Why Not Try This? …Encourage Your Lay Leaders to Take A Free Seminary Class

On any given Sabbath there are more lay preachers than paid preachers in Seventh-day Adventist pulpits, even in the North American Division. What can we do to encourage and develop strong, clear, Christ-centered, Bible-based preaching by our lay members?

There are many things that can be done. I’d like to suggest one that is often overlooked.

Each year in every union in the North American Division there are four intensive seminary classes offered tuition free to pastors and approved lay members*. Each class runs from Sunday evening through Thursday afternoon and can be taken by audit or credit. There are outstanding teachers, great discussions and fellowship, incredible sermon ideas and tremendous networking. And all of this is free to the student, a $2,100+ value.

True, many members cannot get off work for this period of time. But there are some who can and others who would even take vacation time to sit in four days of classes by George Knight, Richard Davidson, Joseph Kidder or another teacher.

Why not pick out some of your elders or others leaders and talk with them this month about going to one of the classes offered this November on the campus of Walla Walla University or next April at the NPUC Offices in the Portland/Vancouver area? You could even use the bulletin insert below to let the congregation know of this opportunity. Maybe you would even like to join them. Your Conference Ministerial Director is happy to approve pastors and lay leaders to attend classes tuition free whenever possible.

Blessings to you,

Dan Serns

 

Related Resources–

The manner in which the truth is presented often has much to do in determining whether it will be accepted or rejected.–Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 404, 405. (1880) {Ev 168.1}

It is to be regretted that many do not realize that the manner in which Bible truth is presented has much to do with the impressions made upon minds, and with the Christian character afterward developed by those who receive the truth. Instead of imitating Christ in His manner of labor, many are severe, critical, and dictatorial. They repulse instead of winning souls. Such will never know how many weak ones their harsh words have wounded and discouraged.– Historical Sketches, p. 121. (1886) {Ev 168.2}

Startling Messages.–Most startling messages will be borne by men of God’s appointment, messages of a character to warn the people, to arouse them. And while some will be provoked by the warning, and led to resist light and evidence, we are to see from this that we are giving the testing message for this time. . . . We must also have, in our cities, consecrated evangelists through whom a message is to be borne so decidedly as to startle the hearers.–Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 137. (1909) {Ev 168.3}

With Certainty and Decision.–There is a living power in truth, and the Holy Spirit is the agent that opens human minds to the truth. But the ministers and workers who proclaim the truth must show certainty and decision. They are to go forth in faith, and present the Word as though they believed it. Try to make those for whom you labor understand that it is God’s truth. Preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. This will confront Satan’s lies.–Letter 34, 1896. {Ev 169.1}

The Word of the Living God.–If your way of presenting the truth is God’s way, your audience will be deeply impressed with the truth you present. The conviction will come to them that it is the word of the living God, and you will accomplish the will of God in power.–Letter 48, 1902. {Ev 169.2}

Big Ideas of Scripture Truth.–You do not present yourself, but the presence and preciousness of truth is so large, why, it is so far-reaching, so deep, so broad, that self is lost sight of. . . . Preach so that the people can catch hold of big ideas and dig out the precious ore hid in the Scriptures.–Manuscript 7, 1894. {Ev 169.3}

Meetings to Witness Deep Movings of Spirit.–At our meetings held in the cities, and at our camp meetings, we do not ask for great demonstrations, but we ask that the men who come before the people to present the truth shall be in earnest, and shall reveal that God is with them. There must be a special seeking after God, that the work of the meeting may be carried on under the deep movings of the Holy Spirit. There must be no mingling of the wrong with the right.–Review and Herald, July 23, 1908. {Ev 169.4}

More Activity and Zeal.–We need to break up the monotony of our religious labor. We are doing a work in the world, but we are not showing enough activity and zeal. If we were more in earnest, men would be convinced of the truth of our message. The tameness and monotony of our service for God repels many who are looking to see in us a deep, earnest, sanctified zeal. Legal religion will not answer for this age. We may perform all the outward acts of service, and yet be as destitute of the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew and rain. We need spiritual moisture; and we need also the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness to soften and subdue our hearts.–Review and Herald, May 26, 1903. {Ev 169.5}

Calm, Earnest Reasoning.–It is not excitement we wish to create, but deep, earnest consideration, that those who hear shall do solid work, real, sound, genuine work that will be enduring as eternity. We hunger not for excitement, for the sensational; the less we have of this, the better. The calm, earnest reasoning from the Scriptures is precious and fruitful. Here is the secret of success, in preaching a living personal Saviour in so simple and earnest a manner that the people may be able to lay hold by faith of the power of the Word of life.–Letter 102, 1894. {Ev 170.1}

Present the Evidences of Truth.–People cannot be expected to see at once the advantage of truth over the error they have cherished. The best way to expose the fallacy of error is to present the evidences of truth. This is the greatest rebuke that can be given to error. Dispel the cloud of darkness resting on minds by reflecting the bright light of the Sun of Righteousness.–Pacific Union Recorder, Oct. 23, 1902. {Ev 170.2}

Win Confidence of the People.–Those who labor for Christ should be men and women of great discretion, so that those who do not understand their doctrines may be led to respect them, and regard them as persons void of fanaticism, void of rashness and impetuosity. Their discourses and conduct and conversation should be of a nature that will lead men to the conclusion that these ministers are men of thought, of solidity of character, men who fear and love their heavenly Father. They should win the confidence of the people, so that those who listen to the preaching may know that the ministers have not come with some cunningly devised fable, but that their words are words of worth, a testimony that demands thought and attention. Let the people see you exalting Jesus, and hiding self.–Review and Herald, April 26, 1892. {Ev 170.3}

No Long, Far-fetched, Complicated Reasoning.– Christ seldom attempted to prove that truth is truth. He illustrated truth in all its bearings, and then left His hearers free to accept or reject it, as they might choose. He did not force anyone to believe. In the sermon on the mount He instructed the people in practical godliness, distinctly outlining their duty. He spoke in such a manner as to commend truth to the conscience. The power manifested by the disciples was revealed in the clearness and earnestness with which they expressed the truth. {Ev 171.1}

In Christ’s teaching there is no long, far-fetched, complicated reasoning. He comes right to the point. In His ministry He read every heart as an open book, and from the inexhaustible store of His treasure house He drew things both new and old to illustrate and enforce His teachings. He touched the heart, and awakened the sympathies.–Manuscript 24, 1891. {Ev 171.2}

Simple, Forcible Doctrinal Teaching.–A few forcible remarks upon some point of doctrine will fasten it in the mind much more firmly than if such a mass of matter were presented that nothing lies out clear and distinct in the mind of those ignorant of our faith. There should be interspersed with the prophecies practical lessons of the teachings of Christ.–Letter 48, 1886. {Ev 171.3}

God Will Give Fit Words.–What a privilege it is to labor for the conversion of souls! Our calling is high. . . . To fit us to do this work, He will strengthen our mental faculties as verily as He did the mind of Daniel. As we teach those in darkness to understand the truths that have enlightened us, God will teach us to understand these truths still better ourselves. He will give us apt words to speak, communicating to us through the angel standing by our side.– Manuscript 126, 1902. {Ev 172.1}

Less Controversy-More of Christ.–We need far less controversy, and far more presentation of Christ. Our Redeemer is the center of all our faith and hope. Those who can present His matchless love, and inspire hearts to give Him their best and holiest affections, are doing work that is great and holy.–Colporteur Evangelist, pp. 60, 61. (1902) {Ev 172.2}

The many argumentative sermons preached seldom soften and subdue the soul.–Letter 15, 1892. {Ev 172.3}

Do Not Rail.–Those who advocate the truth can afford to be fair and pleasant. It does not need the human mixing in. It is not for you to use the Holy Spirit of God, but it is for the Holy Spirit to use you. . . . {Ev 172.4}

Be careful that you do not rail once. We want the Holy Spirit of God to be life and voice for us. Our tongue should be as the pen of a ready writer, because the Spirit of God is speaking through the human agent. When you use that twit and fling, you have stirred in some of yourself, and we do not want anything of that mixture.–Manuscript 7, 1894. {Ev 172.5}

Do Not Attack Authorities.–Our work is not to make a raid on the Government but to prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. The fewer attacks we make on authorities and powers, the more work will we do for God. . . . {Ev 173.1}

While the truth must be defended, this work is to be done in the spirit of Jesus. If God’s people work without peace and love, they work at a great loss, an irretrievable loss. Souls are driven from Christ even after they have been connected with His work. {Ev 173.2}

We are not to pass judgment on those who have not had the opportunities and privileges we have had. Some of these will go into heaven before those who have had great light but have not lived up to the light. {Ev 173.3}

If we wish to convince unbelievers that we have the truth that sanctifies the soul and transforms the character, we must not vehemently charge them with their errors. Thus we force them to the conclusion that the truth does not make us kind and courteous, but coarse and rough. {Ev 173.4}

Some, easily excited, are always ready to take up the weapons of warfare. In times of trial they will show that they have not founded their faith on the solid rock. . . . {Ev 173.5}

Let Seventh-day Adventists do nothing that will mark them as lawless and disobedient. Let them keep all inconsistency out of their lives. Our work is to proclaim the truth, leaving the issues with the Lord. {Ev 173.6}

Do all in your power to reflect the light, but do not speak words that will irritate or provoke.–Manuscript 117a, 1901. {Ev 173.7}

Presenting Truth in Fierce Way.–In the past you have presented the truth in a fierce way, using it as if it were a scourge. This has not glorified the Lord. You have given the people the rich treasures of God’s Word, but your manner has been so condemnatory that they have turned from them. You have not taught the truth in the way that Christ taught it. You present it in a way that mars its influence. . . . Your heart needs to be filled with the converting grace of Christ.–Letter 164, 1902. {Ev 173.8}

Present the Truth Tenderly.–Let every minister learn to wear the gospel shoes. He who is shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace will walk as Christ walked. He will be able to speak right words, and to speak them in love. He will not try to drive home God’s message of truth. He will deal tenderly with every heart, realizing that the Spirit will impress the truth on those who are susceptible to divine impressions. Never will he be vehement in his manner. Every word spoken will have a softening, subduing influence. . . . {Ev 174.1}

In speaking words of reproof, let us put all the Christlike tenderness and love possible into the voice. The higher a minister’s position, the more circumspect should he be in word and act.–Manuscript 127, 1902. {Ev 174.2}

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