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Evangelistic Endeavor -- 21 (Sab, 9/30)

SABBATH, 9/30/06


This morning we had a Sabbath celebration in the YMCA. Next week we will meet in the church as we try to transition the people. I led the Sabbath School and we did a lesson on principles of the Sabbath. I made sure we had a very balanced discussion and it didn’t degenerate into a list of do’s and don’ts. It was good for me to go back through the key Sabbath texts and see how little of what we do and don’t do are actually in the Bible. The bottom line is that many of the things we tell people not to do cannot really be argued from the Bible. At the same time, I’m not necessarily opposed to that because I can accept the wisdom and agreed practices of the church. However, I also believe that those things should be optional if we claim to be a people who only allow the Bible to dictate what we believe and practice.

The sermon was supposed to provide principles for having a happy home. However, at 2am this morning the evangelist felt like God called him to preach about the church and the need for unity. So, that’s what he did. It was actually focused to the church members and telling them to treat the new people well and not judge them, etc. I thought this was probably a message the church needed to hear yet strange since this series is focused on reaching those outside the church. It was relevant for the potential new members as well so it wasn’t a big deal but I just thought it was a bit strange.

Afterwards we had a huge potluck meal. We made sure there was plenty of food provided and it was a good feast that was provided.


We had a concert tonight by our singing evangelist and the other musicians that have been helping us. The music has been outstanding the whole series and has really provided a great atmosphere for worship throughout the series. I think it would have been good to just have the concert and not have any preaching to give all of us a break. If you can imagine, I’ve heard 21 sermons, including Sabbath morning, in a little over 3 weeks. Most of these sermons have been between an hour and an hour and a half long. I don’t think I’m going to church for a month after the series because I need sermon detox.

As I’ve said before, this method doesn’t allow for people to engage the texts and for the interpretation to come from within the community. Instead, we are telling people what to believe as they sit as passive spectators. We need to find ways for people to engage the texts in meaningful ways. What about an evangelistic series that was just a bunch of small group Bible studies? I think this would actually change more lives than we are now. It certainly would require more work, be messy, and call for a lot of training of leaders but would have more of a long-term effect than a “blitz” of the city by an evangelistic team.

The topic was the 144,000 and much of it was repeated concepts from previous sermons. More about commandment keeping and condemnation of everyone in sight. I’m really concerned about the lack of Jesus in the series. We have barely talked about him and every night the people are beat up and this hardly feels like it’s living up to it’s name, “Rays of Hope.” Hope is absent, Christ is absent, Encouragement is absent. I’m convinced that there are times when a prophetic voice is needed but when that kind of preaching is all you’re getting every night for over an hour, it really wears on you.

Somehow he started talking about lifestyle issues. He started with not listening to secular music and moved on to dress and the whole jewelry thing. I have no idea how he got to this from 144,000 but he did it somehow. Interestingly, all of the non-Adventist musicians have worn jewelry and they haven’t asked them to take it off which I’m really happy about. Basically all the visitors wear a lot of jewelry and have earrings so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with this. He said, “Jewelry erases the beauty of holiness from your face.” Personally, jewelry is a complete non-issue for me. What’s funny is that our evangelist probably spends the most money on his looks of anyone in the auditorium. He has basically a new suit every night, fancy shoes, and a blinged-out watch. He also told me he has a Chrysler in his garage. Where’s the consistency? Also, if we are trying to look meek and natural, why do we spend so much time getting dressed up for church? Shouldn’t we just wear casual clothes instead of trying to bring attention to ourselves in our nice suits and dresses?

He attacked makeup too which I find completely ridiculous and actually is in the A.F. studies guide too. He did say that it’s okay to wear a little makeup. Look, if the barn needs painting, paint it.


Anonymous said…
I like the idea of a series being run as a bunch of small study groups. I wonder how we could get that to work. Basically the SDA church I attend has done away with formal sermons. Someone is now invited to lead out a discussion. It works well as we have small numbers, but it feels the way that church should feel. Engaging and relevant.
This is a very good series. I hadn't paid much attention to it until last night. I read through all of your posts in order. It is interesting how the tone became gloomier as time went on. Please keep us posted as the meetings progress.
Anonymous said…
Your comment about needing "sermon detox" is right on! Our evangelists simply don't get it. They don't see how cognitive-heavy our evangelism presentations are and how this makes for mental indigestion for the average person. They are still working at the level of the preaching art where a person shouts louder when confronted with someone who doesn't know the language he's speaking.

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