Adventist Today alerted me to a recent survey which covers numerous areas dealing with Adventists. There is a convergence of thought in my mind concerning the recent topic of theistic evolution vs. 6 day literal creation and some of the information in this survey dealing with
Here are a couple of
Adventist churches are nearly twice as likely as other faiths in
to have a regular America or Sunday School or similar religious education program for children and adults. More than 99% of Adventist local churches have Sabbath School each week, while only 53% of the local congregations of all religions have Sunday School or a similar program each week. Sabbath School
This is a major strength of the
in Seventh-day Adventist Church North America. Dr. Win Arn and other church growth researchers working across many denominations have shown that congregations that have regular religious education programs are more likely to have significant growth. The research shows that this is especially true for those congregations that have a regular adult religious education program.
Research also shows that the better the attendance at the religious education program, the more likely a congregation is to grow. This is one reason why it is important to have a strong, vibrant
, perhaps making changes to increase attendance if it has fallen off because the program is boring and not meeting the needs. Sabbath School
This week a church member considered moving her membership because her
class didn't have enough interaction among class members. Sabbath School
"Because I have a stressful job and my family lives in other parts of the country, I look forward to relating to other believers at church," she stated. "But most classes are very impersonal with the entire focus on the lesson. I would really like to find a class that includes both in-depth Bible study and social activities."
According to data from the "Faith Communities Today" (FACT) study, in more than 75% of local Adventist churches, only a few members participate in small groups.
Only about one in fifteen churches have strong small group ministries with many or most adults participating. Nine Facets of Small Groups book.
Last week at the
But as we can see from the recent blog discussions here and elsewhere there are often people who don’t handle discussions very well. There seems to be a large segment in Adventism who are so certain, that they cannot even allow other ideas to be entertained. That is part of the problem when one assumes that their church is the remnant and that it holds the truth. The church then has the answers and no other ideas need apply. What do people like that do to a discussion group? Well they stifle it, they make it hurt for others to express their views if they are different from traditional church beliefs. If every one agrees with the traditional beliefs there is usually no discussion at all. No discussion leaves you with a Doug Batchelor style sermon class where half true amazing facts are inserted to add some interest to the topic. But the problem is that in a sermon class people don’t get to know other people. The problem with a class or small group that can’t allow other opinions is that people with other opinions do not feel accepted enough to care to go to the class. That can even be uncomfortable for people who may accept other ideas but don’t like to see any friction in a class.
It is very possible that we live in a time when people need to relearn how to talk to other people; how to discuss things without needing to become judgmental or overly protective of their traditions or orthodoxy. We will never connect with people until we can talk to them and if we don’t listen to other people we will not learn from them or about them. Thus there will really be no connection, no real church growth because as a church what do we really have to offer. If we can’t even accept the people in our churches who are we going to accept?
So tell your pastor to consider giving some sermons on how to accept people, how to listen to people and how to communicate what you believe and why you believe it without resorting to demanding that the other person leave their church. Sermons that address the need for small group community, because often sermons are the only thing people are coming to church for as they think that fulfills their worship requirements. So we have to depend on our pastors to communicate the need to form a community at an interpersonal level. Frankly I am constantly amazed at how irrelevant most sermons are today to the needs of modern people. Perhaps there is a class on irrelevance in seminary; I suppose if the sermon is so milquetoast it does not upset anyone that may be what some pastors are shooting for. But as it is now we are shooting ourselves constantly, driving out our own members and helping practically no one, within or without our churches. Many may want to stay doctrinally pure but that assumes that their doctrines were pure to begin with, that their doctrines were completely correct and without any need to ever be updated or rethought. Which strikes me as a very conceited point of few, and conceited points of view are poison to churches and community.