The Imperative of Change

THE WORDS of the wise man Solomon, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29:18, K.J.V.), and the prediction of the prophet Joel, "Your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28, K.J.V.), suggest that God's plan for the progress of His work includes an ever-changing flow of ideas and challenges. . .

-secretary of the North Pacific Union Conference at the time this article was written

THE WORDS of the wise man Solomon, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29:18, K.J.V.), and the prediction of the prophet Joel, "Your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28, K.J.V.), suggest that God's plan for the progress of His work includes an ever-changing flow of ideas and challenges. How can we defend clinging to the status quo or monotonous cyclic repetition of effort as we ponder the implications of these inspired words? It is profitable and somewhat satisfying to review and report on where we have been, particularly if growth and progress is evident, but for a truly exhilarating experience one must attempt to chart the unknown, to blaze new trails and explore virgin territory.

The complexity of the numerous problems facing Cod's church today calls for real courage, a willingness to try, and an increase in the exercise of faith. Aren't problems and trials often Cod's methods of communicating to His people that change is in order? "A life of monotony is not the most conducive to spiritual growth. Some can reach the high est standard of spirituality only through a change in the regular order of things. When in His providence Cod sees that changes are essential for the success of the character-building, He disturbs the smooth current of the life."1

Whether the last sentence of this statement is applied to a single individual or a group of individuals, the message comes through clearly. God sometimes allows currency devaluations, tragedies, and other disturbing occurrences to jar us into altered courses of action and an evaluation of practice.

This is not to suggest that premature decisions or rash judgments are in order; rather it indicates that a studied and determined effort should be made that includes earnest searching of God's counsel and a sincere request for the Holy Spirit's direction. When this has been done, deliberate actions should be decided upon and implemented. "Because men cannot see every step forward distinctly marked out before them, they question, doubt, and hesitate, under the plea of caution. They will not walk by faith, but move by sight alone. O that frail man would realize that it is the General of the armies of heaven that is leading and directing the movements of His allies on earth. Christ Him self is the renewing power, working in and through every soldier by the agency of the Holy Spirit." 2

Our world is in a continual whirl of change. Toffler refers to it as a "firestorm of change." This creates new situations, challenges, and demands. Many of these changes are, of course, acceptable and we really would not wish to reverse the clock of time. Few of us would choose to re-enter the era of the horse-drawn carriage, the hand-rubbed washboard, and the old sod house. In reality we welcome change in most avenues of our daily lives. Major Alexander P. De Seversky once put it this way, "We welcome change as a friend; try to visualize new possibilities and the blessings it is bound to bring you. Let it excite you, arouse your curiosity, and transfuse you with its own vitality and you'll never grow old, even if you live to be a hundred." 3

Is Change Welcome in the Church?

But what about the church? Is change welcomed here, as it is in the personal life? Are we willing to make proper shifts with changing times? Can we accept the advantages offered by modern technology and advanced management techniques? How tragic it would have been if our beloved H. M. S. Richards, Sr., had not had the courage to follow his vision of a worldwide radio program. Even though the birth pains of that chicken-coop beginning must have been severe, who can measure the blessings that have resulted?

Leighton Ford says, "We need a holy discontent with the status quo. The Gospel calls for constant change. Conversion is a change of direction. Repentance is a change of mind. The Christian life is a continual change from glory to glory. Cod is not tied to seventeenth-century English, eighteenth-century hymns, ninteenth-century architecture, and twentieth-century cliches. Cod is constantly prodding us as He did the people of Israel and saying, 'Strike your tents and move on.' " 4

If the church is to adequately cope with the rapidly changing times and fulfill the God-given commission of carrying the story of Jesus as Saviour and coming King to all the world, certain change seems mandatory. Additional changes are unavoidable if the organization is to keep pace with the world situation.

In order to provoke thought and perhaps even stimulate some action, a few suggestions are out lined below. This list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it intended to be inferred that the items listed can be instantaneously implemented. Some experimentation with certain segments of these suggestions is, of course, already taking place. The results will be interesting to study and share.

1. Administration must continually engage in a process of review and redefinition of departmental assignments to avoid rigid categorization of activity.

a. Emphasis might well shift to one of cooperative sharing of ideas to avoid duplication of materials and effort.

b. A particular department should complement and assist in building other departments while concentrating on its own areas of specialization.

2. Much study and effort should be given to answering questions people really are asking.

a. Domestic problems (marriage, children, family) are now of great concern.

b. Health and kindred subjects are popular.

c. Our evangelistic approach might well capitalize on these current public interests.

3. More hands, feet, and voices must be enlisted in service.

a. Efforts to strengthen lay evangelism are most encouraging.

b. The student missionary program might be multiplied a hundredfold.

c. The Adventist Volunteer Service Corps must be encouraged and expanded.

d. Retired employee assignment offers great possibilities.

e. Secular employment over seas by scores of stable SDA's should be encouraged. "The greatest opportunities for mission work in the seventies will include Adventist engineers working for the Arabian Oil Company, Adventist secretaries going overseas for companies in areas where the church is weak, and Adventist teachers, doctors, and technicians applying for jobs with governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In 1970 alone, some 26,000 job openings were listed in these areas." 5

4. More efficient record keeping and accounting procedures are long overdue in many conferences and institutions.

a. Data processing is here to stay and should be used.

b. Duplication of reports and bulletins should cease.

5. Typical Adventist psychology needs re-examination.

a. A program of education is needed to help reduce the all-too-common feeling that young people choosing secular employment are not quite as spiritual as those serving the denomination. Consecrated laymen are needed who will be "in the world" but not "of the world."

b. Our youth must be challenged to witness wherever and whenever opportunity presents itself. Donating a year or two of their lives to voluntary service at the immediate family's expense would bring multiple benefits.

6. We need to develop willingness to deal realistically with non-productive employees. An instrument for self-evaluation might be a beginning point. This would not only allow a person to check him self against a standard but it would tend to define one's assignment.

7. We cannot overemphasize personal dedication and commitment. "There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart and lives a life wholly consecrated to God. All who consecrate body, soul, and spirit to His service will be constantly receiving a new endowment of physical, mental, and spiritual power. The in exhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the breath of His own Spirit, the life of His own life. The Holy Spirit puts forth its highest energies to work in mind and heart. Through the grace given us we may achieve victories that because of our erroneous and preconceived opinions, our defects of character, our smallness of faith, have seemed impossible." 6


FOOTNOTES

1. The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on )er. 48:10-12, p. 1160.

2. Ellen G. White, "The Great Need of the Holy Spirit," Review and Herald, July 16, 1895.

3. This Week Magazine, Aug. 4,1963,

4. Leighton Ford, "Evangelism in a Day of Revolution," Christianity Today, Oct. 24, 1969.

5. Gottfried Oosterwal, Mission Possible, p. 65.

6. The Ministry of Healing, p. 159.

Advertisement - RevivalandReformation 300x250

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus
-secretary of the North Pacific Union Conference at the time this article was written

October 1974

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

A Virtually Untapped Resource

THIS church has not yet taken full advantage of one of its great est resources. We have not learned to use effectively the growing number of retired ministers that live among us. These men have served well and long and desire to be relieved of the heavier burdens that they have formerly carried. It is right that they should do this, but many of them still would enjoy serving the church in a helpful and constructive way as their time and strength permit. . .

Bible Conferences

THIS editorial is being written as the last of the three Bible conferences is drawing to a close. Sitting here in the large church auditorium at Pacific Union College, I am led to reflect on what these Bible conferences have accomplished and the possible impact they might well have on the work of the church. . .

Are Adventist Evangelists Speaking in "Unknown Tongues"?

THE GOSPEL commission found in Matthew 28 has always been taken seriously by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Its efforts to evangelize the world, and in particular to make the world aware of the coming of Jesus, as taught in the three angels' messages of Revelation, have been met with increasing success in many quarters of the earth. In 1973 for the first time, more than 200,000 people were brought into the church. . .

How "Secular" Should Adventist Theology Be?

SECULARISM comes in two varieties. The first kind is the more sophisticated, and we may call it intentional secularism. This is a deliberate, well-thought-out view of things that often takes the form of naturalistic humanism. In response to the question of the reality of God, it answers either "No" (atheism) or "You really can't tell for sure" (agnosticism). But this thoroughgoing, intentional secularism does not necessarily imply an obsessive pursuit of pleasure (hedonism) or possessions (materialism). . .

A Strategy for Reaching Secular Man

EVERY so often I arm myself with the strong sword of the promises Cod gives, a fat billfold, and a secret pocket to keep all that cash safe, and infiltrate the citadel of the enemy they call New York. Fabulous, heartless city, capital of a secular, spiritually apathetic, materialistic culture. There Christianity orbits as distantly as in the scrabbling hovels of pagan lands. . .

Building a Biblical Cosmology

COSMOLOGY is the study of the structure of the universe. Particularly it is an attempt to understand how this structure is related to the past history of the universe and possibly to its future. Originally a branch of philosophy, cosmology has during the past century become a vigorous science in the Western world. . .

Arithmetic Proves Christianity True

Editor's Note: The fact that Dr. Ford is emphasizing a new application of verses 24-27 does not mean that he does not support the literal and chronological application of these verses to the events associated with the first coming of Christ. In response to a query from the editors on this point, he makes it very plain that he has no intention of teaching "dispensationalist futurism" and that the last-day application he makes of portions of these verses does not include the "chronology involved in the primary fulfillment of the prophecy."

Revelation and Interpretation in Daniel

THE BOOK of Daniel contains aspects of God's revelation that in several ways are unique. Nowhere else among the prophetic words of Scripture do we find such a care fully laid out overview of history beginning with the time of the author and closing with the time of the end . . .

Americans: Foods and Foibles

WHEN YOU look at an American under 25 years of age you see an individual almost unique in the history of mankind. He has spent his entire life in a society that has had a great excess of food. Few generations on earth have ever been in a similar situation, and it is interesting to view the ways in which this is influencing our nutritional health, our attitudes, and our behavior. . .

Treating Teeth With Tenderness

A STRIKING statement made by a well-known, qualified man in the area of medical education brings to focus the importance of maintaining the health and integrity of the teeth, gums, and adjacent tissue. Charles Mayo, one of the founders of the medical center bearing his name, is quoted as saying, "Preventive dentistry can extend human life ten years."

God Does Not Play Word Games

God does not play word games when He goes about saving men. The issue has always been faith that attitude on man's part that trusts God and acts accordingly. The opposite of faith is rebellion. The rebel does not trust God; consequently, he does not obey Him at least willingly and is forever looking for ways to justify himself when he chooses not to obey Him. . .

Protein--That Vital Ingredient (Part 2)

SINCE MANY Americans equate the word protein with meat and in its absence or insufficiency they feel health and vigor cannot be maintained, Seventh-day Adventist homemakers can share with their neighbors the advantages of a meatless diet. They can assure them of the complete adequacy of such a diet. After all, Seventh-day Adventists have had more than a hundred years of experience with the meatless diet!

Sabbath School Busing Ministry

SABBATH SCHOOL busing ministry, I believe, is one effective way to put the "go" in the great commission Jesus gave, "Co . . . into all the world." Busing ministry is not simply a convenience to bring our own member ship to church, but an evangelistic outreach in the hand of Cod to harvest entire neighborhoods for Jesus Christ. . .

Target 80--The Bold Adventure (Part 2)

AT THE annual Far Eastern Division council in Singapore in November, 1972, the following action was voted, which brought into being the eight-year strategy that has since been named Target 80. . .

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated

Trending

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Healthy and Happy Family - Skyscraper 160x600