God’s Purpose in Church
Organization – for the
“The best help that ministers can give the members of our churches is not sermonizing but planning work for them. Give each one something to do for others.... If set to work, the despondent will soon forget their despondency; the weak will become strong; the ignorant, intelligent; and all will be prepared to present the truth as it is in Jesus.”—Testimonies for the Church 9:82.
Chapter 13—Organizing the Church for Welfare Ministry
God’s Purpose in Church Organization—The church of Christ on earth was organized for missionary purposes, and the Lord desires to see the entire church devising ways and means whereby high and low, rich and poor, may hear the message of truth.—Testimonies for the Church 6:29.
Note: Our schools were to be schools of the prophets like Elijah established for teaching the youth how to do missionary and witnessing work. End note.
To Unite in Exercises of Charity—Wherever the truth has been proclaimed and people have been awakened and converted, the believers are at once to unite in exercises of charity. Wherever Bible truth has been presented, a work of practical godliness is to be begun. Wherever a church is established, missionary work is to be done for the helpless and the suffering.—Testimonies for the Church 6:84, 85.
A Call for Men Who Can Lead—Unless there are those who will devise means of turning to account the time, strength, and brains of the church members, there will be a great work left undone that ought to be done. Haphazard work will not answer. We want men in the church who have ability to develop in the line of organizing and giving practical work to young men and women in the line of relieving the wants of humanity, and working for the salvation of the souls of men, women, youth, and children.—Letter 12, 1892.
Note by Ron: The church could have organized year-round greenhouses and farm gardens all over the world to help feed those in want and those who are starving and providing healthy organic produce for those able to buy. This would be very close to the work Adam and Eve were appointed to do. Self-supporting schools of the prophets could have been associated with such endeavours. All the millions the church has spent on lawsuits could have financed such projects. The youth could have worked part of the day in these gardens while some of them could distribute the food to the needy. Much of the world’s population goes to bed hungry. What a helpful blessing this could have been to the world. Jesus always first met the needs of those He taught the truth to. End note.
Like a Training School—Every church should be a training school for Christian workers. Its members should be taught how to give Bible readings, how to conduct and teach Sabbath school classes, how best to help the poor and to care for the sick, how to work for the unconverted. There should be schools of health, cooking schools, and classes in various lines of Christian help work. There should not only be teaching, but actual work under experienced instructors. Let the teachers lead the way in working among the people, and others, uniting with them, will learn from their example. One example is worth more than many precepts.—The Ministry of Healing, 149.
Preparing Our Youth for Practical Service—The Great Teacher cooperates with all the efforts made to relieve suffering humanity. Teach the students to make a practical application of the lessons they have received. As they witness human woe and the deep poverty of those they are trying to help, they will be stirred with compassion. Their hearts will be softened and subdued by the deep, holy principles revealed in the Word of God. The great Physician cooperates with every effort made in behalf of suffering humanity, to give health to the body and light and restoration to the soul.... We must now see what can be done to educate the students in practical missionary work.—Manuscript 70, 1898.
Note: This great work has been neglected. We go to men like Bill Hybels and Rick Warren to learn how to grow churches, when Ellen White gave the best advice to the church and the church has not heeded it. End note.
Teach Practical Missionary Work—On such occasions as our annual camp meetings we must never lose sight of the opportunities afforded for teaching the believers how to do practical missionary work in the place where they may live. In many instances it would be well to set apart certain men to carry the burden of different lines of educational work at these meetings. Let some help the people to learn how to give Bible readings and to conduct cottage meetings. Let others bear the burden of teaching the people how to practice the principles of health and temperance and how to give treatments to the sick. Still others may labor in the interests of our periodical and book work.—Testimonies for the Church 9:82, 83.
Form Bands of Workers—The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort has been presented to me by One who cannot err. If there is a large number in the church, let the members be formed into small companies, to work not only for the church members but for unbelievers. If in one place there are only two or three who know the truth, let them form themselves into a band of workers. Let them keep their bond of union unbroken, pressing together in love and unity, encouraging one another to advance, each gaining courage and strength from the assistance of the others.—Testimonies for the Church 7:21, 22.
Well-organized Companies in Every Church—Let there be in every church well-organized companies of workers to labor in the vicinity of that church. Put self behind you, and let Christ go before as your life and power. Let this work be entered into without delay, and the truth will be as leaven in the earth. When such forces are set to work in all our churches, there will be a renovating, reforming, energizing power in the churches, because the members are doing the very work that God has given them to do. Let all our churches be active, zealous, filled with enthusiasm by the Spirit and power of God. It is the intelligent use of the means, the capabilities, the powers, given you by God, consecrated to His service, that will tell in the communities where you may labor. It may be that you will have to make a very small beginning in some places; but do not be discouraged; the work will grow larger, and you will be doing the work of an evangelist. Look at Christ’s manner of working, and strive to labor as He did.—The Review and Herald, September 29, 1891.
To Work Under a Name—In all God’s work for man He plans that man shall cooperate with Him. To this end the Lord calls upon the church to have a higher piety, a more just sense of duty, a clearer realization of their obligations to their Creator. He calls upon them to be a pure, sanctified, working people. And the Christian help work is one means of bringing this about, for the Holy Spirit communicates with all who are doing God’s service.... I would say: Continue to work with tact and ability. Arouse your associates to work under some name whereby they may be organized to cooperate in harmonious action. Get the young men and women in the churches to work.—Testimonies for the Church 6:266, 267.
Youth to Organize and Train for the Closing Work—There are many lines in which the youth can find opportunity for helpful effort. As they organize into bands for Christian service, their cooperation will prove an assistance and encouragement....
In this closing work of the gospel there is a vast field to be occupied; and, more than ever before, the work is to enlist helpers from the common people. Both the youth and those older in years will be called from the field, from the vineyard, and from the workshop, and sent forth by the Master to give His message. Many of these may have had little opportunity for education, but Christ sees in them qualifications that will enable them to fulfill His purpose. If they put their hearts into the work and continue to be learners, He will fit them to labor for Him.
With such preparation as they can gain, thousands upon thousands of the youth and those older in years should be giving themselves to the work. Already many hearts are responding to the call of the Master Worker, and their numbers will increase.
All who engage in ministry are God’s helping hand. There is no line of work in which it is possible for the youth to receive greater benefit. They are co-workers with the angels; rather, they are human agencies through whom the angels accomplish their mission. Angels speak through their voices and work by their hands. And the human workers, cooperating with heavenly agencies, have the benefit of their education and experience. As a means of education what “university course” can equal this? With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the world!—The Youth’s Instructor, March 3, 1908.
A Great Work to Be Done by Men Now Idle—It is not God’s purpose that ministers should be left to do the greatest part of the work of sowing the seeds of truth. Men who are not called to the gospel ministry are to be encouraged to labor for the Master according to their several ability. Hundreds of men and women now idle could do acceptable service. By carrying the truth into the homes of their neighbors and friends, they could do a great work for the Master. God is no respecter of persons. He will use humble, devoted Christians who have the love of the truth in their hearts. Let such ones engage in service for him by doing house-to-house work. Sitting by the fireside, such men—if humble, discreet, and godly—can do more to meet the real needs of families than could a minister.—The Review and Herald, August 26, 1902.
The Best Help Ministers Can Give—The best help that ministers can give the members of our churches is not sermonizing but planning work for them. Give each one something to do for others.... If set to work, the despondent will soon forget their despondency; the weak will become strong; the ignorant, intelligent; and all will be prepared to present the truth as it is in Jesus.—Testimonies for the Church 9:82.
Everyone who is added to the ranks by conversion is to be assigned his post of duty. Everyone should be willing to be or to do anything in this warfare.—Testimonies for the Church 7:30.
Let All Cooperate—There has been so much preaching to our churches that they have almost ceased to appreciate the gospel ministry. The time has come when this order of things should be changed. Let the minister call out the individual church members to help him by house-to-house work in carrying the truth into regions beyond. Let all cooperate with the heavenly intelligences in communicating truth to others.—The Review and Herald, June 11, 1895.
All United to Finish the Work—Those who have the spiritual oversight of the church should devise ways and means by which an opportunity may be given to every member of the church to act some part in God’s work. Too often in the past this has not been done. Plans have not been clearly laid and fully carried out whereby the talents of all might be employed in active service. There are but few who realize how much has been lost because of this.
The leaders in God’s cause, as wise generals, are to lay plans for advance moves all along the line. In their planning they are to give special study to the work that can be done by the laity for their friends and neighbors. The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.—Testimonies for the Church 9:116, 117.
Christ Can Be Represented in All Lawful Callings—All should be taught how to work. Especially should those who are newly come to the faith be educated to become laborers together with God. If this duty is neglected, the work of the minister is incomplete.
But God does not want His people to hang their weight upon the ministers. As a steward of the grace of God, every church member should feel an individual responsibility to have life and root in himself. All who are ordained unto the life of Christ are ordained to work for the salvation of their fellow men. He who loves God supremely and his neighbor as himself cannot rest content with doing nothing.
Did the professed believers in the truth live the truth, they would today all be missionaries. Some would be working in the islands of the sea; some, in the different countries of the world. Some would be serving Christ as home missionaries. Not all are called upon to go abroad. Some may be successful in business lines, and in this work they may represent Christ. They may show to the world that business may be conducted on righteous principles, in strict fidelity to the truth. There may be Christian lawyers, Christian physicians, Christian merchants. Christ may be represented in all lawful callings.—Manuscript 19, 1900.
Example of a Faithful Church—Sabbath morning, November 10, 1900, we entered the San Francisco church, and found it crowded to its utmost capacity. As I stood before the people I thought of the dream and the instruction which had been given me so many years ago, and I was much encouraged. Looking at the people assembled, I felt that I could indeed say, “The Lord has fulfilled His word.”
During the past few years the “beehive” [Reference is here made to a revelation in 1876 when the activities of the then relatively new churches in San Francisco and Oakland were represented as two beehives.] in San Francisco has been indeed a busy one. Many lines of Christian effort have been carried forward by our brethren and sisters there. These included visiting the sick and destitute, finding homes for orphans and work for the unemployed, nursing the sick, and teaching the truth from house to house, distributing literature, and conducting classes on healthful living and the care of the sick. A school for the children has been conducted in the basement of the Laguna Street meetinghouse. For a time a workingmen’s home and medical mission was maintained. On Market Street, near the city hall, there were treatment rooms, operated as a branch of the St. Helena Sanitarium. In the same locality was a health-food store. Nearer the center of the city, not far from the call building, was conducted a vegetarian cafe, which was open six days in the week and entirely closed on the Sabbath. Along the water front ship mission work was carried on. At various times our ministers conducted meetings in large halls in the city. Thus the warning message was given by many.—The Review and Herald, July 5, 1906.
Note: Why aren’t these services functioning today when they are most needed? End note.
For This Purpose the Church Is Organized—Someone must fulfill the commission of Christ; someone must carry on the work which He began to do on earth; and the church has been given this privilege. For this purpose it has been organized. Why, then, have not church members accepted the responsibility? There are those who have seen this great neglect; they have seen the needs of many who are in suffering and want; they have recognized in these poor souls those for whom Christ gave His life, and their hearts have been stirred with pity, every energy has been roused to action. They have entered upon a work of organizing those who will cooperate with them in bringing the truth of the gospel before many who are now in vice and iniquity, that they may be redeemed from a life of dissipation and sin.
Those who have been engaged in this Christian help work have been doing what the Lord desires to have done, and He has accepted their labors. That which has been done in this line is a work which every Seventh-day Adventist should heartily sympathize with and endorse, and take hold of earnestly.—Testimonies for the Church 6:295, 296.