Adventist Today is offering three perspectives on George Knight’s book, The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism.
Here is the comment I left on Tompaul Wheeler’s review regarding Knight’s view that the church needs to focus more on apocalyptics and less on community service:
I’m surprised Knight felt the need to address social action given the SDA milieu (or my perspective of it). I see little community service in churches I attend and visit, but I do still see posters with dragons and bears and monsters. Only two churches I’ve attended have had any appreciable social involvement, but every church has offered multiple Daniel and Revelation Seminars and other similar events. In my opinion, if there is an imbalance, it is still toward preaching end-time scenarios rather than showing too much care to our neighbors and neighborhoods.
EGW, who certainly valued preaching, had something to say on these issues: “I have been shown that in our labor for the enlightenment of the people in large cities the work has not been as well organized or the methods of labor as efficient as in other churches that have not the great light we regard as so essential. Why is this? Because so many of our laborers have been those who love to preach (and many who were not thoroughly qualified to preach were set at work), and a large share of the labor has been put forth in preaching” (Medical Ministry, p. 301). Monte Sahlin also addresses this in Mission in Metropolis.
Research presented at the 180 Symposium suggests younger SDAs highly value social justice and volunteerism (see Ministering with Millennials — http://www.adventsource.org/as20/product.aspx?ID=35919 ).I’m doubtful that more beasts, even Christ-centered beasts, are going to attract Millennials/Mosaics.
The latest Andrews University alumni magazine, Focus, highlights this growing priority. Notes Greg Gerard, “My contemporaries talk about how we need to make sure young people know what is important about last-day events, church history and lifestyle issues. Talk all you want, but unless the concept is deeply rooted in Scripture, makes sense in practical ways and addresses current social issues; I’m not sure they will care. If older people like me think we can stop the changes young people will bring to our church, dream on. They will either change the church or leave it. They are doing both” (p 15). Research by Roger Dudley and Lifeway suggest we’re probably losing 50-70% of our young adults, leaving 30+% to change it.
And where young people don’t see the church being active, they are starting new initiatives. In 2006 Greg’s son, Andy, helped start Action, an Andrews University student club devoted to working for a better world. It has since grown and birthed a group focused on environmental issues–Village Green Preservation Society.
These efforts are in line with Jesus’ example — serve and teach. Books like The Externally Focused Church, Churches that Make a Difference, and The Equipping Church demonstrate this is not an either/or issue. Thanks, Chris Blake, for preaching both/and.