Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "Denominational
Return to Syllabus
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
(in connection with Di 435 Denominational Distinctions)
- I. THE PASTOR AND HIS ASSURANCE OF DIVINE APPOINTMENT (cp. Riley,
Pastoral Problems, Chs.I-II, pp. 11-37)
- Not a mere profession, 1 Tim. 3:1 (pp. 12, 23-26).
- A compulsion - "Woe is me, " 1 Cor. 9:16; Heb. 5:4.
- An evidence of competence - "Apt to teach, " 1 Tim. 3:2.
- Basic qualifications:
- Saved and know it - "that ye may know, " 1 Jn. 5:13.
- Saved and show it - "blameless" - approved character and walk, 1 Tim.
- Gifts recognized by spiritually-minded in the church, Ti. 1:5-9; Eph.
4:11-12. "Titus went not to prepare a ministry in Crete. He went to find
one that had already evinced its preparation by its known and acknowledged
works." (Dr. J. M. Stiffler)
- II. THE PASTOR AND HIS ORDINATION (cp. Riley, chs.I-II - see above)
- Ordination is the human recognition that God has called a man. Local
churches should be alert to identify such men.
- It is customary to seek the advice and concurrence of other churches in
so important a decision.
- In Presbyterian circles: the concurrence of the presbytery (pastors
and lay elders from area churches).
- In churches of congregational form of local church government (e.g..
Baptist, Congregational etc., and independent churches): the local church
invites a council of pastors and delegated members (usually two) from
churches of like faith and order.
- For practice of other churches, check with your pastor.
- The usual examination of a candidate for ordination in the case of those
having congregational form of government, as per B, 2, above.
- The young man's salvation experience (told orally after careful
forethought, or more helpfully written).
- The young man's call to the ministry (told orally after careful
forethought, or more helpfully written).
- His sense of a divine compulsion.
- Divine providences as indications of his call.
- God's blessing indicated by evidence of fruit in souls saved and
Christians helped by private and public service for
- Post-high school academic preparation for the task: college and
- The young man's views on major Bible doctrines (always written with at
least one carbon copy furnished the moderator as a guide).
- All major truths, including any personal emphases.
- Not copied from other doctrinal statements; as nearly as possible in
candidate's own words.
- Each statement supported by one or two Scriptural references. (If
Scripture cannot be quoted by candidate, then typed out on separate
sheet for easy reference and exact reading.)
- Statement not to be too wordy or too long but to avoid mere skeleton
- Candidate should be prepared to defend his position and to answer
questions with Scripture!
- It is recommended that ordination not be sought until the candidate is
actually in Christian work at home or under appointment as an accepted
candidate for foreign work.
- PASTORAL PERSONALIA
- The Pastor and HIS PERSON
- Clean! - baths! - deodorant!
- Grooming - haircut, shave, fingernails (extreme hairstyles avoided).
- Clothing and shoes (no such thing as a "cheap" suit).
- Health, figure, halitosis.
- The Pastor and HIS PERSONALITY
- Easily approached.
- Even tempered.
- Good humored.
- The Pastor and HIS FAMILY
- Undue attention avoided, such as: "my beautiful wife, " "my darling, "
"I said, 'Mother,'" etc.
- Neglect avoided under plea of pressure of work for Lord.
- Special hazards recognized (P. K.'s, M.K.'s).
- The Pastor and HIS SERVICE
- Persistence: steadfastly resist the temptation to resign. Flee
"Monday-morning-itis" like the plague.
- Dependability: reliability
- Trust the Truth: be willing to wait for the Truth to change situations
- Ambitiousness to please Him (2 Cor. 5:9, lit., "we are ambitious").
- Work, work, work!
- Pray, pray, pray!
- Visit, visit, visit!
- 8. Learn to sense and do the strategic thing!
- The Pastor and HIS PERSONAL FINANCES (cp. Riley, pp. 144-148)
- An example to the flock in giving to the Lord.
- Absolutely conscientious in payment of bills.
- Compassionate but cautious in giving to the poor. Two extremes to be
avoided: naivety and callousness. Some agreed small amount should be
assigned to pastor's care to be used at his discretion without clearing
with a board.
- THE PASTOR'S PREPARATION AND PREACHING (cp. Riley, chs.II-III,
- A. His preparation for preaching
- Find the material
- One's own experience is a fruitful field.
- One's observation should constantly add.
- One's reading is an inexhaustible source.
- Catalogue the material
- You cannot retain it in memory.
- You should conveniently locate the same.
- Adopt one definite system of arranging information for future
- Utilize the material
- Your outline should be original.
- Draw from experience, observation, and Scripture knowledge.
- For illustrations, resort to your file system.
- The problem of preaching
- The basis for preaching
- The first essential is the divine selection.
- The second essential is a Scripturally-based faith.
- The third essential is consecration to study.
- The recurring equipment
- Scholarship is eminently desirable, but avoid idolatry of learning.
- The selection of sermon subjects should be Spirit-guided.
- Constant contact with Christ is most fundamental.
- The pulpit ministry
- One's idea should be clearly expressed.
- Employ no artificial tones ("ministerial tones" - "holy tones").
- Control but do not discard emotion.
- THE PASTOR PRESIDING OVER CHURCH SERVICES (cp. Riley, ch.V,
- The appointments
- Prearrange the physical comfort and smooth participation of the
- Proper temperature: 68" plenty before 100-300 (plus) radiators
arrive (set at 98.6").
- Proper air: aired out during week; aired prior to service; some
arrangement for circulation of air during service without direct drafts.
- Proper seating provided.
- Above all, have pianist (organist) and hymnbooks in place. Organist
starts service promptly.
- The preparation
- Go from prayer to pulpit.
- Appear in the pulpit promptly. "Dallying with the hour is
- Have a complete program in hand. No hunting hymns, references. No
ambiguous, ludicrous announcements.
- The procedure _
- Walk to platform briskly, seat yourself gracefully, go through no
- On entering the pulpit start service.
- Keep the service going constantly. Don't let it drag; no hesitation.
- End the sermon unexpectedly.
- How to close the service? "Sing a song and pronounce the benediction?"
No! Do something appropriate to the message. What was the message about?
- Pull the net
- Be certain you have created an atmosphere of decision.
- In the invitation, express expectation. Not "Is there one?" but "How
- Variety should characterize the after-meeting program. Show of hands
Rise to feet Come forward Encourage through Christians taking lead in some
public manifestation "Speak to me at door" Inquiry or counseling room. Ask
for some action of the will in the privacy of the listener's heart
Sometimes just close!
- PASTORAL VISITATION (cp. Riley, ch.XII, pp. 133-143)
- Regular: routine visitation of membership roll
- At least once a year in reasonably good-sized church (200-500).
- Twice a year in small church (up to 150-200).
- Problem of getting people at home, TV, etc.
- Check with people at door of church whom you desire to visit.
- Telephone in advance to assure they will be home.
- Announce from pulpit or in church bulletin an area you will be
- Prospective visitation
- People who attend but are not members.
- Sunday school prospects.
- Frankly unconverted
- Religious but lost
- Unchurched professed believers (cp. 3,b, above).
- Impromptu contacts.
- Strategic visitation
- Cases of acute spiritual need (saved or unsaved): priority here.
- Cases of special spiritual opportunity.
Birth and other special family happenings: weddings, illness, death.
- Cases of physical need: home and hospital.
- Cases of sorrow.
- Men at places of employment (using good judgment).
- THE PASTOR ADMINISTERING THE ORDINANCES (see Riley, ch.VI, pp.
- The advice of an older minister in one's communion may well be sought
for suggestions on technique.
- A happy medium should be sought in the administration of the
ordinances. On the one hand, dignity should be preserved and levity
avoided. On the other hand, unbending, slavish, stuff-shirted ritual
should be avoided. A human, warm-hearted spiritual approach should be
sought. Often a very personal emphasis may properly be introduced. Well
performed, it makes an eloquent visual presentation of the gospel (1 Cor.
- Students whose polity calls for sprinkling of (or pouring upon)
candidates, whether infants, children, or adults, are requested to consult
with their pastor or some pastor of their communion in the Philadelphia
area, or some faculty member whose practice is according to their mode of
- Special care should be exercised by those who administer baptism by
- The mechanics must not be allowed to destroy the spiritual
significance of the symbol. Smoothness of performance leaves the
emphasis on the great truths inherent in the ordinance.
- The candidate should be instructed beforehand what to do and what
not to do. It is most unfortunate if fear of water or lack of proper
information spoil the wonderful spiritual blessing of the occasion.
- If the pool permits, let: the person's face be viewed by the
audience directly, or at least at 45° angle. Avoid a 90° angle to the
audience if at all possible.
- A resounding splash should be avoided. The person should remain
straight and not go limp. Nor should the candidate seek to make it an
act of self-baptism. The candidate lets himself be baptized.
- The administrator should avoid getting off balance by being too far
forward, though he should speak to the audience while just in front of
the candidate (if candidate is at 45°) or just to the left of and even
with the candidate (if candidate is facing audience). He should have his
right foot just to the rear of the candidate when he proceeds with the
motion of dipping the candidate.
- The candidate hands the pastor a handkerchief as he enters the pool,
with which (in his left hand) the pastor covers the nose and mouth of
the candidate as he goes into the downward movement of immersion. The
right hand should be under the shoulders. The practice of some pastors
of grasping the gown at the chest (front) to hold the candidate as he is
let down is both awkward and, in the cases of women, indelicate.
- The left wrist of the baptizer should be held (from under) by the
right hand of the candidate, with the left hand of the candidate being
placed over the administrator's left wrist, next to the candidate's
right hand. This gives a sense of confidence. The water will hold up the
candidate. The administrator simply directs the motion, then assists the
candidate up to his feet again. (The administrator's knees bend; and the
baptism is done in one smooth motion. "Easy does it." Don't jerk!)
- The administrator should, because of wet garments, shield the
candidate from view (especially a woman) by stepping between the
candidate and audience while leading one out of the pool. Or at least he
may have someone throw a robe around the woman candidate as she ascends
from the pool.
- What formula shall we use? Something like this:
"Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour?"
"I have" (or "Yes").
"Is it your purpose, by God's grace, to live for Him who died for you?"
"It is" (or "Yes").
"Therefore, upon the basis of your confession of faith in Christ as
Saviour, and the statement of your purpose to live for Him who died for
you, I baptize you in the name of God, --Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen!"
(The Matthew wording is slightly revised. It is not names of, but name of.
(1) This avoids any idea of plural deity.
(2) This avoids the idea that the passage teaches trine immersion, pouring, or sprinkling.)
- Some pastors quote an appropriate Scripture verse between candidates. Some permit brief personal testimony (careful here). This is excellent when the person has a resounding testimony. Don't make it a requirement of all.
Some briefly rehearse (or remind the candidate) of the circumstances of his salvation.
Some have the verse of a hymn between each candidate, or every two or three, if a number of candidates are being baptized.
Circumstances should alter one's practice.
- THE LORD'S SUPPER
- Doctrinal views (see addendum to 1 Cor. 11 notes)
- Rome: Transubstantiation (elements miraculously changed) Christ is present in the wafer when at the consecrating words of the priest it is miraculously turned into His body and blood, only still under the color, taste, and semblance of bread and wine.
- Lutheran: Consubstantiation (Christ present with the elements) Christ is present (because omnipresent) with, around, and under the elements, and ministers grace to all who partake (believers and unbelievers).
- Calvinist: Christ is spiritually present in the Supper and ministers grace to the believers (only).
- Zwingli's view: The elements remain elements and are only intended to be symbols to assist us to think of the great spiritual realities involved in the death of Christ. The blessing comes from faith laying hold upon these truths and leading to the worship of and fellowship with Christ. It is a memorial feast, for fellowship, for witness (to unsaved), for an occasion of submission. It is the Lord's table. It is not a sacrament. Only true believers should partake, and that after self-scrutiny.
- Place in the service
Too often the Supper is tacked on to an already full service, giving the impression of being an after-thought. It is suggested that at least at times the Supper be made the central part of the meeting and be enjoyed unhurriedly! The pastor can then adjust his meditation to the time that is left. It is exceedingly effective if the pastor remains at the table and speaks from there. Also, sometimes it may well be held in the evening service so that those who cannot attend in the morning have opportunity to partake.
- Frequency of celebration Churches vary in this:
- Presbyterians, Lutherans, and others tend to celebrate quarterly.
- Baptists, and many independents, monthly.
- Plymouth Brethren and a few independents, each Sunday.
- Method of participation
- Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, etc., have communicants come in small groups to the altar rail to kneel and be served individually.
- Presbyterians, etc., sit as a congregation but partake individually as each element is received.
- Baptists, etc., feel the act is a corporate act of the congregation; hence they wait till all communicants are served and then partake together (stressing "ye do shew the Lord's death till He come").
- Within each method, there may be local variations. If in a new place, or visiting, make sure of local detail so there will be no grinding of gears to spoil the spiritual profit of the occasion. In churches which partake unitedly as congregations, I suggest:
- Whatever remarks may precede, let the lifting of the plate of bread or tray of cups be the signal for the officers to rise to receive plates or trays.
- Usually the pastor serves the officers after they return from serving the congregation.
- Then some officer serves the pastor (or sometimes he is served first, before officers begin serving the congregation). Sometimes he serves himself last.
- It is suggested that officers be shown from Scripture that the bread used at the Passover table and hence at the first Lord's Supper was unleavened, symbolic of our Lord's sinless body. Jewish matzoth can be purchased anywhere (crisped in oven to remove dampness). Don't fight about it, but the symbol is clear and helps emphasize a great truth.
- A church has the Scriptural right to discipline a member directly (or through officers) if a proper constitution has been adopted. They may find it necessary to exclude a member from the Lord's Supper who is walking unworthily. A pastor should never assume this right personally or wait till the Supper is celebrated to "break the news." Exclusions should be privately administered and not mar the sense of unity at the table. If strangers partake unworthily after believers (only) are invited to share the fellowship, the matter is between that individual and the Lord; the church cannot know all. It makes and states its policy and has then discharged its obligation. Also, parents should instruct their children not to partake until they have fulfilled all the qualifications required by that particular church for membership, for the Lord's Supper is the communion (fellowship) of the local body of believers. Certainly baptism should be a minimum prerequisite.
This conception is the basis for the practice of closer communion in some churches. They do not deny any non-member the right to the Lord's table somewhere. But since they feel they are answerable to God for their particular fellowship and the purity of its remembrance of Christ's death, they feel they are in no position to know or rule on someone not under their care. Hence they are ineligible to act in the matter, either to receive or to refuse. Dr. I. M. Haldeman (of First Baptist Church, New York) used to say: "This church will now remember the Lord's death in the Lord's Supper." Thus it will be seen there are some logical bases for the practice, not mere bigotry or super-spiritual exclusivism. (This was formerly also the position of Baptists in the North of the U.S. and many other lands.)
However, except among some Southern Baptists, some Plymouth Brethren, and a few other groups, the practice is not generally followed in fundamental circles today. Widespread travel in connection with business, visiting, vacations, schooling, etc., have made it seem more practical for a local church to make itself responsible for its own membership, but invite regenerate non-members (after self-examination) to partake, as answerable directly to the Lord. Members of a local church should not forget however that they are answerable to the Lord through their spiritual leaders (Heb. 13:7-8,17).
- Vary the service. Avoid a rut. Seek a spiritual change of pace to increase devotion and decrease daydreaming. Glorify the Lord! Baptism looks back to the cross in a once-for-all act of confessing faith in Christ. The Lord's Supper is by Christ's command a regularly repeated ordinance which ultimately looks forward to His coming. It is also a great testimony to the lost ("ye do proclaim His death").
- THE PASTOR AND WEDDINGS (cp. Riley, ch.VII, pp. 76-86)
- Consult Amy Vanderbilt or other standard etiquette authority so that you will be aware of what is done on highest levels of gentility.
- It is true that the standard of full formal for evening (full dress), formal for afternoon (tuxedo in winter, white coat in summer), and semi-formal for morning weddings (tuxedo or business suit) is being considerably watered down in many places, as it has always been more or less among many who feel they cannot afford the dictates of style set by society people. Yet one should be informed.
- When people inquire as to your availability to perform a wedding, you may well state (or in your absence have your wife primed to say) that you are available if they are eligible. It is suggested this include an inquiry as to whether their proposed union is one of:
- Equal or unequal yokes. I consent to unite
(1) two professing believers, or
(2) two who are frankly unbelievers inasmuch as in neither case is there an unequal yoke, as there would be if one is a believer and one is not. Scripture forbids this latter as a mismatched alliance.
- Shall we marry divorced people?
The second question: "Have either of you been married before?" is a genteel way of finding out if a divorce has been obtained by either of those now seeking marriage. Although fully admitting that there may well be cases with a Scriptural right to remarry (see 1 Cor. 7 notes), this teacher feels that since divorce in the main has been a great evil in our American life and a great problem to the church, a pastor (and through him, his church) would be much better able to speak out against that evil if the pastor declined such a wedding. There is no good way to explain to an undiscerning public that this is a different kind of divorce, and one cannot hang signs on the couple involved.
Since the divorce was secured as a civil matter, this teacher's practice is to suggest to any whom he felt had a Scriptural right to remarry that they do so through a civil ceremony and thus not place any pastor or church in an awkward position. However, in all candor, he should counsel them that many Christians will not accept their marriage as Scriptural.
- What about marriage to a Romanist? (see Appendix, p. 23)
This is not recommended; usually a divided home results. I say this despite the recent tendency on Rome's part to make some concessions.
Also, the Protestant partner must agree to bring up children in the-Roman Church and not interfere with their religious instruction, if the marriage is performed by the priest (which it must be if the Romanist stays in his (her) church). (Be careful of Rome's trick of sometimes winking at a Protestant ceremony, when it is known that a Romanist ceremony will later be performed.)
If, however, the Protestant cannot be dissuaded and insists that the Romanist is as much a believer as (s)he, rather than turn the couple and its unborn children over to Rome, I have devised a plan to fight fire with fire. If I am sure that there is no unequal yoke, I have urged the Protestant to agree to my presenting to the Romanist partner a reversed wording of the promise the priest would demand. In this way, since very often the Romanist would not have gone to the point of marriage with a Protestant, if (s)he were a strict Romanist, I have been successful in securing from the Romanist consent to sign, and in the few cases in my experience, the marriage has been successful and the Romanist has kept his (her) word. I find Romanist men are much more likely to accept this proposition than Romanist women. See Lutheran booklet To Sign or Not to Sign.
- Now, as to the wedding itself
- If it is to be a church wedding, or a wedding involving marching and a wedding party, insist upon a rehearsal and that as near to the wedding as possible, preferably the preceding night. Certainly the main participants should be present (bride, groom, best man, maid or matron of honor, father of bride). Put the heat on the groom and the bride to get all who are to
march to be present, as so many slips can occur. Ushers are chief
offenders. If after best efforts an absence occurs, use a substitute
during practice (if possible a friend of the absentee) who will take it on
himself to brief the absent participant.
- Whose word is to be final? It is to be the bride's big day and if she
wants to turn handsprings down the aisle, it might well be permitted,
though not advised. Try to be helpful. If a mother or some relative tends
to dominate, you might say, "This is to be Mary's big day. Let's let her
decide how she prefers to do it." Inevitably Mary will ask you for advice,
especially if you have been gracious to her. Try to discreetly get her to
avoid anything that is clearly out of line, but be careful not to order
her; rather indirectly guide her to the right procedure.
- Pray that the organist will be dependable enough in her timing to
approximate the same beat at the wedding as she played in the rehearsal!
(Seek to avoid an undignified "walk, " not to mention rush.) In rehearsal,
count off the time, standing at the back pew and having a gap of about 3
or 4 rows of pews between bridesmaids, but a gap of about 4 to 6 rows
between the maid (matron) of honor and the bride. They have all spent time
and/or money on pretty dresses, and should have a chance to be seen
- After they have tried marching in a couple of times, ask someone else
to count, and you go with the groom and best man to the study or hallway
(up front) from which you will start at the sound of the wedding march.
Simultaneously the first usher starts from the rear. Naturally, because of
shorter distance, the pastor's party will arrive at the front before the
- In the actual wedding, generally the guests tend to stand as a token
of respect as the party begins marching. Since this makes it very
difficult to see everyone, and especially the bride, some brides have the
chief usher announce just before the march: "The bride requests that the
guests remain seated during the wedding march and the ceremony."
- Make sure the timing of any special music is accurate so that the
wedding march can begin right on the nose of the announced hour. However,
it is the head usher's duty to signal the organist that the bride is
actually there, lest there be a possible slip up through late arrival of
- The last person to be seated before the ceremony (and usually before
the last song) is the bride's mother.
- The bride's family and friends sit to the left, as one looks toward
the platform, and the groom's sit to the right.
- The bride comes down the aisle with her left hand on her father's
right arm (remember, right; she wouldn't want to take the wrong arm!).
- Here is a chart of an average size wedding party:
The numbers indicate the following people:
4. Best man
5. Maid (matron) of honor
6. Father of bride
7. Mother of bride
12. Groom's father
13. Groom's mother
14. Flower girl (if any)
15. Ring bearer (if any)
NOTE: The ring ceremony can be made more meaningfully significant if the
best man, instead of passing it to the preacher, merely starts a chain as
follows: (ring bearer), best man, groom, bride, preacher, groom, bride.
In like manner, if a double ring ceremony: (ring bearer), maid (matron) of
honor, bride, groom, preacher, bride, groom.
The ring should be held on the edge between thumb and index finger, not in
- The Marriage Ceremony (as compiled by Dean Mason as a sample) The pastor
"Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God and these friends
to unite this man and this woman in the holy estate of marriage. This is a
sacred relationship, established by God Himself, for the blessing and
perpetuation of the human family, and it is God's own ideal of that which
constitutes the fullest and highest expression of human personality and
love. Marriage is a partnership and companionship which requires the
continued loyalty and love of both participants to obtain the joy and
satisfaction God intends men and women should find in it. The goal of
marriage is to unite two hearts and lives, blending all their interests,
sympathies, and hopes. Therefore, this relationship should not be entered
hastily nor haphazardly, but with prayer, forethought, reverence, and a
sober realization of the seriousness and permanence of the union being
established. Only by such an attitude can the blessing of God rest upon a
marriage and provide a basis for life-long happiness. Let us, then, humbly
bow our heads and hearts, seeking Divine favor upon this couple who are
about to take this strategic step which will so greatly affect their whole
The pastor then leads in prayer.
Question to man: "__________, do you take this woman to be your wedded wife,
to have and to hold from this day forward as your own? And do you promise to
love her, to cherish her, and to provide for her to the full extent of your
ability; to consider HER good in your plans in life and to esteem HER
happiness as part and parcel of your own? And, forsaking all others, to be
hers alone as long as you both shall live?
Reply: "I do."
Question to woman: "__________, do you take this man to be your wedded
husband, to have and to hold from this day forward as your own? And do you
promise to love him, to cherish him; to care for his home and himself; to
seek to encourage him in his business and life plans as being part and
parcel of your own; to bear his name and his children and, forsaking all
others, to be his alone as long as you both shall live?"
Reply: "I do."
Cue to bride's father
"Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?"
Reply: "I do." (He takes his seat.)
Repetition of vows (in time-honored cadence)
"I ... take thee ...
"I ... take thee ...
To be my wedded wife
To be my wedded husband
And I do promise and covenant And I do promise and covenant Before God and
these witnesses Before God and these
witnesses To be thy loving and faithful husband
To be thy loving and faithful wife In joy and in sorrow;
In joy and in sorrow;
in sickness and health;
In sickness and health;
In want and in wealth;
In want and in wealth;
Till death us do part. "
Till death us do part."
(Some few couples may wish to learn their portions and repeat to each other,
but most will be content to repeat after the pastor, a line at a time.)
Giving of ring: "What token(s) do you publicly give that you will fulfill
these holy vows?"
Man: "A wedding ring, pastor." Or
he merely presents ring without comment (best man, groom, bride, pastor,
"Do you give this ring to her whom you have now taken to be your wife as a
pledge of your love and loyalty and of the faithfulness with which you will
perform your duties as her husband?"
Reply: "I do."
[OR, if a double ring ceremony
Do you two give and receive these rings from one another in pledge of your
love and loyalty to each other and as symbolic assurance of the faithfulness
with which you will perform your duties as husband and wife respectively?"
Reply: "We do.']
"Let this (these) be the visible seal of your plighted faith and mutual
love; let its (their) precious metal ever remind you of the purity and
pricelessness of your love and devotion to one another; and let its/their
constant presence on your finger be a memorial of this sacred hour. "
"And now, since this man and this woman have covenanted together in the holy
bond of marriage, and have witnessed the same before God and these friends,
therefore, by the authority vested in me according to the laws of this
state, I do now pronounce you lawfully wedded husband and wife, according to
the ordinance of God and man. THEREFORE, what GOD hath joined together, let
no man put asunder!"
Benediction "Let us pray:
"The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face to shine upon you
and be gracious unto you.
The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you
and give you peace,'
both now and in the life everlasting,
through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,
in whose name and for whose glory we ask it. Amen!"
- After the ceremony
- The groom then kisses the bride, her veil having been lifted by maid
or matron of honor, who then hands the bride her bouquet; the bride then
turns; the groom pivots; the bride takes the groom's right arm and they
walk out at normal pace, followed by (1) maid (or matron) of honor on
right arm of best man, and (2) bridesmaids and ushers, who follow in
pairs, women taking right arm.
- The bride's and groom's parents, and close relatives, are escorted out
by ushers; then the remainder of guests walk back on their own power, row
- A receiving line is formed at rear or some convenient room and guests
pass down the line, composed in order of mother of bride, mother of groom,
father of groom, father of bride, bride, groom, maid of honor, best man
(if not busy), bridesmaids, and others if desired.
- The best man hands honorarium to preacher, organist, and sexton.
- The best man then sees the couple to their car, usually proceeding
with them to the home or hotel, unless reception is held in the church.
- THE PASTOR AND FUNERALS (cp. Riley, ch.VIII, pp. 87-99)
- When serious illness and particularly when death strikes a family, these
are occasions when the pastor must not fail. Many other things will be
forgiven a pastor, but neglect at hours like these will never be forgotten
and, too often, never really forgiven.
- On the positive side, when a family is facing such an extreme emergency
as this sorrow, there is never a time when a pastor may speak with more
effectiveness both to those who know the Lord and to those who do not. It is
his golden hour of strategic importance. The doctor may be very important,
but when the patient is so ill that no human means seem possible, then it is
that people realize they need the Lord. Of course, when death has occurred
in spite of the doctor's best, here is a field into which no one may
properly enter except the preacher of the gospel or the Christian worker.
Make the most of this opportunity for God.
- Immediately upon receiving knowledge that death has occurred, "hot foot
it" to the home or, if loved ones are still in the hospital, go there. Many
a family deeply appreciates the fact that some preachers have stayed with
them while the loved one was passing away. This is a tedious and tiresome
ministry, but one in which the love of Christ may be shown exceptionally
effectively. Particularly if one is lingering at home, the average family
does not know what to do when death occurs. A pastor may be of great help on
such an occasion. His kindness in such hours of sorrow will never be
- Be sure that you compare notes with the family concerning a suitable
time for he service. Undertakers have a way of setting a time and then
trying to make the pastor fit. The pastor should see to it, where possible,
that he is in on the planning of the time. Otherwise he may have to
needlessly break other engagements to be present, when his own time could
have been fitted, if the undertaker had not set the time without
consultation with him.
- Always read Scripture and pray when you call after a death. Do not
depend simply upon human expressions of sympathy. It is well to express our
sympathy sincerely and earnestly, but give the Lord a chance to work. Be
sensitive to the wishes of the bereaved. Some will want to talk, so be
leisurely. Some will prefer a brief visit to express comfort, pray, lay
- In the funeral service itself probably the first thing with which one
should open is the reading of the Scripture. I have always felt it desirable
to prelude my reading by saying something like this: "Let us now give
attention to the Word of God." (Sometimes I add: "At a time like this,
science must say of what occurs after death 'I do not know.' Philosophy at
best may wistfully say 'I hope everything will be all right.' Only the Word
of God speaks with authority in this realm.")
- Carefully selected passages can be found in service books for ministers
such as Hiscox, The Star Book for Ministers, and the Presbyterian Book of
- One may close the Scripture reading with a brief prayer, particularly
making plain the way of salvation and the comfort that we have in the
Then one might follow with remarks based upon some thought in the
Scriptures. If the deceased was an unsaved person, it is well to speak
generally and impersonally. Stick to Scripture truth needed by the living.
If the deceased was a saved person, and particularly exemplary of life, one
may, while comforting the loved ones as to the presence of the deceased with
the Lord, call attention to the faithfulness with which the deceased has
lived for the Lord, as an encouragement to the living.
- After the remarks and exhortation to put one's trust in the Lord
(believers for comfort and unsaved for salvation), one may close the service
with prayer. Be specific about bereaved loved ones. If there are two sons
and one daughter, say: "and give thy comfort to these sons and this
daughter, and to the other loved ones and friends." Or name family members
if they are few and you know them.
- I believe that when the loved ones are viewing the body for the last
time, the pastor should stand nearby and speak a quiet word of comfort. He
should especially assist those overcome with grief, perhaps leading him
(her) away from the casket to the care of a loved one.
- The pastor should precede the casket to the hearse, holding his Bible
prominently in his hand. This helps emphasize the basis of our Christian
message to onlookers .
- Pastors sometimes ride with the family, sometimes with the undertaker,
sometimes with the pallbearers to the cemetery, but in any event he precedes
the casket to the grave. (I have often used my own car, to save time after
the service at the grave.)
- Always make sure that you are at the head of the casket or in some place
where you'll be seen by everyone. (Don't get stymied by the undertaker.)
- Make the service very brief at the grave, preferably just a verse or two
from the Scripture and a brief prayer, especially if the weather is bad.
Avoid a second sermon!
- If there is a committal, put it into your prayer, something like this
(if a saved person):
"Since it has pleased Thee, Heavenly Father, in Thy wise providence, to take
this loved one to Thyself, we commit his (her) body to the ground in sure
and certain hope of the first resurrection from among the dead." If not a
saved person, I see no point in a committal; simply pray for the sorrowing.
I have also found very effective a sentence like this: "And we thank Thee,
Father, that deeper than any grave digger's tools are Thine everlasting
arms, into whose loving care we commit this loved one's body."
Death is gruesome enough without you intoning "ashes to ashes, dust to dust,
" etc. I have never warmed to the idea of the undertaker throwing in some
earth or a flower as you commit the body. But if he wants to, let him.
- Always help the bereaved to their car(s) and speak a word of comfort.
- Visit at earliest opportunity after the funeral to seal any spiritual
fruit that may be in the heart. Often there is the custom of inviting the
pastor back to the home to eat with relatives before they depart on their
journeys homeward. This often provides an excellent opportunity to talk
further about the Lord. It tends to "loosen up" tight emotions, and will be
appreciated by the family.
- It would be well to mention in the church bulletin or calendar the loss
of the loved one or mention the loss from the pulpit,
- I have already expressed my policy of not accepting money from anyone as
result of their loss. My members have been giving to my support just so I
would be available for a time like this, and the unsaved public should know
that the church is here to minister, not to charge for its services. This
may be a good opportunity to present the gospel freely. When people pay you,
they feel they have hired you. When you give your services, you are more at
liberty to talk to them about their souls. Of course, if you were involved
in considerable travel expense to be present, one would certainly be
justified in accepting repayment--of expense only, IF offered. If someone
persists, one could say: "If you would feel better, then you may present
this gift to the church. " If they do not come to church, you could offer to
turn it over to the treasurer.
- Further observations occur to me.
(1) Under C above, if a doctor has not visited the home after death has
occurred, make sure the family has notified him, for an undertaker cannot
remove the body until a doctor has okayed it.
(2) In connection with the pastor's help under C above, if professional help
is not present, assist them in straightening out the body. Arms should be
folded over chest and, if necessary, the mouth should be bound shut with a
handkerchief or pillowcase placed under the chin and tied at the top of the
- THE PASTOR TRANSACTING CHURCH BUSINESS (cp. Riley, ch.IX. pp.
- The governing board
- The average church has too many boards.
- A single board should be carefully constituted.
- The influence of such a board is immeasurable.
- The preparation of business
- The pastor should think through church problems, not come in cold.
- The pastor should bring to the board his recommendations.
- In congregational bodies the action of the church is final.
- Transaction of the business
- All business should be properly transacted.
- Insist upon fair presentation and honest action.
- Accept the fair action of the church as final.
- Rules of decorum (sample from a church constitution)
- All business meetings of the church shall be opened and closed with
- The moderator may not take part in debate, though he may state matters
of fact within his knowledge affecting the subject under discussion,
inform the church on points of order if necessary, and address the church
should there be an appeal from his decision on any question of order.
- All motions when seconded shall be distinctly stated by the moderator
previous to discussions thereon. (Un-seconded motions are lost.)
- Any member in good standing, desiring to speak, shall rise to his feet
and secure the attention of the moderator. He shall not begin to speak
until his name is announced by the moderator. When several members rise
together, the moderator shall designate which shall speak first. No member
shall speak twice to one question while others are waiting to be heard,
nor shall any member interrupt another while he is speaking.
- It is not necessary to second nominations, nor move that nominations
be closed. After ample opportunity for nominations has been given, the
moderator declares them closed, and proceeds to the vote.
- When a motion is under debate, no other motion shall be received by
the moderator except
(1) to adjourn,
(2) to lay on the table,
(3) to amend,
(4) to refer to a board or committee, or
(5) to postpone, which several motions shall have precedence over each
other in the order in which they are here arranged.
- A motion, considered important by the moderator, may on occasion be
required to be presented in writing for clarity.
- Christian attitudes and actions shall be insisted upon by the
moderator, and any member failing to display same may be ruled out of
order and refused the further courtesy of the floor.
- THE PASTOR MANAGING CHURCH TROUBLES (cp. Riley, ch.X, pp.108-120
- Don't provoke them do your work, and do it well.
- Suppress your wife's ambition, and quiet her tongue.
- Be cordial to, and considerate of, all the members.
- Don't parley with troubles
- If trouble is in the offing, ignore it.
- If the trouble is on shipboard, seek its settlement.
- Chronic trouble-makers exclude.
- Don't fail to pray
- The average church trouble exists because there has not been enough
- Experience has proven the power of prayer in connection with
- Put your trust in Him rather than in councils, secret sessions, or
even intimate friends.
- THE PASTOR AND MUSICIANS (cp. Riley, ch.XI, pp. 121-132)
- The importance of music
- In worship it has a Scriptural warrant.
- Music can be made the medium of service.
- The problem of musicians
- For the service of song secure the sane.
(Ironside's description: "Inspired idiots")
- The leadership of the choir is of prime importance.
- The difficulty of managing singers may be mismanagement.
- The purpose of music
- It should voice the praises of a gracious God.
- All forms of worship, however, may be voiced by music.
- It may and should be employed in soul-appeal.
- THE PASTOR AND CHURCH ORGANIZATIONS (cp. Riley, ch.XIII,
- The church organization
- The New Testament organization was simple.
- Organization, therefore, in the church has become complex.
- Over-organization, however, is easily possible.
- The committees created
- Committees in church work are often a convenience.
- The pastor should be a member ex-officio of all committees and boards,
- The incidental organizations
- The organization of men may prove a power.
- Organization for Eligible study is clearly essential.
- Suggested constitutional provision
The following, taken from an actual church constitution, is suggested as an
excellent example of how to make sure all organizations of a church mesh
under proper spiritual oversight, in order to avoid being a hodgepodge of
sovereign groups really answerable to nobody but themselves. In too many
churches the organizations are like the befuddled general who got on his
horse and rode off in all directions!
Section 1. Permission to start
No organization may be started among the members of this church or Sunday
school without due request to and permission from the pastor and deacons.
Section 2. Organizations subject to pastor and deacons
All approved organizations shall be subject to the pastor and deacons, shall
make such reports as may be requested of them, and may be abolished by them,
as representing the church.
Section 3. Officers of organizations
All officers not mentioned in this constitution must be members of the
church in good standing, except by permission of the pastor and deacons. It
is preferable that any such names shall be cleared as nominees by the pastor
and deacons before an election is held, but in any event all officers of all
organizations, whether named or not in this constitution, shall be acted
upon favorably by the pastor and deacons before the elections shall be
considered final. Likewise, no non-members shall be appointed to teach in
the Sunday school until the proposed appointment is approved by the pastor
and deacons. Any non-member officer or teacher whose presence is not
ministering to the welfare of the church may be removed from his position by
the pastor and deacons, No inactive member may hold office in any
organization of the church.
Section 4. Philosophy underlying above
The church is considered one, though it may work through many branches, not
many branches working together by common agreement. The church is sovereign
over all its individuals and combinations of individuals.
- THE PASTOR AND THE PROBLEMS OF FINANCE (cp. Riley, ch. XIII,
- The professional problems
- The problem of educating in the grace of giving.
- The problem of directing expenditure plans.
- The problem of compelling official honesty.
- The precarious problems
- The proposed support of the church by various sales.
- The pastor must watch against the promotion agent.
- The specious plea of the denominational program.
- THE PASTOR AND THE MISSIONS PROBLEM (cp. Riley, ch.XVI, pp.183-192)
- The average church has an inadequate missionary program
How do I go about stirring up my church for missions?
- Recognize the fact that I have to start where the church is in its
missionary thinking. Evaluate and be fair with the facts. There must be
sowing before there is reaping. Start on a positive angle.
- Having evaluated the present practice, begin a program of missionary
information and agitation.
- How do I work such a program?
(1) First of all, get informed yourself and keep yourself informed. Get
missionary periodicals and biographies and read them,
(2) I must be the most informed person.
(3) I must be sold on the fact that the business of the church is to get
out to the uttermost parts. My vision must be worldwide. I must not feel
that my crossroads is the world.
(4) Watch that your giving to one or two couples does not cut out your
- How do I get world vision and information over?
(1) Try to sell them on the idea of getting missionary speakers once in
a while. Do not get your speakers at random. Unless you have heard them,
generally do not invite. Do not give the people too much missions at
(2) Bring missions into your messages. Use missionaries for
(3) After the people can take it, have a short missionary talk in the
morning once a month.
(4) Have a definite program. Worldwide Carefully pick out good agencies
throughout the world.
(5) Vary your mid-week service. Every now and then give a devotional
missionary message. Get the people to pray for those to whom they are
giving. Give them specific information about the missionaries.
- A suggested approach to a worldwide missionary program
Here is a sample of a church bulletin printed statement of philosophy which
I used in my Atlantic City church as the first paragraph of a section
printed on the back page, entitled "Into All the World" Missionary Program:
'"This church believes in fulfilling our Lord's 'Great Commission' (Acts
1:8). Just as a national firm with a branch office in Atlantic City would
not be satisfied if the branch merely 'broke even' or yielded a puny profit,
so we feel that Chelsea Baptist is a 'branch office' of an international
'Firm' with 'Headquarters' in Heaven! We feel that we do not justify our
existence as a local 'branch office' unless we turn over to God for use in
the 'Firm's' worldwide business (of gospel proclamation) at least as much as
it costs to run the local office."
At the time when this wording was adopted our missionary giving had risen
considerably and a second paragraph read: "Therefore, we have adopted
a budget for the fiscal year which calls for an equal amount for missions as
is required for the regular current expenses of the church. This estimated
amount is $_______ (not including extras)."
Naturally each church will have its own projects. Normally there may well be
one (or more) missionary that is being given full support. But it is my
philosophy that in addition to any such primary obligation there should be a
program by which, if only by token gifts, a church is constantly confronted
with information and a sense of responsibility to pray, give, and follow
with interest the work of God in every part of the world. (If no full-time
workers are involved, amounts will be larger.)
In our particular situation the following projects were listed (1946):
Jan. - The Jew: Rev. Coulson Shepherd, Message to Israel (Radio) and
Biblical Research Society
Feb. - The Philippines: Association of Baptists for World Evangelism: Mrs.
Eleanor Bailey Bancroft, Iloilo
Mar. - China Inland Mission: Mr. and Mrs. John Kuhn, Yunnan, Sweet Baptist
Mission: Miss Margaret Fitzgerald, Hangchow
Apr. - Africa Inland Mission: Rev. and Mrs. Paul Stough, Belgian Congo
May - Japan: Mino Mission: Miss Elizabeth Whewell, Ogaki
China: Door of Hope: Miss Edna Johnston, Shanghai
June - Home Missions: Mexican Gospel Mission: Rev. Leonardo Mercado,
Phoenix; Navajo Indians: Rev. B. H. Stokely
July - Christian Education: Wheaton College, Dallas Theological Seminary,
Moody, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City Bible Schools
(These schools represented ones that trained the pastor and his wife and
schools present young people of the church were attending.)
Aug. - Christian Literature: American Scripture Gift Mission and local
Sept. - Europe: Russian Missionary and Relief Service: Rev. I. V. Neprash,
Belgian Gospel Mission: Rev. Miner Steams
Oct. - Latin America: Spanish-speaking, Latin America Evangelization
Rev. Harry Strachan; Indians: Rev. Philip Pent, Amazonia, Iquitos, Peru
Nov. - United States: Mountains: The Geiger Home, Livingston, Term.
Benevolent: The Baptist Home, Newark, N.J.
Dec. - India: Ramabai Mukti Mission Miss Martha Loud
- Sample church bulletin pep talk (1936):
Our March Missions
Missionary money for March will be applied to the Lord's work in the largest
nation in the world--China. The March offering will be divided between the
China Inland Mission and the Sweet Baptist Mission. The China Inland Mission
is the largest mission in China, with about 1400 workers, and its
unprecedented growth, since its founding in 1865 by J. Hudson Taylor, has
been due to the remarkable seal of approval of God on their financial
policy, which is:
"No solicitation of funds. The Mission will not go into debt. No guaranteed
salary is offered workers, thus all workers are expected to depend on God
alone for temporal supplies."
"Under this policy God has sent in over $25, 000,000 since 1865. The income
(1934) was $689,419.33."
In these days of inability to send out more workers, yea, withdrawing
workers already out on the field, it is encouraging to hear of this mission
which has never from 1865 to the present day recalled a single worker
because of lack of funds, and has never refused to send out an acceptable
candidate for lack of funds.
Truly God's name has been glorified through this work.
The Sweet Baptist Mission is a small, but vigorous, independent Baptist
Mission working in Hangchow. It has done a most aggressive piece of
evangelism in and around that great city.
Details will be given next week of the particular workers under these
missions to whom our offerings will go.
(cp. VIII. The Pastor and Weddings, p. 9)
(furnished at request of class)
A PROTESTANT ANSWER TO THE FAMED CATHOLIC PRE-NUPTIAL CONTRACT
I, the undersigned, not a member of a Protestant Church, wishing to contract a
marriage with a Protestant person whose signature is also affixed to this
mutual agreement, being of sound mind and perfectly free, and only after
understanding the import of my action, do hereby enter into tills mutual
agreement, and the promises therein contained are made in contemplation of and
in consideration for the consent, marriage, and consequent change of status of
the hereafter mentioned Protestant partner, and I hereby agree:
(1) That I will not interfere in the least with the free exercise of my
Protestant partner's religious conviction and practice;
(2) That I will adhere to the doctrine of the sacred indissolubility of the
marriage bond, so that I cannot contract a second marriage while my consort
is alive, even though a civil divorce may be obtained, except I have that
right to divorce and subsequent remarriage permitted by the Lord Christ on
the basis of moral infidelity (adultery) on the part of my consort (Matthew
19:3-9; 1 Corinthians 7:39);
(3) That any and all children that may be born of this union between myself
and the partner undersigned shall not be baptized in the faith of the Roman
Catholic Church in infancy or at any time during the period of life before
they reach maturity and make their own choices, even in event of the death
of my Protestant partner. In case of any dispute which might, nevertheless,
arise between us or between me and my wife's duly appointed guardians, I
shall not hinder her or them in the faithful execution of her will and
desire that the children be brought up in the Protestant faith;
(4) That I will lead a married life in conformity to the Bible's teaching of
holiness and purity;
(5) That no other marriage ceremony shall take place before or after this
ceremony in which a Catholic priest participates or has any part;
(6) That my wife will not only be free in the exercise of her desire to
follow Christ in a Protestant Church, but that I will do her the courtesy
and exercise the intellectual honesty of examining the grounds for the
Protestant faith, from time to time attending a Protestant service with her;
(7) That the religious training of all children shall be of a Protestant
nature and never of a Roman Catholic nature.
In testimony of which agreement, I do hereby solemnly swear that I will
observe the above agreement and faithfully execute the promises contained
therein, and do now affix my signature. _________________ Attested
_________________ Catholic partner Protestant partner.
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