BLTC Press Titles

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The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe

Congregational administration

by Charles Sumner Nash


In our Congregational theory the Church is first of all, composed of ordinary men and women who love our Lord Jesus Christ and unite for service in his name. This theory, as held in completeness and consistency by us, distinguishes our polity. Out of the Church comes the specialized ministry of religion. Needing instructors and leaders, the Church lays hands on a sufficient number and puts them forth. They in turn are evermore responsible to the Church and depend upon her for opportunity and resources. The Church is first, the ministry second and subordinate.

In practical administration, however, the ministry leads. Scarcely an individual church anywhere is organized apart from its primacy of agency. The machinery of the leadership Kingdom is in its hands even to an unfortunate degree. This leadership of a class of men is inevitable and not to be deplored. No more than the State, can the Church prosper save by competent and devoted leaders. The primacy of leadership among practical problems of administration needs emphasis, but not argument. Mr. John R. Mott, in his latest volume, "The Future Leadership of the Church," is saying, "Wherever the Church has proved inadequate, it has been due to inadequate leadership. . , . The failure to raise up a competent ministry would be a far greater failure than not to win converts to the faith, because the enlargement of the Kingdom ever waits for leaders of power. ... To secure able men for the Christian ministry is an object of transcendent, urgent, and world-wide concern. It involves the life, the growth, the extension of the Church — the future of Christianity itself."%

At the present moment we Congregationalists — and others with us — are convicted of remissness and consequent weakness on this principal point. Our problem of leadership is affecting to an alarming degree our whole enterprise. It has been for some years a low time with regard to our ministry. Full ranks of young men have not been coming. Too few of the best equipped men have come. We are painfully aware of a low conception of the ministry among college students. The phases and causes of this situation have been much in print, and are freshly given in Mr. Mott's volume. There are this year encouraging signs that the tide will make in again, but it is too soon to predict this with assurance.

Primary responsibility for its leadership rests

upon the Church. It may not be discharged upon

The cturcii M- the ministry, nor upon the

manly Responsible young men in colleges, nor

even upon the Christian home. This mighty

institution named the Church, whose exist

1 The Future Leadership of the Church, pp. 3,4.

ence, prosperity and usefulness absolutely depend, under God, upon its leadership, should maintain measures adequate to insure that leadership. Its best agency for this is the Christian home. At this time the Church and the home are not furnishing the conditions and motives which, when present, will always carry a sufficient number of their sons into the ministry. That vocation is now discredited in the minds of great numbers of Christian parents and church-members, and hence inevitably in the minds of the boys and young men. Mr. Mott's unequaled observation leads him to testify that increasing numbers of Christian parents and church-members in the evangelical churches generally do not care to have their sons enter the ministry, are not thinking them prayerfully on in that direction, but are actively turning them toward other vocations. This atmosphere cannot be kept negative, leaving young men unaffected to reach an unbiased decision. Indeed, there is little scruple about making it affirmative and influential. Until it is corrected the best hope tarries. Until the ministry is restored to its sacred place in the regard of church-members and parents, no formal measures can contend successfully for recruits. Nor is there any correction of this state of things save by what the psychologists are calling reeducation. The mind of the Church and the home, now working too habitually away from the ministry, must be restored to a favorable habit. It is a case for mental and spiritual healing — disclaiming the technical meaning of the phrase.

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