I think you’re right, Carol. They don’t get that answer because they don’t want to know it. And, because they really have no answer for it.
How can a denomination seek to win back people who, through study, have found the belief system to be an edifice built upon sand, when that edifice is its very reason for being? To modify or change it would mean the denomination would face an identity crisis, and likely cease to exist in its present form. It would have to go through an experience like the WWCofG. Thus, this never gets touched. It’s safer to say that people leave for relational reasons.
But, the belief system itself does seem to point up something that supports the idea of people leaving because of lack of social connection, as well. The central truth of Christianity is relational. The church, as seen in the NT, is by nature, relational. The Adventist belief package is not. It is not built on the principles of love for God and one another. It is built on doctrinal correctness and conformity, and eschatological conspiracy. People leaving for relational reasons is not surprising, when one considers that the relational nature of the NT church is not even a primary value of the Adventist belief system itself.
How many Adventist churches, at least in North America, are small, commuter churches that have no appreciable common life throughout the week, and no shared experiences, other than a couple of hours on a Saturday morning? How is this conducive to building relationships and real connection with one another? This makes the back door much easier for many to go through. All because Adventism places priority on adherence to a doctrinal package, and not upon belonging and participating in the life of the local church as its primary emphasis and measure of faithfulness and spiritual health.
It is totally out of balance. It’s built into the system. The doctrinal system itself and its centrality help to contribute to a relationally deficient church culture.
Didn’t Jesus commission his disciples to “Go…!” and keep going rather than “Stay” within the church confines week after week? Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Back in the 1860s, Advent believers with little education started out very simply. It’s their better educated successors who made it complicated, around 1980.
I agree this is true in North America. Ethnic congregations seem to do better because they are composed mostly of extended families so that church for them isn’t confined to a once-a-week worship and fellowship experience. Erosion of faith starts at home. Thus, ethnic congregations face the same reality of being one generation away from shutting down.
I’ve being wanting to reply to this article for sometime now, not so much to point out what you have posted from Christianity Today; but to say, of the article’s author, that her youth and naivety and ignorance (in the sense of being unaware of the most common of historical events and causes) are patently obvious. In such a case, we who are wiser ought to be gentle and listen to the concern that weighs heavily on the heart rather than be summarily dismissive.
Think of it like sex. Every generation thinks it is trying to balance something new.
Therefore, to Alyssa Garcia I say, “Be strong;” and to Spectrum, “How thoughtful it was of you to give her the microphone in the midst of the cacophony.”
Just meeting for a couple of hours on Sabbath, and not really conversing with one
another during that time, other than a "hi, how are you?’, “I’m fine, OK,etc” is not
socialization to the point of “Bonding”.
The successful churches I have seen have a number of Social Activities for member
engagement and time to “talk”.
Some even have coffee [hot chocolate], snacks, and tables for 4-6 to sit at each
week during ‘church hours’ for before church or for after church.
Some even have regularly scheduled Youth Activity time after church with pizza,
other snacks, group activities around the tables. Outings at nearby local or state
Without “Bonding” it might be compared to a sightseeing trip on moving bus among
a bunch of all strangers. Who are told to be quiet so they can hear the speech by
the bus driver as they journey.
Robert…I would add that there is also a problem with “lack” of a proper relationship on all the levels that you mentioned for many people. I also agree that leaving can lead to a deeper spiritual relationship if the other “relationships” are toxic in the church.
back in 1872 James White said his LIST of Doctrines [which numbered about the
fingers on one hand] was GENERALLY ACCEPTED by SDAs of that time.
It appears at least HE WAS OK if not everyone accepted ALL of the listed items.
There is a huge difference between the attitudes of James back then and those
“in charge” now!
Kim and Carol thank you for your posts as always. The writer, a bright young woman said " If you can’t keep the laws why keep the religion". It was extremely profound because the SDA faith was build and protected by laws. It was the laws that created the religion that added and refined the religion. What religion is not defined and with great vigor protected by laws?
Someone once said that the youth would finish the “work”. Just what is the work that needs to be finished? Is it a religion formed by a set of laws? Laws established for the most part by Bible scholars with some assistance of a woman prophetess used to makes the laws specific as needed to both control Independant study and thinking? At this point there might be some who find this comforting. Security is often found in having others doing one’s thinking. In keeping clearly defined laws there is safety and security not just in a religion but in secular life. Having just driven from Palm Desert to Northern California I drove all but two hours. Speed laws were absolutely ignored when I was behind the wheel. The last two hours my wife drove with strict obedience.
The religion that I left with its laws and strict obedience kept me from understanding the fundimental love of the Gosple. The “work”, the living and thus spreading of the Gosple. Our youth can not finish the work by the keeping of laws for the sake of preserving a religion.
The solution to the problem is determining where the youth leave to go. Here is Alyssa’s own confession:
So, in a spiritual sense, where did she drift off to go? She tells you plainly: to the tattoo parlor. The question for the Church then is this: “Are you willing to open a tattoo parlor next door and offer tattoos of Jesus and the cross and such like biblical images? How about creating a website offering piercing services using religious tokens?”
It was always my understanding that youth was a time for independence and experimentation while having the safety of home, the sure foundation of righteousness. Imagine if in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Father had gone off with his son in the wild, wild west. Didn’t he remain at home, waiting for his son to return after the son had laid waste everything he had and was brought down to the point where pig food looked very appetizing?
There’s also the antithesis of this phenomena; those that deny on a regular basis with clear biblical exegesis, most if not all Adventist doctrine, but choose to stay mainly due to familial and social tradition. There are a few on here who continue to fascinate as to how they can listen to topical proof-text sermons each Saturday given their proclivity to contextual biblical clarity. @Sirje