Take Your Places at the Wall
Message delivered to the Ontario Council and various EDAs March 2014
Good evening to the movers and shakers of this nation—you faithful optimists who have determined not to be shaped by the world but to shape the world. You who have chosen to devote your lives to making this world a better place for the next generation.
It’s always easiest to bring a challenging message to those who are already on your side. You who have taken the time to come out today have already determined in your hearts that you will not accept the status quo, you will not accept defeat, you will not accept a corrupt government, you will not accept the standard of loose morals and crass partisan politics. Many of you have been in the trenches a long time in your EDAs, your churches and your communities because you believe that Almighty God has a claim on your life AND that He has prepared good works for you to do.
You believe—in spite of seemingly overwhelming odds, in spite of unfair media treatment and unjust court decisions and unprincipled politicians and unbelieving neighbours—that YOUR God is able to prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies and YOUR God is able to make you more than conquerors!
I’m so grateful to be with you today and I thank you for the opportunity to bring a few words regarding Development—the growth in size and the growth in maturity and preparedness that we need, if CHP Canada is going to effectively challenge the status quo that we see entrenched at every level of government, in our national media and unfortunately in the classrooms of this nation, where tomorrow’s voters and taxpayers are today being led away from the moral dimension that once guided our leaders and protected our families.
My topic for today is: “Take Your Places at the Wall” or the more personal “Take Your Place at the Wall”. A call to service requires both an individual response and a corporate response. Unless you as an individual take personal responsibility to step up to the plate, to stand up and be counted, no great changes will take place. The nation will not be changed. The moral slide will continue. But there must also be a corporate response from you—as a group, as an EDA, as the Alberta Council, as an army of volunteers—because while one of you can put a thousand to flight, two of you can chase ten thousand. When minds and hearts are joined in prayer and purpose great things can take place.
We need each other. And to accomplish anything of significance we need to be moving in the same direction at the same time. Last November, at the Engaging our Culture Conference in Ontario, Dave Bylsma pointed out the multiplication factor that comes into play when two workhorses pull together. Two horses can pull more than twice what either horse could pull alone. But they have to be pulling together.
I used to log with horses in BC and it’s a beautiful sight when two well-matched horses put their shoulders into the work together. But when you hook onto a big log that’s right at the limit of their capacity, if only one of the two makes the effort, the log will not move but that horse will get discouraged. Then the other horse gives it a try. It lunges ahead while the first horse pulls back. After they plunge around for a while, see-sawing in a futile attempt to move the log, they both become frightened and confused and they both give up. It’s what the apostle Paul called “beating the air”. It’s effort without result.
Too often, that’s been the case with our work in the CHP. One person will pour heart and soul into it for a time, while others who could have been helpful just pat him on the back and go about their business. After a while, the hardworking individual gets discouraged and loses heart. Then, a new member joins, all fired up and ready to tackle the world. But without a team effort, that person can also become discouraged. I’ve talked to lots of people who were once active CHP members—even candidates—who became discouraged and are no longer in the battle. Do you know how much we could accomplish if the whole Christian community would jump in at the same time, roll up their sleeves and commit themselves to this work? We have not seen that yet, but we must not allow ourselves to become discouraged, to take the easy way out, to use the disappointments of the past as an excuse for doing nothing in the future.
In keeping with my title, “Take your places at the wall”, I’m going to draw a few lessons here from the book of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem and then I’d like to point to a few practical things that we can do to rebuild the walls of Canada’s moral structure. The book of Nehemiah has been often used to present a Christian response to the decay of our society. Then I want to focus on the application:
Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem which had been broken down and to repair the gates which had been burned by fire. He went to Jerusalem—with the blessing of the heathen king—inspected the damage, made a plan and called forth the people to a work of sacrifice, a work that was dangerous, a work that was opposed and mocked by the world. If you want to see a great example of people working together to accomplish the impossible read chapter 3 of Nehemiah. I don’t have time to read it here but it begins with the priests…rebuilding the sheep gate and Nehemiah takes the reader all the way around the wall, describing who was involved and what they did.
Individuals, families, groups, each took responsibility for a portion of the wall or for one of the gates. I counted 46 different individuals and groups named in this chapter. Some were rulers of cities, some were craftsmen, goldsmiths and apothecaries. Nehemiah even points out one group—the Tekoites—whose nobles did not put their necks to the work. Others went the extra mile and took on a second portion of the wall.
In the rebuilding of the CHP, you represent many families or groups: you represent EDAs, provinces and cities. Each of you has a place at the wall. If you are not there, the work will be hindered. If the members of your EDA are not involved, our growth will be stunted.
Rebuilding the wall was not a one-man job. Nehemiah had the vision and the call from God but he depended very much on the efforts of the people. No one family could have done it. But each family took responsibility for a portion of the work—according to their faith and ability.
They had opposition from within and from without. Some of their own people tried to discourage them. Their enemies mocked them; but they did not allow themselves to be hindered. Instead, every man took up two jobs—builder and security guard. They recognized the dangers and the challenges but they did not knuckle under to intimidation and ridicule. They shook it off and stepped up.
I know in this room, many of you have already taken on two jobs, three jobs because you see a job that needs to be done and nobody else is doing it, You’re already busy, already doing all you can but you can’t bear to see the ball dropped so you take on one more job. Many of us in the CHP are wearing too many hats.
I love your commitment and your willingness but I say to you what I say to myself: we need to recruit new workers and inspire those workers to accept leadership roles so that we can focus on our core responsibilities. Every one of us can accomplish more not by working harder, but by working smarter. We need to recruit, inspire, train and delegate. We need to multiply our efforts not by taking more on ourselves but by bringing more in to share in this work.
I want to talk to you about ‘The Jethro Structure’
Sometimes it’s good to look in the archives. King Josiah looked in the archives and found the Book of the Law… that transformed his nation. King Ahasuerus couldn’t sleep one night. He looked in the archives and found out that Mordecai had saved his life. Because of that Mordecai and Esther received grace and favour to save all the Jews scattered throughout the kingdom. King Darius looked in the archives and found that his predecessor had granted Nehemiah permission to rebuild Jerusalem and so he gave them his blessing to continue that work.
Well, I looked in the CHP archives and found—buried in the Riding Development Manual written back in the 90’s—a little section called the ‘Jethro Structure’, an idea first proposed by Ian Knight. I already was talking about this concept a couple of years ago and then I found it in the archives—exactly what I had been thinking. There’s nothing new under the sun. A previous national board had already put this plan into place. Only one problem: we haven’t been following the plan. Good ideas are great and wonderful but if you don’t put them into practice, you can’t expect results.
So who was Jethro and what is the Jethro Structure? It just so happens that my wife and I have a son named Jethro but this plan is named after Jethro, the priest of Midian, the father-in-law of Moses.
In Exodus 18, we read that Jethro came to visit Moses. And he noticed that Moses was trying to do everything himself. He was micromanaging. He told Moses: ‘You’re going to wear yourself out AND you’re going to wear out your people. He told him to delegate. He told him to appoint captains over tens and captains over fifties, captains over hundreds, and captains over thousands—train those officers to serve the needs of the grassroots while you look after the business of the nation. Moses took his advice and we also should take his advice.
We at National already have a number of projects on the go: policy development, advertising campaigns, administrative functions and election readiness. Our leader and team must be focused on those things. Yet we know that the biggest need of the party is for new memberships and maintenance of the members we already have. To grow our party requires an organized grass-roots effort. The national board can’t do it. The provincial councils can’t do it. Even the EDA boards can’t do it alone. We need our current members to become membership recruiters and to help new members take their places at the wall.
The national office or the provincial council or the local EDA board, can organize a tour or send out a brochure or call a meeting but if the spreading of the CHP message is left only to the officers,
- They will wear out
- They will not be very effective
- They will not be able to reach very many people
- The members will not stretch their wings or reach their full potential; they may feel their only responsibility is to give money and vote
- Because of all the above, it will be difficult to recruit new officers because they will fear that all the work may fall on their shoulders.
Many hands make light work. The task of reaching our nation with the CHP message is a daunting one. Right now we have 4 paid staff, a national board, a handful of provincial presidents and a few dozen EDA boards, all composed of volunteers. We also have 3 pioneering District Managers who have the potential of developing a support base. We are trying to reach 33 million Canadians with our message.
The point is this: our handful of staff and our teams of EDA officers cannot accomplish this without the energetic and consistent work of local members. Some of our members (not you of course) seem to feel that as long as they pay their membership dues and perhaps make an annual donation, even pray for the work and maybe attend a meeting or two each year, that they have done their part. We are grateful for every membership, for every donation and we are encouraged by every member who shows up for a meeting. And we know how important are the prayers of the saints. But all this is not enough. To achieve the breakthrough we all are longing for, to see the party growing and to elect our first MP, we need our members to become recruiting officers. If every member signed up just one new member, our party would double in size overnight.
We need that doubling for a variety of reasons.
- We are losing members every year through death, distraction and disillusionment. This is crippling us. We need a surge in membership renew to the enthusiasm so necessary to a political movement.
- Our financial resources are being stretched. Just to communicate with our current membership, to host meetings, to travel and place ads on the very small scale we do today, we are asking greater and greater sacrifices from fewer and fewer donors. This cannot continue long. Our faithful donors like you—who have given so much for so long—need others to come alongside and share the load. A doubled membership and the financial contributions new members could make would allow our leader and national board to begin reaching out in new directions, to advertise through new channels, to travel to new communities. Maintaining the status quo is not enough. In fact, maintaining the status quo is impossible. If we do not actively grow our membership, we will shrivel and collapse.
- The party needs a fresh wave of volunteer officers at all levels. Many of our EDA and provincial officers have served 3 or more terms and they are getting tired. They need reinforcements. Most of our volunteer officers have other responsibilities: they have careers, they are raising families. We need reinforcements from the party ranks but if the membership itself is shrinking or unmotivated, disillusioned or discouraged, who will step forward to accept the responsibilities that go with leadership?
For every one of these needs and concerns, a surge in membership would do wonders. So how do we make that happen?
Our officers cannot do it all. We need to empower our membership. Our members need to know that they hold the key to success for CHP.
I believe that every one of our members knows someone who shares our values but who has not YET joined CHP. Why not make 2014 the year they join?
The National Board has approved a plan to make September 2014 a Membership Drive Month and we hope that every one of you will join in heartily to make it successful. Between now and September, we’ll be asking Provincial Councils and EDAs to seek out men and women of character and integrity who would be willing to become ‘captains of tens’. People who would be willing to make 10 phone calls to 10 current members and encourage each of them to sign up just ONE NEW MEMBER in 2014. We know that we will not have 100% participation. Some of our members are in nursing homes or are facing other challenges. But we can’t let the difficulties stop us from taking action.
You’ll hear more about this in the months ahead. The good news is, you don’t have to wait until September. Talk to your friends now: give them an opportunity to join the CHP team. Maybe they’ll add their efforts to help us make this September a breakthrough month for the CHP.
And finally, if you think that sounds like too much work, if you think the task is too great, if you want an easier way, if you want to take a shortcut, I do have one other solution: Just make sure that in 2015 you elect—or become—the first CHP Member of Parliament. That is the breakthrough event that would thrust the CHP onto the national stage and make us a household name. When that happens it will make the task of signing up new members so much easier for the rest of us.
My time is up. Thank you for your membership, your support, your prayers and your perseverance. I hope to see many of you at the Convention in November!