ABM - Assembly Band Movement

History of the ABM

The Assembly Band Movement began in these last days in 1916, and is presently ministering to the saints in the same manner of spirit in which it was intended when it was first introduced in the days of Moses for governing the children of Israel. It is not known as to whether or not the Early Church had such an auxiliary as the Assembly Band Movement within its polity to car for the membership; however, there are scores of Scripture in the New Testament that sets forth the need for such an auxiliary in the Body of Christ as a help to care for the sheep. Paul states that God has set helps and governments (1 Corinthians 12:28) within the Body of Christ to edify itself in love. The aspect to "...bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ..." (Galatians 6:2), surely sets forth the need for an organized method and a unified effort to keep the sheep safe in the fold (Church).

Presently, in The Church of God, there are great men and women, the band leaders or undershepherds of the Assembly Band Movement, working energetically to keep the sheep safe and secure within the Church. Jesus, speaking in Matthew 18:11-14 reveals the depth of His concern for just one little sheep that has gone astray. "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:11-14).

Prior to the foundation of the Church in the Wilderness (Exodus 19:5-6; 24:1-7), God knew that it would need a proper form of government for it to operate effectively and efficiently. Preceding the covenant made at Sinai (Exodus 24:1-7), God moved upon Jethro to give Moses the advice to govern the people in a more satisfactory manner. It was while in this selfsame Spirit that A.J. Tomlinson, General Overseer, was moved to bring before the General Assembly of 1916 what he called "Watchers over Tens". This concept was accepted in that Assembly and has been practiced ever since in The Church of God. The inspiration for this recommendation sprang forth from the Scripture in Exodus 18:13-26.

Purpose of the ABM

The Assembly Band Movement is the Church's department of pastoral care, and its purpose is to see that each member of The Church of God is provided the proper care. In accordance to the principles of government as outlined in Exodus 18:13-26, the pastor divides the local church flock into various bands for supervision. The leaders of these bands, or undershepherds, are given the oversight of the band. Their duties include conducting monthly band services to encourage the members toward spiritual growth and development, writing to correspondent band members, and praying for the spirituality of the band. Band leaders are expected to report monthly to keep the pastor abreast of any needs facing band members.

The Assembly Band Movement will prove to be a greater asset to The Church of God in the very near future as the zeal of the Lord enlightens and enlivens those gallant men and women who have accepted the burden of being their brothers' and sisters' keepers.

ABM Resources

The resources listed on this page are available to all Assembly Band Movement coordinators and band leaders. To receive these resources, please contact the Print Shop Ministry.

A Bible Study on The Shepherd and the Sheep
Prepared by: Assembly Band Movement Department
The Bible says a lot about the shepherd's life and his sheep. This purpose of this writing is to convey the relationship between the pastor as the shepherd, band leaders as the undershepherd, and the members of the Church as the sheep.

Organize Your Band for a Powerful Force
Prepared by: Assembly Band Movement Department
A band put into working order will be strong and able to overcome evil. Organizing the band for a powerful force is the band leader's responsibility. When the members are connected together, motion will automatically be transferred from one to another - provoking them to love and good works.

The Assembly Band Movement in Perspective
Written by: Larry Walters, Sr.
Related to the Assembly Band Movement the word perspective means the relationship of the parts of a whole, regarded from the particular standpoint or point in time. It also means a proper evaluation with proportional importance given to the component parts. This writing has been prepared to assist band leaders recapture the spirit of the auxiliary.

An Old-Time Understanding of the Assembly Band Movement 

The following is adapted from an article written by former General Overseer A.J. Tomlinson. Some parts have been omitted because they pertain to programs no longer in operation or changed to better reflect the programs currently operating as part of the ABM. Minor changes have been made to the language, primarily in eliminating words that are no longer in common use, in order to be better understood by all readers. For the most part, however, the text has been kept as written by Bishop Tomlinson, in order to more effectively portray his passion for the operation and importance ABM.

Introduced in 1916.
Text: “That the members should have the same care one for another.”

Instructions For Band Leaders
This is an important position—watching for souls, as they that must give account. (Hebrews 13:17)

1.   Be an example:
a.  In word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
b.  In attendance at Sunday School and services for worship, including prayer meetings.
c.  In paying tithes and giving to the support of the activities of the Church. Though sometimes you may be forced to make your gifts small, try to do something.
d.  In times of sickness, resort to the Bible way for healing instead of other means.

2.   Take all the member of your band on your heart and pray for them every day. Do your best to feel responsible for them, and as far as possible be able to say to God by and by, as Jesus said to His father: “while I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me, I have kept, and none of them is lost...” (John 17:12)

3.   Get the correct address of each one and always keep a careful record of the same, thereafter, as long as you remain in charge of the band. If change of address is made at any time by any of the members of your band, always get the new address and report the same to the church clerk. Never let a membermove away without your knowing of it and where.

4.   Visit them as often as convenient and encourage them in their religious experience. Try to pray with them occasionally, and always insist on their attendance at Sunday School and meetings. (Regular attendants may not need this.)

5.   If any of your members should be too far away to prevent your allow for you to visit them personally—or on account of your work or theirs you are unable to see them—write them spiritually uplifting letters that will both encourage them and build them up spiritually. 

6.   In case of sickness or misfortunes, do your best to aid and comfort them by your presence or letters. Show yourself a pattern of good works. (Titus 2:7; James 1:27)

7.   Band leaders have held special and regular weekly or monthly prayer meetings for their bands, which have been a source of much spiritual profit and encouragement to the members of the band. This plan of procedure is highly recommended when circumstances are such that the members can get together.

8.   A good influence should be used, always in a wise and prudent manner, to get all the member to pay tithes. Always show the blessings that come to those who pay tithes and avoid anything that would give any room to think that the only thing we want is their money. Keep that part in the background. A tract on tithe paying may be given occasionally, and a tithe envelope may be handed or mailed to them sometimes as a reminder.

9.   Encourage every member of your band to read the Evening Light. Get a list of those who do read it and those who do not. Keep on working at it carefully and prayerfully until a canvass may show that all are considered regular readers. If you need a few sample copies to assist you in this work, write to General Headquarters to request them.

10.   The band members as a whole may become a strong factor in advertising the Sunday School, bringing new members into the school, distributing tracts, soliciting subscription for the Evening Light, ministering to the poor and needy, the sick and other unfortunates.

11.   The ABM is responsible for collecting both Assembly Expense Dollars and Emergency Dollars from each member. The Assembly Expense Dollars enable us to rent a building and pay for the various expenses associated with holding our General Assembly every year, while the Emergency Dollars remain in the local church and are generally used as a benevolence fund to relieve the needs of members who may encounter financial difficulties because of a death in the family, illness, fire or some other unexpected hardship.

12.   At the present time, there are thousands of square miles in every state or region, thickly populated with people that have never seen a person filled with the Holy Ghost or heard another speak in other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance. This shows the greatness of the responsibilities born by our regional overseers, who should be kept on the field as much as possible. Unfortunately, such work requires funds to supply the overseer with the resources necessary to work his sate or region thoroughly and completely. This work should be considered a real home missionary work that merits the cooperation of every member of every local church. In some wise and judicious manner, get every member of your band to contribute to this worthy cause every month. Make it a love offering for the overseer.

13.   Efforts should be made by the band leaders and member of their band to influence friends who are not members of the Church to contribute to this worthy cause. As an incentive, make mention of the fact that it is to be used in publishing the Gospel of the Kingdom in your particular state or region. Perhaps, many outside friends and neighbors may be convinced to give their nickles, dimes and quarters or even larger amounts, when they are told that the money is for the purpose stated above—home mission work in your state or region.

14.   Always be present at the regular monthly Band leader's meeting, which is to be called and directed by the pastor or some one selected for the purpose. This meeting is to be held at some convenient time prior to the fourth Sunday in each month in order that all money collected may be turned over to the local church treasurer on that day. The fourth Sunday is the time for the regular monthly collection for the Regional Overseer. 

15.   Always bear in mind that all of this is a special Home Mission work in your particular state or region and should be treated and spoken of as such.

16.   Each band leader should be ready to report his month's work to the pastor at the regular monthly band leader's meeting. The pastor has the oversight of all the band leaders in the local church of which he is pastor. He will be expected to give instructions and counsel from time to time to assist the band leaders in their work.

17.   With the pastor and band leaders in hearty cooperation in this glorious and all important work, it seems that there will be no reason for losing any of our members on account of Satan's devices, snares and influences, and the deceitfulness of sin. Then, too, this kind of cooperation will surely enable each local church to always know where its members are located, thus preventing the necessity of attempting to learn the current whereabouts of certain members, which has happened in the past. The Scriptures referring to saving all true sheep instead of excluding any for backsliding can surely be relied on when put in practice in the loving and effectual manner that can be done through this close and powerful organization.

18.   The following scriptures can be cited in support of the ABM, its work and leadership: Ezekiel 3:20-21; Matthew 18:12-17, 21-22, 35; 2 Peter 3:9, 14-15; Luke 15:4-7, 20-24; Galatians 6:1-2; 1 John 5:16; Jude 20-23; 1 Thessalonians 5:11-13; 1 John 2:1-2; James 5:19-20; Colossians 1:28-29: John 15:16.

19.   Is it not true that too often more attention has been given to taking care of sheep, hogs, cattle, horses, dogs and other animals to prevent their being lost or straying away than has been given to men, women and young people of the Church? Many have wandered away and contact with them lost entirely, simply because no one felt responsible to keep up with them. And it is to be regretted that too many by their actions, if not in words, try to offer the same excuse that Cain offered when God asked him about his brother Abel—“I know not. Am I my brother's keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). The band leader is to always know right where his member can be found.

20.   A careful study and practice of these instructions on the part of those for whom they are intended will surely produce good results and supply a long-felt want—taking care of all the members so none will be lost. And it is to be hoped that the work will be pleasant and joyful because it is done in remembrance of the fact that we are laborers together with God (1 Corinthians 3:9), and the Christ (2 Corinthians 6:1) who said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)
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