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Published by the Seventh-day Adventist

Church. Read by clergy of all faiths.

04 Letters
05 Editorial
07 “Life together” for church leaders:
Learning from the book of Acts
Ikechukwu Michael Oluikpe
26 Dateline
Be inspired by the examples of togetherness that the
28 Revival and Reformation
New Testament church experienced as reflected in the 29 Resources
book of Acts.
30 Practical Pointers

13 United in message, mission, and

Mark A. Finley
International Journal for Pastors
12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring,
MD 20904-6600 U.S.A.
Chinese-Robert Wong
French-Bernard Sauvagnat
Japanese-Masaki Shoji Korean-Soon Ki Kang
Study with the author the challenges of unity in a Portuguese (South America)-Wellington
growing church with divergent opinions while being INTERIM EDITOR
Russian-Michael Kaminsky
Jerry Page
one body led by one Spirit. Spanish (Inter-America)-Pablo Perla
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Spanish (South America)-Marcos Blanco
Jeffrey Brown

The practice of listening—Part 2 John Fowler, Clifford Goldstein, Ron Clouzet, Michael D. Collins,
Myrna Tetz Daniel Devadhas, Carlos Hein, Patrick
Paul Bogacs and Daniel Reynaud Johnson, Victor Kozakov, Geoffrey G.
Mbwana, Musa Mitekaro, Passmore
In our quest to be successful pastors, we focus on Sheryl Beck
Mulambo, Daniel Opoku-Boateng,
many important things, but have we overlooked the FINANCE AND
Hector Sanchez, Houtman Sinaga, Elias
Brasil de Souza, Ivan L. Williams, Ted
one basic element that separates the “A” class from the John Feezer IV N. C. Wilson

“C” class—the art of listening?

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“After all, one can be sincerely Lay-led churches

wrong. But sincerity is

D ear brothers, the article by David
M. Klinedinst (“Back to the Future:
Lay-Led Churches and a Return to our
Roots,” February 2017) has hit the
proverbial nail on the head. I pastor a
indispensable to any truth we six-church district in southwest Virginia,
United States. Our people need this
message. Thanks for sharing.
wish others to believe.” —Don Elswick, Facebook

Athletic and spiritual

Funeral etiquette another sermon that has only technical S teven Thompson’s article, “Christian
Faith and the Olympic Games”

I thought Larry Yeagley’s article (“The

Funeral,” December 2016) was very
practical and helpful for pastors. There
grandeur” if there has been an “intersec-
tion between a preacher’s heart and
message.” I.e., have I been touched by my
(December 2016), is intriguing and moti-
vational. Thompson, in his analysis of
2 Peter 1:1–8, achieves a superb pre-
are many areas where elders have to own message? This may be one reason sentation of the highly instructive
take funerals, in the absence of a pas- why testimony services often seem to comparison between athletic striving
tor. Could this article be printed in the have a greater spiritual benefit than and spiritual striving. However, the sole
Elder’s Digest as well? One further prac- preaching, especially in today’s society focus on Petrine perspectives, and the
tical point: where there is an obituary with its natural skepticism of preachers complete exclusion of Hebrews and vari-
column in the regional church paper, and value placed on personal experience. ous texts in the Pauline corpus, leaves full
send in funeral details immediately Larry Alex Taunton writes, “Sincerity room for the development of the aspect
following the service. Families wait for does not trump truth. After all, one can of contrast in the context of athletic
the printed acknowledgement, as part be sincerely wrong. But sincerity is indis- and spiritual striving. That this contrast
of their grieving and closure. For it to pensable to any truth we wish others to between athletic contests and spiritual
be delayed a year or more (and it has believe. There is something winsome, striving is an important safeguard in
happened) is distressing to them. even irresistible, about a life lived with spiritual growth and witnessing is evi-
—Helen Miller, email conviction. I am reminded of the Scottish dent from the following Old and New
philosopher and skeptic, David Hume, Testament perspectives. All Scripture
Credible preaching who was recognized among a crowd references, where not from the original
Thank you for the great article, of those listening to the preaching of language, are from the NKJV (1982).
“Treating Preaching as a Practice” George Whitefield, the famed evangelist The Bible indicates that Enoch
(December 2016). Michael Goetz’s well- of the First Great Awakening: and Noah “walked with God” (Gen.
informed and thoughtful ideas need to “ ‘I thought you didn’t believe in the 5:24; 6:9). While the thrust of these
be placed before preachers, including Gospel,’ someone asked. verses indicates spiritual consistency
myself, regularly. (Loved the quotes from “ ‘I do not,’ Hume replied. Then, and excellence in the relationship of
Haddon Robinson, too!) I’m wondering if with a nod toward Whitefield, he added, these two with God; yet the “walking”
one more concept could help round out ‘But he does.’ ”* imagery also indicates an underlying,
the points presented. David E. Thomas —Bill Krick, Clovis, California underlining perspective of the value of
calls it “the internal dynamic of cred- * Larry Alex Taunton, “Listening to Young Atheists: consistent, moderate exercise in main-
ible preaching” (Ministry, May 2010). He Lessons for a Stronger Christianity,” The Atlantic, taining and enhancing health. In fact, in
writes that “even a poorly constructed Genesis 3:8, the guilty pair “heard the
and delivered sermon may have con- /listening-to-young-atheists-lessons-for-a sound of the Lord God walking in the
siderable effectiveness, more so than -stronger-christianity/276584/.
Continued on page 25

Ministry® A PRIL 2017

Jerry Page is General Conference Ministerial Association
secretary, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

The joys of being dead

n Adventist university professor the Holy Spirit upon his heart and lives we were both very angry and wished
tells of one of his most embar- a life wholly consecrated to God.”2 we had separate rooms for the night.
rassing moments in life. He Most of the tension or conflict How could we ever minister to others
had the opportunity to preach to the Janet and I have had in our marriage in China the next day?
entire campus family for a chapel over the years was because of self The next morning we were still
service. He preached on humility, and still being alive and getting offended upset, but we both went aside and
it was a deeply moving message. He (most often in me). For example, we spent time with Jesus alone. By the
said it was evident that everyone was had just arrived late one night, very time we left the room, we had apolo-
meaningfully touched by the Lord tired, for our first visit to China. At gized and were in each other’s arms.
because fervent amens were heard and the hotel room Janet said something God really blessed our time in China!
tears were in many eyes. that I misunderstood, which caused The solution is always putting self
After he finished, he went off the me to get upset and say something aside by abiding in Jesus. The joy
platform into an empty side room. not so nice to her. This upset her, and of agape love shed abroad in our
Feeling that he had just preached she made another comment. That hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5) is
one of his best sermons ever, he said upset me more, and I made a worse always so good. And self being alive
out loud to himself with satisfaction, comment, and so it escalated until leads to unrest and destroying our
“Eat your heart out, Billy Graham!”
Unfortunately, he had forgotten to
switch off his lapel mic. His comment
was amplified to the entire congrega-
tion, still sitting in silence after his Principles of the exchanged life*
It reminds me of a comment I heard 1. When self is alive, two major issues result:
C. D. Brooks make one day, talking a. Spiritual power in us is blocked;
about how he was very careful how b. And spiritual power through us for others is blocked.
he prayed for humility. “I pray for the 2. Resurrection power comes only to the dead—those who are dead to
Lord to humble me so I won’t have to self.
be humiliated!” I agree with him. When 3. A corpse can’t be hurt, so when self is dead, its feelings can’t be hurt.
you are humble by dwelling with Jesus 4. Those who are dead to self aren’t surprised when things don’t go their
privately, there is no need for being way; they aren’t offended when things don’t go their way; and they
humiliated publically. “And whosoever aren’t controlled by the things that don’t go their way.
shall exalt himself will be abased; and 5. We do much if not most of our sinning when we are in the right but
he that shall humble himself will be we’re not being treated justly or fairly.
exalted” (Matt. 23:12, KJV). 6. What happens to us is relatively inconsequential; what happens in and
It seems that most problems block- through us has far-reaching consequences.
ing our real joy and power in life and 7. We should be willingly surrendering to receive rather than willfully
ministry track back to “self” and the trying to achieve.
pride that causes us to protect it, try 8. What gets the mind gets us, and what gets us is reported through our
to exalt it, or indulge it. As Clarence thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions.
Schilt and Stephen Schilt say in A Life 9. Practice makes perfect, so we must be careful what we practice. (Are
to Die For, “When self is alive two major we perfecting habits of self or of Christ in ourselves?)
issues result: a. spiritual power in us is 10. Sin is what we do when our hearts aren’t satisfied with God.
blocked; b. and spiritual power through
us for others is blocked.”1 Ellen White
said on the matter, “There is no limit to * W. Clarence Schilt and Stephen Schilt, A Life to Die For: Discover the Secret of Christ’s Transforming Power
(Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 2009), 261.
the usefulness of one who, putting self
aside, makes room for the working of

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peace—every time. “Those who are others better than himself. Let each of This month’s Ministry has sev-
dead to self will not feel so readily you look out not only for his own inter- eral articles about how we can live
and will not be prepared to resist ests, but also for the interests of others. our Lord’s agape love like the New
everything which may irritate. Dead Let this mind be in you which was also Testament church did in Acts: being
men cannot feel.”3 in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form one in koinonia fellowship, mentoring,
Paul was a very successful, highly of God, did not consider it robbery to be listening to each other, and respecting
educated, “always right,” harsh-on- equal with God, but made Himself of no the organization of the church we have
others, young church leader who had reputation” (Phil. 2:2–7, NKJV). Jesus agreed to. Jesus holds out to all of us
it all wrong. But he finally found that humbled Himself to become a Man and an amazing life of joy and peace if we
the secret of joy, power, and truly suc- was obedient even to the death of the crucify self and live in His resurrection
cessful ministry was in knowing Jesus cross, and He has been exalted higher power and selflessness. Help self stay
and being conformed to His death and than any other throughout eternity! dead, Lord!
resurrection power (Phil. 3). Paul calls After receiving an amazing vision
us to the joys of being dead, buried, of how God is displeased over our 1 W. Clarence Schilt and Stephen Schilt, A Life to Die
For: Discover the Secret of Christ’s Transforming Power
and resurrected in Jesus for a life of defense of self and justifying why we are (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 2009), 261.
self-giving, loving service. right, Ellen White makes this profound 2 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain
“Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, statement, which is the best conflict View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1942), 159.
having the same love, being of one management seminar you could ever 3 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2
(Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948),
accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done receive in just one sentence: “If pride and 425.
through selfish ambition or conceit, but selfishness were laid aside, five minutes 4 Ellen G. White, Early Writings (Washington, DC:
in lowliness of mind let each esteem would remove most difficulties.”4 Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1945), 119.

Tell us what you think about this article. Email or visit

Ministry® A PRIL 2017

Ikechukwu Michael Oluikpe, PhD, is a lecturer in the Department
of Theology and Religious Studies, Bugema University, Uganda.

“Life together” for church

leaders: Learning from the
book of Acts

he book of Acts stands out as Sanhedrin nor synagogue, dissension the praying, worshiping, and sharing
the only New Testament book nor narrow-mindedness, prison or plot.”3 communities of Christian believers
containing a clear historical This, in many ways, serves as a model found in house churches. Luke’s first
account of the origin and to the Christian church in every age,4 picture of this is captured in the “upper
spread of the early Christian church.1 presenting the potential possibilities room” after Jesus’ resurrection: 40 days
With a prologue addressed to the “most when God’s people are led by and filled of nurturing followed by ascension (Acts
excellent Theophilus” (Acts 1:1), the with the Holy Spirit. The book of Acts 1:1–11). The original 120 members, the
text is believed to be the sequel to the is a real picture of the ideal church—a initial population of the early Christian
Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:3). While the picture that every true pastor and church church, are praying and waiting for the
Gospel focused on the journey of Jesus leader desires for God’s people and work promise of the Father to be fulfilled
to Jerusalem to fulfill His mission, Acts in contemporary times. (vv. 14, 15). This seeking and waiting
focuses on the spread of the church out together creates the fitting atmosphere
of Jerusalem. Alive together for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
Based on geographical consider- One prominent feature in the book at Pentecost (Acts 2:1), resulting in an
ations, the book of Acts can be broadly of Acts is the unity and “togetherness” explosion of church membership within
divided into two major parts: (1) the of the church’s leaders and members. Jerusalem from 120 to more than 3,000
church in and around Jerusalem The early Christian community was people in one day (v. 41). After this mass
(Acts 1–12) and (2) the church beyond noted for “praying together (Acts 1:14; conversion, Luke records what could be
Jerusalem (Acts 13–28). This spread of 2:42; 4:24), being together (Acts 1:15; described as the ideal church commu-
Christianity and its gospel beyond the 2:1, 44, 47; 5:12), holding everything nity life. Christian believers are noted
headquarters of Judaism (hinted at in in common (Acts 2:44), being of one to enjoy the experiences of learning
Acts 1:8)2 appears to be the aim and/or heart and mind in agreement (Acts 4:32; sound doctrine, or teaching, together
purpose of the author, Luke (the only 15:25), and sharing possessions (Acts (v. 42), sharing food and possessions
Gentile among the New Testament writ- 2:45; 4:32, 34).”5 Some of Luke’s favorite together (vv. 44, 45), and worshiping
ers). By the way the book is structured expressions for the communal unity of together (v. 46). Acts 4:32–37 presents a
and narrated, “it seems probable that the early church include “of one accord” similar account of togetherness among
we are to view this triumphant, joyful, or “with one mind” (omothymadon) (Acts the early Christian community. These
forward-moving expansion of the gospel 1:14; 2:1, 46; 4:24; 5:12) and “at the same experiences have become the best
into the Gentile world, empowered by place” (epi to auto) (Acts 1:15; 2:44, 47; descriptions in the New Testament for
the Holy Spirit and resulting in changed 4:26).6 These expressions are descriptive ministry and mission through small
lives and local communities, as God’s of the internal state of a church com- groups today.
intent for the continuing church. And munity enjoying peace and harmony.7 In addition, the early church thrived
precisely because this is God’s intent for One of the most beautiful pictures through the “togetherness” experience
the church, nothing can hinder it, neither of this “togetherness” in Acts is seen in of house churches. Numerous house

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churches are mentioned in the book (Acts 11:1–3, cf. Acts 10), and especially Acts 1:14, culminating on the Day of
of Acts and Paul’s letters. Examples the debate over the teaching that Gentile Pentecost (Acts 2:1). In her commentary
that possibly include house churches Christians needed to be circumcised in on the ten days preceding Pentecost,
are Jerusalem (Acts 1:12–15; 2:41–47; order to be saved (Acts 15:1–5). In each Ellen White describes in some detail
5:42; 12:10–17), Philippi (Acts 16:11–15, instance, the believers (especially the what transpired among the neonate
25–34), Thessalonica (Acts 17:1–9), leaders) were willing to come together, leaders of the church of Acts: “Putting
Corinth (Acts 18:7, 8; Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. carefully listen to the problem and away all differences, all desire for the
16:15, 17), Cenchreae (Rom. 16:1, 2), consider the case, prayerfully deliberate, supremacy, they came close together
Ephesus (Acts 18:18, 19, 26; 1 Cor. and come to peaceful resolutions (Acts in Christian fellowship.”12
16:19), Rome (Rom. 16:3, 5, 10, 11, 14, 6:1–7; 11:1–18; 15:6–29). This description is significant in
15), and Colossae (Philem. 1, 2).8 John The quality of “togetherness” in the light of the disciples’ continual struggle
Mallison comments on the mention of early church of Acts (especially among over who is the greatest among them
these churches in the New Testament the leaders) is worth emulating in con- (Matt. 18:1; Mark 9:33, 34; Luke 9:46;
by stating that “It is almost certain that temporary times. It can be said that this 22:24). Constant quarreling over this
every mention of a local church or of a was a key factor that contributed to the issue must have caused hurt and cre-
church meeting [in the New Testament], successful and prosperous growth of ated enmity among them. During this
whether for worship or fellowship, is the Christian church across the borders upper room period, the process of
in actual fact a reference to a church of the then Greco-Roman world. deep soul searching, heart-to-heart
meeting in a house.”9 confession, and reconciliation among
The church leaders and members Fellowship together the disciples created the perfect basis
are also noted to have actively used The foundational experience of for authentic fellowship. From then on,
every spiritual gift and ministry to “togetherness” among the church lead- the church leaders began to practice
get involved in every aspect of evan- ers of the book of Acts led to the growth koinonia as they gathered to pursue a
gelism. Beginning with the earnest and expansion of the Christian move- common purpose for their lives.13
prayers and preparation in the upper ment. This experience can be found in As the early church faced conflict
room (Acts 1:14; 2:1) (“pre-evangelistic the word koinonia, usually translated and crisis in its beginning stages, this
campaign”) and the preaching on the “fellowship.” While the word fellowship life of koinonia played a significant role
Day of Pentecost crowned by Peter’s has become a casual religious word in in helping keep the growing movement
sermon (vv. 4–11, 14–41) (“evangelistic Christian circles, there is more to it than stable and united. This life of “fellow-
campaign”), the church leaders and is practiced in churches today. ship together” is especially manifested
members were involved in active small In the Christian world today, in the gathering of church leaders in
group ministry (Acts 2:41–47; 4:32–37), “ ‘fellowship’ now usually refers to prayer and worship to seek the guid-
healing and health (Acts 3:1–10; 9:33– casual conversation, socializing, food, ance and power of the Holy Spirit for
35), and welfare (social) ministry (Acts and fun. The question, ‘Where do the unity and mission of the church
6:1–7; 9:36–42) among others (“post- you fellowship?’ means ‘Where do amidst challenges.14 Examples of this
evangelistic campaign”). 10 Through you attend church?’ ‘Stay after for fellowship in prayer include the leaders
the power of the Holy Spirit, this active fellowship’ usually means ‘wait for and members praying for boldness after
participation of every member of the refreshments.’ Real fellowship is so the arrest and release of Peter and John
church together in reaching out to much more than just showing up at ser- (Acts 4:23–31), the focus of the apostles
the world brought great increase and vices. It is experiencing life together. . . . on devoting themselves to prayer and
progress to the work of the gospel in Authentic fellowship is not superficial, the ministry of the word in the disagree-
the first century a.d. surface level chit-chat. It is genuine, ment between Hebrew and Hellenist
This togetherness does not suggest heart-to-heart, sometimes gut level Christians (Acts 6:4, 6) and the church
the absence of conflict within the early sharing. It happens when people get praying continually for Peter in prison
Christian community. The book of Acts honest about who they are and what is (Acts 12:5, 12), among others.15 In their
faithfully recounts episodes of disagree- happening in their lives. They share the selection of missionaries and elders
ment among believers as a result of the hurts, reveal their feelings, confess their (Acts 13:1–3; 14:23) and in their plan-
growth and spread of the church beyond failures, disclose their doubts, admit ning for evangelism and mission (Acts
the regions of Jerusalem and Judea. their fears, acknowledge their weak- 16:6–10), the church leaders sought
Three prominent examples of these nesses and ask for help and prayer.”11 for the Holy Spirit’s leading through
include the complaint of unfair distribu- This koinonia experience, which worship, prayer, and fasting together.
tion of needed supplies among Hebrew became the basis of the modus ope- “After seeking the Holy Spirit’s leading,
and Hellenistic widows (Acts 6:1), the randi for the church leaders, must they could say of their decisions, ‘it
negative reaction to the visit of Peter (a have been established in the upper- seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to
Jew) to the house of Cornelius (a Gentile) room experience briefly mentioned in us’ (Acts 15:28).”16

Ministry® A PRIL 2017

There is a need to learn from the Another way of koinonia for church of individual confidant friendships that
church leaders in the book of Acts by leaders today is to be involved in small promote personal, spiritual, and profes-
making earnest corporate prayer an groups that go beyond superficial, sional accountability.23 Though such
inevitable component of meetings. impersonal conversation and “learn to friendships develop with much time and
Like it did for the early church, prayer trust one another, openly expressing sacrifice, it is a critical need that church
can bring the group of church leaders their thoughts and feelings, confident leaders find people in their lives whom
together to God, seeking His guidance that what is shared within the group they can trust and with whom they can
in making decisions, resolving con- will not go beyond the group. They bare their souls, challenging each other
flicts, and bringing unity of mind and must also learn the art of respectful to live holy lives.24

There is a need to learn from the church leaders

in the book of Acts by making earnest corporate
prayer an inevitable component of meetings.

heart among God’s appointed heads.17 disagreement, challenging each other Indeed, such support systems will
In addition, this kind of fellowship when necessary.” 19 Church leaders, create an atmosphere for church lead-
transforms our prayers from focusing including pastors, need a support sys- ers to experience koinonia—that “life
on asking God to bless our decisions tem.20 They need a place with a group together” of “God-given unity of heart
to directing them [our prayers] toward of fellow church leaders and members, a and mind . . . [that] signifies a close
being willing to open our minds and twelve-step group program for recover- connection among the believers for
wills to God’s will. Without fellow- ing sinners.21 They need a place where mutual support and involvement in
ship in prayer together, human-made they can share their weaknesses, be each others’ lives, both spiritually and
plans (which are more trusted than prayed for, and grow in grace and accep- materially.”25
God’s) emerge and are forced on God tance.22 Apart from a small group, this The life of fellowship together, prac-
to approve.18 support can also be found in the form ticed mostly in the first half of the book

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of Acts (chapters 1–12), established a Paul’s example in Acts serves as missionary journey of Paul (Acts
mode of operation for the leaders of the an encouragement to contemporary 12:25). He was doing fine until he sud-
church, providing a foundation that led church leaders to experience “life denly deserted the mission, leaving
to consolidated, united church leader- together” by working with others. The the missionary team and returning
ship and membership throughout the human tendency to compare and com- to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13, 14). When
rest of the book. pete with other church leaders based an opportunity arose to take him on
on worldly standards creates pride another trip, Paul vehemently refused
Teamwork network and disunity that prevents the steady because of John Mark’s previous
The second half of Acts (Acts 13–28) progress of God’s work in ministry. The abandonment. This led to a serious dis-
focuses especially on the Christian book of Acts shows that the mission- agreement between Paul and Barnabas
church going beyond Jerusalem, ary spread of the gospel farther and (Acts 15:36–39). However, Barnabas
especially through Paul’s missionary faster across the Greco-Roman world never lost faith in John Mark and took
journeys. 26 Though Paul stands out was the result of teamwork under the him along (v. 39). In later years, the
as the prominent, ideal evangelist leadership of the apostle Paul. In order epistles of Paul and Peter testify that
or missionary in the book of Acts, he to accomplish the same result, church Barnabas’s effort in mentoring John
manifests another very important leaders today must reject competitive Mark paid off, making him useful and

Church leaders today must reject competitive

comparison and embrace collaborative cooperation.

aspect of “life together” often over- comparison and embrace collaborative valuable in ministry (Col. 4:10; 2 Tim.
looked: teamwork. cooperation. Creating a teamwork 4:11; 1 Pet. 5:13). He eventually became
It is interesting to note that in the network by inviting and involving the the author of what is believed to be the
accounts of Paul’s evangelistic and spiritual gifts and ministries (specializa- very first Gospel of Jesus: the Gospel
ministry activities in the book of Acts, tion and expertise) of other church of Mark.
he was never a “loner” but lived, trav- leaders in ministry and evangelistic Paul took interest in Timothy when
eled, and worked together with other efforts within and without the church he met him in Lystra (Acts 16:1–3).
leaders and believers (Acts 9:28–30; will always be as effective and produc- Though Timothy’s father was a Greek,
13:1–5, 13–16, 44–46; 14:1, 7, 20, 21, tive for the gospel work today as it was he grew in knowledge of and love for
25; 17:1–15; 18:5–8). 27 A simple sur- for Paul and the church in Acts. 29 It is the Holy Scriptures through his Jewish
vey of the book of Acts makes Paul’s another manifestation of “life together” mother, Eunice, and grandmother,
emphasis on togetherness clear. Some for contemporary church leaders. Lois (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14, 15). In time, Paul
prominent coworkers of Paul in Acts took Timothy along in his missionary
include Barnabas and John Mark (first Bridging the gap journeys and mentored him in church
missionary journey—Acts 13:2–5); together leadership (Acts 17:14, 15; 18:5). The
Silas and Timothy (second mission- As a result of meaningful fellowship result was that Timothy shared the
ary journey—Acts 15:40; 16:1–3); Luke and networking, the church leaders Gospel in Ephesus as evidenced by
(Acts 16:10); Aquila and Priscilla (Acts of the early church mentored young Paul’s injunctions and admonitions to
18:1–3); Erastus (Acts 19:22); Gaius and leaders and prepared them for ministry. him in the pastoral Epistles of 1 and
Aristarchus (Acts 19:29); and Sopater of The book of Acts briefly mentions three 2 Timothy (1 Tim. 1:1–4; 2 Tim. 1:6).
Berea, Secundus of the Thessalonians, young men who later became church Timothy also joined Paul to write letters
and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia leaders and played a very significant of encouragement to other Christians as
(Acts 20:4). While others are mentioned role in the growth of the early church. recorded in some of the Pauline Epistles
in Paul’s epistles, the book of Acts They are John Mark, Timothy, and (2 Cor. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Thess.
makes it clear that Paul never worked Apollos. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1; Philem. 1).
alone.28 He enjoyed “life together” with Barnabas saw potential in his Aquila and Priscilla, a couple
other church leaders and members in a cousin, John Mark. Consequently, involved in the leadership of the early
teamwork network. he invited him to join in on the first church (Rom. 16:3–5; 1 Cor. 16:19), met

Ministry® A PRIL 2017

Apollos, a Jewish young man from to train young seminarians to live in other in a common life (fellowship),
Alexandria, when they heard him in genuine Christian community as they serve each other in common commit-
Ephesus. He is described as competent prepared for ministry and leadership.34 ments (accountability), and commit
and eloquent in Scripture and as speak- Dietrich Bonhoeffer “led a fugitive to doing good with a common vision
ing boldly in the synagogue (Acts 18:24, community of seminarians, living with for mission (partnership).39 In order to
26). Though he knew only the baptism them in a daily quest to discover for experience this, they need to commit to
of John and preached it with fervent themselves the meaning of being a fam- investing time (commitment), investing
spirit, Aquila and Priscilla took time to ily of faith in Christ and training them in energy (intentionality), and risking
take Apollos in and explain to him the the pastoral ministries that would lead vulnerability (authenticity).40 These,
truth as it is in Jesus (v. 26). This growth others into that fellowship of a common among others, are essential factors for
in knowledge and brief mentoring life. It was during this period that he the “life together” experience needed
resulted in the conversion and disciple- wrote [the book] Life Together.”35 by church leaders for personal and
ship of many to the faith (Acts 18:27, 28). “At a time when hatred and suspi- corporate progress of God’s work in the
Apollos became a notable leader in the cion were on the rise due to the world church and in the world. 41
work of the early church and brought wars, . . . [Bonhoeffer] was able to
many to the faith as confirmed by the articulate what he saw as the gap in Conclusion
mention of his name in Paul’s letter to reality between what the Church should The book of Acts “reminds us what
the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:10–12; 3:1–9, look like according to the Book of Acts, it means to be the church: a Spirit-filled
21–23; 16:12). and what the Church actually looked and Spirit-directed body of believers
These three examples clearly illus- like before the eyes of the world.”36 whose purpose is to cross every ethnic
trate that leadership of the church in “When the people of God come and geographical boundary to take the
Acts intentionally worked to “bridge the together to share their lives openly and message of salvation to the ends of the
gap” between the older and younger freely, accepting each other with a kind earth.”42 Though the book of Acts was
generations to provide continuity for of unconditional positive regard, there not written as a handbook on how to
church life. Contemporary church lead- is a sort of social-spiritual ‘chemistry’ run the church and not everything that
ers need to prayerfully and strategically that emerges, and those who come happens in Acts is meant to establish
mentor and train young leaders to together experience a delightful cohe- the pattern for the church today, 43
become potential successors in the sion and sense of belonging.”37 the unity of the church and the “life
Lord’s work. There is a need for church As exemplified by the leaders of together” of its leaders are definitely
leaders to be comfortable and confident the early church in the book of Acts, worth emulating for contemporary
in involving and delegating leadership “experiencing life together” should be church life and mission.
responsibilities to the young members a key emphasis for church leaders in the The book of Acts is clear that church
of the church. This can also include twenty-first century. In an age where unity is the work of the Holy Spirit, but
giving them the freedom to create and division and competition are rife, where it requires human effort (cf. Eph. 4:1–3).
lead their own ministry for the church.30 racism and tribalism abound, lethargy Leaders need to create an atmosphere
Pastors as leaders of the church should and hypocrisy thrive, “life together” is for unity by being united and support-
not be left out in this process. Older and an essential component for Christian ing one another in such a way that
more experienced ministers should leadership today. church members can follow and all
intentionally make available time to One of the greatest weapons of experience life together.
mentor young ones as they struggle the devil against the church is to cause
with the vicissitudes of the ministerial disunity among members, and unfor- 1 Without the book of Acts, there would be no clear
information from the biblical records on the early
life and work.31 tunately, many times it begins with Christian church apart from the letters of Paul.
In the twenty-first century, the work the church leaders. When leaders are Therefore “in one sense, it is true to say that the
of church leaders as they seek to reach divided among themselves and attack book of Acts is the most important book in the New
out to the youth and involve them in each other, the church members follow Testament.” William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible:
The Acts of the Apostles (Edinburgh, UK: The Saint
leading the church can be summarized and factions form. This definitely affects Andrew Press, 1955), xiii.
in these words: train them and trust the mission of the church in the commu- 2 Acts 1:8 is the programmatic statement of the
them.32 Bridging the generation gap by nity by misrepresenting the character of book of Acts. The gospel begins in and revolves
around Jerusalem in Acts 1–7, then it expands to
mentorship, involvement, and delega- Christ and depriving the church of united include Judea and Samaria in Acts 8 and 9. Finally,
tion is another important aspect of “life strength and focus in outreach. the Christian movement spreads across the Jewish
together” for church leaders.33 The solution to this is “life together,” barriers into Gentile territory (“the ends of the
first among the church leaders. This will earth”) from Acts 10 to 28 until it gets to Rome, the
capital city center of the Roman Empire. David A. de
Needed: Life together also extend to the members, leading to Silva, An Introduction to the New Testament: Context,
During the Nazi years in Germany, a united church.38 Church leaders need Methods and Ministry Formation (Downers Grove, IL:
a young minister sought and worked a community where they can enjoy each InterVarsity Press, 2004), 356.

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3 Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the forgiveness, and to express one’s personal faith and in We Can Keep Them in the Church, ed. Myrna Tetz
Bible for All Its Worth, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids, MI: faith-struggles. In the long run, no one—clergy or and Gary Hopkins, 39.
Zondervan, 2003), 114. lay—can live a healthy spiritual life without that 31 Schoun, Helping Pastors Cope, 166–168.
4 Much of the book of Acts is intended to serve as a kind of a life-context for his or her journey. 32 Jan Paulsen, “The Openness That Lies Before Us,”
model for the church today. “But the model is not so “Clergy who recognize that they are relatively Ministry, September 2006, www.ministrymagazine
much in the specifics as in the overall picture.” Fee isolated need to take the initiative to find or create .org/archive/2006/September/the-openness-that
and Stuart, How to Read the Bible, 114. the kind of peer spiritual community in which they -lies-before-us.html. See also Tom Grove,
5 Alan J. Thompson, “Unity in Acts: Idealization or can live and grow.” Donald R. Hands and Wayne L. “Developing Spiritual Leaders Like Jesus,” Ministry,
Reality?” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Fehr, Spiritual Wholeness for Clergy: A New Psychology December 2015, 14–16.
51, no. 3 (September 2008): 523. of Intimacy with God, Self and Others (Washington, 33 The close association and interaction between
6 The Greek terms describing the unity of the early DC: The Alban Institute, 1993), 67. the youth and the older members of the church
church appear almost exclusively in the book of In his list of eight things that can improve pastoral congregation can be described as intergenerational
Acts among the writings of the New Testament. ministry and leadership, Ivan Blake suggests in the relationships. As youth transition from the teenage
Bernhard Oestreich, “Preserving Church Unity: fifth point the need to establish local ministerial years to the young adult years, they need committed
Lessons From the Jerusalem Church,” Ministry, support groups that provide a nonthreatening mentoring relationships with older members more
October 2011, 10; J. Lyle Story, “The Jerusalem environment for spiritual and professional growth, than they do with their peers. Contemporary church
Council: A Pivotal and Instructive Paradigm,” including peer accountability. See Ivan Charles Blake, leaders should actively initiate, facilitate, establish,
Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership 3, no. 1 “Pastor for Life,” Ministry, July/August 2010, www and encourage more relationships that bridge the
(Winter 2010): 46, 47. generation gap in the church. “Bridging the gap”
7 Story, “Jerusalem Council,” 47; Oestreich, “Preserving /pastor-for-life. together plays a major role in keeping the youth
Church Unity,” 10. See also Benjamin D. Schoun, Helping Pastors Cope: from leaving the church. Clint Jenkin and Allan A.
8 Kwabena Donkor, “New Testament House Churches: A Psycho-Social Support System for Pastors (Berrien Martin, “Engaging Adventist Millennials: A Church
A Model for Today’s Complex World?” Ministry, April Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1982), That Embraces Relationships,” Ministry, May 2014,
2008, 6. See also Wolfgang Simson, Houses That 174–176, 178–181; Derek Morris, “Building a
Change the World: The Return of the House Churches. Support Network,” Ministry, May 2015, www /engaging-adventist-millennials.
(Waynesboro, GA: Authentic Lifestyle, 2001), 92–94. 34 After his license for teaching at Berlin University
9 John Mallison, The Small Group Leader: A Manual -support-network. was taken from him, Dietrich Bonhoeffer served
to Develop Vital Small Groups (Adelaide, South 21 Jackie Bishop, “Grace and the Twelve-Step Group,” as pastor, administrator, and teacher at an
Australia: Openbook Publishers, 1996), 6. in We Can Keep Them in the Church: How to Love Our underground seminary in Finkenwalde, Germany
10 Marlon Robinson, “Evangelism in the Book of Acts: Children so They Won’t Leave: Success Stories and (now located in Poland), from 1935 to 1937.
A Biblical Model for Churches” Elders Digest 18, no. 2 Ideas That Really Work, comp. Myrna Tetz and Gary L. Stephen J. Nichols, Bonhoeffer on the Christian
(April/June 2012), 24–26. Hopkins (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 2004), Life: From the Cross, for the World (Wheaton, IL:
11 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth 206–213. Crossway: 2013), 23, 24; Dale Ziemer, Life Together:
Am I Here For? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 22 Bernie Anderson, Breaking the Silence: A Pastor A Study Guide (July 2006), 9.
138, 139. Goes Public About His Battle With Pornography 35 Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same
12 Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles (Mountain (Hagerstown, MD: Autumn House Publishing, 2007), Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, 2nd
View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), 37. 134; Dwight Nelson, The Chosen (Hagerstown, MD: edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press,
13 “The gathering for pursuit of common purpose and Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 2012), 329. 2000), 184.
life together is affirmed in the New Testament. This 23 Matthew D. Kim, “Creating Healthy Habits,” Ministry, 36 “Life Together,” Wikipedia, last modified January 21,
gathering for common life is called koinōnia.” Gareth September 2016, 12. 2017,
Weldib Icenogle, Biblical Foundations for Small Group 24 Ibid. 37 Ibid.
Ministry: An Integrational Approach (Downers Grove, 25 Donkor, “New Testament House Churches,” 6. 38 Bonhoeffer’s “life together” experiment with
IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 14. 26 “Virtually the entire second half of Acts is dedicated seminarians was built on the premise that the
14 Robert L. Gallagher, “From Doing to Being: A to Paul’s catalytic role in the advance of the gospel spiritual life of the pastor was not different from
Missiological Interpretation of Acts 4:23-31,” Journal throughout the Roman Empire.” Dean Flemming, that of church members. Therefore if the pastors as
of Asian Mission 5, no. 2 (2003): 173n54. Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns for church leaders will faithfully nurture their faith life
15 Ibid. Theology and Mission (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity through the regular practice of Bible study, prayer,
16 Ikechukwu Michael Oluikpe, “Biblical Principles of Press, 2005), 56. and worship, they will be an example to the church
Spiritual Leadership: The Early Church of Acts as 27 George W. Murray, “Paul’s Corporate Evangelism in members and have authentic experiences of spiritual
a Case Study,” Journal of AIIAS African Theological the Book of Acts,” Bibliotheca Sacra 155 (April–June growth to share with their congregations in the
Association 3 (2012): 28. 1998), 190. shared life of discipleship. Ziemer, Life Together, 9.
17 Ben Maxson, “Where Are the Spirit-Filled Leaders?” 28 Murray, “Paul’s Corporate Evangelism,” 191–193. 39 Richard Lamb, The Pursuit of God in the Company
Ministry, January 1993, www.ministrymagazine 29 Schoun, Helping Pastors Cope, 181–183. of Friends (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press,
.org/archive/1993/January/where-are-the-spirit 30 “So give your young people opportunities for 2003), 202.
-filled leaders. real leadership and not just token involvement. 40 Ibid., 208, 209.
18 Oluikpe, “Biblical Principles of Spiritual Leadership,” Nominating committees are notorious for wanting 41 Some other key factors essential for community
30. to ‘get the young people involved’ by putting one include mutuality, sympathy, mercy, honesty,
19 Lois Tverberg, Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: or two on every committee. In this way members humility, courtesy, confidentiality, and frequency.
How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith appease their consciences by saying that their These are mentioned and described in chapters 18
(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 75. kids are involved without really releasing to them (“Experiencing Life Together”) and 19 (“Cultivating
20 “Participating in a genuine spiritual community as the possibility of changing something. What if Community”) of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose-
an equal is very important for a cleric’s health and we monitored our young people’s growth, helped Driven Life.
well-being. Clergy, like other human beings, need them understand their spiritual gifts and special 42 Mark Strauss, “Acts” in IVP Introduction to the Bible:
to be known and loved in a circle of face-to-face abilities, and then gradually mentored them into the Story, Themes and Interpretation, ed. Philip Johnston
relationships with peers. . . . leadership of some ministry? Or better, what if we (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2006), 213.
“The need is to be honest about one’s own life, helped them develop a new ministry that is close to 43 Strauss, “Acts,” 212; Fee and Stuart, How to Read the
to give and receive affection, to give and receive their heart?” Ryan J. Bell, “The Whole Body of Christ” Bible, 114.

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Mark A. Finley, DDiv, serves as an
assistant to the president, General
Conference of Seventh-day Adventists,
Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

United in message, mission,

and organization

hroughout the New Testament, organization is paramount to the unity they mutually agreed to seek God’s
Jesus emphasized the divine of the church. Without organization, wisdom on the matter (v. 24).
nature of the church. When the church’s message could easily have The fact that they chose two when
Peter confessed that Jesus been hijacked by false teachers and its they were going to select only one indi-
was the divine Son of God, our Savior mission sidetracked. Without church cates that there were differences of
replied, “Upon this rock I will build my organization, the biblical message of opinion among the group. This experi-
church; and the gates of hell shall not truth, based on the Word of God, would ence of selecting one over the other
prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18, KJV). have been distorted and the mission of could have easily divided the church, but
The church cannot be classed as some Christ diluted. they agreed on a process of discerning
human, bureaucratic, manmade insti- Let us review church organization in God’s will and also agreed to accept the
tution; it is a divine movement raised the book of Acts and notice its function outcome. They were willing to surrender
up by God. Its purpose is to nurture and in nurturing a believer’s spiritual life, their own convictions to the revealed will
foster the spiritual life of each believer preserving the church’s message, and of Christ through the selection process.
and equip each one to use their gifts in fostering its mission. Even in its embryonic stage, the church
the proclamation of the gospel in a life In Acts 1, a united group of 120 was learning lessons of submission for
of self-sacrificial service to others. The believers met in the upper room to pray the sake of unity and mission.
church is the body of Christ, the flock of for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (vv. In Acts 2, 3,000 people were bap-
God, the pillar and ground of the truth, 13–15). They were united in their love tized on the day of Pentecost. They
a holy temple, and the remnant of His for Christ. They were committed to His united with the church and continued
seed. It is “God’s appointed agency for teachings. Their hearts beat with an steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine,
the salvation of men. It was organized overwhelming desire to share His love fellowship, and prayers (vv. 41, 42).
for service, and its mission is to carry with everyone they met. The record Those baptized became part of an
the gospel to the world.”1 states that they were in “one accord,” organized movement. They were taught
seeking God for the outpouring of His the “apostles’ doctrine,” enjoyed the
Church organization in a Spirit and power to reach the world believers’ “fellowship,” and joined in in
growing church (Acts 1:8, 14, 15). the congregation’s “prayers.”
With the ordination of the twelve A potential problem arose at the According to Acts 6, as the church
disciples, Christ laid the foundation end of the chapter. The position vacated grew it faced new challenges. The
for the organization of His church. The by Judas’s betrayal and death needed Greek widows were not receiving their
ordination of the twelve was a crucial to be filled. The early church considered fair proportion in the food distribution.
step in Christ’s plan for accomplishing two of their number as possibilities. Once again there was open discussion
heaven’s mission to the world. This could have been problematic. and a mutually agreed upon solution.
The church’s organizational struc- These New Testament believers could A representative group of deacons was
ture continued to grow and more easily have taken sides with hardened chosen. These deacons ministered to
fully develop in the early decades of positions on the name they thought the needy Greek widows and main-
Christianity. In the book of Acts, church was God’s will for the position. Instead tained the unity of the church in a time

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of crisis. They were chosen because millennia and was part of their identity of the book of Acts was spent discuss-
they had “good reputations,” were “full and deeply imbedded in their culture. ing the varying sides of a debate over
of the Holy Spirit,” and were guided Consequently, Paul and Barnabas had circumcision for Gentile converts to
by divine “wisdom” (Acts 6:3, NKJV). “no small dissension and dispute” with Christianity. Imagine the tragic impact
At each step of its development, the these Jewish leaders (Acts 15:2, NKJV). on the growth of the church that an
early church refined its organizational They mutually agreed to refer the matter endless debate on this matter would
structure for the sake of nurturing the to the Jerusalem Council. The Jerusalem have had. Wisely, the New Testament
growing church, safeguarding its teach- Council had the authority to make a Church accepted the decision of the
ings, and fostering its mission. decision that not everyone was pleased larger body, the general council of the
Acts 9 records the conversion of the with but that the majority of the church church, and passionately moved on
apostle Paul. Immediately upon Paul’s accepted. Its decision was accepted by with mission.
Damascus road conversion, the Holy the church at large and brought unity to In Acts 20:17–32, the apostle Paul
Spirit led him to Ananias, a representa- the body of believers. instructed the elders of the church on
tive of the church. The Spirit did not, at Unity came as individuals surren- both building up and safeguarding the
this juncture, lead him into the wilder- dered to the authority of the larger body. flock of God. He counseled them that
ness to spend time alone; neither did My point here is not the decision that one of the functions of church organiza-
the Spirit send him out immediately on was made but the process by which this tion and an ordained ministry was to

At each step of its development, the early church

refined its organizational structure for the sake
of nurturing the growing church, safeguarding its
teachings, and fostering its mission.

an evangelistic mission. He was brought decision was made. A complex issue was protect the church from false teachers
into contact with a representative of brought from the local church to a larger and to keep it focused on mission. Once
God’s church. One reason for this was administrative body. Both the leadership again, he emphasized the importance
to illustrate the importance of church and membership agreed to accept the of church organization and its relation
organization and authority. In the book decision of the Jerusalem Council. to both building the faith of the church
The Acts of the Apostles, Ellen White puts A very difficult issue that was trou- members and protecting them from
it this way: “Thus Jesus gave sanction bling Christianity was settled by the false teachers.
to the authority of His organized church willingness of both sides to accept Paul’s letters to Ephesus, Philippi,
and placed Saul in connection with His the decision of the Jerusalem Council. and Colossae and his counsel to
appointed agencies on earth.”2 Paul People had convictions on both sides of Timothy and Titus indicate a cohesive
was nurtured in his faith by Ananias this question, but most were willing to organizational structure with elders,
and further taught about God’s plan of accept the decision of a representative deacons, and deaconesses. A financial
church organization. body of leaders for the sake of God’s sharing plan emerged as Paul took an
In Acts 15, the New Testament mission. offering for the suffering believers in
church faced a critical juncture in its This general meeting of believers Jerusalem and encouraged that “those
development. A conflict arose over with delegates from varying churches who preach the gospel shall live from
how Gentile believers, who now had brought unity to the body of Christ, the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14, NKJV).
accepted Christ, should relate to Jewish and once again they focused on what
customs, especially circumcision. This was the most important thing on God’s When we differ
was no little matter. Circumcision had heart—saving lost people. Think of There will be some issues where
been practiced by Jewish believers for what could have happened if the rest honest people see things differently.

Ministry® A PRIL 2017

In these instances the gospel invites us and His divinely established church what moves the heart of God, and when
to treat one another with respect and organization. the mutual agreements or policies of
dignity. But this one thing is clear: the In the development of church the church serve as the foundation for
gospel also demands that we place a policy, faithfulness to the unchanging a system of church governance and
high priority on the unity of the church truths of Scripture and a commitment authority. To neglect any one of these
and respect the decisions of the cor- to mission guide the church. The poli- four aspects of unity would be to invite
porate body. The unity of the church cies of the church never are a substitute disunity, a dismantling of biblical truth,
comes near to the heart of God, and the for the eternal, unchanging truths of and a distortion of mission. To down-
organization of the church represents Scripture. They are mutual agreements play church organization or authority
a central truth in the New Testament. of trust by representative leadership is to leave the church in disarray and
Without church organization, in harmony with Scripture to facilitate fundamentally erode its mission.
the church would quickly develop a mission. They are to be neither exalted May we be filled with the Spirit
congregational system of theological above Scripture nor treated lightly, or of Christ, proclaiming the message of
pluralism, weakened mission, and else either a hierarchical lifeless struc- Christ, fulfilling the mission of Christ, and
organizational chaos. To disregard or ture on the one hand or organizational upholding the church of Christ. Then and
minimize the corporate decisions of chaos on the other will develop. only then will the church arise to fulfill its
representatives of the world church The unity of the church is main- destiny and reveal the glory of God to a
creates disunity and pains the heart tained when our commitment to Christ waiting world and watching universe.
of God. The New Testament church is foremost, when we are united in the
was unified in its commitment to truths of Scripture through the guid- 1 Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles (Mountain
Christ, His present truth, His prophetic ance of the Holy Spirit, when we place View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), 9.
message, His mission to the world, priority on mission and are moved by 2 Ibid., 122.

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Paul Bogacs, MSc, is a lecturer and counseling strand convenor, Avondale College
of Higher Education, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia. He is pursuing a PhD
on the relationship between faith, spirituality, and mental health.
Daniel Reynaud, PhD, is assistant dean for the Faculty of Arts, Nursing, and Theology,
Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia.

The Practice of Listening

—Part 2

astors are proficient at many listening for feelings and tapping into • Do I find my mind wandering, or do
things. They are good teach- key process issues. Of course, it also I get bored?
ers of the Word. They have includes picking up messages relayed
been trained to expound the by the nonverbal indicators, such as It might be worth asking a trusted
truths of the Scriptures so that their body language and tone. other (spouse, mentor, associate, or
hearers can be challenged, rebuked, Most of those involved in ministry elder) to rate one’s listening skills. If they
encouraged, and enriched. Most preach would like to believe that they are hesitate, it might be a sign that they are
powerful messages from the pulpit that good at listening. Good listeners are not sure you will hear!
give evidence not only of thorough applauded and sought out for comfort
exegesis but also of hours spent to and solace. How can we know whether Listening is about being
ensure the presentation has become we are listening or not? The following present
interesting and creative and can still be checklist may help: Frequently in human communica-
remembered after the Sabbath lunch tion we are not listening but simply
haystacks are consumed. Pastors are • How often do I interrupt the person waiting for a gap in the conversation to
often very good at administration; they speaking to me before allowing him say our piece, which we compose while
can conceptualize problems concisely or her finish their story? the other speaks. The root cause of
and oversee the church finances as • Do I change the topic from what this unhelpful behavior is usually that
if it were their own family budget. the person has told me to what we are unconsciously more interested
Ministers are also skilled in making happened to me (implying that in ourselves than in the person we are
people feel comfortable through their the other should not feel so bad supposed to be helping. It may well
friendly, often chatty, interpersonal because of what happened to me come from our need to rescue or fix the
style. Pastors also excel at giving advice: or that they should do what I did other person.
wisdom that comes out of years of because that worked for me)? But healing power exists in quiet
personal and professional experience • Am I quick to offer solutions, even listening, forgetting our agenda, and
is dispensed with ease. However, anec- before the person has finished their hearing the other person’s needs. Job’s
dotal evidence aplenty would suggest story? infamous comforters did well for the
that something pastors are not good • Do I find myself framing an answer first three days with Job. While they
at includes the spiritual discipline of in my mind while the other is still listened silently, there was no rebuke
listening. speaking? from either Job or the Almighty. The
• Do people who speak to me regu- problem arose only when they began to
Are you listening, really larly check in to ask whether I am speak, seeking vainly to explain pain and
listening? still listening, or do they ask, “Am I suffering. They only alienated Job in his
Listening, as the term will be used making sense?” or do they say things suffering. They were so busy talking that
in this article, refers to an intentional, such as “I am probably boring you”? they failed to understand their ignorance
focused activity that gives attention to • Do I often find myself wishing the and helplessness. At the end of the story,
both explicit and implicit messages. It person would hurry up and finish God expresses His anger at Job’s three
involves not just hearing content but their story? friends for their misrepresentation of

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His character, though their advice largely famous for his research on what makes us hurt during our upbringing. As these
reflected their society’s understanding marriages last, popularized the term reactions are largely unconscious, we
of God and how He operates in the uni- flooding, referring to the process of our are not aware of why we have reacted
verse. However, it lacked the empathic rational thinking being overrun by a in certain ways to a particular person.
heart of God. veritable cocktail of chemicals designed Transference reactions, if not explored
One of the foundational concepts to trigger a “flight or fight” response.3 and brought to the surface, can be pow-
of pastoral care is developing the art of Once flooding occurs, we find it almost erful saboteurs of a listening, accepting
“being present.” Through a pastor’s very impossible to listen, be present, or presence.
intentional listening, people in need feel be empathic because the alarm has As stated in our previous article,5
accepted, validated, and understood. been sounded. Daniel Goleman, who the Scriptures admonish us to listen to
Recent research has shown that what popularized the construct of emotional ourselves by being aware of our own
seems significantly most effective in intelligence, speaks of “emotional spiritual and emotional needs. When
helping the hurting is not the particular hijacking.” He points out that the neural I take the time to increase my self-
seemingly clever interventions that pathway from the thalamus (the relay awareness, I become more aware of the
counselors use but rather a collection center that receives signals from our signals of emotional flooding, triggering,
of common factors that center on the senses) to the amygdala is quicker than or a transference reaction. It is simulta-
relationship formed between client and the pathway from the relay center to the neously true that God exists as grand
therapist.1 The creation and nurturing neocortex, the center of refined, critical and omnipotent as well as personal and
of this relationship occurs, at least in thinking. Because the amygdala stores indwelling (Rom. 8:11). In a digital age,
part, through listening, taking the per- emotional memory and underpins our where our lives are constantly peppered
son in front of us seriously, and giving emotional responses, we often react with messages about who we should
empathy.2 From the current research, to triggers of this neural alarm system appear to be, what we must own, and
we can safely say that healing occurs rather than to the input from our senses what we must strive to become, the
not so much as the result of what we do being processed through the rational advice of the psalmist appears more
or say but as the result of an empathic, neocortex. relevant than ever: “ ‘Be still, and know
accepting relationship, built through Once the primitive defense system that I am God’ ” (Ps. 46:10, NIV). In the
genuine, caring presence. kicks in, we become flooded, and our stillness God can guide us in His ways.
urge for flight or fight becomes irresist- When I am in tune with my own
What makes listening so ible.4 As listening is about being present experiences I am better able to hear the
hard? for the other, we need to first soothe experiences of others. I am better able
The consequences of listening with our own reaction (rather than blame to know when an emotional hijacking
no agenda other than to be present are others for how we are feeling) and then has taken place and ask for God’s heal-
most evident in our interpersonal rela- endeavor to return, using the listening ing and calming presence to help me
tionships. Arguments usually happen skills that we have developed. The ability empathize with the pain of others.
when both sides are talking and neither to be able to do this hinges on our own
side listens but are often diffused when self-awareness; if we are in tune with A few suggestions on
those involved are as keen to understand our own emotional reactions (and the how to listen
the other as they are to impose their physio­logical manifestations of the Here are a few very practical sug-
opinion. While many of us are familiar emotional arousal), then we can become gestions as to how we might listen to
with the basic communication skills (for skilled at emotional containment. ourselves, others, and God:
example: focus on the speaker, reflect Another powerful process that can
back what you think you have heard, make it difficult or even impossible • M a ke a co n s c i o u s e f fo r t to
make empathic statements, and do to be present for another comes as a acknowledge your emotions as
not judge), the real issue seems to be phenomena known in psychology as you experience them, rather than
our inability to practice these. We can transference. Transference occurs when seeing them as an interruption or
acknowledge the biblical foundation of a current situation triggers memories nuisance to your list of activities. Our
the spiritual discipline of listening and of a previous experience or series of emotions, while not always telling
intellectually assent to its importance; experiences with significant persons the whole story, tell an important
however, the practice of this discipline from our childhood. These memories are story. We ignore our feelings at our
seems far from easy. then transferred to the current person, own peril.
As well as our innate tendency who then can be mistakenly seen as • Make a practice of spending some
toward selfishness, there are also pow- causing the current emotional reaction time alone each week. In solitude,
erful psychological processes at play that we are experiencing. We will then we turn down the noise of our lives
that mess with our ability to be present react to the person in our presence as if and can hear the stirrings of our
and listen effectively. John Gottman, he or she were the person who caused own disquiet.

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• Become intentional about listening heavenly Father has a thousand

to others. Give them 100 percent ways to provide for us, of which we 1 Barry L. Duncan, Scott D. Miller, Bruce E. Wampold, and
of your attention and put every- know nothing.”6 Mark A. Hubble, eds., The Heart and Soul of Change:
Delivering What Works in Therapy (Washington, DC:
thing else in your mind on hold. • Check your prayers—how many of American Psychological Association, 2010).
Occasionally paraphrase back your prayers are requests and in how 2 John C. Norcross, ed., Psychotherapy Relationships That
to the speaker, to make sure you many are you reaching out with open Work: Evidence-Based Responsiveness, 2nd ed. (New
listened well. Also ask yourself ears and receptive heart, ready to York: Oxford University Press, 2011).
what else the person might be com- listen to your Father? Try praying and 3 John Gottman, The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to
municating that you find implicit only giving thanks to God for all that Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships
rather than explicit. you can think of to be thankful for. (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001).
4 Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter
• Be careful not to tell your story until More Than IQ (London, UK: Bloomsbury, 1996), 17.
you have heard the other’s story. So, why practice the spiritual disci-
5 See part 1 of this series, “The Most Overlooked Spiritual
Or better still, leave your story pline of listening? Because that is what Discipline—Part 1,” in the February 2017 issue of
for another time, so that you can God did when He sent Jesus.7 Because Ministry, 6–9.
focus on the person who seeks your it works. Because as we first listen to 6 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain Vew, CA:
listening ear. God through His Word,8 our well-being Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1940), 330.
• As God has many languages and improves. Because our relationships 7 John 11:41b, 42a "Then Jesus looked up and said,
numerous voices, seek to hear with with others improve. Because it is a 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew
that you always hear me" (NIV).
ears wide open, so that you may great alternative to running away from
8 Ellen G. White, “The Bible is God’s voice speaking to us,
not miss the presence of God in our that which we do not want to deal with, just as surely as if we could hear it with our ears.” My
broken world. Do not limit the ways either in ourselves or in others. Because Life Today (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub.
that God may speak to us. “Our God asks us to listen. Assn., 1952), 283.

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Barry Oliver, PhD, retired, has served as
pastor, evangelist, lecturer, and administrator
for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the
South Pacific.

The church: What is it?

How does it work?

hile president of the preacher, and on principle, they do that we live together as the sons and
South Pacific Division, not want to listen to anyone who is an daughters of God. I am not advocating
I was visiting a church administrator in the church.” an abrogation of accountability, lack
on a Sabbath morning. of integrity, or an attitude of slackness.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time of wor- Reality check I am simply saying that though we
ship, study, and fellowship. We had an Even as I pen these words, I am will not always agree with every deci-
excellent Sabbath School lesson. The deeply saddened. I did not enquire and sion, we can live together in harmony
music was special, and the involvement do not know who these church members nonetheless.
of people from the various age groups were. I do not know whether they know Over the years I have discovered,
and ethnic backgrounds within the me personally or not, and thus I am not both in my own reactions and in those
congregation was a foretaste of heaven. aware of anything of a personal nature of others, that one reason why we may
I was greatly blessed, and encouraged, that would have caused such a reaction. not agree with a particular decision is
by my brief time there. I did get the impression, however, that that we do not understand the context
But something occurred after the they may well have had a problem with in which it had to be made. We do not
Sabbath morning services that has an administrative decision that had necessarily have all the information
caused me unease since. The pas- been made somewhere in the organiza- available to those who had to make
tor and I were chatting over lunch. I tional structure of the church, and that the decision. We all see reality through
commented on how much I had been the problem had loomed so large in their our own perspective; our own perspec-
blessed by my visit. I had been warmly minds that their absence was a response tive is, therefore, reality for us. The
welcomed at the door; several people, to whatever decision it was. complete picture may be very different.
young and old, had chatted with me We all experience occasions when
about a range of topics. One person we find ourselves in disagreement with The purpose of the
even lent me their Sabbath School decisions that have been made. This church
lesson when they discovered that, due happens in the context of our employ- This is certainly the case with the
to my travels, I had not been able to get ment, family, and church—whenever church and the decisions that are made
one for myself as yet (it was the begin- there is an established relationship in the day-to-day operations of the
ning of a new quarter). I noted that the between two or more people. We do church. We find it really a challenging
church was comfortably full. not live in a perfect world. We are not task to grasp the reality of our church
“But not as full as usual,” the pastor perfect, and because we make up the currently and understand its complex-
replied. church, it is not perfect either. But we ity. Yes, salvation by faith in Jesus
“Is that so,” I responded. “Was do serve a perfectly gracious God who Christ is simple, a personal transaction
something else happening?” can transform our imperfect decisions between the believer and Christ. But
The pastor then hesitated. His head into instruments of the outworking as soon as that vertical transaction is
went down just a little as he said, “No, of His will and of His purpose as we experienced by more than one person
nothing else. It’s just that we have together commit ourselves and our and a horizontal connection forms, you
some members who stayed away today decision-making processes to Him. have the beginnings of a reality that
because the division president was the Maturity and Christian grace demand Christ called the “church.” By virtue of

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His saving actions, He Himself founded a series of articles describing various and human resources in meeting the
it. There is no such thing as one who aspects of the operation of the Seventh- demands of society and government
believes in Christ who is not compelled day Adventist Church in the South Pacific in order to ensure compliance with
to enter into a relationship with other Division. Each article was written by a requirements that did not exist just
believers. Such, in its most elementary person who had particular expertise and a few years ago. I am thinking, for
form, we call “the church.” acquaintance with the specific topic. example, of occupational health and
Of course, the church is far more The articles described aspects of safety, risk management, privacy, and
than this, and I think that one of the the church that are not necessarily rec- child protection, as well as the require-
things we need to do, as Seventh- ognized or understood by most church ment for highly developed information
day Adventists, seems to be to have members. The articles discussed, for technology resources, just to name a
a good hard look at the purpose and example, the fact that the church few things that we as a church, by law,
nature of the church. I fear that we not only provides an opportunity to must follow.
are in danger of losing our identity as worship each Sabbath but also has
a prophetic movement; that is, if we an extensive network of preschools, Mission
do not reexamine what makes us who primary and secondary schools, aged In the midst of this increasing com-
we are and reacquaint ourselves with care facilities, hospitals, colleges, plexity, the church is called to maintain
the values, principles, and doctrines and universities; the Adventist Media its commitment to its mission. In this,

We all see reality through our own perspective;

our own perspective is, therefore, reality for us.

that have been hard won by those who Network; and the Sanitarium Health we have no alternative. We are not
preceded us. Food Company. We discussed the role called into existence merely to maintain
The church is, after all, a theological of the incorporated entities, which hold ourselves. We are called to fulfill the
entity, called into existence and defined the real and intellectual property of the commission of Jesus, Himself, when He
by theological categories that render church and protect the use of its name said: “Therefore go and make disciples
it distinct from other entities. But, and its many trademarks—all of which of all nations, baptizing them in the
at the same time, the church has is necessary for the operation of the name of the Father and the Son and the
become a sociological entity and church. Articles described the necessity, Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe
social in the sense that it is made up function, and operation of constituency all things that I have commanded.”
of people—people in relationship. meetings, selection and nominating And then He added: “And behold, I am
These relationships in the church committees, as well as the role of the with you always—to the very end of the
are experienced in a whole range of auditors, accounting systems, and world” (Matt. 28:19, 20).*
circumstances. The more people and supporting institutions. Our privilege is to take Jesus at His
circumstances involved, the greater The church and its operations do word and in everything we do accept His
the need for the relationships to not happen by chance but by a great promise of presence and power. With the
be regulated or ordered—thus, the deal of hard work and the dedication increasing complexity of the world, our
need for church organization, church and commitment of church members responsibility includes being the people
organization that enables the church to who support it with both their finan- of God and ensuring that the church is
fulfill its mission, despite a whole range cial resources and their countless where God wants it to be—even if, at
of local and global circumstances. hours of volunteering. Further, the times, as I have painfully learned, there
church must operate in an increas- will be members who will not necessarily
Explaining the system ingly complex legal, legislative, and like some of the decisions made in our
To assist us in understanding how compliance environment. In recent attempt to do the work we believe God
the church operates and, thus, makes years, in every country of the South has called us to do.
decisions, the South Pacific Division in Pacific, for example, the church has
2009 published in its division magazine been compelled to deploy financial * Author’s translation.

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S. Joseph Kidder, PhD, is professor of
Christian ministry at the Seventh-day Adventist
Theological Seminary, Andrews University,
Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States.

The blessing of spiritual


piritual mentoring is built into Moreover, Paul wanted to create to demonstrate all that we teach. What
the fabric of the Bible.1 The a culture of mentoring in the church is laid upon us is the tremendous task
Word of God urges parents so the young could learn from the of not only talking to men about Christ
to “start children off on the example, experience, wisdom, and but showing Him to them through our
way they should go, and even when fortitude of the old. This should be lives. The experienced and exemplary
they are old they will not turn from done through intentional training and Christian creates a responsible atmo-
it” (Prov. 22:6). 2 Such instruction is teaching. Thus in Titus, he admonishes sphere for spiritual growth, sharing life
repeated throughout Scripture. Moses, older men to mentor younger men experiences and skills and sacrificing
for example, commanded the children and older women to do the same for time and energy.
of Israel: “Teach them [Moses’ words] younger women in character, conduct, As part of the mentoring process,
to your children, talking about them and self-control. “Teach the older men Christians are to take every opportunity
when you sit at home and when you to be temperate, worthy of respect, to teach younger people about God.
walk along the road, when you lie down self-controlled, and sound in faith, in This can be done by praying with them
and when you get up” (Deut. 11:19). love and in endurance. and for them, by bringing them under
Says the psalmist: “For he established “Likewise, teach the older women the means of grace, by instructing them
a testimony in Jacob, and appointed to be reverent in the way they live, not in the principles of the Bible, teaching
a law in Israel, which he commanded to be slanderers or addicted to much them their duty to God and man, and
our fathers, that they should make wine, but to teach what is good. Then setting for them good examples of a
them known to their children; that the they can urge the younger women to holy life. This should be done by taking
generation to come might know them, love their husbands and children, to into consideration their age and capac-
even the children that should be born; be self-controlled and pure, to be busy ity for understanding.3
who should arise and tell them to their at home, to be kind, and to be subject
children” (Ps. 78:5, 6, KJV). to their husbands, so that no one will Mentoring by spiritual
The same emphasis is repeated in the malign the word of God. mothers
New Testament. Jesus focused a major “Similarly, encourage the young A friend of mine, Ashley, shared
portion of His ministry on mentoring the men to be self-controlled. In every- her mentoring experiences with me
disciples spiritually and in ministry. Paul thing set them an example by doing recently. As a young adult, she moved
repeatedly talks about the importance what is good. In your teaching show far from family to another state to start
of sharing our lives, knowledge, and integrity, seriousness and soundness her career. A mature woman from the
experience with others. “So we cared of speech that cannot be condemned, local church took Ashley and another
for you,” he writes to the Thessalonian so that those who oppose you may be young woman under her wing, and the
church. “Because we loved you so much, ashamed because they have nothing three ladies formed a mentoring rela-
we were delighted to share with you not bad to say about us” (Titus 2:2–8). tionship. The mentor and the two young
only the gospel of God but our lives as Paul’s core argument for spiritual ladies met every Thursday to pray and
well” (1 Thess. 2:8). He also extended mentoring includes that to be effective discuss their lives. Their mentor would
mentoring to include modeling by urging mentors, our teaching must be backed take the time to intentionally listen to,
the imitation of the faith of others. by the witness of our own lives. We are teach, and guide these young women.

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Along with these acts, the mentor women shared with my friend: “One phone. John, the “adopted” dad, was
would invite the young ladies over for generation commends your works to persistent, though, and would not give
Sabbath lunch, bike rides, shopping, another; they tell of your mighty acts” up on Michael. He would call Michael
and other social activities. (Ps. 145:4). These mentors were to every week and show up at his house
What Ashley learned most from Ashley as Naomi was to Ruth. Though on Sabbath mornings, telling Michael
her spiritual mentor was how to hear we do not know the details about what he wanted him to come and spend the
God’s voice, especially in decision- Naomi did for Ruth, we know that Sabbath with them because he was part
making. When she was struggling to Naomi made God attractive by example of their family.
make a major decision as to whether and teaching and as a result Ruth gave The family consistently prayed for
to leave her comfortable job and go up everything, including her family, Michael during that two-year period
back full-time for her master’s studies, her heritage, and her homeland, to of rebellion that included experiment-
she weighed the pros and cons with follow Naomi and her God (Ruth 1:16). ing with drugs and gangs. Eventually,
her mentor over a period of months. Likewise, Ashley’s spiritual moms led Michael came back to the church. He
Finally, it became clear what to do when her to become a more mature Christian credits the “father’s” perseverance and
her mentor posed the question, “What through their examples and teaching the family’s love and acceptance as the
does God want you to do?” Ashley knew during this time in her life. reasons he is in the church today.
she had been ignoring God’s Voice, and If the “adopted” dad never gave up
right then she made the decision to go Mentoring by spiritual on Michael, how much more does our
back to school. dads God, the Father, never give up on us.
After moving back to school, Ashley Michael grew up without a father God sought Adam and Eve hiding in the
found another spiritual mentor in a and with a disengaged mother. As a garden, and today He continues to seek
woman, with whose family she ended teenager, Michael was invited to church us. He promises to never leave us nor
up living. By living with her mentor, by a friend. The friend’s family picked forsake us: “Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of
them, for the Lord your God goes with
you; he will never leave you nor forsake
you” (Deut. 31:6). His love and faithful-
For Christians, mentoring becomes rooted ness toward us endure forever (Ps. 100:5).

Wholistic spiritual
in the biblical principle of discipleship. It mentoring
Spiritual mentoring, in order to be
comes about by mutual edification. totally effective, must be wholistic. The
following six steps will help us discover
the biblical way of wholistic spiritual

Ashley could see how her mentor lived him up and took him to church. On 1. Pray for them. Jesus prays and
by example. This mother took time the way back, the friend’s father, John, intercedes for us (John 17:20;
to walk with Ashley each evening, could tell that the young man did not Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). The apostle
discussing spiritual matters and the want to go home, so he invited him Paul prayed for his mentees
happenings of the day. over for lunch and a Sabbath afternoon (1 Thess. 1:2, 3; 3:10–13). The com-
Both mentors are highly respected walk in the park. This became a weekly mon denominator of the spiritual
by Ashley. She loves them deeply and routine—Michael joining the family for mentoring stories includes prayer.
considers them both adopted moms, church, lunch, afternoon activities, and Michael came to the Lord because
as they consider her an adopted evening worship. He became “adopted” his “adopted” family interceded
daughter. She takes their advice seri- by this family. During this time, Michael on his behalf daily. Ashley grew
ously and is grateful for their wisdom. learned how to read the Bible and pray, spiritually through the prayers of
They have shaped Ashley into the worship and share testimonies as a her “spiritual moms.”
woman she is today as she grows in her family, and enjoy God’s nature. 2. Share your life with them. Jesus
spiritual walk with God. The mentors’ As the years went by, Michael drifted spent three and a half years with
time commitment impacts Ashley’s away from the church. Over a two-year His disciples. During that time, He
eternity. period, he would come up with excuses taught them how to pray, how to
The psalmist calls us to share God as to why he could not go to church and minister, and how to live the king-
with the next generation just as these would sometimes just not answer his dom life. Paul was intentional about

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sharing his life and time with all of their concern for being the first in the Christian life. Michael learned
his mentees (1 Thess. 2:8). In all the the kingdom of God (Mark 10:35– the joy of the Christian life from
mentoring experiences, we note a 45). Confronting people in love is his “adopted” family, which was a
pattern that mentoring included always constructive. Hopefully, it better life than the life he was living
sharing life experiences, opening up will lead to a better life like it did in in his own home. He also learned
homes, and spending time together. the case of the Zebedee brothers the importance of going to church
3. Be available in their time of need. and as it did with Michael. When and of family worship, which now
Jesus was consistently there for Michael started to fall into drugs he leads for his own family.
people in their time of need. He and gangs, his “adopted” dad 6. Help your mentee shift paradigms.
healed the sick, cast out demons, confronted him and showed him Jesus confronted His disciples
fed the hungry, and calmed the that there is no future going that with a radical paradigm shift in
storms. Ashley repeatedly told direction but that the better future their thinking when He called them
me that her mentors were always is with Jesus. He cited Jeremiah to be fishers of men rather than
available to her in times of need. 29:11: “ ‘For I know the plans I have fishermen (Matt . 4:19). This
Recently, after Ashley went through for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans radical shift that Jesus brings is
a breakup, one of her mentors to prosper you and not to harm all throughout the Gospels. He
took time to listen, comfort, and you, plans to give you hope and a brought people from darkness
give advice—something Ashley future.’ ” This confrontation, done to life, from preoccupation with
desperately needed. in love, brought Michael back to the this world to preoccupation with
4. Confront negative behaviors. Jesus Lord and to the church. God, from being obsessed with
confronted the self-centered and 5. Model spiritual life and disciplines. money to being obsessed with Him.
negative attitude of James and Jesus taught His disciples how to Ashley was encouraged to look at
John when they placed before Him pray, worship, do ministry, and live God’s perspective when making


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important decisions in her life. The nature of spiritual spiritual questions, and to acquire new
Michael’s paradigm shifted when mentoring ideas for ministry. You will both make
his “adopted” dad told him God had Establishing a relationship with decisions about when and where to meet
a better plan for his life. another person is always a two-way each week, which day and hour, and who
process, a partnership. Expectations may be included. We find it best to set
Remember, as the mentor, you are must be defined as to what the men- starting and ending points. For some,
there to set the pace in spiritual and toring relationship will include. These three months may be the ideal time
personal matters, to lead them to look expectations may be a desire to know for a healthy mentoring relationship.
to God as the problem solver: the One how to hear God’s voice, to receive help Celebrate the close of the mentoring rela-
who meets all their needs. with painful problems, to find answers to tionship with some special event, such as
going out to dinner. Then, if both desire
to continue for another three months,
you may do so. At that time, spell out in
Mentoring: The biblical command detail the new expectations you have for
each other, and stick to them.
Deuteronomy 6:7: “Impress them [the commandments] on your children. A spiritual mentor should reflect
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the the character, love, and grace of Jesus.4
road, when you lie down and when you get up.” As an experienced mentor, Paul was
Deuteronomy 11:19: “Teach them [Moses’ words] to your children, talking very conscientious of imitating Christ
about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, because he knew his disciples would
when you lie down and when you get up.” imitate him. “Follow my example, as
Psalm 71:18: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor.
till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all 11:1). A mentor lives as an example for
who are to come.” the mentee to follow. Therefore, the
Proverbs 1:5: “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the mentor should pay very close attention
discerning get guidance.” to his spiritual walk with God, allowing
Proverbs 9:9: “Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the the Holy Spirit to shape him, making him
righteous and they will add to their learning.” more and more like Jesus (see 1 Cor. 4:6).
Proverbs 13:20: “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion Paul also tells the second genera-
of fools suffers harm.” tion of mentors to be spiritual examples
Proverbs 22:6: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even to their mentees. He told Timothy:
when they are old they will not turn from it.” “Set an example for the believers in
Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” speech, in conduct, in love, in faith
Ecclesiastes 4:10: “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. and in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). People are
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” always looking at us; therefore, we need
Matthew 28:19, 20: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, to be spiritual examples for them.
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the When I was in college, one professor
Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded took a special spiritual interest in me.
you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” He prayed for me on a regular basis,
Philippians 4:9: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from taught me how to pray, instructed me
me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be on how to read the Bible, and showed
with you.” me how to worship. But what I admired
1 Thessalonians 2:8: “So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, most was that he lived the way Jesus
we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but would live. He taught me the value of
our lives as well.” representing Christ in everything. I was
2 Timothy 2:2: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of often inspired to imitate his example
many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to become more and more like Jesus.
to teach others.” He was an exemplary mentor. Today, I
Titus 2:3, 4: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way aspire to be like him and do the same
they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach for my students. “It is heart missionaries
what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their that are needed. He whose heart God
husbands and children.” touches is filled with a great longing for
Hebrews 13:7: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to those who have never known His love.
you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Their condition impresses him with a
sense of personal woe. Taking his life in

Ministry® A PRIL 2017

his hand, he goes forth, a heaven-sent, Christians, mentoring becomes rooted 2 Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are
heaven-inspired messenger, to do a from the New International Version (NIV).
in the biblical principle of discipleship.
3 John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, www
work in which angels can co-operate.”5 It comes about by mutual edification.
Through the time you spend together, -exposition-of-the-bible/proverbs-22-6.html.
Conclusion you should experience emotional and 4 For more detailed analysis, see N. Ashok Kumar,
Mentoring is a process of learn- “Mentoring: Training the Second Line of Leadership,”
relational growth, as well as personal
ing and maturing. It takes time and Ministry, March 2013,
and spiritual nurturing. /archive/2013/03/mentoring:-training-the-second
involves various kinds of relationships -line-of-leadership.
and accountability. Mentoring is not 1 For 15 significant biblical references to mentoring, 5 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain
define the latest fad or buzzword. For see sidebar. View, CA: Pacific Press, 1942), 150.

Tell us what you think about this article. Email or visit

LETTERS Continued from page 4

garden in the cool of the day,” which we a little, but godliness is profitable for all text in the New Testament, found in
understand to be physical and habitual things.” Again, it is the milder opposing Hebrews 2:14ff, as if he purposely
walking. conjunction, de, that is used, indicating avoids causing strife with the many
In the New Testament, a cluster of that contrast of elements and contex- “new theology” leaders and pastors
texts make clearer the contrast between tual indicators obviate the necessity of found in several White divisions, includ-
physical exertions and spiritual striv- usage of the adversative conjunction, ing Australia.
ing than is immediately detectable in alla. I appreciate every quote backing
2 Peter 1:1–8. Texts showing the supe- Perhaps the incorporation of up his arguments from Ellen G. White
riority of the spiritual over the physical, Pauline and other biblical perspectives, (EGW) right through, but again he con-
or directly contrasting these two ele- briefly presented above, could enhance sciously missed the most important
ments, include the following: Hebrews Thompson’s worthy goal of linking belief upheld by EGW in strong words
12:1–3; 2 Timothy 4:7, 8; Galatians 2:2; physical and spiritual excellence in the and a few hundred references according
2 Timothy 2:3–5; 1 Corinthians 9:24–27; context of spiritual growth and witness- to Dr. Ralph Larson’s wonderful book
and 1 Timothy 4:8–10. Of these texts, ing. The Gospel’s frank presentation of on the nature of Christ, that shows so
two are particularly relevant to the the fact that Peter was outrun by John clearly from inspired writings the true
topic under focus: in the race to the empty tomb, but then human nature taken after 4,000 years
1. 1 Corinthians 9:24–27. In this pas- went further (John 20:1–10, esp. v. 4), of sin and degradation as He was one
sage, although it is the milder opposing appears to indicate that Peter espoused of them at that time He came.
conjunction, de, that separates con- the higher value of spiritual excellence As long as we are only for peace’s
trasting elements, yet de (“but,” “and”) over athletic capability. sake talking about the incarnation as
is used to separate polar concepts. —John Tumpkin, pastor, South Africa taking on man’s “human nature” and
These polar concepts are winning and leave it there without further emphasis
implied losing (v. 24); “temperate” and Christ’s Nature on Christ’s true humiliation by not
implied intemperate (v. 25); and “per-
ishable” and “imperishable” crowns
(v. 25). The repetitive usage of de, in
I have waited to bring this to your
notice, but you have asked for
what we think of articles in the good
showing from Hebrews 2 and EGW
what human nature He took, such a
compromise is degrading for the writer
1 Corinthians 9:24, 25, constitutes a magazine. and a slap in Christ’s face. The writer
rhetorical build-up to the usage of the Dr. Rodriguez’s very fine article is denying Him His true sacrifice, the
adversative conjunction, alla (“but”), in on Christ’s Incarnation (“Christ’s true humiliation in love for us. EGW
verse 27, where, as the first word of the Incarnation: Testing the Prophets,” calls today for men who will stand up
verse, alla contrasts the spiritual ath- October 2016) is very well written, for the real truth without fear or favor.
leticism of verse 27 with “uncertainty” but when he discusses Christ’s human The writer needs to be asked to clarify
and beating “the air” in verse 26. nature, or “Purpose of the Incarnation,” his position and why in an additional
2. 1 Timothy 4:8–10. In this passage, I find his discussion sadly incomplete note based on an otherwise excellent
especially in verse 8, the underlining and belying the truth. No where can I discussion.
thought is that “bodily exercise profits see any reference to the most important —Thor Pedersen, pastor, Australia

AP R I L 2 0 1 7 Ministry®

Japan’s Adventist pastors commit to ten- In September a major “preharvest”

event is expected to take place, a series
month evangelism training and outreach of five lectures on worldviews and
Christian apologetics aimed at people

T okyo, Japan—Seventh-day
Adventist pastors in Japan, a nation
with one of the largest unreached
Part of the prayer training deals with
the formation of prayer-walking teams.
With so many people in Japan who do
with a secular mind-set who do not
believe there is a true, personal God.
The capstone evangelistic meet-
people groups in the world, are commit- not know Christ—as much as 99 percent ings will be held October 6–28. Clouzet
ting to months of evangelistic training of the population—serious intercession will present a range of topics dur-
and outreach to bring the three angels’ must be done for everyone, leaders say. ing that three-week period at the
messages to its 121 million people. Other evangelistic training events Amanuma church. Congregations
Ron Clouzet, Northern Asia-Pacific will follow in April, May, and July on throughout the country can participate
Division (NSD) ministerial secretary, will how to reach out to former members, live online or conduct their own set
lead a field school of evangelism. Along give effective Bible studies, and form of meetings for at least ten of those
with public meetings, a ten-month, mission-driven small groups. nights. Evangelistic visitation training
comprehensive outreach strategy is In April, Clouzet will hold a week- will take place during those three
planned. long revival meeting at the Amanuma weeks, and resources will be made
Clouzet met with pastors from Seventh-day Adventist Church, and available to all those who attend.
the West Japan Conference and the other churches will be able to view the Simultaneous children’s meetings will
Okinawa Mission in the city of Osaka. meetings online. The revival will focus also be encouraged.
An organizational meeting took place on the work of Christ and the Holy At the end of the series, the last
in Tokyo with the pastors of the East Spirit and on the hope that is ours for training event will implement a men-
Japan Conference, followed by a sec- real, lasting change in our lives. Late in toring and assimilation program for
ond meeting with about 150 lay leaders August, the participating churches will new believers. The expectation is for
from various Tokyo churches. The last begin 40 days of special prayer prior to the participating churches to experi-
meeting was transmitted live online to the evangelistic meetings. ence true revival, a renewed sense of
churches throughout Japan. Speakers Each participating church is com- Adventist identity, and more commit-
included Michael Ryan, an assistant mitting to doing at least three outreach ments to baptism than typically seen
to the president of the Seventh-day events in the next nine months. The in a given year.
Adventist General Conference. events, designed to build relationships This concept of process evan-
The first major training weekend with nonmembers, are expected to gelism, founded on solid biblical
focused on personal evangelism as include stop-smoking clinics, vegetar- principles, has been successful else-
well as specialized training for effective ian cooking schools, English language where. Church leaders are praying for
prayer intercession on behalf of those classes, and Vacation Bible Schools, God’s abundant blessing as they move
who do not know Christ and His Word. among other options. forward in faith. [NSD News]
Photo Credit: NSD

Ministry® A PRIL 2017

The prison

Photo credit: Believe Agboli


W a, Ghana—Evangelism remains
the core mandate of the Seventh-
day Adventist Church. Because of this,
the Ghana National Association of
Adventist Students in the upper west
region of Ghana visited Wa Central
Prison with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This one-week campaign was
conducted by the chaplain of the
fellowship, Pastor Allan Norman K.
Avi, in November 2016. Forty inmates
were baptized. One of the inmates,
Thomas Owusu Ansah, announced he
would postpone his baptism until after
his release from prison. From that day
forward, he stated, he could worship retreat in Techiman, organized by the in front of 300 pastors and church
God faithfully. Northern Ghana Union Mission, fea- officials, Thomas Owusu Ansah, a
Thomas was released from prison turing Daniel Opoku-Boateng from one-day ex-convict, was baptized by
February 15, 2017. True to his word, he the West-Central Africa Division and former Ghana Union president Pastor
wished to be baptized as soon as pos- Kwabena Donkor and Jeffrey Brown P. O. Mensah.
sible. He quickly called Pastor Avi and from the General Conference. We thank God for what He has
told him that he would like to give his life Thomas did not hesitate. He done, and with the support of our
to Jesus through baptism immediately. boarded a bus bound for Techiman. brethren globally, it is our fervent
The pastor told him he was 200 miles The next day, February 16, 2017, in intention to do more and more, to the
(325 kilometers) away at the ministerial an emotionally charged ceremony, glory of God. [Believe Agboli]

Intensive media training a first for Lithuanian church pastors

K aunas, Lithuania—Adventist church

pastors need more than just theol-
ogy. In the modern world they also need Photo credit: Jurgita Kregždaitė
a clear understanding of media. How do
you make a picture tell a story? What can
make an article or news report not only
interesting but also relevant? How can
social media be an evangelistic tool?
Over two intensive days in January
2017, Victor Hulbert, Trans-European
Division Communication and Publishing
Ministries director, shared not only those
skills but also how to profile your church
in the community and the skills needed
Deividas Vanagas, treasurer, practices in front of a camera.
to interact positively with the media
during a crisis.
The training had an immediate effect. director for the Baltic Union Conference, started collecting a series of short testi-
Mindaugas Pikūnas, Youth Ministries pulled out his iPhone and immediately monies to share via his social media.

AP R I L 2 0 1 7 Ministry®
Photo credit: Jurgita Kregždaitė

Practical exercises included working through realistic crisis scenarios.

real-life scenarios, discussing them

together and eventually facing a TV
Pastors expressed their grateful-
ness for a better understanding of how
social media can aid evangelism and
for assistance in developing skills to be
prepared for crisis. Jurgita Kregždaitė,
Lithuanian Conference executive secre-
tary, stated, “We, as a church, and each
of our members, have a great responsi-
bility to offset the negative information
Arunas Cerkesas, a pastor who educate and train pastors and admin- often seen in real life and cyberspace by
produces an outreach newsletter, Vilties istrative workers in communication, sharing the love of God in people’s lives.”
Saltineis, looked through his content to give tools for pastors to work with Various church-related websites
ideas seeking ways to engage more church members in evangelism, and to especially related to family, health, and
actively with the public. encourage our workers to use media Bible studies will now be reevaluated in
“This was the first such seminar in for mission.” the light of the newfound knowledge,
the history of the Adventist church in Gintaras Nekis was impressed with and the attendees are now equipped
Lithuania since the country regained the crisis management training. He to actively look for improved ways of
independence in 1990,” stated Bertold said, “We need to prepare in advance making God known. Plans are also being
Hibner, conference president. “When because the future may bring a crisis.” formulated to expand the training of stu-
planning the seminar, we thought That preparation was practical as well as dents at the Lithuanian mission training
about several strategic purposes: to theoretical as the team worked through school. [Jurgita Kregždaitė | tedNEWS]

A modern-day miracle

I had 25 minutes to spare before my

next Bible study. While considering
ways to pass the time, I received a
“Hello, my name is Jacob, and I
am with Do you
enjoy the Bible?”
distinct impression: “Take the next left, “Yes,” she replied.
fourth house on the left.” I handed her a tract and began to
As I wrestled between doubt and share more about the program. After In the book The Desire of Ages,
the possibility that God was guiding finishing, I offered to pray for her. it states that “Jesus knows us indi-
me, I quickly came to a few conclu- Instantly, tears welled up in her eyes. vidually. . . . He has at times given
sions. I had previously thought about She told me that there was a serious directions to His servants to go to a
knocking on some doors before my issue in the family. We prayed, and I certain street in a certain city, to such
study and prayed for guidance to the sensed that God was touching her. As a house, to find one of His sheep.”
right homes. The worst thing that we chatted, her husband came outside May God help us be sensitive to His
could happen was that no one would and shared more details of the stress Voice and lead us to His lost sheep.
be home. With these thoughts in my they were feeling.
mind, I drove around the corner and “It’s interesting you showed up —Jacob Gibbs pastors the Escanaba, Munising,
arrived to find three cars in the drive- today. We were just now doubting the and Riverside Seventh-day Adventist Churches in
way. As I pinned on my name tag and existence of God,” he said. Michigan, United States.
stepped out of the car, a woman came His wife replied, “But God sent a * Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View,
out onto the porch. messenger!” CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1940), 479.

Ministry® A PRIL 2017


Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies to Help Young

People Discover and Love Your Church
by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2016.

ver the last decade, a lot has
been written about the “gray-
ing” of the local churches
across the country. The Center for
Without addressing
Creative Ministry coined the phrase “the the inclusion
graying of Adventism” in observing the
rising median age of the membership in of younger
many Seventh-day Adventist churches.*
Having pastored a local church for more
generations, the
than 40 years, this shifting is alarming local church’s own
to me, for it indicates the inability of the
local church to attract or keep youth existence is doomed
and young adults. Without addressing
sooner or later.
the inclusion of younger generations,
the local church’s own existence is
doomed sooner or later.
I have absorbed a lot of information
about why this loss of younger genera- criticizing, step into the shoes of
tions is happening and what to do about this generation.
growing young had incorporated into
it. I found some of the advice valuable. 3. Take Jesus’ message seriously.
their church DNA those core commit-
But sometimes the suggestions seemed Instead of asserting formulaic gos-
ments. Their research also showed that
to take on a quick, “stop-gap” type of pel claims, welcome young people
before any one of those core commit-
solution rather than a well-thought-out into a Jesus-centered way of life.
ments, opportunity for the local church
plan. Growing Young, a Fuller Youth 4. Fuel a warm community. Instead
to opt out, and head back towards
Institute resource, appears to contain of focusing on cool worship or
growing old, could and does happen.
just such a matured plan. programs, aim for warm peer and
After a chapter devoted to each
Powell, Mulder, and Griffin used the intergenerational friendships.
of those six core commitments, the
resources available to them at Fuller 5. Prioritize young people (and fami-
authors devote a chapter to how to
Theological Seminary to understand lies) everywhere. Instead of giving
implement all six into the local context
what was really happening to those lip service to how much young
of my church. I found their process of
aged 15 to 29. In reviewing more than 80 people matter, look for creative
change important and of great value
books and interviewing the staffs of 363 ways to tangibly support, resource,
to me. I have asked my main leadership
churches, they were able to recognize and involve them in all facets of
team to read the book, and then we will
six linked factors which churches that your congregation.
meet to discuss how we can establish
were growing young have. 6. Be the best neighbors. Instead of
these six core commitments into our
What the book focuses on are six core condemning the world outside
church missional ministry.
commitments the local church needs to your walls, enable young people to
grow young. Here is their brief summary neighbor well locally and globally. —Reviewed by Bill Bossert, DMin, pastor of the
of those six core commitments: Naples Seventh-day Adventist Church, Naples,
Although none of those factors Florida, United States.
1. Unlock keychain leadership. Instead listed were of surprise to me, it was how
of centralizing authority, empower the authors pulled each of those core * Monte Sahlin and Paul Richardson, Seventh-day
Adventists in North America: A Demographic Profile
others—especially young people. commitments into a revolving wheel (Milton Freewater, OR: Center for Creative Ministry,
2. Empathize with today’s young where each core commitment fed into 2008), 5, accessed March 7, 2017, circle.adventist
person. Instead of judging or the next that did. Churches that were .org/files/icm/nadresearch/NADDemographic.pdf.

AP R I L 2 0 1 7 Ministry®
Ray McAllister, PhD, is a faculty professor for Griggs University, Berrien
Springs, Michigan, United States.

The ordinance of true humility

n obser ving Communion, my Sometimes someone would come over am a rather orderly person, I would
denomination, the Seventh-day to me and offer to do the service with arrange with a man in advance to meet
Adventist Church, includes the me. Other times, I would ask around up at church to do the ritual with me.
ritual of washing one another’s feet and find someone. The trouble was that One time, the man I asked happened
as Jesus did in John 13:3–13. This I had no idea who had partners and who to be a gentleman who used an electric
service, referred to as the ordinance of didn’t. I would just have to randomly wheelchair and had mobility in only
humility, we note as a meaningful way canvass the room, hoping I would find one hand. I had actually talked about
someone willing and able. Then, when wanting to do foot washing with this
I found someone, that person would get person, so I found this encounter quite
the towels and basins of water so that providential.
we could participate. On the morning of the service, my
Everyone has the Once Sally and I got married, I had wife brought me over to him at church.
a regular foot-washing partner again. I held my hands on the back of his
right to practice Then, a few years into our marriage,
Sally’s mother began to need a wheel-
wheelchair, and he led me to the room.
For simplicity’s sake I opted to use the
chair. It was time for some creative sponge-bath technique. I handed him
all church rituals, thinking. Since, among the three of us, a paper towel and put another over
I had the strongest legs, I would be the his lap. I then gave him one foot, and
even if we have to one to hold my feet up in the air over
Momma’s lap while Sally held the basin
then the other, to wash. Then, I helped
him out of his shoes and socks, and he
underneath. Then, Momma could wash instructed me on how to unstrap his feet
adjust how they my feet. I would kneel on the floor and from the wheelchair. I, using another
wash Sally’s feet, and Sally would wash towel, washed each of his feet. I helped

are done. Momma’s feet. Sally and I could tell that

Momma appreciated still being able to
him back into his shoes and socks, and
we prayed together. He said that no one
participate. had ever washed feet with him before.
When Momma was no longer able He, the men who were helping us, and I
to leave her adult foster care home all felt moved by the experience.
to remind ourselves how we should be to attend church, we would bring What, then, do these stories teach
humble enough to serve one another Communion to her. (Sally and I are us? Everyone has the right to practice all
in all ways. Performing this ritual with ordained local elders.) Since we did not church rituals, even if we have to adjust
someone who has a physical disabil- want to deal with three separate basins how they are done. True humility is not
ity can become complicated. Here I of water, we, again, resorted to creative simply looking for someone who would
discuss my experience with this ritual, thinking. We would bring one basin be “easy” to wash feet with. We must
being completely blind, and how I have and several paper towels. Instead of be willing to take the time to creatively
developed simple ways of sharing this actually placing someone’s foot into the figure out how to help these people
experience with someone in a wheel- basin, we would use the paper towels to participate. With someone who is blind,
chair. Learning how to do a ritual like sponge-bathe the feet, enveloping each it may simply be a matter of making
this with a disabled person may help us foot with the water. We would then use sure they have a partner in advance of
understand more about what it means a new towel for each person. The ritual the service, if possible. With someone
to truly be a humble servant. was still performed, and everyone was in a wheelchair, the ritual itself may
Before I went to college, I simply happy to be involved. need to be adapted in ways discussed
washed feet with my immediate family After Momma passed away, Sally above or others. In doing so, we can
with whom I was living. During college and I began attending a church where show the love of Jesus, who adapted
and seminary, though, I had to find the men wash feet with the men and Himself to become human in order to
partners for this ritual on my own. the women with the women. Since I save all of us.
Tell us what you think about this article. Email or visit

Ministry® A PRIL 2017

“…Finally, be strong in the Lord…put on the full armor of God….” Ephesians 6:10

How do Paul’s first century words and descriptions of

the Roman armor of his era apply to modern living and
the challenging situations we face daily today?
Join a group of scholars, educators, clergy, and administrators as they examine and
explain the various pieces of armor Paul lists in Ephesians 6:10-18. Explore with
them historically accurate armor and weapons like those used by soldiers common
in New Testament times. Roman armor was timely; the principles derived from
Paul’s illustrations are timeless.
Six of the thirty-minute discussions focus on armor Paul mentions, and the
seventh session looks at other parts of Roman military gear mentioned or alluded
to by Christ and other Bible personalities. In a bonus eighth segment the five
panelists share some of their personal “Aha!” experiences as a result of making the
DVD set.
These DVDs are ideal for a wide range of settings from individual and small group
use to classroom and home school applications. Each segment has an introduction
as well as a series of questions to prompt deeper thought and study. They can be
printed directly from the discs as needed.

Belt of Truth

Breastplate of
Sandals of

Shield of Faith

Helmet of
Sword of the
• 2 DVD set
• 8 thirty minute panel discussions Other Military
• 60 + pages of photos, background information Equipment
and discussion starters
To order the Armor of God two-DVD set, see sample videos, or for other
products (and information), visit:
Dr. Dick Stenbakken • 2493 Frances Drive • Loveland, Colorado 80537 • Phone: 970-667-0866

Photo of the Centurion by Peter Field Peck: • Photos of the armor by Erik Stenbakken:

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