Wednesday, December 21, 2005

EGW: Recruiting and Training Volunteers

I'm currently reading through the recent Ellen G. White compilation Pastoral Ministry. It's a great little book I go to when I feel I need to be held accountable. Ya, I know; it's kind of wired. But every now and then I have to bring my ministry before an authoritative source and see where I'm falling short, otherwise I start to feel like I'm spinning my wheels. The section on "Recruiting and Training Volunteers" has some great quotes.
Look not to the ministers to do your work; sleep not as did the foolish virgins, who had no oil in their lamps. Have your lamps supplied with the oil of the grace of Christ. Should every one in the church let his light shine forth to others as God designs he should, what a work would be done. A living church will be a working church. Bring your powers to Jesus; put them into exercise. Think, meditate, watch, and pray. A close connection with Jesus will increase your power of accomplishing good, your intellect will be strengthened. (Review and Herald Sept. 22, 1896 emphasis supplied)
It is often the case that ministers are inclined to visit almost entirely among the churches, devoting their time and strength where their labor will do no good. Frequently the churches are in advance of the ministers who labor among them, and would be in a more prosperous condition if those ministers would keep out of their way and give them an opportunity to work. The effort of such ministers to build up the churches only tears them down. The theory of truth is presented over and over again, but it is not accompanied by the vitalizing power of God. They manifest a listless indifference; the spirit is contagious, and the churches lose their interest and burden for the salvation of others. Thus by their preaching and example the ministers lull the people into carnal security. If they would leave the churches, go out into new fields, and labor to raise up churches, they would understand their ability and what it costs to bring souls out to take their position upon the truth. And they would then realize how careful they should be that their example and influence might never discourage or weaken those who it had required so much hard, prayerful labor to convert to the truth. "Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another." (Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 2, 340 emphasis supplied)
Often congregations get the idea that they are there to support the pastor in his ministry, when it is the pastor who is there to support the congregation in its ministry. Natural Church Development calls this idea "empowering leadership", one of the eight quality characteristics of growing churches. The message I see in this for me is that my leadership is too long on theory and short on practice; I need to do more work with souls in order to teach my members how.

What do these testimonies say to you?

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