The fourth business session of the now historic annual council of 1973 was called to order at 9:30 on the morning of October 9 by Neal C. Wilson, vice-president of the General Conference for the North American Division. But before plunging into the heavy agenda, crowded with numerous items, the chairman expressed appreciation for the morning devotional message, "The Cross in Revival and Reformation," delivered by C. D. Brooks, and then voiced his personal concern over the apparent delay in meeting God's plan for the speedy finishing of the work. He suggested that the delegates put aside the agenda for a time and give serious attention to spiritual matters. He wondered aloud what an agenda would look like if it really placed priority on the items of deep spiritual necessity.
In response to his call suggestions were offered as topics focusing on the real needs of leaders and of the church as a whole. These included the following:
2. Bible study.
4. How does an administrator take time to be holy?
5. Study the devotional life of Jesus.
6. A growing love for Jesus Christ.
7. A regular personal prayer life.
8. Reprove the church of sin.
9. Teach the people "how" as well as "what" to do.
10. Love Christ because you know by faith He has for given you.
11. Be what you want the people to be.
12. Love the church; don't attack it.
13. Spiritual image and influence of an administrator.
14. Be worthy of whatever you are called to do in Christ's name.
15. Use as a guide the document "Revival and Reformation" and Index of Ellen G. White books on this subject.
16. Return to primitive godliness.
17. Personal revival is always followed by collective redemptive action.
18. Appreciate and follow instruction of Spirit of Prophecy.
19. Look to Jesus not man.
20. Love others.
21. Faithful study of the Spirit of Prophecy for guidance.
22. Remember, "As we do God's work in His way, He makes Himself responsible for the success."
23. Four "T"s of ministry:
Would it not be well for each pastor, administrator, or church leader responsible for committees to examine each agenda in the light of these suggestions? Let's be honest what matters really do take precedence? Do we really have first things first?
The urgency of this matter would make it most appropriate for pastors to call a special meeting of the board of elders, or the church board, to give prayerful attention to the earnest appeal that emanated from the annual council. (See Review and Herald, Dec. 6, 1973. The appeal is also read by Clyde O. Franz, secretary of the General Conference, on the November, 1973, Tape of the Month. You may wish to listen to it together, or play it to the en tire congregation on a Sabbath morning during the worship hour.) Discuss together how the church can best respond to the appeal, what rearrangement of priorities might be in order, what can be done personally and in the local church to bring about genuine revival and reformation. Many have already done this. Others will want to follow their example.
This appeal to make first things first must be taken seriously. If we fail to heed the call at this time, who knows what further years of delay might intervene before the coming of the Lord. On the other hand, if it is taken to heart by every minister, every local elder, every church officer, every committee, then surely it in turn will be taken seriously by the church.
If the shepherds fail the flock at this crucial hour, what a tremendous opportunity for spiritual renewal will have been squandered, and what tragic results may follow in the further deadening of our spiritual life. This we cannot permit to happen. Through the power and grace of Christ this will be for our church "its greatest hour."