A Sabbath of Fellowship and Nurture: Day 3 at the NAD Meetings

For Sabbath School this morning, J. Alfred Johnson II, director of Adult Ministries for the North American Division, facilitated a discussion on “The Power of Fellowship and Nurture.”

"Sabbath School is more than the Church at study. It is community outreach, it is fellowship and nurture,” Johnson said.

A series of video presentations from various churches that are making these aspects a focal point in their congregations followed.

Church in the Valley, located in British Columbia, Canada, serves as both church and community center, with a food pantry, rock climbing wall, and more.

In a combined video/interview presentation, Pastor Jimmy Shue discussed the importance of worshiping and fellowshipping in one's own language. This emphasis has been successful in drawing Karen immigrants in North America to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In the past eight years, the number of Karen congregations in North America has grown from zero to 50.

Because most Karen immigrant families can’t afford to send their children through the Adventist school system, the 50 congregations Pastor Shue oversees include additional programming throughout the week specifically designed to foster community among adolescents and youth. A recent campmeeting event brought over 600 youth together in fellowship.

Next, Elder David Franklin shared a video testimony from two young women who recently joined Miracle City Church in Baltimore, and were blessed by the warm and friendly environment they found there.

Additional presentations on the power of fellowship and nurture in Vacation Bible Schools, disabled communities, and young adult Sabbath School were also given.

Lastly, Elder Johnson told the congregation that Sabbath School lessons are now available on the Amazon Alexa platform. Even if you don’t have an Alexa Dot or Echo, you can still listen by visiting Amazon’s Flash Briefing section and searching “Adventist.”

The Divine Worship service followed. Music was a focal point with nine performances interspersed throughout the program. Gale Jones Murphy’s awe-inspiring piano performance of It Is Well/Tis So Sweet and Shelton E. Kilby III’s Sermonic Meditation on Wonderful Words of Life (also on the piano) were my personal favorites. The Praise Team led by Zina Johnson filled the congregation with energy.

NAD President Dan Jackson then delivered his sermon, “Words.”

“Words can be the most useless of all human communication,” said Jackson, unless those words are followed up with action.

"Jesus met people where they were, not where he wanted them to be. That came later,” Jackson told the congregation, reminding them of our need to go out into the world with love.

There has been an “ocean of change” in the landscape we minister in today, he continued. Technological advances and the innumerable resources available on the internet mean “we are no longer keepers of the knowledge...so we must become the facilitators of learning.”

But we can’t do that from our pews. “We must become co-learners with those we desire to train and influence,” especially young people. "We are turning off generations of young people because they see we are all mouth and no feet."

Jackson shared two biblical instances that show how actions can be either self-serving or Christ-serving.

[Judas] braced his soul to resist the influence of the truth; and while he practiced criticizing and condemning others, he neglected his own soul, and cherished and strengthened his natural evil traits of character until he became so hardened that he could sell his Lord for thirty pieces of silver.” -Ellen G. White, That I May Know Him, pg 182

In contrast, when Greeks came to Philip requesting to see Jesus, His message to them was:

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” -John 12:20-26

“One man runs after instant gratification, after self-advancement...the other, our Lord, looks down the road to eternity and sees what happens when self is laid aside and others are put first,” Jackson concluded.

He then shared a quote from A.W. Tozer:

I am afraid we modern Christians are long on talk and short on conduct. We use language of power but our deeds are the deeds of weakness. We settle for words in religion because deeds are too costly. It is easier to pray, ‘Lord help me to carry my cross daily’ then to pick up the cross and carry it; but since the mere request for help to do something we do not actually intend to do has a certain degree of religious comfort, we are content with repetition of the words.

Jewel L. Kibble then led the congregation in the Hymn of Dedication, Live Out Thy Life Within Me. A potluck lunch followed in the Charles E. Bradford Conference Center.

You can watch the service on the North American Division Facebook page.

Alisa Williams is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

Image Credit: SpectrumMagazine.org

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8349

Very good examples. I wish the NAD would go three steps further.

First: Clearly define a healthy congregation. What characteristics are prominent? Ask Conference leaders to promote “healthy church models” as a top priority.

Second: Clearly define a healthy pastorate. Roles to avoid and models to aspire. Encouraging male pastors to avoid the 9 month pregnant appearance. Develop a system for proper accounting of every member. What percent of church members are unaccounted, uninvited?

Third: Demand transparent accounting of Conferences, Unions and NAD be made available on-line. Operate a lean, focused organization. Open up to cost saving suggestions. Allow some positions, Conference or Union to be divided among capable retired members or pastors wives.

Would’t be nice: If NAD and Unions would cut their budgets by 50%, allowing local congregations to keep 5% of tithe for community projects! I don’t think they realize how many NA SDA churches are minimally involved with their communities. If the church closed–would the local community miss their presence?

Worse of all: Just keep the status-quo. Spend 31 million dollars for a glass house, as if there is no end of money. Believe that wealth, enrichment of ourselves with charity funds, means favor with God and man. Believe that if Jesus were on earth this is exactly how he would live or what he would want us to do to further his kingdom.

i thought dan jackson put in a strong showing at annual council 2017…with new headquarters, removed from the GC, he’ll probably be even a stronger leader for NAD…who knows, maybe he’s our new GC president in waiting…

Sorry, that link is entirely unuseful.

Great suggestions Frank. Is anyone listening?
I live near an Adventist University, Medical Center, and numerous Adventist churches where pastors, teachers, medical personnel are being educated to serve humanity and yet there is hardly any mention of or emphasis on addressing Alcohol and Drug Dependence. A local SDA church threw out 12 step program participants because coffee was served at the group meetings being held in the fellowship room of the church. There are no core competencies taught on how church members can respond to the opioid catastrophe in and out of the church.
I congratulate the NAD and LLU on their new buildings, but sadly in the meantime, there is very little being done by our church to serve humanity at this time when we could make a difference in this area of need.

I like the generally positive tone coming through from the NAD. This is in contrast to the GC Autumn Council.

It is inevitable that an organisation will have a headquarters, and that the larger the organisation, the larger the headquarters. Ultimately, the NAD is responsible for an extensive tertiary education network, an extensive health network, and a publishing empire. All of this takes time to manage as a stakeholder. And that is on top of the missional aspects - members, churches, conferences and unions, along with all the departmental aspects.

Where consideration needs to be given is to how to make it lean. How is duplication avoided. This isn’t about avoiding levels of organisation, but of ensuring that the different levels take on responsibilities that are relevant to its position in the structure, and that add value to the mission of the church.

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I have no objection to Dan Jackson! He has already proved to be a strong leader for the NAD! GC is always a possibility but generally GC Presidents have had significant missionary experience in other cultures. Dan may not have this . Ted Wilson does, both in West Africa and in Russia! Jan Paulsen did. So too did Robert Folkenberg, And Neal C Wilson.

I am reading the rave reviews for Dan Jackson.

If I was at that meeting, I would go up & give him a taste of his own medicine.

At first people come to church because of internal condemnation and want to get improvement in character & personality.

Yet after they hear about the cross which addresses guilt, they get told they are poor , blind , naked, lukewarm Laodicean losers and get scolded, reproved, criticized for lip service and no action like in this sermon.

No analysis or how to deal with the symptom. Just blast the crowd.

Maybe one might hear as a solution, “Ask Jesus to come into your heart”, “Let go & let God” , “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” --ambiguous, superficial cliche after cliché.

Why is there lack of action?

Why not say to the audience…“You sing hymns and hear someone play the piano. I think you should play the piano now too. Why aren’t you?”

Anyone else perceptive enough to notice how many sermons are just pastors bullying the audience?

Church members don’t reach out because of any of several reasons—
Ashamed, afraid, unprepared (not trained), apathetic, cynical, exclusive, anti-social, bigoted.

THINK: A well known mega-church pastor, with a Christian radio program said in a sermon…

“I’m a traveling salesman. You’re a satisfied customer. I get paid to be good. You’re good for nothing.”

How many SDA members are even satisfied customers?