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Sabbath Sermon: Alex Bryan, “A More Abundant Adventism, Part Two”


In an emotional follow-up to his sermon, “A More Abundant Adventism,” Walla Walla University Church senior pastor Alex Bryan draws from the experiences of the early Christian church to compose a vision for the future of the Adventist Church–in particular, a church that embraces and includes its younger generations. He begins with the problem not of antipathy, but of apathy:

When I’m talking with a high school student, a college student, a recent graduate, a young adult, an adult of any age and the subject is the church, and the person is fired up about the church, that fires me up too.

When someone says, ‘I’m through with the church. I want to leave it, I’m angry, I’m frustrated, the church just upsets me…’ Well, I don’t really want to hear that response. I’m not happy to hear it, but at least it tells me someone still cares about the church, for you cannot be angry with, disappointed in someone or something that you don’t care about.

But when someone says of the Church, and I speak now particularly of students and young adults, ‘Eh, take it or leave it,’ I am deeply troubled, for that indicates that a person has sized up the church and concluded it doesn’t really matter. ‘I’ve got no beef with the church, I’m not angry, but I’m not particularly enthusiastic…Eh, take it or leave it.’

I’m troubled also with this response because it suggests that the Church in contemporary times has not forced the issue.

Bryan suggests that with younger generations, the message is too often that they’re welcome, but they’re not given opportunity or permission to innovate or to bring changes to the church.

Discussing the difference between making someone feel like a welcome guest in the church and like family, Bryan notes the absurdity of saying to younger generations, “Of course you’re welcome here. We want all the young people we can possibly get, but don’t change anything–no innovation, no creativity. You just do it the way we’ve always been doing it. But you’re welcome here.”

Bryan addresses issues that make young generations feel like guests in their own churches, or worse, unwelcome.

“How are we creating home for those who feel homeless in this world?” Bryan asks.

The sermon begins at about the 41:25 mark in the worship service recording below.

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