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Author Topic: Adventism and Church Growth Development  (Read 3182 times)

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Adventism and Church Growth Development
« on: July 19, 2008, 07:16:09 PM »

                                          Adventism and Church Growth Devolopment     
 Please exuse me--this is my first attempt at a blog with this type of forum. Excuse me if I am new to the procedures used. 
        “It was a fair and goodly country (Canaan) that the patriarch had entered—‘a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey.’ Deut. 8:7,8. But to the worshiper of Jehovah, a heavy shadow rested upon wooded hill and fruited plain. ‘The Canaanite was then in the land.’ Abraham had reached the goal of his hopes to find a country occupied by an alien race and overspread with idolatry. In the groves were set up the altars of false gods, and human sacrifices were offered upon the neighboring heights. While he clung to the divine promise, it was not without distressful forebodings that he pitched his tent. Then the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, ‘Unto thy seed will I give this land.’ His faith was strengthened by this assurance that the divine presence was with him; that he was not left to the mercy of the wicked. ‘And there, builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.’ Still a wayfarer, he soon removed to a spot near Bethel, and again erected an altar, and called upon the name of the Lord.”
   Abraham, ‘the friend of God,’ set us a worthy example. His was a life of prayer. Wherever he pitched his tent, close beside it was set up his altar, calling all within his encampment to the morning and evening sacrifice. When his tent was removed, the altar remained. In following years, there were those among the roving Canaanites who received instruction from Abraham; and whenever one of these came to that altar, he knew who had been there before him; and when he had pitched his tent, he repaired the altar, and there worshipped the living God.”  Patriarchs & Prophets Pg. 128

   Thousands of people across this country have taken the example of Abraham, and have moved into a city, town or village where there was no altar to God--no church. They have felt the distressful forebodings that Abraham felt as they saw people worship on the day of the sun. So they worked diligently to build an altar (a church) to the Lord; an altar to “worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” Rev. 14:7.
   These were people, who like Abraham, had a burden to bring these Sunday worshippers to the knowledge of the true God; and when they moved on or passed away, some of these very Sunday worshippers, who had heard and accepted their message, were now the very ones to repair the altar—the church, and to spread the message themselves.
   So the Seventh Day Adventist church is special, called and chosen. This church was called of God to preach a special message--to preach the everlasting gospel (Rev. 14:6-12) and to call people out of Babylon (Rev. 18:4). Adventists are not special people in and of themselves--God loves all people, but the message this church has been called to preach is special and unique, and if accepted as it is in Jesus will produce special people. 
       A definitive statement of what constitutes Babylon is found in Great Controversy Pg. 382-383:
“Babylon is said to be ‘the mother of harlots.’ By her daughters must be symbolized churches that cling to her doctrines and traditions, and follow her example of sacrificing the truth and the approval of God, in order to form an unlawful alliance with the world. . . .” “Furthermore, in the eighteenth chapter of the Revelation the people of God are called upon to come out of Babylon. And in what religious bodies are the greater part of the followers of Christ now to be found? Without doubt, in the various churches professing the Protestant faith.”
      So Adventism has a mandate to call God’s people out of Babylon and out of her daughters who teach confusion regarding, among other things; worship, the state of the dead and salvation. That being the case, it would not be extraordinary to see pastors and whole churches convert to Adventism, because when the Holy Spirit inspired message is preached, people and even whole churches respond, and that has happened, and surely the leaders of our church rejoice when that message brings people out of Babylon.
   My question then is why would our leaders align themselves with Babylon to grow our churches? No sarcasm intended, but we were to call people out of Babylon through the Holy Spirit filled message that we preach. How ridiculous then to seek out Babylon in order to learn how to grow a church.
   Some of you who may receive a copy of this may not know what or who Willow Creek is. Willow Creek is an evangelical church that holds the same doctrines as any other evangelical Christian church—i.e. Sunday worship; life after death; the rapture; etc. etc.
   In his book, “Here We Stand” by Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, one of the co-authors was Richard O’Ffill who was an administrator for the Florida conference. In this book he states that it was announced by his conference officials that they would be traveling to Chicago to attend meetings on church growth development at the Willow Creek church.  (This was at the expense of the conference using the tithe, and the Willow Creek conference was by no means free). He spoke of the things that were presented—such as more contemporary music; the use of drama, skits and various other gospel gimmicks to make the service more of a seeker driven service to minister to the un-churched.
The following is a quote from Here We Stand:
   ”Toward the end of our stay, Bill Hybels, the senior pastor and founder of the church, in his closing remarks, cautioned us that it would not be wise to return home and impose what we had learned on our respective congregations. To do so, he suggested could ‘split your church’.” 
   “The de facto chairman of the Adventist delegation was Richard Fredricks, the pastor of the Damascus (SDA) Church, a constituent church of the Potomac Conference. I will never forget listening as strategy was discussed as to how to introduce and implement the Willow Creek model in our respective churches. I remember our chairman saying that to do this we must work slowly.”
       I am sure that most of us have been aware that some of these things have been implemented in our churches. In my home church we have two services; the young adults and youth meet in the fellowship hall. The more traditional worship service is held in the sanctuary, and I see elements of Willow Creek in both services, but the church is basically split because of the different worship styles.
   Do I think that the young people should worship the way I do? No, not necessarily. The exuberance and enthusiasm of young people, rightly channeled, along with the preaching and teaching of the three angels messages with an approach fitted to the youth, with music that is more contemporary without the use of drums and gospel gimmicks, I believe would draw many young people.

                                         My Experience with the effects of Willow Creek

   A few years ago while in a different church as elder, the conference planned a weekend seminar for the leaders of the churches, and along with others I was asked to attend this seminar. It was not held in an Adventist camp like Cedar Falls or Pine Springs, but at an evangelical camp—which I believe was planned that way for effect.
   The region director (ministerial director for my region) had a short talk at the beginning and introduced the main topic for the weekend; church growth development. The conference sent a delegation to Willow Creek, and now they were returning to implement what they learned.
   One of the classes which I attended was on small groups and was conducted by the son of the regional director. He was the youth pastor of a church in Thousand Oaks, Ca., which was very liberal. He told us that his church had abolished the Sabbath school classes, and had established about twenty small group meetings that were held during the week in place of the Sabbath school. At the seminar they displayed the materials that were used in these small group meetings, and these materials had very little to do with a study of the Bible.
   I also came face to face with the theology of Desmond Ford on that same weekend. If you read this and are not aware of this controversy within our church please read the explanation of this problem at:
   On Sunday morning those attending from my church were all seated at the same table having breakfast. Somehow the conversation at our table turned to the sanctuary, and I made the statement that I could not understand how a pastor could or would be allowed to minister in the Adventist church without believing in the sanctuary message. My pastor stated, “you don’t have to believe in the Sanctuary in order to serve as a pastor in the Seventh Day Adventist church”.
   So there I was, not really knowing or understanding what was taking place in Adventism, and I came face to face with Willow Creek, Bill Hybels and Desmond Ford—what a weekend.
   On Friday evening of this seminar the regional director gave an opening talk for the weekend from the book of Ezra chapter 3:10-13 which deals with the Israelites who returned from captivity to rebuild the temple. As the foundation of the temple was laid, the elderly among them were crying because this foundation was so inferior to the size of Solomon’s temple. But the young adults and youth were shouting for joy as they saw the foundation laid.    
   Then this regional director compared the crying of the elderly as they saw the foundation laid, to the crying of the elderly today as they see the changes in the church. And he also compared the shouting of the young adults and youth as they witnessed the laying of the foundation to the loud shouts and contemporary music of the young adults and youth today. Then he made the point that the elderly should not cry so loudly and that the youth should praise a little quieter.

   But I have a little different take on this story. The youth and young adults returning to Jerusalem from captivity had never seen the sanctuary and for that matter had never been in Jerusalem. So why was there such joy at the laying of the foundation? The reason is that the Jewish families kept the vision of the sanctuary alive in the minds of young people.  They understood that the sanctuary was a model of salvation. But today, sadly, the message of the sanctuary has all but disappeared in Adventism.

   A year or two later, the same regional director planned another one day seminar. It was not held at La Sierra or Loma Linda, but at Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical college, which I also believe was planned for effect.
   I attended this seminar with no pre-conceived ideas. I looked forward to anything I could learn that would help me to perform my duties as a church member.  By the way, the comments that I make as to the location of these seminars was not on my mind then, but as I look back, it seems to me that there was an agenda regarding the meeting places.
   At this seminar each church member attended classes designed to aid them in the position they held in their local church. I picked my classes and was simply amazed at what I heard in my first class. The class was approx. 45-50 minutes long, and I estimate that at least twenty minutes was used up by the pastor to laud or praise the ministry of Bill Hybels and the Willow Creek church, to praise congregationalism and to ridicule the tithe system of the Adventist church.
   So, at a conference sponsored event, paid from the tithe, I went to learn new ways of serving in my church, and the one teaching the class who was paid by the conference was not only deriding the tithe system, but also praising Willow Creek and congregationalism. Such are the fruits of Willow Creek.
   I recently had a conversation with a person who had attended Willow Creek who thought that our involvement there was very positive regarding what we had learned in order to reach out to people who were un-churched. He also went on to say that today it is very hard to reach the youth using the evangelism from the past—we need more contemporary ideas to reach the youth of today. But I totally disagree with that. I witnessed the exact opposite as a member of a church that preached the undiluted message of the Bible. Young people flocked to this church. The Bible is enough for young, old and in between.

   But if you don’t see the harmful affects of Willow Creek and this un-holy union—not only on our church but also on the message we preach, then either you are not in tune with the Adventist message, or you simply are not paying close attention to the things that are happening within the church.

Has it worked? Has the church grown?
   Recently I heard a report from a church member that serves on the executive committee for the Southeastern Calif. Conference. He reported that in the years from 2003 to 2007 there were 2174 baptisms in the whole of the conference. With a total of 156 churches, that averages about 4 people baptized per year, and a large percentage of those could have been children—and certainly we praise God for the baptism of our children. But it could hardly be said that church growth development has worked, at least in this conference, and by the way, this conference has totally embraced church growth development—Willow Creek. I don’t believe this plan has God’s blessing.
   So as I have been contemplating this perplexing situation, I have been confused and discouraged at what has taken place. It seems like the whole church has fallen into this deception, and it is a deception. Satan loves nothing more than to cause us to loose the distinctive message that we have been called to preach.
   Recently though, I have been studying the return of the Israelites in Ezra 3:10-13—the very story that the regional director for my conference used the opening night of the seminar.
Zerubbabel was the man in charge of the restoration of the temple. There were many problems in that day. As you read Ezra 3-5 you will see all of the problems that Satan brought to bear regarding the rebuilding of the sanctuary. But Zerubbabel was a faithful Watchman. Ezra 4:1 says:
   “Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the    captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel; Then they came to    Zerrubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you:    for we seek your God, as ye do; . . . “ But Zerrubbabel and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an    house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel,    as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.”

But the response of Haggai to Zerubbabel has given me hope:
   “Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? Yet now be strong Zerubbabel, says the Lord; and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong all you people of this land, says the Lord, and work: for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts. . . .
   “For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory, says the Lord of hosts. . . . “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, says the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:3,4; 6-9
   Haggai is saying to me, ‘be strong Ron—be strong you who read this. The Lord is with us, He is in charge. Do the work God has called you to do. Speak out when you see error, and leave the results with God.
   But I agree with Zerubbabel, and I wish that the leaders in my church had taken a firm stand in the eighties just as he did. I like what he told his adversaries, “but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel”.
   So many of our people today though are jumping ship. Some are jumping ship within the church, and some are jumping out of the church. How can you jump ship in the church?
Well, if you are implementing the methods that Willow Creek uses to grow a church—then I believe that you are part of the problem, not the solution.
   How can you jump out of the church and still be a Seventh Day Adventist? The answer is—you can’t. But there are independent churches, full of Adventists, who think their form of worship, diet and dress are more holy. Well, maybe their worship, diet and dress are more holy—but God has not called independent churches to do his work. Read the fourth chapter of Last Day Events. I don’t know what could be plainer regarding remaining with the organized Seventh Day Adventist church. But if you have jumped ship into one of the independent churches, in my opinion, you also are part of the problem, not the solution.

   What gives me the right to write such a letter and send it to people? Simply this, I pay tithe to the conference, and if my church makes the decision to invest tithe funds in Willow Creek, then I feel it is my duty to speak against it.
   By the way, I highly recommend to you for those who want to keep up with current events in our church.
So I leave you with the words of Haggai,
   “Yet now, be strong Zerubbabel, says the Lord; and be strong all you people of this land, says the Lord, and work: for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts.”


« Last Edit: July 19, 2008, 07:26:33 PM by Roneee »


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Re: Adventism and Church Growth Development
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2008, 05:39:43 AM »

Thank you for this informative post. I am appalled at this willow Creek/Bill Hybels/Paul Borden nonsense.


Daryl Fawcett

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Re: Adventism and Church Growth Development
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2008, 10:17:56 AM »

We had discussed this extensively over in one of our forums at our sister forum at where you will need to be a registered member in order to be able to access such a topic as this.
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