Surge: God Honoring Risk or Compromise —  February 9, 2015

God honors, God honoring risk.

First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Huntsville Alabama is a growing, solid, innovative Adventist church from South Central Conference. Recently an article on a local newspaper created quite a stir. (

Some loved the idea. Some hated it with a passion. Some are adopting a wait and see attitude. Social media has been buzzing with the news and the story has gone semi-viral.

Since I minister primarily to pastors and leaders, this becomes a great opportunity for a teaching moment. When making a decision that involves risk, it is wise to ask yourself four questions:

  1. Why are we doing this?

Is it a passion to reach unbelievers? The Huntsville First has averaged 3 baptisms per week in the last 2 years. They have regularly done (yearly) evangelism. Traditional reaping meetings have brought over 100 people (in one meeting!) I get the sense that this church is fueled by reaching out, that their purpose is not to mask Adventist identity but to find as many avenues as possible to make our message known.

In every decision, the why precedes and informs everything else. That is determined by scripture, not social media.

  1. Who are we doing this for?

The purpose of the meeting states the intent. It is to be a first point of contact with unbelievers. After reading and interacting with people on social media, there is a concern that we don’t compromise or identity just to reach unbelievers. I feel you. If the past is any indication, Pastor Snell has used his Wednesday night prayer meeting time to connect with the community. Those initial connections on Wednesday, for felt-need type classes have resulted in people accepting the Adventist message and joining the remnant church. It amazing to see the level of vitriol by people that have never even been there or read much about the purpose. The same desire is fueling this.

  1. What are we doing?

It was surprising to me the amount of negative feedback. Growing up in the Inter-American division we always had worship on Sunday night. It was a staple of our week. The interesting thing is that our division is one of the most conservative, traditional and growing, yet they meet every week on Sunday for an evangelistic service. So, meeting on Sunday for worship and sharing our beliefs is been done by thousands of churches. It’s not new. Maybe it’s the time of the day that has people riled up, because having church on Sunday itself has not proven to be a first step to compromise in thousands of churches around the world.

  1. What safeguards are in place?

It’s important, even when venturing on a new endeavor to ask for prayer and counsel. It is my understanding that Pastor Snell did not wake up one Sunday morning and said: “Hey, let’s have church everybody.” While we must all be open to counsel, we also must respect the local church process of months, even years that led here. Here are some quotes to consider:

“For some months we have been planning to hold grove meetings near St. Helena, Calistoga, and other places in the Napa Valley. The first one was held on Sunday, June 7, in the Hot Springs Park, at Calistoga. The conference lent us some folding chairs. The members of the Calistoga church are anxious to carry the truth to those who have not heard it, and they made thoughtful preparation for the meeting. We were confident that open-air meetings would be the means of reaching some who would not attend a service held in a church. And thus they have proved.” – {Ev 405.1}

“The brethren in Melbourne are considering the matter of securing land upon which to build a humble house of worship. The halls which can be obtained are neither convenient nor suitable for the worship of God. We are glad that the number of Sabbath keepers is increasing to such an extent that the halls are not large enough to accommodate those who assemble on the Sabbath for the worship of God. We should have places of meeting so that on Sunday those who are inclined to hear the truth might come out to the services. The Lord has many souls in Melbourne and its suburbs who have not yet heard anything in regard to present truth. They have not heard the warning message of the third angel, but it must be given to the people, and we must do all that lies in our power to proclaim the message.”
-EGW, Manuscript Releases Volume Twenty, page 165, paragraph 4

“Whenever it is possible, let religious services be held on Sunday. Make these meetings intensely interesting. Sing genuine revival hymns, and speak with power and assurance of the Saviour’s love. Speak on temperance and on true religious experience.” — Testimonies Vol. 9T 233.


God honors God honoring risk. I will pray for First Church. They need my prayers more than my opinions.

Here is Pastor Snell himself in the Podcast, courtesy of PELC Power Tools

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8 responses to Surge: God Honoring Risk or Compromise

  1. “Six days shalt thou labor and do all they work.” If you’re resting on both Sabbath and Sunday, are you obeying the commandment that requires six days of work per week? (I’m a workaholic, so I would wonder about that.) Aside from that concern, it is nice to see an Adventist Church being open to worship God on both days. After all, it’s good to worship God every day. Next time I’m in Huntsville, I’ll probably visit First Church on both days. The Pen of Inspiration supports their approach. (9T p. 233)

    • The commandment is to rest on the Sabbath, it’s not a commandment to work 6 days a week. Do you think it’s wrong that our church school give the teachers 2 months off in the summer? Or is it wrong to take a vacation with your kids?

      The commandment is to rest on the Sabbath and then you are “allowed” to work the other six days. What about someone, and I’ve been in this, where I have some job that requires me to stay until it’s done, so I work from 7am until around 11pm. I have to take the next day off and catch up on rest, surely I’m not breaking the 4th commandment by doing this.

  2. The fourth commandment commands us to rest on the seventh day of the week. It does not tell us to worship only on that day. Our church buildings should be open 24/7, filled with worship, teaching, and community service.

  3. I’m a member of Pastor Snell church, and i would have been considerate to bring his view and philosophy before the church before this decision was made by the conference and him. We attend church her, we live in the community he’s trying to evangelize to, and we have a stake in how we are preceived by the community; individually and collectively. It’s nothing wrong with worshipping on any day of the week, but when you blurr the lines for non-adventist and some of our members its dangerous. A matter like this can have a negative affect on the church, on the community as a whole. This should have been discussed among members before his decision was instituted.

    • you know what’s dangerous? sinners in our immediate community going to a Christless grave b/c we refused to have the church doors open as often as possible. that’s dangerous.

    • Shonda,
      I truly appreciate your perspective; we can contrieve a theological and social argue about the history of the Chrictian Church, and we can expound on the Postmodernist sentiment of inclusivity until Jesus Himself returns. But the underlying notion of this decision is to esteem Sunday to an equal recognition of sacred time as the Sabbath. ” Worship” is what makes it sacred folks!

      Confusion is at the front door; wait and see. And please do not take E.G. White’s counsel out of context. The sanctuary is not the place to conduct Sunday recognition. By all means, open the church on Sunday; conduct Bible studies, evangelistic efforts, health reform seminars, etc. But not divine worship. Read the book of Hebrews; we are to enter into God’s rest NOW. And yes, we will enter into His rest in the hereafter as well; but He speaks of a CERTAIN DAY! Read your Bible people; you wil find it in the book of Hebrews.

      Lastly, Shonda your remarks strike the cornerstone of Christianity; Love and consideration for one another. This should have been brought before the brethren before it was taken to the SC Conference. We are to do things decently and in order; it makes one wonder if the true intent is one of finance. Was the decision made to off-set the tremendous debt incurred by the purchase and renovation of the church-house; why else would one move so far to the left of their own faith tradition? We can not serve two masters.

  4. Jose Javier Colon February 9, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Es un artículo que nos relata una de las mejores noticias que llenan a cualquiera de ánimo para seguir adelante. No hay manera de decir no a esta iniciativa. Quien diga no, está negando la eficacia del Espíritu Santo en la vida de cada creyente de esa congregación. ¡Dios quiera que toda la conferencia siga su ejemplo!

  5. Noelette Leader Hutton February 11, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. I’ve always known Pastor Snell to be a good man!!! Enough said. Just call it and extended camp meeting And let the church role on!