pdf of Pastor General’s Report – June 27, 1980 e-Book of Pastor General’s Report – June 27, 1980 link to Pastor General’s Report – June 27, 1980
Pastor General’s Report – June 27, 1980
Pastor General’s Report – June 27, 1980
When I Pastored A Local Church

by Herbert W. Armstrong

Several who have held high positions at Pasadena Headquarters – mostly no longer with us – never had the experience of pastoring a local church “in the field.” Among these were my son Garner Ted Armstrong, Albert Portune, Ron Dart, Robert Kuhn. This also includes Rod Meredith.

Whether or not this lack of “field” experience was a handicap, it does remain a fact that being a pastor of a local church provides a minister with an invaluable experience. Also among our ex-evangelist rank men who have held high positions at Headquarters are Wayne Cole and David Antion. Both of these had considerable local church pastoring experience.

But Jesus Christ, living HEAD of the Church, did not raise up the entire Worldwide Church of God through His chosen Apostle, without giving me that very important experience. Some of you ministers may have forgotten it, but I myself had to go through this important experience before Christ could use me in the chief executive position now, and the experience of building and developing the growth of the Church as a whole. I was pastor of the parent church at Eugene, Oregon for a number of years.

While there I also started, and kept growing, the radio broadcast, The PLAIN TRUTH, The Good News. Also I found time to hold frequent and continuous six-nights-a-week meetings in other towns and locations in Oregon. These brought in and baptized new members.

In fact, it was this very experience – bringing in new members in several other locations – that led to the necessity of founding Ambassador College. At a number of these points five or more new converts were baptized. I tried to appoint one of them who seemed to be somewhat of a leader, to continue leading the new little group in either a Sabbath School or a tiny local church. But they were not trained or ordained ministers, and in no case did these newly raised up little groups continue longer than six weeks or so.

I saw that I was wasting time carrying on evangelistic work, resulting in new conversions, unless there was a trained and competent local shepherd to feed and protect the newly-begotten sheep. That led to the founding of Ambassador College.

But I did have a number of years of experience pastoring the very parent church of the present Worldwide Church of God. And I thought, this morning, the longest day of the year, that some of my experiences there might be helpful to some of you.

I learned, before we became a church of many local churches, that one encounters problems with people, and with human nature in a local church, just as we now do in the Church at large spreading around the world.

I found we had, on occasion, troublemakers. We had some I had believed to have been converted and to have received the Holy Spirit of God, who were in a carnal and bad attitude. And I learned this – even as you may have – or you will: one in a rotten attitude CANNOT BE REASONED WITH OR DEALT WITH. You might as well drop them.

Now first understand this: among the carnal and unconverted, some have a pleasant, cooperative attitude – some go to the opposite extreme of a rotten, hostile, and totally uncooperative attitude. Even one who has received the Holy Spirit of God has not been filled with the loving, kind, helpful, cooperative attitude of God. One receives the Spirit of God by degrees. Jesus Christ was filled with the Spirit of God totally and completely – fully. He was begotten of God and not of a human father. He had God’s Spirit in its fullness from birth – none of us has.

A newly-begotten Christian has received a certain degree of God’s Spirit – actually, some more, others less. But all “babes in Christ” still have the same old “HUMAN NATURE.” Satan starts injecting that human nature – the nature of contention, self and selfishness, coveting, lust and greed, jealousy, envy, competition and strife, rebellion against authority – in every human as early in a child’s life as the mind begins to develop – while a very young child.

This spirit of Satan (human nature) is absorbed in different people in varying degrees. Some become criminal-minded even in their teens. Some are more or less compatible and cooperative. Even human nature varies.

At real conversion one receives the Holy Spirit from GOD – but in a certain measure or degree. That is the DIVINE NATURE taking root within (II Pet. 1:4). But the human nature is likely to dominate, until one so yields to God, to His Word, and is diligent in prayer and GROWS in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ (II Pet. 3:18), that finally the DIVINE NATURE dominates – one comes to be led more by God’s nature and His Word than by the carnal nature of Satan.

And all this happens in varying degrees in various individuals.

But one who is more or less constantly contentious, in a rotten spirit and attitude, unwilling continually to be cooperative and reasonable, you might as well write off and get rid of.

Even one, who has God’s Holy Spirit and is trying to grow in grace and in God’s Spirit, may have lapses of temporary carnality – a flaring up of a wrong attitude – and then, soon afterward, come to his senses and repent of the momentary carnal lapse.

The local pastor must bear in mind that different people have varying degrees of the carnal attitude and nature of Satan, and varying degrees of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. And the pastor must learn to handle them accordingly – to wisely discern the REAL nature and attitude of a member who becomes a problem.

I remember a “pentecostal” woman who started attending at Eugene. I had not baptized her – she was not one of my converts, but started attending – professing to be a real “born again” Christian. She was a “holier-than-thou.” But her attitude was hostile to God’s truth which I was preaching. She, like all such troublemakers, had an uncanny knack of discerning who of our congregation were the weakest spiritually. She would sit next to such a person. Continually, as I preached, she would whisper in the ear of the weak one, disputing and disagreeing with what I was preaching. About the second Sabbath this went on, I stopped the sermon, and spoke directly to this self-righteous, contentious woman.

“If you would stop whispering in the ear of the one sitting next to you, contradicting what I am saying, and pay attention yourself to what I am saying, you might learn some TRUTH,” I said. “But if you continue this whispering another time, I shall call the deacons to escort you out of the church!”

After the service I dealt with her privately, and she discontinued coming.

I had many experiences during those years when I was pastoring a local church. Anyway, it occurred to me this morning that some of these thoughts might be helpful to you ministers. Do not think I do not realize and sympathize with your local problems. I have experienced such problems myself.

And all the more, because I have, I do from the bottom of my heart APPRECIATE the good work you men and your wives are doing all over the world in our local churches. Your local flocks are YOUR CHILDREN IN THE LORD, and you are trying to coach and help them to grow spiritually so they may have a place with us in THE KINGDOM OF GOD!