Jarrod Stackelroth is editor of Adventist Record and Signs of the Times magazines, based in Wahroonga, New South Wales. He has now compiled two books drawn from respective series of articles in Record and he talked recently about these book projects.
How do you understand the role of Adventist Record in contributing to the thinking and devotional life of the church?
Adventist Record is a great space for conversation and building our church family up. We do this by including content that will inform, nurture, educate and inspire members. I think it’s very important to help church members think about how to implement their faith into their everyday life, so we like to include these sorts of stories and this series in particular.
Why collect these series of articles into book form?
For those that missed any of the articles, it is convenient and helpful to have them all together in one collection. We also love the possibility of using the content as a gift or reference and we’ve added discussion questions, so they can be used as a small-group resource. The shelf life of an article is relatively short, yet in a book form, these important stories can have a new lease of life. It’s been a journey to pull the whole thing together so having the beautiful illustrations and articles find a new audience is worth doing.
Why did you choose to focus on the parables of Jesus?
As editor of Record, one of my focusses has been living out our faith practically. Obviously, Living 28 focused on the 28 Fundamentals and how we live as Seventh-day Adventists, but as Christians, we get our best example from Jesus, His life and teachings. The parables are so interesting and practical. So getting young and contemporary Adventist authors to explore the parables of Jesus in this way was great; to mine them for some ways we can live and embody the Kingdom.
Why do you think stories so effective for teaching spiritual truth?
Stories can have different layers of meaning and levels of application to different people. Even the same person hearing a story might gain multiple applications from it. People love to quote the idea that stories are 22 times more memorable than facts and I think the God who made our brains knows how they work and knew that stories would be a great way to teach spiritual lessons. I’ve always been a big believer in the power of stories as they are so easy to relate to and can carry so many different meanings and symbols for those who are hearing or reading them. The story and its truth might not change, yet where we are in life changes, so when we revisit a story, we might get out of it just what we need for the life situation we find ourselves in.
Why did you focus on inviting these (mostly) younger writers to contribute to this series?
We definitely did. Adventism has a long history of magazine and publishing ministry. Part of my role as editor is to make sure there are new writers being developed all the time. We tried to get a variety of writers who hadn’t written before and were from across the South Pacific Division. So we’re really excited to have their energy and enthusiasm involved in this project.
What did you learn in the process of compiling these explorations of the parables?
One clear message that stood out to me was that Jesus expects us to be “doers” not just “hearers.” He told the stories, hoping that they would bring out a real-life application. I also learned how important it is to get fresh perspectives on “tired” stories because seeing a story through fresh eyes brings it new life and new application. God’s Word is dynamic and can always bring life into new generations. Living Kingdom and Living 28 are available from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, or online.