A Call to be the Church of the Open Door
Dr. Jan Paulsen, General Conference (GC) president, has set a new theme for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, "the church of the open door." He set this theme in his sermon on the last Sabbath of the recent GC Session in St. Louis and has re-stated it in the first issue of a new journal, Adventist World, which he asked the Adventist Review to begin to publish with truly international reach in at least four key languages. Some significant quotes that you can use in your ministry:
"I want this church to be known for its drive to become inclusive.... You can define yourself in terms of what you exclude.... But it is more important that the church be reaching out and exhibit a profile of wanting to include rather than to exclude.
"There is a wonderful life to be had when the family can be sufficiently strong to talk about our differences.... I feel that it is an indication of strength when we can deal with anything. [And] talk with other churches...talk with the secular world...talk with politicians....Why are we afraid? We are God's people; we are a strong faith community.
"A spiritually strong church is a church involved in mission... spirituality flows from commitment.... I want... a more visible and more creative partnership in what we do as a church.
"Today we have 15 million baptized members. I expect that by the end of this quinquennium we will be no less than 20 million baptized members, and a community of some 30 million. I want this community to be one of strength and visibility. I challenge the church in the Western world: What are you doing so that the secular world in which you are placed knows that you are here? Be bold. Go out and be very public.
"In some places the church grows rapidly.... The challenge [for pastors] in other parts of the world is, 'How can I realize any growth when the Christian faith, hope and message are drowned out by all kinds of non-Christian matters?' I think it's important that the pastors in those situations remember that God's presence is not defined by the explosive moments. I, as a minister of the gospel, just have to take comfort in the fact that I am serving the Lord, giving the Lord the very best that I have. That is all God asks of me.
"We need to step out of the history of being content with being viewed as a sect. This, in part, is why I advocate openness."
Similar visionary leadership is expressed in the new book we just published, Brad: Visionary Spiritual Leadership. This book is part theology and part story, mixed with numerous insights into issues facing the Adventist Church today as expressed through the life and leadership of Charles Bradford. For more details, check the following link: Brad: Visionary Spiritual Leadership
INNOVATIONewsletter, September 29, 2005 Center for Creative Ministry