5. Administering Church Membership

“Christ for the world we sing,
The world to Christ we bring, with joyful song;
The newborn souls, whose days, reclaimed from error’s ways,
Inspired with hope and praise, to Christ belong.”

By John Thiel, Missionary Training, Study 5

Once we have brought souls in, they have been found, they have been won and now we want to keep them. They have been reclaimed from errors ways and we are now looking at the subject of administering church membership. We study with them to bring them to conversion and new birth and then they become church members. We are to now administer church membership. What is church membership? Is it not becoming part of the body of Christ? In our labour of souls we have brought them to the point if they have really been baptised, if self has died and they have risen as new born people, through the studies we have brought them through, they now should have found a living experience through Jesus. The question is now, how to go on from here? They have been brought to an understanding and process of Bible studies, is there anything more to gain?

Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.” Before this opening of their understanding, the disciples had not understood the spiritual meaning of what Christ had taught them. And it is necessary now that the minds of God’s people should be opened to understand the Scriptures. To say that a passage means just this and nothing more, that you must not attach any broader meaning to the words of Christ than we have in the past, is saying that which is not actuated by the Spirit of God. The more we walk in the light of the truth, the more we shall become like Christ in spirit in character and in the manner of our work, and the brighter will the truth become to us. As we behold it in the increasing light of revelation, it will become more precious than we first estimated it from a casual hearing or examination. The truth, as it is in Jesus, is capable of constant expansion, of new development, and like its divine Author it will become more precious and beautiful; it will constantly reveal deeper significance, and lead the soul to aspire for more perfect conformity to its exalted standard. Such understanding of the truth will elevate the mind and transform the character to its divine perfection. {RH, October 21, 1890 par. 1}

How do we go on after all those Bible studies and they have become members? We go on to expand and that is what is contained in administering church membership as the one who is responsible for bringing people in to the church, his work hasn’t finished. His work is to then help the people to progress. There is an administration activity essential to understand.

1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

The shepherd is to feed the flock taking an oversight that is akin to administering church membership. Apostle Paul became just such a person who had to administer to the flock. This administration encompasses what he is talking about.

2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, [as] workers together [with him], beseech [you] also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.)

2 Corinthians 6:3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:

6:4 But in all [things] approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

6:5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;

6:6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

If you permit yourself to become irate about something in the church, you can give a smile that is not a true love smile.

2 Corinthians 6:7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

6:8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and [yet] true;

6:9 As unknown, and [yet] well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;

6:10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and [yet] possessing all things.

6:11 O [ye] Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.

It is important to understand what the apostle is trying to get across. If we are going to be administering church membership, these are the motivations to be exercised. Jesus said to his apostles;

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

What’s He saying? All the power given to me I am giving to you therefore go. It is my power given to me I’m able to communicate with you.

Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

You’ve brought them in through the teaching and now you’ve baptised them, teach them to observe whatever I have commanded you. It is a continuation, an enlargement in the oversight. Jesus had just said you are to teach all the things that I command you. Apostle Paul was Saul in verse 9 and said;

Galatians 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we [should go] unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

When you have perceived that a person has been filled with the Holy Ghost and the pure truth and we know this person is truly in tune, then the right hand of fellowship is extended and they become part of the team.

In the record of the conversion of Saul important principles are given us, which we should ever bear in mind. Saul was brought directly into the presence of Christ. He was one whom Christ intended for a most important work, one who was to be a “chosen vessel” unto Him; yet the Lord did not at once tell him of the work that had been assigned him. He arrested him in his course and convicted him of sin; but when Saul asked, “What wilt Thou have me to do?” the Saviour placed the inquiring Jew in connection with His church, there to obtain a knowledge of God’s will concerning him. {AA 120.3}

If we are to bring into the message the way we have studied in the beginning, now they are there, they will be guided by the church and Christ. The idea that many independent minded people have is that Jesus can teach me personally. I don’t need anything else. This is the lesson taught here. The church has an administrative responsibility.

When, in the midst of his blind error and prejudice, Saul was given a revelation of the Christ whom he was persecuting, he was placed in direct communication with the church, which is the light of the world. In this case Ananias represents Christ, and also represents Christ’s ministers upon the earth, who are appointed to act in His stead. In Christ’s stead Ananias touches the eyes of Saul, that they may receive sight. In Christ’s stead he places his hands upon him, and, as he prays in Christ’s name, Saul receives the Holy Ghost. All is done in the name and by the authority of Christ. Christ is the fountain; the church is the channel of communication. {AA 122.4}

Ananias said repent and be baptised and then the church work of ministering continued as Paul went to Arabia for three years. Then he came to Antioch and the church counselled together and he was directed according to Christ working through the church. There was an administration that Jesus worked through to direct the work of the believers. This is now our consideration. The kind of careful work that is involved in this. The souls that become members of the church are members of the body.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

We are now members of one body. They have sought, they have found and now they have been carefully educated and are now part of the body. What happens to them now?

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

4:12 For the perfecting of the saints…

The administration continues.

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:

4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

They become a joint that supplies, they must supply. In administration there is a co-ordination of the supply. These people are now part of the body and they have something to do in the body. The administrators are the apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers. What is their work? As each part compacted together supplies something. The administrators working together are perfecting the saints. They advance and expand. The administrators are there to perfect the saints.

Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith…

You cannot come to the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man unless you have in the church the unity of the faith. Some read this to be  -come into the unity of the faith. No we came into the unity of the faith through baptismal studies. Now in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, we come into a perfect man. That’s the administering in the church.

Ephesians 4:13 …and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

4:14 That we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive.

4:15 But speaking the truth in love may grow up.

In the church the administrators are at work to expand the system of truth that is existent in that church. They don’t have to bring in any new doctrines, the doctrines are all there. This is one of the problems that many have to accept that the beautiful doctrines of truth have been established under Adventism for those fifty years. Now they have got them, what now? In that unity of the faith the people are to grow. How are they to grow? Every joint supplying, working together. The administrators are doing that orchestrative work, administering according to those words.

The Skills of Administering

We will now look into what the pastors, prophets, evangelists are meant to be exercising. Every individual has found a personal relationship with Jesus. Every individual must have that. When they have the personal relationship with Jesus, what happens inside of them? What animates them? What have they found? What would they want to do?

Love to Jesus will be manifested in a desire to work as He worked for the blessing and uplifting of humanity. {SC 77.4}

That is what every individual who has the love of Jesus in him wants to do. You don’t have to pump them. You don’t have to urge them, they have the love of Jesus in their heart and they want to do something for Jesus.

It will lead to love, tenderness, and sympathy toward all the creatures of our heavenly Father’s care. {SC 77.4}

This is what a personal relationship with Jesus will do to each individual.

So those who are the partakers of the grace of Christ will be ready to make any sacrifice, that others for whom He died may share the heavenly gift. They will do all they can to make the world better for their stay in it. This spirit is the sure outgrowth of a soul truly converted. {SC 78.2}

You have brought them to true conversion and now this is what you would expect.

No sooner does one come to Christ than there is born in his heart a desire to make known to others what a precious friend he has found in Jesus; the saving and sanctifying truth cannot be shut up in his heart. If we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ and are filled with the joy of His indwelling Spirit, we shall not be able to hold our peace. If we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good we shall have something to tell. Like Philip when he found the Saviour, we shall invite others into His presence. We shall seek to present to them the attractions of Christ. {SC 78.2}

And the effort to bless others will react in blessings upon ourselves. This was the purpose of God in giving us a part to act in the plan of redemption. He has granted men the privilege of becoming partakers of the divine nature and, in their turn, of diffusing blessings to their fellow men. This is the highest honor, the greatest joy, that it is possible for God to bestow upon men. Those who thus become participants in labors of love are brought nearest to their Creator. {SC 79.1}

This is the purpose of missionary work. It is not only that we are to go and teach others, it is for the purpose of my own growth. The administrators are to administer the people who have this drive to work. It is a different thing to driving them to work, they have the drive to work and that has to be administered.

If you will go to work as Christ designs that His disciples shall, and win souls for Him, you will feel the need of a deeper experience and a greater knowledge in divine things, and will hunger and thirst after righteousness. You will plead with God, and your faith will be strengthened, and your soul will drink deeper drafts at the well of salvation. Encountering opposition and trials will drive you to the Bible and prayer. You will grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ, and will develop a rich experience. {SC 80.1}

Isn’t that what the servants of God are to have? A rich experience?

The only way to grow in grace is to be disinterestedly doing the very work which Christ has enjoined upon us–to engage, to the extent of our ability, in helping and blessing those who need the help we can give them. {SC 80.3}

You are not interested in anything about yourself, you are just interested in passing on this beautiful thing. No self-interest. It is seeing the joy of Jesus and I just want to share it and as I share it I run into problems as I get opposition and I pray, Lord I need help to help these people. As you do that, you will grow and this is the only way to grow. If this is the case, under inspiration we are told now that the people who come have in themselves a dynamo that wants to share what they found in a loving Saviour. The knowledge they have gained has created inside of them not a mere academic knowledge to pass onto people, but a beautiful friend they have found and they want to share their friend with others. As they try to do that, they discover they need to know Him better to be able to do it better. In that appreciation, now the oversight takes place by those who have been responsible for bringing them to that position.

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

The gifts of the Spirit are different in each individual and while they are trying to share the word of God, they are able to share according to their ability. You can only give what you have got. If you start thinking I wish I could do what he is doing, forget about it. We can only do what I’ve been given the gift to do. I’ve seen this many times in church activities. One person can do something really well and another says I can’t do it as well but I have to try and keep up with them. Rubbish, concentrate on the gift and the ability that is specifically mine. That is the work of the spirit that God has implanted into that person. That is to be administered.

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

12:29 [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?

12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

Can you see that there is need of administration? Because we are all to work together and be united under one head, each individual is doing his work according to the ability but there is an orchestration and administration that brings it all together. That is an important activity that has been instrumental in bringing the people in. We want to understand when we have the responsibility. Those who need to be educated to be trained so maybe when they are sent out to start a church somewhere, they know what is involved.

God’s people are to feel a noble, generous sympathy for every line of work carried on in the great harvest field. By their baptismal vows they are pledged to make earnest, self-denying efforts to promote, in the hardest parts of the field, the work of soul saving. God has placed on every believer the responsibility of striving to rescue the helpless and the oppressed. {Ev 354.4}

We are to have generous noble sympathy for every line for work.

Divine grace in the newly converted soul is progressive. It gives an increase of grace, which is received, not to be hidden under a bushel, but to be imparted, that others may be benefited. He who is truly converted will work to save others who are in darkness. One truly converted soul will reach out in faith to save another and still another. Those who do this are God’s agencies, His sons and daughters. They are a part of His great firm, and their work is to help to repair the breach which Satan and his agencies have made in the law of God by trampling underfoot the genuine Sabbath, and putting in its place a spurious rest day. {Ev 355.1}

What is it? As each person whether they be administrators or individuals must have noble generous sympathy for every line of work. They are a firm. Not only do we see it as a body, we see it as a firm. If you have a firm you have different people in different positions to make it work or you have an army. You have the CEO and all the people underneath, that is a firm, a business running a company. Every part is absolutely essential to make that firm run effectively. What is the CEO? Chief Executive Officer. What is he meant to be doing? Each person has the urge to work and each person wants to work and the CEO doesn’t have to push them to work. They are all under the head of Christ.

Just as soon as a church is organized, let the minister set the members at work. They will need to be taught how to labor successfully. {CCh 69.1}

They might be full of energy to do some work but they need to be taught how to labour successfully. It is one thing to plunge in with zeal and make a hash of it or be governed. They need to be taught.

Let the minister devote more of his time to educating than to preaching. {CCh 69.1}

How do you do that? A minister is to preach isn’t he? Most people are just preaching sermons instead of teaching preaching. There is a difference between sermonising or teaching in the sermon. Once I was working in New Zealand I was invited to present something in a church and at the end the minister said you are a teacher preacher. That is what the minister is meant to be. A teacher educating. He is to educate more than preaching.

Let him teach the people how to give to others the knowledge they have received. While the new converts should be taught to ask counsel from those more experienced in the work, they should also be taught not to put the minister in the place of God. {CCh 69.1}

Some people over balance on this and say they can do it themselves. No, the church is to help us. By those with more experience they can be taught not to put the minister in the place of God as they come to counsel with him and find guidance. Jesus is still the head but the administers are still administering. Those that come into the fold are behind that person as he is more experienced.

The greatest help that can be given our people is to teach them to work for God, and to depend on Him, not on the ministers. Let them learn to work as Christ worked. Let them join His army of workers and do faithful service for Him. {CCh 69.2}

The administrator is to expand the knowledge that the people have received and as he does, he shows them how to work and how to work effectively relying on Jesus. Showing them how they can rely on Jesus so they can do what the minister has done.

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. {CCh 69.3}

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. This has not always been done in the past. Plans have not been fully carried out whereby the talent of all might be employed in active service. There are but few who realize how much has been lost because of this. {CCh 69.4}

In every church there is talent, which, with the right kind of labor, might be developed to become a great help in this work. {CCh 69.5}

What is the minister’s work? Labour. To help the talents to become active. It takes a great amount of labour but that is administration.

There should be a well-organized plan for the employment of workers to go into all our churches, large and small, to instruct the members how to labor for the upbuilding of the church, and also for unbelievers. It is training, education, that is needed. Let all set their hearts and minds to become intelligent in regard to the work for this time, qualifying themselves to do that for which they are best adapted. {CCh 69.5}

We already have a natural adaptation to something but must qualify myself. The administrators need to assist in that.

That which is needed now for the upbuilding of our churches is the nice work of wise laborers to discern and develop talent in the church, {CCh 69.6}

As these people are baptised, they may not recognise what their talents but the CEO or the general of the army must recognise what talents there are and maybe gain the assistance of others as we are working as a team. Others might say, this person has really helped me here, he has a fantastic ability. The administration is to utilise in every church this nice work. The word nice means a delicate, careful work.

…talent that can be educated for the Master’s service. Those who shall labor in visiting the churches should give the brethren and sisters instruction in practical methods of doing missionary work. Let there be a class for the training of the youth as well. Young men and women should be educated to become workers at home, in their own neighborhoods, and in the church. 68 {CCh 69.6}

Talent has to be educated. Here is the work of administering the church because many people go to church and enjoy the worship and go home and get on with their own life. Those precious talents people are using in the world for their business to make money are not used in the church. The administrators work is to so administer those wonderful talents that have been stirred up by their love for their wonderful Saviour. They want to share what they have found in Jesus and it must be done in a practical systematic successful way and that is why we are organised as a church so every person’s talents can be utilised. If a person has been brought into an office as he has a particular talent, that talent needs to be administered so it can become most effective.

This is how a church will establish itself so it can be capable as when you have a team, things can function. We have experienced this a lot across Australia. As I was working towards this, it is phenomenal when a church gathers its momentum but those who want to rule over the church as lords destroy it but you can see this takes away all lordship out of the church as every person has a particular role to fulfill in which he is the master of that particular domain and another person of another domain. The administrator is to identify and bring and hold it together. Our next study is about pastoring the flock. Administering and pastoring nearly overlap. Here is an important principle that we harness the talents in individuals and show them how they can exercise them successfully in the kingdom of heaven.


About The Typist

Sabbath Sermons is a small resource information ministry in Australia standing upon the original platform of the Adventist truth. We are dedicated to spreading the special 'testing truths' for our time and are not affiliated with the various denominations. This website is administered by lay members only

Posted on 08/10/2011, in Missionary Training (Seminar). Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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