for service. Some of the new converts will be so filled with the power of God that they will at once enter the work. They will labor so diligently that they will have neither time nor disposition to weaken the hands of their brethren by unkind criticism. Their one desire will be to carry the truth to the regions beyond.—Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 20. (Italics supplied.)
It is because this work is not done that the experience of young converts never reaches beyond the ABC in divine things. They are always babes, always needing to be fed upon milk, and never able to partake of true gospel meat.—Evangelism, p. 355.
When souls are converted, set them to work at once. And as they labor according to their ability, they will grow stronger. It is by meeting opposing influences that we become confirmed in the faith. —Ibid.
Ministers in Our Older Churches
IVe have become a well-established organized body with an ecclesiastical machinery second to none. This machinery can be used in two ways—we can use it to evangelize the world and win as many as possible to Christ or we can use it to multiply forms, ceremonies, and religious rules that bind us up in Pharisaism and narrowness of vision while a suffering world is dying all around us.
The greatest help that can be given our people is to teach them to work for God, and to depend on Him, not on the ministers.—Testimonies, vol. 7, p 19.
Many of our people have come from churches where the ministers become intermediaries between God and man. Our work is to point them to the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." The work of the human agent is to point sinners to the Saviour.
God has not given His ministers the work of setting the churches right. No sooner is this work done, apparently, than it has to be done over again. Church members that are thus looked after and labored for become religious weaklings. If nine tenths of the effort that has been put forth for those who know the truth had been put forth for those who have never heard the truth, how much greater would have been the advancement made! God has withheld His blessings because His people have not worked in harmony with His directions. —Ibid., p. 18. (Italics supplied.)
Our ministers, while having general supervision of the churches, should so arrange the work that the laymen largely carry the burden of the churches, leaving the ministers free to enter new territory with the message. Where we have well-established churches the minister should lay upon the members the burden of laboring for the lost. His time should not be largely spent in church administration but in evangelism from house to house. This will inspire the members to do likewise.
In the Inter-American Division, especially in the English-speaking fields, our laymen carry heavy responsibilities in the local field. An elder is really an elder in the broadest sense of the word.
The day this denomination ceases to use its laymen in an aggressive way the denomination will petrify and become just another segment of a world church.
The times demand a change in our outlook or the Lord may have to find others to finish His work. "Where there is no vision the people perish." VVhen ministers organize a program of evangelism as did the apostles, and refuse to serve tables, the work of God will be finished.