Pastors are Hovering over the Churches

by Ellen White

The words were spoken to me with impelling power: Wake up the watchmen to carry the word of warning to every city in America. Build up the waste places. The righteous judgements of God, with their weight of final decision, are coming upon the land. Do not hover over the churches to repeat over and over again the same truths to the people, while the cities are left in ignorance and sin, unwarned and unlabored for. Soon the way will be hedged up and these cities will be closed to the gospel message. Wake up the church members that they may unite in doing a definite and self-denying work. 10MR 216

Too much labour is done by those who minister in word and doctrine in behalf of churches that should be set to work themselves. The church members should carry a weight of responsibility. They should keep their own souls in the love of God by exercising all the powers they have. 19MR 173

We must not feel that we are compelled to hover over churches who have received the truth. We are not to spend our time doing detail work, but are to educate others, teaching them how to labour in right lines. We must not encourage the people to depend on ministerial help and labour to preserve spiritual life. Everyone who has received the truth must go to God for his individual self, and decide to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, and do true service for God. Those who have embraced the third angel's message must not make man their trust, depending upon the ministers to make their experience for them. They are to secure an individual experience by looking to God for themselves. 1NL 127

Some men have a special message from heaven. They are to be sent forth to waken the people, not to hover over the churches to their own detriment and the hindrance of the work of God. It does a church no good to have two or three ministers waiting upon it. Were these ministers to go forth to labour for those in darkness, their work would show some results. Let the experienced men take the young men who are preparing for the ministry and go forth into new territory to proclaim the message of warning. 2SM 156

Ministers in New York should have been far in advance of what they are. But they have not engaged in that kind of labour which called forth earnest effort and strong opposition. Had they done so they would have been driven to their Bibles and to prayer in order to be able to answer their opponents, and in the exercise of their talents would have doubled them. There are ministers in New York who have been preaching for years, but who cannot be depended upon to give a course of lectures. They are dwarfed. They have not exercised their minds in the study of the word and in meeting opposition, so that they might become strong in God. Had they, like faithful soldiers of the cross of Christ, gone forth "without the camp," depending upon God and their own energies, rather than leaning so heavily upon their brethren, they would have obtained an experience, and would now be qualified to engage in the work wherever their help is most needed. If the ministers generally in New York had left the churches to labour for themselves, and had not stood in their way, both churches and ministers would now be further advanced in spirituality and in the knowledge of the truth. 3T 049

The people have not been educated to bear their testimonies as they should have been, although the Lord has been pleased to give much light upon this matter. There has been altogether too much preaching, and not enough pains taken to educate those who have newly come to the faith to speak and to pray, and learn how to do service for the Master. This kind of work is of far greater importance than is frequent preaching. It is a mistake for the preacher to do all the speaking. He should do faithful labour to teach the people who have not had an experience to learn how to speak, to learn how to pray in such a way that they may improve week by week.--Letter 54, 1894, pp. 10-12. (To Elder O. A. Olsen, June 10, 1894.) 5MR 350

The churches that have not life in themselves, that have lost their spiritual discernment, call for ministers to come to their help, to bring them the breath of life. But the ministers have other work to do. They must carry the message of truth to those who know it not. Those ministers who hover about the churches, who have not a clear cut message, which, like a sharp, two-edged sword, cuts both ways, will do the churches harm. They will not work for the salvation of souls that are in great peril because they know not the truth, and they will die spiritually themselves, and trouble and discourage those who try to help them. . . . 6MR 065

Instead of keeping the ministers at work for the churches that already know the truth, let the members of the churches say to these labourers: "Go work for souls that are perishing in darkness. We ourselves will carry forward the services of the church. We will keep up the meetings, and, by abiding in Christ, will maintain spiritual life. We will work for souls that are about us, and we will send our prayers and our gifts to sustain the labourers in more needy and destitute fields. 6T 30

[ Go Forward. ] --When we open up the work in one field, and gather out a company, we consecrate them to God and then draw them to unite with us in building a humble house of worship. Then when the church is finished, and dedicated to the Master, we pass on to other fields. Distinct and plain the word has come to us, "Go forward," and just as soon as the warning message has been given in one place, and men and women raised up to continue the work there, we pass to the unworked parts of the Lord's vineyard. --< Letter > 154, 1899. EV 381

[ < On to New Fields > ] [ Church Members Taught to Stand Alone. ] --As I travelled through the South on my way to the conference, I saw city after city that was unworked. What is the matter? The ministers are hovering over churches which know the truth while thousands are perishing out of Christ.

If the proper instruction were given, if the proper methods were followed, every church member would do his work as a member of the body. He would do Christian missionary work. But the churches are dying, and they want a minister to preach to them.

They should be taught to bring a faithful tithe to God, that He may strengthen and bless them. They should be brought into working order, that the breath of God may come to them. They should be taught that unless they can stand alone, without a minister, they need to be converted anew, and baptised anew. They need to be born again.--< Manuscript > 150, 1901. EV 381

[ Aggressive Work Called For. ] --Our ministers should plan wisely, as faithful stewards. They should feel that it is not their duty to hover over the churches already raised up, but that they should be doing aggressive evangelistic work, preaching the Word and doing house-to-house work in places that have not yet heard the truth. . . . They will find that nothing is so encouraging as doing evangelistic work in new fields. --< Letter > 169, 1904. EV 382

[ Conference Workers Called to New Fields. ] --As a general rule, the conference labourers should go out from the churches into new fields, using their God-given ability to a purpose in seeking and saving the lost.--< Letter > 136, 1902. EV 382

If the ministers would get out of the way, if they would go forth into new fields, the members would be obliged to bear responsibilities, and their capabilities would increase by use.--< Letter > 56, 1901. EV 382

[ Ministerial Forces Exhausted on Established Churches. ] --Our people have had great light, and yet much of our ministerial force is exhausted on the churches, in teaching those who should be teachers; enlightening those who should be "the light of the world"; watering those from whom should flow springs of living water; enriching those who might be veritable mines of precious truth; repeating the gospel invitation to such as should be scattered to the uttermost parts of the earth, communicating the message of Heaven to many who have not had the privileges which they have enjoyed; feeding those who should be in the byways and highways heralding the invitation, "Come; for all things are now ready." Come to the gospel feast; come to the supper of the Lamb; "for all things are now ready." EV 382

Just as soon as the workers in California stop doing aggressive work, and hover over a few churches, treading on one another's heels, their light will go out. If you wish to retain the tithe in California, not using it in foreign fields, you must do aggressive work at home. You are not to be merely consumers, but producers. You should not merely absorb. You should sustain the work in every part of the world. GCB 04-05-01

I wish to tell you that soon there will be no work done in ministerial lines but medical missionary work. The work of a minister is to minister. Our ministers are to work on the gospel plan of ministering. It has been presented to me that all through America there are barren fields. As I travelled through the South on my way to the Conference, I saw city after city that was unworked. What is the matter? The ministers are hovering over churches, which know the truth, while thousands are perishing out of Christ. If the proper instruction were given, if the proper methods were followed, every church member would do his work as a member of the body. He would do Christian missionary work. But the churches are dying, and they want a minister to preach to them. They should be taught to bring a faithful tithe to God, that he may strengthen and bless them. They should be brought into working order, that the breath of God may come to them. They should be taught that unless they can stand alone, without a minister, they need to be converted anew, and baptised anew. They need to be born again. GCB APR.12,1901

My heart has been filled with sadness as I have looked over the field and seen the barren places. What does this mean? Who are standing as representatives of Jesus Christ? Who feels a burden for the souls who can not receive the truth till it is brought to them. Our ministers are hovering over the churches, as though the angel of mercy was not making efforts to save souls.

God holds these ministers responsible for the souls of those who are in darkness. He does not call you to go into fields that need no physician. Establish your churches with the understanding that they need not expect the minister to wait upon them and to be continually feeding them. They have the truth; they know what truth is. They should have root in themselves. These should strike down deeply, that they may reach up higher and still higher. They must be rooted and grounded in the faith. GCB APR.16,1901

Do not, my ministering brethren, allow yourselves to be kept at home to serve tables; and do not hover around the churches, preaching to those who are already fully established in the faith. Teach the people to have light in themselves, and not to depend upon the ministers. They should have Christ as their helper, and should educate themselves to help one another, so that the minister can be free to enter new fields. An important work is to be done in the world. New fields are to be opened; and the zeal and the missionary spirit that Christ manifested are greatly needed. Oh that the power of God would set the truth home to every heart! Oh that all might see the necessity of having a living connection with God, and of knowing and doing his will from day to day! HS 139

Our churches, large and small, are not to be treated in such a way that they will be helplessly dependent upon ministerial aid. The members are to be so established in the faith that they will have an intelligent knowledge of medical missionary work. They are to follow Christ's example, ministering to those around them. Faithfully they are to fulfil the vows made at their baptism, the vow that they will practice the lessons taught in the life of Christ. Through sanctification of the truth as it is in Jesus they are to plant in hearts the living principles of saving faith. They are to work together to keep alive in the church the principles of self-denial and self-sacrifice, which Christ, His divinity clothed with humanity, followed in His medical missionary work. It is imparting the knowledge of Christ's love and tenderness that gives efficiency to missionary operations. MM 315

Our ministers are displeasing God by their feeble efforts to let the truths of His word shine forth to the world. Nothing so strengthens the churches as to see the work progressing in other portions of the vineyard. When the ministers understand the great blessing to be derived from labouring for those who know not the truth, they will leave the churches, after impressing upon them the importance of devising plans and methods whereby they can do within their borders the same kind of work that the ministers of the gospel are doing in the regions beyond. MM 317

Oh, what a work there is before us! Our ministers are not to hover over those who have received the message. With Christ's love burning in their hearts, they are to go forth to win sinners to the Saviour. Beside all waters God's messengers are to sow the seeds of truth. Place after place is to be visited; church after church is to be raised up. Those who take their stand for the truth are to be organised into churches, and then the minister is to pass on to other equally important fields. PUR 04-24-02

God has no use for those who seek a safe and easy place. By an unreserved consecration we are to prepare ourselves for God's service. Our ministers are not to hover over the churches, regarding the churches in some particular territory as their special care. Believers are to have root in themselves, striking firm root in Christ, that they may bear fruit to His glory. As one man, they are to strive to attain one object,--the saving of souls. Mrs. E. G. White. PUR 08-28-02

Who will now carry this burden? In view of the great needs all about us, who can be content to hover over our own churches, neither gaining nor imparting strength? Let those who have a living connection with God, go out and labour for unbelievers. We do not call for those who are half asleep to go in their present condition, but we beseech them to awake, to lay hold of the arm of infinite strength, and then go forth speaking the words of life. RH 07-16-08

The great object of our work is to carry the light to those who are in darkness. Our work is world-wide. God's delegated messengers are not to hover about the people who have been long in the truth. Altogether too much labour is devoted to the churches. God's people are not to depend on others to do their work for them. Let the Lord's messengers carry the triumphs of the cross into the regions beyond, calling upon the members of the church to send their prayers as sharp sickles into the harvest-field. Let the church appoint pastors or elders who are devoted to the Lord Jesus, and let these men see that officers are chosen who will attend faithfully to the work of gathering in the tithe. If the pastors show that they are not fitted for their charge, if they fail to set before the church the importance of returning to God his own, if they do not see to it that the officers under them are faithful, and that the tithe is brought in, they are in peril. They are neglecting a matter which involves a blessing or a curse to the church. They should be relieved of their responsibility, and other men should be tested and tried. RH 12-01-96

Soldiers of Christ are now wanted to push the battle to the front. Marshall under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel, wear his armour, and press the battle to the gate. The gospel of the kingdom of Christ must go into new countries, and enter new provinces. We are labourers together with God. Brethren and sisters, why hover about the churches? Study the parable of the lost sheep, and go forth as true shepherds, seeking the lost one who is in the wilderness of sin. Rescue the perishing. RH 12-12-93

Sermons have been in great demand in our churches. The members have depended upon pulpit declamations instead of on the Holy Spirit. Uncalled for and unused, the spiritual gifts bestowed on them have dwindled into feebleness. If the ministers would go forth into new fields, the members would be obliged to bear responsibilities, and by use their capabilities would increase. RH FEB.25,1902

In various places small companies are to consecrate themselves to God, body, soul, and spirit; and laying hold of the throne of God by faith they are to work zealously, keeping their souls in the love of God. The vital current of his love will make itself felt, and will be recognised as from heaven in the good works of his people. Those little companies who know the truth, with one voice should bid their minister go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. RH JAN.08,1895

Let the churches say to those who preach the word: "Go into the cities and villages, and preach the warning. You are God's watchmen on the walls of Zion, and however much we should be gratified to have your labours, we shall not hold you with us. We shall draw for ourselves from the treasure house of heaven by living faith. We shall not take upon ourselves the work of sermonising, but we will fear God and serve him, and speak often one to another. Not one of us shall be guilty of seeking the supremacy, or of cherishing a burning zeal for speechifying; but in humility of mind, we shall speak often one to another of our individual experiences in our daily life, and shall present the precious things we have found in the word of God by digging for it as for hidden treasure. We shall work in simplicity, and shall pray much, that as sharp sickles our prayers may follow God's delegated sowers and reapers as they go forth into the harvest-field." RH JAN.08,1895

The people go to church, listen to the sermon, pay their tithes, make their offerings, and do very little else. And why?--Because the ministers do not open their plans to the people, soliciting the benefit of their advice and counsel in planning and their help in executing the plans that they have had a part in forming.

Neither Conference officer nor minister has a call from God to indulge distrust of God's power to use every individual who is considered a worthy member of the church. This cautiousness, so-called, is retarding almost every line of the Lord's work. God can and will use those who have not had a thorough education in the schools of men. A doubt of his power to do this is manifest unbelief; it is limiting the Omnipotent power of the One with whom nothing is impossible. O for less of this unsanctified, distrustful caution! It leaves so many forces of the church unused; it closes up the way so that the Holy Spirit cannot use men; it keeps in idleness those who are willing and anxious to labour in Christ's lines; it discourages many from entering the work who would become efficient labourers together with God if they were given a fair chance.... It is the lack of spiritual exercise that makes church-members so weak and inefficient; but again I would ask, Who is to blame for the state of things that now exists?

God has given "to every man his work." Why is it that ministers and Conference officers do not recognise this fact? Why do they not manifest their appreciation of the help that individual members of the church could give? Let church-members awake. Let them take hold and help to stay up the hands of the ministers and the workers, pushing forward the interests of the cause. There must be no measuring of talent by comparison. If a man exercises faith, and walks humbly with his God, he may have little education, he may be accounted a weak man, yet he can fill his appointed place as well as the man who has the finest education. He who yields himself most unreservedly to the influence of the Holy Spirit is best qualified to do acceptable service for the Master. God will inspire men who do not occupy responsible positions to work for him. If ministers and men in positions of authority will get out of the way, and let the Holy Spirit move upon the minds of the lay brethren, God will direct them what to do for the honour of his name. Let men have freedom to carry out that which the Holy Spirit indicates. Do not put the shackles upon humble men whom God would use. If those who now occupy positions of responsibility had been kept at one class of work year after year, their talents would not have developed, and they would not have been qualified for the positions they hold; and yet they make no special effort to test and develop the talents of those newly come into the faith.

Women who are willing to consecrate some of their time to the service of the Lord should be appointed to visit the sick, look after the young, and minister to the necessities of the poor. They should be set apart to this work by prayer and laying on of hands. In some cases they will need to counsel with the church officers or the minister; but if they are devoted women, maintaining a vital connection with God, they will be a power for good in the church. This is another means of strengthening and building up the church. We need to branch out more in our methods of labour. Not a hand should be bound, not a soul discouraged, not a voice should be hushed; let every individual labour, privately or publicly, to help forward this grand work. Place the burdens upon men and women of the church, that they may grow by reason of the exercise, and thus become effective agents in the hand of the Lord for the enlightenment of those who sit in darkness. RH JUL.09,1895

The real workers in this cause are few, yet the work covers much ground; and it is often impossible for the labourers to look after the interest awakened. They fail to discern that they must enlist the lay members of the church, and teach them to work, that they may hold all that has been gained, and continue to advance. The plan of labour has been such as to lead the people to feel that they could do very little themselves, and if anything was to be accomplished they must have a minister. RH JUN.27,1912

The success of a church does not depend on the efforts and labour of the living preacher, but it depends upon the piety of the individual members. When the members depend upon the minister as their source of power and efficiency, they will be utterly powerless. They will imbibe his impulses, and be stimulated by his ideas, but when he leaves them, they will find themselves in a more hopeless condition than before they had his labours. I hope that none of the churches in our land will depend upon a minister for support in spiritual things; for this is dangerous. When God gives you light, you should praise him for it. If you extol the messenger, you will be left to barrenness of soul. Just as soon as the members of a church call for the labours of a certain minister, and feel that he must remain with them, it is time that he was removed to another field, that they may learn to exercise the ability which God has given them. Let the people go to work. Let them thank God for the encouragement they have received, and then make it manifest that it has wrought in them a good work. Let each member of the church be a living, active agent for God, both in the church and out of it. We must all be educated to be independent, not helpless and useless. Let it be seen that Christ, not the minister, is the head of the church. The members of the body of Christ have a part to act, and they will not be accounted faithful unless they do act their part. Let a divine work be wrought in every soul, until Christ shall behold his image reflected in his followers. ST JAN.27,1890

Every church, be it large or small, should be taught not to depend on ministerial labour. ST OCT.04,1883

Our ministers are not to be encouraged to hover about the churches to repeat to the believers week after week the same truths. We have a truth that is saving and precious. The Word of God must be planted in many hearts; the bread of life must be dealt out to many hungering souls. . . . It is a blessed work to lift up Christ before the world. UL 264