We used to be concerned about Revisionist History. It has become one of the most fearful scourges of our time with Politically Correct Police going through history books revising stories to make them palatable and “safe” for everyone to read. We wouldn’t want to injure the self-esteem of a young impressionable mind with something as harsh as the truth, would we?
Well, now that history has been thoroughly revised, what about the present? If we are to create the “safe” utopia so many millennials feel we need, we are going to have to re-define a few more things! Like evangelism!
Currently the North American Division president, Dan Jackson, working together with Jose Cortez, Associate Ministerial Director for Evangelism, and several others are holding meetings in Orlando, FL. to do just that very thing! It's called eHuddle.
A couple of Excerpts:
1. Discuss & provide input for a sharp, easy-to-remember, practical definition of evangelism in North America.
“To reach, retain, and reclaim North America with Jesus’ lifestyle and message of compassion, hope, and wholeness.” (74% scored it 7 or higher in 1 to 10 scale)
Thought Question – Is the definition of Evangelism to “reach, retain, and reclaim North America with Jesus’ lifestyle…” Can anyone explain exactly what that entails?
2. Outcome 1: Engagement of ALL members in evangelism/mission
(86% scored it 7 or higher in 1 to 10 scale)
A Evangelism a lifestyle, not an event
B Contextualized evangelism, relating to the needs of the people
C Compassion, method of Christ (collaboration of church ministries, schools, hospitals & other institutions)
D Engagement of our students and hospital employees
E Empowering well-equipped lay leadership (volunteer lay pastors)
F Small groups as an outreach ministry
G Provide opportunities for local church elders to perform the baptism of individuals they have led to Christ and are committed to see them through discipleship
Thought Question – Would a statement that says “Engagement of ALL members in evangelism/mission” be a way to alter policy from the NAD based on the new definition? Would it include ALL (women) to be “engaged” in the “mission” of the Seventh-day Adventist church, and what would that loosely defined statement look like after it became policy? Also, would “Provide opportunities for local church elders to perform the baptism of individuals…” remove one of the only two real distinctions of ordination which are ability to baptize, and to perform marriages? Would the check and balance designed to protect the membership and doctrine of our church be removed if we allow lay people to baptize?
3. Creation of an atmosphere of accessibility and safety in ALL our churches
(87% scored it 7 or higher in 1 to 10 scale)
A Making it easy for people to come in and very hard to leave
B People of all walks of life must feel safe in our churches
C Simplify baptism process (Biblical baptism process/theological basis vs tradition)
D Affirm the baptism of children who have accepted Jesus
E Intentional education of our members on relational evangelism and how to treat non- Adventist friends (potential members and people who will never become members)
F Strong electronic presence (website, apps, phone)
G Churches accessible to community (visible signage, telephones, and directions)
H Consistency in the name and branding (e.g. Seventh-day Adventist Church - Silver Spring Campus)
I Relevance and more accessible to native-born, including second and third generation immigrants (including Jewish)
J Embracing of various immigrant waves in practical ways (Muslim, Hindu, refugees)
Thought Question – How do you objectively quantify, adhere to, collect data, and enforce the “descriptor” that says, “Making it easy for people to come in and very hard to leave.”? If it’s purely subjective, then how do you teach that, and based on who’s definition? Where does the statement, “People of all walks of life must feel safe in our churches” lead? Who is OK with the idea that they are defining “Biblical baptism” and pitting it against “tradition.” Are we willing to say that our traditional definition of baptism which requires study of our 28 fundamentals prior to membership and baptism, which is based on Scripture where Philip studied with the Ethiopian eunuch, is no longer Biblical but rather traditional?
4. Discipleship of ALL our membership
(88% scored it 7 or higher in 1 to 10 scale)
A More emphasis on the Holy Spirit
B Develop an intentional discipleship path for the newly baptized and existing members
C Small groups - one of the best methods for discipleship and soul winning
D Teach and live out 28 Fundamental Beliefs as gifts from God for a better life for humanity, not just a list that needs to be checked prior to baptism
E Helping our members to see the importance of prayer, praise, Bible study, and a lifestyle of witnessing
F Develop vocational witness competencies whereby our members share the gospel effectively within their workplace and spheres of influence (relational evangelism)
Thought Questions – Mixed in among some good points is the statement, “Develop vocational witness competencies whereby our members share the gospel effectively within their workplace and spheres of influence (relational evangelism).” Who will create these “competencies?” Who will enforce them? Who will be required to follow them? What will pastors say to church members who want to work in other ways with other people than those who have been “certified” by the competencies?
Elder Mike Cauley, Florida Conference President will be taking Q & A during the event. He is the one who has banned Doug Bachelor in 2015 from coming to the Spring Meadows Church. It has since become known that the Florida Hospital believes that holding traditional meetings and describing the Catholic Church as the Beast of Revelation will injure their reputation and threaten their client base. Would Doug Bachelor, one of the most well known and productive evangelists in the Adventist church qualify for this competency?
Conspicuously absent are any supporting texts from Scripture where each of these “statements” and “descriptors” are mentioned. The lack of objectivity is dangerous. The definition made into a statement could be used to create policy. And can someone explain why the North American Division has become so supervisory in its roll? When our church began as a “grass roots” movement without a creed, what was the function and purpose of the Division leaders? Considering that the North American Division is supporting the Union’s and Conference’s push for women’s ordination by playing the grass roots card, how is it that they can turn around and play the “We are the leaders” card to push the agendas from the top down? And ultimately, what is it about these NAD statements that will inspire the local church and bring a wave of revival and evangelism in North America? What makes these leaders believe this is an effective use of resources and a means to completing the mission of our church?
Is it possible that there are too many managers and not enough workers? If the NAD is permitted to function in supervisory and executive roles, while claiming to have the authority of the culmination of the grass roots, do we have a collection of power that is unstable and without accountability? Are they telling everyone below, and everyone beside, and everyone above what to do?
What if we reduced the “leadership” of North America altogether? What if we developed formulas based on ratios to determine how many paid positions there could be in Conference / Union / Division leadership (including secretarial)? They use these weighted formulas to tell churches whether or not they “deserve” a pastor, why not ask the General Conference to produce a weighted formula for all Division and lower structure FTE’s? Perhaps all of those who are sitting in their desks dreaming of new definitions for evangelism might be more productive by actually filling the local church desks and going out themselves to win souls!
How about it, Elder NG? Could we add this to the upcoming Year End Meetings at the GC for consideration?