The Adventist Church Needs You Now More Than Ever

I don’t know where to begin. I’m an Adventist. I went through a stage where I wasn’t willing to say that. I didn’t want to say that. Despite growing up an Adventist and being a preacher’s kid’s kid, I got to a point where I wasn’t so sure about my adventistness. Yet after trying to be something else and denying what I knew, I realized I’m more Adventist than ever. I don’t know how to be anything else. And the problem myself and many Adventists today have is that we no longer see a future in the Adventist Church as a denomination.

Today Adventists all over North America are confused, disappointed, and frustrated. They don’t understand the recent decisions of the General Conference regarding homosexuality. Why a group of theologians who claim to share the loving gospel of Jesus, would tell us that our brothers, daughters, cousins, and friends are not allowed to come to church. We don’t understand why the GC press release shutting down the most innovative, exciting, and creative work the church has ever done would say they look forward to innovative and creative ventures in the future.

I watched the Record Keeper with my family, with my 6 and 8 year old sons, who stopped talking about Star Wars and started asking questions about the battle between good and evil. They wanted to know the story of God and Satan and Salvation more than Darth Maul and Anakin Skywalker. I watched the series with my youth group, and after each episode our conversations went on for hours. They wanted to know what we believe about the judgment and why all of this is the way it is. I’ve never felt more alive or more empowered by the church to bring students into a deeper understanding of our faith and salvation like with this film.

And with one fell swoop it’s over. With no explanation showing what the issues really were, it’s over. And I ask with these decisions “Is the General Conference intentionally trying to kill the church? What’s the point?” I don’t think they understand the harm they’ve done with the recent decisions they’ve made. That people like me who have devoted their life to helping young people understand what they believe and to stay in the church is now that much harder. Every week I talk with a high school student who tells me their faith is strong, but they see no future for themselves in this church. And today I can’t argue with them because I see no future for my own children here.

I see friends asking the question “what do I do now”. I see disappointment and disillusionment all around me as Adventists from all parts of North America try to make sense of what to do. But I know what I will do. I will not be undone by individuals so out of touch with reality; individuals who offer no explanation to their decisions and expect blind adherence without discourse. The world is a much different place from when Ellen White helped found the church.

I’m writing today not to anyone employed by a church or conference office. I’m writing as a member of the Seventh – day Adventist church who is sad, disappointed, and angry. I have spent my life in this denomination. I believe in the fundamental truths of the Seventh-Day Adventist church. I have devoted my life, often to the detriment of my professional career, to the ministry of helping young people discover and own their beliefs within the Adventist church. For my own selfishness I will not allow that work to be thrown away.

My decision is not to give up and walk away with my head hung low. It is to fight back. It is to take my church back from the hands of those who are intentionally trying to tear it apart. Selfish, politically motivated individuals, who at the end of the day are simply sinful human beings in need of a savior just like me.

I have seen the future face of our church and there is a bright light buried in the lives of the next generation. A generation that isn’t afraid to ask questions and go after their faith in a manner no previous generation has. A generation who looks to love, acceptance, and tolerance as the cornerstone to their beliefs. A generation whose creativity and authenticity will bring a renaissance to not only Adventism, but Christianity as a whole.

It is time for those of us who don’t agree with the methods laid out before us to respond. To come together and show our leaders how much we care and why we care. And to take ministry into our hands, the way that it’s meant to be The great commission was given to all of us to share the power of Jesus with those around us as only individuals using our talents for filmmaking, music, writing, yoga, counseling, teaching, kindness, love, patience… can do.

These decisions should not cause you to be disillusioned or to turn your back on the church. If so, I would beg of you to please contact me. These decisions by the official church are the call to members to wake from the habits they have formed over their life and take notice. It’s a time for all of us to truly ask ourselves what we believe and stand up for it. This isn’t a show that the church doesn’t want you. It’s a show that the church needs you more now than ever.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “The Adventist Church Needs You Now More Than Ever

  1. I fell for what you’re feeling… I really do!
    Here’s my take on yet another series of GC smack-downs.

    I’m an artist… I was raised in Adventism, the son of a pastor and academy Bible teacher. I left the church in 2001… twenty years later than I should have. I wasn’t bitter… I was done pretending.

    The church may have needed me to swell its membership numbers… and to add to the tithe-base, but it never wanted me to pursue and be who God had created me to be. It wanted me to be a clone of its other clones, who were clones of the generation before. I tried my best for 43 years to be that… and finally gave up and left denominational religion forever.

    I haven’t left God, and He surely hasn’t left me… but I’m not joining any church, ever again, that has denominational ties. I will serve in them, sing and play for their worship services if God allows, but I will never again invest my time in following or building any brand other than a local community of Christ followers and the Christ they follow. I will never again fall for the notion that any group has been given special revelation and has “the truth.”

    I know that sounds scary, radical, and fanatical… Maybe it is. But in the almost 13 years since I’ve been gone, I have been allowed to be a part of worship services, creative outreaches, and real community in a way that I had never experienced while I was “inside.” My scriptural connection is deeper and my security in the knowledge of my salvation… and how that works… is a blessing I never felt while and SDA.

    I was born in the 50s, so I’ve seen a few generations of creativity and inspiration be snuffed out by the GC. Most of my peers, if they chose to pursue God AND creativity, have left Adventism for saner more accepting ministry elsewhere. In the 60s and early 70s Adventism had some of the best Christian musicians on the planet… as rated by Billboard Magazine, not by insiders… and some very innovative outreach methods in the works. Anybody remember the VOPs “Wayout” series? Or the Wedgwood? Of course the brethren shut ’em down, shelved their projects and drove them out with rumor and innuendo.

    Ditto that in the 80s, 90s and beyond. “Rise of the Minions” anyone…?

    I’m sure you can all share, or have heard, stories of other creative initiatives… and can name widely talented creative friends… who had a heart for God and ministry, yet who have been “jerked around… jacked-up” and then thrown on the scrap-heap by the brethren. The stories abound.

    This recent shelving/killing of “The Record Keeper” is only the latest in a long line of direct messages from the GC:

    “We’d love you to believe that we’re trying to support creativity and the arts, but frankly, we don’t think God likes that stuff very much… and we sure don’t!

    If it’s new and fresh, then it’s wordily and sinful! We don’t want to be associated with anything that doesn’t look like ‘Faith for Today’ in 1962.”

    Generation after generation we see it repeated, and like cool-aid drinkers we go back and try again, believing it will turn out differently this time. You know that’s the definition of insanity don’t you… 😉

    Sadly, the denomination of my origin is a self-congratulating, self-absorbed, insider network built on lies and obscurely shaky theology. It looks to a dead prophet to validate all of its theological directives… Yet it dare not look too closely or the “warts” in her story will start to obscure any sanity or clarity we’ve managed to construct around her since her death.

    Am I angry… sure, I’ll admit it… I hate being lied to!
    Am I bitter… No… Because I stayed of my own free will and I fought hard to try to remain an SDA… in spite of all the dissonance, because I loved the lifestyle, the sense of being special and I had so many friends whom I loved.

    In the end, I found everything that I’d fought for to be smoke and mirrors… a pack of theological hounds that just won’t hunt, unless fueled by the “prophet’s special sauce.”

    Don’t be disenfranchised and go back for more… not in relationships and not in church. To stay the course, expecting to continue in the same way with a different outcome… that’s a soul-sucking exercise in futility. Let go of man-made systems and follow Jesus. HE will not lead you astray… He will not demand that you sideline your creativity… He won’t turn you into a clone.

    The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has SET YOU FREE from the law of sin and death! Don’t remain enslaved to a system that promises what only Christ can deliver… Denominations aren’t the church, they’re man’s attempt to shackle the church and make it manageable. God wants it dangerous and triumphant… not manageable!

    Observe this handwriting on the wall as the reality it is… Men with a need to rule and control. Forsake the broken-down carriages of a fake remnant… and let Christ bear you up to soar on eagles wings. Be who God made you to be… not what a denominational mandate allows you to be.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to respond and share your story. It’s taken me a couple of days to ponder your words and formulate some sort of response. There is so much truth in your experience and it’s not unique. I see it all too clearly, and have experienced it myself. I’ve never felt more free than when worshipping in a non-denominational setting. Denominationalism with it’s focus on worldwide conformity and historical relevance (not to mention finances) in the long term stagnates spiritual growth and development. I’ve struggled immensely, being disillusioned with the formal church. I’m blessed to be in a church with individuals who introduced me to Dallas Willard, Deitrich Boenhoeffer, and John Ortberg as I grew spiritually. With their mentorship I feel liberated to seek God in His infinite incomprehensibility. As a result I no longer stay in the church because I feel chained to the “28 Fundamental Beliefs”, but because I feel that trying to help others see how their beliefs go beyond the narrow presentation they’ve received is what God has called me to do. There is truth in the Adventist church, but it has been glazed over with politics and conformity. I believe even Ellen White would be disappointed with what’s happening and most likely be on that list of outcasts if alive today. Blessings and may you continue to find peace and wholeness in your journey with God.

      Like

    • One could see it as “the shaking” or winnowing as you call it. But then in whose hands are the decision makers? Those of the angels of light or darkness? Should not both sides be presented and then let light and dark be discerned by the consumers much the same way the Gamaliel approached the spread of the gospel (Acts 5:38-39)?

      Like

      • It was an honest question. I don’t have all the answers. I was fully converted from an hedonistic lifestyle; though I was raised catholic, taught for 12 years by the cloistered Ursuline nuns in an all girls school; attended Sacred Heart Dominican, an all girls College. I experienced firsthand the horrors of that demonic possessed society – understanding where the nuns buried their dead babies; the needs of the bi-sexual priests and nuns, who sometimes leaned hard upon us girls. Through it all, I still believed in God, though opting to smoke & drink my way out of depression. Yet God yanked me from that life nearly 30 years ago, taking only an instant to remove all forms of drugs, turning me into a full-fledged vegan, King James Bible enthusiast, Ellen White reading, died in the wool, reform dressed Seventh-day Adventist, on fire for God, creature of the heavenly realms – literally (I was told that I looked like Moses coming down from Mt Sinai). Until the devil saw a cinch in my baby armor, pretty early on. Yet I know there is a God. Will always know there is a God. And know that Ellen White was used by God to open up great truths from the Bible. I was (and am) truly blessed by what she wrote – though she is a fallible being. We must know how to read her, just like we must know how to read the Bible – straight forward, but with balance. Church people… they just don’t know what they have at their fingertips; especially most SDAs. Some are not happy unless you avow disdain for “Spirit of Prophecy” writings, or admit that The King James is out-dated (I don’t rag on them reading other versions). I find it hard to worship with fellow believers in church. Sabbath school monitors trolling through the classes, looking for anyone who might dare to speak the truth in love. So every now and then, I toss out a cryptic question or Bible verse (I may even speak in riddles) and let God’s Spirit do all the heavy lifting. In all our nearly 30 years, my husband and I have drawn warmth from the coldness of Laodiceans. Lately though it’s been hard to work up the energy – it seems the wolves are finally beginning to win.

        Like

  2. This is very interesting. I disagree about “standing up for it”. The bottom line is that I have all my life, and little has happened nor change, my church has become more of a right-wing propaganda machine. Somethings will never change, like the song says ;-). Often is better to move on

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s