For our Sabbath evening meetings, we are in the process of reading through a series of articles by Adventist pioneer J.H. Waggoner, generally two articles each week. The title of this series is simply “The Church” and it details the method of organization employed by our pioneers, particularly on the local level. It is vital that we understand this history if we are to successfully reorganize today. This is how God led our church to operate. It is the blueprint we still need to follow to raise up new churches today. I have a recording of the first two chapters here for you to listen to. If you want to, you can also read along here: Number 1 (p. 8) and number 2 (p. 24). These articles can only be found on the Adventist Archives website (linked above). We will continue publishing this series here on the Bright Beams website as we go.
Now, without further ado, here is the audio:
The Church, No. 1
The Church, No. 2
This article pertains to five necessary steps before there can be local church organization. I have summarized them here:
1. “At a proper time they should be asked to sign a covenant, simple in form, with a few specifications of points of primary importance. A promise to meet together for worship, and to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Rev. 14: 12), is all that is usually embraced in this covenant, and is quite sufficient. This is not to constitute them a church; that is an after consideration.” (This is a very important point, and why we should have a church covenant and not a creed of ‘Articles of Faith’ is covered in the recording. PLEASE DON’T MISS THIS.)
2. “When the time arrives for the organization of a church, all the believers are called together. Let it first be ascertained how many there are of those present in whom all have full confidence. Having ascertained the number who can fully fellowship one another, against whom no charges shall be preferred, let them be considered the nucleus, the body by whom others are to be received.”
3. “Then proceed to vote on the others, just as they would receive members into the church at any other time. Exhort all to be faithful, as having a regard for the honor of the cause and for the welfare of souls. It is easier to keep trouble out of the church than to get it out when it is let in … And in all cases, members should not be received into the church until they are well instructed in the truth.”
4. “The members should be early trained to maintain family prayer and to take part in social meetings. And no company nor church should be left alone for a long time, after they embrace the faith … A full organization should not be hurried.”
5. “Ordination or appointment of church officers [elders and deacons] was always by prayer and laying on of hands. The utmost care was enjoined in their selection. The must show a fitness for the position before they were set apart. Thus Paul wrote to Timothy: ‘Lay hands suddenly on no man; neither be partakers of other men’s sins.’ 1 Tim. 6:22.
Subsequent articles will cover the church officers in more detail, which also includes a clerk. We will continue going through this series each Sabbath.