“I am quitting Adventism…”

Many times, we as leadership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church get caught up in the routine of our ministries and theological pursuits. With commentaries to peruse, conferences to attend, sermons to preach, initiatives to push, and contacts to followup on, it is all too easy to miss the startling reality that exists within our own congregations. In short, there is a lost generation of young Adventists seeking a home to call their own – even as they shake your hands at the door every week after service.

This realization hit me like a tidal wave this week as I read the blog post of a friend of mine. There is a generation of lost individuals in our church today. They’re lost sitting in your pews. They are lost listening to your sermons. They are lost because they are not the loud liberal left writing blogs, or the outraged reserved right making speeches. They are not lost from the gospel…yet. They are simply lost in the middle of Adventism wondering just what is going on around them. They are my friends; they are my family. They are your children; they are your church “members.” They…are the silent majority. And every so often, when we pause to listen, we might just hear their voice.

Meet Julie. Julie is a friend of mine. Julie’s name is not really Julie, you could insert the name of your son or daughter instead. I haven’t seen Julie since I cheered her across the graduation stage at one of our fine Seventh-day Adventist universities to finally live life in the “real world.” Julie moved away from our Seventh-day Adventiat institution to a town near you, and she’s not just a statistic from your latest book on youth ministry. Actually, Julie and her husband probably go to your church…for now. Julie is taking a break from Adventism. I asked her if it would be okay to share her recent blog to you all in hopes that the silent majority might gain even a small voice. Here is her confession:

“Taking a Break From Adventism

Many may think the title is for shock value to get you to read the blog post. While that may be somewhat true (in my desperation for blog hits), I’m blogging to document my struggle to define my faith.

I’ve been struggling with my religion for a few years now. It all started at [an] Adventist University, of all places. I became burned out of religious programming – between going to vespers, worships, convocations, and performing for many church services, my religious life became routine. It got tiring and I lost sight of my religious sincerity.

I’ve never been much for individual Bible study or prayer. It seems like I become conveniently religious when I feel I most need God, and then go right back to being conveniently independent until the next life challenge presents itself.

This combination of religious situations in my life has led to my questioning everything, not just being a Seventh-day Adventist.

I am not really sure what I believe at this point. I am not satisfied with my current religious state. Church annoys me. Honestly, the entire SDA religion is getting on my nerves at this point.

I have decided to quit Adventism. This is not necessarily for good. I have some real issues with the church right now, such as: the reaffirming creation fiasco, the “holding pattern” or stalemate the religion is in waiting for Christ to return, how judgmental Adventists can be, hating homosexuals, and Ellen White’s status as a prophet/lesser light. This isn’t an exhaustive list, I’m sure there are more things I have problems with.

I am quitting Adventism to examine the Bible objectively. I know that will be relatively difficult to do now that I am familiar with religious doctrine, but the SDA church teaches “sola scriptura” and I think I’ll be fine deciphering the Bible at face value. I want to know what the Bible says and base my Christianity on those teachings. I want to learn the details of the stories by reading it on my own and not relying on what others teach me or what they add to the stories.

In my opinion, the heart of the life of a Christian is love. I think that is the simplest way to sum up the duty of a Christian – show love to God, others, and yourself. I think Adventism has lost sight of this.

I think we’ve lost sight of the true purpose of church. Now, much of this could be attributed to my attitude currently, but church annoys me. It’s a show, a routine, a series of steps one must go thru in order to complete the church service. I don’t know how others feel about this, but this is my opinion. I feel that church should be a time to study in small groups and really have a deep discussion by delving into the Word, and not necessarily a sermon. I feel we should be allowed to talk, sing, etc. as long as we want together. It is hard to connect to one another sitting silently in a pew.

I also feel we should use church to focus on ministering to others outside of our denomination. Take church time and go feed the homeless or do something else to show love to others. There is a fine balance, though, between focusing inwardly and outwardly.

One thing that’s always bothered me has been how Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest, yet for some, it is the busiest and most stressful day of the week (pastors, etc.)

Back on topic.

I am quitting Adventism to define my spirituality by discovering what God teaches about being a Christian by reading his Word. I am quitting Adventism to discover if this church really is as consistent with scripture as it preaches. I am quitting Adventism to reconnect with God.

I am going to continue to attend my regular SDA church. I believe that you cannot be the body of Christ alone.

I want to know if Adventism really does have it together and if what SDAs believe is in line with what the Bible says. If, at the end of this, I find the two to be consistent, I will return to labeling myself as an Adventist. And if not, I am confident that God will lead.

So begins my journey of spiritual rediscovery.”

by Kasper Haughton, Jr.

Previously serving as a worship leader and youth pastor in the South Pacific and North American Division, Kasper Haughton, Jr. is currently a graduate student at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University.  You can view his blog and website links at about.me/kasperjr.


About kasperjr

This blog is just storage for a few thoughts I have collected over time. You can find me at facebook.com/kasperjr
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9 Responses to “I am quitting Adventism…”

  1. Nelly says:

    From words to action, this is a beautifull call

  2. John says:

    I’m not at all concerned about “Julie”. On the contrary I’m excited for her journey. I’m excited for the discoveries she’ll make and the impact she’ll bring back to her Adventist congregation or alternatively whatever congregation she lands in. She is sincere and seeking, and God guarantees that those are the people that find.
    So I’m not concerned for “Julie”, I’m concerned for all those that believe without seeking and accept without question.
    “Julie” is fine, the rest of us may be in trouble.

  3. Marlon says:

    As and Adventist I have a difficult time talking about the church, because I recognize that I am the church. It is sad that Julie did not feel like she was the church. It also seems that she did not attend Sabbath School, which is a small group discussion of what we studied int he Bible throughout the week. when members of the Sabbath school class take it seriously it can be a great in depth and interactive study of the Bible. My fear for July is that if she has not taken the time to study the Bible for herself while a member of a church, it will probably be even more difficult for her to go about it isolated from a community of faith.

    Nevertheless, her message is sobering, and shows how even though the church has much to offer, it does not mean that all members are taking advantage of it. I recognize that sabbath schools, among other things, could be better, if the members of the class took it upon themselves to study and to bring comments and questions to class it would be much more beneficial to everyone.

    sorry if it seems like i dwelt on the topic of Sabbath schools for too long, but I have a burden for this time for deep Bible study and small group interaction that we have built in to our service, that is often ignored.

  4. Ronald Josiah says:

    Well, this is indeed very sobering. We must know Jesus for ourselves and this means crying out to God in secret earnest prayer continuously. Sometimes the ‘form of godliness’ that is displayed or projected from ‘church life’ is contrary to Christ’s way. When the church is Christ-like we must say so and when the church is unChrist-like; like what happened to Israel many times in the bible because of their apostasy, we must also say so in love and with a desire to see ourselves and our fellow members back in harmonious obedient faithful relationship with Christ. I applaud her genuine journey, however ‘Julie’ please be in constant genuine prayer and also ask the Lord to put in your life a genuine mature Adventist Christian who can study with you and give you ongoing biblical counsel.

  5. Denis Oyungeh says:

    very true…..we are the Church and the moment we begin to think that the Church is boring all sort of negative thoughts,then the greatest deceiver i.e Satan is achieving his point. instead,we should be constant seekers of the Word.in sabbath school, we review the Bible at large and there are various Sabbaths the the Church organizes visitations to the sick,the needy within the society,evangelistic campaigns are always there and so many heaven bound activities.its all upon us to take this challenge and let the fire and zeal for Christ to continue shining bright.Having in mind Mathew 17:21…….

  6. kasperjr says:

    In a way, are we attempting to wash our collective hands of the discipleship goal of the Christian community when we make statements responding to people like Julie saying: “It’s their fault for not seizing the wonderful opportunities I/We have created and enjoy. They should try harder to be a part of the world I/We have created in the Church”? I wonder if the responsibility and mission of Christ followers is to be content with a “build it and they will come” mentality?

    What if the automatic response of our missional community, when faced with the Julies among us, was to go back to the drawing board and revision tradition – rather than uphold the drawing board of once universally effective practice?

  7. Marlon says:

    the consumer mentality is also a problem. when i come to church and want to be served. Christianity is a community where we come to serve and to reach out to others. what is Julie’s mission? perhaps she never realized she had a mission as a follower of Christ. perhaps we sometimes fail in that people are baptized with wrong expectations. I am not saying it is Julie’s fault she left, we failed her in not helping her own her Christianity and realize her mission to her peers. I am all for discipleship, empowerment, and involvement. helping all members take ownership of the church and the great commission and the three angel’s message. but i am not for bottle-feeding our members their whole lives. we must help them grow and develop.

    we should empower Julie and help her take ownership and solve the problems that she sees.

    the whole thing regarding Sabbath School, is that i believe we have given up on a great thing, simply because we do not dedicate enough time and effort to make it work. but i am open for better options.

  8. Kaoma Mulenga says:

    I can relate to Juile. What is Church, What is Sabbath school 45 to 60 mins once a week.. It seems we enjoy so much exponding our knowladge of the bible feeling good about what we know and how much. What is the central theme of the bible of Christianity. Ask your self where did Jesus spend most of His time. What did He spend most of it doing.? Are we doing the same. The monotonous religious programes. I hear her concern and to brush of that concern and letting the Devil win when we think Church is boaring and repetively religious with out carefully addressing the concern is sad and once again, typical of adventists. There is too much inward focus. We as Adventists call ourselves Christians as too be Christ like. Was it not Christ who said “The Spirit of the lord is on me because he has anointed meto proclaim good newsto the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” How can you do that when your always attending bible studies always busy with church programes preaching to people who though already have recieved the message are inconsistent in keeping it. A friend once told me that Adventists are so fattend from reading the word that the will fail to pass through the gates of Heaven. James said what, “faith without deeds”. sabbath school is good but like Jesus told the Pharasies”You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” Math 23:23. Are you ministering to the sick, showing unmerited favour, love and forgiveness to the lost that God showed you when you were lost or are you broadening thesegrigative line. I can not belive you are failing to see what a profound point Julie is bringing out here. Then again some of the responses are typically adventist. Its sad. Right now here in Ndola Zambia there is a crusade going on in Kansenshi at Shalom pak runing until the 28th of May 2011. I belive the target audience is meant for non adventists, but when I went there it seemed more like the usual social get together. How quick you are to suggest that the problem is with the people and not possibly the church system. Reminds me of how the Pharesies recieved Jesus. Brothers sister are we fullfing the great commission or are we just filling ourselves? Think about it. We need to seek God Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. John 4:23,24 But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.
    It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” We needto be one in that kind of a spirit.
    God help us

  9. Alexandra Y. says:

    I truly appreciate this post, thanks for sharing. I have found myself thinking along these same lines. At the moment, I have no church to call my own. I am at a different church every Sabbath. At each church, I look to the pastors, the elders and the youth of the church for approval, all the while secretly looking for a solid church family and a church to call home. For the longest time, I cried out to God, wondering why I was feeling so isolated in my own church community. I too have questioned my beliefs, and wondered how Adventists are so certain that we have the truth. But God had a bigger plan beyond what I could see. In my time of lonliness, he spoke to me and I just started a new ministry. He has given me a new perspective on things, I no longer go to church seeking approval; I look to God to give me the love and support I so greatly need. I still have questions, and I get discouraged at times, but God is working with me and in the lives of all of his children.

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