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By Elder Lynn Stapleton

Huntingdon, TN

In I Corinthians 12:18 Paul said, "But now hath God set the members everyone of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him." As a minister, I am blessed to pastor a church with a diverse membership. The members of my church and the members of most churches come from a wide variety of cultural and professional backgrounds, each supplying unique personal talents for the glory of God and the good of the church. God arranges these members to perform the many functions necessary within each church.

To illustrate this, the church I am now pastoring has several educators. At present, one is a supervisor and one is a counselor. Not only do we benefit from their teaching skills in Sunday School, and Vacation Bible Schools, we also benefit from their knowledge and experiences. Educators are familiar with a principle called "Monitor and Adjust." Simply stated, this is a practice of closely monitoring (observing) classrooms and individual students and making necessary adjustments according to successes and/or failures. Not all students learn on the same level. Therefore, classrooms are monitored and adjustments are made to allow students to progress according to their lever of understanding. Also, teaching methods that once proved successful may not continue to be so, making adjustments necessary.

In the early days of the church, the Lord's disciples followed His example of entering the temple and synagogues to begin their teaching ministries, thus fulfilling Christ's command to preach the gospel to every creature. They had reasonable success with this method but as the Book of Acts demonstrates, they also met with great opposition and had to abandon the practice. As malice toward the infant church increased, the disciples fled Jerusalem, and eventually many were forced to meet underground. (See Acts 8:1-4, and Fox's Book of Martyrs, pg. 11)

The world we live in is in a constant state of change. While compromise with the world can not and should not be practiced, it should be understood that the church must monitor prevailing circumstances and make necessary adjustments. It is the exclusive work of the church to carry the gospel to the world, which the early disciples did. They were far more mission minded than we are today. This is a condition that we should monitor and with God's guidance make adjustments to correct.

When Jesus met such tremendous opposition in Jerusalem He left the temple. As He left He said to the Jews, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." (Luke 13:35) Jesus carefully monitored His own ministry and made adjustments according to the reception of the people. He left Nazareth because His own received Him not. He instructed His disciples to monitor their work, and when successful to continue. Jesus also instructed them not to cast their pearls before swine, and to shake off the dust of the cities and villages that would not receive them.

During the Middle Ages a man named Peter Waldo inspired many with his faith in God and his uncompromising stand for truth. He was an educated man who  translated the Bible into the common language of the people of his day. Many were saved. At first the Waldenses met openly, building churches throughout France, Switzerland, and Northern Italy. But the world soon turned its hatred of truth upon the Waldenses and they were forced to flee into mountains and caves to worship God secretly. Baptists claim kinship with these people who loved God and stood for truth without compromise. History reveals the Waldenses and Baptists made adjustments according to circumstance. (A History of The Baptists by J.T. Christian, pg. 69)

Today, in America's multi-racial, multi-cultural society, constant change is inevitable. The Church of Jesus Christ is facing a culture with changing social, moral, and religious values. We can no longer expect government to uphold policies which are distinctly Biblical and Christian.

I Chronicles 12:32 tells us the children of Issachar were men that had understanding of the "times" to know what the people of Israel ought to do. The people of God must have this same understanding of the "times" to know what the church should do. The church should faithfully adhere to truth and sound doctrine, continue practices proven to be effective, uphold high moral standards, and become men and women of understanding like the children of Issachar. Understand the "times." Know what to do. Monitor and adjust!