An Avondale seminarian’s new book describes the local church as the future of Seventh-day Adventism but issues this challenge: biblically reinvent or become irrelevant.
“Many churches are in maintenance mode,” writes Dr Kayle de Waal in the introduction to Mission Shift: Multiplying Disciples in Your Community. “Even though transfer growth and biological growth are steady, kingdom growth is minimal or only by addition. . . . Our Church often seems to be servicing institutions more than engaging in frontline mission work.”
Dr de Waal, head of Avondale Seminary, is convicted: churches willing to change can thrive. It’s a conviction based on teaching, ministry and evangelism experience in South Africa, South Korea and New Zealand, a missiology-based master’s thesis and a $A50,000 grant from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific to study discipleship with a multidisciplinary team of academics from Avondale.
According to Dr de Waal, changed local churches will be relationally structured, multiplying churches seeking “more and more of the Spirit”. Their leaders will be visionary, empowering and compassionate, caring equally about those in the community and those in the church. Worship will be inclusive, participatory and gospel-centred. And young adults will be given greater buy-in.
“These are some of my convictions,” writes Dr de Waal. “But convictions need to be tested and tried, not only in the crucible of life but, more importantly, they need to emerge from the foundation of Scripture and in the transformational realities of the gospel of Jesus . . .”
Signs Publishing book editor Nathan Brown launched Mission Shift on January 31 at the Church in the South Pacific’s Church Planting Conference, which Avondale hosted on its Lake Macquarie campus.
Mr Brown and South Pacific Division president, Pastor Glenn Townend, encouraged the delegates to share the book with others. “It is one of the books I would like every leading elder in Fiji, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, everywhere, to read,” said Pastor Townend during the dedication. “Our lay leadership and our pastoral leadership and now others need to think about why we are doing church.”
Dr John Skrzypaszek, director of the Ellen G White Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre, described his colleague as “one of the major thought leaders in the Christian church” who “takes the profound things of Scripture and translates them into common language.”
Dr de Waal dedicated Mission Shift to the Newlands East Seventh-day Adventist Church in Durban, South Africa, which he attended during his formative years. “That’s where God really began to chip away at me and shape me,” he said.
“I’ve lived Mission Shift, reorganising the church and making it more missional focused,” said Dr de Waal during the launch. “I pray it’ll bless you and inspire you and advance the kingdom and hasten that day when Jesus comes back again.”
Click HERE to read an excerpt from the introduction of Mission Shift.