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Evangelistic Endeavor -- 9 (Sabb, 9/16)



We had an excellent church service in the morning. The music was outstanding as always. The church has a person who comes every week and plays for them who isn’t an Adventist but is really part of the church and is a great pianist and singer. We had some great special music as well. I preached a sermon on the need to worship with our whole lives that was received well. I was told later by one of the leaders who wasn’t there that someone called and told him that I preached “black” and that I had a black wife too.
After the service we had another good potluck then went to a local hospital and anointed a lady who has cancer and is the friend of a church member.


There was quite a jump in first time visitors and it was definitely in the double digits. This was the big night on the Sabbath so there is always a bit of anticipation to see how it will be received. Reports indicated that there were 2 pastors in the audience, one has been coming regularly, so this added to the interest. The sermon seemed to be received well. Some people were really embracing while you could tell others were listening intently and not sure what to believe. We had decision cards for people to fill out and I haven’t gotten the report on the response yet. He didn’t have people come forward for the appeal but simply had them fill it out in their seats.


This sermon obviously piggy-backed on the previous night’s sermon on the commandments and had the typical Adventist arguments but little in terms of what to actually do on the Sabbath besides go to church. It was more of an argument against Sunday than anything else. I think this is a major weakness of our Sabbath-keeping. We seem to be more concerned with arguing against Sunday than embracing Sabbath and talking about how to make it a meaningful day that is holy. This also goes along with my commentary from yesterday about our narrow view of the law and how I think we are fooling ourselves about how well we keep the commandments, and Sabbath in particular.

I also had a problem with something the evangelist said. He said that if a preacher tells someone that the commandments were nailed to the Cross and that we don’t have to keep the Sabbath, they are not of God. I don’t like this all-or-nothing thinking and it’s disrespectful to those who don’t keep the Sabbath. Frankly, I don’t believe that statement on any level and believe that God is working powerfully through many people who don’t keep the Sabbath. We need to be really careful how we talk about other denominations and pastors and need to treat them with the utmost respect. Telling someone they are not of God is only going to provoke defensiveness and an attacking spirit that won’t get us anywhere. The evangelist on the last two nights has been extremely critical of pastors over the commandments and Sabbath and this is an alarming trend that I am concerned about and don’t think we should be getting into. Lift up our beliefs and don’t condemn others is the approach I would take.

I know that one of the pastors was really challenged by the sermon because someone saw him on Sunday morning as he was getting ready for his church service. He has at least one theological degree and said he had never heard what was presented before and was hurt that in all his education they never addressed it. We’ll see what decisions he makes.  


Anonymous said…
One of the issues that the church must address in its evangelization for the future is how we distinguish ourselves from the competition. In the modernist past, separating ourselves via arguments such as "we are more truth-full" often worked. But increasingly, members arrive into the fold and realize that while walking around knowing that you have the truth feels great, but it doesn't necessarily make for good Christians.

The discomfort you express is the wave of the future - evangelists can either start thinking about new approaches to attracting sheep - otherwise we'll end up with the methods here: buying attendance, righteous Pharisee "we're better-than-other-Christians" talk, and we'll lose a third of "converts" in the first year, the majority before they die, and almost every kid. But hey - let's just keep throwing money at the same old methods - maybe a Powerpoint animated Daniel 2 statue will make them better Adventists.
Anonymous said…
Not of God? Wow that is harsh!

Statements like the one described in your post give credence to my Anglican friend who says he loves the Adventist Sabbath but could care less for Sabbatarians. I just don't see how Sabbath keeping is a soteriological concern. But some people manage to make _everything_ a soteriological concern. Salvation/ damnation language like this is why the Athanasian Creed has far fewer fans than the Nicene or Apostles creed.

And Alex is right. There really is no cookie cutter solution to making Christianity relevant for today's world. A friend of mine has me reading two books on the missional church- very interesting stuff.

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