At the moment, I feel like I am breaking up with the church. The good old line “it’s not you, it’s me” does not quite work in this situation, as I do feel there is an issue with the church. All my life God has been working on me, just like everyone else. I have been growing, maturing in my walk with Jesus and my understanding of what He wants from me, and what I want from Him as well. It’s been a massive step to realise that, while I have matured, changed and grown, the church has not. My needs have changed and the church simply does not meet them anymore. That’s why we’re breaking up.
To me it seems the church has forgotten it’s core business, which naturally enough is Jesus Christ. In a church that is obsessed with knowledge we promote the knowledge, but at the expense of our core business. Let me explain. If Jesus is the core business then 80-90 per cent of the sermons should be on Jesus. But in the past 18 months or so, I have heard maybe 5-10 per cent of sermons on Jesus. The majority of sermons I hear today in the church, especially in more conservative ones, are on added extras. These extras are important, but they cannot save you by themselves. These extras include prophecy, the Ten Commandments, Ellen White, the Sabbath, state of the dead and so on. These topics by themselves cannot save you—but they are important to give you a greater understanding of Jesus. But only when these sermons tie the topic back to Him in a major way. Too many times I’ve heard sermons on the extras with virtually no connection back to Jesus, the core of our church. Too many times have I been assaulted by knowledge but not blessed by Jesus.
There needs to be a balance in everything we do, including church. There needs to be a balance between knowledge and love. But at the moment, I am definitely not feeling the love in our church. It is the same with evangelism. When we say that word, Adventists immediately think of prophecy seminars. Back in the day when most people were Christians and knew their Bibles, prophecy was a very effective way of bringing people into the church. These days we are dealing with people who have no idea of the Bible, no basic understanding of who Jesus is. All they know is there is something missing from their lives. They aren’t looking for a prophecy seminar, they want and need a Jesus seminar. They live empty, purposeless lives, surrounded by guilt and shame over the many mistakes they have made in their lives. They don’t need prophecy, Ellen White or the health message; they urgently need Jesus in their lives. The others can come afterwards, but Jesus always needs to come first. But not only the Gentiles need to hear this message, but also those of us still in the church. We desperately need to hear more about His love, His saving grace, our real home in heaven, rather than just the extras.
While it may seem I just enjoy bashing Adventism, I want to see us succeed and fulfil Christ’s mission for us to spread the gospel to all the world. So we need to know where we have problems before we can fix them. More importantly we need to acknowledge these problems and work as a church to bring back balance into our services. We need to re-examine what is important in the church, promote our core business and supplement that with our extras, not the other way around. We urgently need a love transfusion back into our church; otherwise we will become more and more irrelevant to our members and the wider world around us. As stated in John 3:16, only believing in Jesus allows us to not perish but have everlasting life. Let’s take this verse to heart and bring it back to the core of our churches.
So maybe you can change, maybe there is a future in this relationship after all . . .
Simon Morton lives in Tasmania with his wife, kids and two cat overlords. His ongoing journey with God has been dramatic, traumatic and frequently hilarious. God has an amazing sense of humour.