For NAD Pastors
Innovate or Die
Innovate or Die
Tearing Off the Roof
By Rich DuBose
Today the Adventist Church needs members and pastors who are willing to “think different” about ministry; people who are not afraid to think outside of the box or color outside of the lines--not just for the sake of being different, but for the sake of finding new ways to connect people with Jesus.
Traditionally, many Adventists have viewed ministry as a static target, with a prescribed formula for action. And for years we have said, "if you follow these steps and share these specific doctrines in this particular order, then God will bless you with success." My observation and study has led me to believe that if we're happy with limited success, then we should keep doing what we've always done and keep trying to convince ourselves that we're happy with the outcomes. But I'm not! A revolutionary thought that dawned on me a number of years ago (I admit, I'm slow) is that ministry is not a static target, but rather a moving one--meaning that there is no one-right-way to do ministry. What works with one generation or culture may not work as well with the next. In addition, I've come to realize that ministry is not an end in itself but is rather a means to an end. The end is Jesus. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not the end, but only a means to an end. The end is Jesus.
The goal is to connect people with Jesus. Any argument we make about methodology is misguided, unless we are doing something that is immoral. Whatever works and does not violate scripture is permissible.
I believe Ellen White saw ministry as a moving target in her time. This is why she said:
“Whatever may have been your former practice, it is not necessary to repeat it again and again in the same way. God would have new and untried methods followed. Break in upon the people – surprise them.” -- Manuscript 121, 1897 (Evangelism, p.125)
“Men [in business] will invest in patent rights and meet with heavy losses, and it is taken as a matter of course. But in the work and cause of God, men are afraid to venture.” (Evangelism, p. 62-63)
What I hear Ellen White saying is that we need to be willing to take risks and stop trying to always play it safe! This doesn’t mean we should throw caution and money to the wind and do foolish things. But we should not be afraid to try new things--even if some of them fail.
The goal is to connect people with Jesus, and we should never let arguments about methodology get in the way.
What We're Up Against
David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, wrote a book a few years ago titled, “UnChristian” that was based upon some groundbreaking research they did among 16-29 year-olds about their mindset, their skepticism and their experiences, as well as their points of spiritual openness.
He found that most young people have had broad exposure to Christianity. In fact, 65% of all American young people report making a commitment to Jesus Christ at some point in their lives. Yet, based upon his surveys, Kinnaman concluded that only about 3% of these young adults have a biblical worldview.
To illustrate the significance of this he translates it into real numbers:
“This means that out of ninety-five million Americans who are ages 18-41, about sixty million say they have already made a commitment to Jesus that is still important; however only about three million of them have a biblical worldview” (p.74-75). Not having a biblical worldview has huge ramifications on how people think and live.
One of the reasons there is a disconnect between what they say and how they act is that many are disenchanted with Christianity as a whole. It is no longer relevant to their lives.
Once Upon a Time
One of the phenomena that we are dealing with today is that the way the world thinks has shifted, but many Christians, including Adventists, haven’t noticed and keep trying to engage it with methods and techniques that have limited success.
We’ve all heard of Postmodernism. Without getting into a big discussion about what it is, we know that it’s pervasive and that it affects us all to some degree.
“Postmodernism postulates that many, if not all, apparent realities are only social constructs and are therefore subject to change. It claims that there is no absolute truth and that the way people perceive the world is subjective and emphasizes the role of language, power relations, and motivations in the formation of ideas and beliefs.” -- Wikipedia
Whether we like it or not, we must deal with this kind of thinking and should look for ways to communicate with those who embrace it.
Ways to Connect with Postmoderns
Drew Dyck, editorial manager of the ministry team at Christianity Today has written a book titled, “Generation EX Christian,” about why young adults are leaving the church. And he talks about some conclusions that he came to after talking with a number of his own friends and others who have left the church.
Dyck refers to them as “leavers.”
“Talking to leavers with a postmodern worldview can be frustrating, particularly for those with a more traditional mindset. In a cruel twist of irony, thorough preparation can actually sabotage effectiveness.
You have your arguments ready, your facts straight, and you want to put them to good use. You stand ‘prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have’ (1 Peter 3:15 NIV). But then you talk to postmodern thinkers and find that everything you’ve studied seems useless. They’re not interested in philosophical proofs for God’s existence or in the case for the resurrection. Your best defenses of the faith seem to fall on deaf ears, or worse yet, makes them even more resistant to your message” (p.35).
Dyck shares five key tips (included below) that he feels provide us with significant opportunities to speak with postmodernist leavers and people today in general.
“In a postmodern world, meta-narratives are suspect, but personal perspectives are sacrosanct. Whatever you experience or feel deeply will be respected. You are authorized to tell your story.”
1. Story-telling is highly respected. “Hollywood understands this. Jesus understood it. (his primary presentation method was story-telling).”
2. Post-moderns are suspect of meta-narratives--which includes broad sweeping historical accounts that try to explain why the world is the way it is (i.e. the great controversy between good and evil). Story-telling is more effective, yet if we just tell our stories without connecting them to the story of Jesus we haven’t given them anything of substance. We need to “convey the gospel in creative and beautiful ways. Retell stories that show Jesus’ heart for the marginalized, such as His exchange with the woman at the well, His healing of lepers, or the story of Him rescuing the woman caught in adultery. They desperately need passionate storytellers willing to re-enchant the gospel story, and let the person of Jesus capture their imaginations afresh.”
3. Build Trust - “There is an invisible wall between distrust and trust--a threshold. It seems that people must move through this threshold into trust in order for them to continue on to Jesus. We cannot credibly talk with people about spirituality if they don’t trust us.”
4. Invite Them to Serve - “Postmoderns prefer to discover truth through experience rather than through reason. Most have a strong social conscious and a willingness to serve the poor and oppressed.
5. Follow the Leader - “We’d do well to surrender our often clunky and predictable methods to follow Him, moving from soul to soul, whetting spiritual appetites, speaking the lost language of spiritual longing, challenging, probing, provoking, baffling. It’s not an easy act to follow. But it’s worth it.”
Obviously, creativity is not a silver bullet that automatically brings success. We need to be Spirit-filled, and we need to pray like we’ve never prayed before. But God gives us the capacity to enlarge our thinking and to be flexible with how we approach our mission. And I believe our work will not progress as it should if we aren’t willing to try new things.
One of my favorite stories in all scripture is the one found in Mark 2:1-5 about the four men who used divergent thinking and creative problem-solving to accomplish their mission.
Tearing Off the Roof
“When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door.”
“While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat.” “They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus.”
The man's friends ran the risk of being criticized and ridiculed. They used what is known as “convergent thinking” to solve their problem.
The conventional approach wasn’t working; they couldn't carry their friend through the front door. The "traditional" route to Jesus was blocked by people. So, they quickly considered their options and came up with a quirky idea; "Let's tear off the roof." They literally tore part of the roof off to bring their friend to Jesus!
“Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven’” (Mark 2:5, NLT).
What this says to me is that ministry is a means to an end, and that we are to do whatever it takes to connect people with Jesus.
The four men in the story didn't wait for others to solve their problem. Nor did they reason that the obstacles meant that it wasn’t meant to be. They started pulling off roof tiles.
Unless we approach ministry with this kind of passion we will never see the results that we say we want!
“Tearing off the roof” requires that we spend less time talking and thinking about ourselves and more time thinking about our end-goal, which is to connect our “friends” and neighbors with the One who came to save to the “uttermost.”
The owner of the house probably didn’t like having a hole in his roof! It must have been a mess. But he couldn’t deny that it was for a good cause, and he knew that somehow it would be fixed.
For God’s sake, let’s move our lives, and the lives of our churches over to the edge! Let’s be willing to risk and venture for the sake of those in our communities who are perishing without hope!
For God's sake and for the sake of those who are lost, let’s determine that we are going to do whatever it takes to connect them with Jesus before it’s too late!
Rich DuBose is Director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference www.churchsupportservices.org
- Creating Virtual Worship Spaces
- The Fundraising Committee and the Pastor
- Evangelism: Don't Delete It, Redeem It*
- My Resolve: The Conversation Continues
- After Worship
- Warm Is the New Cool
- What about Halloween?
- My Resolve
- Ten Things Every Media Ministry Should Do
- Compassion Evangelism
- A Reflection on the Dallas Prayer Vigil
- Cybersecurity Q&A: When to Upgrade and How to Combat Hackers
- Cybersecurity Basics: How to Protect Your Ministry On the Cyber Level
- Restore a Child for Halloween
- Hope for the Wounded: Advocating for Addiction Recovery Among Adventists
- Called … But Why? Perspectives on the Call to Leadership
- Taking the Stress out of Sermon Prep
- Ministry in the Face of Tragedy
- Racial Unity in the City and Church
- One Day Meetings
- Preaching: An Essential, Central, Spiritual Dimension of Leadership
- Second Chances— What to Do if a Campaign Has Failed
- First Day of School
- Hope Trending
- Mike Dauncey Interview
- Shadow Empire: Become a Voice of Prophecy Speaker
- NAD Women Pastors and Chaplains Retreat
- Side By Side We Stand at Augusta First
- The Philando Castile Protest: Why I Went, and What I Learned
- Ministering with Your Local Police Officers
- Beltsville Church Builds Patio for Police
- Help for Bullied Pastors
- A Visit to Church in the Valley
- An Interview with David Jamieson
- Ministry Hacks - Involve Kids
- Bullying in the Adventist Church
- Tips for Visiting Seniors
- NAD Women Pastors and Chaplains Retreat
- Adventist Pastors serve LGBT people in Orlando
- A Cure for the “Where’d It Go?” Pastor
- The Suffering Leader: A Transforming Relational Process
- The Intensity Comes Home: Church Conflict and the Pastor’s Family
- Called … but Why? Perspectives on the call to leadership
- The Uzzah Effect: Lessons of Trust and Providence for Church Leaders
- Terminal Authority as a Function of Community
- Great Sermon, Pastor
- Missional Prayer
- "Who Sends Their Employees to Bermuda for Two Days?”
- ALL 4 Jesus
- Ministry Hacks: Suicide Prevention
- The Devil Wants to “Help” Your Church
- Adventist Philanthropy . . . in the Black
- Why Our Churches Need to be on Social Media
- Graceful Retirement
- Building a Great Team
- Church and Our Kids
- 3 Reasons Why I Don't Want My Child To Be A Pastor
- Bridging the Racial Divide
- Hope Heals 2016 NAD Prayer Initiative
- Three Questions for Elizabeth Talbot
- Tips for Great Photos
- How Important is a Presence on Social Media to Thriving, Impacting Churches Today?
- An Interview with Jason Lombard
- How to Make Your Church Irresistible
- How to Draw a Crowd: 21 Ways to Increase Attendance at Your Next Event
- Graphic Design Tips For Pastors
- Effective Communication Skills for Christian Leaders
- DDIY: Don’t Do It Yourself
- An Interview With Chad Stuart
- 5 Simple Ways to Deal with the Media: Thanks to Donald Trump
- John Grys Appointed Ministerial Associate for Pastoral Development
- Shifting Your Focus To Increase Tithe and Offerings: 12 Tips that Have Helped Us
- Five Things Successful People Struggle With
- Marketing Religion and Faith
- Drill or Die: Why Your Church Needs Safety Sabbath 2016
- Mafgia: A Ministry for Post-Abortive Women
- PhD Pastors: An Interview with David Hamstra
- The Narrow Gate
- “Downsizing” the Funeral
- Memorable Memorials Personalized Homilies for a Fitting and Memorable Goodbye
- Why Didn’t They Teach Me THAT at the Seminary?
- Asking Good Questions
- The Next Generation of Givers
- Project Millennial Needs Your Support
- Church Giving Kiosks: Is There a Place for Web-Based Giving in the Church?
- Surviving and Navigating the Obstacle Course of Congregational Conflict
- The Looming Shortage of Adventist Pastors
- Fundraising in the Local Church
- Tired All the Time: Adrenal Fatigue
- Four Questions for Henry Wright
- When Adventists Differ
- Q-Tip It
- Write for Best Practices
- Turning Sermons into Articles
- Dealing with the Downers, Dissenters & Dissatisfied
- Three Questions for Randy and Anita Roberts
- YOU Make it Possible to Restore a (Hungry) Child for Halloween
- David Franklin Interview
- Abraham Jules Interview
- Harold Altamirano Interview
- Lori Farr Interview
- Marvin Wray Interview
- Matt Axford Interview
- MyRon Edmonds Interview
- Pranitha Fielder Interview
- Richie Halversen Interview
- Rodlie Ortiz Interview
- Stewart Lozensky Interview
- Jaime Pombo Interview
- Blue Christmas: Offering Hope and Comfort
- Planning a Blue Christmas Service
- Comfort for the Day: Your New Grief Ministry Resource
- Urgent Need for Volunteers in Micronesia and Marshall Islands
- Uriah Smith: Apologist and Biblical Commentator
- Family Fun Fair
- Armed Security: Good Idea or Bad?
- Three Questions for Dwight Nelson
- The Millennium Project
- Preaching From a Teleprompter
- Mission Statements and Fundraising
- Three Questions for Stacy Nelson
- Pastoral Visitation
- Members in Ministry
- Five Questions for Dr. Carlton Byrd
- Stories We Tell - Allowances
- Popular Fundraising Handbook Updated, Revised, Expanded
- Encouragement for Disappointed Millennials
- Talking Points for the Conversation
- What It’s Really Like to Be a Woman Pastor
- 5 Things Adventist Millennials Can Do After the General Conference.
- Tenderly Caring for Our Wounded
- Tip for Joy
- Preparing for the Unthinkable
- Five Things You Can Do After the SCOTUS Ruling On Same Sex Marriage
- Lessons for Surviving the Fallout of the Ordination Vote
- More Sound Bites from CALLED Convention
- Three Questions for Neal Nedley
- Core Qualities: Relationships Winning Friendships
- Evangelism Shark Tank - Final Night
- Three Questions for Rebecca Pippert
- Core Qualities: Scholarship Why Scholarship?
- Three Questions for Wintley Phipps
- Evangelism Shark Tank
- Three Questions for Gary Hamel
- The Pastor’s Genius Station Where Technology Meets Your Ministry Needs
- Four Questions for Dan Jackson
- Core Qualities: Leadership Never Apologize for Leading
- CALLED Ministry Resource Hall
- Core Qualities: Worship Putting God First
- Welcome to CALLED!
- Preparing a Sermon Series
- A Time to Forgive
- Ministry Hacks: Suicide Prevention
- Talbot to Speak at CALLED Convention
- Effective Church Communication
- Attracting and Engaging Millennials
- Cultivating Adventist Giving: But We’re Different, Right?
- Stories We Tell Traditions: Why Do You Do That?
- Effective Church Staff Meetings
- Ministry Hacks: Body Outlines in the Parking Lot
- Church Transformation: A Pastor’s Journey
- Making the Risk Management Difference
- IMPACT San Antonio: A Global Young Adult Experience
- The Undistracted Life
- Adventist Peace Fellowship
- Do Fast
- Late Nights at the CALLED Convention
- CALLED Convention General Session Information – Over 4000 registered!
- Thunder in the Holy Land
- Free Relational Small Group Study Guides
- Young Adult Life Initiative
- Young Adult Life
- GenU.tv, the Missing Resource
- Global Youth Day
- Life Experiment
- Passionate Overflow
- Laboring for the Harvest on Public University Campuses
- Millennial Matrix Project: Discoveries at Chandler Seventh-day Adventist Church
- 5 Reasons Membership Matters
- Fundraising and the Forgotten Word
- Preaching to the World: When Everything You Say is Heard by Everyone Instantly
- Engaging Adventist Millennials: A church that embraces relationships
- If the 50’s Came Back We'd Be Ready
- 100 Days of Prayer
- Membership Matters
- Small Groups Boost Church Membership What’s the Science Behind Their Success?
- Four Things You Need to Know About Church IT Security
- Tech Resources that (Are Supposed to) Help the Church
- Scheduling Posts
- A Review Eugene Peterson’s Book Under the Unpredictable Plant – An Exploration in Vocational Holiness
- Countering Cynicism: Stay the Course, Finish the Course
- Adventist Maverick
- Provo Adventist Community Center
- How to Thrive in a Long-Term Pastorate
- Capital Campaigns from a Conference Perspective
- Present and Praying
- Pastoring for the Long Haul
- We Have Contact!
- After the Rain
- It Is Time to Take Church Media Risks Seriously
- Pray One Million
- Serving the World's Cities: An Andrews University Response
- 5 Tips for Fixing Your Church’s Web Design
- 3 Common Sense Keys to Church Growth
- Creating a Logical Sequence of Topics in a Short Series Part 2
- Revelation Round Table
- Taking the Mystery Out of Guest Visits
- Stories We Tell: Remember Who You Are
- Renting Your Church
- Preventing and Detecting Fraud at Your Church
- The 4 P's of Child Abuse Prevention
- Four Things You Need to Know About Church IT Security
- Taking Church Media Risks Seriously
- Shepherd of the Flock – Managing Risk in Ministry
- Creating a Logical Sequence of Topics in a Short Series Part 1
- Preparing a Couple for Lifelong Marriage: It’s Complicated
- Boost Your Ministry by Working With Your Spouse
- 6 Ways to Guard Your Marriage in Ministry
- Preparing a Couple for Lifelong Marriage
- Is The Fundraising Plan Your Pastoral Function?
- Christmas Evangelism Ideas
- Blue Christmas
- Stories We Tell: You’re Invited
- New NAD Ministerial Associate joins to focus on Evangelism
- Vetting the Ministries
- Books on Emotional Healing
- Funerals: A Significant Threshold The Honorable Gift
- More Things To Stop Saying
- Strategic Friendship Evangelism
- The Printed Prophets
- Stories We Tell: Listen to the Son
- The Stresses of Being a Pastor: The Struggle of Pastoral Families in the Adventist Church
- The Seventh-day Adventist Retirement Plan is Changing
- $120,000 to be Given Away at CALLED Convention
- Please Count!
- Pirates in the Pulpit
- Stop Saying That
- Did I Lose You?
- NAD Pastors’ Family Convention/General Conference Session Attendance
- Taming E-Mail
- Stories We Tell: Love Must Be Demonstrated
- Reviving Communion
- Reversing the Trend
- The Haystacks Church
- Stories We Tell: The Alcove Swing
- Ellen White: Supporting, Seldom Seen
- Making Ellen White Teen-Friendly
- Stories We Tell: Terrorists in Churches
- Passing on the Mantle
- Getting Off to a Great Start
- Fundraising Doesn’t Cause People To Stop Giving Their Tithe and Offerings
- Stories We Tell: Rascally Raccoons
- Effective Preaching: Preparing Notes
- Giving Our Best for God’s Children
- The Most Important Investment a Pastor Can Make
- Stories We Tell: God Wins
- Effective Preaching: Choosing Illustrations
- 3 Things Every Congregation Wants to Know About Its Pastor
- Preaching a Christ-Centered Message for a World in Crisis
- 7 Areas to Focus On in Your First Year of a New Pastorate
- Effective Preaching: Drafting an Outline
- RECHARGE at Southern Adventist University
- Ministry with Millennials: Feedback to Move Forward
- Child Dedication
- Stay in My Lane
- Ministry with Millennials: The Power of Relationships
- The 11:00 Hour: Is Society Changing What We Hear on Sabbath Mornings?
- Ministry with Millennials: Can You Hear Me Now?
- Radical Restructuring for Church Ministries
- Anointing the Sick
- And I Shall Dwell
- Funerals: A Significant Threshold
- Effective Preaching: Study the Text
- Why Our Churches, Schools and Hospitals Need to be on Social Media
- Preaching: Getting Started
- How to Pastor Your Conference President
- Ministry with Millennials: What’s Bad About Church
- NAD Pastors believe that they are proficient in Core Competencies.
- A Church Pastor’s Dream List
- The Pastor and Fundraising: A Pastor’s Perspective
- SMOC: Single Moms Oil Change Ministry
- Ministry with Millennials: What’s Good About Church
- Living in a Man’s World
- Ministry with Millennials: Young Adult Perceptions
- Coaching Young Adults’ Calling
- Grace Outlet
- Millennial Ministry
- A NEW LOOK AT BIBLICAL PREACHING
- Research Continues on the Core Competencies of Pastors
- FUNdraising for Churches
- Improving Your Leadership
- A Visit to Loma Linda University Church
- What is Seventh-day Adventist Preaching?
- The Forgotten Generation
- The Big Four
- You’re Preaching? Good. Here is What I Need
- A Privilege to Serve
- Best Practices for Event Planning
- Generation Change: Why Our Youth Leave
- Generation Change: Designing the Future
- How to Work for the Church and Still Be Saved
- A Spouse’s Perspective on Pastoring
- Stories We Tell: Going Together
- Application: The Often Forgotten Part of the Sermon
- 7 Points for Pastoral Interviews
- Strategies for a Successful Interview
- Giving to Religion – A Changing Landscape
- Schaller and the Small Church
- 5 Web Tools Your Church Needs
- Wise Words: Resurrection Voices
- Happy Sabbath: Routine or Heartfelt?
- Blogging Basics for Pastors
- Close to Paradise
- Adventists in the City: Moving to the City to Raise Up Churches
- Stories We Tell: Invisible Weights
- Small Groups Fair Offers Something for Everyone
- Stories We Tell: Lessons from a Mouse
- C.D.: the Man Behind the Message
- 7 Strategies for Church School Evangelism
- Upcoming InMinistry Courses
- Stories We Tell: The Last Puzzle Piece
- Evangelism in the Small Church
- You Can’t Lead Through Appeasement
- Wise Words: Evangelism
- Caring for Military Families
- New Parenting Resource
- Stories We Tell: Make Me Like Joe
- Caring for Military Members
- 3 Tools for Your Religious Liberty Campaign
- Understanding Your Community
- Transformational Evangelism
- Connecting with Business Owners on the Island of Yap
- Community Engagement
- Blurring the Lines Between Church and Community
- Reaping the Rewards of Partnership
- Adventists in the City
- Stories We Tell: Life-Saving Hope
- Reading: Gas in the Tank
- Last Rites for a Dying Church
- Stories We Tell: When a Pest is Your Best Friend
- Book Review: Leading With a Limp
- Reading: Fuel for the Road
- The Gift Card
- Senior Pastor or Lead Pastor?
- Young Adult Life Presentation
- 10 Points for Paperless Preaching
- 12 Ways to Take Care of Yourself During and After a Crisis
- How do you comfortably integrate guests into the communion celebrations of the church?
- The Least Exciting Fundraising Campaign—2
- The Ulfberht Sword
- Free Legal Aid Fair
- Funeral Do’s and Don’ts
- Funeral Evangelism
- The Least Exciting Fundraising Campaign
- Does One Size Really Fit All?
- Innovate or Die
- When to buy, when to renovate, or when to look the other way?
- Risk Management—More than just insurance?
- School Board: Money, People and Policy
- Volunteers: Attract them. Grow them. Keep them.
- QR Codes in the Bulletin
- The Diamond
- Ask a Seasoned Pastor
- Talking with Teens
- Pastor and Teacher Collaboration
- Simple Church At Home
- 10 Things Pastors Wish Their Congregations Would Do
- Living A Balanced Life - By Saying No?
- Does Your Church Have Curb Appeal?
- Freely Received, Freely Given
- Open to a change in Pastoral Assignment?
- Seven Wise Things Pastors Should Do to Financially Succeed
- A Nest Egg Is Not Just for the Birds
- Plan Your Retirement Now
- Lording it Over—It shall not be so among you
- Living in the Hyphen
- The Silent Exodus and Signs of Hope
- Financial Makeover
- Financial Infidelity
- Taking over Your Local Theater
- Esther Knott Transition
- Shawn Boonstra Transition
- Potomac Spanish Youth Plant First English-Speaking Church
- Six Building Block Videos
- Natural Church Development Report for the Adventist Church
- Stewardship Contest Winners Announced
- The Power of Mentorship--Pastor Krystalynn Martin
- And Time is No More!
- International Bible Conference
- NAD Ministerial Fellowships With New Jersey Pastors
- New Fundraising Resource for Adventist Congregations
- Implications of aging ministers could challenge future staffing
- Best Practices to Go Weekly
- Wanted—Your Best Sermon
- "Radical Reboot" The Mid America Union Pastors' Convention 2011