I. Order and Organization

1. Jerusalem Church a model for church organization. The organization at Jerusalem was to serve as a model for the organization of churches in every other place where messengers of truth should win converts to the gospel. Those to whom was given the responsibility of the general oversight of the church, were not to lord it over God's heritage, but, as wise shepherds, were to "feed the flock of God ... being examples to the flock" and the deacons were to be "men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom." These men were to take their position unitedly on the side of right, and to maintain it with firmness and decision. Thus they would have a uniting influence upon the entire flock (The Acts of the Apostles, 91).

2. Order and system in the conduct of church affairs. "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." He requires that order and system be observed in the conduct of church affairs today, no less than in the days of old. He desires His work to be carried forward with thoroughness and exactness, so that He may place upon it the seal of His approval (Ibid., 96).

The order that was maintained in the early Christian church made it possible for them to move forward solidly, as a well-disciplined army, clad with the amour of God. The companies of believers, though scattered over a large territory, were all members of one body; all moved in concert, and in harmony with one another (Ibid., 95, 96).

3. Organizing new converts. As an important factor in the spiritual growth of the new converts, the apostles were careful to surround them with the safeguards for gospel order.... Officers were appointed in each church, and proper order and system were established for the conduct of all the affairs pertaining to the spiritual welfare of the believers.

This is in harmony with the gospel plan of uniting in one body all believers in Christ, and this plan Paul was careful to follow throughout his ministry. Those who in any place were by his labor led to accept Christ as the Savior, were, at the proper time, organized into a church. Even when the believers were but few in number, this was done. The Christians were thus taught to help one another, remembering the promise, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them."

Paul did not forget the churches thus established. The care of these churches rested on his mind as an everyincreasing burden. However small a company might be, it was still the object of his constant solicitude (Ibid., 185, 186).

4. Careful training of new converts. In all their missionary endeavors, Paul and Barnabas sought to follow Christ's example of willing sacrifice and faithful, earnest labor for souls.... And with the sowing of the seed, the apostles were careful to give to all who took their stand for the gospel, practical instruction that was of untold value.. ..

When men of promise and ability were converted, as in the case of Timothy, Paul and Barnabas sought earnestly to show them the necessity of laboring int he vineyard.... This careful training of new converts was an important factor in the fremarkable success that attended Paul and Barnabas as the preached the gospel in heathen lands (Ibid., 186, 187).

5. Meeting with little companies. The apostle felt that he was to a large extent responsible tor the spiritual welfare for those converted under his labors. His desire for them was that they might increase in a knowledge of the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He had sent. Often in his ministry he would meet with little companies of men and women who loved Jesus, and bow with them in prayer, asking God to teach them how to maintain a living connection with Him. Often he took counsel with them as to the best methods of giving to others the light of gospel truth. And often, when separated from those for whom he had thus labored, he pleaded with God to keep them from evil, and help them to be earnest, active missionaries (Ibid., 262).

6. Urge Jnitlifnlness in stewardship. Let the church appoinlpastors 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 ot gathering in the tithe. ... Let the leaders and officers for the church follow the direction of the Sacred Word, and urge upon their members the necessity of faithfulness in the payment of pledges, tithes, and offerings.

Frequently those who receive truth are among the poor of this world, but they should not make this an excuse for neglecting those duties which devolve upon them in view of the precious light they have received. They should not allow poverty to prevent them from laying up treasure in heaven... It is the motive with which they work, not the amount they do that makes their offering valuable in the sight of heaven. (Counsels on Stewardship, 106, 107).

7. Give the people the Word of God. We do not want to lose sight of the peculiar sacredness of this mission of ministering in word and in doctrine to the people. It is the work of the minister to speak the words of truth to the people, solemn, sacred truth. Some form the habit of relating anecdotes in their discourses, which have a tendency to amuse and remove from the mind of the hearer the sacredness of the work which they are handling. Such should consider that they are not giving to the people the word of the Lord. Too many illustrations do not have a correct influence; they belittle the sacred dignity that should ever be maintained in the presentation of the Word of God to the people (Evangelism, 208,209).

II. Character and Methods

1. Administer principles of piety and justice. The same principles of piety and justice that were to guide the rulers among God's people in the time of Moses and for David, were also to be followed by those given the oversight of the newly organized church of God in the gospel dispensation. In the work of setting things in order in all the churches, and ordaining suitable men to act as officers, the apostles held to the high standards of leadership outlined in the Old Testament Scriptures. They maintained that he who is called to stand in a position of leading responsibility in the church, "Must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; hut a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, .mperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers (The Acts of the Apostles, 95).

2. Keep self in the background. "Resolutely refusing to display human wisdom or to exalt self, they [ministers] will accomplish a work that will withstand the assaults of Satan. Many souls will be turned from darkness to light, and many churches will be established. Men will be converted, not to the human instrumentality, but to Christ. Self will be kept on the background; Jesus only, the Man of Calvary, will appear" (Ibid., 363).

4. Mingle freely with the people. A pastor should mingle freely with the people for whom he labors, that by becoming acquainted with them, he many know how to adapt his teaching to their needs. When a minister has preached a sermon, his work has just begun. There is personal work for him to do. He should visit the people in their homes, talking and praying with them in earnestness, and humility. There are families who will never be reached by the truths of God's Word unless the stewards of His grace enter their homes and point them to the higher way. But the hearts of those who do this must throb in unison with the heart of Christ (Ibid., 363, 364).

Many a laborer fails in his work because he does not come close to those who most need his help. With the Bible in hand, he should seek in a courteous manner to learn the objections which exist in the minds of those who are beginning to inquire, "What is truth?" Carefully and tenderly should he lead and educate them, as pupils in school (Evangelism, 484).

5. Give undivided interest to the Lord's work. Some who have labored in the ministry have failed of attaining success because they have not given their undivided interest to the Lord's work. Ministers should have no engrossing interests aside from the great work of leading souls to the Savior.... Ministers cannot do acceptable work for God, and at the same time carry the burden of large personal business enterprises. Such a division of interest dims their spiritual perception (The Acts of the Apostles, 365).

6. Deal tenderly with transgressors. The Savior's manner of dealing with Peter had a lesson for him and for his brethren. It taught them to met the transgressor with patience, sympathy, and forgiving love. Although Peter had denied the Lord, the love which Jesus bore him never faltered. Just such love should the under shepherd feel for the sheep and lambs committed to his care. Remembering his own weakness and failure, Peter was to deal with his flock as tenderly as Christ dealt with him (The Desire of Ages, 815).

7. Win hearts by love. Christ drew the hearts of His hearers to Him by the manifestation of His love, and then, little by little, as they were able to bear it, He unfolded to them the great truths of the kingdom. We also must learn to adapt our labors to the condition of the people—to meet men where they are (Evangelism, 484).

8. Watch for souls as they that must give account. The messengers should watch for souls as they that must give account. Theirs must be a life of toil and anguish of spirit, while the weight of the precious but often-wounded cause of Christ rests upon them. They will have to lay aside worldly interests and comforts and make it their first object to do all in their power to advance the cause of present truth and save perishing souls.

They will also have a rich reward. In their crowns of rejoicing those who are rescued by them and finally saved will shine as stars forever and ever (Early Writings, 61).

9. Teach as Christ taught. God's Word is true philosophy, true science. Human opinions and sensational preaching amount to very little. Those who are imbued with the Word of God will teach it in the same simple way that Christ taught it. The world's greatest Teacher used the simplest language and the plainest symbols (Counsels to Parents and Teachers, 433).

10. Seek to reclaim those who stray. The parable of the good shepherd represents the responsibility of every minister and of every Christian who has accepted a position as teacher of the children and youth. The one that has strayed from the fold is not followed with harsh words and a whip but with winning invitations to return. . . . The shepherd follows the sheep and lambs that have caused him the greatest anxiety and have engrossed his sympathies most deeply.... This is the lesson that the under shepherds are to learn—success in bringing the sheep and lambs back to the fold (Ibid., 198).

11. Use neither harshness nor flattery. Pastors are needed—faithful shepherds—who will not flatter God's people, nor treat them harshly, but who will feed them with the bread of life—men who in their lives feel daily the converting power of the Holy Spirit, and who cherish a strong, unselfish love toward those for whom they labor ( The Acts of the Apostles, 526).

12. Painstaking effort for erring men and women. The church on earth is composed of erring men and women, who need patient, painstaking effort that they may be trained and disciplined to work with acceptance on this life, and in the future life to be crowned with glory and immortality (Ibid.).

III. Dangers and Problems

1. Blinded by self-confidence. Men who move in accordance with their own strong traits of character, refusing to yoke up with others who have had a long experience in the work of God, will become blinded by self-confidence, unable to discern between the false and the true. It is not safe for such ones to be chosen as leaders in the church; for they would follow their own judgment and plans, regardless of the judgment of their brethren. It is easy for the enemy to work through those who, themselves needing counsel at every step, undertake the guardianship of souls in their own strength, without having learned the lowliness of Christ (Ibid., 279).

2. Problems arising from the self-willed. The church had been properly organized, and officers had been appointed to act as ministers and deacons. But there were some, self-willed and impetuous, who refused to be subordinate to those who held positions of authority in the church. They claimed not only the right of private judgement, but that of publicly urging their views upon the church. In view of this, Paul called the attention of the Thessalonians to the respect and deference due to those who had been chosen to occupy positions of authority in the church (Ibid., 261, 262).

3. Undue attachment to one minister. He who sends forth gospel workers as His ambassadors is dishonored when there is manifested among the hearers so strong an attachment to some favorite minister that there is an unwillingness to accept the labors of some other teacher. The Lord sends help to his people, not always as they may choose, but as they need; for men are short-sighted, and cannot discern what is for their highest good. It is seldom that one minister has all the qualifications necessary to perfect a church in all the requirements of Christianity; therefore God often sends to them other ministers, each possessing some qualifications in which the others were deficient. The church should gratefully accept servants of Christ, even as they would accept the Maste Himself (Ibid., 277,278).

4. Checking fanaticism. I saw the necessity of messengers, especially, watching and checking all fanaticism wherever they might see it rise.... I have seen the danger of the messengers running off from the important points of present truth, to dwell upon subjects that are not calculated to unite the flock and sanctify the soul. Satan will here take every possible advantage to injure the cause (Early Writings, 63).

5. Tactful work in the spirit of Christ needed. There is tactful work for the under shepherd to do as he is called to meet alienation, bitterness, envy, and jealousy in the church, and he will need to labor in the spirit of Christ to set things in order. Faithful warnings are to be given, sins rebuked, wrongs made right, not only by the minister's work in the pulpit, but by personal labor. The wayward heart may take exception to the message, and the servant of God may be misjudged and criticized. Let him them remember that "wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy" (The Acts of the Apostles, 526).

6. Dealing with dissension. When dissension arose in a local church, as later it did arise in Antioch and elsewhere, and the believers were unable to come to an agreement among themselves, such matters were not permitted to create a division in the church, but were refereed to a general council of the entire body of believers, made up of appointed delegates from the various local churches, with the apostles and elders in positions of leading responsibility. Thus the efforts of Satan to attack the church in isolated places, were met by concerted action on the part of all; and the plans of the enemy to disrupt and destroy were thwarted (Ibid., 96).

7. Judge righteously with impartiality. When choosing seventy elders to share with him the responsibilities of leadership, Moses was careful to select, as his helpers, men possessing dignity, sound judgement, and experience. In his charge to these elders at the time of their ordination, He outlines some of the qualifications that fit a man to be a wise ruler ion the church. "Hear the causes between your brethren, said Moses, "and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgement; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgement is God's" (Ibid., 94).

Ellen G. White was one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A prolific writer, she produced more than 100,000 pages by the time she died in 1915. Her work continues as a prophetic voice within the Adventist Church.