Did you know that there is one secret to building the kingdom of God? This one secret is the only thing that Christian's need to know to build God's kingdom. What is this one secret? First I want to give you an illustration.
One of the military's best land weapons was the infamous tank. Everyone is afraid of the tank. The combination of powerful weapons and thick armor makes it impossible to stop with traditional weapons. So when a tank shows up on the battlefield you run. And you run really, really fast.
The only way that you can effectively stop a tank and make it semi-useless in combat is if you somehow destroy the tracks/road wheels underneath. If you destroy those the tank will still be functional up top, but it will be unable to move and that in many ways renders the tank useless.
Now let's get back to the one's secret to building the kingdom of God. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a really effective worldwide ministry. We have a General Conference that's made up of divisions all around the world. Divisions are made up of regional conferences which are in turn made up of local churches. This system has enabled Adventism to move into the world with a worldwide mission and narrative that many other denominations can't even dream of. So in a sense, its an amazing and powerful system designed to be a universal voice and it has worked really well. (see video below)
However, when you think about this system it's kind of like a tank. The conferences and divisions are like the big bulky weapons and armor at the top. This is where most of the administrations takes place. This is where most of the legal issues are resolved. This is where a large percentage of our resources are financed and developed. And this is where personnel, finances, real estate and ministry departments are managed. The big bulky conferences and divisions are extremely useful and have served the church well. However, (and here is the clincher) everything the divisions and the conferences do is missionally useless if the local church is not functioning properly.
In other words if Satan wants to put a stop to the Seventh-day Adventist tank the only thing he needs to do is destroy the tracks/road wheels (local churches). If he can get the local churches to stop functioning, if he can prevent them from being successful and from optimizing their ministry to their local setting he succeeds in making the entire tank practically useless in the battle between good and evil.
Sure we can still produce resources like Sabbath school lessons and media of all kinds. We can still hire pastors and administrators, have a very strong legal support system and fantastic human resources running the background business of the church, but if the tracks are not spinning - if the local church is not moving - then the mission of the church comes to a stand still.
In Ephesians 1:9-12 Paul reveals this: From the beginning of time God has had a secret weapon he would use to defeat evil. That secret weapon is the church. Not the institution we call church (top heavy stuff), but the gathering of broken God-lovers. This secret weapon is made up of messed up people who have tasted the grace of God and are in a transformation journey of love. And it is through them that God seeks to build his kingdom. An institution could never replicate such a thing. The beauty of this secret weapon can only be experienced in the local church. This is why the local church is the most important part of any denomination, especially the Adventist Church. As a worldwide movement we have the temptation to underplay the importance of the local church. Some may depend on the conferences, unions, and divisions to do the work of evangelism. Others sit back and expect the conference evangelist or some other "bulky initiative" to do the work of Kingdom building. Many more depend entirely on the local pastor. And while local churches are certainly expected to take advantage of all of these resources at their disposal, if we are not optimizing our ministries and aiming to be successful then we become stagnant and irrelevant. And its not just our local church that suffers. Once Satan has succeeded in neutralizing the local church then the whole Adventist tank becomes less effective. And the research-data that is coming to us shows that Satan has so far done a very good job.
How cool is that?
Quote: As quoted in: Zahid, Adrian. "Beyond the One project: The War Over the Local Church (5a)":https://thecompassmagazine.com/blog/beyond-the-one-project-the-war-over-the-local-church-5a
Pastor Marcos is a millennial Adventist pastor with a passion for Jesus, the narrative of Adventism and the relevancy of the local Adventist church. He pastors in Western Australia where he lives with his wife and children. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram. He also blogs weekly at pomopastor.com