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Reviewing the Review: Pastoring edition

November 19, 2009 – Vol. 186, No, 32

This Adventist Review, with the exception of an important, MUST READ essay by Fredrick A. Russell, is pretty standard fare.

WORLD NEWS AND PERSPECTIVES chronicles the good news, 2,200 Women Gather in Dallas to Celebrate Christian Freedom, and in Inter-America, 1,000,000 meals were distributed to the poor in a collaborative effort between regional churches and ADRA offices; and the bad, an Adventist volunteer was stabbed as he tried to prevent a street fight outside a church sponsored youth event in London, and an ADRA worker was killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Evangelist Lawton Lowe, 83, has died and Griggs University is at a “financial crossroads”.

I particularly enjoyed the following articles: SEEING THE SPARROW FALL, by Dixil Rodriguez tells the story a former student who was killed in an unnamed war. WHAT’S WRONG WITH FREE? by our own Moscow reporter, Andrew McChesney, has written a real life parable about free metro tickets. And BAD HAIR DAY by Kathryn Lay describes the misery of chemotherapy and what it meant when a friend’s gift allowed her to purchase an attractive wig.


Bill Knott’s editorial, THIS IS THEIR FIRST WORMING, is a sad commentary on the fate of many newly baptized Adventists. I’ll have more to say about evangelism and membership in my next review of the Review, but for now, Knott’s words should inspire some thoughtful consideration.

“Each year nearly 40,000 new believers join the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America. Statistics tell us that a startlingly large number of them—sometimes 30 percent or more—drift away in the first 18 months of membership because they don’t find the warmth and security the young of every species need to survive. Though the water may have been warm on the day they were baptized, they found the temperature of their churches lukewarm at best, or positively cool.”

Fredrick A Russell’s question, IS THERE A BETTER WAY? should be a resounding YES! His courage in asking the Adventist Church “to rethink this system we have of having large numbers of pastors removed from frontline churches and placed into executive positions” should be celebrated by every church member.

“We might at some point, given the massive mission before us and the brief time to do it, have to take a new top-to-bottom look at how we’re organized for ministry—not just a reduction in force at executive levels, but a healthy, comprehensive look at our entire structure. Is having a permanent executive class of leaders the most effective structure for ministry? Is there a better way to use our people resources, or as the corporate world puts it, our human capital?”

These are particularly timely questions in light of the following: “In 1995 there were 13,787 evangelistic and pastoral workers in the field worldwide and 13,742 administrative personnel in the office. In 2007 there were 18,060 evangelistic and pastoral workers in the field and 22,228 administrative personnel in the office. In those 12 years, workers in the field paid out of tithe have increased by 37.5%, while workers in the office paid out of tithe have increased by 61.75%. . .For the first time, we have more people in the office than in the field.” (Tithe—Sacrificing the Sacred Cow, by J. David Newman, Adventist Today, Fall, 2009.)

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