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  • "THE CHURCH WE CRITICIZE"

    The church has always been under fire - and it's a good thing. ~·avorite inddor sport for many people. Criticise the church; roast the minister. Such criticism is an implied compliment. Indicates there is standard church is expected to attain to and to maintain. Also true of church members - expected to be differ- ent.

    Critics fall into three categories: those definitely hostile. And we are not concerned with such this morning. Second; those sophisti- cates who consider attachment to the church as somewhat naive. Questionnaire submitted 1932 class of Princeton. 16 years out of college - graduates of a university founded and supported by gifts of Christian people. John Witherspoon an early president of Princeton was among sign- ers of Declaration of Independence. Out of 2?3 who replied only 39 attend church once d week. Less t han hulf attend regularly. ~ore t han half a t t end less t han f ive t imes a year. Some had not dttended since last college chapel.

    We are in third category; we love the church. And yet we criticize it. such critic- ism when constructive and given in love, is a good thing. It's all in the family. 'fherefore, let's look at some of these criticisms.

    Too Narrow or Too Broad ''Too narrow. van' t do this; can't do that. Ministers and people

    are too uncompromising; too inflexible. I know Jesus said we are to be 'salt' but we are too salty. Methodist ministers can't even smoke~ We should recognize that life has moved on. After all, Jesus attended a wedding at Cana - and had a good time. Too narrow - in theology and in everything. That's my criticism. "

    "That isn't my criticism. My criticism is that the church is too broad - not narrow enough. So broad that it has become shallow. Lost its

  • -3-

    On other hand, someone criticizes for not being formal enough. "Do not even get there on time. Instead of preparing yourself in prayer before the service, you talk about anything - baseball, prizefight, election, neighbors. We do ourselves a spiritual injustice when we come unprepared. Too many of us have slovenly spir- itual manners. We are so casual. And remember, we are here for only one hou - that hour has to prepare us for a whole week of living. Church needs to recover its lost reverence. "

    Undue Emphasis Upon Money - Not Enough Emphasis

    "After money all the time. For this and that - salaries and repairs; hospit-

    als and orphanages; coal and missions; money all the time. Money, money, money, the refrain."

    "Well, the way I look at it is like this! those who say most about money usually give the least. Most church people who talk about money, actually don't put too much down on the altar - especially as we realize what church people are spending for other things: automobiles; movies; silverware; · Saturday nights; tobacco; ourselves. What the church needs to do is to begin to place emphasis upon Christian stewardship. All things come of God - someday we'll have to give account - or don't we believe that?"

    All I know is this; that if the membership of this church would begin to give according to Biblical proportion of one tenth, this church we all love so well could be beautified and repair- ed. Surely as a general principle, the House of the Lord should · be as beautiful and as adequate as our homes. "Ye dwell in oeiled houses while the House of the Lord is neglected".

    Two selections from two church calendars: First entitled "My Dream". Second entitled "My Church rr .

  • -2-

    cutting edge. And kind of doctrine goes. Any kind of person can get into church and stay in without being too uncomfortable. Should be some kind of theological and personal test of minis- ter - and of official board members. Ministers are tested each conference. Is there anything against character of any man on your district? Would test official board members on point of their kindness and careful use of tongue. Also on loyalty to church and minister. And would remember that church is not for saints primarily but in order to make saints out of sinners.

    •roo Other-worldly or Too This \io.rl dl y

    "Pre-occupied with heaven and not at all concerned with earth and all its problems.

    Rolling eyes heavenward and praying for millen- ium to come. Pie in the sky by and by. Unaware of great social issues and human problems - and failing to register itself on great questions such as war and peace; honesty and dishonesty; political integrity; race; international justice around the world. Too much concerned about pres- ervation of symbols and dogmas and doctrines. "

    "That 's not the trouble. Trouble is that the church is not other-worldly enough. Church is dabbling too much in the affairs of this life. Why doesn't the church stick to the simple gospel of .Jesus Christ?nrncidentally Jesus spoke at Naz- areth relative to His mission - to heal sick etc •• "Methodist church going communistic. Look at Bishop Oxnam and McConnell". The church will always have to face such criticism when she takes lead in planning for human betterment; and when she seeks to have men face social responsibility.

    Too Formal or Not Formal Enough

    "Too many candles; too many Amens; too formal that

    we 've lost spirit. Can't even walk into service when

    you want to anymore. Anthems; hymns we don't know. Get back to good old gospel songs."

  • MY DREAM

    I dreamed last night-it must have been a day-dream-that there had gone out a decree from the Ruler of the universe that for ten years the stars would shine no more. That night the world was full of sad and wakeful people. The streets were crowded with them driving to some country scene to get a last longing look. Mothers awakened their babies, too young to know the significance of what was going on, hoping that they could at least gain some impression. And for the whole long night, people who had seldom lifted their eyes to look at the stars sat up and looked until the last star faded into the brightening day. Well did one say: "If the stars shone only once in ten years, we would sit up all night to look at them."

    I dreamed also that laughter had been banished for ten years. One day was granted before the decree should be enforced, but on that day no- body laughed. The prospect of having no laughter as medicine for the heart had already banished joy.

    In this dream there was also a ban on beauty. The leaves of autumn were commanded to die and fall without their manifold coloring. Spring was commanded not to return, and winter was forbidden to paint the landscape; and many people cried, "If beauty dies, let me die, too. With- out roses, autumn woods, and spring, and the beauty in human faces, life is not worth living." But many of these had never lifted a note of praise to God for all the beauty of the world.

    And, last of all, I looked and saw a mighty lock on every door of every church, and a poster forbidding anyone to sing or pray or worship God. Then I saw people leaning against the walls weeping, and walking about in sadness, and the powers of evil grinning, and mothers saying, "Cursed be the day I brought a child into such a world."

    Then I awoke and thanked God it was only a dream, and promised God I would take time to look at the stars and to enjoy and create beauty, and to laugh and worship.

    -Hugh 0. Isbell, Pastor, St. Paul's Methodist, Springfield, Missouri.

  • come to see being e necessity of making a social call

    in the pastor's home, or without aving the pastor's wife "horn in" on

    conversation (a few do!). Also, it relieves the burdened, helpful wife of a

    many details of parish work that ought not to be concerned with.

    Furthermore, the parsonage is the PRIVATE RESIDENCE of the pas- tor's family. It is provided by the people

    the parish for that purpose and NOT to· make it the parish goldfish bowl or the parish junk shop, where things are deposited because they are "too good to throw away" but not good enough to keep in their own homes.

    Like the doctor or lawyer, the pastor should consult with his people in pri- vate, where an opportunity is given for

    WRITE FOR A COPY

    A limited number of copies of the 20- page two-color picture bookl~t •. en~itle?, "America-The Great Evangelistic Field, prepared by Dr. J. Manning Potts and issued by the General Board of Evange- lism for distribution at the General and Jurisdictional Conferences, are available to readers of Shepherds.

    Single copies of it may be secured free of charge, as long as the supply lasts, by making a postal card request to the. editor of Shepherds. Please write for your copy at once.

    straying and the sheep. not fall into the snare of some sional men today who are "too or "too tired" to answer the calls their people-patients or clients.

    It is possible for the pastor to range office interviews with the persons he wishes to see, setting up schedule of time and filling it with he wishes to win for Christ and Church, arranging for counsel and after marriage, helping the people plan their schooling and lifework, counseling the troubled ents, and aiding the older persons face the many lonely personal .r·acl{cUito::; that life brings.

    This elevates the interview to a of proper importance and boosts morale of the persons invited to office. If the pastor more or less them on-the-run, they feel that the of the pastor and the Church is secondary importance and not of their deep consideration or either.

    Lastly, let the pe

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