Full Text for High-Pressure Church Work (Text)

' for that is what real inspiration in church-work should amount to. If the leader of such an assembly deliberately welds the conglomerates into an emotional unit, then the powerful influence of crowd suggestion may work havoc in defeating the ends of conviction. Let us once more quote Gardner (loc. cit., 245 f.): "These frequent large aggregations of people, in which ... collective suggestion is greater and the units are more readily fused than in smaller ones, constitute one of the most effective means of developing and strengthening the conscious- ness of the unity of men in an age of specialization of individuals and groups; if only the process of psychic fusion can be kept from going to the excess which effaces the sense of individual responsibility, disintegrates and weakens personality, and res~~lts in hurtful collective action. . .. If the emotional tide runs so high as to submerge the intellectual life and drown all definite ideas in its flood, the second purpose as well as the first is wholly defeated. No sentiment is then developed, no ideal is established, but only a thirst is created for wild and senseless emotional intoxication, which is disorganizing and debilitating in its effect upon personality." What may we learn from this discussion of high-powered sales- manship and high-pressure work, especially in the field of the Ohurch's endeavor to spread the Kingdom? In the first place, it might be well for us to speak of "winning souls" rather than of "saving souls." It 844 High-Pressure Church-Work. is true that the latter expression is found in the Bible, as when St. Paul speaks of the possibility of saving some of the members of his own race, Rom. 11, 14, and when he tells his pupil Timothy: "In doing this, thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee," 1 Tim. 4, 16. But in both cases the idea of "saving" is that which we com- monly associate with an act rescuing and does not con:flict with the proper sense of Scripture. The phrase "saving souls" has, in sectarian circles, gained a connotation which at least seems to place the burden of the rescue from eternal death upon the church-worker, especially if prayer is regarded as a means of saving and the "wrestling" for a soul is a feature of revivals. The Bible tells us that Ohrist saved the souls of all men from sin, death, and the power of the devil. "God will save Zion," Ps. 69, 35. "He [the Messiah] shall save the needy," Ps. 72,13. "The Lord, their God. shall save them in that day as the :flock of His people," Zech. 9, 16. "He shall save His people from their sins," Matt. 1,21. "Ohrist Jesus came into the world to save sinners," 1 Tim. 1, 15. "The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost," Matt. 18, 11. - But of men the Scripture says, of their labor of love to bring the knowledge of salvation to others: "He that winneth souls is wise," Provo 11, 30. "If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother," Matt. 18, 15. "That I might gain the more; ... that I might gain them that are under the Law; ... that I might by all means save some," 1001'.9,19.20.22. In the second place, the right kind of publicity certainly has the sanction of Scripture. Some of the Bible phrases used in modern church-advertising, it is true, are torn from their proper connection, as Jer. 50,2, where a special prophecy against Babylon is quoted. But we have the Great Oommission, Mark 16, 15 and Matt. 28, 19, to which we may well add Luke 12, 3: "Whatsoever ye have spoken in dark- ness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear shall be proclaimed upon the housetops." Op. Matt. 10, 27. But all publicity connected with the Ohurch of Jesus Ohrist must be in conformity with the dignity and importance of His message of sal- vation. Levity in publicity as well as in the pulpit cannot be too strongly condemned. And just as important is the consideration that the publicity of the bulletin-board, of the poster, of the hand-bill, of the circular letter, of the radio announcement, be backed up by solid and sound Bible-preaching and -teaching. It is dishonest to make a claim concerning the full preaching of the Word of God, also ac- cording to the confessions of the Lutheran Ohurch, and then present a message which is nothing but a diluted solution of the truth. We are to preach Law and Gospel, sin and grace, and make it a personal message, so that in either case the hearer will gain the conviction: I am the man. Glittering generalities and oratorial verbosity are not in agreement with the specimens of preaching offered in the Bible, either in the gospels or in the Book of Acts. High-Pressure Ohurch-Work. 845 In close connection with this point we mention, in the third place, the need of thorough indoctrination. Scripture itself fixes the minimum requirements for admission into the membership of the Ohristian Ohurch, and no faithful pastor may set these aside in the interest of numbers. The Bible gives the following objectives for the teaching of religion: Knowledge of Jesus Ohrist as the Son of God and the Savior of the world, Acts 8, 37; 16,31; a life of sanctification, 1 Thess. 4, 3; the ability to examine oneself before partaking of the Lord's Supper, 1 001'. 11,29; a constant growth in the knowledge of the truth, Reb. 5, 12-6, 3; Eph. 4, 14-16; the ability to distinguish between truth and error, 1 J ohn4, 1 ff.; readiness to defend the truth, 1 Pet. 3,15; contending for the faith, Jude 3. If we reduce these requirements, we do so at our own peril and that of the Ohurch for which we profess to be working. Indoctrinated hearts is the demand of Scripture, and high-pressure church-work may never have the ob- jective of gaining numbers at the expense of sound indoctrination. In the fourth place, it is at least a matter of grave doubt whether the objects of the Ohurch are served best by means of campaigns, drives, and similar plans and contrivances, no matter how well- meaning are the people who suggest them and possibly work heart and soul for them. Projects of this kind almost invariably mean forcing the issue, even if temporary success is registered. Supersalesmanship will almost certainly have negative results in the end; for the resent- ment wrought by jazz methods will come to the surface after the effect of suggestion is worn off. The pedagogical slogan of the Bible may well be put into the words: Education is a slow process. Our Lord Himself says concerning the work of the Kingdom: "First the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear," Mark 4,28. The same thought is contained in the famous saying of the Apostle Paul: "How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? . " So, then, faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God," Rom. 10, 14.17. "And the entire idea of high-pressure church-work is scored by the same apostle when he writes: "So, then, it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God, that showeth mercy," Rom. 9,16. - More- over, it should not be forgotten that the Lord does not sanction a blind going forward. He does indeed speak of a faith that moves moun- tains, but that is the confidence resting upon the promises of His Word, not upon schemes which collide with clear principles of His eternal will. His references to the person who intends to build a tower and does not sit down first to count the cost and to the king who intends to wage war and does not consider first whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand, Luke 14, 28-33, are well known, and they are in keeping with His pedagogy throughout the Bible. 846 ~tsjJofitionen iHm dne 6erie aftteftamentriq,et :teJ;te. In the last place, high-pressure church-work must be looked upon with suspicion because it almost invariably links a big project with certain names of men. Luther showed the right attitude when he refused to have his work associated with his name as long as this meant identification with his person, and it was only when he could definitely expound his position concerning the doctrine which was connected with his name that he consented to the designation Lu- theran for the old Apostolic Ohurch as it had been cleansed through the work of the Reformation. This is in entire agreement with the Holy Scriptp.res. Not the person should be in the foreground, but the message; if the message is lost in the identity of the person, there is something wrong. The Apostle Paul writes : "We preach not our- selves, but Ohrist Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake," 2 Oor. 4, 5. This is in agreement with his words written just a few months before: "Who, then, is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase . . So, then, is neither he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God, that giveth the increase," 1 Oor. 3, 5-7. Herein the :apostle agrees with John the Baptist, who plainly stated: "He [Ohrist] must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all; he that is of the earth is earthly and speaketh of the earth; He that cometh from heaven is above all," John 3, 30. 31. If the work of the Ohurch is done in this spirit, then the motto of our Ohurch can and will truly stand: SOLI DEO GLORIA! P. E. 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