Church Membership’s Missing Ingredients

My wife, an excellent home chef, gave me permission to write about the memorable day we had some special guests over for lunch. She planned on serving a delicious dish she had made many times before, so often she didn't even need to refer to the recipe. At noon, in a bit of a rush, all of the ingredients were mixed together and transferred to a glass baking dish. Into the oven it went at 375 degrees for one hour.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I like the “How” part, your phase 2. Too many times I hear about “what” (what should we do etc.), but never how, never the way, never the path to forgiveness or to love others, always: just do it. And little me wonders how. Yes, I am so grateful for Jesus including me and us into his family and I am joyful and yet there is a longing for more, a deeper and lasting transformation. Therefore, I am grateful for other faith traditions that show me and us their “how”. And now am grateful that there are others with the same questions.

Adventism feels so … dare I say it …boring. It seems as if we threw all out in our fear of (shudder, shudder) tradition … until only a shallow blanket is left. I need the collective wisdom and spirituality of ages. What helped others, what is tested, what is real?

I do not care for numbers at all: A church can have many baptisms due to a charismatic leader etc. And when this person leaves, then all leave. Thus, numbers don’t reveal anything, only time will tell. I care for the lived out faith (though, not in a legalistic attitude), which is never measured in any statistics. How forgiving and loving is this community, can they overcome conflicts? And this is connected to the “how” part. Full circle.


Great suggestions. However, it seems to me that the church needs to learn what it means to be a healthy community before it can ever hope to invite people into that community in a meaningful way. These ideas are so foreign to many members that even starting a conversation about onboarding seems some ways off.

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In my experience conversion works better when phases 1 and 2 are reversed. I’ve found that connecting people with food (small groups at home) begins relationships. Connections deepen through Sabbath School classes. Doctrinal studies then serve their true purpose – to deepen relationships with God and community.

Perhaps we’ve erred in thinking of doctrinal mastery as the objective and relationships as the incidental tool to “keep people in class”. Could it be that relationships are the objective and doctrinal studies a tool to deepen those relationship?


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