The Adventist institution has crossed the line (in so many ways). And it’s not okay.
Update: While this post is very useful and adds some great ideas to the pot, I have further refined my thinking on the subject of reform: 3 Important Church Reforms Adventist Millennials Should Immediately Push For
The time for ignoring the hard, important questions is over. The time for mindlessly repeating impotent excuses is over. The time for beating and brainwashing members into submission is over. The time for calling people who love their faith, their beliefs and their God anti-Adventist is over. The time for employing outdated methods is over. The time for an inexcusable lack of creativity while claiming to serve the Creator is over. The time for saying the Adventist church can do no wrong is over. The time for members being treated like mindless robots and puppets is over. The time for acting like the Internet doesn’t exist and/or not fully comprehending how it can be used is over. The time for smokescreens is over.
We want, we need and we deserve a denominational framework that empowers us to be a better Christians. That isn’t reverse-ageist. That doesn’t view accountability as a mere word.
Like I’ve said before:
The Conference President I quoted had it right: [denominations should bring] efficiency. Denominations should—in theory—allow members to be more dynamic, productive, competent and potent Christians. In short, denominations should be useful to members—especially if they are contributing precious resources like time, attention and hard-earned money to it.
We demand a church that:
- Is 100% financially transparent. Members should know exactly how “administrators” are spending money—and why. Members should be able to come to conclusions without any sort of middleman. We demand online reporting.
- That is ultra-lean and cuts out as much waste as humanly possible.
- Gives all members an equal say. Give us an online dashboard with voting functionality.
- Is innovative and creative—because being caught between the past and the future is not the same as being of the present.
- Places term limits on offices to prevent abuse and to curtail politics within the ranks.
We must have a church that:
- Cares less about what you are eating than whether you have enough nourishment.
- Cares less about what you are wearing and more about whether you have enough to keep warm.
- Cares less about whether you are tithing and more about whether you can pay your water bill.
- Cares less about external uniformity and more about heartfelt unity.
- Cares more about expressions of the heart than statements of doctrine.
- Values the red-letter sayings of Jesus more than quotations from the red books.
The 3ABN crowd is happy to pray for revival, but revival pegs the problems mostly on the congregation. This mass of people we call Adventists—this mass of people who seem like they could band together and really make something happen if they tried—they aren’t earnest enough. They don’t care enough. They act like they are dead. They need resuscitation.
Revival also carries the connotation that what was is also what should be, or what needs to be, in the future. Let’s get on back to the old ways and traditions.
Revival also doesn’t map out a new plan of action, it dusts off an old one—the old one. The one where revival will always on order.
It’s kind of bizarre. The system itself recognizes something isn’t right but doesn’t realize it’s solution is what is, in fact, broken or at the very least incomplete.
If the Adventist church is not useful to particular segments of it’s membership, like young people who want to throw up when they hear the word GYC, it becomes up to said segments to make sure their voices are heard. If they don’t look out for themselves, clearly nobody else in the denomination will.
Adventist “administrators” like to pretend like they are in charge. Like the body reports to them. Like they are powerful. Like they have a right to their positions. Like they have no Earthly accountability. Like they are kings, rather than servants. After a catered board meeting, putting on airs is anything but fleeting.
In reality, it is the body that supplies their power. Through tithe. The body pays “Presidential” and “administrative” salaries. The body pays for buildings. The body pays for initiatives. And yet the body has no effective representation. From Things That Are Not Okay:
I wouldn’t have known that elections for church offices are basically rigged. I wouldn’t have known that pew-sitters don’t get to vote; that’s reserved for special delegates. I wouldn’t have known that the delegates are only shown “the facts” that previously elected officials want them to see, and even then have a minuscule amount of time to make a decision. I wouldn’t have known how little debate actually takes place, how little transparency there is, how much spin gets spun. I wouldn’t have known that my denomination gives a whole new meaning to making a calling and election sure.
We have the power not to settle. We have the power to defy the institution’s gravity. We have the power to say, “This thing here is for God. GOD! He deserves better.” We have the power to innovate. We have the power to reignite the blood in our veins like the day and moment we first believed.
We don’t have to wish for a different reality. Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Well, that works both ways. Institutionalized Adventism has been calling the shots. They’ve been creating the reality we’ve all been living in—living with.
But this body of believers is not powerless. Though we may not sit on committees, we are the most powerful group of people within the Adventist church.
We have the power to fire the institution.
Create A Tithe Savings Account
It’s a simple idea, really. If you’re unhappy with your institution, you can go on strike—a tithe strike.
10% of your money belongs to God. The Adventist institution is not God. So don’t give them God’s money if they aren’t using it for God. No, don’t spend it. Don’t forget about it or write it off. Don’t not support God’s cause. Instead, stash it away and wait until you’re sure it will be used for God. Create a tithe savings account, if you want, and cheerfully give it to the group that will make the biggest difference when the time is right.
Or, if you’re a person of action and desire to see immediate results, why not fund local church initiatives you feel comfortable with, or some spiritual or social community charity or a mission (either domestic or international).
Whatever you do, while you are on strike, keep your money out of the hands of the denomination. Make them feel it (which will work better the more people you have on board).
What will this do? If you, your friends and your family all say, “We’ve had enough,” all at the same time, a powerful message can be sent to denominational “administrators” who will feel it in their budgets and if enough people strike at the same time “administrators” will feel it in their own wallets.
A tithe strike is the one thing “administrators” can’t ignore, and remain “administrators.”
If you’re an Adventist who loves your church (hopefully not more than you love God), I hope this scares you at least a little. Just think: if the youth were to leave the church in droves who would be there to make up for the missing tithe and offering dollars when the ever-aging boomers are no longer around?
Change Isn’t Easy Ans Quick… Or Is It?
Martin Luther new exactly what it was like to try to bring about reformation. He suffered great personal loss in order that many others could benefit. What if he hadn’t stood up to the de facto religious institution of his day? The institution that “was right” and couldn’t be told otherwise? The institution that persecuted those who said anything against it? To whom was Luther’s 95 Thesis addressed? It wasn’t nailed to the doors of congregants. It was nailed to the doors of a church.
Are you prepared to do the same? Or will you be held captive by the thin green line which afflicts us all, employees and non-employees alike?
Are you prepared for a nuclear dose of fear and guilt? Are you prepared to be blamed for disunity? Are you prepared to be ridiculed by prominent Adventists as anti-Adventist?Are you prepared to be a scapegoat? Are you prepared to take the harder road? Are you prepared to be an outsider? Are you prepared to mine for the truth and tell anyone who tries to stop you that the truth will never mind? Are you prepared to give Jesus your everything? Or is your faith so easily evaporated?
Because escaping slavery—even spiritual slavery—is never easy. Neither is it impossible.
If the Adventist church is to be reformed, it could take a long time. Maybe too long. Committees aren’t built for speed. And smart people say transformation is an era, not an event.
But hey, there’s things thing called the Internet. Though the institution may not grasp it’s potential, you can use it to organize and connect with like-minded individuals. It isn’t hard to imagine a charismatic person with a group of friends crowdfunding a different situation they felt would be more useful to them through a site like Indiegogo. Back when MySpace came on the scene you had to be a programmer to start a social network. Then Ning came out allowing anyone to build and cultivate their own community for $25 a month. Now all you really need is Google+ Hangouts, and that’s free.
*When I say we, I mean the Adventist outsiders I’ve met all over America. Young, old, Adventist, ex-Adventist (because the church left them, not because they left the church), teachers, writers, employees, pew-sitters… This isn’t about one person. You’d be surprised (possibly even delighted, depending on who you are) at just how many of us there are “out there.” Enough to do something BIG for God.
Start A Conversation On Facebook And Twitter:
Want to get your friends involved in the discussion? Here are a few intriguing title suggestions you can use to get their attention on social media.
- Are You Sick Of Hearing About Church Revivals? Do You Crave Reform Or Revolution?
- What Matters More: What You Eat Or Getting Enough Nourishment?
- What Matters More: What You Wear Or Having Enough Clothes To Stay Warm?
- What Matters More: Tithing Or Being Able To Pay Your Water Bill?
- What Matters More: External Uniformity Or Heartfelt Unity?
Are you following @adventuprising on Twitter?