Responsibility of Membership

I had an interesting conversation with a member of one of our churches the other day. The member was dismayed at what he perceived as a small minority of the church though powerful, but stagnant lay leadership standing in the way of the progress of the church. These people should simply step asided and let the church progress.

I think this is an interesting question that comes up often. A few thoughts immediately came to mind. First, all leadership is considered backward and not effective by someone. I know I have been considered that by some. Perhaps I was. At any rate, when you are voted to leadership of the church, you are expected to act in ways that you think are in the best interests of the church. If you vote someone as an Elder, don’t get mad if they run the church in a way that you don’t think is best. Simply vote them out when the time comes.

Here the member seemed to be upset with the church elected officials doing what they think is right. Yet, it seems that the church wants to keep them in becuase they keep electing them. If these people are truly in the minority, then why doesn’t the majority just vote them out?

Well, perhaps it is becuase the majority does not wish to speak. Maybe they just want to enjoy the benefits of a Sabbath morning entertainment session rather than taking ownership in the church they attend. Whatever the case, most of our churches are run by a vocal 10% of the church simply becuase they are the only ones that show up at the business meetings.

That elder who we assume is backward is doing what he thinks is right. Don’t get mad at him, he is working and buidling up the church to the best of his ability. He or she is not getting paid for that effort that is invested in the church. And as one who has been a local elder, he or she is not getting the respect that you think he or she is. At any rate, don’t get mad at the elder, get mad at the 90% of the church who think that church is something that you just show up for. Get mad at the 90% who do nothing and don’t want to do anything. Get mad at the 90% who think it is too much to show up for a once a month business meeting.

In short, vote the elder out and put in effective leadership. But the elder is only a symptom of the larger problem. When you build a church based on those who only wish to consume religious entertainment, then you will be disapointed trying to turn those “consumers” into “producers” of anything. In many cases, they will simply move on to the next “young powerful preacher” who has a better “show” on Sabbath morning.

Package of Beliefs or Mindset

Is Adventism primarily a package of beliefs or a mindset? It would seem that the dominate view is that it is simply a package of beliefs. These beliefs are either important or not so important or kind of important depending on who you ask. This package includes the sanctuary, state of the dead, and Sabbath. Some lament the objective fact that many are no longer preaching sermons on these doctrines. However, when you dig a little deeper and ask them what kind of sermon they are referring to, it seems as though they mean sermons that didactically defend or teach these doctrines.

While it is true that there is a time to hear these doctrines defined and defended, I question whether the 11:00 service Sabbath morning is that best time. No wonder people got turned off on these doctrines. They may have simply heard them taught over and over again until they assumed that all know them. I mean do we really need a sermon every week (or every other week) that simply delineates why a doctrine is true?

The key thing that is missing in this analysis however is that Adventism is more than a package of beliefs, it is a mindset. The Sabbath flows from that mindset. The Sanctuary doctrine was once an organizing principle that helped to describe the mindset. Our great problem is not that we don’t hear any sermons calculating 1844 anymore. Our great problem is that there is no underlying “Adventist” mindset through which we preach any of our sermons. In short, if T.D. Jakes preaches a sermon on the Goodness of God, that does not mean Adventists should not preach a sermon on the same subject. Adventists must preach sermons on the same subject. My contention, however, is that when an Adventist preaches that sermon it will include aspects, views, insights, and even definitions of “goodness” that come from our interaction with Sabbath, Sanctuary, Bible Wholeness, and yes the Third Angel’s Message.

We don’t need a regurgitation of a package of beliefs that no one sees having any relevance to daily living. We need a deeper understanding of who we are that will affect any sermon we preach. Even, yes, on those occasions when we preach from the package of beliefs.