Friday, January 20, 2012

Challenge: Keep Church Relevant

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Rising criminal activity and youth-on- youth violence in Anguilla question the effectiveness and relevance of the church in influencing the moral direction of its community.

Dr. Peters in discussion with church members in community service
Dr. Peters in discussion with church members in community service
Where is the power with which Jesus invested the founding members of the Christian church? Has the Holy Ghost power dissipated across the centuries and across cultures? Has the command to go out into the world and make disciples of all men been rendered less binding in this post-modern era of moral relativity and political correctness? Are we bored by the sameness of the gospel in the face of instant and constant Blackberry text messaging? Or have the Christians simply forgotten their mission?

Such questions were challenged by Dr. Henry Peters, Community Services Director, Personal Ministries Director and Executive Secretary for the North Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, in his mini-seminar The Church and its Mission on Saturday, 7th January to the Seventh-day Adventist church.

The seminar highlighted that the church was organised for mission in partnership with God to go; to make disciples; to baptise and to teach men to observe all things as commanded by Jesus. Therefore, "The first assignment of the Christian is as a missionary," explained Dr. Peters. He continued, "Wherever a Christian goes into the world; the church goes. When a Christian goes to work, the church goes also. What do people think of the church? What is the church buying? What is the church selling? What is the church drinking? If we are doing the same thing as the world, then the church is losing its distinctiveness."

How can the church effectively fulfill its mission in 2012 and beyond? The answer as proposed by Dr. Peters: "Move our thinking from membership to discipleship... We must be conscious of who we are, so that it influences what we do."

One of the supporting quotations to this seminar was taken from Desire of Ages by Ellen G. White:
In the commission to His disciples, Christ not only outlined their work, but gave them their message...The gospel is to be presented, not as a lifeless theory, but as a living force to change the life. God desires that the receivers of His grace shall be witnesses to His power.

Dr. Peters noted that "the relevance of the church has not been kept in the forefront of its members' minds... Members are not spectators... There is the need for members to see themselves as disciples - we are in this for the long haul."

Dr. Henry Peters served as district pastor for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Anguilla from 1987 to 1993.


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