Posts Tagged: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

How Committed is Your Church to the Disney Princesses?

dpIf you think of animated Disney films probably some of the first images that come to your mind would be princesses: Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty (sorry I don’t know her actual name), Ariel, etc.. Disney’s entire history is shrouded with princesses, yet in 2010 Disney recognized princesses were not the success stories they once were and Disney exec of animation informed the world that Disney was putting a moratorium on any new princesses…”at least until someone has a fresh take on it…” and Disney stuck to this until of course the smash hit this past year of a movie entitled “Frozen” (not an endorsement I just know a lot of people are singing the song and it has made a lot of money). But can you imagine the courage it must have taken to announce, to make the decision that “the past was nice, but we have to change if we are really going to move forward successfully”? “So either bring us a fresh idea on a princess or no new princess movies at all.” Wow! The announcement was so large there were articles written about it in the LA Times, Forbes Magazine, babycenter.com, and more.

Why would Disney do such a thing? Because they recognized you can’t grow into the future if you are overly committed to the Disney Princesses of the past.

How committed is your church or your school to the Disney princesses of the past?

In his book, “Autopsy of a Deceased Church” Thom Rainer reports on the analysis of churches that have died and the 12 factors they discovered that lead to these deaths.

The very first trait which Rainer said was, “the most pervasive and common thread of our autopsies” was, they were in love with a Disney princess of the past and hoped she would revive again to bring the church back to greatness. Well not a literal Disney princess and Thom Rainer doesn’t use those exact words, but his meaning is the same.  Rainer uses these words, “the dying churches lived for a long time with the past as hero.”

These churches talked about how many people used to attend their church. They talked about how great their church used to be. And when people would try and change things these churches would resist, insisting that they could still get back to where they were with things just as they are. They were unwilling to change because they were once great and surely they could stay the same and become great again. They were in love with the Disney princesses and wanted to keep making them hoping they would eventually take them back to their former greatness.

Y’all let us be very honest the majority of Seventh-day Adventist Churches and schools (elementary & secondary) are dying or plateaued in North America. Is it because we are more committed to the Disney princesses of the past than looking toward new ideas, methods, structures, & solutions? When someone comments on our decline do we become defensive? Bringing up the past? Making excuses?

  1. “Oh our church used to be full, if we could just get the right pastor.”
  2. “We used to have so many students in attendance and if we just hang-on a few more years I believe we can be back there again.”
  3. “The conference hasn’t given us the support that we need.”
  4. “If we could just keep more of our tithe.”

Many churches and schools are going to die because they were more committed to what they once were, rather than realizing who they are now and adjusting to their current reality.

I believe there are a “big three” things that Seventh-day Adventists should be committed to that came from the past because they are timeless in their ministration unto the people of God in the present:

  1. The Trinity: God The Father, His Son Jesus Christ, & The Holy Spirit
  2. The Word of God
  3. The writings of Ellen G. White

Everything else from the past, while being held fondly in our hearts, should be available to change.

  • Church service times (11 a.m. is not sacred)
  • Church structure (General Conference, Division, Union, Conference, Local Church)
  • Church service format (We don’t have to start with announcements and a hymn)
  • Online campuses
  • Satellite campuses
  • School satellite campuses
  • Merging of schools…or maybe even better if feasible: following Mrs. White’s counsel and encouraging each church to have their own school thus…
  • Dividing of schools
  • Location of schools (see above)
  • Less ordained ministers in administrative positions and more in the field
  • Non-traditional evangelism receiving the majority of the evangelistic dollars
  • Sabbath Schools each day of the week rather than just Sabbath morning
  • The placement of Bible Workers taking precedent over placing associate or even head pastors in churches/districts
  • Tithe distribution
  • Every pastor must plant a church that can adequately support them or they no longer have a job (oh wait that is from the past, but I still love it!)
  • Congregational expectations of a pastor

The list could go on and on. Maybe you have a few?

My appeal to the church I love:

If it’s not one of the big three then let go of all that you think made us great, honor it appreciate it, but to quote the latest Disney princess, “let it go, let it go”; because in North America 1.3% growth is not great and clinging to the Disney princesses of the past hoping greatness arrives once again does not justly serve the cause of this movement that Jesus placed on earth to usher in His Second Coming!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why the Recent Rhetoric in the Church Makes Me Want to Shout About “SPIRITUAL FORMATION

So today I was listening to a book on tape, in this book on tape there was a chapter heading, “Spiritual Formation.” I listened to the entire chapter and guess what? Afterwards I didn’t want to go and empty my mind, burn incense, light candles, chant in repetition or deny the infallibility of the Bible. In fact the authors description of “SPIRITUAL FORMATION” made me want to read my Bible more, spend more time alone being guided by the scriptures to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. He impressed upon me the need to have a consistent devotional time, and that part of Spiritual Formation included being willing to be more generous with my money to the cause of Jesus, particularly the local church…can you believe such heresy? I say tongue in cheek!

At the end of the chapter the thought that came into my mind and started to drive me crazy, “There are so many in our church that would have shut the audiobook off, or closed the book (if they were actually reading it) the moment they heard/saw those words, “Spiritual Formation” and they would have missed out on some great counsel! Why? Because over the last 3+ years many in the Adventist church have taught our people to be scared of words and phrases, like: “spiritual formation,” “liturgy,” and “kingdom growth.” Even “meditation” is being spoken of like all meditation is bad…I sure hope the folk that believe that fallacy never read the writings of Ellen G. White, there are over 800 references of “meditation” or “meditate;” and oh boy they better not read the Bible either, since there are a good thirty times meditation is mentioned in that GREAT book.

Why would I even say that? Because I really believe some would be shocked! They’d be shocked because we don’t teach them to read and to study and to discern truth for themselves, we teach them to be scared of certain words and so many of the sermons I’ve heard say, “Spiritual formation is evil. It is about meditation, and mantras.” And therefore meditation is wrong, even when there is a very good kind of Biblical meditation, but these people don’t know that, all they know is what we’ve told them to be scared of. We’ve taught them to be scared of words, just like the pharisees taught the Jews to be scared of Jesus because He used the words, “I Am.”

In preaching in this manner and writing EXTREME books on this topic not only are we teaching our people to be scared of words, we are also teaching them to be very judgmental.

I was given a CD of a fairly popular and well known speaker amongst Adventists, he is one that frequents many camp meetings. I’d heard him on a couple different occasions and was usually blessed by his messages. Then I received this CD and I listened…what I listened to was fear mongering and a call to judge, not to judge on actions, not to judge on doctrine, just to judge based on words. This preacher was speaking of a pastor of a mega-church and pointing out all the areas he was in error; which by the way, how far have we fallen when we think that is an acceptable topic for a Sabbath morning service? Anyway, he then said this, which blew my mind, “When you hear our preachers (Adventist preachers) use the term ‘Kingdom Growth’ you know they have been under the influence of (name of the Sunday preacher here) and you need to be on guard.” REALLY? REALLY? This semi-well known pastor with at least a moderate amount of influence told a bunch of folk to judge their pastors based on a phrase, “Kingdom Growth.” I’ve been using that phrase as often as I can ever since; yep, there is a rebel in me.

So we’re teaching our people to be scared of words. We’re teaching our people to be judgmental based on phrases. We’re also teaching our people how to be mere reflectors of man’s thoughts, rather than true discerners.

I was at a camp meeting. The evening speaker delivered a wonderful message, but he went on a tangent. In this tangent he began to condemn those associated with spiritual formation (he didn’t give context to this), he just used those catch words of course. But what drove me even more crazy was at the end of this little tangent he said, “that is why we shouldn’t be reading anything outside of Adventist literature.” REALLY? REALLY? I love this man, he has been a blessing in my life, I don’t know him, but I’ve read his books and listened to his sermons. But REALLY? I couldn’t take it so I confronted him afterwards, “How could you say that?” I asked. Well in the course of the conversation he acknowledged we should, and he even quoted Mrs. White referencing her statement about our need to be well read in the literature of the age, and how of course he didn’t mean don’t read anything outside of Adventism (he has a doctorate from a non-Adventist university). I asked him then why he said it, he didn’t have a great answer, something to the effect of wanting to protect the people. That is not protection though, it is dumbing people down. To this man’s credit he corrected the statement in his seminar a few days later and acknowledged that is not what he meant; unfortunately there were only 150 people at his seminar versus the 2000 that heard his original statement.

We’re teaching our people to be scared of words. We’re teaching our people to be judgmental based on phrases. We’re teaching our people how be mere reflectors of man’s thoughts, rather than true discerners.

But maybe most of all we’re teaching people how to miss the good and beautiful truth completely. The pharisees were so focused on all the potential negatives that could happen around the Sabbath day that when someone, Jesus Himself, actually showed up on the scene keeping the Sabbath they way it should be kept…they missed it completely! I worry that we are teaching our people to focus so much on the negative that they may actually miss a lot of good when it is being done right in front of their eyes.

Someone smart in my life said, I’m not sure who said this to me (maybe it was David in our Faster Pastor episode on Christmas), but whoever it was this is brilliant, “Words and symbols only have as much meaning in your life as you allow them to have.”

Our church needs to learn this! The words Spiritual Formation or any others like this only have the meaning that one attaches to them and if we attach all kinds of fear, judgment, and ignorance to them that is exactly the meaning they’ll have in people’s lives.

But maybe some people out there are using those same words and they are doing a great job of teaching about Bible Study, Sacrifice, Prayer, Service, Repentance, Tithing…but our people will never know; cause they’ll close the book the moment they see the buzz words our church has decided to condemn and attach unnecessary negative value to over the last 3+ years.

Lord help us to spend more time teaching people about the beautiful truths of Jesus and in the glorious light of Jesus’ truth maybe we can trust them to be able to discern error for themselves.

 

 

Our Growth Part 2

If you did not read yesterdays post, I would encourage you to go and do so now. Yesterday, I shared with y’all some reasons I believe our church was put in a position to grow over the past five years. I didn’t get too detailed but tried to stay broad enough so that individuals could apply the principles to their own church as needed.

In today’s post I want to share with you the reasons why I believe we didn’t grow MORE. Yep, we had tremendous growth for an English speaking Adventist church in North America, but was there something left on the table? I’m convicted that there was. So here is the underbelly of our church; I pray this post will help y’all to avoid some of our same pitfalls or maybe to be honest with yourselves about where your church is lacking in order that things may be changed and Jesus may be glorified.

Why We Didn’t Grow More:

Prayer! Yep, that is right prayer! I said yesterday that our emphasis on prayer was the primary factor regarding our church growth. How then can prayer also be something that kept us from growing? Well, prayer didn’t keep us from growing, more accurately a lack of prayer I believe kept us from growing. Our prayer ministries has expanded in tremendous ways over the last five years. We’ve moved from a handful of prayer warriors to 70+ prayer warriors. Yet, it still seems like we are so far from where God wants us to be. Read this quote from Ellen White:

As a church, we have received great light. This light the Lord has entrusted to us for the benefit and blessing of the world. To us has been given the ministry of reconciliation. With power from on high we are to beseech men to be reconciled to God. We are encouraged to pray for success, with the divine assurance that our prayers will be heard and answered. “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19, 20). “Ask of Me, and I will answer your requests.” The promise is made on condition that the united prayers of the church are offered, and in answer to these prayers there may be expected a power greater than that which comes in answer to private prayer. The power given will be proportionate to the unity of the members and their love for God and for one another.—Letter 32, 1903, p. 5.

Mrs. White is writing about the growth of The Seventh-day Adventist Church and she says, “The promise is made on condition that the united prayers of the church are offered, and in answer to these prayers there may be expected a power greater than that which comes in answer to private prayer.” This past year I have had the privilege to do ministry on both sides of our country, in the summer I was in New York City and in the fall I was in Hawaii. While visiting both of these places I attended churches that I have read about and heard about…non-Adventist churches. In New York I went to prayer meeting at The Brooklyn Tabernacle, in Hawaii, I attended New Hope. What impresses me so much about both of these churches is their commitment to prayer…not the leadership talking about it, not books being read about prayer, the people actually coming together to pray. While Christina and I were there on the island there was a major issue taking place and New Hope called a prayer meeting…THOUSANDS showed up to pray. In Brooklyn I arrived early, were the stories true? Do people really come out to prayer meeting early just to pray? Yes they do, hundreds and hundreds of people were there starting at 5 p.m. to pray, even though the actual prayer meeting doesn’t start ’till 7 p.m.. I don’t agree with what these two churches teach on several points, I didn’t love the worship style at either, though I was blessed by both, but I would not dare to denigrate their growth because I saw with my own two eyes memberships that were committed to prayer…not the few…the majority. Could it be God is blessing these churches walking in some errors because they are “united in prayer”? I trust what Mrs. White wrote & believe our church would have grown more if the majority, not the minority of our membership were united in prayer!

 

Staff Transitions. When good staff leave, even if those transitions were necessary in some way there is going to be a time of unsettlement within the church. As I stated in my previous post I was blessed the moment I arrived at Visalia to work with people extremely gifted in their areas of ministry. But as is often the case there are differences with transition of leadership and sometimes those differences can not be reconciled. Well we went through that in back to back years and it caused some unease within our church. Which is an absolutely normal response. We saw over the second year of transition our only down year in local giving (this year we’ve recouped what we were behind last year and increased local giving by more than $100,000). We had another transition this past Spring, but that was due to a relocation and transitions like that seem to be much more readily accepted. This probably isn’t one that anyone can necessarily avoid. Staff transitions are a part of life within and without of the church, the previous administration shared with me that in his time as Senior Pastor two individuals that had been here prior to him transitioned out under his leadership, and I’m sure when God decides to move me on there will be other transitions in regards to our team then as well. For the purposes of this blog I would say that in times of transition growth may slow, but don’t panic! Stay the course, be faithful, God will see you through.

 

Our growth. That is right I believe our growth stifled our growth. Let me give you three examples of how I saw our growth stifle growth. First, we were not equipped to handle some of the growth that occurred and thus rather than having opportunities in place for these new people to immediately begin evangelizing their friends and family…they sat and in some cases their enthusiasm waned. This was a leadership failure that we have tried to rectify in our most recent wave of growth. Second, our members became content. There was a time when a large percentage of our members were inviting friends and family to attend our church on a regular basis. I think when we grew & became crowded folk no longer saw “the need” and their evangelistic fervor began to dissipate. Third, we didn’t adjust quickly enough. You may have heard of the 80% rule, if your parking lot or sanctuary is 80% full then growth will be stifled. At the peak of our early growth (we are picking-up momentum again) we didn’t make room for the people quickly enough. We eventually started a second campus & a second service but we did it all, especially the second service about a year too late! Our hesitancy caused our growth to sputter. Y’all if you’re growing and your room is filling-up don’t get scared of the naysayers, ACT quickly and decisively.

 

Sin. Sin has prevented us from growing more in the last five years than we should have. And I won’t point the finger anywhere else on this one as I don’t know anyone else’s heart but my own. I have come to firmly believe that the sins of leader effect the corporate body. Now I’m not talking about occasional misdeed here and there, I’m talking about cherishing pride. Holding resentment & bitterness in ones heart. Neglecting personal private time with God in prayer and Bible study. Not having enough faith in the vision God has placed on my heart. Laziness. Fear. Over the course of the last five years I have gone through stages of these areas, and while I am not consciously aware of these sins influencing my decisions or limiting growth, based on my knowledge of scripture I believe they all have at times. Leaders your church can’t grow unless you’re growing in your relationship and love for Jesus!

 

Facilities. I already mentioned above the 80% percent rule, Dr. Russell Burrill writes that in the Adventist Church this rule is not just limited to sanctuary seating & parking space, but also to Sabbath School space, especially within the Children’s departments. Well we have more than exceeded the 80% rule. It used to just be our Cradle Roll and Kindergarten classes that were packed to the gills, but now Cradle Roll through youth is full, we have even run out of room for conducive adult studies. If Dr. Burrill’s statement is accurate, which I assume it is as it was based on research, then our growth has been stunted a little from that every single year.

 

A lack of volunteers. We have great volunteers, some of the most amazing people I have ever had the opportunity to serve with, a huge reason for our growth over these years. But we don’t have 100% or even 80% or even 50% of our members volunteering; I would say we are more around 33% of our members regularly volunteering or giving at least 1 hour in a month (it should be 1 hour a week to really thrive). I think this is a fairly simple truth: if you want your church to grow get more people serving! That is easier said then done, at some point it has to be a member standing-up and saying, “here I am Lord send me!” Service to the Lord is a heart thing and since each member is a part of the Body of Christ, if the heart (the members hearts) is not pumping out blood (actively, regularly serving) the body will not operate at maximum efficiency. Most our churches are not operating at maximum efficiency! With each member that gets involved the church has a little better shot of increasing its growth. I’m sure that this is one area that minimizes the growth of every church, because I know of NO church where 100% of the members are involved in service to Jesus. We must not accept this though, we must be committed to the ideal; continuing to struggle, urging, and even pleading when necessary for more help from the laity.

 

These are the reasons I believe over the last five years we have not grown more. I pray that the points made in this blog will help you as you help to put your church in a position to receive the Lord’s blessing of growth! Tomorrow I’ll be posting on what specific things we plan to look at in the years ahead to continue and exceed our current growth.

 

Thanks for reading and please share with your friends and pastors if you think it will be a blessing to them!

 

 

 

 

Elder Ted Wilson: Unwilling To Sit On the Sidelines

So I am currently in New York City for NY13 the worldwide thrust of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to reach New York City. I have to admit I came here with some skepticism, not sure what I would be doing or why I am here. But I came, because I was asked and I felt it an honor to be requested to represent the North American Division in this initiative, so here I am.

And I have been taking mental notes some good some not so good…

A good I have observed is our evangelistic speaker for these meetings, Elder Ted Wilson.

What I am so impressed with, as are so many others, he is fully engaged in this initiative!

Something I keep hearing over and over again from people that have been serving the Adventist Church a lot longer than I have is, “Isn’t it great to see a General Conference President preaching and leading a full campaign!” People that have served in the General Conference offices for a number of years are expressing their appreciation of Elder Wilson not just casting the vision, but actually helping to carry out the vision of reaching New York. As one GC official said, “He could do what has been done,  set the vision and say ‘now go do it.’ But he is actually out there with us.”

What I am seeing is that Elder Wilson isn’t content to sit on the sidelines, he is passionate about reaching New York City. He is not going to tell others to follow the counsel of Ellen White to minister to this the most diverse city in the world, without also doing it himself. He isn’t just someone that goes around and talks about what should be done and the ministries that should be done he is actually doing those ministries and doing very tangible things to make those ministries a success!

Unwilling to sit on the sidelines.

He, and his wife Nancy, are even attending the classes for the Field School daily. He said, “I have a lot to learn.” So he is at each class learning.

As I watch Elder Wilson, I think back to the last time we were at some meetings together. A very different environment. The Pacific Union Special Constituency Session on the bylaw changes regarding the ordination of women within that Union.

That day as I once again was observing our General Conference leader, I was disappointed that he was there. It wasn’t because I have a different point of view on the topic and disliked that he disagrees with me, (I’m actually one of those folk that thinks its okay to disagree and state it with conviction trusting that we can both still love Jesus) I was disappointed because I felt that it wasn’t a very presidential move of him to be there when the whole world knew that he would get voted down. It felt to me like a very unsound move politically.

But as I think about Elder Wilson’s presence here at this event I think I understand more and actually now respect his presence at the former event.

Here is what I am concluding: If Elder Ted Wilson is passionate about something, if he is convicted about something, he is not the type to just sit on the sidelines and let everyone else do the work.

He was/is convicted on his position regarding women’s ordination. He is convicted on his position regarding reaching New York City…

…In both instances he acted on his conviction.

Unwilling to sit on the sidelines.

I don’t believe it is fair of me to affirm one and renounce the other.

I admire, I appreciate, I trust a leader…

…who stands for his convictions no matter how politically painful it may be to take on Union that has clearly stated their views.

….who preaches a full evangelistic campaign just like the rest of us pastors do, no matter how exhausting it may be.

I admire, I appreciate, I trust Elder Ted Wilson…

…not because we share all points of view in common.

…because I know his convictions by his actions.

He is a man unwiling to sit on the sidelines.

And that is a leader I can follow!

We Can’t Change For Our Kids

If I’m honest I believed that when I had kids there would be certain things I would just stop doing, and certain things I would automatically start doing. Why? Because haven’t you heard, “kids change everything.”

While in many ways that is true, “kids do change everything,” there are many ways in which folk think their kids will change things, but ultimately, “Kids have changed nothing.”

Before I was a parent I said, “once I have kids we will have family worship every day.” Well I’ve had kids for four years now, and we don’t have family worship every day. We do read our boys individually the Bible each night, and we do pray with them many times throughout the day, but sitting down as a family unit for worship on a daily basis consistently, it hasn’t happened.

I’ve heard future parents say, “I’ll quit drinking,” “I’ll quit smoking,” “I’ll go to church regularly” etc., “once I have kids.” But I’ve discovered in so many cases like my example above, it usually doesn’t happen.

Grandparents will say, “I think you’ll see our kids a lot more involved in church once they have children of their own.” And yet so often this isn’t the case.

Why?

Because if a person is waiting for a kid in their life to change them, more often than not they aren’t going to change, at least not drastically!

If I could give expecting parents or folk that are contemplating having children one day a little advice: If you want to be different for your kids, then CHANGE NOW!

You see ultimatley kids can’t change us, we are inherently selfish, impatient, angst ridden individuals. Yes kids can temper those things some, but they can’t ultimately change us.

There is only one source of change and that is through Jesus Christ–

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,” –Titus 3:3-6

It is not through a relationship with our children that any of us will be saved or changed, but through a relationship with Jesus our Savior.

Even if a person “changes” for the sake of their kids, if these “changes” are simply in the context of having children then these changes are deceiving and of no ultimate value. They are prosthetic changes

If the premise of an individuals changes are “their children” then that is not a change that is lasting it is in fact the height of hypocrisy.

The term hypocrite in the Bible came from the Greek word “hypokrites” which was an individual that was an actor, “playing a role” for another. 

Isn’t a parent that sets standards and goes through the motion of being involved in church and practicing certain Judeo-Christian principles simply for the good of their children without truly embracing them in their own hearts are they not playing a role? Hypokrites? Actors?

How many parents have raised children being involved, active in the church, setting high standards in their homes, only to see their children go off to college or begin their own adult lives and those same parents are no longer involved in church, no longer practicing the standards they had practiced while raising their children? Was the change then through Jesus or the children, and if it was through the children then couldn’t we term that hypocrisy–playing a role for another?

And then the question has to be asked what is being communicated to the adult children, when the parents that had rasied them one way are living a completely different way? They’ll think their parents have changed, but the more probable reality is that their parents were never truly “changed from the inside out.”

I’m discovering in myself that I can’t change for my kids, nor can my kids change me. If I do change in these ways then it is just hypocrisy, it is what Jesus described to the pharisees as a whitewashed tomb, “beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Mt. 23:27)

Potential parents…

Expecting parents…

Parents of young children…

Parents of teenagers…

Parents of adult children…

Grandparents…

                             Let us all change…

                                                            Not for our kids…

                                                                                         Because we love Jesus!

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.” -1 Corinthians 16:13, 14

Adventist Education: It is “Something Better”

While many in North America want to be just like us when it comes to our Educational system, a large percentage of Adventists are abandoning our schools.

Why?

Because of a perceived reality that just isn’t true!

That our schools are less than the best…

Ellen G. White wrote,

““Something better” is the watchword of education, the law of all true living. Whatever Christ asks us to renounce, He offers in its stead something better.” –Education, p. 296.

Adventist Education is that something better! Don’t believe me how ’bout we look at the data? What about what others are saying?

What about this headline taken straight out of the pages of the Los Angeles Times,

“The Conversation: Pursuing successful education reform might mean going the way of Adventists”

Or what about the fact that Martin Doblmeier a non-Adventist award winning producer and director is making a documentary for PBS, (tentatively titled: “Teach the Children Well”) examining the success of Adventist Education.

In a clip I saw of this video there is even a line addressing the fact our own people are not attending our schools, “with all of this proven success, Adventist schools are still shrinking.”

So why is everyone else other than “US” (Adventists) impressed with our schools?

Because of the following data:

A 4 year study was done on Adventist Education. In this study 800+ schools in the United States, Canada, & Bermuda were studied. 51,706 students participated in the study.

And the findings show something amazing!

Our students were ABOVE the National Average in:

  •  in all subjects (science being one of the highest)
  •  for all grade levels

ABOVE predicted/expected achievement:

  • in all subjects
  • for all grade levels
  • for all school sizes
  • regardless of ability level

That last line in all red is one of the things that shocked researchers most. Unlike most studies that throw-out the lowest end, those that may qualify as special-ed students. These studies included every single student that attended Adventist schools and found that even our students that were considered special-ed/needs students scored on average above predicted/expected achievement.

Specifically researchers looked at the Sciences as that is considered to be weaker in Adventist schools for two reasons:

  1. We teach Creation and that macro-evolution is a false theory
  2. We do not have (in most of our schools) the resources to have the adequate labs and classrooms to provide the services many other Christian and Public Schools are able to provide.

So what were the results?

  • Above average in science in every grade
  • Higher in science than would be predicted by ability scores
  • Above average for all sub-areas of science
  • Highest sub-area is Scientific Inquiry
  • Higher science the more years in Adventist schools

There were differences in the sciences found between the smaller Adventist schools which constitutes more than 60% of our schools (and when they are speaking of smaller they are talking about schools in the elementary level even smaller than Sierra View Junior Academy about 90 students K-8 & comparable to Armona Union Academy for High-School level).

We would expect differences in these areas though–the larger schools were better–wait…what STUNNED researchers:

In every category the differences were consistently in favor of the smaller schools.

In fact the amazing thing about Adventist Education that adds an entirely different level of separation between our school system and every other:

“Students in schools with fewer financial resources do as well as those with more financial resources.”

Think about all the talk in the public arena about the schools that have and those that have not? And the unfair advantage that is available to kids in schools with great financial resources.

In the study of Adventist Ed, there is no distinction. Even our 1 room classrooms with absolutely no science labs, still on average score above the national average in science and all other subjects on national standardized tests.

And the last little detail I want to share with you that has been found in studies addresses a fundamental desire that is in most parents hearts, to see their child have greater opportunities than they themselves had:

It has been found that a child that works their way through our Adventist Educational System will likely advance to a higher socio-economic level than their parents.

The way it was stated is this:

Adventist Education is the only known system by which it is highly-probable that an individual will advance to a higher socio-economic status in ONE GENERATION.

Why?

Because the watchword for Adventist Education is “Something Better.”

This is why PBS is having a documentary made & the Los Angeles Times is doing stories on our educational system. They want to know and understand why.

And maybe we as Adventists, should pause, and take a second look as well.

But here to me is ultimately why we should take a second look at Adventist Education:

“In the highest sense the work of education and the work of redemption are one…” –Ellen G. White, Education, p.30

Our church is in a crisis. More than half of our young people are leaving the church and saying, “No” to the Adventist life and beliefs. This can be thwarted but part of the change comes with connecting to an Adventist school.

You see the Valugenesis study found three key elements to a childs spiritual development. Spirituality and Adventist values taught at home, a quality local church, & attending a quality Adventist school.

  • For the young people that are members of our church but really don’t have any of these three they found over the course of a generation of students only 35% had developed a mature faith in Jesus Christ.
  • For the young people that have one of those quality venues in their lives they found 55% of them had developed a mature faith in Jesus Christ.
  • For those with two quality venues 69% had a mature faith in Jesus Christ.
  • And for those with all three quality home, church, & school 75% had a mature faith in Jesus Christ.

Now some people may say, “you see I don’t need the school there is only a 6% difference between the two quality venues and the three quality venues.”

Well, let me just say I hope no one would say that. Let us hope that every parent would say, “even for just a 6% greater opportunity of faith, I would do anything for my child!”

These are the numbers but here is the testimony of more than 81% of students that attended Adventist schools:

“Attending an Adventist school is the most important thing that has helped me develop my religious faith.”

That is the testimony of my life. I accepted Jesus through the influence of my Academy Bible teacher, Pastor Neil Richmund & my Academy peers. I am forever grateful to Spring Valley Academy for the impact that wonderful school had on my life. And more so I am grateful that my parents made the decision from day one that there was no other option for our family, all three of their kids were going to Adventist school whether we liked it or not our entire lives. The schools weren’t perfect and nor were we, my older sister and I went the way of the world for a time, but we had our roots and we are both back walking with the Lord. She teaching in an Adventist Elementary school, and me working as an Adventist pastor. And my little sister praise the Lord never wandered and she recently had the great privilege of enrolling the next generation into an Adventist school, Armona Union Academy.

If you haven’t considered it or you have decided Adventist Education just wasn’t worth it for your family; Will you pause and see past the perception to the reality?

_______________________________________________________________

**The statistics found in this post are from a presentation by Dr. Elissa Kido

The Ordained Women Pastors of China

It seems from this video that the female pastors see themselves a lot differently than the administration of the church explains them to be, “Ordained simply to meet government policy.” They see themselves as Adventist leaders with a mission! I shed a few tears at the end of this video. Please watch it is only 8 mins 52 secs.

Pastor Dwight Nelson–A Mighty Throng of Women: A Second Look at Male Headship

Struggle

As I head into an important meeting August 19 I am in great prayer for the Spirit of God’s leading. Since I always believe in being honest on this blog and in life, I thought I would share the struggle I am having.

My position on the issues of the day are pretty clear, if you read this blog you know I am in support of Women’s Ordination. I believe the day our church took the position to allow women pastors, we should have also taken the position of ordaining. Otherwise it feels like saying “you get paid .75 cents on the dollar” or “here is the title with none of the authority.”

I am disappointed that the current movement is not being lead by our General Conference, and I am finding it hard to trust that things will be different in the future.

**Quick side note, the current administration is getting all the blame, but let us not forget that the previous administration spoke of moving forward on this issue and took a silent survey of the World Division Presidents and pulled back, the current admin is just vocal and so “He” and they get the brunt of our angst, but is an impediment any different whether vocal or silent?

So what is my struggle? My struggle is this: I still believe in the authority of Ellen White in my life as a Seventh-day Adventist, and since she is sleeping in the ground ’till Jesus comes, all I can go by in regards to her counsel are the words we have on the written page. Thus when my friend Pastor Shawn Brace posted two quotes on his Facebook page my struggle has been increased. I have seen the quotes before, but maybe as I am in a great season of prayer over this issue and our church I saw them with new eyes.

I will share those quotes below, but first I want to share one other thing that has increased my struggle. A conversation I had with a fellow pastor, a female pastor, and she said,

“Chad I very much want ordination without regard to gender to happen, but if it happens apart from the General Conference, then I am only recognized in one or two Unions as ordained & if I leave those Unions it has no value. Then all we have essentially done is release the tension a little, much like when certain conferences voted to change ordination policy a few years back, or certain churches voted to ordain their female pastors, it did not really change the issue, women still are not recognized on equal status in the EYES (GC) of the church. If we do this now, will it only release the pressure off the General Conference for a season and in actuality further delay what ultimately needs to happen, equal ordination for all?”

Twice Paul told us that, “Everything is permissible–but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Cor. 10:23 & 1 Cor. 6:12). So I am praying, not what is most permissible, but what will be most beneficial to the cause of God & to the cause of recognition for women by ALL the church?

May we all pray, and may God give us wisdom.

EGW Quotes Pastor Shawn posted that stirred my struggle:

“. . . I have been instructed that there is a great work to be done in America. . .

“The world is filled with strife for the supremacy. The spirit of pulling away from fellow laborers, the spirit of disorganization, is in the very air we breathe. By some, all efforts to establish order are regarded as dangerous–as a restriction of personal liberty, and hence to be feared as popery. These deceiv

ed souls regard it a virtue to boast of their freedom to think and act independently. They declare that they will not take any man’s say-so, that they are amenable to no man. I have been instructed that it is Satan’s special effort to lead men to feel that God is pleased to have them choose their own course independent of the counsel of their brethren. . . .

“Oh, how Satan would rejoice if he could succeed in his efforts to get in among this people and disorganize the work at a time when thorough organization is essential and will be the greatest power to keep out spurious uprisings and to refute claims not endorsed by the word of God! We want to hold the lines evenly, that there shall be no breaking down of the system of organization and order that has been built up by wise, careful labor. License must not be given to disorderly elements that desire to control the work at this time.

“Some have advanced the thought that, as we near the close of time, every child of God will act independently of any religious organization. But I have been instructed by the Lord that in this work there is no such thing as every man’s being independent. The stars of heaven are all under law, each influencing the other to do the will of God, yielding their common obedience to the law that controls their action. And, in order that the Lord’s work may advance healthfully and solidly, His people must draw together.

“The spasmodic, fitful movements of some who claim to be Christians are well represented by the work of strong but untrained horses. When one pulls forward, another pulls back, and at the voice of their master one plunges ahead and the other stands immovable. If men will not move in concert in the great and grand work for this time, there will be confusion. It is not a good sign when men refuse to unite with their brethren and prefer to act alone. Let laborers take into their confidence the brethren who are free to point out every departure from right principles. If men wear the yoke of Christ, they can not pull apart; they will draw with Christ” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 257-259).

“I have often been instructed by the Lord that no man’s judgment should be surrendered to the judgment of any other one man. Never should the mind of one man or the minds of a few men be regarded as sufficient in wisdom and power to control the work and to say what plans shall be followed. But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered. Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent maintenance of his position of independence, contrary to the decision of the general body” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 260).

 

 

 

 

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