I am finally publishing the results of my own, unscientific survey on reasons why the Adventist church sometimes feels less evangelistic today. The history of this comes from reading an article from Thom Rainier where he asked why churches aren't as evangelistic as they once were. I wanted to know what Adventists thought about these responses and others. At the bottom are 14 of the top reasons Rainier got in his Twitter survey, and how they resonated with those who follow my blog. I've taken four of the statements that stood out to me and highlighted them first. While some results didn't surprise me, others were rather astonishing. I'd be interested in your thoughts and comments after reading them.
#1--Christians have no sense of urgency to reach the lost:
60% of Adventist respondents agree.
This troubles me. The mission of the church is essentially a continuation of Jesus' earthly ministry and mission--isn't it? Jesus said He came to seek and to save the lost (Matthew 18:11). When He calls us to be His disciples, He says, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). Finally, He sends us out "To make disciples...teaching them to observe all things I have commanded..." (Matthew 28:19-20).
How does one bring glory to God? Perhaps there is no better way to do this than to bring others to Him. In fact, Luke 15:7 reminds us that there is great joy in heaven over a sinner who repents. The phrase, "to the praise of His Glory" is repeated three times in Ephesians 1:3-14 in the context of our redemption in Christ. In others words, the way to best bring glory to God is in realizing the salvation of God--not only for ourselves, but for those around us as well!
âI don't know why it's not as urgent a situation as it should be. I'm sure there are many factors and it would be fruitless to oversimplify or stereotype.
#2--We are known more for what we are against than what we are for:
87% of Adventist Respondents Agree
When I was a boy there were rules regarding the Sabbath: Don't go in the water past your knees. Don't go to movie theaters. Don't drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages. Etc., etc., etc. In some circles, those rules still prevail.
As I write this, I'm attending the Washington Conference Camp Meeting in Auburn, Washington. Last night our speaker, Alex Bryan, Senior Pastor of the Walla Walla University Church made a statement that just resonated. He said "We Christians should be the most generous people on the earth, blessing people every chance we get."
David Kinnaman, President of BarnaGroup says it this way: "What are Christians known for? Outsiders think our moralizing, our condemnations, and our attempts to draw boundaries around everything. Even if these standards are accurate and Biblical, they seem to be all we have to offer. And our lives are a poor advertisement for the standards. We have set the game board to register lifestyle points; then we are surprised to be trapped by our mistakes. The truth is we have invited the hypocrite image."
So the bigger question is, How do we change the perception?
I think Pastor Bryan is right, we should be blessing people every chance we get. I think its time that Adventists should be known more for being accepting and gracious. We should be known for ministering to the widows, orphans, homeless, and in prisons. We should be known for our hospitality and humanitarian efforts. We should be known as lovers of people--all people.
When I tell people I'm a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, I don't want them to immediately think, legalist, or prophet, or diet constraints. I want them to be drawn to Jesus because they've experienced my love and care and concern for their personal well-being. I want to be known for Whose disciple I am, rather than the rules I follow.
#3--Many Christians think that evangelism is the role of the pastor or paid staff.
64% of Adventist Respondents Agree
In the church we use the terms clergy and laity to define those who work for the church occupationally, and those who are members of the church. I can't help but wonder if this, and the fact that pastors are assigned to congregations for long-term service in a location, has helped to widen the gap in the perceived responsibilities of individual church members and pastors.
The term "laity" in the New Testament almost always refers to the members of the church as God's people. So what is the responsibility of someone who is a part of the church, God's people? The Bible tells us they are to serve, to minister to others and bring them to Jesus as well. In fact, in Ephesians 4:11-13 says, "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God..." (italics for emphasis are mine).
The point of text is that some of the laity, the clergy, are to train others to be effective in bringing their friends and family to Jesus, but the call of ALL is to do the work of ministry.
The word "church" in the New Testament is a Greek compound word meaning, "the ones called out." In joining the church they become the "laity." But the Gospel, the thing that called them out of the world in the first place, SENDS THEM BACK to bring others in. Thus the beauty of the Gospel not only calls and draws us in to Him, but sends us back to tell others what He has done for us.
This is well illustrated in the story of the demoniac in Mark 5. He wanted to become a disciple and follow Jesus. However, Jesus did not permit him to join the band of disciples, saying rather in verse 19, "Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you." By the way, when Jesus returns to this village sometime later, there seems to have been a massive revival in the town based on His reception.
As the appeal was given more than 100 years ago to church members to rally to the cause of Christ, it is given again with more urgency for time is short: "And so it is in the army of Prince Immanuel. Our General, Who has never lost a battle, expects willing, faithful service from everyone who has enlisted under His banner. In the closing controversy now waging between the forces for good and the hosts of evil He expects all, laymen as well as ministers, to take part. All who have enlisted as His soldiers are to render faithful service as minutemen, with a keen sense of the responsibility resting upon them individually."
#4--A growing number of church members believe Jesus isn't the only way of Salvation.
Almost 20% of Adventist Respondents Agreed!
This question and response demonstrates the growing apathy for Christ within Adventist Churches. He isn't the ONLY Way, Truth and Life for a growing number within our churches. I fear He has been reduced in the minds of some to nothing more than a historical figure with little significant value.
What greater victory could the devil have than to reduce the majestic sacrifice of Christ to a mere historical footnote? Jesus must remain, and must be reinstated daily to the center of our lives, hearts, devotions, as the King of kings and Lord of lords. For at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow (Philippians 2:10), and there is no other Name under heaven or on earth by which man can be saved (Acts 4:12).
Christians don't befriend and spend time with people not of their faith.
57% agreed. 28% disagreed.
Many Christians and church members are lazy and apathetic.
56% agreed. 26% disagreed.
Our churches have an ineffective evangelistic strategy of "you come" rather than "we go."
67% agreed. 33% disagreed.
!!!!Church membership today is more about getting my needs met rather than reaching the lost. 70% agreed. 17% disagreed.
Church members are in a retreat mode as culture becomes more worldly and unbiblical.
51% agreed. 26% disagreed.
Our churches are no longer houses of prayer equipped to reach the lost.
53% agreed. 25% disagreed.
Churches have lost their focus on making disciples who will thus be equipped and motivated to reach the lost.
76% agreed. 17% disagreed
!!!!Christians do not want to share the Gospel for fear of offending others. Political correctness is too common place even among Christians.
71% agreed. 29% disagreed.
Most churches have unregenerate members who haven't accepted Christ themselves.
43% agreed. 30% disagreed. 27% neutral.
Our churches have too many activities, and life is really busy.
36% agreed. 39% disagreed.
 Ellen G White, Testimonies for the Church, Volume 9, p 26
 Ellen G White, Testimonies for the Church, Volume 9, p 28
 David Kinnaman, Unchristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity...and Why it Matters, p 52
 Ellen G White, Testimonies for the Church, Volume 9, p 116
Q2: The popular Gilmore Girls TV series had numerous references to Seventh-day Adventists and what they were against. Not a word of what they stood for. This is pop culture's manner of selective education regarding people groups with marginalized social views.
Q4 Some responses have to do with ambiguous or faulty wording. I would be one of the 20% who agreed with this statement. Not in any absolute sense, but in the Romans 2 sense that Gentiles will be judged differently in the judgment than literal or spiritual Jews. We must teach clearly that salvation is God's business. Mission within the church is one dimension we shall be tested on ourselves, but our failures do not strictly limit God's power to bring salvation to those we do not care sufficiently about to engage them with our witness or service to them. However, in a relative dimension, many souls that could have been won, had Christians borne a witness of love akin to Christ's, will be lost.