THE work of God is retarded by criminal unbelief in His power to use the common people to carry forward His work successfully." --Review and Herald, July 16, 1895.
These words, penned in 1895, are found in a two-part Review and Herald article written by Ellen White titled "The Great Need of the Holy Spirit." Among other things she emphasized the point that God will use those laymen who submit to an infilling of the Holy Spirit. To hold them back for fear that they may not be able to work within the framework that we have built is an insult to God.
She appealed to men to trust in God, not in one another. This kind of trust in God will cause people to go forward in spite of apparent obstacles. The fact that men cannot see every step distinctly and clearly marked out is no excuse for non-advancement of the work. Limitless are the opportunities for those, possessed and guided by the Spirit of God, who will go forth in faith to witness for Christ.
In these same articles she went so far as to say that if we did not submit to the influence of the Holy Spirit and avoid falling into a cold spiritless formality, then God "will take his Holy Spirit from the church, and give it to others who will appreciate it."
Laymen or Lame-men?
We as ministers are partially responsible for the condition that exists in many of our churches today. Numerous times I have read the following statement:
If men in humble life were encouraged to do all the good they could do, if restraining hands were not laid upon them to repress their zeal, there would be a hundred workers for Christ where now there is one. --The Desire of Ages, p. 251.
Let us ask ourselves, what have we done in word or action to repress their zeal? Could it be that we have made witnessing such a sophisticated art that few dare to try it? Or have we been such perfectionists that we cannot delegate any responsibility, witnessing or otherwise, to our members? Our laymen have been made "lame-men" by the ministers attempting to carry the load entirely. This was evidently true in Ellen White's day for she said:
Our people have had great light, and yet much of our ministerial force is exhausted on the churches, in teaching those who should be teachers; enlightening those who should be "the tight of the world"; watering those from whom should flow springs of living water; enriching those who might be veritable mines of precious truth; repeating the gospel invitation to such as should be scattered to the uttermost parts of the earth communicating the message of Heaven to many who have not had the privileges which they have enjoyed; feeding those who should be in the byways and highways heralding the invitation, "Come; for all things are now ready." Come to the gospel feast; come to the supper of the Lamb; "for all things are now ready." --Review and Herald, July 23,1895.
No Fixed Rules
These words are so applicable for 1973. The main thrust of MISSION '73 is to involve our laymen in witnessing activities. Our work as ministers is to train, organize, and guide the magnificent army of dedicated believers into a witnessing program. None are too humble, too uneducated, or too weak to be assigned a position of witnessing responsibility. Furthermore, we cannot outline in detail just how a person will witness:
The scheme of salvation is not to be worked out under the laws and rules specified by men. There must be no fixed rules; our work is a progressive work, and there must be room left for methods to be improved upon. But under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, unity must and will be preserved. --Ibid.
Ask yourself, fellow minister, What am I doing to organize and train the church that has been placed under my responsibility? What concrete plans do I have for carrying the Advent message to the territory under my direction? How many of my laymen have I involved in a witnessing program? Is my concern during MISSION '73 just for preaching powerful evangelistic sermons, or am I concerned also with laying definite plans that will involve the total membership in some form of witnessing activity?