7. Greater care must be taken of the rural church. Any one interested in a great ecclesiastical polity must surely recognize the ultimate possibilities of our rural regions. Here are growing up the leading men and women of to-morrow. Ideals and inspirations set upon their hearts will bear fruit a thousand-fold. Hence there should be a definite arrangement by which a certain portion of the preaching time of the really able preachers shall be placed each year in some small and remote place. Several scattered country churches might unite for these services. Let such a man also make helpful suggestions for neighborhood social and intellectual life. While he is in the village, let the country pastor go to town, browse in libraries, art-collections, hear music, and get a general quickening of interest and inspiration. Let each compare notes with the other. They will both gain by this interchange.
8. There is too little recognition of individual talent in the Church. Too few workers are set at work which they know how to do, and the untaught rush at tasks which angels fear to touch. We have myriads of Sabbath-school teachers, but how many men or women really know how to teach a little child? The man is asked to speak or pray in prayer-meeting, who cannot possibly do it well, but no notice is taken of the fact that he thoroughly understands public accounts. A man is asked to subscribe ten dollars to a church affair, who cannot afford it, but his spiritual insight might save the impending church quarrel. People come and go in the churches, and many, I am convinced, drift away because they are never asked for anything but money for the support and interest of the Church. In no other sort of organization is this true. Even in the summer camp or mountain hotel or Atlantic liner, when any pastime or entertainment is suggested, the first thing to discover is, What can each one do? One, who has the gift of organization and management, “gets it up”; one sings; one reads or recites; one writes a bright bit of verse; another smooths out rising jealousies, or bridges, by a little tact, the abyss of caste. Why do we hide so many pretty talents under a bushel, when the church-door swings behind us? Why do we substitute such strange and foolish tasks, particularly for women? What would leading lawyers and doctors do, I wonder, if they were asked, as busy women often have been, to spend a precious morning in a church-room sorting cast-off clothes?
In every church, large or small, there are both men and women who are talented in a special way; who could bring gifts of training and experience to bear upon the problems and opportunities of the Church. Tell me, in prayer or speech-making, formal or social occasion, pastor or people, do we often bring our very deepest, tenderest, most inspiring emotional or intellectual life? It is not a whit more spiritual to be stupid than to be bright. This is what our church-meetings should be—not a formal and very dull round of prayers and set remarks, more or less pointless; they ought to be a yielding-up of our heart’s best life to others.