When Christina and I walked into Saddleback’s Sanctuary I was amazed at how many people I saw! (I took the picture below about 10 minutes before the service started). The seating capacity of the sanctuary is 3500 so I would estimate there were about 2000 folk in the main sanctuary (there are several other locations on campus that hold worshipers for different styles of worship: praise only, hymns only, hip hop, etc.. I’m not sure if these all go on Sabbath though or only on Sunday), plus folk at ten other campuses around Southern California that the sermon is fed live to.
Here is why the large amount of people at this worship service struck me. I have heard over the course of my ministry career that the reason more people don’t attend Seventh-day Adventist churches, is because they don’t want to go to church on Saturday. I’m thinking this may be an excuse! Because what I saw were a lot of people that were there on a Sabbath to worship. In fact most large churches now have at least one Saturday service. And most people I talk to their big obstacle of attending church is not that we have the worship service on Saturday. Let me throw in a quick caveat: I do understand that the way we teach Sabbath is different, we believe Saturday is the day for worship, rather than just an option, and I recognize this could be a barrier for some. But overall again as I talk to different folk that are guests at our church they aren’t hung-up on attending on Saturday, we think they are, because it gives us an out, but sorry that OUT doesn’t really exist anymore in most areas of this country (especially with folk 50 and under).
So if people aren’t attending Seventh-day Adventist churches and the reason is not because of Sabbath versus Sunday worship? Then why? It is a question we need to be asking ourselves! Yes accepting the Sabbath as a Holy Day may be challenging, but come on folk is it any more challenging than: A baby being born to a virgin and a carpenter growing-up and discovering that He used to be in Heaven and that His real dad isn’t that carpenter but is actually God in Heaven and He wasn’t conceived through intercourse but by the Holy Spirit planting Him in His mothers belly. Then He walked this earth for 3 1/2 years and at the end of those years He was convicted of no crime and yet He was still hung-on a tree, and 3 days later an angel rolled away the stone and folded up His grave clothes. Then He was picked up by some angels and went to Heaven. And what He left behind were about 120 totally sold out followers of His and they were hanging out praying when tongues of fire came out of heaven and into the room they were in and they started speaking in languages so that whoever heard them whatever language they spoke they could be understood…and “about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41) and “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). I guess the Sabbath doesn’t seem like such an obstacle when I think of that message that Peter and the rest preached.
So what could it be?