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How Your Church Works

Ted N.C. Wilson

Presenter

Ted N.C. Wilson

President of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Conference

Recorded

  • January 3, 2014
    8:45 AM
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for you you might look from the other rare beef lamb and indeed evenhanded going I wanted to like this visit us online at www. delay feedback I began by looking at her not to do a lot of exhaustive Bible reference or spirit of prophecy reference in this hour I'm just going to tell you some basic inner workings of the church which are basically founded upon Scripture and the spirit of prophecy but this is more of a practical how the church works kind of presentation however first Corinthians chapter fourteen verse forty negative verse familiar to all of you and I apply it to the church let all things be done decently and what an order you know God in heaven has everything so organized that he knows from the minutest atom to the largest movement what is happening everything is ordered according to his will and intent is for the church to be that way as well now the church organization is based on a very spiritual and a very biblical approach and foundation and tone illnesses not just some big corporation it is that to a certain extent we have legal bodies we have administrative function we have all kinds of things that I take place in a very organized manner so it is corporate in its approach at times but it is not just a corporation it is truly a spiritual organization and it must be that everything must be founded upon God 's word and the wonderful counsel we received in the spirit of prophecy it is the object of God 's greatest attention he could have used other means to accomplish the task of bringing his message to the billions of people on this earth but he has chosen to use the church and you and me and leadership and membership must be involved in a very spiritual approach in Bible study and following the councils of the spirit of prophecy in intense prayer and in listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit that's why revival and Reformation is so important not just for local church members not just for G Y C attendees but for ministers for leaders for general conference personnel for division union local conference everybody is nothing in anything different between your experience my experience because your all sinners at the foot of the cross the revival Reformation is key preparing God 's church for the very final times which I believe we are actually in I really believe that Jesus is coming soon I really believe that the church is about to enter a period of time when it will see incredible event elicited explosion but also incredible resistance by the devil using every means possible this is not a seminar on that but I'm just telling you my own personal conviction we must remember as we talk now about practical ways in which the Seventh-day Adventist church functions and how you as a young person fit into it we must remember this is absolutely crucial but the Seventh-day Adventist church is the remnant Church of the Lord thank you for the lengths that brings clarity to the situation that this church is called of God that this is a unique movement with a unique people called in a special way with a unique message and a unique mission that of course is focused most dramatically in Revelation fourteen and also Revelation eighteen we are to live up Christ and his righteousness and were displaying a foundation here for how the church works I don't want you to get the idea that there's some kind of magic formula that you know we can do this and this and achieve this it is based on an spiritual understanding of how we relate to God and the end of time movement and so Christ must be first and foremost and Christ and his righteousness must be what is seen in all of us as we work within the church that is the core of the three Angels messages Christ's righteousness let's not get tripped up in all kinds of strange understanding that if we understand the chart this way are we do it this way or that everything 's been up unfolded because we are so brilliant we must focus upon Christ's righteousness and our submission to him and then his power working in us will then develop the final end time movement in the charts and of course prophecy is all part of that but it is Christ and his righteousness that is most important the three Angels messages the sanctuary service the Sabbath is soon coming of Samantha 's church involved from no organization absolutely zero a very loosely confederated group to the current setting of cooperative organization that we have in a region much today or refer too much in the spirit of prophecy but that may just read from testimonies to ministers and gospel workers and reading through this book personally if you want something that will challenge in almost every area whether you're a minister are not says ministers and gospel workers all of us can be gospel workers right read this book it's absolutely incredible anyway page twenty six of testimonies to ministers a couple paragraphs just to give you an understanding of how the church moved to where it is now as our numbers increased it was evident that without some form of organization there would be great confusion and the work would not be carried forward success provide for the support of the ministry for carrying the work in new fields for protecting both the church and the ministry from unworthy members for holding church property for the publication of the truth through the press and for many other objects organization was indispensable so easy as they develop from just a loose group that didn't want have any creed didn't want have anything that bound them just the word of God which God is to be our foundation absolutely but they were opposed they were almost anti- organization but they soon found out they needed some kind of organization to make the work move yet there was strong feeling against it among our people the first day Adventists were opposed to organization and most of the Seventh-day Adventists entertained the same ideas we sought the Lord with earnest prayer now that's a key for anything that you're facing in your own local church or institution for its vital and so says we sought the Lord with earnest prayer that we might understand his will and the light was given by his spirit that there must be order and thorough discipline in the church that organization was essential system and order are manifest in all the works of God throughout the universe order is the last sentence order is the law of heaven and it should be the law of God 's people on the earth order and I doesn't mean everybody marching in a like little atomic bonds without thinking but it means a submissiveness to the word of God and the impression of the Holy Spirit and the Council of the spirit of prophecy to bring about order so that the mission can be accomplished today we have all kinds of things that help the brain quotes order into the church I brought with me increase my weight load on the airplane but that's okay we have the working policy of the General conference now that looks like a formidable book and it has all kinds of regulations and policies concerning everything you can think about and if you come up with something that isn't covered in here then probably there working on it yet it is a big book and covers many different topics outworking policies it sounds so dry and so bureaucratic but really what it is these are just general agreements that we have made together as to how to accomplish the mission of the church and the general conference executive committee you can change a working policy at an annual Council of the General conference which is only once a year you can't change it is a spring meeting and change it at a general conference committee that may be called at any time it has to be at the time of the annual counsel with all delegates come from the thirteen world divisions and are one attached union Middle East North Africa Union when they all come of course every union president is a member of the executive committee of the General conference then you can change working policy or add to the working policy so it is something that we do collectively from all over the world it's not something done just in a back corner somewhere with no one knowing what's going on we have also the Church manual if you are not acquainted with the church manual and you can buy it in ABC or certainly online the church manual is something which local churches use to keep order in the local church and it is something so important that you can't change this at an annual counsel it can only be changed at a general conference session once every five years so at San Antonio and year and a half hardly seems possible that another general conversation is coming about we hope and pray that the Lord will come even before San Antonio but if he doesn't will have another general carbon session and at that time you will see some changes that will come in usually their small modifications in the company so that governs the local church and we also have a minister 's handbook which has lots of good information for pastors and and other materials that help to keep the church functioning in order to have the fundamental beliefs which now number twenty eight fundamental beliefs these are essentially beliefs which we have had for decades but which have been codified first in nineteen eighty and then more recently an additional one added not that it was a new one it simply Incorporated prayer in an area that would focus upon the tremendous challenges especially in areas where spiritualism is so strong and that God 's power is stronger than satanic influence but we have fundamental beliefs rehab administrative organizational systems we have institutions we have over five hundred local conferences and missions we have over a hundred twenty unions around the world we have thirteen world divisions and we have the general conference element just think that all of these organizations work together in a setting and this is so critical I cannot underscore it more they all work together and not just because we've voted a lot of stuff and you have to follow it this way we work in a dutiful setting normally of genuine loving trust in each other and in this message and if church members and most specifically administrators of the church organizations do not exercise this humble trust in each other then we can have challenges and problems if there organizations that decide the kind of no kind of ignore the policy and save nine all better way I'm in a go my own way they have an independent approach than we have chopped we have to pray a lot talk a lot with work a lot to try and bring the group together and sometimes we actually have to take votes that will help people become closer but basically this church is based on mutual trust trust in God and in each other there's one thing that you need to know also as how your church works the General conference cannot do everything you have to recognize that the division can do everything a union can do everything for a local conference or a local church we all work together in a kind of symbiotic relationship there are constituencies that are involved there are executive committees that are involved when a conference becomes a conference and not a mission then of course they have their own their own ability to accomplish certain things and legal aspects which are not which which do not permit other organizations to force them in other ways in which to bring people back into the center and back into a more harmonious relationship if there is a problem but you cannot force certain organizations to do certain things because of the way the church instructor constituencies even the local church when you have a church business meeting of the conference cannot come in and overrule that business meeting only a church can transfer church members the conference camp reunion can only do local church has the privilege of taking a vote to transfer or denied transfer of a local church membership so there are certain things which each organization can do and cannot do I want to tell you though regardless of what we are facing or will be facing because of me tell you whatever the church is facing now and we face a lot of challenges but I won't tell you a lot of wonderful things about the challenges were facing are nothing compared to what we will face and as we learned this morning and undo vote all we need to study this word this is what is going to be the foundation of how we proceed for the future the word of God is so important in terms of our approach as well before I get into some berries some rather specific things a and attitude of humility and an attitude of submissiveness is so important for the church and for you as you approach how to affect your church how to put something into practice or into effect in your church and how you can affect your church depends on your humility and your submissiveness to God 's will now a few words about some specifics that help to make up this this complex organization we called the church we have instituted institutions institutions are some of the most important facets of our work that help the eight teen million plus members we've now passed the mark of eighteen million church members just in the last few months by God 's grace church will continue to grow but we have to make sure that under our new church members fully understand what they've come into and what a great the great mission is of this church what the foundation is but institutions were established for the sole purpose to nurture sure the mission of the church and train young people to be part of that mission now we have so many professional disciplines today that graduates of our schools can't always find employment within the church so I'm not speaking specifically about the employment in church in the church because many of you represent disciplines outside of church employment but God has asked that our institutions train young people to be the foremost missionaries in what ever line of discipline they find themselves in so that's really what institutions are for institutions should never allow themselves nor the church allow them to become an and in themselves institutions are solely their for the mission of the church in terms of evangelism and mission evangelism and mission should always be the lifeblood of the church it is the purpose of the church to lift up Christ and his mission for this plan never that anything as a young person in a local church on institution keep always before you and me for those who work with you and your teachers and administrators and pastors and others always let the mission of the Church to proclaim the three Angels messages and the fourth Angel of Revelation eighteen be the focus of why this church exists were to lift up Christ in all of that and to understand that the mission of the church should never be in skewered by anything else in all of this we need balance balance is needed let your moderation be known don't run to one side of the road and ride some hobbyhorse that is so peculiar that you miss all of the other beautiful things within the church and what the Lord has in store for us don't fall in the end of the trap of falling into the ditch on one side or the other staying in the focus and the middle of the road in terms of God 's great proclamation of this message the devil will try to get you to become fanatical about something on one side or the other it could be very conservative it could be very liberal resistance ask the Lord to help you to bring balance into your own life and into the way the local church operates the Bible is the absolute foundation of the church organization and activity the hermeneutics how you explain the Bible is what is at stake within the church today historical biblical or historical grammatical you can use both of those terms that is the approach the church has used and will continue to use as opposed to a lot of other variants one of the primary ways that most of the world that looks at religious things that uses is historical critical approach which in essence puts the analyst and the scholar or an individual above the word of God it allows you to say well yes that was done in a certain time the conditions were such and such therefore that does not apply to us today because of such and such and pretty soon you will be carving up your Bible and you will have very little left so we allow verse upon verse precept upon precept we allow the Bible to interpret itself we are also historicists we are people who understand that God could compose things in such a way that history provides verification of his word we are not futurists when it comes to prophetic understanding we are not in any way printer wrists we are historicists and that again is a critical factor for the future as a Seventh-day Adventist church moves ahead and in your own local setting the spirit of prophecy is absolutely vital for our growth in some places do not give respect or credence to the spirit of prophecy and I have to say and this may sound judgmental but most places that ignore or put down the spirit of prophecy are not growing the spirit of prophecy said it so many times and you may know it by heart it is one of the greatest gifts given to the Seventh-day Adventist or just pick it up and read it and you will find that it absolutely brings clarity to so many situations so don't fall under the trap of ignoring the spirit of prophecy now the role of the local church in the congregation first of all I want to say that you must as one of your first off Haitians pray for your local church for your pastor for the locally elected leaders of your church for the outreach of your church the local church role in the seventh day Adventist church is absolutely crucial without local Seventh-day Adventist churches and all of us belong to one of them I belong to want a precious little church it's not a big church the wonderful church that our speaker this morning if she had entered that church she would've gotten an awful lot of encouragement and affirmation I'm sorry she had that experience in that one church were nobody said anything to her don't ever let anybody walk into your local church without having at least five people be able to say yes I greeted that visitor you need to make people feel very much at home warm when they come to your local church but the local church plays an absolutely critical role it nurtures us it also helps in guarding our teaching and our practice a solid local church is key to the solid platform of the Seventh-day Adventist church in general don't just look at the General conference all about they'll make sure everything 's okay no it begins at the local church where you are so by God 's grace work in a very singular way in helping evangelistic outreach to take place in your local church participate in your local church encourage your church to have worship services that bring glory to God and not glory to human beings I don't believe that God can work in a very powerful way when our worship services tend towards Heidi I'm not saying you can't have emotion in the church service it on and be there but there's a difference between sanctified emotionalism and hyper Pentecostalism and I just don't think that God works in a chaotic situation where people are so involved in emotion and in rock music and other things which take away the focus from work from what revelation for talks about Yemeni question about what a worship service to be read revelation for a lot of verses in that chapter but it gives you a clearer picture of what worship is all about how the church works through meetings whether it's in the local church in the conference the Union the division the general comes we have executive committees these executive committees are selected in a representative way some of the people are on there because of possessions others are selected because they have been nominated as leaving late laypersons or whatever it might be we work with business and constituency meeting your local church has a business meeting probably one of the least attended meetings in a church is a business meeting I encourage you as young GUI see attendees attend the business meeting of your local church get involved that's where you can help to you can raise questions you can do it with a smile not a critical spirit but with love and help the church to move ahead we work in a committee system within the church and a representative system as I mentioned these are the ways that things get done and there is one thing that you must learn it works in every organization it is not just at public meetings that things can be influenced it is in personal meetings with key leaders if you have a burden if you have a challenge talk to the pastor will talk to the head elder go talk to other elders talk to the saddle school superintendent talk to the people who are involved in helping to make things happen more happens to be honest in the hallways of offices than in committee rooms because as you talk and as you unburden your heart in a simple one-to-one setting the Holy Spirit can help to influence a leader never think that an e-mail that you send a simple conversation that you have does not have some effect on the person to which you are speaking I know the e-mail was an personal conversations do have an effect on me work in the spirit of prayer Bible study and spirit of prophecy counsel and trust we work as much as possible within the church on a consensus basis there is no reason why we ought to set up two sides and always be fighting and lobbying grenades at each other and then think about how we won by two votes that's not the way God wants the church to work sometimes we have to take a vote in terms of finding how the entire roof is lining up but generally speaking the best way to approach it is on our knees in intense Bible study and asking the Holy Spirit to help us through the situation whether it is the color of the carpet in a local church or whether it is women's ordination on our knees Bible study and asking the Lord for guidance to bring us into some kind of consensus now it may not be possible all the time to have consensus but that's the best way voting comes under God 's guidance at a time when a decision has to be made and we use that system effectively within the church local church all the way to the General conference session functioning bodies that actively are being participated in by you and by everyone make the church dynamic and we have to underscore the fact that we don't today have Ellen White with us in person we do have good counsel but we can't ask Ellen White and many times God didn't work through Ellen White this way she didn't get an answer they had to spend time praying them to spend time talking and discussing it searching the Scriptures and on the Lord revealed it to them but we don't have Ellen White just simply ask well what should we do in this situation we don't have that you're a member you know on the breastplate of the high priest you asked the question and it my guess is it had to be a pretty boy question that and one let out it was yes and the other one clouded over if it was no we don't have to but we are told in the spirit of prophecy that a decision that is made I'm paraphrasing it at a general conference session when all representatives are present in San Antonio we will probably have over twenty seven hundred official delegates from all the world when a decision is made it is a decision of the highest order and ought to be accepted but we need to submit our own thoughts to what the large body decides so how is it that you can make changes in your own local church or in your institution I think you would start with talking with the pastor with the elder would pray and you would share it would send letters or e-mails call people on the phone and then when the answer is finally given don't be defiant don't be independent but in a spirit of true submissiveness look at the big picture and say Lord you know what ought to happen and I submit to your authority whether it's at the local church or whether it is the world church in general may give you a few examples and I'm the speak for about another ten minutes and then we'll take questions and answers some examples let's say in the local church you see some challenge in the Sabbath school and all unfortunately in the Western countries of the world Sabbath school attendance is dramatically decreasing I don't know why people just got to show up for church I'm really not sure why they come for church when they couldn't come for Sabbath school because in my opinion Sabbath school is the most exciting part of the whole church worship experience you get to sit down unless you got up and I hope your Sabbath school class is not just another didactic setting where somebody gets another sermon it ought to be a time where you read the Bible together you comment on those verses you follow the Sabbath school lesson you you understand the dynamics that are happening and then you make a personal and practical samples want to be one of the most dynamic parts of our Sabbath experience but maybe you see something in Sabbath school it needs to be changed in your local church so how would you go about doing that well you could begin with the pastor and saying on the real burden on this our youth group is meeting but we hardly have any time to the study of the word we just know that that they filter in my about ten twenty and we just spend fifteen minutes talking about in a football game the replace the last week or something and just aren't doing anything talk to the pastor talked of the Sabbath school superintendent talk to the Sabbath school Council talk to the church board be a young person that has a burden for the spiritual health of your local church if you really are no frustrated about something and complaining about something there's something the film doesn't complain the state another example and I run the risk by doing this but I'll I'll just share with you briefly the challenge that were facing regarding whether or not to ordain women to the gospel ministry and that's interesting the perspectives that you get from different people especially in relation to what I'm supposed to be doing on the general conference you know all their meddling too much or they're not doing enough now maybe just get a whole array of things we tell you when you're dealing with a challenging problem you need to work methodically carefully in a Christlike way and then allow God to work in that whole process so what we've done is to set up a committee on the theology of ordination study committee which is argument two times it'll meet again this month minimum meet in the month of June it will render a report or reports to the annual Council of this year two thousand fourteen annual Council will be fully informed of all of the research that has taken place on both sides of the question and then they will decide whether to forward this question to the General conference session in San Antonio and of course we have to work carefully as we look at all of the data that is coming there are many people who genuinely are working on both sides of the question for us to point the Rosetta people and tell them that they are not genuinely interested in the church if they don't agree with our particular viewpoints is not a Christlike approach but I do believe God has an answer and I absolutely personally believe that it is found right in here and I have my own personal convictions and I might say that I have not been publicly expressing those because I want this process to work in an appropriate way at some time certainly I will probably express my views but all of us have to remember to do things in the most Christ like manner to allow the Holy Spirit to Sofia less that self is put down and that only Christ is glorified I tell you though actually the biggest question about that subject or it could be about any subject to be honest this is the biggest question and we will be preparing not only delegates but the entire world church for watch will happen when we finally do take a vote and the results of the vote is not in accordance with your way of thinking whether it is on one side or the other of the question what do you do do you become defiant bubo independence or do you submit to what the Lords church as indicated in St. Laurent you must have an answer let's eat moving forward together in the understanding that John seventeen that beautiful prayer of the Christ proclaimed not only for his disciples but for all who would follow after them so that's for all of us and we would be in units as he and the father are one it was every the spirit of prophecy and recognizing the very end of time and certainly Scripture is is certainly pointing to that as well God 's church will be oppressed will be attacked and persecuted but it will be united in the great mission that Christ has for and so we have no reason to fear that in the future the church will be so disintegrated that it can't proclaim its mission were to be preparing people for how do you respond when a decision doesn't go your way it doesn't matter whether it's women's ordination or whether it's the color of the carpet in the local church how do you respond to a third example we are in the process of adjusting fundamental belief number six which has to do with creation to make it very playing as to what the words actually mean it's amazing there are those who can try to to parse words in such a way that they actually take on the meaning other than what the intended meaning was and probably will never come to a hundred percent conclusion as to how something can be explained so that everyone understands up the same way but we are attempting to make sure that our beautiful understanding of creation that it was accomplished in six days that are so the Lord to our names were not used the words twenty four hours someone tell me what what if it was twenty three hours and forty nine minutes or fifty nine minutes I want to get into all that stuff but days that are like ours that it was done recently through prophecy says six thousand years or so that's what I believe but were not say specifically the exact year but there's a huge difference between recently and the time which most theistic evolutionists and evolutionist believe so how are we going about that little research Institute has done a very careful work we had a small committee that then presented to our biblical research Institute committee they then presented to many other scholars it is gone to all the divisions it was voted as a preliminary change in our last annual Council we have a full year before two thousand fourteen when people will be viewing and looking in sending in recommendations and at the two thousand fourteen annual Council skimming we will then vote to recommend to the General conference session the exact wording of fundamental number six this is not done in a closet somewhere apart from an entire world church looking on this is done in a very careful methodical way what happens when things are going in the wrong direction and you don't believe that things are right with the church your local church or the general conference of the world church first of all pray prayer can change a multitude of things talk and reason with people and then be patient trust in God you know there is one phrase that just so encourages me and I've seen it come true in so many respects over my brief life span and I might look like an old person to you but I still haven't the heart of a young person and is this little phrase truth will always prevail have trust in what God will do truth will ultimately come about so don't forget as you work in your local church or in your conference your institution this is the unique movement the unique people unique message and unique mission where lift up righteousness by faith lift up Christ 's Sabbath 's sanctuary message the second coming the books of Daniel and Revelation twenty three hundred days the state of the dead Revelation twelve thirteen fourteen eighteen and nineteen so many aspects that help to make this church unique and will give you the reason why you want to be involved in helping to formulate an approach to helping your church stay on track if you take away this understanding there is absolutely no reason for this movement we might as well be part of a general Christian body never ever give up this precious concept that we are a unique movement called of God have complete trust in God 's guidance total commitment to an total acceptance of Christ and his righteousness and a realization that we will go through great difficulty the church will look as if it is about to fall but it will not Lord will preserve when facing problems whether in your local church or your frustrated with the whole world church be Christlike inpatient don't lash out at people let your beautiful Christlike spirit speak louder than even the words that you are under speak truth in love the greatest way to help the church function is to prayerfully be involved being involved in your local church focus on God 's word in his mission I mean we could spend another hour or two talking about all kinds of things mission to the cities which is just taken off all over the world New York City had a fantastic experience there it's being replicated all over the world thousands of cities are being now attacked on I say that my swing through the power of the Holy Spirit because that is what God has asked us to do revived by his word I don't know if you're following reading the chapters in the Bible every day I am and it's just a wonderful thing to revive ourselves seven seven seven praying for the latter reign of the Holy Spirit the great controversy project it's exciting order to be able to go door-to-door today and I'm going to join you I'll be there with you and great controversy when it is not how many how many great controversies are great hope for variations children's versions and everything else about one hundred forty million copies have now been distributed worldwide and that doesn't include about twenty five million downloads of great controversy comprehensive health ministry amassed Don McIntosh just give about two minutes here and on I'm running out of time myself here but Don McIntosh is what we are and is very much involved with comprehensive health Ministry which is one of the most important components to the final loud cry and it is tied up tremendously with missions of the city 's counsel that spirit of prophecy and is you and you is a is a you and a and a way in a a a will and will only will thanks Don we appreciate you very much I will close here because will try and take at least two questions this is the most incredible movement to ever belong to the Adventist movement don't leave these doors without feeling affirmed that this is God 's movement regardless of what may happen regardless of votes that are taken regardless of frustration that you face this is God 's movement and it will soon culminate in Christ's glorious appearing and I just got to finish with three verses from Revelation twenty one very familiar but this is this is what real order and things done decently means now I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away also there was no more sea then I John saw the holy city new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband and I heard a loud voice from heaven saying behold the tabernacle of God is with men and he will dwell with them they should be is cheap God himself will be in the air I don't have currently I am now God is our God is even in part I dismissed this was waiting in he went to be supporting ministry of the city and it escapes the scenes I you young a United pilot gave advice printed Christians to download the pictures other resources like this please visit us I am in WW wastes even

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