Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 24, 1959
NUMBER 33, PAGE 7,14b

Beyond The Horizons

By Wm. E. Wallace Box 399 McAlester, Oklahoma

"Pastoral Participation"

There is a quite obvious trend in denominational circles toward the merging of psychiatry and religion under what is referred to as pastoral counseling. In the emotional problems created by the modern pace and the "pluralistic" conditions of modern society people are turning more and more to "pastors" for help in emotional and personal problems. The "pastors" are being highly trained in the field of religious therapeutics and it is much more economic to counsel with the "pastor" than it is to patronize the professional psychiatrist.

Denominational pastors are being urged to "participate" more in the daily personal problems of the people. To participate in the affairs of people is described as living among them as a guide, philosopher and friend, to "know and understand them, to share their joys and sorrows, to stand by them in important events, such as marriage, parenthood, tragedy, separation, and bereavement . . . He will also offer help to people in their sorrows, anxieties, and dilemmas, and their frustrations and failures."

We have generally rebelled at the idea of making the preacher a "parish pastor", and rightfully so. Whatever is expected of the preacher in what we would rather call Christian service is nothing more than what is expected of any Christian relative to abilities and opportunities. The New Testament picture of the preacher or evangelist is not that of the denominational pastoral counselor. However, the preacher is not only an evangelist, he is a Christian. And being a Christian he is subject to the same responsibilities (privileges) produced by the family features of Christianity. As a Christian the preacher will naturally "participate", not professionally, but as a child of God among children of God.

There is an opposite extreme to the denominational pastoral counselor. It is seen in the preacher whose incentive and motive in preaching is to impress rather than to help. It seems to me that the preacher ought to realize that his work and life is not merely that of pulpit ministry. There is much to be said about the versatility of Christian service but enough has been said to serve as sort of an introduction to the next article.

Shake The Bushes Preacher!

There are a lot of good things on bushes and vines — blackberries, blueberries, grapes, and Muscatine's. A hunter can beat the bushes and stir up various kinds of wildlife. Bushology is an interesting study and it serves well for parabolic illustrations.

The bushes may have been pretty well picked over by the denominations, but there are still traces of fruit to be found. When we begin shaking and beating the bushes all sorts of opportunities are found.

Churches of Christ have experienced division and trial in our generation of such magnitude as to seriously threaten their future success. Those churches which find themselves in a situation of disrepute in a community because of division or because they are victims of slander from sectarians or misguided brethren, need not become static or decadent. Even in small communities where division has created keen feelings and lingering tensions the church can experience growth.

Several things are necessary for the growth of the church in such a situation, and several things can prohibit the growth. Among those things necessary for growth is a pioneer spirit which reacts to opposition and oppression with initiative and creative performance. It is not enough to meet oppression with defensive action. There must be a two-front action. We must defend the Lord's church on one front and march for souls on the other. With the courage the New Testament enjoins, this pioneer spirit will bring success to any church under any oppression. We can not afford to let the devil keep us involved only in defensive action against our misguided brethren; we must reach out for the souls of alien sinners.

In a community where division is keen the local preacher will inhibit growth if he does nothing but fight the battle of the division over and over and over, to the neglect of evangelistic obligations. This is not to say that we should let up one minute in our opposition to current digression, but we are saying that we can and must expedite a successful program of evangelism on one hand while warding off error on the other.

Some preachers in some afflicted communities do little more than preach and teach in the regular services and too much of that is given to bemoaning the situation. A church in such a circumstance will not grow. The preacher needs to set an example of getting out and shaking the bushes. His enthusiasm and effort will prove contagious and members will get busy too. Even though the denominationalists and liberal brethren may have picked over the bushes, good close shaking will produce bountiful results. In too many places preachers are preaching and bemoaning without making efforts to get the gospel to the many good prospects left among the bushes.

In many places sound churches are growing, and growing rapidly in spite of the meanness of the liberals. This growth is the result of energetic bush beating preachers, elders, deacons and leaders. I see no reason to let the liberals chase us into a shell. We ought to shake bushes and shake the liberals too, and success will be ours.

In a lot of places the liberals are not interested in much more than society folks, clubs, lodges and institutions, and it takes gospel loving conservatives to reach the good common folks.

This I know: In a community where division is bitter and well-known it is imperative that preachers be sacrificing, industrious, zealous and courageous. Too many churches are marking time or shrinking because preachers are lazy, incompetent, or faint hearted. The idea that a preacher's job is only preaching will not work in building up a church in an afflicted community. We can reach people the liberals can never reach, no matter how small the community may be. The liberals do not have anything or anybody we need to be afraid of. In shaking the bushes you might stir up a hornet's nest, or a rattlesnake, but that just makes life more interesting. Without a little challenge and excitement man would never perform at his best.

We must keep busy, brethren; there are a lot of people just waiting to hear the truth and they will not hear it until we take it into their homes. Many liberals have won by the pioneer spirit and Christian example of enthusiastic conservatives.

We need to build some fires under some preachers and some others, and keep the fires kindled. We have too many preaching executives and too few preaching field workers. A liberal preacher in Oklahoma recently resigned his "position" partly because the members were using him too much for "field work". He has the pastoral counselor idea of preaching responsibilities.

It is true that preachers can be worked and over loaded. Often the brethren expect too much of them. Some brethren think a preacher should get to the sick before the doctor, and more often. We are not talking about these works which elders and deacons can do, and ought to do, we are talking about making those contacts which result in folks being added to the Lord's church.