[This meeting was held on a Thursday and Friday in June, 1900 (though the exact dates are not given in the article), at Owensboro. A paper was read on “Mormonism”, the "Oneida School" (in Clay County) and “The Church”; discussions followed. The second day, the two issues described below were the subjects for discussion.]
Temptation to Self-Seeking in the Ministry.
This was the topic of an interesting paper by Bro. Granville Dockery, of Bowling Green. This paper was unusually well read. It did what so few papers do, it held the attention of the audience throughout its reading.
Bro. Dockery showed us that the preacher is a man, and that he has his temptations just as other men do. He loves praise and money and ease, and he must continually fight these temptations. He spoke of the preacher's temptation to desire to be popular with the people, to covet the field of some other brother, etc.
Bro. A. C. Dorris, of LaFayette, was on the program for a second paper on this subject. His paper was thoughtful and suggestive. He said that self was hard to master even in a preacher. Some of the temptations of the preacher that he named were: (1) Lack of appreciation on the part of the people leading to self-seeking on the part of the preacher to overcome difficulty; (2) Lack of proper support in the ministry forcing the minister to seek material things to the neglect of spiritual things; (3) Lack of proper co-operation on the part of the people causing the preacher to become discouraged and to neglect the salvation of souls; (4) Temptation to fall in with the restlessness of the age; (5) Temptation to get up revivals rather than to pray them down; (6) Refraining from preaching the strong doctrines for fear of antagonizing his hearers; (7) Not to preach on the popular sins of the day for fear of antagonizing prominent and influential people; (8) The Temptation to over-estimate one's own ability.
At this juncture, a number of visitors were introduced and recognized by the body. They were as follows:
Harvey Hatcher, of Atlanta, Ga., representing the American Baptist Publication Society.
S. E. Smith, Pastor of the Fourth Street Colored Baptist Church of Owensboro.
J. F. Winchell, of Rockport, Indiana.
T. A. Aspy, pastor of the Rockport Baptist Church, Indiana.
C. F. Maddox, the sweet singer of Temple, Texas.
T. W. Young, Secretary of our State Interdenominational Temperance Organization.
J. B. Rogers, of Moawequa, Illinois.
W. A. Bombard, pastor of the German Lutheran Church, Owensboro, Kentucky.
C. W. Byrd, pastor of the Methodist Church, Owensboro, Ky.
The papers on "Temptation to Self-Seeking in the Ministry" were then taken up and generally discussed.
Harvey Hatcher, of Georgia, was the first speaker. He felt that there was a right kind of self-seeking. He said that a preacher ought to keep his finances straight. Bro. Hatcher also spoke strongly against a preacher seeking to supplant a brother. He said he would just as soon seek to rob a man of his wife and family. He thought the position ought always to seek the preacher, and not the preacher the position. Let the preacher do his work well, said he, wherever God puts him, and reputation and position will take care of themselves.
Bro. Z. Ferrill, of Hawesville, told how he had been tempted, in conversation with a preacher of another denomination, to agree with him when he remarked that there was little difference between his own denomination and the Baptists. He also told something of his own work.
Bro. T. T. Eaton, of Louisville, asserted that the meanest man that the world ever saw was a Baptist preacher, namely, Judas Iscariot.
He was surprised that there were not more bad Baptist preachers now. He thought it was too easy for a man to become a Baptist preacher, and that we ought to be more careful in ordaining men to the ministry. He spoke also of the difficulty of a preacher's pleasing everybody. "I believe that there is no more faithful, earnest, devoted, self-sacrificing body of men in the world than the Baptist ministry."
Bro. S. H. Ford, of Missouri, talked beautifully and helpfully of the blessedness of forgetting self in the varied activities of the ministry. The preacher's great battle, he said, was to fight down self. "Consciousness of self is weakness." This, he affirmed, was true even in literature and art, and especially in religion. In closing, Bro. Ford urged us to have more faith.
At this juncture, the congregation was led in prayer for freedom from selfishness by Bro. I. B. Timberlake, of Nicholasville.
The next speaker was Bro. Granville Dockery, of Bowling Green, who spoke in support of a position that he had taken in his paper which had been objected to by some of the brethren.
Corrective Church Discipline
This was the topic next taken up. Bro. J. W. Waldrop, of Owenton, who had been appointed to read the paper on this question, announced that he was unprepared. After some good-natured wrangling as to whether or not this question ought to be discussed, the brethren proceeded with the discussion without any paper.
Bro. J. W. Loving, of Glasgow, was the first speaker. He thought that the principle difficulty in exercising church discipline was that there was a general misapprehension as to the primary design of church discipline. This design, he said, was not purification, but reclamation. The effort was to reclaim the erring brother, to save him to the cause and to lead him into active Christian service. He said that such effort on the part of the church on behalf of the brother ought to be considered as a compliment to him, showing that they thought he was worth saving.
Editor J. N. Prestridge, of Louisville, said that he thought one reason why so many of us shrink back from church discipline is that we lack a little discrimination. He said that discipline was not simply turning a brother out, although that was sometimes necessary as the final action. He suggested that a good thing to do is to get some of the brethren together quietly and pray for an erring brother. He felt that thus discipline could be exercised, nine times out of ten, with all the sweet gentleness of a woman in her home.
Bro. B. F. Riley, of Morganfield, said he wanted some advice, some help on this question. He thought that one good way was to write a plain, loving, personal letter to the brother who was going wrong. He thought that the pastors ought to do more plain talking to their members.
Bro. A. N. Couch, of Princeton, said he thought that we ought to be more careful in receiving members, and that we ought then to look after them, and help them, giving them sympathy and leading them into active Christian service.
Pastor Z. T. Cody, of Georgetown, felt that a great change had come over the churches within the last one hundred years with reference to church discipline. He said that the churches used to believe more in discipline. He held that they then had a deep sense of church sovereignty and church fellowship. The churches then reached out their strong arms and laid hold of the most prominent people in the community and corrected them when there was an occasion for it. Those churches had prestige and power in the community. He affirmed further that the principal aim of church discipline, according to the New Testament, is to withdraw from evil and purify the church, and not simply to save the individual.
Bro. J. W. Waldrop, of Owenton, said that church discipline was difficult because people generally felt that it was a disgrace to be excluded from a church, while, as a matter of fact, the disgrace was not so much in being excluded as in belonging to a church without being truly converted.
Bro. I. B. Timberlake, of Nicholasville, thought that the churches ought to look out for their members, and that they ought to compel their members to attend all the business meetings of the church.
Bro. W. P. Harvey, of Louisville, gave the brethren the benefit of his experience in church discipline. He gave several instances of successful church discipline.
Moderator J. S. Coleman, of Beaver Dam, thought that the old time discipline was far ahead of our discipline of the present time. He said that in the olden time the primary aim was to purify the church, and that they did it.
Prof. W. S. Ryland, of Russellville, then led the audience in prayer. After which a communication was read from the Secretary of the Y. M. C. A., inviting the body to enjoy the privilege of the Association while in Owensboro. By vote, this invitation was received with thanks. The body then adjourned, and the Moderator pronounced the benediction.
[From The Baptist Argus Magazine, June 21, 1900, pp. 2-3; via Baylor U. digitized documents. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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