The beliefs and sentiments expressed by those whose letters appear here are not necessarily shared by the Adventist Review or its editorial staff. These letters have been edited for clarity and length. -- Editors
Women in Ministry
In the article “The Importance of Missionary Work
” (Apr. 26, 2012), Ellen White referred to what women can accomplish in outreach, and the importance of their involvement. “The refining, softening influence of Christian women is needed in the great work of preaching the truth,” she wrote.
The article specifically referred to the “tract and missionary work” of what was originally called “The Vigilant Missionary Society,” established in South Lancaster, Massachusetts, in 1869, created by women to involve women in outreach. Among other activities they were organized to distribute tracts and write letters sharing their faith. In time men were incorporated into the work. Through a series of organizational adjustments, the Tract and Missionary Society evolved into the Publishing Department and the Home Missionary Department of the General Conference.
Today women are still an important part of different forms of ministry, including frontline evangelistic work. In May, 2012, out of the 86 preachers sent from Southern Adventist University to deliver 19 evangelistic sermons in six different countries, 41 were females. In 2011, 60 preachers led 2,534 people to baptism; more than half of these preachers were females.
In the article Ellen White stated, “Zealous and continued diligence in our sisters toiling for the spread of the truth would be wholly successful, and would astonish us with its results.” The fact that only two of the preachers were ordained pastors didn’t preclude our young sisters from doing “the work of an evangelist.”
On the King James Version
Congratulations to Mark Kellner for his report “Scholar Defends Bible as ‘Literary Classic
’” (Apr. 19, 2012), about Leland Ryken’s lectures on the King James Version of the Bible as a literary classic. The story of the English Bible is fascinating. The King James Version marked a milestone within a tradition that began with the Wessex Gospels in the tenth century and followed to Wycliffe’s and later Tyndale’s translations. Within this continuum Bible translations moved away from the language of the Anglo-Saxons and from Latin to reach its climax in the sweet cadences and tropes of the English language of late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
That being said, we must not mistake literary merit with theological probity. For all its linguistic beauty and translation improvements, the King James Version still has some questionable renderings, mainly because of the scholars’ perhaps unconscious dependence on the Vulgate. Some of those mistranslations or questionable punctuations are still a source of doctrinal and theological conundrum (such as, for instance, the ones related to the priesthood of all believers).
For people who are not experts in the original languages of the Bible, using a rich variety of Bible versions seems the best approach to Bible study, as long as they follow the translation philosophy so clearly stated by Ryken, and so aptly reported by Kellner.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Putting Out the Welcome Mat
I have noticed that Addison Hudgins gets down in the trenches with her stories, this time with another example of writing for those who need help with day-to-day issues. I enjoy all her articles, which are so practical.
The article “Lost Sheep?
” (Apr. 19, 2012) has so much makes-sense content. Why are we so hard on our young people if they have a little “rumspringa” (as the Amish call the running-around years)? If young people are so squelched and can never ask their questions, or have a chance to experiment on the other side of the fence, how will they know which side of the fence they want to stay on?
Church attendance doesn’t save us, but the experience we have with Jesus does. Maybe this can’t be developed until we walk over a few rocks, or maybe even burn our heels by walking through a little fire.
But once we go through some fire, perhaps we can finally understand what parents, teachers, and pastors were talking about; we now have an experience to compare with our own. Maybe then we choose to return to the church. But it’s then a decision based on experience, not just theory. And perhaps this time it sticks.
But if by that time the church and its members have decided they are a lost cause and don’t welcome them back, what happens to the teens and young adults then? They go back to the world that welcomed them before, and will do so again.
We have to keep a welcome mat out at our churches, letting them know they are always welcome, before, during, or after they have tried the “other side.”
If Jesus welcomes us whenever we want to come back to Him, it seems our church and its members should do no less. Sometimes those who make a few mistakes can become more grounded than those who never tried the other side.
I’m writing to thank Addison Hudgins for her excellent article about one of the most important issues we face: Why young people leave the church. As a former Youth director for the church, I’ve always wanted to help our youth to remain in the church and use their talents to advance the cause of God. How many parents have approached me and said, “Pastor, I’d give anything to see my son/daughter back in the church.”
I remember talking to Roger Dudley about tracking young people to see what happened to them. The choice was made to have an ongoing study to discover why we lose our precious youth. This resulted in a fine research project and a book.
Parents, teachers, and pastors all play an important role. Home, school, and church activities must be attractive to youth. Long sermons and prayers bore them. The key is to involve them in all activities, never forgetting to have something for them in the services. They must be given positions of leadership in the church as deacons, elders, etc. A must is a strong church school, Pathfinder club and Adventist Youth (AY) meetings! I had myy first opportunity to speak at an AY meeting!
Please, let’s not hammer our youth with Ellen G. White! She must be presented to youth as a friend, not as a woman who only says, “No.”
Sabbath is another critical area. Hudgins says that we should be learning to commune with God on an individual level every day, especially the Sabbath, the day many young people consider most boring. They can hardly wait for sundown!
\When our young people go out in mission projects, share and witness for their faith, they will solidify their Christian experience and never be the same again.
In Luke 15 we have the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and lost son. With the exception of the sheep, they were lost at home, in the church. But Hudgins says, “The Good Shepherd will seek them out again. He will. And that is a light for the future worth praising Him for.”
Kids in Church
Regarding “Help! My Child Can’t Sit Still in Church
” (Apr. 19, 2012): Many years ago, because we in Corning, New York, were part of a multi-church district, it was decided that our church service would be first, and Sabbath school second. This enabled the speaker to travel between churches each week, and it gave immeasurable relief to our parents (and grandparents) with small children.
Think about it for a minute: The traditional Adventist way of thinking has our little ones going first to a room filled with their friends and taking part in age-appropriate activities, getting them excited about something they’ve just done or seen, and they often bring back paper items, crafts, etc.
Then we adults ask them to come back into the sanctuary, stop acting like children, and basically sit quietly with their hands in their laps until that long-winded speaker decides he’s heard enough of himself.
Corning’s church-first order of service allows children to sit reasonably quiet through the church service, but as the ants-in-their-pants begin to take over, they’re released to Sabbath school. Then they get to go home shortly thereafter, excited about Sabbath stuff. How great is that?
Painted Post, New York
Would a Man Notice?
I am sure Hyveth Williams didn’t intend her excellent article, “Another Story About Mary
” (Apr. 19, 2012), to make this point, but I see something important that may be overlooked.
Williams’ act of going to the back of the church to meet Mary and connect with her says volumes about the value and need of female pastors. I doubt a male pastor would have noticed, or had the pure comfort of doing the same as Williams did. I doubt Mary would have reacted to a male pastor in the same way as she did to Williams.
This issue of battered women is a reality that calls for the unique touch of a female pastor that cannot be overstated. I pray that our church will become much more open to female ministers and leaders in our denomination, so that our church body can be better balanced in meeting the needs of a hurting world.
In “Church Trends
” (Apr. 12, 2012), discussing the survey of Seventh-day Adventist churches in North America, one paragraph states: “One in seven churches reported severe conflict about worship style, and another 28 percent reported moderate conflict.” The author then asks, “What do these data mean?” and suggests church leaders should study how to manage conflict.
Is not the real issue in worship styles about whether members and leaders are willing to fully surrender their will and humbly search for the worship principles presented in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy? Or are they insisting that worship be like the contemporary churches in the Christian world around us? All too prevalent is the idea that the only way for our church to grow is to be like the world in the way it worships, then anyone will feel comfortable in our church services.
This contrasts with what Christ stated in John 17:17, 19. In fact, this whole chapter applies to worship and conflict issues. The way Christ gave brought the disciples to the Pentecost experience of Acts 2.
Two quick references: the April 19 and 24 readings from the book Lift Him Up.