Thursday, September 01, 2005

Rocky Mountain doing the impossible

Some Conferences and Unions have claimed that changing tithe policy would be impossible because every Adventist in the whole world (I'm paraphrasing here) would have to agree to such a policy change (In October 2004, Don Schneider actually claimed that all 1 Million North American Adventists would have to be in his office with a unanimous vote before he could pioneer any changes).

Well, Rocky Mountain has done the impossible. You can read the story here. If a church exceeds its tithe goals for the year, the conference sends 50% of the excess back to the local church (for the work of the ministry). This certainly flies in the face of those who claim that the conference is the only legitimate "storehouse" for tithe (while the church is a legitimate "storehouse" for offering... or some such thing).

You can read the whole new tithe policy here.

Ever since October 2004, I have claimed that all power for institutional change is held at the local conference level. May God richly bless those who are willing to create the future of Adventism, instead of merely waxing nostalgic about the past.

Will Eva and Corporate Adventism

In the most recent issue of Ministry Magazine (September 2005), Editor Will Eva writes his final editorial. He is leaving the "corporate" Adventist environment to become an associate pastor of the Spencerville, MD church. He writes that the corporate milieu has not been helpful to his personal spirituality. In the next-to-last paragraph, he takes an opportunity to lash out at the structure that will not hire an additional editor to the magazine's staff.

What's most interesting to me, however, is Will Eva's understanding that the local church is "where it's at!" And he heaves dismay at the complacency of the corporate church. In the exact middle of the article is a slightly cryptic paragraph that could be unpacked a great deal. He writes:

"I have to say that my degree of personal and corporate concern escalates further when I observe that things merely strategic and administrative seem to be incrementally eclipsing things prophetic and visionary, and the prophetic voice, so crucial to the life of a spiritual organism, no longer seems able or allowed to meaningfully address our administrative initiatives in the way it was actually designed to."

He goes on in his next paragraph to say how even a "sensibly restrained prophetic voice" is neglected and devalued, because it produces "group discomfort."

Ellen was sent to Australia. Jeremiah was thrown into a cistern. Jesus wept over the Jerusalem that had killed the prophets. Is our current structure doing the same thing? Are we ignoring what God wants and what God is blessing, so that we can have things just as they have always been?