This article is a testimony from a young person that is following Empower Missions
Nowadays there is a lot of talk about our young people leaving the Churches. This is nothing new. We hear all the reasons why. People have hurt them, sermons are lifeless, boring music, just to name a few. It is almost a trend to talk about it, and it feels like it is modern to question organized religion and to take an active choice to not be part of it.
I was at a youth conference and at one of the workshops the question addressed was: “What do we as young people do when we have been disappointed with the Church?” It is not the first time I hear these kind of things. I am sure the speakers mean good and that their point is that we young people should stay in the Church. But then, why are not those intentions more of a reality?
Let me suggest a trend break by giving my story. I love the Church. To make a long story short, I am a very typical Adventist. Brought up in the Church, been through Adventist education, mission schools, and mission trips to third world countries. Everything that a young Adventist is supposed to do. I am a product of the Adventist culture and lifestyle in almost everything you can imagine. And I am called by God and His word to full time ministry. I have homosexual Adventist friends, friends who left the Church never to be seen again, friends who committed suicide, friends who have been face to face with the devil. I have seen, heard and experienced a wide spectrum of SDA theology. I know Church leaders all over the place.
Have I ever thought of leaving the Church because of that?
I can hear some say: “Have you never been thinking for yourself, and made up your own mind?” (like the only next logical step is to leave the Church….)
“Can you still go to Church when this and that is going on?”
Yes I can, and I do! What about you?
I am tired of people leaving the Church. Those people are my friends and relatives – Your friends and family too. Of course everyone has a free choice to do so. Just because they say they are finally free from the Church and its tradition and all man made constructions, I am here to say that I have made up my mind and freely chosen to stay in the Church.
Here is my philosophy and mission: Despite the criticism, rebellion, hurt feelings, etc. that I experience in the Church, I still love the Church. Because the Church is made of people, the problems won’t go away if i leave. I hear people say they want a change in the Church, but in the next breath they leave. I have chosen to stay, because Jesus would have done so if He walked here. I choose to follow Jesus in to the Church, not man out of the Church. It is time for the young people who have chosen to stay in the Church to stand up and break the trend.
Another thing I often hear people say is that they follow Christ, but not the Church. So the question is then: Is it a contradiction to follow Christ while being independent of an organized Church? I have very dear friends that believe so. The Bible, specifically Paul, is very concerned about the Church as the “body of Christ”. So what is so positive about being part as members of an organized Church community? And what are the dangers if we are not? Lets take from Paul’s perspective pf the body. We find him writing about this in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Ephesians 4:1-16, Romans 12:1-21.
The following is not a deep exposition but a few highlights to make a point: Each individual part of the body receive nourishment as they are connected with the Head – Christ. For the Church to function and its individual members as well, a togetherness of organization and individuality is necessary. Parts can not live by themselves, and the body is not complete without members, it is just an empty shell or parts floating around.
It is also positive to be part of a Church because one or two individuals cannot do everything. The more people that are connected with the same mission, the more talents, gifts, skills, ideas, resources will be available to fulfill the mission.
So whether you follow Jesus, the early Church, Paul, or the Old Testament – being part of an organized Church is just part of the deal.
Here are a few Bible verses and Spirit of Prophecy statements about Gods love for the Church as His body. There are many more like this, but let these speak for themselves and draw your own conclusions. That’s all I can do: to share my stand and invite you to love the Church as Christ did.
Ephesians 3:21 – Unto him be the glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.
Ephesians 5:24-25 – Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it.
“During ages of spiritual darkness the Church of God has been as a city set on a hill. From age to age, through successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within its borders. Enfeebled and defective as it may appear, the Church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard. It is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts.”
– Acts of the Apostles 12.1
“Consider, my brethren and sisters, that the Lord has a people, a chosen people, His Church, to be His own, His own fortress, which He holds in a sin-stricken, revolted world; and He intended that no authority should be known in it, no laws be acknowledged by it, but His own.”
– Christian Experience and teachings of Ellen White 206.2
“Although there are evils existing in the Church, and will be until the end of the world, the Church in these last days is to be the light of the world that is polluted and demoralized by sin. The Church, enfeebled and defective, needing to be reproved, warned, and counseled, is the only object upon earth upon which Christ bestows His supreme regard. The world is a workshop in which, through the cooperation of human and divine agencies, Jesus is making experiments by His grace and divine mercy upon human hearts.”
– Counsels for the Church 240.2
I don’t know how your relationship is to Christ’s Church, but I believe God is challenging everyone of us to love the people inside and outside the Church, as He would have done if He was in our shoes.