The linear concept of time guarantees the future is inevitable, pushing the elusive “someday” into “today”. The Seventh-day Adventist Church were pioneers of diet and medicine, education, and ministry. We pushed the boundaries of ministry for the time and led the charge in sharing the gospel to the world. The very foundation of our faith as Christ followers is to grow in ministry, reaching the world and creating Christ centered sanctuaries where questions can be answered, guidance be given, and grace be extended to those who don’t know the gospel. As we see 2022 on the horizon, we must ask ourselves, have we continued this pioneering spirit? The answer will define how we will proceed as a church.
The founders of Seventh-day Adventism recognized that the word of God is all we need to guide and direct us. Returning to the word was crucial to get to the heart of the gospel and have guidance on how to actively live His word as new creations. Seventh-day Adventism followed the thread of the gospel, seeing how we as believers can grow and adapt with an unchanging truth. From this we developed the health message, found ways to provide education to children in the mission field, and formed publications to reach every corner of the world. Our acknowledgement that we must always grow in our understanding, even extends to us not being tied to a creed, but recognizing that the depth, breadth and width of God’s word merits constant study.
Have we lost our pioneering spirit, and settled for maintenance of the innovations of 150 years ago? Are we continuing the blazing path of believers ready to explore and create new forms of outreach, inviting the world into this shining light of truth, or have we settled for holding on to the glory days of Adventism? Did we share the health message, or have we kept it within small circles, watching decades later as the rest of the world caught on, then exceeded in sharing the benefits of holistic health. We created curriculum packets for children in the mission field so that no matter where they were, every corner of the world had access to a developed education. In recent years, our schools have been left floundering with a barren reality of skeleton attendance, poor funding, minimal community presence, and a revolving door of administrative leadership. The world has surpassed us in the ways we used to lead, yet they lack the very thing that makes these positions powerful, which is the gospel. It is because of this, that our voices need to be the loudest.
In previous years, it could seem like our spirit of innovation had been exchanged with a spirit of preservation. We have unintentionally cloistered ourselves, not only physically, but spiritually. Adventism is a movement set apart in our understanding of the word, such as the state of the dead, and sabbath observance. Our interpretation reveals deeper truths found throughout the bible, however many Christians are unaware of them, or miss them in their studies. Here is an opportunity to lead the study, creating foundational Bible studies to share with the entire world. Yet, we close off our accessibility to many in the western world by keeping our resources for fellow Adventists. Many Bible teachers, resources, and ministries, beautifully founded in God's word, are often rejected because they are not Adventist. Without meaning too, we have made Adventistm more important than Christianity.
Much of our content is for Adventists, when we are meant to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” as stated in Mark 16:15. The mere existence of apps, YouTube channels, Facebook and Instagram pages, is just the beginning of bringing the message into the world. Though years prior many fought to bring the Seventh-day Adventist church into modern evangelism, it took a pandemic to fully push the world church into modern ministry. Coronavirus has allowed the church to regain momentum in acting outside the box. We now are working to create content specifically for these platforms, made to give the gospel to those who are learning. Shying away from refreshing our presence requires us to learn that we can be in the world, and not of the world, while creating an elegant and relevant presence; decluttering our dogma of jewelry, caffeine, and other details, to focus on the Gospel, and allow the rest to be shown through the growing relationship with God.
Do such criticisms as these show a lack of support for the Adventist church? Not at all, it is out of joy, faith, and belief in the Adventist movement that we must not allow such a rich message be lost in circular stagnation. We have access to a message that is, at its heart, one of innovation, grace, and love. As believers, we are called in 1 Peter 4:10 that, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” We are invited to “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Psalm 96:1-3). Let us return to singing about God and God alone, reaching outside our faith traditions to a world that needs us to step up and lead the conversation surrounding holistic faith.
“We are not to renounce social communion. We should not seclude ourselves from others. In order to reach all classes, we must meet them where they are. They will seldom seek us of their own accord. Not alone from the pulpit are the hearts of men touched by divine truth. There is another field of labor, humbler, it may be, but fully as promising. It is found in the home of the lowly, and in the mansion of the great; at the hospital board and in gatherings for innocent social enjoyment.” EG White, Desire of Ages