PRESENT TRUTH IN THE REAL WORLD
by Jon Paulien
TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
PART I: THE CHALLENGE OF A SECULAR WORLD 1. 2. 3. 4. GOD'S STYLE OF COMMUNICATION AN ADVENTIST PROBLEM . . . . DEFINING THE SECULAR . . . . BECOMING SECULAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 26 40 51
PART II: KEEPING FAITH IN A SECULAR WORLD 5. NOT FOR EVERYONE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 6. COMMUNICATING WITH GOD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 7. A LIVING WALK WITH GOD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 PART III: SHARING FAITH IN A SECULAR WORLD 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. THE BASIC NEEDS OF SECULAR PEOPLE . CUTTING-EDGE PEOPLE . . . . . . . . THE PRACTICE OF ONE-TO-ONE OUTREACH OUTREACH AS A CHURCH . . . . . . . . OUTREACH THROUGH WORSHIP . . . . . . HOW TWO MODELS CAN CO-EXIST . . . . AND NOW, SOME GOOD NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131 142 153 171 186 214 220
INTRODUCTION The primary purpose of this book lies in its attempt to describe reality. Reality is not always pretty. Reality is not
always what we want to hear or know about. all live and move and have our being.
But reality is where we Many today have lost But I have
confidence in the Adventist Church and its people.
found that most Adventists are hungry for truth and hungry for reality. It is the Adventist people, including many God-fearing
leaders of this Church, who have driven me to publish these things in a book. I do not claim to be the last word on the realities our Many will wish to respond to one point or another.
Much brainstorming and experimentation must follow from a reading of this book. I offer this book with the prayer that it will help
precipitate a revival of faithfulness to God's purposes in a new and often bewildering time in earth's history. It is not the purpose of this book to offer a "last word" on this subject from Scripture and the "Spirit of Prophecy". As a
Biblical scholar who is also thoroughly immersed in the writings of Ellen White, I usually prefer to approach a subject from the evidence sources, of inspiration. would A have thorough investigation the book of these the
endurance of most readers and would probably blunt the compelling force of its glimpse of reality. Guided by my lifelong research in
inspiration but without constant reference to it, the content of 3
4 this book arises out of my observations of the reality that Adventists find themselves in as they seek to live out their faith in a secular world. I am encouraged in this "dangerous" approach
by the thousands of Adventists who have heard this material in spoken form and confirmed its observations. I invite readers to
search inspired writings for themselves to see if these things are really so. A major reality that Adventists face today is that while the church as a whole is growing by leaps and bounds in selected places, we aren't experiencing that kind of growth and excitement in most churches in North America. While pastors in New Guinea
hardly have time for evangelism because they are so busy screening the thousands that think success in life is spelled "SDA," most pastors in North America, Europe, and Australia are delighted if a handful of people show up for a stop-smoking clinic, much less for spiritual meetings! The hopelessness and malaise that I sense in so many Anglo churches in North America is to a large degree the result of a process that is called "secularization." Secularization means that a society is becoming more and more inclined to view life without reference to God or religion. There is an gradual erosion of
belief in the supernatural, whatever happens is limited to this world and to sense experience. increasingly discarded. And Religious values and practices are the church, as an institution,
declines in its influence on the larger society.
A secular person
5 or society may not have consciously rejected religion or God, but God plays a diminishing role in people's day to day lives. In a different category is the word "secularism." This refers to a consciously-adopted philosophy which rejects all forms of religious faith and worship. A secularist may be described as a
"missionary" for secularism. He or she is in contrast, however, to the more-typical secular person who merely finds religion to be irrelevant to life, but is not hostile toward it. Many Adventists shy away from outreach to the secular mindset because they do not believe that it is "do-able." If someone
handed you a basketball for the first time and eight of your first ten shots went in, you would say to yourself, "This isn't difficult at all--I can do this!" But if every shot missed by a mile, you So it is with witnessing, many
might never touch a ball again.
Adventists have made ten attempts to reach secular people and missed by a mile every time. reluctant even to try. Another barrier we face in reaching out to the secular mindset is that SDAs are really much more comfortable in their own cultural setting than they are out in world. When we are among ourselves we For most Christians, We This lack of success makes people
know how to talk and we know how to walk.
reaching out to secular people is like entering a foreign land. hear filthy language and dirty jokes. alcohol.
We smell tobacco smoke and
We are faced with uncomfortable challenges to our faith Targeting secular people is not an easy
nearly every moment. choice to make.
It isn't a substitute for the more difficult forms
succeed. Evangelistic success creates excitement and builds churches. count us in.
usually the ones who are the most enthusiastic and say. the problem of evil. if taken seriously by a local church. One major omission is in the area of
"apologetics. A number of areas which could profitably have been dealt with in this book are intentionally left out so that the primary focus is not lost on the reader. but it is exciting to build your percentage with God's help. They are
inevitably there are half a dozen secular people there. it can put that church at the center of its community's life again." the task of finding answers to the many objections that secular people have regarding the existence of God. If you can come to understand
some of the ways that do work.6 of evangelism--it is the most difficult form. If this book will
encourage even one person to step out in faith and reach out to secular neighbors. What excites me about this topic is that. friends. however. Apologetics may not be as crucial to the process as one might expect. your "hits" will increase and your "misses" will decrease. You probably won't begin with an eighty
percent success ratio. we need to know that there are certain approaches that don't work with secular people. Whenever I share this subject in a church. Such issues deserve considerable treatment in their own right. and family it will have been worth the effort. "If this is the kind of religion you Adventists have. the reliability of the Bible. and other issues often used to excuse a disinterest in Christian faith.
Finally. but little attempt has been made to spell out the relevance of this material to youth ministry. although this book is very practical in orientation. Readers attempting
to reach youth will find much in this book that will be of use.7 my experience secular people don't normally come to faith as a result of intellectual argument. although the connection is not explicitly made there. Those interested in such issues. No attempt has been made to relate directly to issues of peace. justice. and societal advancement. And when God has become real to them. but because of an encounter with the living God. Some may question whether the age of secularism has not already come to an end with the fall of Communism in Eastern
. Another omission is the whole area of ministry to our own Adventist youth. will note that Part Two does set out a biblical and spiritual rationale for involvement in significant social issues. Those seeking to
develop their understanding further are directed to the annotated bibliography at the close. their
objections usually fall away in light of their new perspective on life. Many of the problems we face in relation to
secular outsiders we face also in relation to the youth that live in our own homes and attend our own churches. however. The general principles concerning how Adventist faith
can meet the challenge of a secular world will suggest a variety of creative applications to the reader. however. it aims to set out the big picture rather than a detailed "how-to" approach.
" Time will
tell if the recent resurgence of religious interest in many parts of the world is a harbinger of both end-time revival and end-time apostasy. But for now the secular mindset remains one of the major
obstacles to evangelistic outreach. the onset of the New Age movement and the increasing strength of evangelicals in North American politics. These
movements certainly bear watching. but secularism remains the dominant intellectual force in the so-called "First World" and is an increasing influence in the so-called "Third World.
THE CHALLENGE OF A SECULAR WORLD
contrast. I've just alluded to know by experience that Many Many
The people that maintaining a
distinctly Adventist faith in a high-profile position is no simple 10
. Deputy Assistant to the American Secretary of State.CHAPTER ONE God's Style of Communication A World in Change Growing up Adventist isn't what it used to be back in the Sixties. Back then most Adventists preferred to avoid contact with the world unless such contact took place on Adventist terms. head of the Social Security Administration. of the old rules don't seem to work the way they used to. Hollywood actor. and head of an anticommunist guerilla army. These are exciting and fearful times to be an Adventist. in recent years Adventists have held such high-profile positions as governor of Hawaii. the opposition party leader and the governor in one province were elders in the same church!).
members of congress and several governors in that country are SDAs (Recently in fact. conductor of a major symphony orchestra. Adventists are trying things we never used to try. the year 2000 a major It is a reasonable possibility that by country in the South Pacific will be A sizable percentage of the
predominantly Seventh-day Adventist. starting pitcher on a major-league baseball team. head of state in at least two countries in the so-called third world.
even if your contract does say that you will be given Sabbath off whenever possible! The challenge of being Adventist in a secular world is not limited to well-known personalities. is that Adventism as we normally express it is exactly what those people are looking for. children and grandchildren--who don't look at the world the way you do. It involves learning how to
get along with neighbors and even relatives--brothers. people in context. The Two Horizons But is that really our problem? Shouldn't we just present the message as we know and appreciate it and if they don't like it. Kenya. parents. the same message seems to fall flat." (DA 34)
a language with which they are familiar. the Philippines.
The reason the Adventist message is going like
wildfire in places like New Guinea. But in other places
. "Lessons must be given to humanity in People need to be addressed in The gospel must come to
the language of humanity. and parts of the Caribbean. It is certainly a big challenge to be
a starting pitcher on a major league team. sisters. Although they might live right next door. but inspira-
tion suggests that the Gospel is not heard until it comes to people within their own context.
Adventism can be as strange and foreign to them as though you've just walked off a spaceship. Almost every moment of every day brings the challenge of
balancing one's convictions as a Seventh-day Adventist with one's responsibilities to the job. it's just too bad? Life might seem easier that way.11 matter.
But the people showed
. simple basic English. he fell out all by We were speaking the same
Now what was happening here?
language. and tried to understand their language and customs. I figured it was time for a comment. To my left were three or four stairs going up into the bedroom section of the house. And that happens more often than we realize when we're
dealing with secular people. And he did it well. picks up the beast and comforts it. ministered to the people's medical needs. The couple built a little dwelling in the area between several villages. Such miscommunication can be embarrassing in the extreme. goes down
the stairs. When they had reached a working knowledge of the language. A
missionary couple went upriver into the interior of New Guinea and attempted to reach a group of tree-dwellers who had had no previous contact with the outside world. the husband felt that it was time to attempt a presentation of the gospel. so I said." himself!" To which she replied. She takes care of the carriage.12 I was sitting on the living-room couch in a split-level home. Many of the people settled around them and seemed to appreciate what they were trying to do. He went to the "longhouse" of one of the villages and told the story of Jesus. tumbles down.
Halfway down the stairs the
carriage tips. "Oh no. gigantic stuffed animal of some sort. "I see you helped him out. and lies there in a heap on the ground. The family three-year-old was trying to push In the carriage was a
a full-size baby carriage down the stairs. the animal falls out. and yet we were not communicating at all.
The missionary's presentation of the
gospel had been clear. The problem was
that in this particular culture. attention was riveted on him. They didn't much care what
"the greatest Spirit" had done for some far-off tribe (the Jews) in a far-away land. they
were impressed with a man who could keep close company with a powerful figure like Jesus for three years. traveling together and finally betraying him all by himself without any of the other disciples ever suspecting! Such treachery
exceeded all the examples they had honored through the years.13 little interest in the story of Jesus. and appreciation. but to the tree-dwellers the gospel story confirmed their own hideous practices. the highest level of respect was reserved for the person who had the intestinal fortitude to betray his best friend. Suddenly their full
They began to signal understanding
It became clear that the hero of the story for
them was not Jesus. powerful and convincing from the couple's perspective. The gospel is not understood unless But where in that culture was there
any useful analogy to the story of redemption?
. When the tree people heard the Gospel story. How does one present the Gospel to people like that? The
local culture honored and revered behavior that was directly contrary to the gospel. sharing his food. The biblical message did not seem to apply to
them in any way that they could understand until the missionary came to the story of how Judas betrayed Jesus. but Judas! Did the missionary tell the story wrong? No. it comes to people in context.
Warriors from the two tribes faced A leading man from each
each other in a clearing in the forest. they told the people that they
would have to leave and go to other tribes who would not betray and kill each other. And after all.) they promised to make peace. knives. Both babies and names were exchanged. allow for an impressive and effective peace ceremony. But how could anyone trust a peace pledge in an environment that glorified treachery? The treacherous culture did. mirrors. they knew that they were safe from attack by the other tribe. Finally.
peace child ceremony. As long as the peace child lived. Why?
Because the other tribe would be afraid to harm one of their own. war broke out between two of the tribes they had been working with. Following the
the two tribes would be at peace with one another. medicine.
tribe.14 Shortly after the couple's attempt to share the gospel. in frustration. Each member of the
tribe that was willing to make peace came and laid their hands on the baby. all the members of both tribes exchanged
. etc. any man who would give his own son to his enemies was a man who could be trusted. Each baby became the "peace child. in anguish and trembling. Because the people did not want to lose the
economic benefits that came with the couple's presence (better axes. however. The couple did their best to intervene in the conflict but to no avail. selected one of his own treasured baby boys and brought him to the most trusted man on the other side." The tribe loved and
guarded their peace child for as long as that child lived.
That person's In a valley the In flat country
But if you can get on a mountain peak. Here was the redemptive analogy they had been looking This
Now they could try to present the gospel once more. Communication happens something like this. horizon is limited by the trees and hills. one can see even further. characters. He lived among us. The couple observed all that had happened. the horizon of each person in a room is the four walls and the ceiling. because He now lives forever. was raised again. Every person on In a physical
sense. God has declared "peace" with the human race and every tribe and every nation that is willing to accept that "peace child" into their tribe can be at peace with God too. this earth has what can be called "a horizon".
God was now on
He gives them new names to celebrate their new As a result of this and other presentations that
appealed effectively to the people in terms of their own cultural context. only as long as And while peace among the Sawi people lasted peace child lived. and lives forever.
time they told about how there was war between heaven and earth.
your horizon expands further still. their side. many of the tree-dwellers accepted Christ. with a bit of a view out the windows. for." His Son to the human "tribe". and asked many questions.15 gifts and names so that each person was considered a full member of the other tribe. But God so loved the world that He sent a "peace child. permanent peace was
available in Jesus. He gave
And because He
died. horizon is limited by the room in which they are. etc.
16 Every human being has another kind of horizon. the intellect, of the emotions, of experience. A horizon of
Our knowledge and
experience tends to be limited by schooling, geography and family background. When we encounter another human being, it is at the
points of common interest and common understanding that we can communicate most effectively. The chief value of education is that it is the intellectual equivalent of climbing a mountain. The more
education you receive, the broader your horizon, and the greater your potential for influence on others in this world. You become
able to communicate particular thoughts in a variety of different forms and expressions. What counts is not the form you choose to
use but whether the intended meaning is clearly understood by the hearer. A major purpose of this book is to broaden the reader's horizon to include an understanding of the horizon or world view of secular people. In dealing with the secular environment, Adven-
tists face a problem similar to that of the couple in New Guinea. In interacting with secularized people, we often encounter world views so distinct from ours that there is little or no meaningful interaction. What must take place at such times in order for One of the two individuals seeking to
communication to happen?
communicate must broaden their horizon so as to include the other. Whose responsibility should it be to broaden horizons in a
"Lessons must be given to humanity in the This statement suggests to me that
language of humanity." (DA 34)
some Adventists, at least, need to learn how to speak to secular
17 people. As Emil Brunner has said, "The church nowadays speaks . . If that is the case, we need to
. . primarily to 'heathen.'"1 learn how to talk to heathen. The Role of the Holy Spirit
Many Christians, however, object to the idea that secular people need to be met on their terms. role to bridge the gap between people? "Isn't it the Holy Spirit's Doesn't the Bible say that
it isn't by might or by power but 'by My Spirit, says the Lord?'" The Holy Spirit is, of course, essential to all effective outreach work. To attempt to carry out any of the suggestions in this book
without the guidance and support of the Spirit would be absolute foolishness. (Part Two will focus in detail on the spiritual component of outreach to secular people.) Not only does the Holy
Spirit aid Christians in sharing their faith, He is also quite capable of communicating directly to any human being regardless of background! Rom 1:18-20, however, indicates that although the
Spirit's work is universal, it is generally quite limited in content. Scripture and experience suggest that, as a rule, the
Holy Spirit does not function as a substitute for human effort (Rom 10:14). Let's take Scripture as an example. Is the Bible based on Word for word? No,
golden plates that came down out of Heaven?
Scripture was given in the time, place, language, and culture of
Quoted in Donald Bloesch, The Christian Witness in a Secular Age (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1968), p.45.
18 specific human beings. The knowledge, experience, and background Paul, with his "Ph.D.",
of the Biblical writers was respected.
expresses God's revelation to him in a different way than does Peter, the fisherman. John writes in simple, clear, almost
On the other hand, the author of Hebrews has the
most complex and literary Greek in all the New Testament with the exception of the first four verses of Luke. someone who understands the Jewish mind. In Matthew, you have
He continually shows how
the life of Jesus fulfills the Old Testament Scriptures with which the Jews were familiar (see, for example, Matt 1:22,23; Mark,
He uses Jewish terms without explanation.
on the other hand, reaches out to the Gentile mind.
are explained to his non-Jewish audience (compare, for example, Mark 14:12 with Matt 26:17). their audiences in mind. The Bible writers constantly keep
Scripture is an illustration of the fact
that God expects us, and is even Himself willing, to reach out to people where they are; to speak their language. Perhaps even more significant than the unique writing styles of the human authors of Scripture is the fact that God even adjusted the content of visions in order to more effectively communicate to the inspired prophet. in the book of Daniel. to two people from The most striking example is
There visions of similar content were given completely different backgrounds. To
Nebuchadnezzar, the heathen king, God portrays the future world empires by means of an idol (Daniel 2)! This Nebuchadnezzar could
appreciate, since he saw the nations of the world as bright and
19 shining counterparts of the gods that they worshipped. For Daniel, on the other hand, the nations of the world were like vicious, ravenous beasts who were hurting his people (see chapter 7). God
spoke to each of them in language they could understand and appreciate. God meets people where they are.
It is of interest that a century ago, New Testament Greek was thought to be unique. It was quite different from both the
classical Greek of Plato and Aristotle and the Greek spoken today. Some scholars thought that the New Testament had been given in some special kind of Greek, perhaps a "heavenly language." Then someone stumbled across an ancient garbage dump in Egypt. It was filled
with the remnants of love letters, bills, receipts, and other products of everyday life in the first century. To the shock of
many, these papyrus fragments were written in the same language and style as the books of the New Testament! The New Testament was not
written in a heavenly language, nor in the cultured language of the traditional elite, but in the everyday language of everyday people. God meets people where they are! The Sacred Word was conditioned
by the cultural frailty of human beings. This is clearly articulated in Selected Messages, vol 1, pp. 19-22. The writers of the Bible had to express their ideas in human language. It was written by human men. These men were inspired of the Holy Spirit. . . . The Scriptures were given to men, not in a continuous chain of unbroken utterances, but piece by piece through successive generations, as God in His providence saw a fitting opportunity to impress man at sundry times and divers places. . . .
20 The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God's mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented. . . . The Bible, perfect as it is in its simplicity, does not answer to the great ideas of God; for infinite ideas cannot be perfectly embodied in finite vehicles of thought. There is an even greater example of how God chooses to meet people where they are. When God Himself came down in human flesh,
he did not appear as a twentieth-century African or a medieval Frenchman. He became a Jew, a first-century Jew, living in
Palestine, who talked in terms appropriate to the local language and culture, who got dirty, hungry, and tired, who even at times became frustrated, angry, and sad (see Mark 1:40,41; 3:4,5; 6:6; 10:13,14). God didn't choose to send us a Superstar, but one just
like ourselves. The incarnation of Jesus demonstrates the depth of God's commitment to meeting human beings where they are in their specific time, place, language, and circumstances. It is this incarnational principle that motivated Paul in his missionary endeavors. Paul's clearest reflection on the matter, 1 Paul tells us
Cor 9:19-23, is also a mandate for secular ministry.
that it requires considerable sacrifice to reach out to people who are different. The main reason we have little success with secular people is because we haven't chosen to make that sacrifice. "Though I am free from everybody, I make myself everybody's slave, in order that I might win all the more. To the Jews, I become like a Jew in order that I might win the Jews. To those who are under the law, I become like one under the law, not being myself under the law, in order that I might win those who are under the law.
I become all things to everybody in order that by all possible means I might save some.12) The answer is that Jesus spoke in
parables because of the resistance of the people to His message. The parables were a means of bypassing their defense mechanisms to introduce a seed of truth. not being myself apart from the law of God but rather under the law of Christ.
. for learning how to speak to people where they are. I become like one apart from law. In later life when circumstances
altered their resistance to Jesus. And the bonus is that if we are
willing to make the necessary sacrifices. A
mandate for reaching out to other horizons." 1 Cor 9:19-23 Paul gives in this passage a mandate for secular ministry. In order that I might gain those who are apart from law.21 To those apart from law. I do all these things for the sake of the Gospel in order that I might become a partaker in these things. there is an excellent chance that many more people will come to Christ than would otherwise do so! If God is so concerned to meet people where they are. it was never Jesus ultimate
purpose to be obscure. they might remember the parable and grasp its significance. but in many cases it was the only way to get through to some people without bringing His whole mission into jeopardy. Thus. why did Jesus seem to deliberately confuse people in the giving of His parables? (Mark 4:11. To the weak I become weak in order that I might win the weak.
pages 31-38. may also be the key to finishing the work. This description accords with the realities of history. in the Roman world. Sikhism). there is a chapter entitled. preparing people's minds philosophically for the coming of Christ.22 To Finish the Work There is. perhaps. Buddhism.
was working in the Greek world. and in the Jewish world. Taoism) or are directly dependant on those that did (Christianity. Islam. During this period
people in general moved from a devotion to what we would call heathen religions (where religion was associated with the land and the forces of nature) to the philosophical or world religions we are familiar with today.
They longed for a religion that Ellen White was so impressed
could satisfy the heart" (DA 32). (Judaism. All the great religions of today either
had their origin between 800-200 B. These
religions displaced the primal religions in all but isolated spots.C. Zoroastrianism. Ellen White well describes the restlessness that accompanied this great shift in human relation to God: "At this time the Men
systems of heathenism were losing their hold upon the people. Hinduism. Jainism. "In the Fulness of the Time". It
In the book Desire of
Ages. an even greater reason to learn how to reach secular people than that the Scriptures compel us to it. were weary of pageant and fable.C. Confucianism. In that chapter the author explains that God spent He
hundreds of years preparing the world for the coming of Christ.
all of known human history the era of the most radical religious change occurred in the first millennium B.
countries that has resisted the secular tide fairly successfully is Iran. And there are already signs that Iran's resistance may not
. Greek. Mark 13:10). In such a context. the secular culture originating in the nations of the so-called First World. English.
There is one increas-
ingly dominant culture. Hellenism (the culture originating in classical Greece).
Hellenization prepared the way for Jesus by creating a world in which there was one basic language.23 with the importance of this great shift in human religion that she asserted that some of these great "pagan" religionists and
philosophers had received the "spirit of inspiration" from God! (DA 33) Her statements become exceptionally interesting when one
discovers that those who study religion today are finding in the current secularization process an almost exact counterpart to the Hellenization ("making Greek") of the ancient world--the very process that Ellen White was describing in that chapter. and one overriding culture. the gospel could spread like wildfire. And it's happening. If
secularization is the modern counterpart of Hellenization.
certainly aid that process if all nations were influenced by one basic language and culture. There is one
major language in the world today. could it be God's instrument to prepare the modern world for the second coming? We are told to expect that before Jesus comes the gospel It would
will be preached to all nations (Matt 24:14. Secular culture is sweeping One of the few
the world through the visual and print media.
secularization is sweeping in so quickly that third world thought leaders hardly have time to blink. that's a Western problem. Thank God for Andrews University.24 I shared some of these things with a student from Africa.s
in my church and everything you talked about is happening right here. situation. we'll soon be able to reach just about anybody if things continue the way they are now..
to read over and over again when you're feeling down. I have 26 Ph. I put into that file the kinds of letters you want He wrote. etc. response was. This
. My recent trip to
With television and all the
influences of Western media and magazines.D. is of CRITICAL importance to the Adventist Church today.
"When I got back to my country they made me pastor of the church in the capital city because of my master's degree. therefore.
can learn how to reach secular people. the secularization process that has taken us 200 years may take only 20 years. It was one of those letters that I put in a special file I label "Personal Encouragement"." His
It's irrelevant to my
About six months after he
got back to Africa. I received a letter from him. rapidly? Could this be part of God's plan to finish the work If we
If so then the challenge to SDAs is very clear."
In the so-called third world. "This is of no interest to me. Africa confirmed this suspicion.
reality. It requires an "army" of considerable size. our
. It has brought Christ to me.
love this church--it's not just because I work for it. "Do Adventists need to study this topic? Surely a church growing as rapidly as the Seventh-day
Adventist Church doesn't need an overhaul of its evangelistic methods. Nothing in this chapter is But we must also live in
intended to tear down or discourage.
Reaching the world with the gospel involves two different types of approach. that I write this I
book as a committed member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. increasing Bringing the gospel to the world is a Growing We
the number of members. therefore. it is my life. it is not the whole story.
And the reality is that although Harvest 90 was tremen-
dously successful in many places (there were a total of two and a half million baptisms around the world from 1985-1990).CHAPTER TWO An Adventist Problem Diminishing Returns Given all that has been said in the first chapter one might still legitimately ask the question. We need to hear the whole story. 25
As I write. This is the point at which reality can become quite I want to make it clear." painful.
the church as rapidly as possible helps to build such an army. One of these is growing the church. have been quite successful at growing the church.
example. I held meetings 3-4 nights a week for virtually the whole year. approaching people effectively who have never heard the gospel.
organized body of believers. In the area of reaching the unreached we're having. reaching the unreached. and in some immigrant sub-cultures in North America. I was
There are 17. much less an active congregation. the work has only begun. But we
have been far less successful at the other type of approach.000 distinct groups of
people in the world who have never heard the story of salvation. limited success. But we are making very little impact on the vast majority While Adventist work is exploding in
of people in this world. who have no Bible. at best. no church. and and no
Adventists. the Philippines. The very strategies that may help to grow
the church may cause us to neglect people groups that are resistant to the gospel because they seem to require much effort with little evident result. Adventist work is growing in only a few population segments. Saudi if Arabia.26 membership is approaching seven million around the world. While "Global Mission" is beginning to focus our
attention on this reality. There are 2300 groups of more than a million people each
that do not have a single Adventist among them. during one year that I pastored in New York City. any.
countries like New Guinea. there are also thirty-one countries there like Mauritania. Adventist work is growing rapidly in parts of the
less-developed world. and no Christians witnessing among them. Although the United States is nominally a Christian nation. and Jamaica.
"I just realized something. Then I got on the phone with a
friend of mine. I had helped him that summer with a three-week tent When
effort that resulted in the baptism of eighty-three people. you're beginning to face the same problems in your community. or Asian. after a generation or two in New York City." I said. Hispanic. who was a pastor in a neighboring church in the Northeastern Conference.
I began to share with him how groups of people are not Suddenly. the other end of the line." It doesn't matter if a person is black. I had helped him with his tent effort
as well. he or she is as impervious to the Gospel as any white person in North America. The study sought to discover
. Was something wrong with
He said. it became real quiet at
equally receptive to the gospel. "What's wrong with you?" me? Perhaps not.
he found out that I worked all year to baptize just twelve he jokingly said. a decent income. This is underlined by the
results of a study of Hispanic evangelism in Southern California." I said. "I just realized that we baptized 83 people and not a single one is an American. It's just easier to ignore the problem as long
as you still have some receptive groups joining the church. "What's that?" He replied. "You see. which specializes in ministry to AfricanAmericans.27 targeting white males in particular and was thrilled to baptize about twelve with God's help. and a nice home in the suburbs. The Hispanic element of the church there doubled every three to four years through the seventies.
from the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor. A massive attempt was made. therefore.
one of these 47 labels on you. even more limited in other sectors. clear that even in some of the
of immigrants. A recent evangelistic innovation that has garnered some success is Revelation Seminars. to The
reach large numbers of people in a suburb of a major city. Instead it was
discovered that over a twenty-year period not a single third or fourth generation Hispanic was baptized. unless they were already married to an Adventist or had some other connection with the church. That impact is.
suburb had a population of 60. The Church was baptizing only immigrants and the children It is. therefore.28 what methods might be of general application. Everyone belongs to one of If they can put
those 47 groups--Madison Avenue has you pegged. A hundred
thousand dollars was spent on advertising and 40 pastors were brought in to hold Revelation Seminars on nearly every block! result? night! Contact was made with the marketing department at Andrews University in an attempt to figure out what went wrong. our impact is surprisingly limited. it was a prototype "Yuppie" neighborhood. what kind of toothpaste you use. they can tell you what kind of car you drive.
most receptive sectors of society. of course. even the foods that you
.000 and an average income of $100.000 a year. With help The
A combined total of eight people showed up the first
from the Donnely Marketing Corporation it was discovered that there are 47 socio-economic groups in North America.
Most have functioned as long as they did because they In fact. That's
how much we are like sheep. the
.000 people in that suburban community only Eight out of
twelve fit into one of those four or five groups. It's uncanny--but they can do that. But in North America we are clearly facing a very serious barrier to reaching most segments of our society with the gospel.
involving some 60 Revelation Seminars in Seattle. Out of the 60.
But the most interesting discovery for
our purposes was that among those 47 socio-economic groups. And that barrier is a problem of horizons. drew almost 3000 people. If what you are
currently doing is effective.29 prefer for breakfast. There are people out
there who are not responding to the Adventist message the way most Americans used to respond. twelve is a tremendous response to advertising!
It is not my intention to criticize traditional methods of evangelism. Washington. we just don't seem to make sense. quite recently a massive effort
were very effective. only four or five Anglo clusters respond significantly to Revelation seminars (another five to seven minority clusters also respond well). Mistargeting the Message A further reason that Adventists have difficulty reaching secular people is the way we present our message. For example. continue with it. Methods that
are working with a given target audience should not be abandoned in the process of targeting other audiences. a highly secular metropolis. There are people for whom what we have
to say does not relate to life as they currently experience it.
Lest this appear totally heretical. they will consider it quite irrelevant. The reason I have written this book is
because I believe that within the Seventh-day Adventist belief
. But secular people very much live in the here and
If you hold meetings on the significance of what happened in Again.30 centerpoint of many traditional Adventist evangelistic series is the Sabbath-Sunday issue. I have seen the issue placed as early as That strategy has been effective
the close of the very first week. so a debate over the right day to go to church sends a signal to the secular community that the meetings are not worthy of their time and attention. Adventists are also quite interested in what took place in the year 1844 AD. The message that we're used to giving
appeals to an increasingly limited audience. it is necessary to
remember a little lady named Ellen White. now. in many places. the issue is
1844. secular person? irrelevant. who at the Minneapolis General Conference in 1888 warned Adventists not to be afraid of "present truth. They aren't even sure why anyone
would go to church at all.
couldn't be a more irrelevant issue than whether Saturday or Sunday is the right day to go to church." What did she mean by "present truth"? Present
truth is that aspect of truth which is particularly relevant at a given time and place. but it is certainly is not relevant to where these people are.
not irrelevant in itself."
But what kind of signal does it send to the "These people are into issues that are totally
The issue is certainly not irrelevant in the eyes of But to secular people there
God or of those who are in Christ.
Without realizing it we may be telling
secular people that they are not welcome among us. There are many types of people in the
In parts of the third world and some immigrant cultures in
North America." messages that can communicate with power to secular people.) well
But while our
message system may contain elements that appeal to secular people. I do not want to be misunderstood. that our message is not relevant to them. world. The Medium is the Message A further barrier placed in the way of secular people is the group-oriented approach of public meetings. whole community excited. But in so doing we need to
realize that we are inadvertently targeting certain types of people and ignoring others. Messages that can get a
We need to better understand what those
messages are.31 system there is much that is "present truth. Where it is clear that large segments of
a population remain unreached. They should be continued. approaches more compatible with the mindset of the intended audience need to be tried. 19th-Century themes and approaches are working just fine. it is not self-evident in most places. (In the first chapter of Part Three I will make some suggestions of areas where Adventist belief is uniquely positioned to make an impact in the secular world. Traditional Adventist
evangelism is built on a long tradition and I certainly do not suggest abandoning it. This book is
not a plea to abandon traditional methods but to supplement them with new approaches that will welcome those who are not appealed to by the time-honored approaches of past and present. The group approach is
They want to own their
. but would it be OK if I express it this way?"
they may say. not surprise us.32 very efficient in terms of time and energy and has served us well for many years."
secular people decide to become Seventh-day Adventists.
A study of Lake Union SDA Churches by Gottfried
Oosterwal (published in 1976) indicated that 85-90% of all baptisms come primarily as a result of personal contact with a relative. or pastor. way into the faith. this is what Or
you're saying. "Is it OK if I don't see this item as all that critical to my personal walk with God?" faith. They want to negotiate their
They may say.
and journals are considered. Public meetings. But secular people are rarely reached in groups. and ask troubling questions. they prefer to have a part in their conversion. by those baptized. Adventist media. "Well. all right. Thus. friend. we cannot expect It is Written or Voice of
Prophecy to reach secular people by themselves. When it comes to spiritual things secular people tend also to avoid the lecture approach. Secular people in
particular are even less likely to respond to a group-oriented approach. This should
they are usually reached best in one-to-one settings. literature. to play a significant role in less than one out of four cases. "What does your church believe?
list of beliefs and I'll sign the line at the bottom. They prefer to question and explore They aren't the kind of people that Give me a When
come to you and say. Significant impact in the secular world is largely the result of personal effort.
but there's something that really bothers us and we don't know quite how to tell you. Just before their scheduled baptism they looked nervous and
said. "You know.33 I'll never forget a lovely couple that I baptized in New York City. economy. as a result. but. you can tell me."
They said. we worship on Sabbath. and faithfulness illustrate the self-sacrificing love of Christ to the world. If
If He asks us to live healthfully. I kept a close
. what is it? Come on. you've been really great in working with us and stuff. "Well. "These baptismal vows. they're going to think we've moved to outer space or something! bit?" I didn't tell my President or my board about this. asks us to tithe. and how to relate to others. maybe. I talked about what Christ had done for us and how. but the Lord impressed me to go home and do just that. As I
shared these re-focused vows that Sabbath morning." I said. we gladly serve Him with all of our hearts. I wrote that the Do you think you could. we read them and we believe all these things. we tithe. He asks us to worship on Sabbath. all of our relatives are going to be there and if you read these things just the way they're written. I continued by saying that we also respond to Christ's
marvelous work for us by living lives of principle in our relations with others. we
consider it a fun way to respond to what God has done for us. In terms of
relating to God. rewrite them a little
Seventh-day Adventist message is based on two great insights: how to relate to God. Such principles as modesty. you gotta understand.
point is that when secular people come in. Your
kids become friends and as a result you get involved together in
certainly happens more effectively on a one-to-one basis than in a large crowd.) Now I'm not suggesting that you should redo the vows for every occasion. the
typical Seventh-day Adventist worship service invites a secular person not to come back. Let us say that you have
a nice home in a nice neighborhood. they want to have a part in their conversion. I
saw this one lady coming right toward me. And after the service was over. They like to discuss and negotiate. be careful that you get them right! My And I said. I've been
in this church 60 years and I've never heard vows like that before. "Pastor. anticipating the worst. Did you ever bring a neighbor on
visitor's day in your church only to wish you hadn't? Allow me to illustrate the problem. "Praise God. They seem to be decent people. Signals We Don't Mean to Send Another problematic area for reaching people of a secular mindset is worship. Adventists tend to be lecture-oriented but secular
people are more responsive when someone takes the time to listen. That's the first time in my whole life that I've really understood why I'm a Seventh-day Adventist!" thanked Him privately also. but your neighbors move away and new neighbors move in. And if you do. just the one I was expecting! As I braced myself she said to me. Though it may sound harsh to write it.34 eye on some dear old German ladies that had been members for sixty years. which is Such a process
a different ball game than we're accustomed to.
Some time later your neighbor comes over and says. what it's going to be like?
Do you think they might make us chant. We really appreciate that.35 some community activities. would you be willing to come with us to the Buddhist temple next weekend?" And." reaction later on is. you guys are really great neighbors. I wouldn't know where to start. I'll be happy to. get up and dance around going 'awh-wah-wah. Or a
you know. sure. of course.
central in our lives and that is our faith. We've never had neighbors My wife and I were thinking Something that's really And we were just
that there's something you need to know. "Well. What is going on in your mind as you drive to the temple? "I wonder
No doubt you would express your anxieties to each other." What would your preference be at that moment? and go home. So you're a bit shocked the day you
find out that they're Buddhists. that
you know. right? To turn around
But that would destroy your good relationship
. sure. "You promised WHO?
Let us suppose that your spouse finally agrees to go through with it. "What if
they take up a collection and offer it to an idol or something. and we get on some kind of Buddhist mailing list?
priest comes by Monday night to give us Buddha studies or whatever. Should we participate or should we just act like it's not happening?" And you add. being a good Christian you But your spouse's NO WAY!"
would be embarrassing! I've never chanted before in my whole life. like you. "You know.
wondering. "What if they have a card at the door to sign." Then your spouse says. Wow.
see what happens. being "conned" into give something in the offering plate when they would really prefer not to. right? And hope that
But suppose it doesn't work that way. for example.
Right in the middle of the service someone says. Imagine everyone
around you singing at the top of their voices and you have never even heard of the song. Can you begin to understand why secular people don't usually feel at home in Adventist churches? What is the first thing we do?
As soon as they come in the door. They certainly don't want to be embarrassed by being forced to stand up in front of everybody and be the object of attention of a room full of strangers. make a quick and quiet getaway? nobody noticed you. look around. There are few things more embarrassing
than being in a group that is united in doing one thing and you are unable to participate. sit
in a far corner. They
fear. Singing a hymn can also be a real barrier. One of the big things secular people They don't want to
fear about church is pressure for commitment. and when the service is over. looking like new converts just ripe for the picking.36 with your neighbors so that is not an option. "Would all the visitors please stand?" Wouldn't that be embarrassing? There you
are in the Buddhist temple. they are expected to sign the guest book or a guest card.
be cornered into signing something that they might regret later on. too embarrassed to move. Their settled
. could hope for? What is the best you
Wouldn't it be to go in to the temple quietly. Secular people also intensely dislike manipulation.
how deep an impact the offering ritual must make on those not accustomed to being in church! If there is one thing above all others that secular people fear in a media-saturated age. The reality is that secular
people. just say. why she always put a dollar from her personal "mad-money" in every offering plate. Her response was that she feared the If
embarrassment of being seen not placing anything in the plate!
a pastor's wife of long standing is strongly affected by such pressures." Before they know
it the plate is coming by. and they feel that all eyes are on them.37 view of churches is. "There goes another nut with bumper stickers!"
don't watch Christian television unless Jimmy Swaggert is making another spectacular confession. are almost totally insulated from
. into their hands. Not long ago I asked my wife. it is boredom. "Honk if They They
you love Jesus" they don't feel like praying or repenting. they will bore the secular visitor as well. Is it realistic to
think that a typical Seventh-day Adventist church service would be of much interest to a secular person the first time they walk in? Would it speak to anything of serious concern to them? If the
worship services in your church do not hold the attention of your youth. perhaps 70% of Americans. as part of the family's budget.. "All they want is my money. an Adventist for almost twenty years. The reality is that secular people are almost totally
insulated from Christianity.
They don't read their Bibles or
They don't read tracts that someone may press If they see a bumper sticker that says. listen to sermons. since it had already been tithed. etc.
If you want to know why
secular people are not comfortable in most churches.
suggesting that we have to change everything before we start to reach out to secular people. have our own in-house language. just ask a few unchurched people why they don't go to church. What do you say? And how do you
go about saying it? Seventh-day Adventists are certainly concerned about finishing the work. But we might as well realize that the
typical Adventist worship service will not be attractive to secular people. we will
need to learn how to speak to secular people. their answers will usually fall into one or more of the four categories described above. I occasionally get to preach in a Congregational church. you realize they are not at home with these things. As Adventists we
We have our own special way of
Just the thought of ten secular people
walking in and sitting down in the church would drive the average Adventist pastor to distraction. But if we are serious about it. I
search through my notebook of more than a hundred sermons on general topics and find that there aren't very many that I can preach in that church without a lot of revision.38 everything that we consider normal.
. reasoning to a conclusion. If they feel free
to tell you the truth. When you really get to know I am not
them. But don't take my word for it.
It can be
difficult to find simple words that accurately express serious concepts. and was later popularized by Tony Campolo in the book A Reasonable Faith. The following basic outline was first presented by
theologian Langdon Gilkey in his book Naming the Whirlwind. Nothing is to be ascribed to divine intervention. The word "contingency" describes the belief that
everything in this world happens by cause and effect within the historical cycle. For example. Everything that happens to a person is the result of some other event within history and experience. scientific way the sort of understanding shared by the professionals who have studied how secular people relate to life and its basic issues. In other words. And everything
.CHAPTER THREE DEFINING THE SECULAR How Secular People Think What does it mean to be a secular person? people think? How do secular
At this stage it will be necessary to use a few big
words because they express in an accurate. nothing that happens in this
life needs to be explained in terms of supernatural intervention. The first word that describes how secular people think is "contingency".
rich it is because my parents are rich or because I worked hard. it is because of the way my parents raised me. if I am a bitter If I am
function on a daily basis as though God did not make a significant difference in their lives. He felt that the new astronomy was out of harmony with Scripture. secular people live out their lives within the boundaries of reality as their five senses experience it. Autonomy is based on the Greek words for "law unto oneself.
secular thinking. God is crowded out of that person's existence.
truth is in practice limited to the reality of the five senses. Science has clearly opened our eyes to But the blessings of When a person's view of
reality in ways Luther did not expect. rather than the earth.40 we do causes other things to happen without any supernatural input. In practical terms. therefore. Another term for this way of thinking would be "naturalism.
themselves all the rights and privileges in decision-making that
must take charge of their own lives. We may say otherwise theologically. is called autonomy. But in such a limited reality there is no inherent purpose or If God is not available to direct them people The second major aspect of
meaning in life. science have their dark side for faith." Although we would be slow to admit it." Autonomous people no They retain for
longer sense any need for God's direction. Yet in spite of our respect for Luther I know of no Adventist who would argue as Luther did. The extent of our
modern dependence on scientific method can be seen when we realize that Luther wrote a tract condemning Copernicus' radical view that the sun is the center of the solar system. but in practice most decisions are made more on scientific basis than on what we perceive Scripture to be saying.
or literature. According
to this philosophy. travel. of the interest in the environment these days.) Others may reason that if
they found the right kind of job. for example. and if human
. neither do the answers to my questions or the solutions to my problems. A person may decide. or married the right kind of person. Meaning does not come down from heaven. It is up to me to decide what meaning my life is going
the world is a better place for my children and my grandchildren. The typical secular person also does not look to God or anyone else to determine his or her destiny. Thus secular people are forced to
become autonomous. wasted lives. This explains some If by my action.
music. I must decide what meaning my life will have. to have. Very closely related to autonomy is the concept of relativity. but you can promote ecology for secular as well as Christian reasons. In the grand experience of great art or musical composition they feel transported into a higher plane of existence. or raised beautiful and well-behaved children. By contrast lives that are centered on drugs. crime. a law unto themselves. our third basic concept. that meaning ultimately resides in how I am remembered after I am gone.41 they once assigned to God. Still others seek meaning in art. are considered to be meaningless. than my life has not been lived in vain. (I am certainly not opposed to environmentalism. or the selfish pursuit of personal pleasure at the expense of other people. their lives would be filled with meaning. If there is no supernatural.
and "truth" on the basis of social and economic needs. secular people like to talk about whatever is "right for you. But once a God's active
involvement in human affairs. In this way of thinking. person begins to question. Homosexuality could be wrong for one Sex between consenting
generation. many personal standards lose their primary reason for existence. relativity denies that there are objective
principles that should control the development of society.
All values are relative and any moral system is Rather than speaking
viable only for the group that creates it. hand. then meaning. are no absolutes.
about "truth" or right and wrong. If something is useful or enough people On the other morals and
. What is right for one person Morality is a social contract-
-whatever the group can agree on becomes the basis for judging all behavior within the group.
adults is fine as long as no one is overly shackled by guilt as a result of some quaint notion of morality.
society creates morals. might be wrong for the next person. it can be allowed or even encouraged. values. Church standards were based on
the concept that there is a God who is actively involved in everyday life and who has the right to tell us what to do in even the most personal and intimate areas of our lives. principles.42 beings basically decide their own destiny. even unconsciously. yet acceptable for the next." The power that the principle of relativity has over people's minds is illustrated by the decreasing significance of lifestyle standards among Adventists today. and truth depend on the situation.
To the secular person. This is not an isolated way of thinking. There is no lasting significance to
anything that we do.43 The fourth and final principle is called temporality." This concept is strikingly expressed in a recent
athletic shoe commercial on television. I remember speaking
to an Adventist pastor who said. "You know. It would be nice to be able to genuinely believe in life after death. If temporality is valid.
Temporality expresses the concept that this life is all that there is. He was simply being honest
at that moment about some of the doubts and fears that assail us all at one time or another. shamelessly living off the godly expectations of others. But such questions illustrate the
. but is only wishful thinking. the only part of ourselves that we can be
sure will still be left behind after we're gone is our children." I don't think this pastor was a perverse man. "Life is short. we live for a short time. you wonder sometimes if everything is really going to end up the way we say it is. then
ultimately whatever a person chooses to do is all right as long as he or she doesn't seem to hurt anyone. I sure
But ultimately. it is advisable in this life to "get all the gusto you can. belief in the afterlife is an attrac-
tive concept. but the secular person mourns the lack of any solid
scientific evidence for it. then we pass on. play hard." Temporality means that we arrive on this earth.
Since this life is all that such a
person can be sure of. there are no rewards or punishments after the close of earthly consciousness. hope so. conjured up by those who cannot face the fears and anxieties related to death and dying.
of course. That
diversity. any more than you do. As will become obvious in Part Three. I should probably avoid leaving the impression that all
secular people think exactly alike. is the inevitable consequence of autonomy and relativity. where 85% The
believe in God but 70% don't go to church. Ninety-four percent (94%) of Americans may In Australia. The secular person may believe in God. While these are the four basic presuppositions by which
secular people face the issues of life.
of the people say they believe in God--96% don't go to church!
secular person is not an atheist. A secular person is certainly not
an atheist. and certainly doesn't use these terms to describe them. the average person on the street rarely thinks about these things. yet is not
continually conscious of God's involvement in the practical matters of everyday life. secular people are as diverse as snowflakes even though there are some common patterns in the way they think. he or she is simply someone for whom religion has become irrelevant at the practical level of everyday experience. If each person strives for meaning and determines
principles of thinking have been handed down to our generation as an unconscious legacy which affects the way we face life in America as we approach the 21st century.44 extent to which the secular mindset affects even those whose lifework is dedicated to the advancement of the biblical approach to life. someone who has consciously rejected religion in the ultimate sense.
Recent research by the Office of Human Relations
discovered that women make up more than 75% of the entire membership of some conferences.
the typical SDA church located away from one of our institutions. What Kind of People Become Secular? What type of person is more likely to become secular? type is more likely to maintain faith? What
What characteristics place All other things Observe
one under the umbrella of secular influence?
being equal. As
a result the majority of my baptisms have been men. I can think of churches of as many as a
hundred members that include only one or two fully committed men. I have sought to make reaching men a priority throughout my ministry. Perhaps a brief example will help. men are generally being turned off. The rest were there because of their families or for some other social reason. males may need to become a conscious priority.45 values for themselves.
Without seeking to
neglect the spiritual needs of women in my congregation. and was
. I tried to visit an
elderly shut-in member of one of my churches every couple of months even though she lived with her son fifty miles away. and usually young men. The son had
resisted all attempts at his soul for thirty years. men are more likely to be secular than women. But at times it required breaking the ministerial mold.
we approach people. Now I am certainly thankful for every But somehow in the way Targeting
woman who has responded to the call of God. there will be great diversity of belief and lifestyle among secular people. Among the adults such a church will often consist of two-thirds to three-quarters women.
I mentioned that I didn't have a TV and
would he enjoy it if I came some Sunday afternoon and combined a visit to his mother with a football game? contain his enthusiasm. He seemed hardly able to
then I visited his mother and went home. On my next visit. When the day came he had ordered snacks. people who live in cities are more likely to be secular than those who live in rural areas.46 threatening to sue the conference over their handling of his mother's trust account. I have rarely felt so honored as I did that day. Again one can verify this
proposition by a look at the typical Adventist church outside our educational institutions. and set up a special chair for "his pastor." We enjoyed the game. he broke down in tears. All other things being equal. All other things being equal. Well-educated people are more likely to be secular
than the poorly educated. liked football. not realizing what had happened in his mind that day. Adventist shell. Somehow the man who had driven fifty miles to
watch a football game with him could now be trusted with his true feelings. he asked if I
could spend a little time with him after I had visited his mother downstairs. When I came up.
. young people are more likely to be secular than elderly people. I was unable to make a dent in his anti-
One day on a sudden impression I asked if he He did. I
wonder how many men I have turned off because I was to busy to share in their "trivial" pursuits. and especially his fear of where he would end up in the afterlife. non-alcoholic drinks. sharing his
fears for the future.
47 The rich are far more likely to be secular than the poor. This is partly true, at least, because the rich are in a position to take care of their own needs to a large degree and may not feel a need for God. But wealth also provides access to options and
opportunities, such as travel, that expose one to a variety of secular influences. People who travel a lot--who speak in Australia one week, California the next, and teach in Michigan the rest of the time-are more likely to be secular than those who spend a lifetime in a single locality. Why is this the case? Because travel, much like
education, brings you into contact with a wide variety of people and a wide variety of ideas. To use a simple illustration, in The reaction of
Europe they have latches instead of doorknobs.
many first-time American visitors to latches is, "Boy, these people are stupid, don't they know how to make a doorknob?" while you discover that latches are very useful. Then after a
If your arms are Try
filled with packages, you can open the door with your elbow. doing that with a doorknob!
After a while you are no longer so
sure that the American way of opening doors is all that great anymore. This is an everyday illustration of how it becomes
increasingly difficult to hold strong convictions in the face of a wide variety of claims to truth. For similar reasons, people who are constantly in the public eye are far more likely to be secular than are people who live secluded lives. ideas! Hermits do not get exposed to many different
We will notice that one of the best ways to maintain faith
48 in a secular world is to schedule periods of "derived seclusion," otherwise known as devotional time, where the spiritual batteries can get recharged for the battle of life. even more than most. People who work in factories, by the same token, are more likely to be secular than people who work in agriculture. On the Public people need this
other hand, people who work in information industries--bankers, computer programmers, teachers, etc. are far more likely to be secular than someone who works in manufacturing. Unless drastic
measures are taken to prevent it, a mobile, public person who works in an information industry is marked for secularization. following table which summarizes the above discussion. Note the
================================================================== FIGURE ONE Secular Religious
4444444444444444444444444444;4444444444444444444444444444444 male 5 female 5 young 5 old 5 urban 5 rural 5 well-educated 5 poorly educated 5 rich 5 poor 5 mobile 5 stationary 5 public 5 secluded 5 industrial 5 agricultural 5 information 5 manufacturing
49 Most people, obviously, do not fit one side or the other of this profile exactly. side of the profile. There are many godly pastors on the secular On the other hand, many secular people fit The
the more religious side of the profile to a large degree.
purpose of these comparisons is to identify the kinds of people who are more exposed to secular influences than most. more aware of how secular thinking impacts on As we become our lives as
Christians, we are better able to deal with the challenges of secularization in a constructive way.
CHAPTER FOUR BECOMING SECULAR How Society Secularizes People Why is it that males tend to be more secular than females? Why is it urban people tend to be more secular than rural people? Why is it that public people tend to be more secular than people who live secluded lives? It is because people on the left side of
the last chapter's profile are more exposed to the forces that secularize people than are those on the right side, all other things being equal. What influences in society cause people to Three predominant influences can be
become increasingly secular?
identified. These are scientific reason, pluralism, and privatization. First, and perhaps foremost, is scientific reason. In the
world we live in today most people make decisions and solve problems on the basis of what we would call science and scientific method. You observe a situation. You gather information about it.
You talk to other people who have experience in similar situations. You may formulate an explanation for what you see and try to experiment with some possible solutions to the problem you face. In the end you put all the information together and you make a decision. Whether you knew it or not, the process that you went The
through in making that decision is known as scientific method. 50
scientific way of reasoning affects everything we do and everything we believe. This is not the way people solved problems in biblical times. When Daniel and his three friends faced an information deficit, their first thought was prayer, not research. Instead of getting
the "think tank" together, and interviewing other wise men to see what kind of information might help them satisfy the king, they went immediately to their knees. Now this is not to put down the tremendous benefits that have come to us as a result of a scientific approach to problems. The
problem is, however, that science cannot deal with the supernatural, it can only operate within the realm of what can be observed with our natural senses. It, therefore, has a natural bias toward
explaining what happens in life as though God either didn't exist, or is uninvolved in the natural processes of life on earth. Since
science has rightly demonstrated that many phenomena once assumed to be the action of God can be explained in natural terms, the increasing credibility of science in the world has led to a corresponding lessening in the credibility of religion. Let me illustrate with an analogy drawn from small-town America in the 19th-century Midwest. In such an Anglo-German
setting one would expect a Lutheran church on one side of the town square and a Methodist church on the other. Let us imagine the
people in town were feuding over which church more accurately reflected the will of God. One night lightning strikes the What is everybody in
Methodist church and burns it to the ground. 51
believe that beyond what you can see.
people sense the absence of God and increasingly live as though He did not matter. What was once ascribed
to God can now be explained in terms of natural cause and effect. "contingency. Although we all make use of science every day.
When a cosmonaut circles the earth and says. what you can hear. That is reality. there are other realities that transcend the five senses. smell. it makes faith explanations less convincing than they used to be. there is a clash between the scientific world view and the
Christian one. and taste. didn't He?"
explain everything that happened on the basis of God's direct intervention. What. and hear. secular people see no difference between the two." As God is more and more removed from everyday life. would happen to the faith of those
people when they discover that a little piece of metal placed on top of that Methodist church would have deflected the wrath of God and prevented the church from burning down? Because science often
"works" when faith seems to have failed.town thinking the next day?
"Looks like God put His word in and It was natural at that time to
settled the matter. The main difference between religion and science is the difference between truth and reality. and touch. what you can taste. reality are the same thing. What do we mean by reality? Truth and Reality
is what the five senses can perceive: what you can see. and touch. and smell. however. But Christians believe that truth is bigger than reality. "I
. Being raised in a scientific world.
A second major secularizing influence is called pluralism.didn't see God or angels up there.
When we are with people
that believe as we do it supports and encourages our faith.
is not to suggest that Christians need to go back to a prescientific world. Pluralism means that there are many different religious persuasions in society. retreats have become so popular today. none of them dominant. So scientific This
reason leads to a lessening of faith in society as a whole. such is neither possible nor practical. but also the psychological and social sciences). "Praise the Lord. basically believes the same things. The more that people rely on science in their daily lives. In nineteenth-century America
it was much easier to develop and maintain faith than it is today. you experience the invigoration of a unified belief environment. Everyone around you
When you meet someone on the
road you say "Happy Sabbath" and the other person replies. the more difficult it is to maintain a truth that transcends. (and I mean science in the broadest sense--not just the physical sciences." he is denying truth on the basis of perceived reality." What
Another human being has affirmed your That is why
faith and your faith becomes stronger as a result. 53
. But we
need to recognize the powerful impact on faith that scientific reason has had and continues to have in the Western world and increasingly throughout the entire world. Nineteenth-century America was a lot like campmeeting--when you come out of your cabin on campmeeting weekend. it's a beautiful day isn't it? happens at that moment? Beautiful Sabbath.
it exposes you to a wide variety of options to explain most things in life.Contrast the campmeeting experience with what happens to faith out in the secular world. all other things being equal. The concept of pluralism explains why higher education is often destructive of faith. Education is not evil in itself. If you
represent thirteen different religions. "Happy Sabbath" they might reply. But the down-side of education is that
being constantly bombarded with different ideas will inevitably weaken faith unless drastic measures are instituted to maintain it. In a mere three weeks they
have been overwhelmed with a universe of ideas they had never before been exposed to. The pastor who has been
to the seminary is able to effectively reach a greater variety of people both inside and outside the church than one who hasn't. but it is certainly a two-edged sword. crumbled and gone.
were to say. he can usually do little for them after that. A pastor friend located near a great secular university
told me that unless he gets into the dorms and contacts Adventist students within the first three weeks after they arrive. The first twelve people you meet may Or non-religions. "Huh? Sabbath?"
Such constant interaction with conflicting ideas has an
erosive effect on faith. 54 This lack of support produces In three weeks their faith has already
. The positive side of
education is that it broadens your horizons and makes you better able to reach different classes of people. Pluralism means that there is little or no social support for your faith in society as a whole.
The third major influence that produces secularization is called privatization. religion and politics. Public people are constantly being exposed to other people and their ideas.
The more ideas you are exposed to the more
difficult it is to be certain that your favorite idea is the right one. Mobile people are constantly running into new ways of thinking and of doing things. Urban people are
constantly rubbing shoulders with all kinds of ideas and expressions. There is
certainly little evidence that most secular people listen to Christian radio or watch Christian television. Young people. but providing spiritual reinforcement for people who otherwise live in a secular environment. the more difficult it is to maintain faith.
is confined more and more to people's private lives and experiences. "There are two things
you don't discuss in public. Christian media can provide the "campmeeting" atmosphere for people who are already religious." Religion only makes the news when it has become a matter of secular interest: a pastor slept with the wrong person. People may watch and listen
to reinforce their views rather than to learn new ones. of course. are more open to new ideas than The more that our life experiences expose us to
are the elderly. A familiar saying comes to mind here. Privatization means that it is increasingly Religion
considered inappropriate to discuss religion in public.religious uncertainty.
various ideas. This explains why certain classes of people tend to be more
secular than others. or stole something out of the 55
. But in a pluralis-
tic age. It may be that the main function of Christian radio and television is not evangelism.
offering plate. You don't talk about religion in public. I have He is the
given my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. matter. better known as "Dr.
center of my life and deserves the credit for every good thing I have done both on and off the court." As he was still dripping sweat from the game. He seized his only chance to reach the millions who
thought of him as a hero and role-model and offer the message that life is not in basketball. live on national television. "What is the source of your personal strength? What kind of support system enables you to not
only be a great athlete. Julius Erving. And I have not seen a live interview of Julius
Erving on television since!
But religion as such is considered a private
I'll never forget the NBA championship series of a few years ago.
But even more important." He went on for some time on this theme to the obvious The network could do nothing about At that
discomfort of the interviewer. it!
It was live television and editing was impossible.
moment Dr. J had transgressed the unwritten norms of secular society. my wife has played in my life. first of all is my family. "There are two I give great credit to the role
things. but in Jesus Christ. J. But what he did
was socially unacceptable in secular society. but a gentleman who cares so much about other people?" Without hesitation he responded. The Philadelphia 76s won the series and the television media
rushed to interview their star player.
and economics And this privat-
serve secular goals rather than religious ones." No one
plans to become secular.
People continue to "believe" in some
sense. is a factor that makes faith seem increasingly irrelevant to everyday life. in an age of "secular drift. Whatever the type. Another response to secularization is escape into a group that protects itself by separation from the world.
It is not a major
Politics. Such groups run the
gamut from fairly orthodox Christian "self-supporting" groups to dangerous cults that turn normal people into social and religious zombies.
Religious convictions become unstable and relative. seeming to be merely matters of preference. this moving faith into the closet. the community becomes a refuge of
peace in a messed-up age. player in the public sphere. therefore. We live. drink. education. pluralism. As a result of these trends. and be merry" lifestyle of sports and entertainment become a religion of the self which takes the place of church in a person's life. it usually happens gradually in one's experience. 57
. but without strong convictions and without a spiritual outlet in some organized group experience such as a local church. An "eat.The church no longer dominates society.
ization. One response to secularization (which destroys the relevance of the past and hope for the future) is escape into the present. and privatization
quietly take their toll. Scientific reason. the structures of society provide less and less support for a religious interpretation of life.
its tasks and Prayer and
problems are sufficient to absorb all one's attention. In discrediting superstition. It
crowds out the spiritual aspects of life in the struggle for secular goals. the church often fails to get the attention of the very secular people who are actively seeking spiritual solutions to life's problems.
worship seem like escapes which waste time that could be put to good use transforming society. It makes truth seem relative or irrelevant. rather than revelation. Knowledge is obtained by reason and research. secularization destroys faith in a number of ways. And secular evangelistic meetings 58
. secularization has bettered the lives of many. sets their own goals. the most persuasive evangelist that ever lived is preaching a secular message. and look to God for neither support nor judgment. and toleration. Secularization in itself is a fairly neutral thing. Furthermore.The most typical response to secular drift is to plunge into the world as it is. If this world is all there is. Is there any way to avoid the forces of secularization without falling into the trap of denying or escaping reality? saturated age it is extremely difficult. But on the negative side. Secular people seek to create
their own values. since secularization has removed the
church from the center of life in most places. In a media-
Although secularism is
not a denomination. it has made it more difficult for people to hide from their true needs by means of religious systems that deny reality. by fostering education. science. including Christians. On the
and violence. Country living is not what it used to be
because of the media and related influences. Bring a television into a country
setting and the kids grow up with all the latest ideas. and the powerful
exposure to ideas that used to be available only to those on the left side of the profile. But every morning I watched about 20 kids vandalize my yard while waiting for the school bus. Many people are concerned about the sex and violence on television.
I translated 2 Samuel 7-21 David's court was
It was mind-boggling. talking about the visual medium of television. the mobility. TV is the most powerful agent of secularization. fashions. So I moved out of New York City
into a little town of 300 people. and rape.
television scientific reasoning. The sex
and the violence in the Bible illustrate the consequences of opposing God or living contrary to His laws. drugs. and the privatization of religion bombard homes everywhere. 59 The real problem with
. But there is a major difference between the Bible and TV. But there is plenty of
sex and violence in the Bible as well. the urban environment. Adventists used to teach
that it is necessary to move out into the country to get away from the evil influences of society. And these are valid concerns. Television can provide. Television has become the "wild card" that can bypass aspects of the secular-influence profile charted above. murder. sexual antics. pluralism.have been held in nearly every Seventh-day Adventist home. from Hebrew once. seven miles from the next town. in one's own living room.
saturated with political intrigue.
armored vehicles. not portray life as Christians experience life. skill.
The big problem with television is that it saturates our minds with images of lives in which God does not play a part. We have not as a church taken
Neither am I suggesting that there is some great 60
. but a steady diet of such material sends a subliminal message that a relationship with God is not relevant to life and its problems. churched or not!
one thing MacGyver doesn't need to do. such a stand. and luck. With botanical insight he
creates explosive and poisonous weapons out of plants and wipes out the whole bunch without sustaining so much as a scratch! Now this
may all be innocent fun in a way. because he has ingenuity. I am not suggesting that all Adventists must remove the television set from their homes. and so would most people. I remember turning on the The
TV in a motel once and seeing a program called "MacGyver.
When was the
last time anybody prayed and got an answer on prime-time television? When did anyone pay tithe to acknowledge God's ownership of When was witnessing portrayed as a positive and The major shaper of philosophy But it does
valuable part of a person's life?
in our world today is a little box in people's homes. skill."
unarmed hero is being chased through the back country of Montana by eight Arab terrorists armed to the teeth with machine guns. and some luck on his side.television is that it glorifies life apart from God. and rockets. If I were in his shoes I would pray That is the
are not solved by prayer and the study of the Scriptures but by human ingenuity.
The first step in the process of secular drift occurs in the private prayer life. private prayer is the
ultimate personal barometer of spiritual commitment. Especially if
your profile indicates that you are vulnerable to secularization.
portrays normal life as its secular creators perceive normal life. you need to ask yourself what kind of impact your entertainment style is having on your faith. Most Adventists DRIFT They may but
out of the church gradually over a period of time. For convenience we will call the process by
which an Adventist moves from deep commitment to secular detachment secular drift. continue to believe the basic teachings of the
church. you are in great danger of drifting into secular ways of living and thinking. How Adventists Become Secular Before we begin to talk about solutions to the problem of secularization. But every Christian needs to be aware that whatever gets your attention gets YOU. As with gaining
weight and growing up secularization does not normally happen overnight.Hollywood conspiracy to pervert our morals. it may be helpful to look specifically at the process by which an Adventist can become secular. In its very secrecy. Adventists rarely just get up one day and walk out of the church. Prayer is the first thing to go. If you spend more time with the television set
than you do in worship and Bible study. it is usually a lengthy process.
progressively become less and less involved in religious matters on a day-to-day basis. and even pastors are not immune to secular 61
few Adventists do not admit to at least some struggles in this area. it tends to have less and less personal significance. when no one else is looking.
The most immediate impact How many of us can
of secularization is felt in the prayer life.drift. "My While
husband hasn't prayed in twenty years except in public. The third step in secular drift occurs when personal standards ob behavior begin to erode. Don't think that an uphill battle for It is a consequence
a meaningful devotional life is unique to you. Meaningful personal study and prayer can
become absent from a person's life for years and yet no one else knows. we walk as closely with God as our public profession might indicate? The next area affected is usually the study life. but your spouse will notice. it is not His normal procedure. although for some. Bible study can continue for a long time in the absence of prayer. I have had pastor's wives tell me.
To be candid.
sends up its first public signal when personal standards begin to 62
. except maybe a spouse. Although He has occasionally done Spiritual distress
that for me."
such cases may be extreme. This step may be the first that anyone It is virtually impossible to detect
that someone else is struggling in the inward spiritual life unless God chooses to reveal it to you. The pastor may well be the last one
to know that an elder's personal walk with God is a thing of the past. of being Adventist in a secular world. especially pastors.
say that in our private lives. It is simply something one does as a ritual or because it is part of a job description. But while Bible study may continue in
it tends to be a red flag that screams out.
I realize that standards are a big issue right now in the
church and I do not wish to address the issue of which standards are appropriately enforced in a local church and which are not.slip. "I'm in spiritual trouble. it's such a beautiful day. You wake up one Sabbath and say. The point I am seeking to make is
that whenever there is a significant change in personal standards it can flag the presence of secular drift. I have learned from experience that when
a person has believed for years that they should not wear a wedding ring and one Sabbath shows up with one. This does
not suggest that the wearing of a wedding ring is inherently related to spiritual difficulty. The fourth step tends to be slippage in church attendance. "Oh." good reason to skip church. and suddenly acts in a contrary manner. But as a pastor I have discovered that when a person has believed for a long time that a particular action is wrong. Now you may on occasion have a very But as part of the process of secular 63
. it is often an indication that the individual is in serious spiritual difficulty." Let me use a controversial issue among us just to make a point. let's go to the mountains. Although the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not enforce
any standard against the wearing of wedding rings. many Adventists sincerely believe that a wedding ring is not in harmony with God's will for them personally. social drinking. Other early warning
signs of secularization can include such areas as the way one relates to the tithe. and choices in entertainment.
to doubt the afterlife. it is just seems to be more trouble than it is worth.
indication that the earlier steps in the process have become quite advanced. Nobody can tell me
what to do. You pick up the Bible and it is as if a voice in your After a while you don't even
head is saying."
The most interesting thing about this aspect of
secularization is that it is often seen most strongly in groups that are sometimes characterized as "right wing. In spite of this denial such groups tend to manifest some of
the same consequences of secularization as their more "left-wing" counterparts. This is a book like any other book. for example. The sixth and final step in the process of secular drift is an increasing distrust of institutions. but "right-wing" 64
. The fifth step in becoming secular is to begin to doubt the Bible itself. Slippage in attendance is usually quite gradual.drift. and then you start coming only every other month and then finally. which leads us away from God and a believing relationship with His Word. This includes a lack of
loyalty to religious institutions of any kind. Either extreme may signal dnager.
That is the result of the natural influence of our society. "No one can tell me what to believe. then it's twice a month. the institutions and authority structures of the Seventh-day Adventist church." groups which would be quick to deny that secularism could have any impact on them." That is secularism. First
you miss once a month. miss it. "What are you reading this for. to doubt whether there really is a God. it's just ink on a page.
what that president said was true. the less you are aware of secular 65
. in their
increasing distrust of Adventist institutions. hampering our ability to fly together.
The scary thing is.
the most conservative people now tolerate truly bizarre behavior in the name of truth. desk." It was as if I had pressed a button: he shot up in the You listen to this guy! He
air and said. In my experience.Christians are usually either less aware of it or less willing to admit it. and largely preventing a positive influence on the world." on like this for about half an hour. Since I brought the subject up. I'll never forget the pastors' conference where I was speaking on this subject and the President of the conference was sitting to one side of the group. I made the comment. "I'll bet that your
President doesn't feel like he gets half the respect from you that he gave to his conference president when he started out in the ministry. "You listen to this guy! knows what he's talking about! go through. all affected by secularization regardless of our We are
preferences. I might as well say that
I believe every church needs two wings to fly--a left wing and a right wing! The point I am attempting to make is that. Satan has subtly spun his web of secularism in
both "wings" of the church. Hate!
You wouldn't believe what I have to
You wouldn't believe the mail that comes across my Hate! Hate! And often in four-letter words! And
from people who pride themselves in their conservatism. the so-called rightwing Adventist groups betray that they are far from immune to the influence of secularization.
whether one recognizes it or not. if a person is embittered
altered or even reversed. What I have shared here is the most typical order in
which the process occurs. In special circumstances the order may be For example. the philosophical products of the secularization process. it has not only made it more difficult for us to communicate with those who are not Adventists in our communities. it has sapped our own faith as well. not just the so-called "backsliders.drift. People often tell me that my description of secularism and secular people sounds a great deal like most Adventists today. the more spiritually dangerous it becomes. Now secular drift does not always take place in the exact order described above. On the other hand.
. attendance and loyalty may be affected immediately while prayer. secularism has wounded us more than once. study. and standards linger on for a great while. a young person newly exposed
to a secular university may abandon the entire spiritual life in such a brief time that the very levels of secular drift can hardly be discerned. If so. perhaps even a lifetime. the more you suspect that Adventists may be more secularized than the average Christian. and relativity. usually over a fairly lengthy period of time. autonomy.
But the more you become acquainted with
Bible-believing Christians of other faiths." I have never intended a
deliberate comparison. is the natural outgrowth of contingency.
by some real or perceived action on the part of a church institution.
been extremely damaging to individual faith. We ourselves often feel that we are losing 67
are crying out more and more for a living walk with God. touch the heart. Second. to this day Adventist distinctives tend to get more emphasis in most circles than does a living relationship with God.In the previous century Adventists saw themselves as a reform movement within the larger Christian church. this worked out But by the year 1888 this
reasonably well for a generation. A doctrinal construct by itself may not
In Part Two I will try to offer some helpful
insights in how to activate and personalize our walk with God in a secular world. it has made it more difficult to communicate what we It has hurt our evangelistic impact in the
believe to others. And in
spite of the power of the message that was born in Minneapolis in 1888.
approach resulted in an entire generation of Adventists who knew the arguments but were losing touch with a personal God. First. it has. therefore. So their emphasis was on assembling logical and reasonable
arguments that would persuade people intellectually that they needed to pursue their spirituality along different lines than they had previously. We may summarize the first part of the book by noting that the secular worldview has hurt Adventists in at least three distinct ways. In a world full of Christians. Most of the people
they worked with did not need an emphasis on Christian spirituality.
Adventists. In a secular world an intellectual faith is no longer
sufficient to guard against secular drift.
world. for a taste of His presence. as we have noticed.
it has resulted in great frustration Being an administrator
to the Adventist organizational structure. One's best attempts just aren't good enough anymore.
neither gifted nor experienced in administration. You cannot share what you do not have. section in the Appendix to this book offers some
suggestions on how to more effectively administer the church in a secular world. And it is secular-
ization that has clipped the church's wings so that it works against itself.
in the Adventist church today is.
And third. the administrative consequences of recent
Nevertheless. if you'll forgive the expression. my study and experimentation has A
raised ideas that may be helpful to those in administration. I hesitate to say a great deal about developments. Part Three goes on Because I am
to discuss how to share faith in a secular world.our way with God. but
everything attempted only seems to make the situation worse.
. a hellish experience. A president dreams of a finished work. Part Two moves us now into a discussion of the most vital issue facing us as a church. how to maintain faith in a secular world.
KEEPING FAITH IN A SECULAR WORLD
White cites Enoch (Patriarchs and Prophets. Ellen White has some In Prophets and Kings. fascinating suggestions on how Daniel
maintained his faith in that challenging situation. the narratives of how several biblical figures responded to radical faith challenges may help us develop an answer to the above question. Joseph stands alone in a foreign
Patriarchs and Prophets.CHAPTER FIVE
NOT FOR EVERYONE Biblical Examples Our look at the impact of a secular society on Adventist faith forces us to take a careful look at the issue of how one maintains faith in a secular world. How do you maintain a strong relation-
ship with God when your neighbors." and became Prime Minister in the Babylonian court. wrestles with how
Joseph maintained his faith in prison as well as in Pharaoh's court. and your family are all pursuing lives directed primarily by secular interests? Although there was no such thing as a full-fledged secular
environment anywhere on earth in Biblical times. pages 479-490. court. The basic circumstances are the same. yours friends.
situation to Daniel's is that of Joseph in Egypt. it was also extremely hostile. The culture and religion of the
Babylonian court was not only totally foreign to Daniel. Ellen G. Daniel attended the "University of Babylon. pages 213-223. pages 8489) as a particularly interesting example of how to respond to 69
Enoch spent half his time in the What was
mountains and the other half in the valleys and cities. We
noticed in Part One that people who travel a lot and live public lives are far more likely to be secular than those who live stationary. but I use it for lack of a better word to describe the kinds of steps inspiration suggests are necessary in
. Since being a hermit is not a live
option for most of us. He found it needful from time to time
to separate himself from that society to restore his spiritual vision. The ideal philosophy of life for
those interested in reaching secular people for Christ is what I call "radical conservatism. he doing in the mountains?
He was recharging his spiritual
batteries so that he could come out and deal effectively with the everyday world. he was standing alone for God in a very godless age." I realize that the term "radical" may offend some people."
He was a public person in the valleys.70 challenges to one's faith. Enoch was creating what I like to call "derived seclusion. Enoch moved back and forth between two ages. He was a
person who was able to live in two different horizons at the same time. it becomes necessary for public people to carve out periods of seclusion where they can become re-centered on God. secular ministry.
Radical Conservatism At the risk of being misunderstood I will try to put a label on Enoch's style of ministry. In his particular case it was a mountain horizon and a In his double life Enoch becomes a model for
valley horizon. He repeated this cycle over and over again. secluded lives.
the conservate has to do with how we maintain our faith in the course of that outreach. but it is true because the Bible clearly teaches both sides of the equation. yet He is also 100% Divine. is 100% human. Christ
In terms of pure logic
that is an impossibility. The radical has to do with how we reach out to secular people.71 order for us to reach out to other cultures. If you concentrate on getting your performance act together. We're saved by faith apart For centuries
logical people have tried without success to resolve this tension in the Scriptures. you may find yourself overlooking some passage on works. you may find yourself boasting more in your accomplishment than in what Christ has done for you. but without logical success. The only way that a committed Life is filled with constant battles of
Seventh-day Adventist can effectively function in the secular world is through a lifestyle of radical conservatism. The
next part explores the radical aspect. sounds like an absolute contradiction in Radical-conservatism terms. It is certain that such battles will only escalate when you seek to reach out to secular people. At this point we need to return to 1 Corinthians 9 because
. this kind. how to conserve and even build up faith in a secular environment. doesn't it?
Actually the Bible is full of apparent contradictions in which both parts of the equation are true and necessary. yet we're not saved without works. This part of the book focuses on the conservative part. how to effectively reach people who find your world to be totally incomprehensible. If you concentrate on faith. For example.
"Paul. "Though I am free from everybody." "to win all the more. not being myself under the law. I make myself everybody's slave. And I must admit the implications of this passage are as
challenging to me as they may be to you. Paul offers in this passage a strategy for winning more souls. Any way you look at it. it is a radical strategy." as many souls as possible. I
wish Paul were here so I could ask him in modern terms. 2 Pet 3:16). I become all things to everybody in order that by all possible means I might save some. In order that I might gain those who are apart from law. 2 Cor 1. Acts 21:17-21. Why does Paul do it? "For the
sake of the Gospel.2. To those who are under the law." No doubt it was statements like this that got Paul in a lot of trouble from time to time (cf. I become like one apart from law. To those apart from law. I become like a Jew in order that I might win the Jews. not being myself apart from the law of God but rather under the law of Christ. in order that I might win all the more. Paul was an example
of a radical-conservative. for reaching more kinds of people. To the weak I become weak in order that I might win the weak.72 that is the key Biblical text for our topic. The radical part comes in verses 19-23. I become like one under the law. what did you mean about 'being all things to everybody?' How does a
Seventh-day Adventist Christian relate to such a text in the contemporary world?"
. in order that I might win those who are under the law. I do all these things for the sake of the Gospel in order that I might become a partaker in these things. To the Jews.
reached out to us in our own world. was to set up a serious barrier between us. "I just went to visit one of my old friends in California. drugs function in much the same way that coffee does elsewhere in American society. hadn't. he said." 1 Cor 9:19-23. why would a Christian place himself or herself in even greater danger in the attempt to reach out to others trapped in that secular way of life? Paul's answer
is clear: "I do all these things for the sake of the Gospel. Paul have advised me to take it? everyone' really mean?
What does 'all things to
You have to understand that to refuse an
offer like that. Like so many Would
times before he offered me a reefer (marijuana cigarette). it fuels the conversation. in Would Paul have accepted?" (Clifton
Given the spiritual danger that lurks
everywhere in the secular world.73 As I was discussing this text in class one day a student raised his hand. became one of
us. His name was Clifton Davis. a world that was hostile to
. The gospel is the message that Jesus Christ did not
remain in the isolation of His comfortable heavenly neighborhood.) My purpose in mentioning this story is to illustrate how following Paul's counsel will sometimes put the Christian delicate circumstances. a converted Hollywood
actor whom I grew to appreciate a great deal as a human being. So this friend invites me to join him in the back room behind his operation. When I acknowledged his signal. You have to understand that in
much of Hollywood society. waiting for us to rescue ourselves. given our past relationship. It sets the context for relationship. He came down.
visiting places." I illustrate this tension by means of the term "radical conservatism. but at a more secular audience." he seeks to bring to the lost the great blessings which Christ had brought to him. devotions. and a consistent Christian lifestyle. An excellent example is the television ministry "Faith for Today" which produces the Adventist program Lifestyle Magazine. he is compelled to go. when we go out to do secular ministry we will inevitably be facing difficult choices. in 1 Cor 9 he calls
on Christians to follow his example of reaching out to the lost in "radical" ways." It is inevitable that the person seeking to minister to secular people within an Adventist context will be misunderstood.
through faith. have done for ourselves. to get our own spiritual house in order. Faith for Today has great difficulty raising funds from Adventists because the program is aimed not at the Adventist audience. On the one hand is the critical need." On the other hand. I use the term "radical conservatism" because it illustrates well the tension that outreach to secular society creates in the life of a true Christian. Lifestyle Magazine seeks to approach secular
. In light of the great salvation he had Thus. It
is hard to do that without being labeled "liberal" or "left wing. and doing things that might make conservative Christians uncomfortable. A settled focus in that
direction often attracts the label "conservative" or "right wing. He thereby did for us what we could never When Paul acts "for the sake of the
gospel.74 everything He stood for.
I don't touch the stuff
However. I got a headache almost instantly and it stayed with me in each case for a long time.
The crucial point of this section of
the book is that reaching out to people in the secular environment is an activity that can place the Christian at risk. Every day And And because the Bible makes clear that it
in the secular world you are faced with unpleasant choices.75 people where they are. neighbors. So. to make a difference among secular friends. Ministry in a secular context is dangerous to your Because of this I must make clear at this point: Not every Christian should seek to make
spiritual health. the few
times in my life when I--whether by accident or knowingly--have drunk some coffee. Many Adventists had better stay "in house" for their soul's sake and leave it at that. however.
I absolutely hate coffee. In so doing. be taken seriously. and family.
a major difference for Christ in radical ministry to a secular world. The conservative reaction against secular ministry must. Faith for Today often
finds it difficult not to alienate its own financial support base. needs to be done. anyplace. Why bother to write this book then?
Because thousands of SDAs have felt the call to make a difference in the secular world.
it is not for everybody. I also realize that coffee And I know that at
has become the fuel of secular relationships. I must level
with you on this point. by choice--anytime.
times refusing a cup of coffee has created a barrier in a relation-
however. Secular ministry can be a very frightening thing. and I intend to level with you throughout this book. they are rarely easy choices.
76 ship that I was never fully able to overcome. I have met people
who are more skilled than I am at declining things so graciously that it doesn't seem to cause any trouble. Did she maintain all the standards of the "church" while living as the queen? Definitely not. but their responses were quite different. The next morning instead of going
back to the house of the virgins. but even they confess that knowing what to do in such situations is always a challenge. she goes to the house of the concubines.
understand that you sometimes have to alter Biblical stories a little to protect the innocent. She was probably beautiful also. And the king is surprised to learn many years later that she was a
. A rather scary Biblical example is the story of Esther. decisions. Please do not confuse Esther with Daniel. But in
the secular world we are more often faced with choices between two evils or two goods. The
Hebrew clearly says that on her contest date she left the house of the virgins to see the king. The circumstances were While I can Such times require tough and courageous
similar. but the
king could have determined that without spending the night. How do we know? Mordecai
had commanded her not to reveal her faith to anyone in the court. I am a little disappointed that I had to read the book of Esther in the Hebrew before I realized that she didn't become queen as the result of a beauty contest. Do you follow what was going on there? Esther earned
the queenship by a one night stand with the king--she was better than anybody else in bed. Life is simplest when we can choose between good and evil.
Many SDAs are very critical of Clifton Davis for returning to Hollywood. faith. And God can
sometimes use methods that we couldn't use to reach people that we couldn't reach. Please don't misunder-
The point I am making here is
that God sometimes has agendas that we don't fully understand. Esther wasn't keeping Sabbaths. Now I am certainly not writing this book in order to tell everyone to go out and do what Esther did. Research indicates that an obsession with Barbie dolls in childhood is probably tied in with low self-esteem in teen-age
would keep the Sabbath. But when I
see the example of Esther.
You would live differently. as Daniel did. and exposing himself to the dangers there. eat differently. You could not practice the Jewish lifestyle in the court of You would You
Persia without being known any more than Daniel could. and more tolerant than we are. experience. I have to confess that sometimes God is bigger than we are. wouldn't you say? There are
reasons. In a practical sense she had given up the
But perhaps the most troubling thing about it is that there
is not a word in the book of Esther that condemns her for doing so. but it was some pretty heavy stuff the first time I noticed these things. I find all this most challenging in my own
I am a very conservative Adventist by nature--I don't
even let my daughters play with Barbie dolls although all their friends do. That's conservative.77 Jew. stand me. she wasn't eating as a Jew eats. The opposite is the case. I don't know how this affects
you. she is described as being in the place where God wanted her to be when the time was right. Instead.
anything that makes us rebel against the way God made us. but to get at the kinds of conservative attitudes and practices that are mandatory to the success of secular outreach. we haven't had one for the nearly twenty years my wife and I have been married. read 1 Cor 9:19-23 out of context. is not to understand the radical part of Paul's counsel. very radical. and use methods.78 girls. that is the opposite of what I intend. The purpose of this part of the book. however.
We must be extremely careful in the implementation But Part Three of this book offers some tested
of his counsel. And that
I believe that everyone I protest at
that God made is beautiful in at least some way. It is spiritually dangerous to In verses 24-27 Paul makes it
crystal clear that secular ministry is as dangerous to spirituality as anything gets. Kids growing up with Barbie as an ideal have trouble being satisfied with the "imperfections" of their own bodies. I'm a conservative guy. Verse 24-25:
. In 1 Cor 9 Paul is outlining something very. after all nobody is anatomically constructed quite like Barbie. that we would not even dream of at times. we And
need to understand that God is BIGGER than our narrow horizon.
that God can use people. But we Adventists need to broaden our vision. My family does not have a television in the house.
ideas on how to implement Paul's counsel within an Adventist context and with the result of reaching greater numbers of people. I am probably going to ridiculous
lengths to make this point because I don't want to be understood as destroying the foundations of Adventism. can create other problems in later life.
will not work." Now the perishable crown Paul was talking about was the laurel wreath that was placed over the heads of the winners at the Olympics--it was the ancient version of a gold medal.79 "Don't you know that those who run in the stadium all run." What is Paul's point? If athletes can
exercise self-control to such an extent for a gold medal. run. Athletes do it to receive a perishable crown but we are striving for a crown that will never fade. So I give my body a black-eye and make it my slave. But the Christian is
striving for a medal that will never tarnish--a medal that will last for eternity." Paul must have enjoyed sports. who are looking for an eternal crown. everyone who strives athletically." Paul is saying. In this case he is running and boxing. that you might attain. be doing to make sure of our own salvation? the conservative. "All these
athletes. I run. but not uncertainly. So. But. Paul presses the point home in verses 26-27: "Therefore. That is all they will get. but not as one who is beating the air. exercises self-control. it all has a purpose. what should we. "are knocking themselves silly for a gold medal. I box. but only one gets the prize.
outreach to the world of his day Paul became "all things to
. but he isn't just In his So alongside the radical Paul places
You cannot separate the two or secular ministry
shadow-boxing or running in circles. for they often illustrated his points. lest having preached to others I myself should become disqualified for the prize.
need to go into rigorous training. Paul recognized that and said it was essential that those who go out to minister in this way see to their own house. try to understand what's going on. He realized. going on there. Let's see what's
The city draws people in." attracting factor. and people are attracted to it: "Let's go visit that place. but you also learn. There are many people If you are one of
whose soul is at too great a risk to try it. however. you will still be changed by continual encounters with secular people for evangelistic purposes. there is a lot of give and take and you will be changed by it. and their own soul. that it
He realized that evangelism is a twoWhen you are
You not only share. Verse 14 uses a figure of speech to describe the model of
ministry with which Adventists are most familiar: "You are the light of the world. but do not feel obligated to go out and do exactly what Paul did. much as Olympic athletes do. way street. its presence is an
. Two Models of Ministry On account of the dangers in secular ministry it is not surprising that the Bible describes two major models of ministry." A hilltop city is very visible. a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
those people. Though you may never drink a cup of
coffee. was a dangerous thing to do. it is beautiful.80 everybody"--a very radical concept. Certainly not what Esther did!
The two Biblical models for ministry can be found in Matt 5:13-16. read what I have written here.
dealing with secular people. Secular-type ministry is not for everyone. their own body.
Jesus offers more than one model of ministry. the inhabit-
are inside from the dangers outside. While the Seventh-day Adventist Church has. fortress model of ministry." This is the typical Adventist model of outreach. A fortress-city has walls around it to protect those who Every so often. The other model opens up new dimenThat is the
sions of outreach to those who have felt like round pegs in a square hole in some of the more traditional approaches. bring them back in through the gate and slam the door. the Adventist church has functioned as a prophetic beacon to society. so to speak. an
. tended to focus mainly on the fortress model. But as The food tastes better.
ants of such a city may send out the army to conduct a "crusade. if the salt has become tasteless." They open the gates quickly.
It becomes part of the crowd." Matt 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth. text: "You are the salt of the earth.81 This metaphor of ministry is sometimes called the "fortress model. rush out to snatch up a few captives.
a result of that ministry. in the past. Just as
the lighted cities on the hillsides around the Sea of Galilee functioned as beacons guiding those fishing on the lake at night. what happens? The salt has an effect upon the whole.
It is a quiet ministry. But." is this? What kind of ministry model It mingles with the food Notice the
How does salt do its ministry?
and disappears. how will it be salted again? It is not good for anything anymore but just to be thrown out and trampled under foot by people.
underlines If the salt becomes tasteless It can no longer accomplish
outside the walls of protection. because it is
only as the church grows that it can develop the work force necessary to go out and reach the unreached. Both fortress-city and salt models are valid-both of them are needed. mingling with the people where they are.
the same message as 1 Corinthians 9.
means being scattered out there. An
outreach activity that effectively brings in people from certain sectors of society may completely stymie outreach to another
. therefore. Growing the church has progressed significantly. larger than the combined military of both the United States and the former Soviet Union. the gospel must go to all the world as a witness to all nations (Matt 24:14).
It is a valid option. We prefer the There
other model of ministry that Jesus talks about in verse 14. anything by infiltration. But the It is not
other task which must be done is reaching the unreached. One of those tasks is growing the church.
That is what radical conservatism is all about. I'd like to suggest that "finishing the
work" outlined by Jesus' Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) involves two tasks. The SDA Church has
now grown to nearly seven million in numbers. Adventists are not like that by nature.
according to Jesus.
enough simply to grow a big church. But the "salt model" of ministry takes one Matt 5:13. it will no longer function as salt. What adds complexity to the issue is the fact that the two models of ministry can work against each other at times.82 infiltration ministry. is nothing wrong with the fortress model.
Let me illustrate.
. I remember a quiet. That is church growth theory. signaled to me that this was not a good idea. But after some six to eight months. And there is nothing wrong with that. there was no answer to my repeated ringing of the bell. sweet lady in New York City who came out month after month to every outreach meeting our church held. I developed a serious It was
case of ministerial guilt for not visiting her in her home. my car near the neat duplex where she lived. And it works well. I parked
Although every light
was on in the apartment where she lived. Something in the way she
carried herself. everyone better. It was one of
I had violated an unwritten code of secular privacy. Everything that I had been taught suggested that I needed to get into her home as quickly as possible. for A good growth program will
people who are already Christians.83 sector. A little competition makes
But. then make sure you visit them Sunday night right after their first visit to the church service.
time to do what I had been taught was right. She never came to another meeting. make sure you welcome them publicly. as we saw previously.
God's first signals to me that there was more than one right way to do ministry. these very things that
may help grow a church can turn off the secular people who might come.
usually attract Christians from other churches to your church. for example. even though I retained the nagging suspicion that in this case it was not right. however. Church growth theory suggests that it
is crucial to get everyone's name and address at the door.
disagreements. He boasted to Paul about the thousands of Jews in Jerusalem who were observing the law instead of doing all the radical things that Paul seemed to advocate.
put a stop to these rumors about you?" (see Acts 21:17-25) It is seriously inaccurate to suggest that life in the early church was paradise compared to today. Paul and James had real
If one reads Acts 21 carefully in the original
language it becomes clear that when Paul paid his last visit to Jerusalem he was welcomed gladly by only a handful of people. So it was with the early church. "You know." Hawaii is a beautiful
place. ally and the surf isn't always great. "One thing is for sure. but no place could live up to the incredible expectations that people have when they go there. It gets cold there occasionAnd sometimes the fish bite
you (at least it happened to me) and you get scratched by the coral under the sea. there's no place on earth called Paradise.
the other hand. There is no place on earth called Paradise! In my
opinion Paradise is being wherever God wants you to be and making the most of it. Paul. These were probably the remnants of Stephen's ministry as described in Acts 6.84 Paul and James are good examples of these two models of ministry. But the vast majority of believers in Jerusalem were In Acts
hostile to Paul or at least suspicious of his intentions. As I told my wife after our
first and only visit to Hawaii recently. people around here are What are you going to do to
wondering if you're still a Christian. stayed in Jerusalem and kept the fortress together. Paul tried to be "all things to all people." James.
" today. He lived. I will encourage you and you can encourage me. way. his own unique dress code.85 16 and Gal 2 we find that even among the apostles there were tensions.
Elijah dressed in a wild-man's outfit.' the Lord is calling I need you to pray for me and you
me to a 'salt-style ministry.
It may be that we ought to make similar kinds of agreements "You have a 'fortress-style ministry.
He was as comfortable in a king's court as in a While Elisha dressed in ordinary clothes. We have been called to a John the Baptist/James/Elijah That is one option. Elijah was out there in the Elisha
wilderness. lived in town.'
need me to pray for you. Compare Elijah and Elisha. we can say "God has not called us to secular ministry. people everywhere. He went from city to city. He mingled with the people. It is certainly the option
type of ministry. He met them where they were. we
But if God has truly called us to reach all cannot ignore the need to broaden our
drawn to him.
least for a while. eating raven's food. You could say that he had
farmer's dwelling. in Capernaum." We have a choice. drinking mountain water." One can find a similar contrast in ministry styles between Jesus and John the Baptist. John the Baptist lived out in the
He had nobody to preach to unless they were somehow Jesus worked on a different basis. In Gal 2 Paul and James decided to shake hands and go "You do ministry your way and I'll do it my
their separate ways.
It is no coincidence that Adventists
often call our mission the delivery of an "Elijah message."
most familiar to SDAs. wilderness.
volume 3. She advocated separation from the world with a special dress code and so forth. then we broadened it out to include people who had not heard the Millerite message. One could rephrase her As a result. We started out just
ministering to former Adventists. and as Paul outlined it in 1 Cor 9. I wonder if it is not time for
the fifth step--to take the Gospel to the world on its own terms. Not to partake of their ways. following passage absolutely shocked me: "It would be perfectly safe for our youth to enter the colleges of our land if they were converted every day. the fortress-style. They are to be with them. and finally J. as the missionary couple in New Guinea did. N." 3SM 231 Now that sounds like secular ministry to me. Selected Messages. in the world and not of the world. It would not be the first time. Until I read this portion of her writings I
had the impression that Ellen White was interested in only one kind of ministry. but about secular campuses. pages 231-234 contains statements called to my attention fairly recently by a good friend in the General Conference. Although several Adventist colleges had already been established at the time this statement was made (1891).86 approach. not to have a heart open to their customs and practices. then we broadened it out to foreign-language speakers in America. not to be impressed by them. the
statement in contemporary terms: "It would be perfectly safe for
. Their associations are to be for the purpose of drawing others to Christ. Andrews went over to Europe. and the gospel began to go out to the world on our terms. Now shall professed Christians refuse to associate with the unconverted and seek to have no communication with them? No. she was not talking about Adventist colleges.
" later she repeated the call: "Those who have the Spirit of God.
further as published on page 234 of 3 Selected Messages: "There are those who after becoming established. who have the truth wrought into their very beings. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Such a secular ministry is certainly not for everyone." 3SM 233 Perhaps you can now understand the surprise with which I greeted these statements. And yet they will have opportunity to work for the Master by dropping seeds of truth in minds and hearts.87 our youth to enter the secular colleges of our land. and instead of correcting error and diffusing light. however. secular
." I do not want to be misunderstood. these seeds will spring up to bear fruit for the glory of God and will result in the saving of souls. whom she suggests ought to be encouraged to infiltrate secular campuses for Christ. There are selected young people." 3 SM 234 At the risk of repeating myself. I teach at one of our Adventist institutions. rooted. for there is danger that those who have no connection with God will place themselves in these schools. let me say it again.
But that does not mean that selected ones should not be encouraged to go. They can keep the living principles of the truth and observe the Sabbath. I am a strong believer in
Adventist education. and grounded in the truth should enter these institutions of learning as students. Ellen White was keenly aware of this dilemma:
"I scarcely dare present this method of labor. I think that our schools are the best place for most Adventist young people. Selected Adventist youth should be She elaborated on this Four years
ENCOURAGED to enter secular colleges. should be encouraged to enter colleges and live the truth as Daniel and Paul did. those who
have their act together as Seventh-day Adventist Christians. will themselves be led astray.
The last thing I want is for every reader of this book to run out and lose their souls.
. And you may lose your own way in the process. because if you do not have your act together as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. "But this work must be done and it will be done by those who are led and taught of God. . . and many who read this book will be compelled to do it. But before the radical must come the conserva-
tive. your attempts to reach secular people will fail." Paul was compelled to do it. be led astray.88 ministry may be dangerous to your spiritual health." Shall the danger cause us to reject this method of
ministry? Notice how Ellen White's statement continues. Jesus and Elisha
were compelled to do it. Effective
outreach to the secular world must begin in the privacy of one's own walk with God.
with God will place themselves in these schools and. It is not safe unless the person is spiritually prepared "There is danger that those who have no connection
for the ordeal.
If you are as secular as the person you are trying Like cannot elevate
to reach. from one idea to another.CHAPTER SIX
COMMUNICATING WITH GOD How is it possible to maintain faith in a secular world. it is usually even worse at the conference office. It involves coming apart from the world every day for some time with the Lord. from one situation to another. the kind of faith that will result in successful outreach to secularlyminded people? The place to start is in the devotional life. It
is the devotional life that provides the derived seclusion from the secular environment that allows one's spiritual life to flourish. We need desperately to slow down.
need desperately to reflect. please don't try to reach secular people. from one emergency to another.
You cannot help a secular person to find God if you do not Now it may be that in helping someone else 89
know Him for yourself.
have a living relationship with God. If you do not
I am contending here that this is our greatest need. It causes one to wonder why we don't spend more time in
devotion. As we noticed earlier it is weakness in the
devotional life that is the first step on the road of secular drift.
We need desperately to take stock. like. Even pastors spend their
lives running from one thing to another. why the devotional lives of so many Adventists are not more energizing than they are. We tend to live very noisy lives. And
if it is like that in the pastor's study. you are on the same spiritual level.
a selfsupporting institution that may have had little idea of the kinds of concepts discussed in this book. When I was pastoring in New York City in the late seventies and early eighties.
In what follows I would like to offer a number of practical suggestions that have helped me to maintain and develop a living walk with God in the face of the inevitable dangers of secular drift. evangelists and church members who do win secular people succeed because they have a living relationship with God even when they are not aware of the best methods available. in their special way. and although he was somewhat critical because they seemed out of touch with life as he knew it. but they loved the Lord and somehow.
secular-style ministry if you do not have a living relationship with God. down opportunities to witness. I once sent a
hardened street kid up there to deal with some substance abuse problems.
Those ministers. you might find Him for yourself. These suggestions are not primarily gained from the reading of books. they succeeded in reaching selected secular people that nobody else was reaching.90 search for God.
. It will not work. he nevertheless decided to commit himself to Christ and the church because of the spiritual warmth and familial atmosphere of the place. but from personal experimentation and trial. Secular ministry must begin in the devotional room. So don't turn
But never try to develop a radical. A living walk with
God is certainly a basic asset in anyone seeking to reach secular people. I remember a place called Living Springs. They are
offered not as a cut-and-dried formula that everyone must follow.
To be devotionally useful. He needs to be the very
To illustrate in terms of the writings
of Ellen White. Our study lives need to be centered on things that matter. center of our study life.
at one time they were all going to be part of the book Desire of
. I have found it helpful to limit myself devotionally to the books in the Conflict Series (the five books that cover the broad scope of the Biblical story. and Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing. but they may not offer practical guidance for the issues of the household. reading must be
relevant to present experience. the workplace. Steps to Christ. such as Christ's Object Lessons. By
Jesus books I mean those which center on the life and teachings of Christ. running from Patriarchs and Prophets to The Great Controversy) and to the Jesus books. The Study Life It is absolutely essential to Christian experience that the devotional life center on the key issues that affect a person's everyday experience. to things that matter in practical terms.91 but rather as a smorgasbord of ideas from which the reader can
pick and choose as may seem appropriate in his or her individual circumstances. Since a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ is the most
relevant of all spiritual concerns. In fact. To center
What are the greatest concerns and needs in your life?
study on matters of lesser concern would certainly be a mistake. The Ministry of Healing. I would like to suggest that devotional study needs to focus on Jesus. Genealogies and prophecies may be of intense intellectual interest. and the neighborhood.
a book about the parables of Jesus and a book that focused on practical living. devotional life is not the time and place to rush. So Ellen White divided the material
into a book on the life of Christ. The amazing thing to me is that.92 Ages but it just got too big. a book that focused on His healing ministry. As we focus on Jesus. The reason for If you are
this is that people forget what they don't write down.
go no further or faster than you are able to understand what you've been reading. we have a tendency to set secular goals. The first hundred and last hundred pages of Ministry of Healing are. Allow the reading to sink in--let it impact in the
very core of your being. the very best that Ellen White ever wrote. devotional life will be energized. in my opinion. the most important thing is to discern God's voice to you personally. In the process of devotional study. For example. not to accomplish the task of completing a certain amount of pages." In devotional
reading. so be it. I have found it helpful to have some kind of place where you write down the insights that God gives you as part of your devotional experience. or mastering a certain amount of information. a book on the Sermon on the Mount.
. I would say to myself. My personal favorite for devotions is a toss-up between Christ's Object Lessons and Ministry of Healing. If The
Take your time. even in our devotional life. "Let's see how many pages I can read in the next hour. it takes a whole hour to meditate on one sentence. our The best place to develop a
relationship with God is to learn to know Jesus. when I
started out in my devotional life.
to the spiritual insights that result from one's reading. it may even work well to have a laptop computer at your side as you work through your devotions. At times when I How would God want me
have neglected my spiritual diary.93 really into the computer age. however." we rarely stop to Does it make any
think. "What am I really doing from day to day? real difference in the world? leading? children?
Am I sensitive to the Lord's How am I raising my
Is my work effective for the Lord?
Was I the kind of father I wanted to be yesterday. if you don't keep score of your life you will repeat the same errors over and over again. I remember a couple of occasions where my heart was so filled with joy and insight that I grabbed the laptop and spent more than an hour recording insights that I have treasured ever since. or
were there some real flaws in the way I dealt with my children? What are my most important needs right now? to meet them?" Most of us take very little time to reflect on our lives. The new
generation may find laptops a more relevant way to maintain faith than to use a mode (paper and pencil) that is increasingly foreign to the rest of their lives. I can go three to four weeks and not even be aware that I have been exhibiting a nasty temper around the house. you
drift into counter-productive behaviors with the same ease that you
. I have found it extremely meaningful to spend time with what I call a "spiritual diary. But the fact of the matter is. I would not limit devotional note taking. Without regular self-examination." Most of us live "unreflective lives. for example.
bitterness related to Or you may become aware that feelings of home or business are undermining your
usefulness as a Christian. God may impress us that we didn't handle a particular situation very well the previous day. Virtually all the great spiritual giants. Luther. like Wesley. If every day we would take time to sit down
and reflect on the previous day and say. it will benefit some to discover a marvelous side-effect to the keeping of a spiritual diary. kept diaries most of their lives and they are filled with little tidbits of how God had helped them to understand themselves and the world in which they accomplished work for God. When we stop and reflect upon our
lives. "Did I give glory to God?. the workaholic atmosphere most of us live in day by day begins to calm down. (Perhaps someone should write a book entitled All the Things You Ever Wanted to Know About Yourself--But Were Afraid to Ask.
. but we are blinded to ourselves. Since we live in the hurry-up world of the information age." there would be an amazing growth of self-awareness. a letter or word of apology may be in order. We
would begin to see things in ourselves that everyone who knows us can see.94 drift into secularism.) To write down these things in
a diary and to meditate on them is to learn how to see oneself the way God sees us. and Ellen White. and a reorienting of schedule is in order.
A spiritual diary is probably the best
way to prevent oneself from drifting into unproductive behaviors. Or it may become evident that a child or spouse has not
received the kind of attention that they need. Although it may take 45 minutes to an hour.
means share it around--I too will be eager to listen."
struggle with the issue of time. you are probably thinking. A Life of Prayer The prayer life is certainly an area of great difficulty for most Adventists in a secular age. not in terms of a right way or a wrong way to maintain a meaningful prayer life. By
attitude I mean whether or not you are on your knees.
prayer life is not what you would like it to be--and the general silence that usually sets in when I talk about prayer publicly indicates to me that it is an area of great concern for most Adventists--let me share with you what has helped me. When it comes to prayer. but there are no spiritual substitutes for reading and reflection. hour? Of course.000 RPMs down to idle. or raise them up in the air. If you have found a better way to And by all But if your
commune effectively with God. "Who's got an I would be the first to admit that I
I certainly don't. These kinds of
things are more cultural than they are specified in terms of God's absolute will. but in terms of practices that have helped me a great deal. whether your eyes are open or shut. Although they take
precious time.95 the brain waves slow perceptibly from the usual 10. whether you fold your hands or put them behind your back. I would like to share some ideas
in this area. praise the Lord for it. Taking the time to reflect on the past 24
hours and on what God is doing in your life can really stop you in your tracks. I am a pragmatist--if it
. It really works. The attitude in prayer has varied through the ages. they are worth every minute.
or it could even be a picture of Jesus. with my eyes open!
To me that has made all the difference. my mind is off in all kinds of directions and fifteen minutes later I realize that I have been in another universe for fifteen minutes. use it. but the
minute I close my eyes and try to pray. you'll discover that many people prayed with their eyes open.96 works. It could be the carpet. or the pattern in the
material of a couch. God is interested above all else in communicating with us. I sometimes totally
If I didn't know that many people have
the same problem. I would probably be reluctant to discuss this in a public way. that is
fine. so whatever aids that process is a blessing.
have difficulty focusing your mind in silent prayer I would suggest that you find a special prayer location and then focus your eyes on a particular spot. forget that I am in prayer. But if you can relate to my problem I am glad to The solution for me is to pray And
report that I also have a solution. Even Jesus is described as If you
lifting up His eyes to Heaven when He prayed (John 11:41). I
find that a visual focal point helps me to concentrate my thoughts and direct them to God. but I find that when I close my eyes and pray silently. If something else works for you. if you read the Bible carefully. I have no idea what causes it. but I have found that when I close my eyes. Whatever it is seems less important than having a focal point. You may not have the same difficulties in prayer that I do.
frankly. it doesn't work. A careful look at the prayers described in the
Bible indicate that there is no one right prayer attitude. my mind wanders almost instantly.
I do this because I have found that when I have only I
a verbal agreement over the phone all kinds of things go wrong. When I arrived for the graduation
ceremony. all except the speaker! person never thought of it. and sit down and construct a carefully worded prayer to God. "Well. he discovered that he had not ordered an academic robe for me. Let me illustrate the importance of the writing process to the way people focus on a task. and a pencil or a pen. Everybody from the President on down was wearing the Why? Because the contact
can arrive in a place only to discover that the people who invited me had completely forgotten the appointment. I have made it a personal policy never
to accept a major speaking appointment without a written letter of invitation.
kept calling and calling and calling. never communicated in writing.
If he had sat down to write me a
letter. Despite repeated requests. Take a notebook. he never wrote me a letter. what do we each need to
. Against my better judgment-because I was going to be there anyway--I accepted the appointment.97 In a media age. Some computer wizards may again
find a notebook computer the most relevant way to do this. can be even more embarrassing. we may all need some help in developing our ability to concentrate. he would have had to think. Another thing that is very helpful is to write out one's prayers. But selective memory
On one occasion I was asked to be The contact person
the speaker for a college graduation overseas. It is amazing what the process of writing does to help
concentrate you mind on the reality of being in the act of prayer.
with God the very things that the journal has revealed are of utmost concern to you at a given time." written. of the previous day. Many of the
Godly people sat down and The most
wrestled to formulate what they wanted to share with God. Share with Him the events
Share your concerns about the implications of
If the only prayer you know how to pray is in behalf
." I refused to agree to a date without him taking the Finally. "We have a new policy
time to put it in writing. "Write me a letter. Only then did the letter finally get
In terms of focusing the mind on the full implications of
a task or request there is no substitute for sitting down to write. and it is now possible to read them. One reason that prayer may seem irrelevant to
everyday life is that the crucial elements of everyday life are not brought forward to God while in the attitude of prayer. you have to write the President and ask him for permission to talk to me.98 do for this thing to work out? Can the speaker bring his robe.
excuse to play "hardball" with him. Psalms in the Bible are written prayers. or
do we need to order one for him?" Shortly after that a conference official in the United States called me five times over a period of fifteen months to try to get me to come to a workers’ meeting. and I said every time. Andrews University gave me an I said.
important things in life are worthy of that level of attention. those events.
at the University. Many of the spiritual greats throughout the ages have written out their prayers. Whatever the method or the attitude in prayer it is important that our inner prayer life focus on the things in life that matter the most to us.
It's a In
book about da Sabbath. etc. your prayers may border on the vain repetition that Jesus warned about in Matt 6. be with the missionaries and colporters. "Dear Lord. Amen!"
It reminds me of my well-known friend. the world's most lovable Italian. blah! OK! Gotta run now.99 of the missionaries and colporters all over the world. you gotta have these recipes
. I'm busy today so I'll have to be quick.
unburden your heart to than to Someone who knows all about you already and yet loves you just the same. why not let God answer the prayer? I find it amazing how rarely I So often my prayer
give God the opportunity to answer my prayers. I'll never forget the time that I He picked
called him to get a "yes" or "no" answer to a question. While you have a pad in front of you to write out your prayer. I hope you
know about so-and-so.
life goes something like this. "Sam. blah. but psychology WITH prayer is even more effective than prayer or psychology alone. or even a psychiatrist.
backa you finda these Sabbath recipes. blah. These are the things that bother me. I'm so glada you called! I wanna tell you abouta my new book.
A wonderful book about da Sabbath. Sam Bacchiocchi. my wife she make a lasagna like-a you wouldn't believe. Psychology has a role to
play in helping many Christians deal with life's major issues.
up the phone and I said. Prayer at the devotional level needs to touch base with the deepest needs of life." "Oh. Mama Mia. this is Jon Paulien.. We can tell God the things that we cannot What better person to
tell our spouse.
When you have finished praying.
now in a position to receive.
You have put yourself in tune with God. I find that the contact came at just the right moment.
So write down whatever comes to But do not
Sometimes the thoughts that come may seem silly.
incident to illustrate that we often don't let God get a word in edgewise. "Well. "Sam. I believe that this is an element we have lost somewhat as Adventists. I had to dial
the phone again and say. stay Pull the pad in front of you. Maybe I
I haven't thought about that person in weeks. by day. you have grasped a clearer picture of Jesus in your devotions. just when it was needed.
try to evaluate them at once. I have a question for you." Click. We have a relatively intellectual and secular God is willing and eager to guide us day
.100 and give them to alla your friends. mind. pick up your pencil
on your knees. you have
examined your life."
Or maybe I should drop
The exciting thing is that when I carry out these
impressions. You have talked to God about the things that You are
You have asked for His presence with you." He went on for 15
minutes like this and then all of a sudden said. And he wouldn't be half as But I mention this
much fun if he tried to change his personality. Goodbye. treat it as spiritual brain-storming. I won't take up any more of your time. ." Now I like Sam--we are friends. Try this sometime. As a result of this kind of activity. by and visit. yeah! Someone will come to mind--"Oh. there have been times when God has planned my whole day. matter most. .
should give him a call--see how he's doing. and wait.
know? But Abraham wasn't an Adventist so he went ahead Because he knew it was God's voice.27) The only way to explain the incident in which Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac is that God knew Abraham would recognize who it was that was speaking to him.
I am well aware
But I also know that a
person who has walked with God for twenty years can gradually learn to know God's voice as opposed to other voices.
learned to distinguish God's voice from other voices and from the voices of his own natural desires.14-16.5. As a result we have a hard time elevating
. It is also the kind of
relationship that will move a secular person out of his or her world. directly contrary to Scripture. that impressions can come from the devil. After all. we talk about God. The command was
If Abraham had been an Adventist
he would have ignored the voice because it spoke contrary to Scripture. a living and active relationship. we talk about the
Bible. One reason that Adventists seem less effective at reaching
secular people than many other Christians is because we have become secularized ourselves. We know about God. How did he Gradually he
Because he had been talking to Him for years. but when do we really talk to God and let God talk to us? When do we let God speak to our personal needs? speak to our hearts? When do we let Him I
When do we let Him guide our lives?
realize that there is potential danger in this.26.101 religion. anyway. This is the kind of relationship God wants to have with each of us. didn't
Jesus indicate that his "sheep" would know and follow His voice? (John 10:4.
with secular people.
. but we are enmeshed in a religious language and culture that is totally foreign to secular people. The great tragedy of Adventism is that not only are we secular ourselves. we
will reclaim many who have dropped out.102 secular people to an experience that we ourselves do not have. We are secular.
And more an more of us are saying that it just is not worth the trouble anymore. We can learn how to get our own
And then we can learn how to communicate
As we do both and in the proper order. In a busy and depressing world. "Take some time every morning to write down ten things that you're thankful for. The fact that many of our best and brightest no
longer see anything worth clinging to in Adventism compels me to appeal that it is not too late. People will not sacrifice the trappings of secular existent for anything less than a living faith that is self-evidently superior to what they already have. tragedy! Lost in both worlds!
Missing in action on both counts. I learned about this from the ministry of Glenn Coon.
He suggested. spiritual house in order." The goal is to pray through this He underlined
list from time to time throughout the day as needed. There is one final aspect to prayer that I would like to emphasize. yet we What a
have great difficulty communicating with secular people."
to maintain a positive attitude in life is to spend some intentional and planned time every day thanking the Lord for what He's done for me. along with many others who will find a spiritual home for the first time. I often need to take There are times when the only way
time for some "thank therapy.
thank you Lord for Ponderosa Pines (my candidate for the most beautiful tree in the universe). One of the greatest chapters in all of Ellen White's
writings. apes. Just open any page and you will find When was the last time
you may not smoke. "Thank you Lord for the color of the carpet. We are just beginning to learn about co-dependency--
how if you grew up with an alcoholic or an abusive parent. apples. "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh 8:10). and so on. you will have problems that are related to alcoholism.103 the importance of making this exercise as practical as possible. thank you Lord for the air. thank you Lord for the raccoon that went by my window yesterday. you thanked the Lord for those things?
Yes I know. We are all sick in some aspect of our mental and emotional experience. The Bible The best
says. instead you exercise the addictive tendencies in
. You may not drink. from pages 240-260. this sounds like the most childish thing you have ever heard.
way to find the joy of the Lord is through a spirit of gratitude and praise. where would you be?
feel so depressed that you can't come up with ten things to be thankful for. is the chapter called "Mind Cure" in Ministry of Healing. I have a solution for you: get out a dictionary--it's loaded with gifts of God. But I want you to know something--it works. in my opinion. The basic thrust of that
chapter is that a spirit of gratitude and praise is the key to curing the mind of its ills. apricots." air? Where would you be without it? Did you ever thank God for
If God ever quit on the job And if you
and didn't stock up the air supply.
for the air that we're breathing.104 a way that is more socially acceptable. or even a sugar-holic. but to recognize our condition is the first step on the road to recovery. "Thank you. Few people have the time to accomplish all
. then. It is OK to become a Some even I
workaholic. A strong devotional life.
exercise addictive tendencies in their church relationships. have known many emotionally unhealthy churches. the floor would be quite uncomfortable without it. Lord. or a football-holic." at this practical level that the secular person can
Christian experience something that is worth making major life changes for.
We are all sick to
some degree as a result of the sin problem. serves two purposes for the Christian struggling to cope with the issues related to life in the secular world. It serves to maintain and strengthen the basic
faith relationship with God. Lord. for that It is in
carpet. Facing Problems How can we find time for devotions in the midst of the crushing load of responsibility most of us bear? This is a
question I have certainly faced on a repeated basis throughout my Christian experience. One of the
most effective pathways to recovery is to thank God everyday for the many benefits He showers on our lives everyday.
Thank you. The great interest in the bizarre aberrations of the New
Age demonstrates the tremendous hunger secular people have for a living relationship with God. and it provides an attractive way of life which can stimulate in secular people an interest in spiritual things.
important article is top front on the first page.105 that they expect to accomplish in a day. Articles are prioritized in two ways. the news hole is not expanded. The news hole never expands. The reason for this is that local Each paper has a
newspapers are priority and interest-driven.
therefore. the last paragraph being the least crucial to the story. and space is Instead all articles are bumped down in location either by dropping the least important
"news-hole" or space devoted to news that is of a fixed size for each issue. What has helped me more than any other concept of time management is the concept of the "news-hole" mentioned by John Naisbitt in the original book Megatrends. Our use of time is a lot like that news hole. Ultimately it is up to us
to decide what is truly worth our time and what is not. When I decided to take Ph. the least important is buried somewhere near the back. it is crucial to realize that you can't add anything to life without taking something else away. or by some combination of the above. He describes how
American military intelligence learned more about German capacities and intentions by subscribing to the local newspapers in Germany than by any other means. studies I realized that I was adding
. When new
activities clamor for involvement. If a new story
comes in at the last minute and is of top priority. Paragraphs within
each article are also prioritized in order of importance.D. by cutting the bottom paragraphs out of several articles. whatever is found in the local paper is considered of top priority in interest and importance to the local community.
spectator sports. we will inevitably drift in a secular direction. I ask myself the question. So the first step in enhancing our devotional experience is The
to choose to make it a front page priority in our lives. They seek to accomplish everything that is set before Inevita-
them (expand the news hole!). If we don't choose time will choose for us. All this has large implications for the devotional part of life. And
we will be unhappy with the choice. My life would become impossibly complex
unless I consciously chose to eliminate some major things from my life.
but I determined that I could not be an excellent organist and an excellent Bible scholar at the same time I was raising a family.
danger of secular drift should motivate us to make our time with
. either the family or the devotional life or both are sacrificed on the altar of indecision. I rated my family and my doctoral program
as of greater interest and importance than music and sports. I chose to drop playing the organ and the watching of I have taken a lot of flak over the former one.
every day with God. Our time with God is often crowded out by the press of If we don't choose to spend the best part of
lesser concerns.106 a huge drain on my time.
bly. "What activity will this replace? Is this more important or
interesting than what I will have to give up in order to do this?" Life is a choice. The problem is that most people prefer not to make such choices. Whenever someone asks me to take
an office or perform a task these days. and it just does not work. To have tried to do both would have squeezed my family out of my "news hole" by default.
Say it out loud. For many families. put a sign out "Do Not Disturb". particularly if no one else in the family is awake yet." I am hoping that it is possible to create a
family habit. it should be chosen to minimize the possibility of interruption if at all possible. Be careful about adding new assignments or responsibilities.
choice will make the choice stronger. Whatever venue you prefer. Early in the
morning is the best for most people. a six-year old. They get there before anybody else gets there. they like to come and see what is happening. and a four-
year old. Decide
what in your life needs to go if your devotional experience is to grow.
Write about it to your friends. and spend some time with God. A very
positive thing that has happened recently is that the ten-year-old has decided to follow my example and spend the first part of every day in "devotions.107 God the headline event of the day. The great thing about will Choose to put God first. Some of you can relate to that. For some the time saved by avoiding rush hour traffic may be
greater than the time spent in devotion. easy solutions. lock
the door. Particularly important are the time and place where devotions occur. there are no
I have a ten-year old. however. Another step that has helped me is to make a plan. where each member of the family co-operates with the others to create the kind of environment in which devotions can
. Expressing that
power is that it is strengthened by use. Some office workers have found that the only way they can
carve out time to spend with the Lord is to go in an hour early to the office. and when they hear me getting up.
other options may work for you. or "uppity. Perhaps
Maybe there's a room over your
garage where you can be left undisturbed--H. they are necessary if we wish to avoid the inevitable slide into secular modes of thinking and living.
and a place. Life is so driven these days.
. one can even find Isn't that disgusting? Right now it is But
phones on airplanes now. or student arrives. Every Christian needs a time and a place for seclusion. M. Richards did that. then lock myself in that office until my time with God is over.
when people can start calling you on an airplane. Whatever your specific solution."
Although the choices are
only possible to call out. shower. dress and get to the office before any secretary. Such choices won't make you popular. they may even cause "He has no
others to think of you as cold.108 take place. teacher. At times. I get up. there will be no place to hide anymore. It is not fair to think that a pastor or conference officer should give you immediate and full attention just because you happened to think of a problem in the last minute. it is critical to create a If we don't intentionally create a time
regular time and place. however. and I make sure I don't use it. with the Lord. eat. unfeeling. S." time for the little people any more. circumstances will see to it that we never get around to devotions. That
includes pastors and conference officials. We all need to create space and time to spend
And sometimes the only way to do it is to make some
hard choices regarding the way we deal with people during that time.
109 I realize that planning is easier for some people than for others. If your personality is of the type that prefers to hang
loose most of the time. Someone who isn't afraid to chew you out now and then so Without
that you can achieve in life what matters most to you. your use of money. Counsel with a friend or a pastor who has good planning Invite family and friends to help you arrange your Consult with
skills. Everyone Invite God to assist you in
needs a "hard-nosed" friend who is not afraid to look you in the eye and say.
every morning to ask if you did your devotions that morning as planned. Perhaps more helpful than anything else is accountability. Accountability provides strength when we
have little strength.
schedule in order to make God first in your life. Invite that friend to monitor your devotional life. "I'm concerned about where your life is going right now." My idea of a hard-nosed friend would be someone who cares Someone who will call you at 7:17
too much not to tell the truth.
friends like that none of us would know when we were slipping. your time spent watching TV. this process. and focus when we have a hard time getting focused. Some combination of the above ideas has helped me
whenever my devotional life slips.
those in your job situation about alternative schedules and/or pay arrangements that free up extra time. you may need to enlist some help along the way. Accountability means that you make a covenant with a trusted friend or family member who will help you stick to your plan. whatever stands in the way of achieving your goals.
Having said this.
author of one of the classic Bible commentary sets. these things happen.
reflection on the reality of His walk with His Father. Even Jesus experienced a dry spell in His relationYet that was no
ship with God in the Garden of Gethsemane. There will be days when you skip it. And when he came out at
the other end.110 What if you spend significant time each day with God and nothing seems to be happening? than the ceiling? times like that. The problem is that when things are going well devotionally. it may be ten times more difficult for them.
it happens. it is still important to place the devo-
. we tend to become judgmental of the spiritual experience of other people. days when you sleep But if
in. went through a two-year dry spell in which his devotional life was absolutely empty. when we feel that we have our act together spiritually. whether or not you feel good about it. If we are elders in the church we need to have mercy on
the little ones and realize that if it is a struggle for us. just keep on studying and praying. know that every Christian has Don't pretend that things are going well if they Adam Clarke. what's wrong with them?" Sometimes the Lord
allows us to struggle so that we have sympathy with the struggles of others. So the Lord will let you
But keep with the program. the
devotional life is the bottom line. "We have our act together. Two years! But he stuck with it. days when some emergency comes up. Your prayers seem to go no higher
First of all. get back with the program again the next day and go on. he was a much richer person for having gone through that struggle. the
are not. have dry experiences now and then.
111 tional life within a larger context. everyday lifestyle that is crucial to faith maintenance and development in a secular age. We turn now to the kind
. Those who have struggled long
and hard in the Christian walk are well aware that a spiritual life that is restricted to the devotional room soon grows stale unless worked out in concrete. everyday action.
something that happens when you have drifted away from that walk with God and you begin to believe what your senses tell you instead of what you have known in your experience with God.CHAPTER SEVEN
A LIVING WALK WITH GOD Acting Out our Faith When it comes to maintaining Christian faith in a secular world the concept of "derived seclusion" is critical. David G. corresponding action. In his book The Human Puzzle. with secular drift calls for more than just Doing battle devotional
experience. I am reminded of a bumper sticker I saw not too long Secularism is
ago. "God is not dead. But without
concrete and practical faith-action in the life. the devotional experience can easily become confined to a closet in a person's life leading to a schizophrenic existence where faith impacts on the life for a short time each day. finding a regular time and place to be with God in the midst of the secular rat-race. as effective as that may be. What happens in
the devotional life will have little impact on everyday experience. followed by an essentially secular existence for the rest of one's experience. When people survey conservative Christian churches. what a person believes may have relatively little impact on how they live. they discover that the typical. Myers confirms what Ellen White taught a hundred years ago. unless accompanied by conscious. conservative Christian 112
. I talked to Him last night. including Adventist
a relatively closed society like the Adventist Church. drug use. The reality is that
few pastors are permitted to see below the surface of what is going on in their own churches. been fatally discounted before it occurs. drug use. In churches where action does not follow from belief. This is particularly true of the
Adventist setting. This Its witness has already
. Quite often. how you live has a powerful impact on what you believe. therefore. While pastors and church
leaders may not be aware of how little practice may follow from profession in our churches. belief in Adventist teaching has relatively little impact on how people live. and the abuse of children or spouse. and physical abuse as the non-churched culture.
Thus. because our high behavioral standards make it socially unacceptable to confess sins such as adultery. the church's witness is seriously damaged. you tend not to talk about problems. the problems are just less visible in the church setting. alcohol problems. equally searching in their scrutiny.113 church may have virtually as much adultery. Secular people share with relish stories about the The media are
foibles of Christians and churches they know. our secular neighbors are intensely aware of it. Although what you believe may have little impact on how you live. In the secular But in
environment. especially not to the pastor who has considerable control over your continued acceptance in the group. such problems are generally out in the open. an Adventism that
confines itself largely to doctrine and things of the intellect is doomed to failure in a secular context.
The routine actions of
daily life have a massive effect on what a person believes and how they feel and think. your face might crack!" Something similar can work with groups of adults as well. the whole attitude of pouting just vanished. had to do was to find a way to get her to smile. "What's that? You're not smiling. but somehow that gets her every time--she And when she does. and invite them to return it. This is only an illustration.
would twist up and she would avoid all eye contact. and she cannot With my four-year-old the
seem to get it back. adolescence.114 is another major theme of the crucial chapter "Mind Cure" in the book Ministry of Healing (pp.
that I could get her out of the pout with surprising ease. ask them to smile as big and broad a smile as possible. even if she tries!
magic words are. the pout is gone.
. Let me illustrate. How
we behave has a powerful impact not only on what we feel but on how we think and what we believe. "Don't smile.
In the act of
smiling that miserable feeling. Give them a big smile
Unless the audience is feeling some
resistance toward the speaker. a group smile seems to make everyone feel better almost immediately. I would say. pout She would be sitting at the dinner table and Her whole face and body I discovered All I
with a whole heart. I have a daughter who is now entering
Until fairly recently she would.
some thing or other struck her wrong. are you?
Don't you dare smile! up?"
Do I see the corners of your mouth turning
I do not know why. If
a group you are speaking to has confidence in you. on occasion. 241-259).
God made us the way Is it a
He has set laws into our minds and hearts. I'd like to be fully devoted to God. I am not sure how
But after baptizing people.
normally try to find other ways than altar calls to seal decision in the experience of secular people. He made us.' I'm not talking about
baptizing you tomorrow or next week. 'My. This is why evangelists like to call people up front. In mentioning this. why not do them?
reality is that how you live has a powerful impact on what you believe. But I look at it this way.
But you'd like to learn what If you feel
baptism means and what Christian life is all about. "Well.
however.115 I know this sounds like manipulation--and to some of you that may be offensive.
be careful not to unnecessarily violate social boundaries. that altar calls must not be handled in a way that compromises integrity and free choice. I like to say
something like. you've all seen what just happened. if you have never been baptized you may be thinking.
bad thing to consciously choose to live in a way that will assist my walk with God and resist secular drift? If we know the things The
we need to do in order to stay close to God.
. The one time in a secular person's life when you can make that kind of an appeal is when they attend a baptism. There
is something about getting out of your seat and walking to the front that nails down a decision in a way that very few other things can do. to explain that. I'd like to do that. Secular people do not One must So I
respond well to the traditional call in most instances. I should probably point out.
" When I arrived for a campmeeting in the Bahamas.
solidifies a decision. it must affect the whole of our experience in this world. The strongest safeguard against secularism--and even a secular psychologist will tell you this if you ask--is a seven day a week religion. Now I
realize that this gets us into something that is a little bit controversial." I wish that were not just a misunderstanding but a statement of reality! Adventism cannot afford to be isolated in the closet of
our experience. to be effective in a secular world. Many people have different opinions of what it But the point I want to
means to live as a Seventh-day Adventist.
even the first glimmer of faith. When we talk about Seven-day-a Week Adventism we are talking about practicing the Seventh-day Adventist life-style. the
newspaper declared. Adventists are known as "Seven Days. It is a faith that impacts in some way on every moment I was somewhat amused to discover that
of every day of our lives. a non-threatening situation.
standing up that had just walked into the church for the first time! There is something about standing up at such times that It has to do with acting out our faith.116 that way this morning would you just stand for a minute?" I
remember one time I made such an appeal and nineteen people stood up.
on many of the Caribbean islands.
make with absolute clarity is that without some kind of consistent
. half of whom I'd never seen before. I had sensed that it was
It was part of a whole context in And people were
which the call was perceived as appropriate. "Speaker arrives for Seven Days Conference.
With all of its perceived flaws. the Adventist lifestyle that has been handed down to us is a superb example of a seven-day religion. say or think. when we shop for clothing or groceries. guess what is on top of the list? Tithes and offerings. this is a tremendous asset to I am not trying to tell you exactly what
faith in a secular world. Then there are children who either
. When we shop for clothes. But frankly. A rigid lifestyle without A devotional life
a living relationship with God is drudgery. however. what are we doing?
We are asking ourselves questions such as. Everything that a Seventh-
day Adventist does in life is potentially tied in with God in some way or another. "What impact will this clothing have on my witness for Christ? mission in life?" Will it aid or hinder my
When we shop for groceries we spend a lot of Why? Because we do not want to put into our
time reading labels.
form the Adventist lifestyle should take in your particular case.
bodies things that will clog up our minds and render us less fit for the difficult task of honoring God in all we do. secular drift is inevitable in one form or another. we are constantly being reminded of God's claim on our life. As a result. There are dangers in two extremes. without practice is also doomed to fail.
What is happening now in
many families is that we have grandparents who believe in Adventism and practice the lifestyle.117 practice of faith. And rightly handled. When I make up the family budget each month. Adventism without consistent daily practice is not going to be maintained effectively in a secular world.
and about Scripture.
In Matt 18:23-35
a king forgives his servant a debt of 10. "Jesus is the Boss". alone. faith includes both devotion and action. how to live. The grandchildren often just throw the whole thing out." ship between justification and lordship is The relationeffectively
illustrated by a story Jesus told His disciples. When a
first-century Christian said. This whole-hearted style of life is no denial of justification by faith--it simply recognizes that when Christ offers the gift. not only holding certain ideas about God. but including a whole-hearted practice in lifelong response to what Christ has done for us. Self-discipline is
. it offers a major side benefit as well. but saving faith is never alone!
We are saved by faith
Not only is the Seventh-day Adventist life-style one of the best ways to maintain faith in a secular world. It is assumed in the story that the servant would gladly respond by forgiving his fellow servant a debt of a mere 100 day's wages. What we need most desperately is to restore
the unity of Adventist faith. "He has the right to tell me what to do." he or she meant. living
model for how we should treat one another. He also makes a claim. self-discipline. The great rallying cry of the first century
Christian church was." To modernize that terminology a bit results in something like. "Jesus is Lord. of divine and human forgiveness. The story is a parable
What God does for us becomes a A balanced.000 talents (perhaps 10 billion dollars in inflated currency!). "Jesus is Lord.118 believe without practice or practice the lifestyle without a clear understanding of what it means.
" And this pattern often
repeats itself month after month after month. The whole point about budgeting is that you make sure that the important things get cared for first. spoilsport lifestyle. I
have known people who would buy twelve boxes of Valentine candy before paying the rent and then be unable to pay it. you really want a roof over your head? Do
You had better pay the rent
. "If you don't help me out-they'll throw me out on the street. Discipline means putting things that really matter first. To
deny oneself the lesser things in life helps to guarantee that the greater things will get their proper attention. Paul argues in 1 Cor 9 that our chosen
field is worthy of a similar discipline. If you wish to make a mark for Christ in
the contest of life. Couch potatoes would But few realize what
such athletes have to go through to attain that kind of excellence in their chosen field. I am not suggesting a miserable. a disciplined life is the only way to go. budgeting as an example. The Seventh-day Adventist life-style was designed to enable people to function as peakperformance Christians. They would
then go to family and friends and say. the party is over. But when you do that your money goes
to whatever comes up next. Now most people do not find it necessary to budget--when the money runs out.119 something that is rarely seen these days. Take family
Somebody once said that the cost-ofMost people find
living is whatever you make plus ten percent! that ridiculous assertion to be true!
Everyone gets used to
whatever their income is and then wants just a little bit more. love to be Michael Jordan or Joe Montana.
I think that on the
whole it can be defended. Secular people are not looking for a
list of rules with a dotted line on the bottom for their signature of blind compliance. impress me. If we expect to reach secular people. They want to understand the reason behind "Why do you want me to do these things? Why
is it that you don't want people to wear jewelry?" good reason for a standard. Ellen White met such
. all other things being equal. While we are on this subject let me make a point about lifestyle witnessing. that involves discipline.
When we are
dealing with them.
Although often overlooked. we will have the challenge of defending the Adventist life-style as a viable principle. lifestyle standards.
So it is with spiritual things.
main point of the Adventist life-style is to make sure that the most important matters in life get the greatest attention. the And
Adventist life-style must be presented as a life-style of principle rather than just precept. Secular people will point out to you. surprise. Do you really want to eat? You better buy groceries before The
you take that trip to Hawaii. But that does not
And a drink now and then does relax you some.120 first. that people who drink socially tend to live three years longer than people who don't. why have it? reasons. why are they not clearer to
If there is no
If there are sound contemporary people?
Standards need to make sense to secular people. but perhaps on slightly different grounds than we may have used in the past. Well that should not be a
Adventists are often known for being a little uptight. for example.
drinking. but that introduces an element of deception and inauthenticity to one's Christian walk. your will has to be charged up and ready to go twenty-four hours a day. I don't know about you. She does not argue there that alcohol is to be avoided
because the Bible explicitly says so. To profess one thing and to live another is not a spiritually healthy existence. seven days a week. all other things being equal. But alcoholism has a devastating impact on a person's life and on that of everyone who is close to them. who is responsible? An option some might consider would be to keep
one's social drinking secret from the church. But if you want to keep faith in
a secular world. For one thing. She rather argues scientifically. But suppose you are a skilled social drinker. no one knows who the alcoholic is. gaining all those supposed health benefits. pressed. A fourth
reason for avoiding alcohol is that alcohol tends to affect most immediately the seat of the will.121 challenges on the basis of principle already in passages like 5T 354-361. A further consideration in regard to alcohol is research that indicates that every drink destroys some brain cells. you influence others to take a positive attitude toward alcohol. If those you influence become alcoholics. when we see it undergirded by common sense and based on
. but I cannot afford to lose any brain cells. I believe that when we
rightly understand the genius behind the Seventh-day Adventist life-style. Ellen White is still not im-
She says that if you are an elder in the church and you
are drinking socially. may have a slight relaxant effect on a person's life.
he called his council together. To Share is to Keep A devotional walk with God and its consequences in every day life are two key factors in maintaining faith in a secular world. According to 2 Chr As we
20 he was under attack by the armies of three whole nations. not given up. it can be sold to secular people.
begins with outreach to the secular mindset in our churches and above all in our own hearts. "Does
Is this really the way I want to live?"
One thing that should be clear by now is that the same life practices which maintain a Christian's faith in a secular world provide the kind of spiritual setting into which secular people can be attracted to come. but has In the Old Testament context
always been a fact of spiritual life.
the key to bringing the power of God into the lives of His people was to recite over and over the things that God had done for them in their past history. Secular
people are not going to buy into something because we said so. or even at first because the Bible said so.122 reasonable principles. We cannot ask them to give up what we have
Neither can we expect them to experience what we Outreach to secular people
ourselves have never experienced. Now how would you and I pray in that situation? Wouldn't
. necessary to share it. would expect. In order to keep our faith it is
This is not only true for today.
But instead of
developing a military or diplomatic strategy. There is at least one more. he led them in prayer. it make sense? They want to know. Consider the plight of King Jehoshaphat.
You can do it again. Instead of a battle. and now they're coming against us. "Lord. You told us to leave them You took care of us
there were hostile nations all around.123 we probably succumb to abject and pitiful pleading? Instead
Jehoshaphat said. No tongue can express. it is also true that thoughts follow words. the enemy They sang a song and blew
armies were taken care of by the choir. Ellen White expresses this idea forcefully in Ministry of Healing pages 251-253: It is a law of nature that our thoughts and feelings are encouraged and strengthened as we give them utterance."
As Jehoshaphat was recounting the acts of God. no finite mind can conceive. And when we got to the promised land as You promised us.
. So there is something about reciting what God has done for you in the past that brings the power of God back into your life. Expression deepens impression. And if you regularly experience
the power of God in your life. them right out of town. the power of the Exodus experience was manifested again. you brought us through the wilderness.
alone. instead of pleading abjectly in a desperate situation. While words express thoughts. you brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Talk faith and you will have
more faith. secularism can have no influence over you. then. the blessing that results from appreciating the goodness and love of God.--the great mercy and love of God.
The power of God that divided the Red Sea
and fed them in the wilderness returned to them in response to Jehoshaphat's retelling of the Exodus. rejoice more in the blessings that we know we have.--we should have more faith and greater joy. If we would give more expression to our faith.
Our eyes are upon You.
Many a preacher has entered Share faith and you
the pulpit discouraged and left it on fire! will have more faith. When we think of witness. This can even be true of preaching. Whenever the cross of Christ is uplifted the Holy
Spirit presses the claim of the cross home with power to whoever is listening.
If these things are so why do we witness as little as we do? One would expect that something as stimulating to faith as sharing it would be a centerpiece on our schedules. but you also shared the excitement and joy that came with the discovery that if no one else in the universe had sinned Christ would still have died for you personally. them do unto you. The power of
God's original working in my life is renewed in the retelling. rule comes into effect here. And that same power spills back to the one who Can you remember how the act of sharing your faith It was like campmeeting all over again." The golden
"Do unto others as you would have
I have spoken to hundreds of Adventists whose
conscience bothers them concerning the way they attempt to share
confirmed your own faith?
I am rarely so confident and secure in my walk with God as I am when I share what He has done for me with others. and intruding into their lives. testifies.124 Can you remember a time when you shared your personal
testimony with a friend or even a stranger?
You told of the
helplessness of your human condition. we think of badgering people. But a major deterrent
to sharing faith in a secular world is that we sense that the way we reach out to others outside our faith circle often oversteps the boundaries of social propriety.
you have to put them at ease. Putting people at ease means investing more Jesus
time in listening than in talking.
I know I find it a more The good news is that
difficult task than some of my friends do. The end result is miserable. To
rail at somebody on a street corner may cause the opposite of what we intend in a secular environment. at least at first.
ease means relating to them in such a way that they are comfortable in one's presence.125 their faith. for prostitutes and sinners loved to be around him. Witnessing in this way can be very difficult for
Adventists in a secular world.
certainly had that ability. Can you remember the last time
you were confronted by a person who repeatedly told you what to do and put you down by highlighting their own superior understanding? Did you feel at ease in that person's presence? Did you feel like Did you want
listening any further to what that person had to say? to become like him or her? the attitude of a superior. The first
principle is that before you can get a person to listen to you.
We can be freed to witness again when we find out that true witness has two basic foundation principles that prevent us from overstepping the boundaries of social propriety. Many Adventists feel That is no way
guilty when they witness and guilty if they don't. Putting people at ease may be a characteristic that is
inherited as much as it is learned.
Putting people at ease means to avoid It is not necessary to put people down Putting people at
or to nag them in order to share one's faith. They need to be comfortable first. to live.
be with others who have their act together. listen to them and who don't put them down. I am not implying that we need a grit-your-teeth By nature we
kind of determination to be a Christ-like person. People love to
They like people who Secular people are
open to personal involvement in their lives by loving and lovable Christians who put people at ease and live Christ-like. friends. selfish lives.
tell others what to do. Most secular people are looking for something better and when they see a person who "has her act together" they find it incredibly attractive. and while some will always be more successful at it than others. put them down. The second principle of true witness is to live an attractive Christ-centered style of life. training in interpersonal relationships is well worth the effort for any
Christian who wants to reach out to secular neighbors. attractive Christian lives. The attractiveness of television is a fantasy image in a
fantasy land. Far more attractive than the painted-on smiles of the media is a real person in real life who is making it work. the visual medium is a powerful persuader. The stars smile and look permanently happy and charming. and live mean.126 we can all improve in the art of putting others at ease. Although we know better in our minds. Christ-centered witnessing can only result from a life
. and family. The funny thing is
that most people think that the TV stars have their act together. but the reality is that most can't wait to run home and shoot dope or commit suicide because they cannot face their real selves.
Do not keep the little ones away from Him by your coldness and harshness. found in MH 43-44. but Jesus
was having too much fun to permit that! Speaking of the analogy between working with children and
. Never give them cause to feel that heaven would not be That is the opposite has a repelling
a pleasant place to them if you were there. in his lap. Putting people at ease and being an attractive person reminds me of one of Ellen White's most humorous statements." of true witnessing. My children immediately sensed that here was a person they could not only trust but who would be fun to be with. I was astonished. Roland Hegstad. the editor of Liberty magazine. That's the way
Jesus was--the minute he walked into a room the kids were all mobbing about. coldness and
influence rather than an attractive one. "Let not your un-Christlike character misrepresent Jesus. being around me? Do children enjoy If you
Or do they tend to shy away fearfully?
put children at ease.127 fully devoted to a living and active walk with God. The disciples tried to chase them away. Within three minutes all of my kids were
That told me more about his Christian character than
all the articles and sermons I had appreciated through the years. you are probably putting their parents and other adults at ease by the same approach. The first
time Elder Hegstad came into my home and sat down in the living room. both mine and others.
I like to think that a
good test for the attractiveness of my Christian walk is how children respond to me. Let me illustrate what I mean by boasting about a good friend of mine.
Sharing our faith in the secular world is a major challenge. finally. have a far higher rate of retention than families that don't have these three
characteristics. It is interesting that the same kinds of things that make our churches hospitable to secular people will also make them hospitable to our own young people.128 working with secular people. And. Three of these characteristics pertain to the family. those churches are most successful in
retaining youth if the youth feel that they have the freedom to question the faith and the things that are going on in the church. It might be helpful to
review briefly some of the most significant conclusions of the Valuegenesis study. The study concluded that there are six
characteristics of homes and churches where young people tend to remain in the faith. but we need to learn how to do so without crossing social barriers
. where the
parents talk freely about their faith. Families that have interesting family worships. When it comes to the role of the church in keeping young people in the faith three characteristics also emerge.
youth also find such churches to offer a warm and accepting environment. one of the interesting side benefits of this study for me is a better understanding of how to help our children maintain faith in a secular world. and that engage the children in helping or service projects in the community. We not only need to learn a whole new way of expressing our faith. that retain youth have a youth program (Sabbath Churches and The
otherwise) that the youth themselves consider interesting.
The main point of this
chapter. In the next section of
the book we will examine the dynamics of outreach to secular people. although communicating the gospel in a secular world is a great challenge. is that sharing our faith is important not only because secular people need Christ. and explore methods that Adventists are using successfully in a number of places. it can be done. Fortunately. but because we also need the spiritual strength and affirmation that comes when we share our faith. however.
.129 in ways that can end a relationship.
SHARING FAITH IN A SECULAR WORLD
and won their confidence. that place in their life where they are searching for something better than they have now. and winning their confidence before He felt comfortable challenging them with His unique
mission." MH 143 What is most interesting in this quotation is the fact that Jesus left the direct spiritual appeal to last in a series of five steps. He spent time with people. ministered to their needs. "Follow Me. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. And that is to meet them at the
point of felt need.CHAPTER EIGHT
THE BASIC NEEDS OF SECULAR PEOPLE How can we share our faith in a secular world? communicate with secular people in an effective way? How can we How do we get
past the many barriers that secular people erect in order to protect themselves against the unwanted influence of religion? A
good place to start is to deal with secular people the same way that Jesus dealt with people. "mingling" in conversation. In this chapter we begin by examining the basic felt needs of 131
In this section of
the book we will try to put flesh on these suggestive hints by exploring some proven ways to meet secular people at the point of felt need and move them into an acknowledgement of their real need for the gospel. Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people.
His method is still the best method. Then He bade them. meeting their needs.
showing sympathy. He showed His sympathy for them.
secular people that come the closest to a direct spiritual interest and thus provide excellent openings for spiritual input. the Washington Redskins.
People may seek to meet that need by a commitment to the Los Angeles Lakers. (1) A Need for Commitment Secular people in a high-tech world generally feel a need for commitment to an issue or a person that is clearly greater than themselves. but even there I believe that people are searching for something bigger than ecology. they nevertheless sense the need to commit themselves to something that transcends the ordinary in their existence. The fate of a sports team may seem rather trivial as the
center of one's life. Although secular people may lack a commitment to any
kind of organized religion. the extent We will to which
Adventism may attract or repel those who sense needs such as these. A far less
trivial substitute for faith than athletics or even political concerns is the recent revival of interest in ecology. the need to be committed to something that is bigger than oneself. of routine tasks. 132
our planet is certainly a major and worthy concern. People cannot be satisfied with an endless round Meaning must come from outside the ordinary. notice as we explore these felt needs. Adventism is uniquely positioned to make a difference here. More and
more people are committing themselves to recycling and reducing consumption so as not to overburden the environment. or the good old USA in the Gulf War. but such attachments function as symbols directed toward a far more significant need.
Even non-religious people need release from the
sense of failure--the failure to achieve their hopes. Most persons. they will recognize the need for release from the failure to live up to their own expectations.133 We can present the greatest Person and the greatest issues that anyone could possibly commit themselves to. whether or not they know anything
about the Ten Commandments. how to communicate the
contemporary terms that touch base with life as it really is experienced today. much less the standards that might be held up to them from outside. their dreams. and their best intentions. It is a fact of life that we inwardly expect of ourselves at least as much as we expect of other people.
tasks anyone could undertake. when
Catholics drop out of church to pursue secular interests the thing they often miss the most about the church is the sense of release and forgiveness that came as a result of their participation in the confessional. (2) Release from Guilt While secular people may feel uncomfortable with the term "guilt" in light of its Judeo-Christian associations. This makes sharing our faith one of the most meaningful We can meet this need as we learn that Jesus makes in real. The environment of the entire universe for all eternity is at stake in the work of the gospel. We can meet this need as we learn how to tie in
the issues of the Great Controversy to the kinds of issues that most people are talking about on a day to day basis. In fact. have a sense that they are not living up to what they expect from themselves. If I point my finger
. (3) Genuine Relationships Secular relationships. Many may deny that brokenness. but of all human beings. not so much physical as emotional and social. a strong sense of where they want to be in life. or drown it in
alcohol. what am I saying to myself? "Well. As we ourselves become forgiven On the
people. it certainly isn't right for me. Until we do. we are enabled to minister forgiveness to others. we cannot meet this deep need.
They are rushing here and there and A committed
relationships tend to be increasingly superficial. noisy and distracted lives. As Adventists we need to ask the hard
question of whether we truly understand and appreciate the cross. but that brokenness can ultimately be fixed only at the cross.
failure to achieve that leaves a sense of brokenness that cries out to be fixed. As society becomes increasingly high-tech the There will be a
need for genuine relationships will increase.134 at you and say "You shouldn't do that".
corresponding need for the caring touch. not only of secular people. it is impossible for an unforgiven person to be truly forgiving." And secular people often have a very strong sense of The
Christian who is willing to enter into sensitive and authentic relationship with a selected number of secular people will find open arms waiting.
other hand. people today have an urgent need for genuine
They long for real relationships with real people People today live
who care enough to be honest as well as loyal. if I can pontificate about it. or promiscuity.
aunts. These days brothers and sisters. secular people have a need for a cosmic philosophy. is one way to make contact with secular people. Or to put it in
. A loving
Creator longs to use His people to reach out to a secular world with a loving and a caring touch that the Holy Spirit can use to activate the even deeper need for the kind of relationship that only God can provide. people are becoming open to a wider variety of options in their search for genuine relationship. with people moving wherever jobs or housing opportunities may take them. where several generations along with cousins. secular people. (4) Cosmic Philosophy Although they may not always be conscious of the fact. The church
has the potential for providing a sense of extended family for those torn away from their own families of birth. parents and grandparents
are scattered all over the country. allowing them to consider the role the church could play in their lives.135 The church has a tremendous opportunity here to reach out to struggling. A "welcome
wagon" ministry targeting new arrivals to a community. Many have avoided church
because of the perception that church people are inauthentic and superficial. hurting. for example. Many people deeply regret the loss of the extended family. North American life is increasingly transient. and thus incapable of meeting their deep relational needs. and nephews all live in the same community and come together on a regular basis. But as a high-tech society makes it more difficult to
maintain meaningful relationships. often all over the world.
All that is known is what can be perceived on earth by What we call "eschatology. Adventists may not be conscious of this need because we
often take our awareness of cosmic issues in the universe for granted. there is no Christian group that is better positioned to make a difference in the secular world.136 contemporary terms. For Adventists the whole Great Controversy scheme is a great organizing principle for one's personal concept of the universe and one's place in that universe. no idea how the world is going to end. Each of
the first four needs can be answered by means of the resources found within our faith. as regards the first and fourth
Human beings need to know that everything
somehow fits together. Just think what life would be like if you had no idea
where you came from. provided we take the time and trouble to learn how to communicate these insights in a
. this sense of place
in the larger scheme of things can be quite meaningful in a secular context. In fact.
philosophy that brings the whole universe into the equation. (5) Unorganized Religion Thus far this examination of the basic needs of secular people has proven to be quite encouraging for Adventist mission. is foreign to most people." a cosmic
means of the five senses. empty void. At appropriate times. The average person looks out at the It is an
sky and has little or no idea what is going on out there. no idea what the universe beyond the telescope is like. that they belong to a meaningful and ordered universe. they sense a need for social and cosmic
for example. that religious coercion is the most vexing of assaults upon personal liberties. They fear coercion and the manipulation of their lives. Fresh and creative ideas are frequently met with "We never did it that way before. Few Christian churches are more
tightly organized and controlled than the Seventh-day Adventist Church.137 relevant way. tend to be opposed to what they often call "organized" religion. We might as well be honest. The fifth need of secular people. In my experience.
sensing. therefore. We encourage people to become educated.
of authority in general comes a corresponding suspicion directed toward religious authority in particular. however. They like to be "involved" in the process by
which they become converted. perhaps. It is not surprising that anti-
organization-type secular people are often open to the nonsense of the New Age since New Age is. but then
expect them to think only outside their involvement with the organized church. they prefer to be involved in religious contexts where they are allowed considerable freedom and choice in the way they think and live." whether she did in fact say it or not. The situation is not hopeless. is far In harmony with the prevailing suspicion
more challenging to us. perhaps. When secular people come to
faith." or "Ellen White says. however. structures and procedures that we often
take for granted prove to be quite troubling as former secular people come in contact with them in a new-found Christian walk with us. the very epitome of
unorganized religion. I sense a rising
therefore. Secular people.
both for Adventists who are comfortable in the church and for those outside that we might seek to attract. Such an argument will come
across lame. discover and utilize their Helping former secular people gifts is one way to
demonstrate that their is plenty of room in God's house for individuality and creativity. so our roots are in the radical reformation. Perhaps we can recapture some of the radical spirit of our Adventist pioneers without losing all the positive benefits that competent organization can provide. A major barrier to reaching a secular
. if you are not genuinely open to change yourself. Another area of some advantage to Adventism is the secular attitude toward the Bible. After all we ourselves started out as an anti-establishment church. If a local church is comfortable only with the ways
they've done things in the past. In an appendix
to this book I will briefly share some ideas that may help reduce the barriers that secular people perceive as they encounter our organization. secular people will not stay long because that is exactly the kind of attitude they have been trying to avoid in their previous indifference to religion. This is an
area that will require a great deal of sensitivity. We broke ranks with all the other churches because they failed to follow the Bible.138 openness among SDA administrators to create more caring structures and interactions in relation to the local church. I have personally been able to blunt the negative
impact of our organizational structure on secular people by an appeal to our church's history. however.
the subjugation of women and minorities. and speaks a language that is familiar and meaningful. and administration by absolute fiat (as in the Papacy). self-help for home-repairs. When secular people find out that the Bible isn't anything have been told. they'll often be open to you. child abuse. self-help for marriage. etc. that the Bible
teaches such unpalatable ideas as everlasting
burning hell. suggestions for almost every area of life.139 person with the gospel is the mistaken ideas about the Bible that they have picked up. they are often quite open to its
instruction. The number one selling category of books today
is self-help. past Adventists also left established churches In the the
conventional religious wisdom didn't jibe with what we found in the Bible. Frankly. (6) Life-style Direction Secular people these days are earnestly seeking direction for their lifestyles. If you can disabuse them of these false Many secular people think
ideas. The big concern of most young people today is that they do not know what to do with their lives. but
. The amazing openness of secular people to the
bizarre absurdities of the New Age Movement certainly indicates an openness to help from any direction. self-help for potty-training. We offer
I suspect that we do
not always present it in a way that is effective or meaningful. self-help for plumbing. provided it touches base directly with felt needs. there is no faith anywhere that offers more direction for people's lifestyle than does the Adventist faith.
would be to aim at the felt needs in the area of lifestyle.
can be intelligently utilized by SDAs in two ways. with particular emphasis on health.
is aimed at showing why this is so and offering suggestions to turn the situation around. stress
management. if we can learn
to think through and present lifestyle guidelines from a principled and logical perspective rather than as rigid rules we have much that will be attractive to the average person on the street. already much material available on these matters. It would seem that the best approach for SDAs who wish to reach secular people. we have a contribution to make that in some ways exceeds that of any other Christian group. Conclusion This brief look at some of the basic felt needs of secular people indicates that Seventh-day Adventists have a marvelous opportunity to make major inroads into the secular community. we have a unique niche in this
. and as sources of credible scientific support for the things we hold dear.140 there is much there that would be of great interest in the secular context. personal finance. However. In
three of the six areas. In spite of this This book
we have made little or no impact in the secular world. and time management. as windows to help us understand how to communicate with the secular world on these subjects. As was mentioned in the previous section. But
if we are not careful it is always possible to present these things in a way that will cause the secular person to see all the red flags of "organized religion" in our approach.
This has been the strength of We have a unified message learn to express our
Adventism in each previous generation. If we
convictions in up-to-date language. with a unified worldview.141 area in that we can integrate the help that people receive in specific areas into a comprehensive worldview (Great
Controversy/cosmic eschatology) that will provide unity and meaning to every area of people's lives.
. we may be surprised at the kind of people who will be anxious to become involved.
I know of no Seventh-day Adventist that fits that category better than Clifton Davis. he is equally at home in the public setting. and what they expected from the encounter. Yet
I have seen him
operate in a restaurant as it gradually dawns on the people around us that it is really him. Soon they started coming over with
napkins and date books for autographs and a little conversation. He was completely at home in the Adventist environment of Andrews University. with Adventist administrators at the conference level. but can also step out and be comfortable in the secular world. whether mingling with students and teachers at the seminary. The greatest need in our church is for two-horizon
people. or in a local church. I would like to return to the concept of the "two-horizon" person. the television actor. It really inspired me to find
more ways of making a difference for Christ on airplanes. people who are not only comfortable in a traditional Adventist setting. Every person has their
own intellectual and social horizon.CHAPTER EIGHT
CUTTING-EDGE PEOPLE It clearly takes a special kind of person to reach out to secular people in a meaningful way without crossing the barriers of social propriety. 142
. What are the characteristics of such a person?
To recall the starting point of this book. a perspective that is unique to them. and in routine business contacts. He was sensitive to where each person was coming from.
to intuitively put themselves in other people's shoes and see the world through their eyes. I always envied Joe's razor-sharp ability to I
zero in on a person and identify what was going on deep inside. You can not expect to railroad one group in order to Such an approach will simply
accomplish something with the other. I had a good friend named Joe who was pastoring in the same conference I was in. People with this quality are able to get close to others in a hurry. But if you are working
in a context in which secular people will be brought together with traditional Adventist people. One Sunday a number of church members came up Around ten o'clock this
from the city to help us out for a day. you will need a deep sensitivity to both groups.
. to sense where they are coming from.143
The two-horizon person is the person who can make people feel at ease both in the church and in the world. like a
community church. First of all is the ability
to identify with people.
will never forget the time we were on the paint crew at the conference camp. An independent ministry. Certainly any
Adventist pastor who wants to work with secular people while pastoring a typical Adventist church will need a two-horizon perspective in order to survive. Identify with People There are at least four qualities that equip a person to be effective in reaching secular people.
create a great deal of anger and heartache. is a much easier proposition than pastoring an established Seventh-day Adventist church.
But even those who do not feel
"gifted" can learn to identify with people more effectively with a little training and practice. "are you
young man had just come from Yugoslavia. pray about her right now?" Immediately
Joe continued. "Why don't we
We all dropped to our knees on the He hadn't been in the
dropcloth and prayed for this guy's sister. Joe immediately says." etc. your mistakes. "He's here to help out. tend to be rugged individualists." he says."
Suddenly Joe turned to him. looked him directly in the eye and said. take it to the Lord."
After a couple of minutes conversation Joe found out that the "Oh. If you realize that you have difficulty identifying with people. "If people see things differently than we do it's their problem. My name's Joe. no.
My sister's still back there. Make it a project to learn from
The neat thing about secular people is that they
are very forgiving of relational mistakes. By the Spirit many Christians can
become specially "gifted" in order to enhance the spiritual power of their ministry to others. "Hi.144 fellow was dropped off at our work-site with the message. here with your family?" "No. The individualist
attitude radiates. room five minutes!
individualism is reflected in the proliferation of private interest groups at the fringes of Adventism today. mirroring the nineteenth-century heritage of the American frontier." But spiritual outreach across cultural lines
requires great sensitivity to other people's ideas and feelings. "You're worried about your sister. aren't you?" a tear came down the fellow's cheek. if you are honest and
relating to a secular person just say. Not all of us are as naturally gifted as Joe is. "I really blew that! don't know why I said that. With secular people it is necessary to "wing it" Fresh and creative
a lot more than most of us are accustomed to. Creative Witness The second quality that sets two-horizon people apart is the ability to offer a fresh and creative witness when the
circumstances demand it. As I have repeatedly pointed But those who feel the
out. I certainly am not." forgiving they can be.
You will be amazed at how
They are usually quite willing to teach you
how to talk to them if you give them an honest effort. It is worth making a top priority. secular ministry is not for everybody.
A canned or pre-packaged approach is
limited in its impact to those who are interested in what that particular kind of can contains.145 genuine. But this is one
of the most important things that any of us can learn in this life. Secular people do not appreciate the kind of person who But if you make an honest mistake in I
is "holier than thou". would be a set of Bible Examples of a canned approach that is given to everyone
regardless of background or interests. I have to struggle to put people at ease.
call of God to make a difference in the secular environment will want to sharpen their ability to identify with people and
understand the inner drives that motivate their behavior.
witness means to be able to say something that you have never said
. etc. or an evangelistic series that is identical in every community regardless of its ethnic or social setting.
I can remember an occasion where the Spirit helped me to "wing it" in an effective way. etc. I introduced myself as the pastor of the wife's church. with two of his friends. somewhat older. let
visit and meet her husband. and she did little to enlighten him during the courtship period. this is going to be one of those days!"
wife was nowhere to be seen. She was in her 50s and he was
Sometime after the marriage she requested that I They lived in a lovely mountainous I thought. Obviously.
me make a nice day of it and refresh myself in the countryside as I go up for the visit. "Have a drink. and there was Joe. "Yes." As I approached the area it was raining. so I went over and sat down at the table. drinking hard liquor in the rain." Joe immediately picked up
the bottle of brandy that was on the table.146 anywhere else before because the situation requires it. pastor. the only way we can do this is to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. There
on the lawn was one of these big yard umbrellas. I thought to myself. parked the car. we've been expecting you. There was a lady in my church who had She married a man who had no
been an Adventist for a long time. The Spirit can impress you in particular
circumstances to offer the right word at the right time much as Jesus did while He was here on earth. I reached their lakeside home. and cloudy.
area about 100 miles from my urban church. the husband (no relation to Joe the pastor). and got out. The Adventist
"Pastor. "Well. handed it to me and said.
background in Adventism whatsoever."
But. rolling around with laughter. "Sure. I have a difficult time But on this occasion. I need to
be going back but Joe. When the dinner was over.
And Joe was just sobbing and sobbing. And I often blow such opportunities. put words in my mouth. To
mishandle this moment could put an end to any hope of reaching this man. "I'd like the strongest drink in the world." I said. Joe said. "What's that?" I said.
laughing so hard that it took about fifteen minutes to get him back together again. looked at it. would you mind if I prayed for you before I go?" Now I would not make such an offer in every circumstance. but
I felt impressed that this was the right thing to do on this occasion." He was
Joe was on the lawn. noise. I said. I believe the Lord Although I had never met the man. I took
handling people right.
In the middle of the prayer. "Oh." And I began to pray for him.
. I peeked. and said.147 This was the moment of truth for our relationship. "You know." He said. I heard a I might as
It was a cross between panting and sniffling. now.
well admit it. that's good brandy.
the bottle of brandy. along with his wife and the two neighbors. A little
while later we had dinner together. and his family.
I'd like a glass of water. I'm interested in something a little stronger right
battleships. for his
neighbors. it'll float He leaned forward and said. "Something stronger than brandy?" "Yeah." I had his full attention. "It's a drink that is so strong. We were friends from that moment on.
148 When I finished the prayer, he continued sobbing for a half-hour. No one had ever prayed for him. And shortly after that he began
coming to church in spite of the distance. Let me be very honest with you, I don't have successes like this all the time. In fact I might be shooting 20-30% at best.
But on that one occasion a fresh and creative witness reached a person who had never been touched before. Fresh and creative? I
would never have dreamed that a joke about alcohol would be the way into a person's heart. But if the Spirit is with you and your
heart is sensitive to people, you can often sense the right word at the right time, even when you do not know the people very well. I think that is the way Jesus would have handled it. to many kinds of parties. His presence. He went
And sinners were never embarrassed by
He had found a way to make them feel at home and, at
the same time, maintain those limits that were necessary to His own spiritual experience. Fresh and creative witness means a
willingness when necessary to approach people and issues from an entirely different angle than you have ever tried before. Biblical Knowledge A third quality that is absolutely essential in the person who desires to witness effectively to secular people is to know the Bible well. overnight. This is a tough one. It certainly does not happen
But a thorough knowledge of the content of the Bible is
critical. Secular people ask questions that you have never dreamed of. They almost never ask the questions that are found in the When secular people see a bumper
typical set of Bible lessons.
149 sticker that says "Jesus is the Answer", they respond, "What was the question?" They are not asking Christian types of questions.
Most of our traditional Bible lesson sets were designed to persuade people who already know Christ and are familiar with their Bibles. Secular people find it difficult to relate to that kind of Biblical knowledge. To know the Bible well is to be prepared so
that when the off-the-wall question comes, you can reorient your Biblical knowledge in relation to the question and provide an answer from Scripture that transcends anything you knew before. That may seem an impossible task but you must not allow the enormity of the task to slow you down. If you have no idea how to Hey, do you mind if
answer just say, "That was a great question! I go home and think about it for awhile? that deserves a solid answer. back to you."
A question as good as
Give me a little time and I'll get
As we noted earlier, secular people are a lot more They do not expect
forgiving than we might have reason to expect.
you to have all the answer at the tip of your fingers, in fact they may become suspicious to the extent that you imply that you do! My favorite style of evangelism is what I called "Open Forum." Open forum style permits people to interrupt anytime to ask
questions or offer comments.
It is not a great deal different than Secular people
the Donahue or Oprah Winfrey shows on television.
found the open forum style entertaining as well as challenging. They would say, "This is better than television. every night of the week." I would come here
Apparently the give and take of
intellectual debate remains the object of tremendous interest. The
150 challenge of open forum, of course, is that you never know what you are going to face so you had better know your Bible and be sensitive to the Spirit's guidance. I remember a Jewish lady who I would
would regularly blurt out, "I don't believe that!" respond, "You don't believe it? Why not?"
I would let her talk a
little bit, then I would say, "What do you think of this text here?" It was amazing how this style built rapport with a fairly But in an open forum setting the lack of a
thorough knowledge of the Biblical material will often leave you speechless. Common Language The fourth quality that characterizes Christians who
successfully interact with the secular environment is the use of basic, everyday language in outreach efforts. There is a language
that is common to all who speak English, the kind of language used in magazines like Newsweek or in the daily newspaper. These media
utilize a basic 8,000-10,000 words that communicate to virtually everyone whether or not they can read or write. On the contrary we
Adventists often use our own "in-house" language which communicates accurately only among us. Just imagine a secular person visiting an Adventist church for the first time. Up on the platform is a person doing a special What will the secular person be thinking?
feature on Investment.
"Hey, these people must be into stocks and bonds, I bet they're loaded. Someone else then gets up and says, "You know, I'll never Light? What light? A
forget the day I finally saw the light."
151 Bud Lite? The reality is that most Adventists who are educated and who work in white collar jobs know how to talk to secular people on a day-to-day basis. The problem is that we tend to segregate that
language to the secular part of our lives and switch to a different language whenever we want to express our spiritual needs and concerns. Adventists should challenge each other to express
spiritual feelings in everyday language within the church so that it will become second nature when we reach outside to others. As a pastor in New York City, one of the intellectual capitals of the secular world, I went out of my way to screen my sermons with this in mind. I would ask myself at every step, "What sense How
would this language make to somebody coming in off the street?
can I make it as basic and clear as possible without giving up content? I gradually learned that you can talk about complex It takes time to learn. I
things without using complex language.
remember with much regret the time a Lutheran couple came to my church and I prepared a sermon on the law "just for them." I had
not made it to the ten minute mark of the sermon before I realized that I had totally blown it, but I did not know what to do to redeem the situation. They never came back. It has taken years
for me to learn the use common language, and then it took a few more years to start overcoming the impact of Ph.D. studies on my vocabulary. But the more we learn to use the language that all
people have in common, the wider the impact that we can make on a diverse audience. Both the intellectual and the illiterate are
152 included by the same message. Conclusion The four qualities described briefly above require both
involvement with the Holy Spirit and much effort and experience. It is not necessary, however, to master all these areas before one can begin reaching out to secular people. God enables those that He calls. The good news is that
If you feel called to develop an
outreach to secular people, I invite you to commit yourself before God to get the training and experience that will make a difference in the quality of your efforts. lies in the doing. The very best training, however,
that privacy is a It is easy to I must
major quality of life issue with secular people. however. by As we interact regularly with secular
people we will learn how to communicate effectively with them. questions that gently and kindly zero in on what really matters in the other person's life. Creative listening means learning to ask the right question at the right time. Creative
listening is hard for me--I tend to talk too much and I sometimes talk myself right out of a conversation.CHAPTER NINE
THE PRACTICE OF ONE-TO-ONE OUTREACH Creative Listening The preceding chapter concludes by putting a finger on what is."
of asking leading questions. 153
. We will quickly learn.
How do you
The same way children learn language. My friend Joe rarely needed more than five questions before he discovered the central area of need in a person's life. How does this work in practice? to a secular person? How do you actually get close
I know of no better way than what I like to I define creative listening as the art
call "creative listening. The goal of creative
listening is to sensitively encourage a person to reveal those things that are of greatest concern in their lives at that time. learn their language? listening and talking. confess that I wish I was equally gifted in this area. perhaps. the greatest Adventist shortcoming in dealing with secular people. our failure to learn and use language and
terminology that is meaningful to their experience.
we can learn to place the natural tensions of everyday relationship in their proper perspective. however. "I now know that many ways not to make a Failure is a marvelous path to learning! Certainly
the spread of the gospel is worthy of Edison's entrepreneurial spirit.154 overstep the bounds and embarrass yourself by pushing too hard or too fast. I think that was the wrong thing to say. He replied. secular people appreciate someone who's honest and open. is that Jesus could
. however. probably the best way to learn anything. But it is one thing to experiment on light bulbs and another to experiment on people. Along the way
someone asked Edison how he felt about his thousands of failed attempts. "Didn't Jesus zero in right to the point with the Rich Young Ruler? lot of fancy listening. In light of what the cross tells us concerning our
standing with God. Someone once objected. Will this happen to you as you reach out to secular You will often say the wrong thing and offend But failure is
people as you search to find what makes them tick. Fortunately.
The difference between Jesus and me. Most people are naturally reluctant to
overstep the comfort zone of others. communicating with secular people will be a great adventure." He didn't waste time with a
That was often true in Jesus' experience." or "Sorry.
the attendant at Thomas Edison's laboratory told us that it took 3573 attempts to make the first usable light bulb." As long as we do not wear our feelings
on our sleeve. I blew that one. "Oh.
At Greenfield Village. as was mentioned earlier. someone who says.
it were better in the ultimate scheme of things for angels to do the work of outreach. the struggle to listen through their ears and look through their eyes so as to grasp what prevents them from hearing the gospel and seeing Christ. spend a lot of time in creative listening. it will come as the result of a lengthy two-step process. they would gladly do it. I can't yet. but we must not forget the point of Chapter One. To the extent that I can learn to
read hearts. because it indicates our steadfast resolve to rid our minds of the prejudices and caricatures which we may entertain about other people. I need to The experience with
Spirit from impressing me regarding others. There is a massive role that is left for us to play in He has more than one purpose in this. God does not normally choose to bypass the human process of learning. to sympathize with them
. A second purpose of God in allowing us to stumble on in our attempts to reach people is that such listening is a marvelous may to demonstrate Christ-like love.
Joe's brandy is the exception. But God takes the
risk of giving us the task. Nothing in this book is intended to minimize the role of the Spirit in outreach.155 read the heart. I must remove any barriers that may prevent His Second. First. For
co-operation with God. most strangers cannot be understood without much listening. Notice the words of John Stott:
Dialogue is a token of genuine Christian love. because it is as crucial to our wellbeing as it is to those we minister to. we will learn lessons about ourselves that we could learn no other way. as we go through the laborious process of learning how to sense what is in the heart of people on the street.
Contemporary Christian Communications: Its Theory and Practice (Nashville: Thomas Nelson. To the Greeks of Asia Minor. 1979). was described in language much like the Revelator's description of Christ in Rev 1. Yet just such a figure was a prominent part of Greek philosophy. Apparently even Bible writers like John did a great deal of listening before writing down what God had shared with them. In Platonic thought "The Word" was a divine person who created and sustained the world. p. She was called the first and the She held the keys of heaven and
hell. it is Jesus Christ!" John had learned. and now serves as the mediator between God and humanity. So when John 1 talks about "the Word made flesh" it was
as if John was proclaiming to the Greeks. nowhere is "The Word" ever described as a divine person. Quoted in James F. and was able to reveal to people what went on in those places.156 in all their doubts. 60. "This 'Word' whom you worship I declare unto you. Students of Revelation. will be quite interested to discover that Hekate. although God's word creates the world in the For Old
under the guidance of the Spirit. fears and hangups. example. John offered a Jesus that met their deepest longings in language that was meaningful to them. how to present the gospel effectively to the Greeks by careful attention to the way they thought about God.1 As any successfully married couple knows. therefore. Engel. love and listening are two sides of the same coin. the most popular goddess of Asia Minor in the first century. last. the beginning and the end.
in the book
basic human characteristic.
. therefore. Every person has needs that they are not aware of. aim at the felt needs. what problems stimulate a desire for something better? There can be. are we looking for as we are listening? What
We are trying to discover
the felt needs that open that person to input from others at that point in his or her experience. of course. Human beings have a natural If We
And it is a good aversion. So the starting point must be to
This approach is in harmony with a very James Engel points out. there is no better way to begin the process than through listening.
we didn't have it. that every human being has a built-in barrier against persuasion. of course. aversion to changing their minds. Whether you are seeking out
individuals or want to hold evangelistic meetings in an area.
most people are not aware of their need for Christ. it reminds us that the gospel can only be heard when it comes in context! As human beings we become familiar with people's context
by listening! The Point of Contact Creative listening. is to know Christ. is the starting point for outreach to a secular world.157 Even if we suppose that God was the source of the connections. But
the greatest of all human needs.
Contemporary Christian Communication. a difference between genuine needs and felt needs. we would all change religions every day. What are the needs that motivate Where is that
that person's search for truth and self-betterment?
person hurting. and they would deny their need for the Gospel.
that point in a person or a group's experience where an aspect of the gospel intersects with conscious needs and interests. time. you have met some no doubt." it is to approach people in the area of their felt needs. has a strong barrier against persuasion. There are people
who do not have a very strong barrier against persuasion. however. They jump from one idea to the next and never They are known as credulous or easily
quite settle on anything.
When somebody else comes along with an idea that is radically different than what they believe.158 would all believe the last thing we were told. A psychological
And the more you pound against that wall. "I had a kid just like that and here's what worked for us. Students of world mission call this felt need the
point of contact. my biggest felt need was to
learn how you get babies that like a warm feeling in their pants to do what they are supposed to do in the place in which they are supposed to do it. That was a real felt need in my life for a
We tried all kinds of angles yet a particular child seemed At that point I was wide open to
to prefer to do it his way. Let me illustrate. Not long ago. no matter how crazy the suggestion sounded at first! All a person had to do was
say. the But there is a way around those "brick
more it is reinforced. duped. A felt need is a point in that person's life where they are open to instruction."
. They do not lightly change their minds on any topic.
anyone with a suggestion I had not heard before. what happens? brick wall goes up.
The average person.
When you approach them at the point of their felt needs wide open to instruction. attention. We were definitely interested in fresh and creative ideas on the subject. the ratio jumped
immediately to one out of three!
Some time after this the van team
noticed that even higher percentages of people seemed interested in material on how to manage stress. It made no sense to me in the light of what I know about And furthermore I had no interest in that person's But someone approaching at a point of felt The barrier against people are no
Revelation. they would like to One out of 20
When people were asked in a soft-sell way if receive Bible studies. Back in the 1970s people coming onto a van to get their
blood pressure checked were invited on a registration sheet to check if they were interested in studying the Bible.
opinion. "The Beast of Revelation is Ronald Wilson Reagan who has six letters in each of his three names. They are searching for
information on that very point. Would Bible study guides on how
. (So there!)
need gets a much more positive reaction. or 21 would do so. they are comes down immediately. I am reminded of the blood pressure screening/food sharing van ministry in New York City that most Adventists are now familiar with." I would be quite resistant to that.159 I would be all ears. my wife and I tried
it at least once. because we felt a huge need to resolve that problem. If someone had come to me at that time (someone did) and asserted. I gave that person my full and immediate
And no matter how nutty the idea. persuasion different.
therefore. Jewish. a major felt need. Catholic. seemingly shouldering past you all at once. are all keyed up. Within 50 miles are more than twenty million! town Manhattan is incredible. comes stress. planes overhead. within a stone's throw from where you stand 50. 242 out of 242.
Stress is. buses roaring beside you. It must have been a very bad day on Wall Street. Muslim.
Perhaps it was one of those days with a major
downswing. buildings seventy stories high by the dozen in all directions.000 people are active and operating. but on that day 242 people came on the van in front of the Stock Exchange and every single one accepted Bible studies.160 to manage stress in one's life meet a felt need in New York City? Standing on the corner of 47th Street and 6th Avenue is an experience you will get nowhere else on earth. of Bible study guides on People were told.
accepting and continue to accept lessons. Bible lessons on how to manage stress were developed entitled Power to Cope.
. are you
They were just grabbing them. There are subways
rumbling under you. it did not seem to matter. "We have a free set how to cope with stress. sometimes grabbing One day on Wall Street there was
extra ones for all their friends. The energy of Mid-
But along with that adrenalin surge To make it You
By the end of the day you are exhausted!
worse. the number one felt need
of people in New York City (and in many other parts of North America these days as well!). The percentage of people accepting Bible Studies Now 85-87% were
skyrocketed as soon as the lessons were available. you go to bed and your mind is spinning all the more.
finding a felt need and speaking directly to that felt need.
and downs.161 But that is what happens when you meet felt needs. it is a great adventure that will enrich the life of
two key points of this book are clearly illustrated by the van ministry. in the light of Part Two of this book. the felt need principle makes a Christian's life more complex because secular people are as diverse as
snowflakes. however. and with lessons that met felt needs. the barrier against persuasion is gone. to mention that the leaders of the van ministry always insist that the key to the successes of the program are due more than anything else to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in response to prayer and the prayer-filled lives of the people serving on the vans. the situation But although the attempt will have its ups
may appear hopeless. on the one hand. interest increased from one in twenty to 85% and more! Frankly. Without a fresh and creative approach. And that is the key to opening up
secular people to the gospel. understanding of method will work wonders. Thus.
Talk to twenty secular people and you will discover
twenty different felt needs that you have never met in quite that form before. Prayer without an
But even more powerful
is a ministry that combines prayer with intelligent sensitivity to how secular people can be best approached. It is appropriate. Ministry to secular people will only succeed in an
atmosphere of God's presence and power. in the van ministry. Prayer is the constant
But when prayer was combined with the
skillful personal invitation. and of sensitivity to people's needs on the other.
questionnaire developed an interesting set of questions including. I would suggest what I call door
We approach people door to door for a wide Why not door to door listening? A simple way
to accomplish this is to target a specific geographical area or a particular socio-economic segment of the target area. and a few high-rises that were hanging together by a thread. Andrews
University can. it is important to modify the survey itself on the basis of the feed-back. provide demographic breakdowns according to the zip codes in your area. No doubt you
It is a part of New York City We were taking the survey on
that looks a lot like Berlin in 1945. We went down that street taking surveys of The author of the
what the felt needs of that community were. broken glass in the empty lots. As early returns
from the survey come in. Door to Door Listening How does the felt need principle operate on a large scale? How do you do this as a church? to door listening. As areas of interest emerge. if needed. "Do you feel good about the condition of this block?" 100% of the
. variety of reasons. (The address Institute of Church Ministry is found in the bibliography at the end of this book.
a block that had garbage in the street.) Create a short survey that attempts to discover what particular felt needs are abundant in the target community.162 everyone who thrives on adventure. burnt-out buildings. A group of us once did this in the South Bronx. have heard about the South Bronx.
the local church or group can assess which of the felt needs they are in a position to address.
Regardless of the type of neighborhood. There are physical dangers in such a God has
response." They did not feel good about the way the
neighborhood was. Was that block begging for a doctrinal crusade? Or was the To my amazement
ideal starting point a call for a person with a Christ-like heart to move into that block and get involved? Such a person could
encourage the people to galvanize the resources there. looking for people who are open to the kinds of things the church is able to offer. Most people are afraid to take the lead. to provide security. And when felt needs emerge. move from a totally secular environment into a To
Adventist environment is not going to happen in two or three weeks. to plant flowers. would you help?" 90% said "yes" in an area known for apathy. etc. the Spirit will move
believing hearts to take action! Patience Patience is necessary when working with secular people. when you take
surveys door-to-door you are looking for fertile fields. In my experience it averages about two years.163 people said "no. but that need not be a major barrier. could be done. of course. The next question was "If someone would take the lead in cleaning up the block. What we are talking
someone took the lead people would follow. to clean up the empty lot.
programmed some people in a way that they don't get excited about tasks unless there is a measure of risk or adventure associated with them.
To meet a felt need
like this would create a great deal of interest in what else the church has to offer.
I just sat down with him and said. church as anyone could be. They had been out Ingathering. churches make mistakes. wedding and then baptized them a year later. "We want to know what
we're getting into first. We plan to become Seventh-day Adventists but we are going to become Seventh-day Adventists when we
understand all of what that means. anything to do with Adventism?"
In it were some articles about the My heart was
Davenport fiasco and similar problems in the church. came up to me He asked. I remember one couple that I baptized. they thought that they were already members of the church.164 about here is long-term commitment and this may be more appropriate to elders than to pastors in some circumstances. people and pastors make mistakes. They were as active and involved in the But it was two years before they were
comfortable in making a total commitment to Christ in the context of the Adventist Church. on this planet. this
church is not perfect. you're looking in the wrong place. Administrators make mistakes. I officiated at their On the day of their
baptism the members were shocked. If you're looking for You can't find it
But there's one thing I like about being an
. One day the husband. "Does this have
with an issue of Spectrum magazine. who worked for IBM. They insisted. "Look. The key people
who develop a relationship with a secular person need to be around when he or she goes all the way with Christ. they came to all the work-bees. they went to all the prayer meetings-they were at everything." In dealing with secular people there will be rough times along the way.
I believe. they demanded a meeting to learn what was going on. "Yeah. but thirty Adventists that I had never seen before had come from other churches.165 Adventist with all of the shortcomings. It
When the youth caught
wind of some of these things. that God has a lot more that He wants to reveal to us.
We are not as a people willing to settle Maybe you don't think we are really
into the rut of tradition. but I do believe what I said there in principle. "and that is that we are encouraged to keep growing in our understanding of truth. I did the democratic thing and allowed them to set In retrospect. however long it takes. quite stupid." Now you may think I fudged just a little. And a couple of conference officials had come as well!
." I told him. because I believe that we as a I am a Seventh-day Adventist people are open to clearer We are not content to settle down
The husband's response was. however. with tradition." bother me.
open to change.
If we refuse to grow in grace and in understanding we
may find ourselves left behind as God turns to others.
When meeting time came not only were all the fifteen
non-churched people that I was working with sitting in the front row. The path of truth is like a shining light getting brighter And we are not
and brighter until it reaches the ultimate goal. This was also the time known to some as the "Ford crisis. that was
the agenda and bring all their friends. that doesn't
expressions of truth. or maybe you are satisfied with where things are." was a very traumatic time to be a pastor. there yet.
What I did not have the heart to tell them
then was that the Conference President got twelve threatening phone calls from the unknown Adventists in that meeting. "You had some kind of meeting there Sabbath. and had no context for understanding what I was saying." The president responded."
My response was. didn't you?" I said." Let me share with you some
I have no plans to do
. they just did not like what was happening. some people are pretty upset. "Don't worry. They said. "I have always had confidence in you. but came thick and fast so that there was no time to work through the issues from a Biblical perspective. "Yeah. I guess I had some people there that don't know me very well. place I want to be." "Yeah. The conference president got the phone and said.166 The questions were not only specific. I could only give a short answer and go on.
What was interesting to me is that not one of those secular people was the least bit disturbed about the issues raised at that meeting. "It's neat the way people in your church are This is the kind of
so open and willing to discuss the problems. Let me suggest that you not have any more meetings like that." He said. something like that ever again. I guess airing some of those things was not particularly
thrilling to them. They did not
know me. "I got all kinds of phone calls.
Stick to the
audiences would each respond positively to a completely different approach.
had a hybrid target that attracted a mixed audience. That is simply a reality. there is a dark side to the open forum
It is not realistic to expect that things will always go It helps.
reaching the unreached are two different processes. church growth and Meetings that
perfectly. A certain amount of flak is unavoidable in
Biblical "hot potatoes" it is best to take the Word and work things through carefully with people who have questions.167 experience. if Paul's experience is any guide! Another lesson I have learned about open forum concerns When you are discussing
dealing with Adventist "hot potatoes. "Listen. just
ask me and I will be happy to share it with you in your language.
attract and interest secular people may be very distressing to some of your own church people. and I decided that the church members would have to be the ones to handle it if necessary. style. But if you have any problems. I know that
when I speak to an Adventist audience I speak differently than when I know I'm speaking to a secular audience. For one thing. When an Adventist
wonders why I said something in an unfamiliar way I say. however. Another way to handle the problem is to limit the The meeting that got me in trouble Since the two
audience by careful targeting. it left me with the task of deciding which to offend.
whenever possible. not you. I'm talking to them. to target your audience carefully As we noticed in Part One." It certainly helps in such a situation if the Adventists in the audience know you personally and have confidence in your ministry.
people may use unbiblical concepts or even Biblical terms in a way that they are not used in the Bible.168 Word and say only what is in the Word and neither right nor left wing will trouble you much. And that is true for a lot of
people. People would be swayed by the certitude of the one who was presenting the gospel to them. They say. Unless you
have time to lay out the full Biblical perspective. The lesson from my unhappy meeting that is most pertinent to our purpose is that secular people. and then go back to my central topic. the best open forum answer may be. are usually excited by the fact that we are willing to openly acknowledge and discuss our imperfections. but each is trying to protect something that is true.
. "At least you guys don't think that you There was a time when Adventists thought
have all the answers. "I have problems with both sides on that issue. issue." When we have time."
that the only effective way to do evangelism and witnessing was by having absolute confidence in the rightness of one's convictions. rather than being turned off by the fact that the church isn't perfect. we can take a closer look at that
At that time I might point out a Bible text that well the Biblical tension between both sides of the
question. On hot issues such as the nature of Christ and the order
of salvation. so learn wherever you can.
Biblical language instead of buying into the language of the debate. including some secular people of the blue-collar variety. but don't believe everything you hear or see in print. Let the Word of God gradually Elevate the discussion by using
transform people's thinking.
and dialoguing. however. Mass media advertising has led to a situation where educated secular people have difficulty believing anything that is offered in the public square. only
in persuasion. The open forum setting is actually much more Through listening
persuasive for them than an assertive lecture. for we know that we see through a glass darkly (1 Cor 13:12). Those who know God's Word will not
avoid giving that impression.
is a community that is fully devoted to an open. and that our knowledge of truth will continue to grow until the end (Prov 4:18). however." What they are delighted to find. Thus in the secular environment. and continuing search for truth. as secular people do not normally experience rapid conversions to Christian faith.169 Many types of people are still looking for someone to tell them exactly what they need to do. Educated white-collar secular people are not usually looking for the "true church. is an attitude of honesty and openness to discovery. Propaganda is not interested in truth. therefore. honest. Such an approach will
require patience. when an individual makes a strong statement about the certainty of his or her belief that statement is automatically suspect. But that approach usually backfires
with more-educated secular types. we show respect for the viewpoint of others and encourage a similar respect in return. Secular people are attracted to those who are willing
to admit that their understanding of truth is subject to limitation and distortion. Basic to reaching the
Particularly useful is Engel's This chart helps the
chart on the Spiritual Decision Process. Those interested in further "how to" ideas on
personal witnessing. therefore. I share some of the most helpful suggestions in that book in an appendix chapter at the end of this book.170 This "how-to" chapter has been necessarily sketchy and want
suggestive. outlining only basic principles.
specific ideas on how to approach secular people effectively. is now out of print. James Engel's Contemporary Christian Communications.
creative listener to pinpoint the level of spiritual interest in another person. are directed to the appendix. Since the best book I have ever read on the subject.
At some point one needs to confront
the inevitable tension between the way the church does things and the way that secular people respond. hinders it. We also need to educate about the problem of horizons. they often pick the most demanding ones.CHAPTER TEN
OUTREACH AS A CHURCH The preceding chapter clearly shows that one cannot reach out to secular people in a vacuum. lowering standards It is the "secularized" churches that are in decline.
When secular people look for a church. lifestyle. What can a local church or conference do to make a bigger impact in the secular environment? Education First of all. We need to educate about the need for a strong The principles outlined
devotional life in a secular environment. everyday existence.
in Part Two of this book can provide a starting point for such education.
A principled approach to lifestyle brings the divine
into practical. We also need to educate about the importance of the SDA Rather than helping evangelism. We have to struggle with the
question of how the Adventist horizon and the secular horizon can come together without compromising the best qualities of either. we need to educate our own Adventist people in a number of areas. to help 171
. not a negative So to be conservative in the area of lifestyle is unless combined with a rigid and judgmental
. No two people are gifted in exactly
If secular people are as diverse as snowflakes. therefore.
secular person tends to respond in a unique way. In the process it is helpful to point out that the
Bible does not offer a single. This will not come from
central planning but from the members discovering the unique roles God has developed for each person.
interested in how the Holy Spirit has provided a unique mix of abilities to every Christian. and family.
with change. the Since most human beings are uncomfortable
fortress and the salt. rigid model for outreach and evangelism. therefore. it helps a great deal when we can see that opening ourselves up to change in the area of outreach will bring us into conformity with Scripture rather than the reverse. I am encouraged. we This is
need a missionary force that is as diverse as snowflakes. Secular people are as diverse as Each
They are not normally reached in large groups. we need to encourage a multiplicity of ministries. friends.our people understand that without a lot of listening and learning we will not be effective in reaching secular neighbors. the same way.
exactly what the Holy Spirit provides. an explosion of all kinds of outreach ministries empowered by the Spirit. There are at least two great models of ministry. by People are becoming
the spiritual gifts movement in our church. to counter the pluralism of society
The only way. is with the
pluralism of the Holy Spirit. Multiply Ministries As part of the process of education. every Christian discovering the unique niche where they can serve best.
bare to the waist with a gold chain around his
Many Adventists Other
that I know have a consuming passion for New York City. or a particular class of society such as the handicapped or the wealthy. I came home from Andrews once. My mom's passion is in the kitchen. person has a special passion for something.173 Service is filled with joy and excitement whenever it flows not only from the gifts of the Spirit. I'd like you to meet your new brother!" He was sitting
in the living room. and for those who have become disenchanted with conventional religion. they tried to give Bible studies and build that
traditional ways. She only recently found
My parents carried a lifetime For years church in
burden for a German-oriented church in a major city. only to see it dwindle down to around twenty members. walked in the door and my Mom said. church. out that that was also her ministry. "Oh. If you
have a life's passion. Sometime in the last decade something happened in that Among other things.
people have a heavy burden for a particular ethnic group. my parents stopped trying to be what
they were not and concentrated on the gift of hospitality that God had given them all along.
usefulness and personal fulfillment are attained. I suppose it would be
safe to say that I have a passion for the unchurched. ministers in the area of his or her Every
When a Christian both maximum
passion. it is within that life passion that your ministry will be most effective. Others have a passion for the environment. but also from that unique burden or passion that God gives each person for ministry.
Many of them made a
point to come over to me and say. We serve happiest and we
serve best when we serve in harmony with the gifts and passions
. what has happened to One Sabbath there were twenty-
my conservative Adventist parents?
five young people home for lunch. but he absolutely adored my Mom as she opened her life to him. I do have a gift for them. Many people are
gifted in the area of giving Bible studies.
He lived next door and he would just come over for I don't know
hours at a time and watch my mother do the housework. so the gifts of the Spirit are not hereditary.174 neck and a big gold medallion on his chest. twelve were church members and thirteen were not. the place where they could be themselves in service for God. I began to suspect that my
folks had also found home. When my parents left that city a few years ago. an interesting brother! I soon learned This was going to be of his homosexual
what the psychological dynamic was. "We're so sorry your parents are leaving--they're the reason we're in this church. there were nearly a hundred young people in that church. I found out that my Mom had also developed a close
relationship with some Buddhist girls who were also homosexually orientated. Buddhists! I thought to myself. but there are powerful results when we reach out to people in the way that the Holy Spirit designed us personally to do it. all shared the table out in the yard on a summer afternoon. Everyone felt at home." My folks deny
to this day that they had anything to do with that. Although Bible studies did not work well for my parents.
I genuinely believe
that I am currently placed where God wants me to be to do what He wants me to do. reach the secular community by himself or herself. they go through life unfulfilled and with little success in evangelism. we will love it and be successful at it. I do not feel that I am doing the job as well as
I could. but various providences over the years make it clear that I should not seek fulfillment elsewhere. I have so much to learn and so much growing to do.
My parents discovered
their unique ministry late in life and when they did they began reaching a class of people that you or I might never reach.
a church activates the energy of the Spirit. I speak here from personal experience. A spirit-driven multiplicity of ministries is the perfect compliment to the incredible diversity of the Information Age.
. And it is hard to top the feeling that
comes when you know that you are where God wants you to be and that you're doing what God wants you to do. If we are gifted in the area of People
Bible studies. When people serve
God where they don't fit. But when you serve at the center of
your life's passion. it is amazing the different kinds of ministries that will emerge. There is no substitute for knowing that you are where God wants you to be and that you're doing what God wants you to do. No pastor can It takes an When
army of people working under the empowerment of the Spirit. Nothing will "energize the laity" as much as discovering God's unique plan for each person's life and outreach. life becomes the greatest thing on earth.175 that God has given each of us. will sense that we are making a difference.
If there are a hundred members in a church. Noteworthy excellence
impresses secular people that a person has something special going for him or her. This is related to the attractiveness that was Let me illustrate the powerful
mentioned at the close of Part Two. Workplace Evangelism One reality of the current situation is the fact that we have moved from the Industrial Age into the Age of Communication. We must not allow misguided or unethical attempts to evangelize the workplace to steer us away from our best opportunity. work and do business has serious implications for our attempts to reach out to the secular world. there
can be a hundred ministers if the church catches this vision. This
change in the way people think. I believe that in coming years the best place for evangelism is going to be the workplace.
impact of excellence on corporate attitudes with a story that occurred in the School of Technology at Andrews University. therefore. it is better to have a hundred ministers than just one. people. There is a firm in Chicago called AGS&R that is considered one of the top two or three multi-image operations in the United
. It is in the workplace that more
Seventh-day Adventists come in contact with secular people than anywhere else. The workplace is the best place to reach secular
But many opportunities are lost because the outreach
possibilities of the workplace are either misused or go unnoticed. One of the best ways to reach secular people in the workplace is through excellence in work performance.176 Secular people are best reached one on one through personal
"I'm sorry. So he went to
the head of that festival and said. Somehow he felt this was not the thing to do. "I'm a Seventh-day
Adventist. When the program came out the teacher discovered to his
dismay that all the presentations were scheduled on Sabbath. their program anyway." Well that was a real deflator to these young people who were soon to be seeking jobs in the marketplace.177 States. the teacher spent some time wrestling with his conscience. we wouldn't hire you. we cannot allow these things to be shown on Saturday. we have to work around the clock and on weekends in order to meet deadlines. The Andrews University media-tech department likes to take students to see AGS&R's operation so as to better understand what that kind of life is like. they have to be moved to another time. Andrews paid fees to
enter a number of student multi-image projects at a festival in Chicago. that would be a problem because when projects are due around here. a problem?" The President replied. but came to the conclusion that even though these presentations might be appropriate in a Sabbath context. would that be
Not long after that. and that means I don't work from Friday night to Saturday night. asked the company president At one of these meetings a student a question."
. "Yes. Since many of these presentations had been shown on Sabbath at the General Conference and in other church settings. But they stuck with If you had that kind If I wanted a job in your company. of restriction. the audience was not going to be in a Sabbath mood.
I'm a Seventh-day
Adventist." Andrews programs were
festival was over. "I'm from Andrews University. the organizer came up to the teacher and said." The teacher replied. You guys are the best. let's not be rash about this. "There's something special about you people. Evidently your
convictions must have something to do with that." The personnel director looked him in the eye and said. "We can't mess with that. "Why?" "For a very simple reason. "I want you to know something. We really do understand your convictions." The student repeated. "You're hired. You can keep our money."
What was he saying? He was saying."
"Well what about the Saturday restriction?" The personnel director responded. "Well. "You're hired." Let me see what I can do. I don't work from Friday night till Saturday night. When the time came." The student said. give me the programs.178 The organizer of the festival said. There's something about you people that's different--that provides
. we understand why you took the stand that you did. all of
rescheduled for Sunday and they won festival awards." Not long after that a graduating Andrews student went down to AGS&R and said. "I'm sorry. and I'd like a job here. if that's the case. but we won't be there. The program's made out and the way it is the way it is. "What do you mean I'm hired?" The personnel director said. your work is the best.
they could talk about what it means to be an Adventist in the Department of Housing and Urban
. Now this could You be might frightening bring from an six
anything we have called evangelism before.179 a special excellence in your work. But these groups all had one thing in common.
Adventists from six different churches in three or four different conferences. making federal office buildings centers of Adventist influence! The first step was to find all the Adventists who worked in a particular office building and encourage them to take one lunch a week together. You would be amazed at the hundreds of Adventists that work in the Federal Office Buildings in Washington. misunderstood in their own Several have even
It is tragic that so many are and do not receive the
encouragement and support that would enable them to salt this whole country! A few years back. reached some of the highest levels. however." Now is that a witness? Is that being the salt of the earth? It may be different than But the workplace is
I call that workplace evangelism. Their work often gave them more in common with each other than they had with their neighbors or the members of their local church! By
getting together once a week for lunch. If we were to make you
compromise your convictions.
becoming the best place to make a difference for Christ in the secular environment. an idea was born that could
revolutionize the outreach of this church. They
were all interested in the same area of the government's operation. you probably wouldn't be any good. DC.
was concerned that the pastorate might not be the place for his unique gifts. and the arts because these are the occupations that influence more people than any other. The
possibilities are especially large in media. of influence. for everybody. It was clear that he had the capacity to make a major I
impact in the secular world if he could find the right niche. "Hey. however. What contribution can the faith make to
the needs and concerns that energize the work in that department? From time to time the groups invited Adventist speakers with specialized expertise to address such concerns and opened the meetings up to their workmates. If the work place is the best place for evangelism. we're going to have this
lunch meeting to discuss this issue that's been troubling our department. for example. then I would suggest that we need Seventh-day Adventists everywhere in the workplace." Since the government encourages and provides space
for such informal work-related get-togethers.180 Development. many successful black evangelists in
Christ longs to reach people in the workplace through Christians who are fully devoted to Him. Such opportunities offer enlarged spheres
I must repeat. that such outreach is not It should never be undertaken without a full
awareness of the dangers discussed in Part Two. the possibilities are enormous. journalism. There are many. Clifton Davis was a very special student of ours at the Seminary. education. "Go ye into all the world" should not be limited to Our occupations are part of the
specialized moments for outreach. world also.
outreach. talk to you about. you ought to know. 'What do ya mean. 'I had no idea you guys
. 'What's the Sabbath?'" So I said. "Well. don't you remember. wrong with that mode. I had no specific
idea in mind.
It has a continuing role to play in our
But I had never met a person with Clifton's level of So for three or four
ability to relate to the secular mind. what about the Sabbath?" "I told the producer that and he said. what's the Sabbath. Finally one day I saw him in the hall and said.
months. I felt a burden from the Lord to challenge him to an outreach more along the lines of the salt model. you tell me first what you wanted to tell me. you're Jewish. "That's interesting. and I never quite got the opportunity to share it with him.' were into that!'" The producer said that because Clifton is an African-American." I said. I got a call last week from Hollywood. 'Oh.' he said. "What
did you want to talk to me about?" I said. "Well. "Well.181 North America. "Clifton. Clifton would clearly have been successful as an There is nothing
evangelist in the fortress and crusade model. I need to see you in my office." He said. from Friday night sundown to Saturday night sundown." He replied. They want to revive my old show and modify it a little bit to where I become pastor of a local church and play that on the show. there's something I need to talk to you about." There's something I want to
When he arrived at my office he said.
" "You're not going to believe this. interesting." Clifton told him. I'll see what I can do." "Well.'" Clifton told me that he had been given significant control over the script through a board of pastors who would examine each script before it would be passed." The producer protested. "One more thing. "If you take that route. that's unheard of. "Actors never get control of the script.182 and he figured the Sabbath was only for Jews." "Then I'm not on the show."
The producer said. "You've got the Sabbath. I would want Sabbaths off." "If you want me on the show. but to me it sounded too Things were sounding quite
. "In any case. Loma Linda Church just called me up and said they'd like me to be half-time pastor and half-time in Hollywood!" I don't know how you relate to that. "Actors don't get that kind of stuff. I don't intend to do just anything someone might think up. I then said." "'Well." Clifton then said. I get Sabbath off. "Maybe some of us are keeping it because you don't." He called Clifton back a day later and said. it would be kind of nice for you to still have some kind of connection with the Adventist pastorate. I want some control over the script. I'll see what I can do.
Ellen G. because of this. and who. Sept 30. 1902 Clifton's presence in Hollywood has made a difference. can put new life into the old methods of labor and can invent new plans and new methods of awakening the interest of church members and reaching the men and women of the world. but I have noticed two changes in Hollywood since his arrival. try something else. I believe in zero-based
That means that we try almost anything once and if it I believe this attitude to be in
doesn't work. There have
been things on Clifton's show that bother me and other Adventists. Hollywood people from the outside. And
as I talked to Clifton. Not only has Clifton been able share Christ with some
major public names. 1907 (quoted in Ev 105) Means will be devised to reach hearts. One. What Clifton did needs to be understood in the light of the entire setting of what this book is all about. I became more and more convinced that God had something special in mind here. under the guidance of God. block the way by criticism. Christians are being portrayed in a more In the past Christians
positive light than used to be the case. but let no one.
Hollywood is a unique people-group. But the show was not designed to satisfy an Adventist audience.183 much like the hand of God when you put it all together. Some of the methods used in this work will be different from the methods used in the work in the past. RH. White MS 117.
harmony with counsel that has guided us as a church for years: Men are needed who pray to God for wisdom. evangelism.
You certainly don't reach
The place is so insulated that
Hollywood actors tend to marry only other Hollywood actors or actresses. The only way to reach these people is from inside. Remembering how God used
Esther helps me to understand that God has bigger ideas and plans than we do.
I respect that and he respects that. "I know a person like that and I will do that. and observe you. But instead of writing a hate-filled letter.
to be the most dangerous thing you've ever tried to do since you became a Christian. book. You're going back into a setting in which you And frankly. Influencing the larger society in behalf of the kingdom of God. "What you need is a person who knows you better than you know yourself. the odds are
were once an entirely different person. without special safeguards. So I warned Clifton along the lines of Part Two of this What you're doing is going
"You must listen to me. 'Clifton.' you'll quit Hollywood on the spot and walk away. I
you don't agree with what he is doing." He said. friend. Clifton. But no secular outreach is more dangerous to spirituality than Hollywood. This is what salt
ministry is all about." I continued. can't advise you to go. who will watch you. I've noticed more and more actors and athletes who are willing to admit to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Christians are occasionally portrayed
as normal people who struggle with significant issues in life. And you must be open and honest with this
You need to make a contract with your friend that if the
day ever comes when he says. Today. let me
. If If you don't do this.184 only made it on television as Bible-thumping bigots or hypocrites hiding secret vices. Two. you're losing it. you're going to lose your way.
pretty strong that. and stay close to you." The day may come when Clifton decides it was a mistake.
And so it is with many others in
." to use Paul's language in 1 Cor 9. he needs our encouragement and our prayers. he or she can drift until they become a "castaway. We need to spiritually hold up the It is not for
hands of those taking such risks for Christ. Unless the "preacher" is daily energized by the disciplines of the Spirit. but if God should bring you to a special place of influence know that you are in that job for a specific purpose and that you will have the opportunity to exalt God in a unique way. it will at times be necessary to take some risks. pray for him. If the workplace is becoming the best place for evangelism.
everybody.185 suggest something more effective.
it does not always result in sustained church growth.186 CHAPTER ELEVEN
OUTREACH THROUGH WORSHIP One of the great "hot potatoes" in the Adventist Church today is the subject of worship. One reason
for this is that the people didn't join a Saturday morning church. While public evangelism often succeeds in increasing baptisms. This suggests that the church as a
corporate whole. however. exerts a powerful attraction upon those who are outside. are there ways we can make them feel more at home? It is possible that the two models of ministry that can be detected in Matt 5:13-16 should be expanded to a third. when it enjoys the fullness of the abundant life and the mutual love that is available in Christ. I have already
suggested that the typical Adventist worship service tends to turn off secular people. from noting the centrality of worship style to the impact that Adventism makes or does not make in a secular world. They joined a church that meets five nights a week. That must not prevent us. As secular people begin to come to an
Adventist Church. there is a third way that involves the group as a whole. While the
first two models helpfully illustrate the two major ways that individuals can involve themselves in gospel outreach. A truly Biblical community
will draw people in by its very existence. uses lots of
. The fortress city of
Matt 5:14 is associated with the metaphor of a bright and shining light that cannot be hidden.
and has exciting music by professionals or with taped accompaniment. it is not
surprising that many of the great hymns utilized contemporary
. history teaches us that revivals of faith are usually accompanied by revivals of Christian song-writing. When Christian music demonstrates an awareness of
those contemporary struggles it has a powerful influence in behalf the gospel's solutions to those struggles. word-of-mouth drawing power upon the unchurched. but in general. are now finding that a relevant and vibrant worship service has a powerful.
secular songs. therefore. Those who have fallen away from church
attendance because the worship service seemed boring.
few visual aids if any. are often open to giving church another chance when the worship service is interesting and speaks powerfully to contemporary issues. and out of touch with their lives. Part of this worship renewal includes a use of contemporary language and harmonic idioms. Thus. though often presenting messages that are contrary to the gospel. and lyrics lies in the fact that faith must touch base with real life if it is to become the everyday
experience that is needed to overcome secular drift. A little reflection indicates that the quality of
Sabbath worship is crucial to sustaining church growth.187 visual aids. styles. The need for
fresh melodies. manipulative. They are then expected to settle for once a week. nevertheless express deeply the struggles of life in today's world. and a piano or organ played with a minimum of enthusiasm. not just among secular people. While this has appeared threatening
to some. Many SDA churches.
As part of its worship plan the church invited the youth (ages 1422) to present a "youth worship service" on a monthly basis. This
included contemporary praise songs (no drums. things happened almost overnight. What impressed me most. Let me explain how it happened. Not only
did the youth group grow rapidly.188 lyrics and melodies to bring Christianity home in a relevant way to earlier eras. Young people got excited about the chance to contribute. All week
long I could hear them singing the songs that they had heard and
. and a sermon that spoke directly to contemporary issues. but they brought parents and friends. in Up until then they had expressed the usual disinterest that happened in the church service with the
exception of the children's story. A number of exciting
The youth group for the first
time felt that it was a valued and accepted part of the church. I have
ago our home church face a lengthy period of time without a pastor. let me explain that I too once feared that contemporary music might lead us in a dangerous direction. however.
from the looks on their faces and the unused Magna-Doodles lying on the pew. a dramatic sketch illustrating the theme of the sermon. now changed my mind. but from what happened the rest of the week. was what happened to my own children. We must not be afraid to be as bold as the hymn-
writers of the past. very low key). Before I continue.
But during the youth services I knew this not only
their eyes and ears were entirely up front. and soon attendance in our church more than doubled (no parking available after 9:20 AM!).
But even more
impressive is the fact that I often heard the three-year-old and the four-year-old exchanging one-liners from the sermon in the course of the week! Somehow the use of contemporary songs. it is easy to live a double life.
store. Though we may shun the television and When you call a bank. That was when I realized that none of us are fully insulated from contemporary life.189 seen on the screen during the worship service. my children perceived that worship was worth their time and energy. nor attract secular people to our faith. Such a
compartmentalized life will neither save us from secular drift. we are influenced nevertheless. It is impossible to live totally in a When worship fails to speak to the world One is the life that
we live in. a
radio. The other is the life we live as we work and play. In that city were two
. Please keep in mind that
we do not even have a television set in our house so our children are not "jaded" by hours of bleary-eyed saturation in the secular world. or the credit-card company they put you on hold and guess what comes over the phone! When you go to the grocery store or the
shopping mall to obtain items necessary for life what kind of music comes over the PA system? world other than our own. in
a subtle way I do not understand. Somehow. and the
visual medium of the skit communicated to children too small to dissimulate that the sermon was also relevant to them.
we live when we are in church or associate with fellow Christians. Some time after the "youth experience" in our church I visited a major city in a third world country.
Much of the music was of a "racier" I was
variety than that used at the "celebration" church in town.
television and the VCR were turned on and throughout the Sabbath hours contemporary Christian music videos from Adventist groups played in endless cycle.
The youth have settled back into
My children no longer pay attention to the Things are back to normal! I have learned that. worship service. what this does? Do you realize
It means that worship is the one hour of the week The
that is totally cut off from the rest of his experience. dropped back to previous levels. "This man opposes using this kind of music at the eleven o'clock hour. their isolation.
I said to the conference official who had brought me to
that city. It was hoped that a joint
worship service of the churches might help to build relationships and understanding. and the other who pastored an "anti-celebration" church. pastor.190 pastors. but to illustrate how easily worship becomes isolated from our everyday experience. an
obligation to be performed.
Sabbath morning worship service is almost guaranteed not to speak to what matters most in his day to day life.
. The youth services are The attendance has
now a thing of the past in our little church. stunned. but enjoys it the rest of the week." I say this not to be
critical of a very godly pastor. instead of being the driving force behind our outreach for God. I stayed at the home of the "anti-celebration" The
An interesting thing happened at sundown on Friday. one who pastored a "celebration" church. I have learned one more thing from my church's short-lived experiment with contemporary Christianity.
191 as a group, change is a very wrenching experience for church people, even when the results are dramatic. We must not forget
that many people do appreciate a more traditional worship style. Many of the great hymns of the church still speak powerfully. There is nothing inherently wrong with the traditional service. If it is working well where you are, don't throw it out! Not only do
many people prefer the traditional style, but maintaining it is has become a matter of conscience for them. It is a terrible thing to
force a people to go against their conscience. I have, therefore, concluded from my own experience, and those of others I have worked with, that it is usually unwise to attempt to make large changes in the worship style of a local church, even though change may be a positive thing for many. troubled, too many hearts are broken. already! Too many souls are
This world has enough tears
And it hardly seems fair to take a church that has
functioned in one place for decades and "tear it away" from those who have given their lives to it. I plead that those who have a
passion for reaching the secular mind have compassion on those who do not. The fortress-model is not a sin, it is just a different Coercion and force are tools of Satan, even It is a terrible thing to be
model of ministry!
when exerted in a "good cause."
forced to go against one's conscience. If worship style is to be a central component of outreach to a secular world, it may be better to start a fresh congregation dedicated to outreach on a contemporary basis. Those who prefer a
more traditional style can continue to go where that style remains
192 in force. Just as individuals have unique gifts that can be
applied to God's work, so churches may also be gifted to carry out tasks that other churches could not accomplish. I must, therefore, plead with those who prefer the traditional idiom, not to burden the lives of those who bravely strive to raise up new churches with bitter and endless criticism. I realize that such "praise
churches" will gain some of the best and brightest from other Adventist churches and thus cannot go unnoticed. But this will be
a wondrous opportunity to speak the most difficult, yet greatest words ever spoken by a sinner, "He must increase, and I must decrease." (John 3:30) There is room in our church for more than
one model of worship, just as there is room for more than one model of ministry. In many geographical areas of this country, however, there are hardly enough Adventists in a community to keep one church afloat, much less two. In such circumstances it makes little sense to
orient an entire church, kicking and screaming, into targeting exclusively the classes of people that are most difficult to reach, especially when such targeting involves spiritual risk. The best
that one could hope for from the worship service in such a setting is that the service would at least not be hostile to a secular seeker. The goal would be to design a church service that can, on
the one hand, meet the needs of traditional Adventists, while, at the same time, providing a more "user-friendly" environment for secular people. In the following I offer six suggestions that
could be introduced into any Seventh-day Adventist Church without
193 a board action. None of these suggestions compromise the basics
that are vital to the spiritual health of more traditional people in Adventist congregations, yet, if followed, these suggestions would make the worship service more inviting and attractive to secular people. First of all, it helps a great deal to utilize everyday language, the kind of language that is understood on the street, in all parts of the worship service rather than the in-house lingo of Adventism. We mentioned this already in the chapter entitled The use of common, everyday language is One reason was mentioned in
"Cutting Edge People."
important for at least two reasons. Part One.
There we noticed that God has always gone out of His way
to communicate with human beings in their contemporary culture and idiom. While everyday language may at times seem a limited tool
for expressing the realities of the spiritual realm, it makes up for any limitations in the power with which it can unify the spiritual realm with everyday life. language is that it expresses caring. A second reason to use common When we go out of our way to
communicate with people in a way that meets them where they are, it communicates that we care enough to understand where they are coming from. They matter to us. When people know that they matter
to other humans it makes it easier for them to believe that they matter also to God. To avoid Adventist jargon will not kill anybody. No one will
leave the church if we stop using words like "investment" and "light" in our unique way. This is not a major sacrifice for
194 someone who is accustomed to more traditional style of worship. It lets people from a variety of backgrounds know that they are welcome. They don't need to learn a new language as an initiation.
Where hymns, Scripture readings, or other worship aids are in the obscure language of the past, a short, well-prepared introduction can help people relate to the original setting of the language and, thus, meaningfully engage with the sentiments expressed. The
bottom line here is to do all we can to make sure that everything we do in the worship service is readily understandable to the secular person who may wander in or be invited by a member. A second change that will make a major difference in how "user-friendly" a church is to secular people is to make sure that whatever happens on Sabbath morning has high "take-home value," in other words, is usable on Monday morning. How many Seventh-day How often do our Are we just
Adventist sermons are worth a dime on the street?
sermons have any impact on the way we really live? spending excess time?
I tremble to think that if a thousand people
attend a church service and nothing significant happens for an hour, you've wasted half a work-year of life. have high take-home value. Preaching needs to
People need to be hearing something
that they can apply on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings. And you can do that without compromising the faith one iota. Ministers should not preach sermon after sermon on doctrinal subjects alone. Practical godliness should find a place in every discourse. RH, April 23, 1908 In laboring in a new field, do not think it your duty to say at once to the people, We are Seventh-day Adventists; we believe that the seventh day is the Sabbath; we believe in the
195 non-immortality of the soul. This would often erect a formidable barrier between you and those you wish to reach. Speak to them, as you have opportunity, upon points of doctrine on which you can agree. Dwell on the necessity of practical godliness. Give them evidence that you are a Christian, desiring peace, and that you love their souls. Let them see that you are conscientious. Thus you will gain their confidence; and there will be time enough for doctrines. Let the heart be won, the soil prepared, and then sow the seed, presenting in love the truth as it is in Jesus. GW 119,120 While Ellen White probably had geography in mind when she wrote this counsel, the secular environment certainly qualifies as a "new field" for us at this time. Few people have heard of us,
few know what we believe. For such individuals, a demonstration of practical, living Christianity will be an attractive force that will invite them to inquire further into godliness. I have found
that when I teach people how to live I offend no one but develop all kinds of interest in the study of the Scriptures and the overcoming of sin in the life. This counsel should be so obvious
that one wonders why practical godliness does not ring from every Adventist pulpit every Sabbath. The answer may lie in a chilling
statement that lays open the grounds why my own preaching has often been ineffective: It is a sad fact that the reason why many dwell so much on theory and so little on practical godliness is that Christ is not abiding in their hearts. They do not have a living connection with God. 4T 395,396 We will become effective in presenting how a Christian copes with Monday morning when we ourselves have wrestled honestly with the issues people face at home, in the neighborhood, and on the job. When we ourselves know how to walk with God every day of the
3T 237. for quality in everything that we do as a church. The churches that are making the greatest impact in the secular world today are emphasizing practical Christianity. excellence in the decor. You will never see a garbage dumpster around the corner They do not want a single thing to There is excellence in the The
of a building in a Disney park.
detract from the visitor's experience. I think we can learn a great deal on this point from the Disney Corporation.
music. 539) A third area that makes a big difference with secular people is a concern for excellence.
seem thrown together at the last minute.196 week. but secular people consider shabbiness to be an insult both to their intelligence and to their sense of
stewardship of time. the case of commercials. (Other
important Ellen White statements on practical godliness are: GW 158.159.
tolerate shabbiness. it is usually served up with supreme care. Too often Adventist churches look shabby in the
The choice of participants and the content of the worship The sermon and special music Some Adventists may
service is clearly an afterthought. we will be able to learn how to teach others to do the same. extreme. Hours of work go into every minute. excellence in every detail. same is generally true of television.
While the content may be
contrary to the gospel. 5T 158. A major reason that the Disney Corporation is
successful is because it insists on excellence in every detail of its parks. This is particularly true in
Multiplied hours and huge amounts of
dollars are spent to make a single minute as productive as possible
There was a
singer there who must have had her throat removed in an operation. what church was that?" All it takes is one report like that and you have destroyed the church's credibility with not only one. but five or six. the Scripture.197 in its impact on the viewer. The music. Having said this. And the pastor had no idea what he was talking
about. Although we demand quality in the products we buy. singing. good enough anymore. or praying? We have come to a place in earth's history where we need Less than the best isn't
to be the best that we can be for God. it was so bad. he was unbelievable." "Oh. maybe ten. prayer. and even the announcements are worthy of careful planning and skilled execution. On the subject of excellence. it may be
. "You should have seen the sorry excuse for a church service I saw this weekend. the motels we stay in or the programming we may enjoy.
In saying this I must confess that as a
pastor I had much too flippant an attitude toward the parts of the worship service that I didn't "star" in personally. whether we're preaching. But instead of enjoyment that person will report
to his or her friends on Monday morning. I would like to qualify it just a bit so as not to discourage the many small churches that may seem devoid of world-class talent. Is excellence that difficult? Is the worship service so
unimportant that it doesn't matter? Isn't worshiping God worth the very best that we can offer. we somehow expect a secular person to enjoy a half-hearted sermon and a thoroughly butchered song.
forgiving about social mistakes if one is genuine and open. The evaluation process is
always painful. One of the best ways to enhance excellence in any operation is to evaluate and critique on a regular basis. the pastor. not even I learn much more from people who disagree with me. As threatening as
evaluation may be. He had difficulty believing that a That "lie" had
detail in my sermon was factual as I had inferred. Quite recently
I preached a sermon at a large church in an institutional setting that seemed to have a significant impact on a lot of people. Even the best of sermons can be improved upon. What I am talking here about are Just as secular people are
mistakes of carelessness and neglect. Small
clusters of people gathered spontaneously all over the campus that afternoon to discuss the implications of the sermon for their lives. if we are serious about excellence. The ministries and services of a church should constantly be
measured in relation to the Word of God and the needs of the people being served.
because they will often tell me to my face things that my friends may not have the courage to express. but results in more effective ministry. or between enthusiasm and phoniness. But
in the receiving line a man came up to me with disappointment written all over his face. they can also tell the difference between sincere effort and
carelessness. No one should consider themselves exempt.198 helpful to make some distinction between mistakes of enthusiasm and mistakes of carelessness. we need to constantly get feedback regarding the quality of our efforts for God.
. I felt good that God had used me to make a difference.
" had told was in fact true. click. click. I just can't believe it happened that way. What are they doing? Looking for something worth Five or ten
spending time on. Like my challenger. in any case. watch for five seconds. find that the practice of exaggeration can detract from an otherwise excellent message. retrospect that although the story I had told I realized in was factually
accurate. I'm sorry. I realized that ministers are not
temptation to exaggerate and embellish stories from time to time.
How long do they take to decide?
little radar guns that turn all the channels on the TV? me nuts. He left unreconciled. too. It was not. it was stranger than fiction.
I hope that I can meet this man again
someday and thank him for making me a better preacher. ranging through. "I'm sorry. Worship needs to be more visual and What do people do with those It drives
attention-grabbing than before. on to the next channel. exempt from the
integrity had been challenged by a stranger. on
to the next channel. however. I. crucial to my main point. I slipped immediately into a defensive mode.
They sit there--click.199 ruined the whole sermon for him. He
just shook his head and said. A fourth area that can make a difference is directly related to the reality of the media. the sermon would be better off without it. I indicated that I could give names and dates and places to verify every detail. The story I
I felt justifiably angry that my Upon reflection.
And if even one person
(and for every one who confronts a dozen may keep silence) lost the blessing of the sermon because they questioned that detail.
Music. we may only have five or ten seconds to make a
case for people to listen to the sermon. You can't fool me.
. can enhance the attention quotient of a worship service. attention cannot be taken for granted anymore.
frighten some Adventists we make powerful use of drama in nearly every Adventist church And on Sabbath who morning. gets the We most call out it of the the The
story. if it is done well.
The two-year-olds usually ignore it. many
of whom sit in your pews. the very first sentence
Speakers these days must grab people right at People's
the start and then keep them listening throughout. a story and
a question like that turned the temple court into an E. if you have never thought about this before.
children's story is there for the adults! you didn't have one. Hutton seminar.200 seconds per channel at the most. Today. Equally effective is the use of visual aids While the word "drama" may
To grab attention
is in harmony with the example of Christ who had a fascinating way of asking those little rhetorical questions like. F." Thus. and then peek out of the corner of my eye. Preacher. becomes "do or die. "Which of these two sons really obeyed his father?" In that society. The kind of people we are talking about here.
They would be upset if
I start dramatizing a Bible story for the All the adults
kids. fasten your seat-belt. such as drama. have decided after ten seconds whether the sermon is worth listening to because they have been trained to make those kind of decisions.
make the whole service one of a piece. "We're going to start introducing drama into this church.
pastor gets up to speak. we certainly accomplish little if we put them to sleep. the adults love it even more. It certainly
does not help to go into a church with a heavy hand and say. In this day and age. all kinds of things. I lay down. how are we going to solve this problem?" Let the children's story be
longer and the sermon a little shorter. Let the children's story set the tone for By the time the
Let it raise a question or a problem. Drama brings spiritual lessons
home with contemporary power the way few things can." a fight on your hands. the sermon. If the people in your church are dead-set against drama. You will have
Just make the children's story more
creative and more integrated with the whole and you'll accomplish
. people are already thinking. where
people have grown up with television. but build the two together and the whole service will have more zip. the hymns. Co-ordinate it with the
sermon. stand on my head (well almost!). Then I get into the pulpit and watch the same adults settling down for their snooze! Case closed. So I really lay it on thick. The small changes recommended here need not offend those of a more traditional bent. utilize the children's story instead. and the Scripture reading. so the word itself should not turn us off. We are all accustomed to drama in one form or another.
Some of these
same adults would be upset if we had a "drama" or showed a video. "Well. if the kids love it. they don't want to miss anything.201 are leaning forward with their eyes as big as saucers. I But
whether it is the sermon. they are looking for evidence that God is real and that other people experience Him. it must be combined with spiritual life. Right now in our
church of about a hundred members there are three prayer groups meeting every week. There is nothing un-Adventist about spirituality. the
special music. People need to experience a living God. But she could argue any Baptist under the table over the Sabbath! Truth is not enough to keep people anymore. Everything that is done. When
secular people decide to come to church it is because they sense that the living God is present there. will draw secular people in as with a magnet. The fifth matter that is critical to worship renewal is strong spiritual tone. spent twenty-five years out of the church. The concepts discussed in Part Two of this book are one
way to approach the issue of spirituality in the church. prayer.
mother. There is increasing interest in our
denomination in family devotions. Secular people are not easily
. for example. today. Secular people are drawn to
churches where the people know God and know how to teach others to know God. there is nothing heretical about prayer and Bible study. Truth is not enough to keep people in church My wife's
Most backsliders still believe the truth. When secular people start seeking faith. A
church made up of people who know God and who know how to teach others how to know Him.202 the same results without the fuss. and spiritual life in the church. or the prayer needs to be driven by the spiritual vitality of those who participate.
So often in Adventist churches. it will fool
Well that stopped the discussion right in
its tracks. they turned to
me and said.
Living a lie is It was the
where the inside and the outside are two different things. "Jon. what do you think is the greatest need of the Adventist Church right now?" "To stop living a lie!" Almost without thinking I responded. and probably the most important one. reported to me that at a meeting of Christian
discussion became so hot that they began shouting back and forth
Not long ago I
was sitting at dinner with a number of leading thinkers in the Adventist Church. or to use street terms. church?
Do you go to church because your mother did?
you want your children to get a religious education? because . people are Why do you go to Or because Or do you go
just going through the motions.
What does it mean to be genuine and authentic? is when the inside is in harmony with the outside. This brings us to the sixth area of potential improvement in Adventist worship. the more compelling it became. just because you go? play?
Is church-going just a game we
"Well. . being real. away. now we can have fun the rest Secular people seem to have a sixth sense about who They can smell phony Christians a mile
of the week. If the spiritual life of the church is phony. playing church."
is genuine and who is not. certainly not its own youth. today are crying out for examples of genuine. At one point in the conversation. that's out of the way.203 fooled. People
Christianity. but the more I thought about my casual reply. .
What would be true Christian genuineness in that situation? To act as if nothing had happened would be to live a lie. It would be genuine to come up before the people and say.
all. of us didn't behave much like Christ. "Don't you know what time it is? prayer meeting. that would not be
I would hope that between the office and the pulpit he
might have gotten the realization that something was dreadfully wrong. Should
No. And second of
there is a way to be forgiven and a way to change.204 and some swear words were used. we've just had a meeting backstage. And secular people
would find that kind of religion much more attractive than one that
." That would be genuine. A couple of ministers even Suddenly at seven-thirty that
evening a knock came on the door and someone entered and said. the leader have come out swearing instead? Christian." The people are here for the
The fellow who had been right at the center of
the fight walked out in front of the assembly and said. stand up here and run this meeting. threatened each other physically. "Isn't it good when brethren to dwell together in unity? together with the people of God tonight?" would have made me ill. Why did he do it? Isn't it good to be
If I had been there it Was it to protect his
image as a Christian leader?
The reality is that the phony is
usually the last person to know that everyone knows he or she is a phony. we need to kneel down so that YOU can pray for US because we need it desperately.
I'm really not worthy to But I know that in Christ First of all. And frankly. I need to apologize to these brethren over here. some
" This does not mean that if you feel like the Devil you should also
. I am glad to report that he has since relaxed into his new duties and become much more human again!) The essence of Christian authenticity is to "be what you are. Right and
wrong seem so much easier to determine when you are not at the center of decision-making processes. Nevertheless. Jon. quite disheartened by the encounter. Since he was a fun-loving. years later we were assigned to the same church
At break time I moved across the room to greet him with He stood up regally
a high five and a. he certainly did not fit the typical "mold" of Adventist administration. "Hey. "Hello." the administrators of the Adventist Church. sweetly smiling when it's not really for real. put out his hand formally and said in a measured voice. a role so unlike his previous demeanor." Would
he maintain the carefree and independent spirit so natural to his personality.205 is always sicky. how's it going?"
in his three-piece suit. because of his
considerable administrative and people skills.
unorthodox type of guy. man. I remember a student who enjoyed expressing his irritation at "them.
Christianity must be more
than just an image that we project. So it was
with some amusement and no little excitement that I greeted the news sometime later that he had indeed become one of "them. I warned him that he was in real danger of becoming one of "them" some day." become one of "them!" He had
He was now playing the role of his new I found myself
position. so nice to see you again. or would he try to fit into the mold? Some committee. (To tell the other half of the story.
I was feeling my worst. I know from sharing this with
Adventists around the world that the reality of "Sabbath headaches" is more widespread than I would like to think. if what you are isn't pretty. or H. When I started out It
in ministry I used to get a splitting headache every Sabbath. you need to go to the Lord. way.
was very frustrating because on the very day that I needed to be at my best for God. God helped me finally to understand
that He wanted me to be myself for him. or Roland Hegstad. it means devotional life. and for the sake of lost people. What a relief! What a blessing! Just be Jon Paulien for Christ.206 act like the Devil. not Billy Graham.
are" brings a Christian face to face with the reality that what we are and what we ought to be are two different things. I was playing a role. Any secular person can be authentic in that "Be what you
Christian authenticity is more challenging. not in order to be saved.
I was being what I thought people wanted me to be rather than what I truly ought to be in Christ. confess where you are and invite His involvement in your life to transform you into a "who you are in Christ. But for the
authentic Christian there is only one possible course of action. M. The matter lies very close to home for me. but for Christ's sake. it means learning to remold some of our attitudes and personality traits. A couple of years later
it finally dawned on me (some people are slow learners) that the reason for the Sabbath headaches was that I was trying to be someone I was not in front of the people. Richards.
." To serve Him as effectively as
possible means diet. S.
possible to learn how to be yourself. like me. In the light of the cross the only authentic existence is
to live in continual and transparent repentance.
If Jesus could be honest with God.207 The most effective path to true authenticity is to cultivate genuineness each day in a devotional encounter with God. Christ
In Christ it is
Certainly you cannot be Have
transparent with people if you are not transparent with God. I'd like to punch You right in the Nose. yes--even our anger. it cannot be a
The Lord wants to hear our deepest needs. We
But there is one thing uglier than a dirty cup
and that is a dirty cup that goes around telling everyone how clean it is. Do you know why confession and repentance are essential to salvation? Because confession and repentance are simply
acknowledging the truth about oneself. "Boy.
with sweet-talking words that mean nothing.
Not to confess and not to It is to be more
repent is to live a lie before the world. in the back of your mind you are thinking. Do you remember that Jesus said something about dirty cups with a shiny exterior? are all dirty cups.
when really. you
were gifted with the temperament that knows and uses all the words in every language except the two that express. But what if you don't feel repentant? What if. can help you to see yourself as others see you." it like it is in prayer. our deepest Anything but trying to fool him
feelings. "I'm sorry?" People
. you ever lied to God in prayer?
"Dear Lord. forsaken me?" sin for us! Yet God prefers that we tell "Why have you
Jesus certainly did.
concerned with one's image than with reality. I love You so much".
I lay face down. Our interpretation of Scripture can be made to
serve as a wall of denial to protect us from having to acknowledge our sins and weaknesses to God and to others." He delights to give you the truth. I would also need to leave the church I loved. It can
So don't pray
I guarantee you. your family. "I want the truth. mean carrying a cross for the rest of your days. "Lord. in frustration pounding a wooden floor with The man who had ministered Christ to me now told me in
my fist. that
God delights to answer the prayer.
persuasive and logical sincerity that if I truly loved Jesus. however. therefore. no matter what the cost. One's interpretation
often arises out of the need to protect one's personal failings and shortcomings from coming to the light of Scripture and the Spirit's gentle persuasion. such a prayer if you don't mean it." We are often
willing to learn the truth as long as it doesn't cost us anything. it must be with the prayer. Some of you will not
be able to understand why that challenge was so difficult for me at
. But knowing and living the truth can cost you your job. everything that matters most to you. no matter what the cost. derives from the deepest and most vulnerable facets of my personality. What I am about to share with you. The first time I prayed this prayer was about twelve years ago. But along with
the truth there is a price to pay. I have learned that
when I sit down to "exegete" Scripture.208 like me need help in order to discover the truth about ourselves. I have learned as a biblical scholar how easy it is to make the Bible say whatever you want it to say. I want the truth. your friends.
however. To my great surprise my
path from that moment on has only been in the direction of greater and greater influence within the church. so be it. In spite of what many say
truth exactly as you see it without fear or favor. that will be My
signal to you that I have something better for you. and the truth only. my experience has been that the Adventist Church is filled from top to bottom with people who are eager for truth and authenticity. the disciples of Jesus never left Judaism." The answer God placed in my mind was crystal clear. To be honest. Remember this. "I understand what you are going
through. If the Lord gave
you a different message at that time. Methodist Church. at the time I passed through this
experience. If they throw you out as a result. let it be on the basis that you told the truth. I did not expect to last long. This is as true at the General Conference level as
. I opened myself to God and prayed. I did not think that the Adventist Church could handle the truth.
From now on you must not act and speak You must tell the Don't be
to protect your job or your social standing. I have a condition for you. All were thrown out. no matter what the cost. did. I have no problem with that. Others of you went through the same experience that I
After much struggle. Ellen White never left the It is My purpose that you But
should stay in the Adventist Church until you are thrown out." This message was clearly for me personally.
obnoxious or rebellious or give them some human reason to throw you out. Luther never left the Catholic Church.
"Lord.209 the time. give me the truth. although I heard no audible voice.
was my road to confession. we will discover that one of the best ways to find the point of contact in another person is through our own confession of need. if we allow ourselves time and to in be an vulnerable appropriate with way) them they (at may But the feel
comfortable to share their deepest needs and concerns with us. I tried to analyze why a particular preacher had such a powerful effect on me. It dawned on me after a while
that nearly every illustration in his sermons came from personal experience. confession I then compared with my own
I realized that I featured only my successes and not my I was smitten to the core of my being. I have seen no reason to deviate from the counsel the Lord gave me twelve years ago. Although many consider me to now be in a position
where I have to "cover my tracks" in order to defend the church. but I am telling it as I see it. I find
myself sabotaged at times at the most inward levels of my being. for example.
. because such a person will see their own depravity clearly. and that almost all of those illustrations were of his failures and not of his successes. People are reluctant to make themselves vulnerable to others. failures.210 at any other. Truth-telling has not been an easy experience for me.
Recently. and I have no intention of doing so. I may be wrong. Natural defense mechanisms threaten my very best intentions. preaching.
whatever the cost. As we reach out to the secular people in our communities. The truly Another's authentic
Christian will be slow to boast and quick to forgive. as this book will testify.
I open myself to your inspection (see Heb 4:12."
Help me to see myself
This prayer is a frightening but marvelous opening When we open ourselves to God's
to the journaling experience. I need the truth about myself. I need to discover when my subconscious defense mechanisms are defeating my very best intentions. for the checks and balances that come into our life when
. the more faulty you will appear in your own eyes. There is no substitute. The closer you come to Jesus. And He will not open to us more than
we can handle (see John 16:12) at the time we pray. The perilous prayer that opens
the depths goes something like this. Teach me the
truth about myself. but if we do not see our own moral deformity. it is unmistakable evidence that we have not had a view of the beauty and excellence of Christ. and your imperfections will be seen in broad and distinct contrast to his perfect nature. that the vivifying influence of the Spirit of God is arousing you. He will gently and kindly lead us to things we could never discover any other way. that I must take my prayer for truth to a deeper level yet. The soul that is transformed by the grace of Christ will admire his divine character. Many
of us are so steeped in denial of sin and weakness that we deceive ourselves even in our innermost prayer life.13).211 I have learned. To such people
personal journals can become self-serving accounts of our wisdom and the folly of those around us. therefore.
inspection. for your vision will be clearer. no matter what the cost. as You see me. This is evidence that Satan's delusions have lost their power. SC 64-65 There is yet a deeper level to Christian authenticity. See me as I truly am. No deep-seated love for Jesus can dwell in the heart that does not realize its own sinfulness. I need more than just biblical truth
in order to be effective for God.
and get the kind of feedback they need. For those who have few friends and no group to turn to. and unable to grasp the Unseen. them any time. Such accountability can take various forms. but a friend whom they can see. that some Adventists may take it as a license to dump on others whatever gossip and negative suspicions they may collect in the course of church life. coming to them in Christ's stead.
Anon provides the context where they can take off the mask. the only possibility for true accountability may be a personal counseling situation (which should no longer be thought of as a negative option for any Christian).212 we become willing to hear the truth about how others see us. I do fear in regard to Get feedback wherever you can. DA 297 Please allow a momentary digression. Authentic Christians can usually point to specific people who understand and love them. In ideal situations. can be a connecting link to fasten their trembling faith upon Christ. yet are willing to tell the truth about the quality of their behavior. Some personality types love to "tell
. I need to hear. I know that I can call or visit any of
I know that they will tell me to my face whatever They have played a major role in any successes I Others find a small group such as Al-
may have had in God's cause. it! There are souls perplexed with doubt. burdened with infirmities.
even a Sabbath School class can function to provide accountability. There are three Accountability to others can
Adventist Christian men in three different parts of the world who play this role in my life. be real. enhance our accountability to God. weak in faith. but get
I commend the
gentleness of Jesus who said. Nothing gives me more
courage in faith than to realize that my fellow brothers and sisters struggle with the same things I do and that I can face my problems together with others who care about me.
. To all such." Now such excuses may at
times be exaggerated. growing in grace and in love for one another as failing but forgiven people.213 it like it is" in the most brutal ways. yet they do this and this and this. but if there is one thing above all others that will draw secular people into a church it is the sense that people who are living real lives with real struggles and real failures are.
In conclusion." (John 16:12) Jesus cares enough about
our feelings to wait for the right moment before sharing something that may be hard to bear. the number one excuse for not returning to church is. in Christ. And the next verse (John 16:13) makes
clear that the Spirit can often communicate what human beings cannot. The greatest need of Adventism in the 90s is to make an end of living a lie. as I come in contact with ex-SDAs. Authenticity does not require us to tell the whole truth It does require us not to live a
in any or every circumstance. lie. "I have many things to tell you. "They all claim to be so holy. but you cannot bear them now.
he eagerly attended. The conference president became quite excited over the kind of people who were attending the seminar. I run into this all the time. He said.214 CHAPTER TWELVE
HOW TWO MODELS CAN CO-EXIST What can you do if your local church has no burden for secular people and there is no possibility of an alternative church
If attempts to educate the local leadership as to how
secular people respond and think have failed. "Well. the solution is to form a "subculture" within the church. it seems as if
. or to put it another way. particular he mentioned a In
non-Christian husband who had been But when his wife
resisting the church's attentions for years. but I have a problem. "I need to talk to you. to open a door into that church for secular people. but I can't stand the church itself. I appreciate what you have been
I believe in everything your church What do I do?" By
teaches. If the worship
service is not "user-friendly" to secular people.
told him about the seminar on meeting the secular mindset.
As he spoke to me the other
three nodded their heads approvingly. saying.
day that husband and his wife came to see me with another couple. This insight first came to me as I was addressing this subject at a conference campmeeting. church he meant the local church. The president had been working with the man for The next
years and was thrilled to see him showing some interest. I said. they need to be introduced into another type of church setting first.
find a time and a place every week where you get together and feed your souls from Scripture. the church as a whole--I just Are there
I can relate to pretty good. the pastor would be consulted and a degree in each subculture so that unnecessary
misunderstandings would not develop. What is a sub-culture? It is a setting
in which a particular class of people who belong to the church or are interested in the church. a place where you can have your needs met." "A what-culture?" There are churches where the corporate personality is such that it cannot work effectively with secular people."
"What you need to do is form a sub-culture. way house.
It could be a Sabbath School class. if you wish.
instead of agitating and dividing the church. a home Bible study group. of course.
." involved to Ideally.215 you have at least three people here that understand you. yeah. a prayer group. but don't quite fit socially or politically can get the spiritual uplift that they need. In such cases those who carry a burden for lost secular people need to form a subculture in the church. others?" "Oh. If the church service is not meeting your needs. A half-
A subculture aimed at the secular mindset
would intentionally avoid the minor irritation that drive secular people away from churches.
"What you need is a sub-culture. I guess there might be ten to twelve others that But. or even a social club. Such a subculture can take many forms. So I told these two couples. can't stand it.
Some tried to attend them all!
And they rejoiced at bonds they were developing with otherwise unchurched people.216 When I was pastoring in New York City. Sometimes these secular people would come for
two or three years and indicate no further interest in the church. personal finances. gifts of the Spirit. But the main purpose of these sub-cultures was getting
people who had common interests together so that their spiritual and social needs could be met in a way that was rarely possible in the setting of the whole body.
What is the testing
Whether or not there is a God and Adventists often think of the Sabbath. Then all of a sudden they would sidle up to me and say.
. or raising children. in one case we had a group looking into UFOs. The motivating principle for a group
might be family life. and various books of the Bible. That was my
"By the way. ate up these sub-cultures with joy. anyway?" signal that the testing truth had been passed. Other focused groups at one time or
another included a men's class in how to understand and treat women. I waited because I knew that visiting too soon could be a problem for them. And the members who attended these groups were usually the fringe people who had never been fully at home in the larger church. By means of these sub-cultures. we were able to provide a door to the church for people who wouldn't have felt at home in the church otherwise. how do you join this church. truth for secular people? whether or not it matters. In my church the makeup of these
subcultures tended to be half members and half secular people. I had five or six subcultural groups in my church.
Ultimately. because the body needs to gets together and worship on a regular basis. and tithing as testing truths for people." I
brought the baptismal vows. When secular people become convinced that I usually
they have met God in your church. be there because you are part of the body. Every church needs to have a door through which secular people can enter and find their unique needs met. they should be encouraged to attend the Sabbath-morning worship service whether or not it feeds them. read them through and offered to study any areas in which they were unclear or unprepared to make a commitment. You need to
But the subculture may
always remain the place that the primary spiritual needs are met. of
course. a half-way house.
. they are wide open. But every church that does not have the
sole mission of outreach to the unchurched needs to provide ways in which secular people can be integrated and grown into Adventist ways of thinking and doing.
could be a second service at another time. It could take the form of small-group seminars or discussions. Does allowing for a variety of spiritual life and expression in a church lead to social and doctrinal chaos? It need not. But secular people are rarely worried about such things. That door could be a It
special kind of worship service once a month or a quarter.217 the state of the dead. The great testing truth for them is whether there is a God and whether God matters in their lives.
responded to their request about joining the church with. like Sunday morning or Wednesday or Friday evening. "Got some time Tuesday night? I'll drop by and talk to you about it.
Ultra-Brite is for
the vain types who are concerned about their appearance and like to have bright and shiny teeth." romantic types who are concerned about their breath. Madison Avenue is well aware of this.
freshening qualities of the toothpaste. Close-up. approaches to reach everyone. Did you know that It takes a variety of
No single approach will ever be
Colgate. but the people who buy them are not interested in fluoride. But they are not marketed the
Colgate emphasizes MFP--maximum fluoride protection. Have you ever wondered why there are four
different gospels in the New Testament when there was only one Jesus? I believe there is a very simple reason for it--the Lord
Himself realized that there was no one presentation of the Gospel that would meet all minds and all needs. and Ultra-Brite toothpastes are all made up with essentially the same ingredients? same way. Madison Avenue has discovered that
the people who buy Colgate would never dream of buying Close-Up. Close-Up is marketed
to people who like to get "close up.
But the people who buy Colgate are less interested in getting close up than they are in the health of their teeth. The "health-nuts". And the people who buy Ultra-Brite have no interest in the others.
. sufficient. it can and must be expressed in a variety of ways. people who are
Who is interested in that?
concerned about the health of their teeth. So Close-Up emphasizes the breathColgate has those too. Close-
Up and Ultra-Brite have the same amount of fluoride. they delight in a toothpaste that will keep them out of the dentist's chair.218 Although there is only one Gospel.
The specifics of implementation will need to be worked out on a church by church basis. one Gospel. not as a specific agenda for every situation. Adventists
with a passion for secular and unchurched people need to get together with others who share their passion and begin to
brainstorm a little bit. church? reaching?
"What can we do differently in our
What are the groups in our community that we are not Are we truly open as a church to new directions. There is only But each one is marketed to
But there are many
different types of people and Christ relates to each type in their own place and in their own time.
. or This book has been
would a subculture be the way to start?
intended. Our greatest need may be to learn
how to take this one Gospel that we all believe in and present it to unique people in a way that meets their felt needs. with suggestions in broad strokes regarding things that can make a difference in a local church.219 The three toothpastes are identical. a different class of people. but as a large overview of the existing situation. There is only one Jesus Christ. I think we should learn something from that.
220 CHAPTER THIRTEEN
AND NOW. not only in
the former Soviet Bloc but also in First World areas like Western Europe and North America. a growing backlash against secularism in the world today. There are a number of trends that suggest that There is People
better days for outreach to secular people are arriving. It is clear. that secular people have an increasing interest in the supernatural. and in the development of the
spiritual side of human life. faith-talk in a proper social
. but faith is an increasingly acceptable stance with secular people. for a simpler Many life are with giving more up raises for and
relationships. is now understood to have been naive. SOME GOOD NEWS I must close with some good news about the role of the church in a secular world. The search for a supernatural experience has taken some bizarre turns with the New Age and the influx of Eastern religions. There was a time when sociologists felt that secularization was an unstoppable process that would continue until all religion in the world was forever banished from human consciousness.
seem less concerned with appearances and the trappings of success than with self-fulfillment. Although the secular search for faith continues to exhibit barriers toward established Christianity. Whenever it reaches a certain point an inevitable backlash against it sets in. That
Secularization seems to be
a self-limiting phenomenon.
17. and 75% would be willing to send their children. Dec. half of the unchurched in America would be open to the "right kind" of invitation to attend church. Even more interesting is the fact that the majority of
Americans brought up in irreligious homes are now members of some church. Another sign that things are moving in a positive direction is
. And half of unchurched people admit that they think about These facts
their need to go to church at least once a week. are unchurched by choice. Even small steps in the direction of making churches more userfriendly to secular people may be amply rewarded. 50-56 for a most interesting article on baby boomers and the church. It appears that
a high-tech society where artificial voices tell you to press whole series of buttons before you can contact a human being has created an intense hunger for social and spiritual relationship.
indicate that the unchurched are not nearly as hardened as is generally assumed.) The explosive growth of strange cults illustrates the incredible power associated with meeting people's felt needs. (See Newsweek.221 context is more welcome than it used to be. pp. How much better would it be if meeting felt needs led to an appreciation of the true gospel! According to surveys. 1990. It seems that few people
The biggest reason why people "dropped
out" is that they moved and "never got around to" finding a church in their new neighborhood. but can be reached in caring ways that are sensitive to the hurts and the irritations that have been
experienced in their relation with churches and churched people.
pastor named Bill Hybels who was driven by an experience he had had as a teenager in high school. by George Barna. "Look. And there was
For three weeks after that the
Finally the young Hybels cornered him and Why are you avoiding me?"
asked. (See User-Friendly Churches.
the first time he saw the church service through the eyes of someone who was hurting and searching for God. That is not wrong in itself. He was suddenly open to church
and he was devastated. which is listed in the Bibliography.222 that. friend avoided him.) A stunning example of this is the Willow Creek The church was started by a young
Community Church near Chicago."
because of this tragedy in his life. a Dutch Reformed Church. "You know. quiet as a mouse. Dutch
Reformed churches were molded from the very same kind of culture that most Adventists churches were. traditional. I have to be
. everything taking place formally and in order. The two were not in church for five For
minutes before Hybels sensed that he had made a big mistake.
I want to go to church with you. His best friend was a totally
One day the secular friend's girlfriend left him In agony he came to Bill and said. nothing there for his friend. "Bill. secular person. I've always been friends with you and I always thought you were a pretty cool guy. what's going on?
The friend said. But. evangelical
churches that are not excessively hidebound by traditional ways of doing things are growing rapidly in all sectors of society. while many mainline denominations decline. So Bill took him to church. but it certainly does not normally appeal to secular people.
accepted as a member. "What kind of church would make you
willing to try again?" Together they designed a church that avoids the little With
irritations that unnecessarily turn off secular people.223 honest with you. Willow Creek offers no soft religion. And Hybels vowed that
one day he would start a church where people like his friend would be comfortable."
Next door. I do. Contrary to what most Adventists In order to be
would expect. I don't. "Do you go to church?" "No. A few years later. "Do you go to church?" "Yes. become involved in a small group and have a clearly identifiable ministry! This is no easy way to join a church! You have to be making a
. where they would not be so turned off by the peripherals that they could not find Christ." "Why not?" church." "Thank you very much. they tell seekers that they understand the struggles of
little signals such as architecture. Good-bye. What you guys do in church is just not normal. you must attend faithfully for a year. drama. They noted all the reasons people stay away from
Then they asked. he and a group of youth went to the most affluent suburb of Chicago and started knocking on doors saying. Keep it up."
He had been so stunned by the church experience he no longer knew if Bill was normal enough to be his friend. and choice of music. and that the gospel to be preached can make all the difference in the 1990s.
but when a secular person decides to join a church. intellectual-type of philosophy. And the standard is high. 65% of them from unchurched. they don't just want another secular." designed just for secular It is a worship service specially people. But the secret of Willow Creek success is not so much the strategy as the sense of God's presence one experiences there. offerings total more than $200. the average weekend attendance is more than 15. Adventists know how to talk about God.
They baptize a thousand
people a year.224 difference for Christ in your world before you can become a member of that church. It is attractive and
contemporary so that secular people do not feel that they must enter a time warp in order to become a Christian. they join because they have experienced the presence of a living God there. The best-known part of the "Willow Creek strategy" is what they call a "Seeker Service.
spiritual expressions that were entirely adequate in the nineteenth century will move few people today because they often fail to speak
. To grasp the strategy of this book without the On the other hand.
spiritual component would be to fail entirely. secular backgrounds. You
find yourself in the midst of a people for whom God is a living and powerful God.000 a week.000. the elders of the church Yet
spend more time dealing with adultery than any other issue. The little
offensive things that needlessly turn people away are eliminated so that they can be challenged by the centrality of the gospel rather than by peripherals that they would perceive as meaningless without a prior acceptance of the Gospel. and talk
about the Bible.
diverse world where few strategies target more than a very narrow audience. This is not so because Rather it is so
an arbitrary number (2000 AD) is coming up. Secular ministry does work. History tells us that in
times of wrenching change people feel lost and nothing works right.
The pastors of Willow Creek themselves warn that such For one thing. A genuine walk with God
combined with a strategy that is sensitive to the world in which we live has the potential to make a mighty impact on this planet. A person attending services at Willow Creek will also This
learn relatively little about doctrine or Bible prophecy. Nevertheless. Events and the growth of knowledge accelerate with frightening
. we live in a
single-mindedness would be a mistake. For all its success with secular people. We are living at the turn of the ages.225 to the felt needs of today's generation.
practical spirituality with a sensitivity to the secular mind can reach secular people in large numbers. Willow Creek's success demonstrates that A church that combines
the basic thesis of this book will work. It is not my purpose in this book to extol Willow Creek as the model for Christianity or for Adventism at the turn of the
millennium. We are moving from the
Industrial Age into the Information Age. Willow Creek is
making as little inroad into the African-American community as the Adventist church is currently making in the Caucasian-American community. sometimes called the Communication Age or the Computer Age.
means that Adventists cannot limit themselves to Willow Creek's approach.
because society is going through changes more wrenching than any that have been seen for hundreds of years.
People are adrift in
a maelstrom of change. Time seems to rush by out of control. let us be bold and seize the day!
But history also tells us that societies Rather
like this can be uniquely open to a word from the Lord.
than drifting with the tide.
THE SPIRITUAL DECISION PROCESS CHART
Thus patience is necessary in working with secular
people who do not have such a prior understanding. The
goal of the Christian working with secular people is to help them move down the chart to a decision for Christ. At this point a person is close to a decision which.Since James F. The chart enables the Chris-
tian witness to determine a person's spiritual location on a scale that runs from a total lack of the knowledge of God to fully devoted service to Christ (see chart on next page). Such decisions do not normally take place
without some prior understanding of the gospel and its relevance for life. Engel's book. this Appendix summarizes information related to Engel's major contribution. Contemporary Christian Communications. which can result in a change of beliefs. for people do not change unless that change is seen to benefit them in some tangible way. The activation of a need leads to a search for informa-
tion. the Spiritual Decision Process Chart. which leads to a change in behavior. has been out of print for some time.
when taken. which normally leads to a change of attitudes.
. Decisions for Christ usually involve a lifetime process with many influences. The stimulus to make spiritual progress originates with need activation (becoming aware of a felt need). leads to spiritual growth.
* . * * * * * * * Eternity
.3 ================================================================= The Complete Spiritual Decision Process Model Showing the Stages of Spiritual Growth
)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))0))))0))))))))))))))))))))))))) General * -8 * Awareness of Revelation * * Supreme Being )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))3))))3))))))))))))))))))))))))) Conviction Proclamation * -7 * Some Knowledge * * * * of Gospel * * * * * * * -6 * Knowledge of * * * * Fundamentals of Gospel * * * * * * * -5 * Grasp of Personal * * * * Implications of Gospel * * * * * * * -4 * Positive Attitude * * * * Toward Act of Becoming * * * * a Christian * * * * * Call for * -3 * Problem Recognition * Decision * * and Intention to Act * * * * * * * -2 * Decision to Act * * * * * * * -1 * Repentance * * * * and Faith in Christ ))))2)))))))))))))))2))))))))3))))3))))))))))))))))))))))))) REGENERATION * * NEW CREATURE )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))3))))3))))))))))))))))))))))))) Sanctification Follow Up * +1 * Post Decision * * * * Evaluation * * * * * * * +2 * Incorporation * * * * Into Church * * * * * Cultivation * +3 * Conceptual and * * * * Behavioral Growth * * * * .Internal Reproduction * * * .Communion With God * * * . * .External Reproduction * * * * * * * .Stewardship * * * * .
are ready for the call at the level of problem recognition (-3). since there is little in At these levels a call for decision is
the way of literature or packaged approaches for people in levels -8 to -6. Need Activation
. is to build awareness of the basic tenets of the gospel. Since surveys indicate that the majority of
Americans have only a moderate amount of knowledge of the gospel (-7). Evangelism
should be considered successful if people move down the chart.4 People are open to an evangelistic approach when they have enough knowledge of the gospel to perceive that it is relevant to their basic needs. most Christians are totally unprepared to cope with the majority of people they meet. therefore. which means perceiving a difference between one's own life and the ideal life defined by Scripture. inappropriate. The upper part of the chart has at least two other implications for evangelism. Secondly. whether or not a decision has yet been made. evangelistic "success" Many will
must not be evaluated only in terms of decisions. The role of the Christian witness for people at
levels -7 and -6. For one thing. knowledge-building is where most Christian communication must begin.
never see large numbers of decisions because they are dealing with people who are at the upper levels of the chart. People with a positive attitude toward the gospel (-4) are the people who are nearing approachability for decision.
can be reached. Such an event can lead to a crumbling
. ================================================================= The Maslow Hierarchy of Needs  SelfActualization  +))))))))))))  Esteem * Belongingness +))))))))and Love *  +)))))))))))))))Safety *  Physical
================================================================= Operating on the basis of Maslow's hierarchy. provided they are reached at the level of one of their felt needs. to emphasize the rewards of the next life. and where that is impossible. The first obligation of the church
in such areas is to remedy underlying conditions (Lk 4:18. The awareness of need is often precipitated by a catastrophic event in a person's life. life is a bleak and frustrating experience.5 People generally will not change unless they feel the need to change.19). In such situations people are profoundly unhappy. the first step in helping people to progress in Anyone
the spiritual decision process is the activation of need. needs related to acceptance by and involvement with others (3 and 4). survival needs (1 and 2). In much of the world life is dominated by physical hardships. and needs centering around individual competency and self-expression (5). Engel articulates three basic types of needs.
business. 18.) 31 Foreclosure on a mortgage or loan 30 Major change in responsibilities at work (e.g.. reorganization. 13. personal habits. 25. 26. demotion. adoption. etc.g. 28. 19. a lot worse off or a lot better off than usual) 38 Death of a close friend 37 Changing to a different line of work 36 Major change in the number of arguments with spouse (e. 10. 3. building new home. 27. etc.)35 Taking on a mortgage greater than $10. remodeling. 9.g. purchasing a home. through birth. 14. 20.. 12.) 39 Major business readjustment (e. oldster moving in. The following chart helps one to assess the level of catastrophic stress that a person is experiencing. etc. merger. 5. 22. either a lot more or a lot less than usual regarding child rearing. deterioration of home or
.6 of the defense mechanisms that mask a person's awareness of need. 6. 21. 23.. lateral transfer) 29 Son or daughter leaving home (e. marriage.g. ================================================================= The Effect of Change on Social Readjustment
LIFE EVENT 1. 24.g. A score of several hundred
points within a given year is not unusual and points to an almost devastating level of stress. 16. 17. marriage. etc. 11. promotion.000 (e. 4...g. 2.. 8.g.
Death of a spouse 100 Divorce 73 Marital separation from mate 65 Detention in jail or other institution 63 Death of a close family member 63 Major personal injury or illness 53 Marriage 50 Being fired at work 47 Marital reconciliation with mate 45 Retirement from work 45 Major change in the behavior of family member 44 Pregnancy 40 Sexual difficulties 39 Gaining a new family member (e.g. college) 29 In-law troubles 29 Outstanding personal achievement 28 Wife beginning or ceasing work outside the home 26 Beginning or ceasing formal schooling 26 Major change in living conditions (e... bankruptcy.) 39 Major change in financial state (e. 7. 15.
Major change in church activities (e. 30. clubs. manners..000 (car. Minor violations of the law (e. lot more or less than usual) 19 36.) 11 ================================================================= 29. Major change in number of family get-togethers (more or less) 15 40. 31. 34. movies. or different) 15 41. Taking on a mortgage or loan less than $10. Major change in sleeping habits (e. 32..) 24 Troubles with the boss 23 Major change in working hours or conditions 20 Change in residence 20 Changing to a new school 20 Major change in usual type and/or amount of recreation 19 35. traffic tickets. a lot more or less than usual.g..g. jaywalking. Christmas 12 43. etc. etc. or change in part of day when asleep) 16 39. Major change in social activities (e. TV) 17 38. Major change in eating habits (more or less.7 neighborhood) 25 Revision of personal habits (dress. dances) 18 37. Vacation 13 42.g. disturbing the peace..
" Living Out the Dream. Middle Adulthood. Building the Dream. 45-59. Much importance placed on "doing what we should. teaching values to children. Special needs in
stage 4 are strengthening marriage.
6. while Stages 1 and 4 are the most open to change. living out one's aspirations and making them become a reality.
4. Diminished active occupational life and eventual retirement.
2. Midlife Transition.
5. Retirement can either lead to renewal or resignation. "Forming the dream" and working one's aspirations through occupational and marital choices. 30-35. Engel offers a generalized overview of the
typical North American life cycle below.
. Reduced personal striving and more emphasis on living consistently with a clarified code of values placing more importance on personal relationships and individual fulfillment. Pulling Up Roots. 18-22. ================================================================= Stages in the "Passage" Through the Life Cycle 1. Equilibrium will be restored either through a renewal or a resignation to the realities of life.8 Various stages in the life cycle are also times when people are open to change. A final casting aside of inappropriate role models. Often characterized by an identity crisis. Reassessment of the dream and the values which have been internalized. Late Adult Transition. and finding satisfaction on the job. Putting down roots. 35-45. 60-65 and beyond. A transition from parent's beliefs to the establishment of new strictly personal beliefs.
================================================================= Stages 2 and 5 tend to be the most resistant to change. 22-30.
. if the need is pressing.
will cover as many sources as are available to the individual. magazines. therefore. They actively seek informaThe search process
tion that will help them to meet those needs. Even then. An appropriate use of
magazine ads. is largely a waste of time and money. and creative self-help books. unless the tracts are specifically aimed at a felt need of the person receiving the tract. even strangers. Formation and Change of Beliefs and Attitudes At the point of information search it becomes possible for a person's attitudes and beliefs to progress in the spiritual decision process toward a decision for Christ. on the other hand. a tract is most likely to be read when it was received from a trusted personal friend rather than from a stranger on the street or in a passing car. radio spots. the advice of friends and. The
greatest opportunity to reach secular people comes in providing needed information at the right time. Tract distribution. can arouse interest in people whose search for information has been activated by a felt need. according to Engel.9 Information Search When people discover unmet needs in their lives they begin what Engel calls the search process. Christian television must also be
combined with face-to-face witness in order to be evangelistically effective. including the electronic media.
The probability that a person will change his or her beliefs is directly proportional to the credibility of the sender. Intentions. is something a person holds to be true with respect to a given subject matter or action. Attitudes. Intention relates to
the subjective probability that beliefs and attitudes will be acted on. and the Spiritual Decision Process
NEW CREATURE ================================================================= Belief. according to Engel. This
credibility is determined less by words than by the character of
.10 ================================================================= Beliefs. Attitude
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
-8 * -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Awareness of Supreme Being Some Knowledge of Gospel Knowledge of Fundamentals of Gospel Grasp of Personal Implications of Gospel Positive Attitude Toward Act of Becoming a Christian Problem Recognition and Intention to Act Decision to Act Repentance and Faith in Christ
) ) ) } KNOWLEDGE ) * ) * ) *
is a positive or negative evaluation about a given action that is usually consistent with a person's beliefs.
felt needs. at a given time. Spiritual Growth Growth to Christian spiritual maturity is stimulated by failure. Preaching.
growing churches are characterized by a need-centered ministry.
information on the practical "how-tos" of secular ministry is available in the bibliography (Appendix C). Surveys and visitation can be used to find out what doctrinal. While
not all Christians are evangelists. and behavioral issues are affecting a congregation at a particular time. to be effective today. The Christian's part in Generally people change in very small amounts
the secular person's decision process is gentle. conversion is a divine work.
. The basic points summarized Further
here supplement the material in chapters nine and ten. 3:15). So a teaching and training program to develop Christian Rapidly-
maturity should also begin at the point of felt needs. Conclusion This brief summary of Engel's book barely begins to suggest the valuable insights available in it if a reader can find a copy in a good library or used bookstore. friendly encouragement.11 the sender's life. Decision While psychology is helpful at many points in the decision process. Persuasion is up to God alone (2 Tim 2:24-26). must be
based on accurate feedback. all are to be witnesses (1 Pet.
ADVENTIST ADMINISTRATION IN A SECULAR WORLD
p. age now seems to be fading out as well.
Characteristics of the three ages: Pre-Industrial Industrial Post-Industrial
John Naisbitt. 197.
Ibid. Bell. p.1 But the industrial
Less than 10% of Ameri-
cans are needed to manufacture all the goods sold in the United States. Megatrends (New York: p.5 In a society where
information is wealth the university plays a central role as the place where knowledge is codified and tested. 15. 14. the information explosion will continue to multiply exponentially over the next 5-10 years. Ibid. p.
William Morrow. or raw And thanks to space exploration and
research.. and distribution of information.2 Virtually all newly created jobs are in the area of
services. 198. 1982).The Information Age Society is now passing through a social revolution equal in magnitude to the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago. But thanks to industrial advances. processing..
Ibid. 26.. particularly the creation. but information. The Third Wave (New York: 1980). today less than 3% of Americans produce far more food than we can eat. p. p.6
Alvin Toffler. Prior to
the 18th Century the typical person was employed in agriculture.3 The new wealth of society is not money. Warner Books. 12.
p. Ibid.. 79.9 Success is only
possible through the anticipation of trends and the appropriate long-range planning.
. offering a minimum of conflict and dis-
Resource Mode Technology Design
Raw materials Extractive Labor-intensive Game vs. society is under great stress at this time.. 18. Xerox. Toffler. p. The IndusThe ideal
workers were those who didn't think for themselves but were like interchangeable parts. 76.10 Information is now more crucial to suc-
cess than money (witness such firms as Intel.7 A car can now be put together With informa-
from parts manufactured on nearly every continent. all nations have an equal crack at the "capital" of the new age. p. Since individuals may be consciously living in different ages.. Ibid.
tion now universally and instantly available thanks to satellite technology.14 This information revolution is resulting in a trend toward a world economy or globalization. 55. p. Nature
Energy Fabrication Capital-intensive Game vs. 33.11 trial Age called for authoritarian administration. fabricated nature
Information Processing Knowledge-Intensive Game between persons
Naisbitt. and Apple Computer).8 The speed with which change comes in the Information Age forces institutions into a future orientation. p. Ibid.
The Culture of Narcissism (New York: W.12 The fundamental assumption of industrial society was individualism. pessim.). p. coldly impersonal efficiency of modern hospitals has been accompanied by the use of hospices and birthing centers. p. 1978). 5. p. Naisbitt. Norton. centralized institutions.
Naisbitt. 261-281. and the ability to work with people. Bell. 39. 402.15 There is an increasing hunger for personal
relationships and group interaction.14 This resulted in the self-fulfillment movement of the
But it seems that wherever the new technologies are
introduced there is a reaction toward a humanization of that technology (As an example.
Christopher Lasch. also of Yankelovitch.17
of the decision-making process regarding things that affect their
Ibid. The best ideas seem to be moving up from the People want to be part
bottom rather than down from the top. working on rigid time-schedules in massive. on the other hand. diversity. Yankelovitch. knowledge. 4. 403. education.
calls for decentralized control and puts a premium on employee initiative. pp.
. pp.13 70s. and the return of the family doctor.16 The Information Age has also brought in a strong trend toward decentralization. working anymore. 16. But none of these strategies seems to be The information society. creativity. p. 251..15 agreement. W. 97. 146-148 of 198. note how the super high-tech. Bell.
There is a desire to sift and order information even
if one must go outside of his own discipline to find the key. Ibid. a trend from representative
democracy to participatory democracy.
countries Adventist education may be approaching its finest hour.. there is need for increasing interaction between educators and administrators in the Church so that
Ibid. 159. In fact. p. in many developing countries the In such
Church has the opportunity to take the educational lead.
.16 lives. 319. What impact should these trends have on those responsible for the shape of Adventist administration in the 90s and beyond? What kinds of changes might help the church to accomplish its mission more effectively? Thus arise such trends as the wholistic health
Education If the clearing-house of ideas in the Information Age is the university. p. We are seeing. p.19 Interdisciplinary thinking rises from the need to see things as a unified whole. 189. therefore. Toffler.. the SDA Church's strong emphasis on higher education has the potential to keep the Chruch at the cutting edge of societal change.20 movement. however. In North America.18 Another trend is an increasing reaction to information overload.
and also churches. cosmopolitan people with representatives that are at home in any culture. on
the one hand. The key to success in the Information Age. and are usually. business. the unity of all peoples in Christ. There is need for more encouragement of local initia-
tive. there is a countertrend toward cultural assertiveness. however.
Global economy The trend toward a world economy underlines the need to increase the transfer of leadership and ideas both ways. our
eighty-year-old administrative structure seems increasingly out of step with the trends toward decentralization and participatory democracy. avoided by government.maximum advantage can be taken of the Church's achievements in higher education.
Future orientation Long-term strategies tend to increase short term costs. As globalization increases. while at the same time affirming that the gospel is best offered to the world by a diverse. therefore.
seems to be the ability to anticipate where the "market" will be 17
. more interchange of ideas from bottom to top and less hierarchical direction in the Information Age. people want to touch base with their roots. As a church we have the Biblical mandate to affirm. What
other church has as great an opportunity to be the first truly "world church" as the Seventh-day Adventist Church? However.
It might be well for the Seventh-day Adventist Church to set up an ongoing. Such a department should have at least one individ-
ual employed full-time (trained in both theology and sociology) in researching trends and advising the department on appropriate planning. George Barna's book Frog in the Kettle (listed in the Bibliography) attempts to anticipate where the church needs to be ten years from now.
Networking The failure of authoritarian structures to govern society effectively has caused people to set up networks. and Sabbath School discussion groups can be a great way to meet the need for fellowship while training people to think right. But the trend in society from institu-
tional help to self-help indicates that such programs will succeed only with massive lay involvement.
Small Groups The societal trend toward interpersonal. Bible Seminars. Thus motivating and
training the laity for secular witnessing is crucial. small-group structures and self-help efforts is encouraging since the Adventist Church is stocked with a wealth of good programs. informal means 18
. future-oriented "think tank" to help it to respond ahead of time to trends instead of being dragged from one crisis to another.in ten years and position oneself to take advantage of it. Health pro-
and resources. Ways
need to be found so that our leading thinkers can interact more. Let me illustrate. are reaching outside the usual channels for the information and help they seek.
people have in making sense of an overload of information means that isolated administrators always make bad decisions. administrative structures can become barriers between people who need to interact with each other in order to fulfill the Great Commission.for passing on information. The most helpful exchanges often take place
with individuals outside our own area of expertise.) One reason the networking system of committees isn't working well may be that the structures of Adventist administration have become too rigid. The committee system of the Adventist Church has potential to foster the interdisiciplinary interchange so critical to sound decision-making in the Information Age but the fact that the system often does not work indicates a need for reform. Only a
wide variety of input and critique can enable any administrator to make wise and fair decisions. In large cities Adventists from as many
as twelve different churches associated with three or four conferences may live in a ten block area. there-
fore. (The Daniel and Revelation Committee seems to be a good example of this. 19 They are all driving
. ideas. The purpose of administrative structure is to When structures become barriers As
foster efficiency of operation.
conduits of finance and political clout. More and more people. they no longer serve their intended purpose.
Evangelism in the Information Age
will be increasingly neighborhood and workplace oriented. the best days for the church may be just ahead!
Spiritual Tone 20
. with less focus on a church building as the unifying location for outreach unless the very worship service itself becomes a drawing card to the wider community. and family. But "third wave" methods and technology may And if secularization is truly
provide just such efficiency. church evangelistic programs that center on the neighborhood of the church (where few members may live anymore) may not attract the members' interest. there is need for greater administrative efficiency.
Efficiency Since the economic boom times seem to be gone for a while (and perhaps permanently). Church attendance in the big city
is rarely related to a burden for a particular neighborhood.here and there to go to church because they like a preacher or a particular style of worship or Sabbath school. we could organize people from different churches and conferences to work together and develop a burden for a particular neighborhood. or because friends and/or relatives attend there.
self-limiting. friends. Thus. Their evangelistic burden is the
place where they live and their personal network of acquaintances (including workmates). If we can find ways to bridge some of the artificial church and conference barriers.
p. must move more to the servant role and away from the authority role. p. If so. then the answer to secularization is a To reach such people. Secular
people have not rejected the true faith as much as the institutional trappings that have come with it. p. 20.23 ministers must be fellow-pilgrims.
The authoritarian approach is
return to the spirit of the early church as it appears in Acts 24. pp. The church. Faber. and political influence. (4) the sacraments. Faber.25
The return to small groups. Bible
Lausanne No. no longer acceptable. 21
. p.21 The
church has lost most of its former societal responsibilities-education." (2) "fellowship. therefore. and (5) economic commitment. justify its existence in spiritual terms alone. Thus.The fact that the church is no longer at the center of society's focus in a secular age can be a hidden blessing." (3) prayer. and it must. 20-22. care of the sick and elderly. 114. it has been thrown back to its
religious task. Lausanne No. 19. 9. 8. back to the situation of the church in society in the first century.22 The church must depend more and more on
its inward recesses of faith. social control. 8.24 The upshot of all this is that we seem to have come full circle. Wiencke. in an anti-institutional age. This could be summarized as (1) "devotion to the apostle's
are all part of the package. He or she may confront creative people as "heretics" who I have
need to be moved out of office or even out of the church.
heard new Adventist Christians who were once excited to be part of a growing and dynamic community say. "We still love the Lord and we still love the church." One reason the
explosive growth of churches like Willow Creek rarely happens in the Adventist Church is the lack of the continuity of vision that secular ministry requires. with tears in their eyes. The new pastor may be
unable to appreciate the exciting diversity that the Spirit brings. but we don't know how much longer we can stand this. and help for people who are struggling.
Personnel management A real tragedy is that when secular types of ministries are developed. they often prove to be temporary because the pastor who follows in the same church is not sensitive to the unique dynamic that has developed in that church.seminars. physically and spiritually. 1) Longer terms for secular pastors 2) Careful mating of churches and pastors 3) Churches developing a clear and ongoing sense of mission
. Several administrative concepts may need to be implemented before secular ministry in the Adventist Church can produce the kind of results that have occured in other setting such as Willow Creek Community Church.
" And it will And I have to believe that it will be done in God's
be done. And sooner rather than later. in case. you see. you're going to have to be conscious of that and realize that you have to build into these people durability. in the long run things don't work out. knowing
you're going to move on. if a person has a mission in a particular commu-
nity that he be dealt with a bit differently than the average church. But. So. that's a real problem. what did the lady say? "It must be done. And it's not an easy task.
But. that's a real burden of mine and I wonder if at some point we shouldn't have a network of secular pastors. it's different. How to enable a traditional church to be comfort-
able in accepting these people and have these people be comfortable joining a traditional church. In other And that's where I'll have some things
words. a network of Adventist pastors who have learned how to--to blend the two. to share on that. you know. there's risks in this--I'll be very up-front on Yet. You can make that church
your mission for life. But that they would learn to
be self-sufficient Spritiually.
good time and--uh--I'd like to believe that northern California will be at the forefront. as a pastor. that. I think that is a special And it
talent and it may be that not every pastor can do that. So. If you're elders. developing a secular ministry requires patience and time. But. And I guess the best we can hope to
do if we're in a transcient-type situation--and as pastors we are.
would be helpful to conference presidents if they knew that they 23
.For one thing.
the arts. While there is religious revival it is not helping the mainline denominations (except Southern Baptist). Note the rise of initia-
This trend can also be seen in consumerism. specialty foods. It is the
strictest and most demanding denominations that are growing fastest.
From Either-Or to Multiple -Option.
and in greater worker participation in decision-making. if they are to support them with any enthusiasm. Cable TV. ethnic diversity are all part of a multiple-option society.
opportunities for women. tives and referenda. religion.
From Representative to Participatory Democracy. people whose lives are affected by decisions want to be part of the process of arriving at those decisions.had a talent bank to draw from when a church like that needed a pastor so that they can continue that ministry. work schedules.
This book is somewhat like a Christian Megatrends (see below). cations. A very provocative book for people interested in the local church.
In the spirit of A Search for Excellence Barna examines ten rapidly growing churches and compares them with a similar number of declining churches. 1991. Brinsmead. ________. taken numerous positions in direct opposition to SDA beliefs.Following is a list of books and journal articles that have been exceptionally helpful to the writer of this book in wrestling with the issue of secularization and its impact on Adventist faith and practice. CA: Regal Books. 1978. Ventura. But many people have asked for a list of the sources that helped me to sharpen my ideas. Barna seeks to outline the kind of church that will make a difference in the society of the year 2000. Ventura. This is Life. 1990. CA: Verdict Publi
Although Brinsmead has. Robert D. The book will aid those who wish to be prepared ahead of time for the massive changes the Information Age continues to bring about. User-Friendly Churches. Fallbrook. The Frog in the Kettle. CA: Regal Books. He notes that all growing churches have certain things in common that declining churches do not and vice versa. Books Barna. The list is definitely not complete (I have examined nearly a thousand items related to the subject).
. The best sources that I am presently aware of are listed here. in the last decade. this little book from an earlier period of his life articulates a superb way of sharing the gospel with the non-religious mind. nor is it necessarily up to date on the latest editions.
particularly church administrators. Campolo provides a superb. DC: Review and Herald. The book provides an excellent starting point for understanding the way a secular person thinks. TX: Word Books. Richard J. Outstanding summary of the classic spiritual disciplines. 1979. non-technical analysis of the secular mentality. A fascinating look at the revolutionary impact of comput erization. Immensely entertaining. as always. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. See Appendix A. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1978. San Francisco: Harper and Row. quantum mechanics. Washington. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. Although the book is not easy to read if one is not "into" computers. James F. 1983. the "prophet" of the computer age. Contemporary Christian Communications: Its Theory and Practice. As the student of Carver Mead. fasting." Particularly helpful for reaching out spiritually to family and friends. Campolo's theological approaches to secular people are at times somewhat questionable from an Adventist perspective. Gilder is well qualified to suggest where society is going from here. Anthony. Waco.27 Campolo. Foster. Glenn A.
. Nevertheless it pounds home as no other book does the Christ-like way to approach individuals with the message of the gospel. such as meditation. 1958. prayer. the concepts in this book will challenge every thoughtful Adventist. A Reasonable Faith: Responding to Secularism. The book is quaint and at times almost irritatingly childlike in its simplicity. Gilder. Microcosm: The Quantum Revolution in Economics and Technology. solitude and confession. My favorite "witnessing book. Path to the Heart. George. 1989. Coon. Engel. and the resulting Information Age on everything we hold dear today.
The Mind Changers: the Art of Christian Persuasion. including many pointed cartoons. The book challenges the reader to do whatever it takes to live Christian faith in direct contact with reality. The illustration about the Buddhist neighbor in Chapter Two of this book is largely based on an illustration in one of Hybels' sermons. NJ: Rutgers University Press. ________. 1969. Deals with some of the same concerns as Engel. Although published nearly twenty years ago this book is still a major starting point for any theological discussion of secularism. New Brunswick. secularism affects everything that they do. Naming the Whirlwind. IL: Tyndale House. even though evangelicals fight against it. Hunter. The author shows that. 1983. Griffin. Must reading for secular ministry!
. Many conscious and unconscious ways that Christians use to live in denial of reality are exposed. 1990. Hybels. James Davison. My favorite book on the devotional life. Bobbs-Merrill. Indianapolis:
This book contains the classic statement outlining the major characteristics of the secular world-view. 1976. Downer's Grove IL: InterVarsity Press. Honest to God? Becoming an Authentic Christian. Emory A. A humorous and insightful survey of various methods of persuasion. The author is the pastor of the Willow Creek Community Church. First-rate book on the issue of Christian genuineness and authenticity. Grand Rapids. Bill. Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God. MI: Zondervan.28 Gilkey. Wheaton. Contains very helpful guidelines for prayer and journaling. Langdon Brown. American Evangelicalism: Conservative Religion and the Quandary of Modernity. A research work of major importance to Adventists in America today. 1988.
perhaps. IL 60187: Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. Though brief. John. 2. PO
Presents the results of Gallup research concerning the unchurched and offers suggestions for reaching them. S. His books wrestle powerfully with the kinds of issues that come up when Christians witness to secular people.O.
Although it has now been updated in a questionable way. Box 1100. Lausanne Occasional Papers No. of the problems secularization creates for Christian faith and mission. Macmillan Paperbacks Edition. 8. An excellent starting point for secular ministry. P. C. Wheaton. Mere Christianity covers the essentials of basic Christianity in terms a secular person can appreciate. Wheaton. 1960. Berrien
The place to write for information on demographic studies of the zip code areas relevant to a local church. Princeton. NJ 08542. Box 389. Box 1100. Naisbitt. The Willowbank Report: Gospel and Culture. Springs. Lewis is. NY: The Macmillan Co.29 Institute of Church Ministry. from an evangelical perspective. the original Megatrends still provides a most insightful analysis (with a wealth of fascinating illustrations) of ten major trends that continue to shape American society today. The Unchurched American. P. New York: Warner Books.
. MI 49104-1500. this booklet also suggests some excellent methods for solving those problems. Short and to the point! The voted product of a group study. the most famous convert from atheism to Christianity in this century.O. Princeton Religion Research Center. an excellent discussion of the interaction between the gospel and human cultures around the world. 1980. Andrews University. Lausanne Occasional Papers No. 1982. Christian Witness to Secularized People.. 1980. 31 pp. IL 60187: Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. Megatrends. Lewis. Perhaps the best summary. Mere Christianity.
A sequel to Toffler's popular book Future Shock. 1981. New York: Random House. New York: William Morrow & Co. Humberto M. New Rules: Searching for Self-fulfillment in a World Turned Upside Down. As always. The Third Wave. Toffler is interesting reading.
. whether on the job or in everyday conversation. Sahlin. Fritz. An excellent how-to seminar on how to present an effective verbal witness in secular situations. A very challenging book. MI: Andrews University Press. Alvin. Daniel. Another well-known pollster charts a trend away from the permissive society of the 60s and 70s toward an ethic of commitment. The starting point for any Seventh-day Adventist who is interested in the problem of secularization or in methods designed to reach people of a secular mind-set. Concerned Communications. commitment to deeper personal relationships and to spiritual and philosophical ideals. Monte. Yankelovich. 1985. The Third Wave describes the present development from the Industrial Age to the Information Age.30 Rasi. 1989. Friendship Evangelism Seminar. and Guy. eds. Meeting the Secular Mind: Some Adventist Perspectives. 1980. Berrien Springs.. Toffler. Provides the kind of detailed insight that could not be included in a book like this one.
"Secularism. "Secularization.. It is Bellah's hope that Christianity can adapt to the change in modern consciousness in a way that will continue to provide motivation. "Circulation of the Saints Revisited: A Longitudinal Look at Conservative Church Growth." Southwestern Journal of Theology 26:2 (Spring. Tim B. ed." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 22 (1983):253-262. If sustainable this conclusion has encouraging implications for Adventist education. Bibby. Results of a survey in Canada indicate that while conservative churches are definitely growing in numbers. It is generally assumed that there is a negative relationship between education and religion. The most educated are the least religious and vice versa. Stan L. Bellah argues that all people are religious in the sense that they find ways to come to terms with the mysteries of human existence. James A. Reginald W.. 1984):5-86. meaning and transformation for most of its adherents in years to come. Battaglia. Bellah. Higher Education. A collection of five essays by different authors offering a Baptist perspective on the impact of secularization on education.. Merlin B. This article. and Heaton." Encounter 45 (1984):171-180. and Religiosity. Brooks." Review of Religious Research 26 (1984):43-58.31 Journal Articles and Essays Albrecht. An "unbeliever" is simply someone who accepts the literalness of each day as the sole reality. and Brinkerhoff. the media and American politics. they are not reaching the more secular elements of society in any significant numbers. A summary analysis of Bellah's sociological work. The final essay offers some suggestions toward a Christian response to secularism. Anthony. however. indicates that education has not necessarily had a secularizing effect upon Mormons. "Expanding the Concept of Religion: the Case of Robert N.
churches. l978. "The Ministry in a Changing Society. David. Auckland. "Secular Society. (BL 2600. Lloyd. R. Ann. Donald E. Brief discussion of the move from the Industrial Age into the Information Age with some religious implications." Religion in Life 48 (1979):492-501. and religion in general. A superb overview of the impact secularization has had on individuals. secularization may prove to be a divinely-ordained means of preparing the world for Christ's return. 215-223. Heije. families. If this is correct. Provides useful analogies to the North American situation. Miller. Geering. Edited by J. "Secularization and Religion. 1983):12-16. Richard B. 1980):1-27." Christianity Today (Aug 5. and meaningful fellowship with other human beings. and Morisy." Review and Expositor 81 (1984):273-289. Distinguishes "humanism" in general from "secular humanism" in particular and articulates how Christianity should relate to the two.32 Cunningham. release from guilt." Perkins Journal 34 (Fall. NZ: Colloquium Publishers.
. The author argues that religion is not dying. Religions that meet those needs will continue to flourish in a secular age." Review of Religious Research 26 (1985):213-227. A survey of religious attitudes in England. it is only taking different forms today. Hay." In Religious Studies in the Pacific. "Christianity and Contemporary Humanism. Faber. Religious Meanings: a Contemporary Paradox. pp. Of particular interest is the final section which discusses the impact recent developments have had on ministers and their ministry. Hinchcliff.R45) Geering sees the secularization of our age as a remarkable parallel to the developments in religion in the centuries just preceding the NT era. Lovelace. "Future Shock and Christian Hope. "Some Reflections on Secularization. People still need a commitment to something greater than themselves.
and Bainbridge. ________.A56) The authors offer further evidence (see previous article) that secularization is a self-limiting phenomenon. "Secularization and Cult Formation in the Jazz Age." The Annual Review of the Social Sciences of Religion 4 (1980):85-119.33 Stark. (BL 60. William Sims. Secularization is a selflimiting process that produces revival (sects) in the short run and innovation (cults) over the longer run.
. Sects are efforts by the churched to remain churched." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 20 (1981):360373. Revival and Cult Formation. The authors argue that predictions of the triumph of secularization have mistaken conventional religious organizations for religion in general. Rodney. "Secularization. cults are efforts by the unchurched to become churched.