Many times, we as leadership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church get caught up in the routine of our ministries and theological pursuits. With commentaries to peruse, conferences to attend, sermons to preach, initiatives to push, and contacts to followup on, it is all too easy to miss the startling reality that exists within our own congregations. In short, there is a lost generation of young Adventists seeking a home to call their own – even as they shake your hands at the door every week after service.
This realization hit me like a tidal wave this week as I read the blog post of a friend of mine. There is a generation of lost individuals in our church today. They’re lost sitting in your pews. They are lost listening to your sermons. They are lost because they are not the loud liberal left writing blogs, or the outraged reserved right making speeches. They are not lost from the gospel…yet. They are simply lost in the middle of Adventism wondering just what is going on around them. They are my friends; they are my family. They are your children; they are your church “members.” They…are the silent majority. And every so often, when we pause to listen, we might just hear their voice.
Meet Julie. Julie is a friend of mine. Julie’s name is not really Julie, you could insert the name of your son or daughter instead. I haven’t seen Julie since I cheered her across the graduation stage at one of our fine Seventh-day Adventist universities to finally live life in the “real world.” Julie moved away from our Seventh-day Adventiat institution to a town near you, and she’s not just a statistic from your latest book on youth ministry. Actually, Julie and her husband probably go to your church…for now. Julie is taking a break from Adventism. I asked her if it would be okay to share her recent blog to you all in hopes that the silent majority might gain even a small voice. Here is her confession:
“Taking a Break From Adventism
Many may think the title is for shock value to get you to read the blog post. While that may be somewhat true (in my desperation for blog hits), I’m blogging to document my struggle to define my faith.
I’ve been struggling with my religion for a few years now. It all started at [an] Adventist University, of all places. I became burned out of religious programming – between going to vespers, worships, convocations, and performing for many church services, my religious life became routine. It got tiring and I lost sight of my religious sincerity.
I’ve never been much for individual Bible study or prayer. It seems like I become conveniently religious when I feel I most need God, and then go right back to being conveniently independent until the next life challenge presents itself.
This combination of religious situations in my life has led to my questioning everything, not just being a Seventh-day Adventist.
I am not really sure what I believe at this point. I am not satisfied with my current religious state. Church annoys me. Honestly, the entire SDA religion is getting on my nerves at this point.
I have decided to quit Adventism. This is not necessarily for good. I have some real issues with the church right now, such as: the reaffirming creation fiasco, the “holding pattern” or stalemate the religion is in waiting for Christ to return, how judgmental Adventists can be, hating homosexuals, and Ellen White’s status as a prophet/lesser light. This isn’t an exhaustive list, I’m sure there are more things I have problems with.
I am quitting Adventism to examine the Bible objectively. I know that will be relatively difficult to do now that I am familiar with religious doctrine, but the SDA church teaches “sola scriptura” and I think I’ll be fine deciphering the Bible at face value. I want to know what the Bible says and base my Christianity on those teachings. I want to learn the details of the stories by reading it on my own and not relying on what others teach me or what they add to the stories.
In my opinion, the heart of the life of a Christian is love. I think that is the simplest way to sum up the duty of a Christian – show love to God, others, and yourself. I think Adventism has lost sight of this.
I think we’ve lost sight of the true purpose of church. Now, much of this could be attributed to my attitude currently, but church annoys me. It’s a show, a routine, a series of steps one must go thru in order to complete the church service. I don’t know how others feel about this, but this is my opinion. I feel that church should be a time to study in small groups and really have a deep discussion by delving into the Word, and not necessarily a sermon. I feel we should be allowed to talk, sing, etc. as long as we want together. It is hard to connect to one another sitting silently in a pew.
I also feel we should use church to focus on ministering to others outside of our denomination. Take church time and go feed the homeless or do something else to show love to others. There is a fine balance, though, between focusing inwardly and outwardly.
One thing that’s always bothered me has been how Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest, yet for some, it is the busiest and most stressful day of the week (pastors, etc.)
Back on topic.
I am quitting Adventism to define my spirituality by discovering what God teaches about being a Christian by reading his Word. I am quitting Adventism to discover if this church really is as consistent with scripture as it preaches. I am quitting Adventism to reconnect with God.
I am going to continue to attend my regular SDA church. I believe that you cannot be the body of Christ alone.
I want to know if Adventism really does have it together and if what SDAs believe is in line with what the Bible says. If, at the end of this, I find the two to be consistent, I will return to labeling myself as an Adventist. And if not, I am confident that God will lead.
So begins my journey of spiritual rediscovery.”
by Kasper Haughton, Jr.