Archives For December 2014

I arrived at 10:30am, right when breakfast and bible classes around tables start. After a healthy breakfast, we went to the sanctuary, where the worship service was intentional, and to the point. Music, prayer and message followed by tithes and offerings and a short announcement. We were eating another healthy potluck by 12:15pm.

Triad Adventist Church is a new church plant in North Carolina. Started only 6 months ago, it is averaging close to 100 people a week. After worshipping with them last Sabbath and listening to stories from their attendees, I reflected on the similarities to other church plants.

Here are three ways that church plants make a difference.

  1. “I fit here.”

More than one person I spoke to expressed the same sentiment: This church has given me an opportunity to use my talents. That is a consistent occurrence in church plants. People that were relegated to pew sitters/warmers suddenly find themselves leading and serving. No matter the intentionality of the mother church, there are just so many offices to be filled. New churches provide new opportunities and levels of involvements. One more significant item. This church is LAY LED. It’s growing. It’s making an impact.

  1. “I came back here.”

Several families, young adults and even former church leaders that had stopped attending have returned. It’s amazing what a grace orientation does for a church. The focus I saw in Triad is a greater preoccupation for serving and reaching the community than for the myriad of secondary issues we often divide over. As one of the members put it: “I’ve been waiting for this church for 58 years”. New churches provide an option for people that have been burned, bypassed or bored.

  1. “I love it here.”

It’s no secret that Adventist churches have a challenge retaining their youth. As I looked into the audience, I could see a cross section of people that were represented:

Different age groups. This was not a “youth church”. It was a church that had everyone.

Different backgrounds. Former Adventists. New members. Non-members. Long-time members.

Different races. It was diverse and that is a great thing.

The most important question I left with, after visiting Triad is:

Where are the other church plants?

Let’s start by having one in every city. Triad is already planning their baby. Their dream is not to be a mega church, but to expand the kingdom. I am praying for more church plants.

When are you planting?

Here is their info: http://triadadventistfellowship.org/

If you have grown in the Adventist church you probably have encountered people that are very strident in their views regarding the Christmas tree. Using faulty logic, questionable internet searches and often relying on other’s opinions and not a personal study, they attack the Christmas tree calling it pagan and abominable. In a church I am familiar with, a member not only spoke out against it, but when the board and pastor put one in the sanctuary, he became so infuriated that he went to church during the week and threw it in the trash.

Now, I get the concern for purity and wholeness that drives some individuals to reject everything that has pagan connotations, but there is a single, significant problem comprised of three words:

Ellen. G. White.

She wrote concerning the Christmas tree, and it was not to condemn it! Here are some quotes:

As the twenty-fifth of December is observed to commemorate the birth of Christ, as the children have been instructed by precept and example that this was indeed a day of gladness and rejoicing, you will find it a difficult matter to pass over this period without giving it some attention. It can be made to serve a very good purpose.

On Christmas, so soon to come, let not the parents take the position that an evergreen placed in the church for the amusement of the Sabbath school scholars is a sin; for it may be made a great blessing.

.Review and Herald, December 9, 1884. (Portion in The Adventist Home , pp. 477-483).

We are now nearing the close of another year, and shall we not make these festal days opportunities in which to bring to God our offerings? I cannot say sacrifices, for we shall only be rendering to God that which is His already, and which He has only entrusted to us till He shall call for it. God would be well pleased if on Christmas each church would have a Christmas tree on which shall be hung offerings, great and small, for these houses of worship. Letters of inquiry have come to us asking, Shall we have a Christmas tree? Will it not be like the world? We answer, You can make it like the world if you have a disposition to do so, or you can make it as unlike the world as possible. There is no particular sin in selecting a fragrant evergreen and placing it in our churches; but the sin lies in the motive which prompts the actions and the use which is made of the gifts placed upon the tree.

The tree may be as tall and its branches as wide as shall best suit the occasion; but let its boughs be laden with the golden and silver fruit of your beneficence, and present this to Him as your Christmas gift.

Review and Herald, December 11, 1879.

Here are three short thoughts to consider:

1. Demonizing a tree sets you up for greater concerns down the road. Hear me out on this. If you are going to go against a clear statement on THIS issue, don’t be surprised when others go against her on OTHER issues. Can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t pick what you want and reject what doesn’t fit your world view. I have this thing about being Adventist. If my church considers Christmas ok, has trees in the GC and a president sending greetings, its hard for me to say: “Nope. I know better”.  http://www.bing.com/videos/search? q=ted+wilson+christmas+message&FORM=VIRE1#view=detail&mid=E6DF9A16F5A766904E5DE6DF9A16F5A766904E5D

2. Use the season to share Jesus. In an increasingly secular society, Christmas remains popular and can and should be used to share your blessed hope. Rejecting a tree and having a cow about its pagan origins doesn’t make us different, it makes us weird.

3. Your family can bless others. Here is something we did in our home this year.

*We tithed our clothes. We take around 10% of our clothes to Cuba.

*We shared gift baskets with our neighbors.

*Our kids received some cash. 10% was dedicated to projects that benefits people that can’t pay them back.

 

Let’s stay balanced and use this time to share Jesus.

 

In the last month I’ve had conversations with at least three people that have considered a major change in their employment:

*One considering going from a system to the private sector.

*One that has worked in the same department for 20 years to another department.

*One that is considering transitioning from leading a congregation to an educational organization.

Eventually you will get the phone call or email that presents the opportunity to change assignments or even careers. The possibility of a life change can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. So, if this is you right now, consider the following:

  1. Make your decision based on your passion not benefits.

Don’t miss this. Many people make decisions based primarily in how their new assignment benefits them. They start considering the benefits and stop there. They imagine the pay raise, the fact that their spouse will have a better job or the name recognition that accompanies a new title. They sacrifice passion at the altar of benefits. The problem comes when the benefits don’t live up to what they promised and hard times come. If benefits drive you, when those either diminish or disappear you will become miserable. Follow your passion. It will sustain you in the hard times and will propel you in the good times.

  1. Make your decision future growth not present affliction.

Affliction drives people to make rash and sudden decisions that often they end up regretting. Take some time off. Counsel with some friends. Spend time in prayer. Often what we need is perspective and rest not a change in location but a change in attitude. Remember, this affliction will pass.

  1. Make your decision based on growth not comfort level.

As with many other things in life, we tend to grow accustomed and comfortable with our occupation. Yes, you are good at what you do. But, could you be great at something else? The objective is not just to be efficient at what you do, but to change the world. So the question is: where can I do that best? Don’t be afraid of the call to stretch yourself beyond your current comfort level.

If you are considering a move and would like me to pray for you, just send me an email or DM and I promise I will.

En el último mes he tenido conversaciones con al menos tres personas que han considerado un cambio importante en su empleo:

* Una estaba considerando cambiar de una organización religiosa a trabajo personal.

* Uno que ha trabajado en el mismo departamento durante 20 años a otro departamento.

* Uno que está considerando la posibilidad de la transición de una congregación a una organización educativa. Eventualmente recibirás una llamada telefónica o correo electrónico que te presentara la oportunidad de cambiar tu asignación presente o incluso carreras. La posibilidad de un cambio de vida puede ser a la vez emocionante y estresante. Por lo tanto, considera lo siguiente:

  1. Haz tu decisión basada en tu pasión no en los beneficios. No te pierdas este punto. Muchas personas toman decisiones basadas principalmente los beneficios que recibirán en su nuevo trabajo. Ellos comienzan a considerar los beneficios y se detienen ahí. Se imaginan el aumento de sueldo, el hecho de que su cónyuge tendrá un mejor trabajo o el reconocimiento del nombre que acompaña a un nuevo título. Sacrifican la pasión en el altar de los beneficios. El problema viene cuando los beneficios no viven de acuerdo a lo que prometieron y vienen tiempos difíciles. Si los beneficios te dirigen, cuando disminuyan o desaparezcan vas a ser miserable. Sigue tu pasión. Ella te va a sostener en los momentos difíciles y le impulsara en los buenos tiempos.
  2. Haz tu decisión basada en el crecimiento futuro no en la aflicción presente. La aflicción impulsa a la gente a tomar decisiones precipitadas y repentinas que a menudo terminan lamentando. Tomate un poco de tiempo libre. Habla con amigos. Pasa tiempo en oración. A menudo, lo que necesitamos es una nueva perspectiva y descanso no un cambio de ubicación, pero un cambio de actitud. Recuerda, esta aflicción pasará.
  3. Haz tu decisión basado en crecimiento no en la comodidad. Tendemos a acostumbrarnos y ponernos cómodos en nuestra ocupación. Sí, eres bueno en lo que haces. Pero, ¿podrías ser excelente en otra cosa? El objetivo no es sólo ser eficiente en lo que haces, sino cambiar el mundo. Así que la pregunta es: ¿dónde puedo hacer un mayor impacto? No tengas miedo a estirarte más allá de tu nivel de comodidad actual. Si usted está considerando un movimiento y te gustaría que ore por ti, envía un correo electrónico o DM y te prometo que lo haré.

 

I had a conversation with a young talented professional last week. She is an Adventist. Bright. Young. Talented and frustrated. Her frustration stems from the resistance of some in the church to new ideas, but she is not willing to give up on it. She was looking to both vent and find ideas to use her talents for God and not having much success. Regretfully, those conversations happen way too often. There are cutting edge Adventist young professionals that wish to use their gifts for the church they love but are experiencing real roadblocks to using their God-given talents for the advancement of the kingdom. What do we do with the creatives in our church? Before we continue, let’s define our terms. Creatives are defined as:

 

  1. Having the ability or power to create.
  2. Productive.
  3. Characterized by originality and expressiveness; imaginative.

Here are my thoughts on this issue. I understand that committed adventists may differ on this, and I respect your right to do so. My desire is not to convice you, but to help you hear what they are saying:

  1. Our attitude towards culture must change.

As I see it, there are some common responses to current culture:

Fight culture. Curse the darkness. Lament the fact that America is not what it used to be. Throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Avoid culture. Leave and go somewhere where you are surrounded with like minded people.

Ignore culture. Stay where you are, but act as if culture has no effect on you and your household.

Accept culture. Give up. Throw your hands up and surrender. Embrace it and adapt its values.

Transform culture. Engage it. Recognize that proximity and relationships can influence positive change.

I like the last option.

 

  1. Our attitude towards creatives must change.

The reality is that anything new in some circles in our church is met with outright rejection, not the benefit of the doubt. It seems to me that the following underlying assumptions are present more often than we would like to admit:

What you came into the church with is holy and right.

Everything after that is either unholy or part of the Jesuit conspiracy that has infiltrated us.

I would like to remind you that the devil does not have a monopoly on the arts. Just because it’s new, it doesn’t mean its bad. Just because you “don’t get it”, doesn’t mean its bad. Just because someone else doesn’t like it doesn’t mean its bad. Should we use discernment? Absolutely. Should we constantly evaluate, create, innovate? For sure!

 

  1. Out attitude towards church growth must change.

I am an evangelist. I love to share the gospel and our message with people all across the world. I don’t for a moment think we should eliminate evangelism, but I do think we need to enhance it. There are segments of the population that will never be attracted to a traditional prophecy series while others are really moved by it. Since we want to reach everyone, we must design ways to do that. Visual arts have a power and reach that other mediums do not posses. This means:

Movies.

Music.

Animations. (that’s just like movies, I know)

Arts.

Consider for example SetinSandFilms.com  andHeather Moor. (www.setinsandfilms.com) She is a millennial, creative, and passionate Adventist that has a desire to bless her church. There are many like her. When I see the resistance and rejection of new methods I just think about the chance we are missing. We can at the same time engage young members and reach our world. Our distinctive beliefs in the age of postmodernism could resonate with many and could be given consideration instead of being discarded outright. Postmodernism can actually work in our favor.

Here is the big one. (my thanks to Ravi Zachariah for the term)

Worldview Evangelism.

This is especially significant for millennials. Before they consider some of our distinctive truths, the worldview must change. I don’t know of many better vehicles than the arts to effect that change. Hollywood has done it, many times in opposition to positive values. We have rejected it. Right now, we are facing an uphill battle to contextualize the gospel for a young generation. We could give up, or…we can use this medium to our advantage.

My website is http://www.SetinSandFilms.com  and they can contact me from thereSetinSandFilms.com SetinSandFilms.com 

In closing, I have an appeal to creatives. Don’t leave. Stand up. Don’t give up. Keep creating. Be patient with your church as your God is patient with you. Continue to wrap the everlasting gospel in new and attractive packaging.