Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2010
Scripture: Acts 28:17-31; Romans 1:7; Romans 15:14, 20-27; Ephesians 1; Philippians 1:12.
Today marks the final day of the 59th General Conference Session in Atlanta, Georgia. Former GC President Jan Paulsen says of the gathering: “There is no moment in the life of the Church which demonstrates so vividly—so tangibly—the extraordinary way God's Spirit is moving among us. Why do we do this? Why do we invest the time and the resources every five years to bring together representatives from every part of our worldwide Church? The answer, I believe, goes to the heart of our identity and mission. Through these gatherings we powerfully affirm that we are one people, united in faith, and bound by our shared desire to be instruments of God's purpose in the world.” 1
The Adventist church was established in the United States in 1863, and now has a membership in America of 1.1 million. But we have definitely become a world church. In recent decades our church has grown quickly in some world regions. Roughly one-third of our membership lives in Africa, and another third resides in Central and South America. Worldwide, our church operates the largest Protestant network of schools and hospitals. We also run worldwide disaster response and development programs through ADRA—the Adventist Development and Relief Agency. And in 1893, we established the International Religious Liberty Association—a religious freedom forum. 2
At the GC Session twenty years ago, the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted to launch a global mission initiative. Because of this, thousands of new members have joined due to our efforts to reach out to people of different cultures and religions. New congregations have sprung up in faraway places like Sarawak, Borneo, and Shenyang, China, as well as regions never before entered. Since then, the church has grown from about six million members to more than 16 million, report church officials.
Yet even after two decades of hard work, church mission leaders reported last Sabbath, that Christianity still hasn’t reached many parts of the world. The need is as great as ever. During an inspiring presentation, Gary Krause, director of the Office of Adventist Mission said: “God has a plan for this world in which we live, and He's going to see that plan finished,” “The question is, will we participate in that plan?” 3
Krause went on to say that “We praise God for the wonderful growth in the church. But we need to face the fact that today on planet Earth, there are more people who do not know Jesus Christ than there were 20 years ago.” He encouraged listeners to “Take this opportunity to make a fresh recommitment to what you can do to support, to be involved in, the mission to tell the world about Jesus Christ.”
We learned in this week’s lesson that Paul wrote to the church in Rome: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8). Though an apostle didn’t establish the church in Rome, just a few decades after Pentecost, it was widely known. Paul goes on to describe this church in Romans 15:14 by saying, “I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.”
The church in Rome was a very young church. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is now 147 years old. What can be said of us? Is our faith “spoken throughout the world”? Are we known as a people “full of goodness”? Have we studied so that we’re “complete in knowledge and competent to instruct each other”?
What about your local church? Is the faith of your church spoken throughout your community? Is your church known in your community as a church that is “full of goodness”? Is your church “complete in knowledge” and well able to instruct those in your community?
This quarter we will study the book of Romans and the redemption found within its verses. A redemption full and complete through Jesus Christ. A story that we can proudly and confidently take to the world.