Some months ago, North American Division President Neal C. Wilson, burdened with a sense of urgency for finishing the work, called together a study group for counsel on implementing this vital thrust. Multiplied hours and days of work ensued, involving earnest and frank discussion on the issues and crises facing the church today. A preliminary document was prepared for wider study. As it has come through the various organizational channels it has been refined, and in some instances strong wording and recommendations were replaced by milder, more acceptable ones. However, the basic thrust and intent of the recommendation is still intact. R. H. Pierson, General Conference president, believing that the principles outlined in this document were valid for other divisions, urged its adoption on a worldwide basis.
The MINISTRY editors consider the Annual Council action reprinted on the following pages the most important resolution voted at a church council in the past several decades. Because of this, we urge every worker to read carefully and meditate on the concepts presented. These recommendations, if carried out, could change the thrust and direction of the church. As it is heeded and implemented, this document will revolutionize the plans of some, change the direction of many, and touch the lives of all.
Annual Council Action on Evangelism and Finishing God's Work
A review of our history, our theology, and God's providential leadership can only deepen our conviction that the singular objective of this global organization, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, is to pro claim to the whole world the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ in the context of the three angels' mes sages of Revelation 14, which, in addition to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian church, embody the distinctive truths of the sanctuary and righteousness by faith. The church exists for the purpose of touching lives with redemptive action, teaching young and old how to live in today's complex world as Jesus Christ lived nineteen centuries ago, and then developing this saving relationship by growing in grace and by witnessing to others and sharing the everlasting gospel with them.
As the final segment of our Lord's true sevenfold church that spans the centuries, we believe that our mission and message are to be the decisive factors in God's eternal judgment of earth's millions before the final disposal of Satan and sin. We also believe that God will yet use us to reach parliaments, palaces, legislatures, and the world's population with His last message and so shake the sinful order of the earth that individuals will either unite with God's loyal remnant and receive His seal or turn against them and receive the mark of the beast. We believe that we are the one remaining challenge to antichrist, and that in earth's last generation this church will be forced to stand against hell's legions, yet, in spite of all opposition, come through victoriously. When Jesus declared that "all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth," He meant that no enemy could possibly stand in the way of God's conquering church. "Enfeebled and defective as it may be, [the church] is the only object on earth on which He bestows His supreme regard. . . . He commissions His angels to render divine help to every soul that cometh to Him in repentance and contrition." —Testimonies to Min isters, p. 15.
While recognizing the ultimate victory of God's church, we firmly believe that preliminary victories must and can be ours now, if we fully obey the revealed will of God. Could it be that just as Israel of old needlessly expended precious time and energy in the wilderness when they could have enjoyed the blessings of Canaan-land we today are following a course which is delaying our entrance into the promised heaven-land? Perhaps the greatest of enemies of the church are the apathy and rebellion found within its walls. Once we recognize that no enemy can stand before the church of Christ (presupposing its purity and integrity) we must also recognize that Satan's attack within is a factor that the church has always had to deal with. The great reform churches are crumbling, not because of outside opposition, but from within. There has been a tragic loss of their reasons for existence and the will to pursue their original objectives.
Seventh-day Adventists still contend that their vision is unblurred and undimmed. We would, however, be less than honest with ourselves if we failed to acknowledge that the Adventist Church today is in a struggle not unlike the struggles of other great movements throughout history. It is incumbent upon us as leaders to examine carefully the central objective of this church, the progress we are making in finishing God's work, and the degree to which we are keeping the church on course.
Satan could easily triumph over this church if he either blurred this objective or caused a sleeping church to believe that she was reaching this objective while doing many lesser things of a laudable nature that fall short of this goal. Our danger could well be that of proliferating secondary activities. Yet, in spite of our human failure, let us encourage one another with the fact that we are in partnership with God.
Decisive, Unparalleled Action Needed Now
Most members and ministers recognize that we are weakened by a Laodicean condition in the church. Recently one of our leaders addressed fifty ministers and in the course of his talk asked for response. His first question was "How many of you believe that the church in North America is finishing God's work on earth so that in a given length of time, whatever that time be, the work of God will actually be finished?" This created an uneasy atmosphere, but not a single hand was raised. He then asked the question "How many of you believe that the church is in a 'holding pattern' and is definitely not gaining on the actual finishing of God's work in North America?" Just about every hand was raised.
This presents problems of many dimensions, a few of which are listed below:
1. Meeting highest pastoral objectives.— As illustrated above, a significant number of our ministers are frustrated because they are not meeting their highest objectives. The things they believe about the finishing of God's work do not seem to materialize as a result of their ministry. Administration in the Adventist Church must study this problem with all diligence and find out how to "free" the pastoral evangelistic worker in such a way as to let him feel the glory and the joy of meeting the prime objectives of the church. To focus our attention on this emphasis and to seek by the grace of God to implement His counsel is the purpose of this document.
2. Fully implementing God's plan.—Ellen White states that the Spirit of God, which lightens the whole earth with His glory, will never come while the largest portion of the church is not laboring together with God. We recognize that in the membership of our churches there is a vast potential that has not yet been fully realized. It should be our studied effort to involve all in harmony with God's plan.
3. Concern for souls.—The lack of concern over lost souls throughout our churches is a cause of great concern to all. The winning of souls by our members appears to some to be so awesome and difficult that it requires professional training. Pastoral sermons on evangelism have had a measure of success, but we long for a far greater response from our people. The term evangelism has come to have shades of meaning that are not scriptural, and therefore clear statements must be made to restore it to its scriptural definition.
4. Proper balance between field and office person nel.—While recognizing the fact that we must choose administrative and departmental leaders from among our strongest workers, we must admit that in doing this we may weaken instead of strengthen that area of work where soul winning mostly occurs. The church must diligently and faithfully seek to restore the basic evangelistic work force. In the process it must also seek to make all Adventist workers in all categories evangelistic and to lead the members of our churches to join in setting new priorities, norms, and objectives for accomplishing our task of a finished work.
5. Standards and family worship and personal Bible study.—The church has reason to be concerned about the slippage in standards of recreation, dress, and morality among us. Surveys conducted at selected academies, colleges, churches, and camp meetings would indicate that in North America, at least, there is a great need for special emphasis and continual endeavor to foster personal Bible study and family worship in our Adventist homes. We believe neglect in these areas has contributed to an inevitable decline in the spiritual strength of the church. Even more basic is the lack of evangelistic purpose and objectivity that has removed to a large degree the impetus for deep spirituality among us. In a tragic sense we are following the fearful trend of the early church in which, after the apostolic leaders were laid to rest, Christianity accommodated to paganism and little by little adopted it.
It is our conviction that if a sense of mission and commitment to evangelizing the world in an unprecedented manner is brought before the church through bold leadership we will witness a true revival and reformation.
After the restoration of the demoniacs, Christ commanded them to go and tell the story of their salvation to others. The comment of Ellen. White on this experience is most significant. "It is in working to spread the good news of salvation that we are brought near to the Saviour." —The Desire of Ages, p. 340. Pentecost dramatically teaches us this same basic truth. We believe that the latter rain will be poured out and the upper-room experience of the disciples will be repeated when the leadership and laity of our movement, as the disciples of old, pray "with intense earnestness for a fitness to meet men. . . . The disciples felt their spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the holy unction that was to fit them for the work of soul saving. They did not ask for a blessing for themselves merely. They were weighted with the burden of the salvation of souls." —The Acts of the Apostles, p. 37.
Surely, this sense of urgency and love for the souls of lost sinners must grip our hearts before we enjoy the mighty blessings of the latter rain. Furthermore, this concern for souls will give purpose to our study of the Word and to our personal and family devotions.
6. Why has our Lord's coming been delayed?— With deep heart-sorrow we acknowledge the delay of our Lord's return. Long ere this God's people should have been in the kingdom. Our insubordination, our spiritual apathy, our indifference to the urgency of soul winning in our personal lives as leaders and members, our failure to make first things first, delay our Lord's return. Today's Adventist generation can with God's blessing be the generation that will arise and finish God's work and put an end to the tragedy of our Lord's delay.
The Real Issue
The real issue before the leadership of God's church is whether or not we are serious enough to take decisive action now to overcome the church's inertia and thus arise with holy courage and faith to finish God's work in all the world. At stake is the mission of the church and whether or not the powerful calls given by our General Conference president for revival and reformation, in which we have all shared, will be realized in a context of the greatest redemptive thrust in our history!
Administrative action is urgently needed to help reclaim this glorious Christ-centered purpose. The essence of righteousness, demonstrated by a faith that works, is evangelism, revival, and salvation. This work is to penetrate all the ranks of the church. We are, in these last days, called upon to do the kind of work upon which God can signally pour out His full blessing. It is time for the showers of the latter rain and the finishing of the work. We, as leaders, have permitted the pressures of our church and the influence of people and programs to distract us from our central work. It could well be that we are standing under a certain indictment of Heaven for not courageously and faithfully pursuing the finishing of God's work through direct evangelism, and that because of a "business as usual" attitude the calls for revival have not been followed with desired results as God has promised.
"All that the apostles did, every church member today is to do. And we are to work with as much more fervor, to be accompanied by the Holy Spirit in as much greater measure, as the increase of wickedness demands a more decided call to repentance. . . .
"At this time, when the end of all things is at hand, should not the zeal of the church exceed even that of the early church? . . . Should not the power of God be even more mightily revealed today than in the time of the apostles?" —Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 33.
"If human agencies would but cooperate with divine agencies, many, many souls would be won to the truth. But the Lord's professing people have been sleeping over their allotted work."—Ibid., vol. 9, p. 46.
Plan of Action
We have only words of appreciation for the leaders who have preceded us and who valiantly, under God's guidance, laid the foundations upon which we now seek to build. Ellen White expressed it beautifully when she wrote, "Having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what God has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us." Testimonies to Ministers, p. 31.
It is for us now to determine the steps to take in order to give absolute priority to evangelism at all levels and on all fronts. To do this, we must let go certain areas of emphasis that now consume our time and attention and break loose for God in dynamic evangelism. To continue in the status quo will only find us becoming more and more the victims of the church's miscellany, reacting instead of acting. As one writer expressed it, "We are so busy doing the urgent that we have no time to do the important."
A diligent effort has been initiated to focus and coordinate the soul-winning talents and energies of the entire church. This conditioning progress brought us closer to our goal of "every-member involvement." Our Annual Councils, through repeated discussions, appeals, studies, and prayer sessions, have directed our minds toward an all-out revival, reformation, and evangelistic thrust. During this time we have witnessed a greater advance in evangelism than ever before. We acknowledge, however, that God calls for a finished work. Therefore, with our potential of human and financial resources and under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit, and because of the promises of our Lord, we are determined that the gospel will be carried to everyone everywhere.
The task of moving the world church in the direction of placing unquestioned priority on evangelism, with attendant revival and reformation, is an awe some one and is fraught with difficulties. Leadership has either gotten us where we are or remained neutral when wrong trends took over. Hence, decisive administrative conviction and action are essential now in programming the priorities necessary for finishing God's work.
What do we mean by the term "finishing the work"? IT MEANS BOTH AN INWARD AND OUTWARD WORK—A PEOPLE SAVED BY GRACE, WORKING TO SAVE OTHERS. IT IS THE REACHING OF EVERY PERSON ON EARTH WITH THE CLAIMS AND PROMISES OF GOD'S MESSAGE OF LOVE AND SALVATION, SO THAT THIS GENERATION MAY HAVE OPPORTUNITY TO BE RESTORED IN HIS IMAGE, NOW AND FOREVER. THUS, THE "FINISHING OF THE WORK" MEANS ONE THING: COMMUNICATING GOD'S MESSAGE THROUGH THE POWER AND MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO ALL OF EARTH'S POPULATION SO THAT GOD CAN PROCLAIM HIS WORK FINISHED. WHEN THIS HAPPENS, JESUS WILL COME. "AND THIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM SHALL BE PREACHED IN ALL THE WORLD FOR A WITNESS UNTO ALL NATIONS; AND THEN SHALL THE END COME" (Matt. 24:14).
In the light of the foregoing, we accept the following plan of action:
1. That every effort be made to bring about a clear, unequivocal, churchwide understanding of the cru cial nature and primacy of evangelism. All evangelism centers in Jesus Christ, who was and is the original evangelist. To be evangelistic, then, is to be like Christ, and the result of evangelism is Christlikeness. The essence of redemptive concern was originally in the heart of God and Christ, and in the eternity of the past the plan of redemption was compacted between these Evangelists. The life of God's dear Son was given that mankind might be redeemed.
Perhaps one of the errors many Christians make is to believe that evangelism is optional, that it is one of many equal functions of the church of Jesus Christ. This is a fatal deception. The life-blood of the church is evangelism; without it the church cannot exist. The church was organized in order to evangelize, and its singular mission is to "carry the gospel to the world" (Acts of the Apostles, p. 9). The church that misuses, wrongly defines, buries, or strangulates the vast and wonderful force called evangelism puts the knife to its own jugular vein, for it fails in the only object of its existence. If we can permit the concept of the primacy and centrality of evangelism to penetrate every action made by the church, we will always keep priorities where God wants them to be. Any activity within the church that threatens or replaces evangelism is surely a tool of Satan and is illegitimate. The church's health and well-being are synchronous with that of its evangelistic fervor and success.
"Evangelistic work, opening the Scriptures to others, warning men and women of what is corning upon the world, is to occupy more and still more of the time of God's servants. . . . The Lord designs that the presentation of this message shall be the highest, greatest work carried on in the world at this time." —Evangelism, pp. 17, 18.
"Our greatest burden should be, not the raising of money, but the salvation of souls." —Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 85.
The primacy of evangelism makes it imperative to define it clearly and to keep this definition continually before the entire church body.
EVANGELISM IS THE COMMUNICATING OF THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST IN THE SETTING OF THE THREE ANGELS' MESSAGES IN SUCH A WAY AS TO MAKE POSSIBLE A RESPONSE IN THE HEARTS OF THE HEARERS TO ACCEPT GOD'S PROVISION OF SALVATION FROM SIN AND HIS PROVISION FOR VICTORY OVER SIN.
There are many excellent programs and projects that are most advantageous to use in the pre-evangelistic context, such as those concerned with diet, smoking, welfare, and other social benefits. But, worthy as they may be, if they do not lead to the new-birth experience in Christ and acceptance of the doctrinal tenets of God's remnant church, they consume the time, attention, and money of the church and its working force without achieving God's ultimate objective of saving a person for eternity. This salvation includes a much-needed emphasis on better living, which encompasses the restoration of the whole man.
"The principles of health reform are founded in the word of God. The gospel of health is to be firmly linked with the ministry of the word. It is the Lord's design that the restoring influence of health reform shall be a part of the last great effort to proclaim the gospel message." —Medical Ministry, p. 259. Emphasis supplied.
"The union of Christlike work for the body and Christlike -work for the soul is the true interpretation of the gospel." —Evangelism, p. 514.
Therefore, through administrative action, it must be made clear by precept and example that programs of the church shall be given attention and funding only as they aid in accomplishing the church's basic mission. We must demonstrate our commitment to our evangelistic objective by giving it our highest priority in the use of our personal and corporate time, talent, and means.
"Now is the time for the last warning to be given. . . . Decided efforts should be made to bring the mes sage for this time prominently before the people. The third angel is to go forth with great power." —Testi monies, vol. 6, p. 16.
2. That the role of the pastor be clarified. Ellen White made a significant comment on the episode in Christ's ministry when a certain man appealed to the Saviour to correct an injustice relative to his parents' inheritance.
"The Saviour's mission on earth was fast drawing to a close. Only a few months remained for Him to complete what He came to do in establishing the kingdom of His grace. Yet human greed would have turned Him from His work to take up the dispute over a piece of land. But Jesus was not to be diverted from His mission. His answer was: 'Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?' Luke 12:14. Christ gave the man plainly to understand that this was not His work. He was striving to save souls. He was not to be turned aside from this to take up the duties of a civil magistrate. How often today labor is forced upon the church that should never be allowed to enter the work of the gospel ministry!"—Ibid., vol. 9, p. 217.
a. Church policy shall clearly state that the pastor-evangelist's first work and that for which he be held accountable is the giving of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the setting of the three angels' mes sages. This shall be done through Biblical preaching, teaching, and dynamic witness in personal and public evangelism, according to the gifts God has given.
"The minister who is a co-worker with Christ will have a deep sense of the sacredness of his work. . . . He has but one object in view—the saving of the lost." —Gospel Workers, p. 16.
"If our ministers realized how soon the inhabitants of the world are to be arraigned before the judgment-seat of God, they would work more earnestly to lead men and women to Christ." —Ibid., p. 34.
b. Pastors who lead churches shall accept the responsibility of training and organizing ALL lay persons in the church for involvement in effective pre-evangelistic and evangelistic action with conference assistance in harmony with the Spirit of Prophecy instruction.
"The church of Christ is organized for service. Its watchword is ministry. . . . Christian ministers, physicians, teachers, have a broader work than many have recognized. They are not only to minister to the people^ but to teach them to minister. . . . The monotony of our service for God needs to be broken up. Every church member should be engaged in some line of service for the Master. . . . Every church should be a training school for Christian workers." —The Ministry of Healing, pp. 148, 149.
"The work of God is retarded by the criminal unbelief in His power to use the common people to carry forward His work successfully." —Review and Herald, July 16, 1895.
c. Pastors, with the help of conference leader ship, shall select and train strong, capable laypersons to carry the various necessary "overhead" programs of the church, including financial, plant construction, maintenance, janitorial, and budgeting responsibilities, church school administration and planning, and certain departmental programs that the conference may promote. This shall be done in order that the pastor can be more free to do the spiritual work he is uniquely qualified to do—that of being soul-winning leader of the people and shepherd of the flock in personal and corporate redemptive witness and ministry.
"I have been instructed in regard to the importance of our ministers' keeping free from responsibilities that should be largely borne by businessmen. . . . Those who are employed to write and to speak the word should attend fewer committee meetings." —Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 246, 247.
d. The pastor's relationship to conference departments shall be such that he, as the leader of the church, can expect the active, practical support of the departmental leaders. Rather than submerge the shepherd of the flock in promotional material, the departmental leader will ever strive to make the pastor's work more productive by keeping such material to an effective minimum. He shall make his skills available to the soul-winning program of the church. While the pastor will lend his influence and encouragement to departmental programs, the departmental leader shall keep in mind that the soulwinning leader, with his church, and in the climate of complete evangelistic priority, must be allowed to make decisions as to which departmental materials and programs, aside from the conference-recommended projects, will enable him to have maximum success in his and the church's endeavors. All pro grams must serve the evangelistic enterprise of the local church.
This freedom of choice given to the pastor and his church is not intended to eliminate or weaken denomination-wide programs, such as Sabbath school, Ingathering, et cetera. However, the success and responsibility of the various programs, campaigns, and goals must be placed largely on lay leadership, rather than on the pastor. The resultant benefit of this plan should open up new challenges and dimensions of service for departmental leaders in equipping and training their lay counterparts in the local church.
Thus the departmental system of the church will serve as a "resource bank." This concept will allow the local church leadership to select and use pro grams and materials to supplement their evangelistic thrust. The role of the departmental leader shall be to prepare for field consumption the finest materials and the most efficient training programs, and to provide the best expertise and service to assist the pastor and laity in having success in the grand work of preparing earth's final harvest. As the primacy of evangelism and the defining of the role of the pastor are made prominent, we believe there will be an urgency and desire on the part of pastors to call upon departmental leadership for assistance in executing the pro grams selected for the attainment of the twin goals—the winning of souls and the upbuilding of the spiritual life of each member.
3. That the role of the ordained or licensed "nonpastoral" ministers be clarified.
a. The large body of ministers in the General Conference and its divisions, the union and local fields, the institutions and other types of work shall be expected to give priority of their time, talent, energy, and planning to evangelistic work, according to their gifts, in preaching, personal witness, and teaching. As a means of making this priority possible, more attention shall be given to the voices of lay experts in the organizational structure, so that those called and ordained to the ministry may devote themselves to the ministry.
"The state conferences must have men at their head who love and fear God—capable men, who will learn in the school of Christ to be laborers with Him, to wear His yoke and lift His burdens. They are to be partners with Christ in the sacred service of soulsaving." —Testimonies to Ministers, p. 320.
"When we follow plans of the Lord's devising, we are 'laborers together with God.' Whatever our position—whether presidents of conferences, ministers, teachers, students, or lay members—we are held ac countable by the Lord for making the most of our opportunities to enlighten those in need of present truth." —Counsels to Parents and Teachers, p. 530.
b. In the General Conference and its divisions, unions, local fields, and institutions, the spiritual leaders shall direct all other persons within their jurisdictions who earn their livelihood from the church into soul-winning labors, in fulfillment of the inspired counsel that ALL Christians be instrumental in winning souls to Christ and leading them to spiritual maturity. (When the family of full-time employees of the church engage in redemptive effort for the lost, then we can expect to succeed -with the remainder of the church.)
c. The conference president, prayerfully and earnestly, with the executive committee, the conference lay advisory council, through personal inter views with every worker, through -workers' meetings, and by using the local Church Evangelism councils, shall make certain that every action and plan of the conference is directed toward the primacy of evangelism and finishing the work. He is to set as the supreme goal of all phases of the work the reaching of every person in the conference territory with the message.
d. The conference administration shall lay the foundation and create the climate in all churches to assist the pastor in developing strong lay leadership to carry those church leadership functions that will serve to release the pastor from many miscellaneous duties, so that he can be the shepherd and soul-winning leader he is expected to be.
e. Conferences shall lay definite plans -with every church, company, Sabbath school, and institution to reach every home within its territory with the three angels' messages between now and the time of the 1980 General Conference session in Dallas.
f. Conferences shall make specific plans for the follow-up of names of all persons who have been contacted through the various departmental activities of the church. One of the weakest links in our evangelistic chain is the follow-up of the multiplied thousands, if not millions, of names that have been gathered in during the past years. Immediate action must be taken to remedy this situation.
4. That the funding of evangelistic outreach be provided for.
a. In view of the primacy of evangelism, the local conference shall take from its share of retained tithe income at least 10 per cent annually and set it up for evangelistic funding. Unions shall set up at least 10 per cent of their share of retained tithe income to be added to evangelism funds received from the General Conference and shared with the conferences to be used for evangelism as the Union Committee may direct. The General Conference shall provide at least 10 per cent of tithe received from North America as an Evangelism Fund for North America, this percentage to include such funds as Tithe Reversion for Evangelism, Large City Evangelism, and operating appropriations to the Radio, TV, and Film Center. (Overseas divisions shall designate for evangelism an amount equal to 5 per cent of each Division Base Appropriation for Evangelism.)
In applying the above plan, retained tithe is defined as the balance of tithe available to the field after deducting any percentages passed on to higher organizations by policy such as tithe of tithe, percentage to General Conference, sustentation percentage, and small-conference percentage, but not including tithe exchanged.
The above amounts are to be considered the minimum amount of tithe funds that each organization shall designate for evangelism. If it is able to make financial provision beyond this, it should be done. In addition to funding direct evangelism, these funds could:
1) Make it possible for young ministerial graduates not currently employed to be used in direct evangelism in unworked areas.
"The opening of new fields requires more ministerial efficiency than we now have, and there must be means in the treasury."—Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 250. "There should today be in the field one hundred well qualified laborers where now there is but one." —Manuscript 82, 1904.
2) Assist in expanding our radio and television outreach (including cable stations, local broad casting, and adequate advertising) so as to get the three angels' messages prominently before the peoples of the world.
3) Assist churches with the purchase and distribution of a full-message, inexpensive magazine that could be distributed by the millions. If we are serious about giving the three angels' messages to every person by the end of this quinquennium, we can do no less than this.
b. In North America, all divisionwide projects shall be funded by the General Conference and by such amounts as may be contributed by each union. Distribution of these funds shall be approved by Annual Council action. It is understood that funds received from higher organizations shall not be considered a part of the minimum percentages required by this plan.
This new proposal is not intended to release for other purposes funds that would normally go for evangelism.
"Let the work no longer be hedged up because the tithe has been diverted into various channels other than the one to which the lord has said it should go. Provision is to be made for these other lines of work. They are to be sustained, but not from the tithe." —Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 250.
c. On the level of local and union conference organizations the percentage of funds designated for this purpose in 1977 shall be at least 4 per cent, with a plan to increase this by 2 per cent each year until the minimum goal of 10 per cent is attained. (Overseas divisions shall begin at 2 per cent for 1977, increasing by one per cent each year until the minimum of 5 per cent is reached.)
5. That limitations on building projects be estab lished. A serious attempt shall be made to be conservative in our building expansion so that only absolutely essential buildings are constructed. Buildings and furnishings should be attractive, functional, of sturdy quality, and economical. Let us demonstrate to our people and to the world that we do not believe in building extravagantly as though we intend to make this world our home. We must remember that the only things that will survive the destruction of the last days are the souls who are prepared for the coming of the Lord. We must also remember that our great institutions can be, and are now being, nationalized in many places of the world. The one purpose of this economy would be to release more funds for the church to use in giving the last warning message to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
"It is not a great number of institutions, large buildings, and outward display that God requires, but the harmonious action of a peculiar people, a people chosen by God and precious, united with one another, their life hid with Christ in God." —Ibid., vol. 8, p. 183.
"It is not large, expensive buildings; it is not rich furniture; it is not tables loaded with delicacies, that will give our work influence and success. It is the faith that works by love and purifies the soul; it is the atmosphere of grace that surrounds the believer, the Holy Spirit working upon mind and heart, that makes him a savor of life unto life, and enables God to bless his work." —Ibid., vol. 7, p. 93.
6. That the call to God's people be renewed.
a. An unprecedented call to universal action is to be heralded by our leadership, coupled with a new emphasis upon the previous calls to revival and reformation, with the urgent summons to arise and finish God's work NOW!
"Let the gospel message ring through our churches, summoning them to universal action. . . . Those who place themselves under God's control, to be led and guided by Him, will catch the steady tread of the events ordained by Him to take place. Inspired with the Spirit of Him who gave His life for the life of the world, they will no longer stand still in impotency, pointing to what they cannot do. Putting on the armor of Heaven, they will go forth to the warfare, willing to do and dare for God, knowing that His omnipotence will supply their need."—Ibid., p. 14.
b. Positive leadership through departmental expertise is to provide the necessary diversity of redemptive programs and materials that can be used to organize, inspire, train, equip, and lead our vast army of church members into programs that are pre-evangelistic, evangelistic, and post-evangelistic in nature, and which will definitely reach souls for Christ and truth.
c. The Church Evangelism Council in each church is to fulfill its potential as the "command center" to organize every member and the whole church for one-to-one witnessing and all-out evangelism.
d. Methods shall be developed for training lay persons of talent in order that they may lead the local church in areas such as those listed below, which will have the effect of freeing the pastor for his unique role:
1) Financial management
2) Church school management
3) General church administration
4) Certain departmental programs
7. That unworked areas and special groups be reached. Each local field shall give study to the advisability of setting up a commission composed of ministers and laymen with the urgent assignment to study the entering of dark areas (counties, cities, sections within cities) in each conference, reaching the wealthy and foreign-language groups. Literature evangelists, lay members, sustentees, retirees, and youth volunteers should be actively recruited to form teams to begin work in unentered areas. A call should be made to all ministerial sustentation workers to move into those areas where the church needs strengthening.
"Instead of keeping the ministers at work for the churches that already know the truth, let the members of the churches say to these laborers: 'Go work for souls that are perishing in darkness. We ourselves will carry forward the services of the church.' " —Ibid., vol. 6, p. 30.
"Brethren who wish to change their location, who have the glory of God in view, and feel that individual responsibility rests upon them to do others good, to benefit and save souls for whom Christ withheld not His precious life, should move into towns and villages where there is but little or no light and where they can be of real service and bless others with their labor and experience. Missionaries are wanted to go into towns and villages and raise the standard of truth, that God may have His witnesses scattered all over the land, that the light of truth may penetrate where it has not yet reached, and the standard of truth be raised where it is not yet known. The brethren should not flock together because it is more agreeable to them, but should seek to fulfill their high calling to do others good, to be instrumental in the salvation of at least one soul. But more may be saved than one." —Ibid., vol. 2, p. 115.
8. That ministers of other faiths be reached. It is time seriously to follow God's instruction that "teachers of the gospel whose minds have not been called to the special truths for this time . . . should be the first to hear the call."—Christ's Object Lessons, p. 230.
"Mistakes have been made in not seeking to reach ministers . . . with the truth. . . . There are honest ones everywhere for whom we should labor cautiously, wisely, and intelligently, full of love for their souls." —Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 580.
"We have a work to do for the ministers of other churches. God wants them to be saved. . . . We must labor for them earnestly that they may obtain [immortality]. God wants them to have a part in His special work for this time. He wants them to be among the number who are giving to His household meat in due season. Why should they not be engaged in this work?
"Our ministers should seek to come near to the ministers of other denominations. Pray for and with these men, for whom Christ is interceding. A solemn responsibility is theirs. As Christ's messengers we should manifest a deep, earnest interest in these shepherds of the flock." —Ibid., vol. 6, pp. 77, 78. "There are many ministers now preaching error, who will preach the truth for this time." —Evangel ism, p. 562.
9. That evangelistic radio-TV ministry be utilized. The North American Division leadership should make use of the existing Radio, Television and Film Center in Thousand Oaks, California, to produce radio-television and audio-visual evangelistic programs or "spots" that will most effectively and quickly warn the population of the world that Christ will soon return, and that will urge the necessity of final preparation. We should not rest until we find successful follow-up methods that involve the members of our local churches. TV specials should be designed and produced to take advantage of special occasions, such as the beginning of an evangelistic campaign or a national holiday.
10. That a section on witnessing be included in the chapter "Statement of Fundamental Beliefs" in the CHURCH MANUAL. Since witnessing is a doctrine of prime importance both for the personal spiritual growth of the witness and for the fulfilling of Christ's command to reach every person on a worldwide basis with the good news of salvation, a section dealing with this basic philosophy should be included and/or strengthened in our Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, Baptismal Instructions, and Baptismal Vows in the Church Manual. It was further
VOTED, To recommend that overseas divisions adopt the principles enunciated in the preceding document with the understanding that each division will prepare a similar document suitable to conditions in its field.