Editorial: The Church Family

(Spectrumbot) #1

I want to ask for a moment of silence. Not in remembrance of someone who is lost, but so that as a Church we can take a deep breath and think about Who we serve. Jesus Christ is the Head of our Church and we all serve Him. We must also remember that if this is truly His Church, then He is in charge and we must trust Him to lead, for it is His Church.

Lately there have been a lot of voices talking about the many "problems" with the Church. Things like style of worship, who is called to ministry, the education that our pastors receive at our institutions of higher education, even simple things like the outreach methods that are undertaken. As a Church we will always have disagreements. It's a fact of life that is magnified when you have such a diverse body as our World Church. Our Church is like at family. Actually it is a family, one that has God as its Head. Our Church family.

My concern is that recently the many voices have become very loud. Not just in volume, but in intensity. When families have arguments things tend to get nasty and heated. That is when bad things happen. Police officers will tell you the one thing they hate to deal with are domestic disturbances or family fights. They never end well, people get hurt and bad things happen. But our Family Ministry directors will tell you that when a home has Jesus Christ serving as the Head of the house, these conflicts are minimized and end up getting resolved. Why? Because when we focus on Jesus and not on ourselves, the conflicts are truly shown for what they are. Not major conflicts, but misunderstandings that can be resolved through prayerful communication.

What does this have to do with the Seventh-day Adventist Church? If we believe that Jesus Christ is the Head of our Church, then we need to let Him lead. We need to stop our talking, stop trying to run the Church our way and just pray for His leading. This is the only way we will survive as a church family. It is the only way to discuss our differences. We must also accept each other for who we are, not for what we aren't. If we believe that all are called to be servants of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-9), then we must trust Him to lead in our lives.

I truly believe that God is using each one of us to serve Him. So when we ridicule the efforts of others within our Church, we are actually ridiculing God for He put those people in the positions they are in. He called them to a life of service. We must trust Him to lead the Church. We don't lead the Church, He does.

For many Seventh-day Adventists, the Great Controversy is a pivotal part of our doctrinal DNA. It helps to explain all of the things that have happened in this world's history and gives us a glimpse of what is to come. Some people are uncomfortable with it, but when we truly understand the battle between good and evil that is taking place all around us, it gives us hope in the future.

But today, many of our members have taken it upon themselves to create their own Great Controversy. They are quick to judge others, condemning them as heretics for what they believe or teach. Voices are quick to proclaim that their way of reading the Bible is better, that they are the "true Adventists." They even proclaim that the Church will split and their brothers and sisters in Christ will be lost. Their voices have become very loud lately and it pains me greatly. I also know that Jesus Christ is in pain when He hears them as well.

If we truly believe that this is the Church of Jesus Christ, then we must stop the voices and let Him lead. Let Jesus resolve our conflict and heal our family. Let’s put aside our differences and support each other. This is the only way that we, as a Church, can move forward. If we focus on Jesus and not ourselves or each other, then He will lead us forward.

There is a whole world out there waiting to hear of Jesus and His love. Let's stop being selfish and focus on them and not what are perceived wrongs within our Church. Let Jesus heal the Church. Let's focus on the Mission that He has given all of us. Let's do it as a family. Together.

Image: Eugène Delacroix - Christ on the Sea of Galilee, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Daniel Jackson is president of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. This editorial originally appeared in a special NAD NewsPoints bulletin and is reprinted with permission.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6701

(Carolyn Parsons) #2

Elder Jackson must have been reading Spectrum comments :smile:


I like this sentiment a lot. I don’t resonate with Dan’s love of church anymore - I have rejected it in fact - but I do concur that God simply asks us to reflect him and be servant hands on Earth. We are only inviting conflict, hurt, and violence when we focus on each other’s beliefs and practices. The worst I’ve seen is http://operationiceberg.com/. This has no place in God’s kingdom and serves to undermine the reality of God’s desire for Earth. I am trying desperately to ignore it in my own life because I know it has no impact on my or my family and friends, but it is disturbing.

Thank you, Dan for a calm reflective leadership moment the does indeed speak to our renewed efforts through progressive thought to embrace, serve, and champion the social justice that God desires for us all.

(Elaine Nelson) #4

Yes, it is God’s church but He has entrusted humans to lead and not all agree on what His wishes are. Just as in human families, there is not always agreement but in loving families no member is thrown out. The honest question: Is God’s church and the Adventist Church synonymous? Often it is assumed that they are one and the same while others have made a distinct separation. Until that is made clear there will always be division.

(jeremy) #5

i know one church leader who’s counting the days for retirement…it’s a stressful job, that’s for sure…

(le vieux) #6

And how would that look down here in the trenches where most of us live? There must be dialogue, and there will always be disagreements. Every decision must be made in the context of Isa. 8:20. Pray for His leading, yes, but stop talking? I’d like some clarification on that.

(efcee) #7

“…stop talking…”, taken out of context, makes no sense, to be sure. But Dan joined it with, “…stop trying to run the church our way and just pray for His leading.” To simply stop talking would be contrary to the gospel commission and to God’s invitation to “reason together.” But to talk relentlessly about sensitive issues, in ways that divide rather than inspire the church, is to be destructive. Whatever is not of a creative and sustaining nature is not of Love. Love does not insist on its own way.

There are many who have had experiences in churches where certain members try to coerce the behavior of other members according to their own views of right and wrong; to their own reading of scripture and to their own reading of the writings of Ellen White. They don’t trust God’s spirit to convict and shape the lives of other believers. They themselves don’t live the example of Jesus for others to follow, yet they demand certain behaviors of others. In their actions, there is a lack of grace and mercy and genuine affection for others. I think Dan is speaking to all of this.

(k_Lutz) #8

[quote=“efcee, post:7, topic:8002”]
They don’t trust God’s spirit to convict and shape the lives of other believers.
[/quote] :+1:

“Covet earnestly the best gifts. And yet I show unto you a more excellent way.” See 1 Corinthians 13.

Trust the Process.

(David Read) #9

I feel his pain. The are two different and mutually antagonistic religions inhabiting the institutional infrastructure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and it is a painful and distressing situation. The people in the pews are starting to notice. We all share some measure of responsibility for the current situation, but the leadership bears a greater portion. Hence, I have but little patience for Dan Jackson telling me I should pipe down and pretend nothing is wrong. I would be happy to let Jesus lead, but Jesus has to work through human agencies, and sometimes those human agents need to be “held accountable,” as the leader just above Dan Jackson not long ago pointed out.

(Kim Green) #10

Or…most especially Spectrum comments :slight_smile:

(Kim Green) #11

If there is dissonance then there are at least 2 ways of dealing with it: let it continue as it has been or let there only be one sole note being played. Adventism has become a full “chorus” but perhaps the style of music is not pleasing to some. But as long as it plays the same music, the disharmony will continue.

(Rheticus) #12

Only two?

There are multiple independent issues, each of which has a range of possible resolutions with people inhabiting points along the range.

Consider evolution:

Some people think the evidence is clearly for
Some people think the evidence is clearly against
Some people think it is somewhere in between
Some people do not think about the issue

The obvious resolution is to

  • accept that all four groups can be SdA
  • allow each group to present its evidence in the appropriate forums
  • interpret a person’s claims of certainty as evidence of that person’s mind, not the evidence
  • stop pushing claims about the positions when it is not necessary

(Steve Mga) #13

There is required both Talking AND Listening in order to call what one does – Communication.
ONLY when the mouth is shut are the ears engaged, the brain engaged.
There must be alternating sound and quiet on the part of the multiple parties.

Daivd said an important observation.
FINALLY! The folks in the pews are beginning to notice. It is about time! THEY have a stake in the church just as much as those who are being Paid do, maybe more so. It is about time they began to contribute to the life of the church, and not just remain silent in the pew, waiting to be TOLD what to do.

(Pagophilus) #14

Yes, they have. And the North American Division bears great responsibility for many of those voices, for it more than other divisions nurtured the promotion of evolution in our schools, the influx of spiritual formation and emergent church theology, and is leading the charge in ordaining women which is against church policy, rather than waiting for the GC etc to sort this out. They’re the more visible issues. And with the explosion of media and social networking the average Adventist knows what’s happening immediately. They don’t have to wait for a quarterly newsletter from their favorite super-conservative independent ministry anymore. They are crying out for faithfulness to the Word.

Only a few leaders are crying out, the rest seem to wish they would pipe down, as they see these things as minor issues. They aren’t minor issues, they are the symptoms with which one can diagnose a large body of unbelief under the surface.

(Steve Mga) #15

Disharmony in music is not always bad, It denotes tension, but not always conflict. Tension allows us to be stirred awake in a concert, it invigorates the brain to alertness. Makes us sit up in our chair and take notice. Take a deep breath and come alive.
Even the seeming Disharmony of the chords, the players working against each other with contrasting notes and instruments, there IS NOT Chaos.
The music does NOT Stop during the clashing of notes against each other, instruments against each other. The music continues on and on.
Finally at the end there is RESOLUTION. But the Resolution note is NOT the music. It is the disharmony, the dissonance, the Tension THAT WAS the music.
At the end the quickened audience, the sleepy crowd stirred from “spaced out”, inattentiveness, rise in a standing ovation, with loud clapping, loud BRAVO! BRAVO!, NOT at the last resolution note, but at the disharmony, the dissonance, the tension without the Chaos.
Does ANYONE remember the Last Chord? NO!!!

(Pagophilus) #16

And when pastors go out and do things not in harmony with the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, is it the church leadership who speak out? Or the concerned lay people? Do the church leadership call such pastors into their office for a little chat, or do they celebrate it as a new way to do ministry?

Finally the church acted on Ryan Bell. Question - what took them so long? Do you really have to wait until certain things play out to the end before they’re dealt with? Let’s go back a few decades. Why was Ford given so much opportunity? When he was clearly going against scripture and SOP why try to find a compromise? Why is the church afraid to nip things in the bud? Why is the church still employing teachers who clearly do not believe in a 6-day creation and a ~6000 year age of the earth. Why does the church employ pastors who clearly do not believe in the Investigative Judgment?

Yes, we can accept that these things would enter the church, but why is it the official church who is doing least about them? Why is it mainly individuals and independent ministries speaking out, and the official church criticising them for doing so?

(Carolyn Parsons) #17

Because policing belief is not traditionally SDA practice. Purity is not the end goal. The goal is ministering to people.

(Allen Shepherd) #18

I must say, I was surprised to see the byline here. The NAD president himself! But it was reprinted by permission, so Spectrum asked to reprint it, unless, of course, the president initiated the call. But then I thought, just who is he speaking to?

Now the NAD just put out a small pamphlet, sent to all the churches about WO (I got a packet of them for each of my churches). It presented only one side, pro-WO. The Review and Ministry, the Adventist papers have been supporting it (only one article in Ministry was on the negative side). I have spoken to the president himself (in a nonformal setting). I know he supports the idea. And now we see his name on a Spectrum thread, probably the most liberal spot in Adventism! What do you know!? So, the question is, who is he asking to be silent?

I would say that he would like the naysayers to pipe down. There are a few articulate ones here who do get a hearing for posting on this site. And there may be a few other places where they have sway. But I think I might be right on this. Could it be true??

I personally would like to have seen a bit less involvement of the administration of the church. it does not bode well when the leaders take such a positive role for one side of the issue… IMHO.

(Allen Shepherd) #19

You and I don’t see many things eye to eye, but I must say, the discussions here are important to me, and I don’t want them to stop.

  1. I get a view here I can get nowhere else.
  2. It can be very informative.
  3. Passion is seen in its rawest form, real thought out carefully worded statements of belief presented by real believers.
  4. i get to express my views for the whole world, and get to see if what I have to say is rubbish (now don’t jump to quick), or can withstand the onslaught of the most determined critics.
  5. I get to make friends with a broad Spectrum of folk with whom I would otherwise never speak or get to know. We are all a family (even you and I, Carolyn), in spite of our passionate disagreements

Where else are there such benefits?

Now those are really good reasons to speak. So I will, despite the admonition of the boss.

(Carolyn Parsons) #20

Thanks @ajshep. It is very generous of you. Interestingly I have been hanging back quite a bit to re-assess what it means to be involved in discussion. I have been angry at times, but that does not further the discussion.