Vol.XV No.III Pg.6
May 1978

A Church Of Ministers

Robert F. Turner

From Isaac Errett (Evenings With The Bible, Vol. 3, p. 363-f) comes some interesting thoughts. We insert some questions, pending application, but feel the whole is worth quoting.


"The (primitive) church was full of ministries. There were rulers, teachers, preachers, exhorters, singers, ministers of mercy, missionaries and helpers who served an apprenticeship in this or that department of service until they were fully trained for their work. Men and women, old and young, had a work to do. They were not all preachers or teachers, but they were all workers, in some department of church life, under the direction of rulers whose business it was to see that while there was free play for all the gifts and energies of the entire membership, everything should still be done "decently and in order." The fact that our gifts are natural and not supernatural does not alter this phase of church life. There is still an equal variety of gifts, and still an equal need for their exercise, and the "increase of the body" should still be the result of "the effectual working in the measure of every part."

In no one feature of the primitive church are we so lacking as in this; and in no particular are we so prone to extremes. Either the preacher is made the packhorse for the church, and every burden is laid upon him; or the preacher is discarded, and the general clatter of the tongues of the membership is supposed to realize the apostolic idea of church edification. These are both ruinous extremes. We need preachers, teachers, and rulers, and in every church of considerable size at least one (? rt) who gives his whole time to this work; nor can the churches succeed permanently without some such arrangement. But we need such men, not to take the work off the hands of the members, but to call them into the work, train them for it, and lead them in it. In no other way can the church life of the primitive disciples be reproduced.

There was little of what we call authority asserted in the churches of the first age. The rule was patriarchal. Indeed, the family idea of the patriarchal age was reproduced, only in an enlarged form and on a spiritual basis. The national religion of the Jews, which intervened for special purposes for a time, was taken out of the way, and the original family idea was restored. The rulers and guides were fathers and mothers, and the government was parental.

There was very little governmental machinery — nothing of the "red-tape" precision and formality which is now deemed the perfection of ecclesiastical order. Bound by love, and in love serving one another, the younger submitting to the elder, and all being subject to one another, they adopted such measures for mutual welfare or for carrying out their benevolent purposes, as the emergency demanded; and in spite of all the uproar sought to be made over the use of the word, it is nevertheless true that in all that pertained to ways and means in accomplishing their work, their plans were exceedingly "flexible," and had to be so." (Statement subject to abuse;)