Posts in Church
The Future of Adventist Evangelism (with Lisa Clark Diller)
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The most amazing thing happened last week!

On Friday, I got to spend a whole hour with professor of church history at Southern Adventist Universtity, Lisa Clark Diller! We chatted about nerdy things, CS Lewis (more nerdy things) and the past, present and future opportunities and challenges for Adventist evangelism.

If you love Adventist evangelism but have wondered why it doesn’t seem to connect with emerging generations, you don’t want to miss this episode!

Listen below and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast, leave a review (sooooo helpful!) and share it with your church leaders (also super helpful!)

CONNECT WITH LISA

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To contact Lisa Clark Diller visit her SAU page here: https://www.southern.edu/people/ldiller


GET MY FREE EBOOK!

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Metamodernism & It's Impending Challenge
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Postmodernism is dead…

- David Guterson, Novelist

It’s a new week at The Story Church Project and I have three exciting things to share!

First, the podcast series “Help! My Local Adventist Church Sucks” is officially over which means you can hear the entire thing here.

Second, if you want to share the entire series with your church leaders but can’t get them to listen to a podcast - no worries! You can download the entire thing as an ebook below! It’s titled, “Heartbeat: How to Redesign Your Local Adventist Church”.

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Third, with this series finished, I am turning my focus for the rest of the year toward developing a really good understanding of the emerging secular ideologies that surround us and discover ways in which the local Adventist church can intertact meaningfully with those shifts.

To start off with, I want to focus on the death of postmodernity and the emerging metamodern oscillation that is already in full swing all around us. If you want to read about this in more detail, make sure you get the ebook “How to Study the Bible with Postmoderns” here. You can also check out my article “Metamodernism and It’s Impending Challenge to Christianity” at The Compass Magazine.

In fact, this weeks podcast will simply be a condensed version of that article.

Now here is why I think its so important to talk about the Metamodern arrival.

Adventists started talking about and responding to the postmodern challenge when postmodernism was already on its death bed. Since the 70's, a new perspective has been arising to take postmodernisms place: metamodernism. My hope is that Adventists invest in understanding this emerging vision of reality and find ways to reach this culture today, not 70 years from now when its old news.

Click Here to Read the Whole Article or listen to the podcast episode below!


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Help! My Local Adventist Church Sucks (part 6)
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We have reached part 6 of the series, “Help! My Local Adventist Church Sucks”.

This is the final episode for this series. I truly hope it has been a blessing and has given you some awesome things to think about. Most of all, I hope it has provided you with a neat and simple process for redesigining your local Adventist church for mission.

If you haven’t heard the first 5 episodes, hear them first before listening to this one. You can find them here.

If you feel like you need more then don’t worry! The book “Story Church: How to Awaken Your Church’s Wolrd Changing Identity” is on its way and will be released later this year. This book will include the steps in our podcast series but will also fill in all the space in between and beyond providing you with the simplest and most comprehensive book for local Adventist churches to redesign for mission. Make sure you are subscribed to my newsletter to be the first to know when it releases (subscribers will also get a subscriber discount when the book releases). Subscribe here.

Now, onto our final episode. In this episode we wrap up the series by bringing it all together and asking the question, “What exactly is your church trying to do?”

This question, much like “Why does your church exist?” and “How will your church accomplish its mission?” is a church-transforming question. If you never ask it and explore it, your church will never thrive. But once you have asked it, it can open the door to some wild new horizons.

I explore that with you in our final ep. of the series today. Check it out below!


Want to Share this Series with your Church?

The entire series is now a downloadable ebook!

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Help! My Local Adventist Church Sucks (part 3)
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Welcome to part 3 of the 6 part series, “Help! My Local Adventist Church Sucks”. If you havent heard part 1 and 2, make sure to go here and hear them first.

In part 3, we are going to take a look at what it really means for a local Adventist church to redesign itself from the ground up.

But here is the crazy thing. In the last 5 years of investing in this journey I have found that the entire process for local church redesign begins with one simple but powerful question.

I want to make sure you get this. Im not talking about any old question.

This question, and the process it spawns, is seriously the secret weapon toward redesigning your local Adventist church for mission. I have used this one secret repeatedly to redesign youth groups and local churches over and over again. It is absolutely amazing!

And I reveal it all in this weeks podcast!

Check it out below:

PS. Download your free copy of the "Find your Heartbeat” PDF below! (Explained in the episode)


LETS CREATE A BIBLE STUDY SET AND YOUTUBE CHANNEL THAT TEACHES THE NARRATIVE OF ADVENTISM TO MILLENNIAL, POSTMODERN GENERATIONS!

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Imagine a YouTube channel where millennials and postmoderns could explore the narrative of Adventism in language that makes sense to them?

One where they could send in questions and receive, not just surface answers but deep theological content?

A channel that teaches them how to understand the narrative of scripture, how to explain it to their secular/postmodern friends and how to apply it in every day life?

A channel that empowers Adventist millennials everywhere to be agents of change in our world?

But there’s more.

Imagine a brand new Bible study set designed to explore the 28 fundamental beliefs of our church with millennials, post-moderns and post-Christian culture?

A set designed to speak life into their worldview, values and interests while inviting them into a totally new experience in knowing God and living out his purpose?

And what if that set was tied into the YouTube channel above and provided extra insights, training and skills for youth who want to share God with their secular friends?

The Story Church Project wants to make all of this happen!

But there is a big obstacle.

Both of these projects will cost money that TSCP doesn’t have (designers, equipment, advertising etc).

So today, I am inviting you to consider joining TSCP in making these two projects (plus many others) possible by becoming a Story Church Project Patreon. For as little as $7 a month you can help me achieve the two projects above (plus other TSCP projects) and open the door for many other future innovations. And if you want to help me get the projects going faster, there are other tier options you can choose from as well.

What About a One Time Donation?
If you want to support the project but can't commit to be a monthly patron, you can donate via PayPal. Just send the donation to marcostorres@adventist.org.au and specify in the comments exactly what you want the donation to go toward (Bible Study set, YouTube channel, or 'Whatever Helps' the project).

Alternatively, go to www.thestorychurchproject.com/store1 and purchase one of the eBooks! All the funds go toward expanding project and launching new future initiatives.

Looking forward to working together!

Pastor Marcos

Should Adventist Churches be Involved in Social Justice? with Nathan Brown
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Should Adventist churches be involved in social justice?

If we do get involved, how do we avoid getting sucked into politics?

Isn’t social justice an ideology driven by the political left? How can I serve the needs around me without getting swept into supporting ideas the Bible doesn’t gel with?

These and many more questions are answered in the long awaited podcast interview on social justice and the local Adventist church. I am joined by Signs book editor Nathan Brown to discuss one of the most important topics of our day.

Check it out below and don’t forget to subscribe and share! (Also on iTunes and Spotify)

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Connect with Nathan:

  • Get his latest book at: falafelsandfollowingjesus.com/

  • Facebook: bit.ly/2ueQDlq 

  • Email: nathanbrown@signspublishing.com.au


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Top 5 Annoying Things Adventist Preachers Should Stop Doing
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Today I would like to get 5 Adventist preacher annoyances off my chest. My bias of course, is that my passion in ministry is secular people. And these are 5 major turn off’s that I see Adventist preachers do more often than I wish I did.

1) Speaking in Adventese. Annoyance number one is Adventist preachers who use conservative SDA jargon as though everyone knows what they are talking about. "Spirit of Prophecy, Remnant, Reformation, Pen of Inspiration etc." These words and terms have zero meaning to anyone who is not already an Adventist and some are even theologically suspect. Not going to get into all the specifics here, but my advice is watch your language. If you must use an insider term, explain it before hand. I recommend you do this even if you are 100% sure that everyone in the room is already Adventist. That way, not only do you develop the habit of talking like a normal person but you also destroy the habit of assuming everyone knows what you are talking about. The last thing you want is for your entire sermon to speak only to the people who already agree with you. That’s not a God-thing, ever.

2) My dear brethren… Annoyance number two is connected to number one, but slightly different. It’s preachers whose sentence structure, phraseology, prose and speech rhythms are identical to people from the 1800's. Its as if they have read so much Ellen White that they have lost their own contemporary speech patterns. Some basic examples are preachers who say things like, “My dear brethren” or, “Let us now turn to the Holy Scriptures.” These are mild examples, of course, because what I am really talking about is not just how a sermon or text is introduced but how an entire sermon is spoken (something that I can’t really reproduce here). But the basic rule of thumb is, pay attention to your sentence structures. If you sound like you could add a top hat and a monocle to your outfit then you need to seriously snap out of it. Other conservative Adventists won’t have a problem, but outside of that most people will find you disingenuous and potentially laughable.

3) Thou wouldn’t, wouldest thee? Point number three is also connected to 1 & 2 and its this: lay off the KJV will ya?

Disclaimer time: I'm have zero interest in a debate over which translation is best. So please, save yourself the effort of pasting that YouTube doco in the comments below. I won’t watch it. What I'm interested in is which language is best. And the best language, hands down, is the one that the people are using. So the moment I hear a preacher whip out the old KJV my immediate thought is, Who in the world is he preaching to?

I recently had a lady stop attending a Sabbath School class because she was from a foreign country, struggled with English to begin with, and had to put up with the class wanting to use the KJV. When I visited her she asked me, “Isn’t the point of learning the Bible to be able to share it with others?” She then read me a verse from the NKJV (a more modern version) and asked me, “What in the world does that even mean? How is this supposed to provide any meaning to my friends?”

I’d say this non-Adventist was spot on. And please, leave the "the KJV is grade school reading level" argument in the bin where it belongs. Grade school reading level for who? I can read philosophical PhD's with greater ease than the KJV (also, here’s an article that debunks that claim). The bottom line is the KJV is not easy to follow and as Christians we should aim to make the gospel as accessible as possible. It's Christ we are called to proclaim, not a bygone linguistic European era.

4) Stop touching my feels! Ladies and gentlemen, the 90’s are over and with them, the one preaching practice that we must - for the love of all that is good - retire, is the cheesy emotional ballad at the end of the sermon. Yes, it get’s people all “feelsy” and responsive, but that has more to do with how the pretty hymn on the piano manipulates emotion than with an authentic spiritual experience.

David Neff aptly referred to this emotional manipulation as “comin’-to-Jesus music” which, in his experience with an evangelist, consisted of “gradually increas[ing] the volume as he turned up the emotional pitch of his invitation.”[1] The downside of course, is what happens when the emotional high collapses and you find yourself in need of another one to feel “spiritual” again. This method was used all throughout my childhood with an addictive effect that had zero impact on our faith. In fact, I remember kids in my youth group leaving the sermon because they were bored, only to return just as the music kicked in (and then go to the front!). It’s not God they were responding to. It was the emotional experience that they craved.

Finally, the culture today is the most advertised to generation that has ever lived. Companies are constantly pulling their emotional strings to get a sale from them. As a result, this generation can spot a sales pitch a mile away. The cheesy song at the end of the sermon? Yeah, totally “salesy”. Don’t do it.

5) Stop “wowing” people. Finally, to all my fellow Adventist preachers, please for the sake of the church’s soul - stop preaching “wow” sermons. Young Adventist preachers are especially prone to this. They hear their favourite celebrity preacher making applications and biblical connections they have never seen before, and then they go to the Bible and try to do that same. In the end, they come up with all kinds of super interesting ideas that make the audience say “wow” but that have zero impact on a persons spiritual health. Don’t be that gal (or guy).

Instead, I leave you with the words of my biblical exegesis professor (which as a preacher you should totally study by the way) Martin Klingbeil. “Dont preach sermons that make people say ‘wow’. Preach sermons that change peoples lives.”

Wise words, Dr. Klingbeil.

So there you have it! My top 5 list of annoying things Adventist preachers should stop doing. I have others, but I’ll leave it at that. Share your own below!

_____

[1] https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2018/february-web-exclusives/billy-grahams-altar-calls-were-more-than-moments-of-decisio.html

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How to Do Evangelism in a Post-Christian, Secular Society with Shelley Poole
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I am so incredibly excited I can’t contain myself!

This week, I am releasing an interview with artist and missional enthusiast Shelley Poole where we talk about evangelism in a post-Christian, secular society. This is one of the most fun interviews I have ever done! Not only is Shelley super engaging and knowledgeable but she also brings her experience as an artist in touch with the culture and its contemporary conversations.

Here are some of the things we talk about:

  • How far behind is the SDA church in the cultural conversation? And how can we catch up?

  • What are some things we commonly do as a church that turns the culture off? Let’s name them so we can learn from them!

  • What are some things we can do to adapt our evangelism to the current cultural milieu? Plus a whole lot more :D

If you are an Adventist member, pastor, administrator, president, evangelist, youth leader, or just about anyone remotely interested in reaching post-Christian society, you don’t want to miss this interview. Listen and subscribe below! (Also on iTunes and Spotify)

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Connect with Shelley

design@shelleypoole.com

twitter @shelley_poole


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5 Things I Love About Adventism
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One thing I do often (and by often I mean very often) is challenge the Seventh-day Adventist church - particularly in the West - to… well, to do better.

Whether I am calling our local church structures to be redesigned for mission, provoking our cultural quirks and questioning their utility, or disputing unhealthy theological frameworks that exist among us the message is fundamentally the same: we have to be better.

But this week, I decided I would pause the revolutionary broadcast to share 5 things I love about Adventism. So here goes:

  1. I love our theological trajectory. I could go on and on about this, but in short Adventism is a theological narrative that is not about Adventism and I love that. Instead, Adventism is a story about God, his heart and his love, centred and strung together in Jesus. But the best part about it is that our theological narrative is not set in stone but constantly unfolding and developing. Yes, there are those among us who would prefer a more stringent, creedal kind of Adventism but its just not in our DNA. As a result, we remain committed to scripture rather than a statement of beliefs. And that commitment, I believe, has enabled us to develop an understanding of the love of God no other theological system around can match. No, that’s not a very politically correct thing to say. But hey, I wouldn’t be an Adventist if I didn’t believe there was something eccentric about what we have to say.

  2. I love that we are Historicists. Historicism has been challenged for forever by people outside and inside of our church. Today, there is a whole new gang of voices repeating the century old attacks (with some new developments I must concur). And that’s fine, I mean, everyone is entitled to their own thing right? But for Adventism, Historicism is an apocalyptic interpretive method that has transcendent efficacy. Now, I don’t pretend that it’s a perfect method, that we have it all figured out, or that it can’t be misused (because it can and is). But Historicism provides us with a kind of sociological significance unmatched by alternative methods. For example, Historicism gives us a narrative that manifests the injustice of religio-political empire in a way that is not immediately self evident. This gives us a foundation to diverge from the collective pursuit of utopianism and the ever trending move toward social reform via church-state legislation. Instead, Historicism calls us to a kind of theological and ideological remonstrance on the one hand, and social preparation (as opposed to reformation) on the other. This approach is rooted in our view of human empire, which even when united with God’s kingdom ultimately self destructs as Daniel and Revelation so aptly reveal. It is also rooted in the denial of a coming golden age for humanity. Instead, Adventists see a coming catastrophe that cannot be averted by political manoeuvres. Our mission is therefore, to prepare the world for this climactic zero-hour in which the only righteous Kingdom will abdicate the throne of humanities global res publica. Sadly, other common interpretive methods of Daniel and Revelation point in the opposite direction by envisioning a coming era of righteous human dominion which in turn leads to political power grabbing in the name of righteousness. This, Adventists believe, is the precursor to a manifestation of religious intolerance and injustice of apocalyptic proportions.

    In addition, Historicism is the only prophetic interpretive method that unveils God in action throughout the entirety of human time. Even during the Dark Ages where it appears God took a vacation (as Morgan Freeman put it in the movie “Bruce Almighty”), Adventisms apocalyptic consciousness helps us understand his presence and movement even in the darkest pages of the church’s sordid story, including the chapters yet to unfold. It’s also cool that we are the only Historicist denomination left. Some people see that as a sign that we are the only idiots left in Christendom. I see it as a sign that we are the only anti-conformists left. Of course, at the end of the day my love for Historicism is rooted in the text and not in whether I think its neat or not, but explaining that will take more space than I allotted for this short post, so I’ll move on.

  3. I love our global structure. Despite all the challenges created by having an intercontinental and cross-cultural institution I honestly can’t think of anything better. Now some of my more post-modern, anti-institutionalist friends find this appalling. They wonder how someone as forward thinking as me can be so fond of our global structure. After all, all those super cool non-denom churches are as neat as they are because they keep all the tithe in house. Why can’t we do the same? My answer revolves around the pragmatic idea that while cynical anti-institutionalism has some value it falls flat when it comes to the practical needs of a global mission. The fact is, Adventism has a message that must go to the entire world. If you believe that, then you need an institution to facilitate that mission. Those who reject the institution are often only interested in reaching their immediate, local region. But Adventism doesn’t have a regional message, it has a global one - for every person on earth. So the bottom line is, we need a global structure. Now of course, I applaud the voices that say the institution needs reform. It definitely does! But that doesn’t mean we should abandon it. The fact remains that if we have a global message, we need a global presence and the level of organisation needed for that sort of thing demands an institution. And because I accept the premise that we have a global message, then I embrace our global structure as a needed tool to that end.

  4. I love our health message. Yeah, there’s always the annoying people who are like super gung-ho and fanatical and no one likes them. I get that. Even non-Christian vegan hippies have their weirdos who will chop your head off for daring to eat your sweet potato quinoa salad in a plastic container (HOW DARE YOU??). But despite this wacko-reality, the health message is one of the coolest things about Adventism. It’s rooted in the idea that human beings are holistic creatures whose spiritual, emotional and physical nature is intertwined like the rhythm, melody and harmony of a musical composition. When they flow well together, something beautiful happens both at the individual and collective level. Even other denominations have started to pick up on the value of a holistic approach to the human as opposed to the dualist approach that has governed classical theology and given birth not only to generations of Christians with little care for physical well being, but also to doctrines like eternal torment that have driven scepticism to the heights of influence it enjoys today.

  5. I love our potentiality. Because of Adventisms theological trajectory, its apocalyptic consciousness, global structure and holistic view of man I believe its future potential is beyond anything we have yet imagined. While our beliefs exist outside our church, they do so sporadically - here, there and everywhere. But in Adventism, each of these elements coalesce to form a movement and a story unheard of in the world. And the moment that we lock into that, get excited about it and refuse to allow tradition, fundamentalism and narcissism to get in the way of it that is the moment that we will sweep the world with something grand. Our potential is overwhelmingly exciting and I pray and hope for the day it is unveiled for the world to see.

What are some things you love about Adventism? Share your thoughts below!

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How to Connect Your Local Church To It's Surrounding Culture
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How do you Connect your local church to the surrounding culture?

It’s no lie this is something our churches struggle with.

But what if there were some practical, down-to-earth ways that you could begin bridging the gap between the two?

This week, I sit down with Daniel J. Blyden, co-host of The Pulpit Jam podcast, to talk about his experience as both a lover of the culture and the church. We discuss:

  • How art can be used to connect with people otherwise closed to the gospel.

  • What to do about church members living far from the location of the local church.

  • How to connect your local church to its surrounding culture by releasing Spiritual gifts

  • And more!

Click, listen and subscribe below!

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Connect with Daniel

The Pulpit Jam Podcast

Instagram: @restorethelove

Facebook: /restorethelove

church.restoreproject.co.uk/


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Why You Should Stop Going to Church with Maritza Brunt
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You should stop going to church.

No seriously I mean it. It’s time you closed that chapter of your life and put it behind you for good.

Because it turns out going to church is not just dumb, its also unbiblical.

Is pastor Marcos going all heretical these days? Maybe the 102 degree Australian summer days have finally gotten to him?

Only one way to find out! Check out this weeks new podcast interview with Adventist Record assistant editor, Maritza Brunt! We talk about why she stopped going to church and you should to.

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Connect with Maritza:

Twitter - @maritzaemunoz

Instagram - @maritza_brunt

Article we Discussed: record.adventistchurch.com/2018/02/16/why-i-dont-go-to-church/


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LGBT, Pop-Culture & Other Questions with Pastor Marcos
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2019 is here!

And I want to launch off with a brand new podcast episode where I answer your questions!

Just before 2018 ended, I posted a request for questions on social media and got overwhelmed with the amount that came through. It was awesome!

So for our first ep. this year, I will be answering those very questions. Here are just a few:

  1. How do Christians rid themselves of the mentality that they are better than others?

  2. How do we reach LGBT youth?

  3. How can millennials reach other millennials in or through evangelism without getting involved in pop culture?

Click below to listen in! (And don’t forget to subscribe).


The 1 Type of Adventist Church that Gives me Hope
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In Matthew 2 we read one of the accounts of Jesus birth. Its the story where the Magi show up in Jerusalem and ask Herod about the new king. Then Herod calls in the scholars for their input. Then he pretends to want to worship Jesus but really wants to kill him. So the Magi find Jesus, worship him and scoot it back to Persia (or somewhere in that direction).

If you haven't read it, take the time to do so.

But here's the main point. In this story there are 3 characters: Herod, the religious teachers and the Magi.

And each of these characters have a different reaction to Jesus' birth.

Herod: Is deeply disturbed and plots to kill Jesus.

The Religious teachers: They have no reaction. They show up, give their scholarly answer about the birth of the messiah, and then disappear. It's like they don't even care.

Magi: The pagans. They are filled with excitement and joy. They find Jesus, worship him and give him gifts.

Now, what does this have to do with our local Adventist churches? The answer is simple: Your church fits into one of the above reactions.

Some churches are like Herod. It's weird, yes, but its true. The story of Jesus disturbs them. I'm not necessarily talking about the Christmas season here (which some people don't gel with for ideological reasons). I'm referring strictly to the person of Jesus. There are Adventist churches where the person of Jesus is a threat. His grace is too wonderful. His supremacy is too powerful. So, like Herod, they pretend to worship him. But when it comes down to it, its their own kingdom they want to protect. Whether it be traditions, some ultra-strict theology, ideology, culture or political identity there are, oddly enough, churches that like Herod say "we too will worship him" but in reality they are only interested in preserving their little empire. If Jesus were here in person, such churches would be among the ones who sought to get rid of him.

Other churches are like the religious teachers of the law. This is perhaps the most common one among Adventist churches. They have all the answers. They have all the doctrine. They have all the knowledge and they are big on the prophesies. They can quote texts with ease and are very particular about their theological brand and identity. But their hearts are cold. Their worship is dead. There is no enthusiasm, no joy and no excitement. It's as if they have gotten so caught up in theology they have forgotten to be human. If you challenge their theology, they will come with answers and propositions. But if you ask them about Jesus, you wont get much reaction. They will fight about all kinds of things: worship/ music styles, dress standards, health reform etc. etc. But turn their attention to Jesus and its as if, they don't really care. They will drop a few "theological" answers on the table and then disappear from the conversation.

And then there are the churches that are like the Magi. I love these churches. They are the ones that give me hope for what Adventism can become the world around. They don't have it all together. The members are broken people who come from the "foreign" lands of sin and confusion. And while they know what they believe, they are on a journey of growth toward Jesus. They have read the Bible and in there they have seen a light and they are following that light. They ask questions, travel any distance to find answers and are filled with excitement and joy. When they worship Jesus, they do so with enthusiasm and joy. They have no ego to protect. No image to project. And no person to impress. They are lost in Jesus, bow to Jesus and bring gifts to Jesus. And when God speaks to them, they are willing to return to their foreign land to tell others what they have experienced in Jesus.

Which of these best reflects your church? Or perhaps your church finds itself somewhere in between some of these reactions? I don't know. But my hope and prayer is that every Adventist church in the world would react to the story of Jesus just as the Magi did, not only during this Christmas season, but all year long. Because if we do, I believe we can make a difference we never would have imagined.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Here's Why You Can't Motivate Your Church (& How to Do It)
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I hear these complaints from church leaders all the time:

“No one want’s to do anything!”

“The people don’t support the events.”

“We tried, but no one showed up…”

At times, the frustration can get so overwhelming that we are tempted to actually judge the spirituality of the church.

“If they were serious about their faith…”

“People aren’t committed anymore.”

“Back in my day we didn’t have this problem!”

Now grant it, these statements are not entirely false. Our church is dead. And a dead church is simply the outflow of dead individual church members. However, as leaders we don’t have the luxury of pointing fingers or passing blame. We have to find solutions. Real and lasting solutions. That is why we are leaders.

The first step toward solving any problem is to properly identify its epicentre. Where is it coming from? What is the source? If your church members don’t support events, if they don’t participate in evangelism and if they don’t buy into your attempts at creating a strategy to reach your community then you have to find out why. Those are mere symptoms of a deeper problem. And it is through conversation and one on one, face to face dialogue that the real issues can emerge. You can’t simply guess as a leader. You can’t go on “gut” or “feeling”. Opinion has to be dropped. Facts alone will help you push ahead.

Because every church is different there is no way to write a blog that accurately diagnoses the source of the problem in every single one of them. The source is going to differ. Sometimes the source is a historical wound. Sometimes is a theological warp. And sometimes the problem may be you. If it is, listen pray for guidance and grow. The people will respect you for it.

However, there is one theme that is recurrent in many churches I have been to and I want to bring it up here. If you keep this in mind, along with having those needed conversations, I believe you will unearth the core issues and resolve them.

So here is the recurring theme I have witnessed in countless churches. Imagine you have a car sitting in your garage. You never drive it but it’s a classic so you don’t want it to break-down from inactivity. However, you just don’t have the time to take care of it. Naturally, you hire someone to come to your house once a week and make sure the engine is oiled, the coolant topped off, the transmission fluid clean and the battery healthy. You have this person take the car for a small spin around the block - nothing eventful - and then they go home. Job done.

This person has done nothing spectacular. They did not take the car to a car show. They did not sign up to a charity drive. They did not hire it out for romantic dates. They simply maintained it. That’s what you hired them for. Nothing more.

The person described above is exactly how the vast majority of church members see the nominated church leadership team. They don’t have time. They don’t have energy. But they don’t want to let go of the church. So year after year they nominate people to maintain the church’s engine and take it for a small, uneventful spins. Nothing more.

In short, most churches don’t perceive of their nominated leaders as real leaders. They perceive them as a maintenance crew.

So when the leaders get together and plan to take the car to a show (follow the metaphor here), or sign up to a charity drive or hire it out to weddings the members who nominated them just sit back and watch. They don’t dive into the process because that’s not what they had in mind when they nominated you. They don’t get pumped about the new possibilities because when they voted you into office, they were not thinking about new possibilities. They were simply going through the motions of putting people into positions that would keep the machine oiled. Nothing more.

So here is why you can’t motivate your church as a leader - because few people even see you as a leader to begin with. In their mind, you are there to oil the machine and that’s it. They weren’t expecting a revolution when they voted you in. In fact, they weren’t even asking for one. So if you decide to start one, they are not following you because its not what they had in mind when they approved your name for the office. You are an engine-oiler. And so long as you do that well they will vote you back in year after year.

So how can you change this? The solution is simple but it requires some high level commitment. You can’t change this mindset over-night. It will take time and repetition. The process can last up to 3 years before the culture begins to change. But it is worth it. Here is the process I use in my churches.

  1. Create a mission plan for your church with your leaders.

  2. Have every leader write a one page document on how their particular ministry is going to fulfil that mission. Then, have each leader meet with their respective team and communicate the contents of that document to them.

  3. Ask the team members to then discuss the mission with their families and friends in the church. Give them a time-frame to do this in.

  4. Celebrate your leaders and the difference they are making in front of the church. Use their example to inspire the rest of the members.

  5. When Nominating Committee returns, invite the members and committee to think in terms of kingdom building and not in terms of maintenance. If new leaders are nominated have them agree to the document from step 2 as a condition of accepting the roll. Then repeat steps 3 and 4.

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So what exactly is this process accomplishing? Two things. First, it is enabling the mission of the church to go from the leaders to the people. Think of water trickling from the top of the mountain down to the valley. That’s what you are doing here. The mission and vision should not remain at the top of the mountain with the elected leaders. It needs to trickle down into the valley of the people.

Second, this process is rewiring the minds of church members to expect results from their leaders and to view them as leaders, not machine-oilers. Over time, as the process repeats the new expectation and process settles in and the people begin electing leaders with the desire for forward movement. And once that culture is in place, you will no longer have to motivate your church as a leader, because the very fact that you are in your position is the result of motivated people who are ready for you to lead them to the next level.

ChurchPastor MarcosComment
How to Attract Millennials to Your Church (with Luke Farrugia)
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Millennial’s have been on the forefront of church chatter for nearly a decade now.

Articles, books and research projects have been dedicated to this particular generation in a way that hasn’t really been seen before.

Why are they leaving church? How do we get them to stay or attract them to our churches in the first place?

A few weeks ago I sat down with Luke Farrugia, host of the Aus Table Talk podcast, to discuss “How to Attract Millennials to your Church”. If you are interested in youth and outreach to post-Christian generations you don’t want to miss this interview!

We bust some of the biggest myths about millennial outreach and share just how simple it is to nurture a church culture that attracts this elusive generation.

Listen below and don’t forget to like, subscribe and share!

Make sure to also head over to www.austabletalk.com.au for some fresh and relevant Adventist podcast material!

ChurchPastor MarcosComment
Why I Can't Stand Busy Churches
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Before I dive into this article, I need to say something important.

I love busy churches. I can’t stand them, but I do love them.

I love them because they are doing their best to do what God has called them to do and that’s a ton more than can be said for many local SDA churches.

But if I love busy churches why is it that I also can’t stand them?

To answer that question, I want to invite you to come with me to World War 2 (yes, another military metaphor. I’m a former Army Sergeant so, can you blame me?). The Third Reich launched its campaign in Europe and it was unstoppable. Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and France fell like dominoes. The British Expeditionary force numbering over 350,000 troops was also forced to retreat from France. To those looking on, Hitlers regime looked unstoppable.

One of the main contributions to this swift expansion was a military tactic known as the blitzkrieg (lighting-war). A Nazi blitzkrieg was a strategy that concentrated overwhelming force on a portion of the enemy defenses in order to smash through the line with shock and awe (think of a football blitz), and pour in behind the line before the defense had a chance to recover. It was a hard and fast strategy that would leave the enemy thinking, “Where did that come from?” and defeated before they had the chance to answer.

And it worked.

Until it didn’t.

As the Third Reich expanded into the east they hit Russia hard. The blitzkrieg had not failed them yet, so they aimed at Moscow and gave it everything they had. But this time, the blitzkrieg proved to be fatal. While the campaign began with victories, it ground to a halt and was eventually repelled. Historians often look at the struggle in Russia as the moment when the war turned. The Wehrmacht was pushed back to Berlin. Shortly after, Germany surrendered.

Now what does this have to do with why I can’t stand busy churches?

Take it easy. I’m getting to that.

First, allow me to explain why the notorious blitzkrieg failed in Russia (and I’m glad it did). While there were many variables involved, I am going to highlight two (because I am not a historian and also have other things to do).

  1. Poor Intelligence. Hitler doesn’t appear to have done his homework. When his army entered Russia they were not prepared for the brutal winter. The ground turned to mush so their heavy tanks and artillery got stuck. The cold was insane and the soldiers under dressed which left them vulnerable to the counter-attack.

  2. Over-Stretched. Because the blitzkrieg was so fast the force launching the attack formed like a column with tanks at the head to start the attack followed by infantry and artillery. In Russia, the columns were stretched too thin which prevented supplies from getting to the front quickly and, once again, left the army vulnerable to attack.

OK. Enough of the history lesson. Let me now explain to you why I can’t stand busy churches.

  1. Poor Intelligence. Like the Wehrmacht, busy churches tend to be too busy to actually know what is going on in the battlefield. They have ministry here, there and everywhere. Their pastors and elders are bombarded with the incredible amount of admin it takes to keep this monster going. Their members are racing for openings in the calendar. And people in general are so beat, they don’t have time to be students of the culture. As a result, their ministries get stuck in the mire of irrelevance and their members are ill equipped to handle changes in the culture.

  2. Over-Stretched. Like the blitzkrieg column, busy churches are way overstretched. Their resources, time, finances, pastors and volunteers are barely able to keep the machine going. This leads to clergy burnout, lack of creativity and lack of cohesive ministry efforts. In worst case scenarios, it leads to infighting as ministries compete for more time, more money, more volunteers and more pastoral support.

So here is why I can’t stand busy churches. I have been to quite a few in my days and what I have found is they give the false impression of success. Everyone seems to think the church is on fire because its occupied. But the problem is that you can run around all year and get to the end and discover you have accomplished nothing. Being busy and being productive are not the same thing. Being busy and transforming lives are not the same thing. Being busy and making disciples are not the same thing. Being busy and honoring God are not the same thing.

Rather than busy churches, we should aim to be simple churches. Churches that are focused on loving God, loving one another and serving our communities. Churches that know what their mission is and work to accomplish it by uniting all of their ministries for this one common goal. Churches that impact their sphere of influence without sacrificing the slow and beautiful process of growing in love. This may mean saying no to some projects, letting others die a natural death and instructing your nominating committee to NOT try and fill every role in the church manual (please stop doing this because… why?). Instead, the church should aim to fill the most important roles to its mission and operation and not be afraid to leave positions unfilled that are not essential to that mission.

If you aim for this, your calendar wont be overloaded. You wont have program after program to administrate. In fact, you’ll end up with extra time to get to know the culture and even the person next to you.

I like the sound of that.


Recommended Reading: Simple Church by Thom S Rainer

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[1] https://www.rbth.com/blogs/2015/05/12/how_russia_blunted_the_german_blitzkrieg_43057


Why is Church so Insanely Boring?
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Why is church so insanely boring?

Don’t sit there and pretend you don’t know what I am talking about. You know exactly what I am talking about. ;)

 
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Church, as we know it today, is this tedious, uninteresting experience. Most people who attend do so hoping to heaven that there is a good sermon. And if the sermon is good you kind of forget how uninspiring, uneventful and repetitive everything else was.

Now of course, not every church is like this. Some of them are the opposite and it amazing! But I’m not talking about them today. I am talking about the boring ones, so stay with me.

Boring churches are all the same. You park your car, walk in, someone says hello and hands you a bulletin. You sit down. The people around you might say hello in one of those “I shouldn’t be talking” voices or they might not. Then someone gets up to the front and gives a welcome and announcements. Then we sing a hymn or two. Collect offering. Have a kids story. Sing another hymn. Maybe there is a special item (I still have no idea why we call solo performances “special items” so if someone could enlighten me, that would be great). Then the sermon time arrives. The pastor gets up to the front.

“Happy Sabbath!” he says, enthusiastically.

Two or three people respond out of sync. Everyone else stares on like they are in a trance.

The pastor looks out over the crowd and says it with a louder voice “HAPPY Sabbath!”

If he’s lucky, this particular church has been trained to respond super loud the second time and he can move on. But if they aren’t trained, he comes back with an awkward third:

“HAPPY SABBATH!!!”

At this point, you get a better response. Most likely because the people don’t want to be there all day. But come back the next week, and the same exact scenario repeats. Then next month and next year too by the way. It never seems to end.

Why is this the experience of so many of our churches? Why does the preacher have to act like an MC getting the crowd hyped before a concert? Why do the saints need to be hyped up to begin with? Some people think the problem is the church’s traditional style. If only they switched to a more contemporary style these problems would go away. But I have been to contemporary churches with the same exact problem. Style has nothing to do with it.

Instead, the answer, I believe, lies in a psychological concept known as “state”.

A state is essentially frame of mind. Think of when you are watching a thriller and you are “on the edge of your seat.” At that moment in the film, as the tension builds, you find yourself in an anxious “state.” Any sudden noise and you practically jump out of your seat. Or think of being at the beach with friends. It’s night time. There’s a bonfire, a guitar and marshmallows. Everyone is sitting back enjoying the care free evening, singing together and laughing. What state are you in? Relaxed. Composed. You feel free. (In fact your state may have changed ever so slightly just by reading and imagining that scene). Or how about a nice dinner with friends? You are eating some good food and having a laugh. Everyone’s state is happy, content. Then suddenly, a person none of you like and who wasn’t invited to the dinner walks up and says hello. All of a sudden previously happy people feel awkward. The state has changed.

There is nothing particularly weird or amazing about this. It’s how we are as humans. Our minds can move in and out of states. You can be depressed and a friend lifts your mood. They take you out of one state into another. This is what Solomon had in mind when he wrote, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” (Proverbs 12:25) In other words, an encouraging word can change a persons mental state. It can pull them up from a gloomy place into a cheerful place.

Now back to our question. Why is your church service so boring? It’s not because you sing Hymns instead of Hillsong. Its not because you are traditional or not entertaining enough. You don’t need more jokes, more high paced videos or a louder band. No. Your church is boring because from the moment you gather you collectively feed a boring state.

In other words, a boring church is boring because of state, not style. Style is not the issue. State is.

Let’s go back to our original scenario but change the state. Imagine getting to church and out in the parking lot are cheerful welcome signs. Maybe even cheerful parking attendant (if necessary). Then you walk in and are greeted by cheerful people who don’t simply hand out bulletins but they ask questions, they comment on your new hair due, your nice tie or ask where you are from and how they can make your guest experience as wonderful as possible (supposing you are a guest). At this moment, without changing anything else, you have already changed everything. Those who arrived are now going into Sabbath School and the church gathering in a cheerful state. Regardless of how they walked in, you have placed them into a mental state capable of spreading cheer to others.

Imagine walking into Sabbath School and you are greeted warmly. Someone even offers you their seat. The conversation is safe, warm and inspiring.

Then you go to the main service. The announcements, song service, tithe and offerings - all of it is done in a spirit of praise. The person who announces the songs smiles. They share a Bible promise from the week that spoke to them. They offer a short word of encouragement.

All of these small, simple changes - smiling, warmth, energy - create a state of mind in people. But have someone get up to the front with a sombre spirit and drag their feet through “we… will… now sing the hymn… number 323… please stand” and the state changes again. And if that’s what people have gotten in the parking lot, in the foyer, in the Sabbath School and all throughout the worship gathering then that’s also what they are going to give.

Your church is not boring because of its style. Its boring because of its state.

And by the time the pastor gets up and says “Happy Sabbath” no body responds because everyone is in a state of boredom. Now some people think this is normal because they are conservative and sombre and they think this is the way its meant to be. But spare me the hoopla. God didn’t invite us to gather together for that. And the reason why the preacher has to force some excitement out of the crowd is because they are BORED. Their minds are in a state of boredom. They are not inspired to be there. They are not excited to be there.

And its got nothing to do with your style. Its got everything to do with your state. Change your state, starting with the parking lot all the way through every aspect of the church gathering, and you will have a room full of people who are inspired to be there every week, month and year.

Now of course, creating a positive state at your church is not something that can be forced - not unless you want to end up with a bunch of phoney people pretending to be all cheery when they cant stand each other. There are other things that need to be addressed for a change of state to be an authentic step and not a gimmick. As a church leader, you need to identify those in your context as they aren’t all the same. But once you do, make sure you include a step in which you address the states that are nurtured at your gatherings and create a change of state from the parking lot all the way to the altar.

Because if your church is insanely boring, chances are its got nothing to do with its style and everything to do with its state. If you change that state, your church gathering will gradually become the most inspiring experience of your week.

Colonialism, Costumes & Compliance: A Millennial Take on Annual Council with Pastor Nelson Fernandez
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The biggest talk in Adventist town right now is Annual Council 2018.

Seriously, head over to the Adventist Review, Spectrum Magazine or Adventist Today and among their latest articles you will see multiple posts dedicated to what took place at this often boring event.

And in case you need a quick snippet to pike your interest, the main topic of the event was “What does the GC do about non-compliant Unions who go against a world vote?” (in this case, its obvious the topic is Womens Ordination). The proposal was to approve a new compliance document which gives the GC more power to enforce compliance in the world church. As you can imagine, this was pretty controversial.

Now if you have no clue what the Womens Ordination debate in the SDA church is about, then seriously, you may have landed on the wrong blog.

Anyways, that’s basically the main theme of this years annual council. Its controversial. People are mad about it. And some have even hinted at a possible split in the church.

So I decided to do something out of the blue.

I called my friend and host of Nelsonsblog.com pastor Nelson Fernandez and had a conversation with him about all the craziness of Annual Council this year and we recorded the whole thing!

We discussed:

  • Some of the key happenings including the “lets dress up like our pioneers” thing (yeah they did that beards and all)

  • Colonialism, Euro-centrism and irrelevance at the local church level

  • The controversial compliance document

  • Plus, what do these things mean for the local church?

All this from the perspective of two millennial pastors (that’s us) who love their church and want to see it thrive.

Check out the episode below and let us know what you think!

Do Adventists Stink at City Ministry?

In his recent Adventist Today article, “Do Adventists Understand Urban Ministry?” pastor Zack Payne wrote the following (among many other cool things):

Every time ministry to the cities is brought up in an Adventist context, the well-meaning saints come out of the woodwork with this or that Ellen White quote to the effect that yes, we can minister to the cities, but we’d better not live in them.
— Pastor Zack Payne

Zack then goes on to express how this model is faulty and doesn’t work in today’s urban context. And I agree! Are we contradicting Ellen White (things are getting spicy here!) or is there a side to this story that hasn’t been told?

The article was so insightful (you can read the whole thing here), that I decided I had to give Zack a call and interview him about his thoughts and experience as an urban pastor.

You can catch the whole interview below.

Let us know your thoughts!

To Contact Pastor Payne:

USA 920 609 0483

pastor@racinedistrictsda.org / www.racinedistrictsda.org

Referenced Articles:

https://atoday.org/do-adventists-understand-urban-ministries/

https://thestorychurchproject.com/bloghost//2014/08/city-dwelling-vs-country-living-brief.html?rq=ellen%20white