A firm foundation for our youth

‘With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world!’ (Ellen G. White, Education, p. 271.)

This well-known quote is often used as the basis for Adventist youth ministry, a work the Irish Mission takes seriously. As valued members of the church family, they are nurtured through various support networks: Sabbath School, local church youth groups, Adventurers and Pathfinders, the Irish Mission the teen and young adult ‘Outposts’ project and the Irish Mission Adventist Students’ Association (IMASA).

Working together, church leaders, parents and members are faithfully working to equip the next generation to carry the torch of service and mission in Ireland. But, more than that, they are working to help youth find Jesus and accept Him as their personal Saviour and Friend.

An easy task in today’s world?

Not at all, as it is clear to us that the devil truly walks around as a lion, seeking to devour our youth, to quote 1 Peter 5:8. They face challenges that older members of the church family have never had to deal with: not least, from ever rising social pressures in our increasingly digital world. As one young person recently put it: in the process of ‘questioning my self-worth as a child, I turned away from the church and into a world of drugs and alcohol, trying to find a place to fit in. . . .’

Sadly, this is not an uncommon story among our youth. When confronted with what society offers – instant gratification, sexual excitement without commitment, and the ‘it’s all about me’ survival of the fittest culture – they have lost sight of their purpose and sense of self-value in Christ. Our aim is to engage with them, listen to them, encourage them, and, in partnership with the Holy Spirit, lead them back to Christ! Our ministry is long-term, ensuring that we can help prevent the next generation of youth from taking the same painful path. Our ministry is modelled as follows, regarded as a duty – to establish our youth in Christ:

‘Let the youth remember that here they are to build characters for eternity, and that God requires them to do their best. Let those older in experience watch over the younger ones; and when they see them tempted, take them aside, and pray with them and for them’ (Ellen G. White, Messages to Young People, p. 18).

It’s a tall order, for sure – but, in contrast to a despairing spirit, we are energised about this challenge, particularly with the recent appointment of Pastor Jefferson Melki as the new youth sponsor. The son of a pastor, Jefferson comes with a ‘prodigal son’ experience, and aims to ‘support Irish Mission youth in becoming disciples of Christ; and, as they do so, to reach their full potential’. Excited about his new role, he is clear about the missional impact of such a group of youth. ‘Imagine if Irish Mission youth believed in, became like, and ultimately took on and lived the same mindset of Christ. If this became a reality, I don’t think that their impact on Ireland and Northern Ireland can be underestimated!’

Pastor Jeff begins his ministry by interacting with youth leaders and the youth themselves, aiming to engage active and non-active members in friendly dialogue to identify their needs.

These needs will be addressed over the next two years, focusing on the following three aspects:

In-reach: To teach and equip the active youth, leadership roles will be offered to the youth in various activities, and in the process they will be nurtured into the future leaders of the Irish Mission.

Outreach: To help and guide our struggling youth back to church, activities such as sports, mental health discussions, addiction recovery sessions, apologetics talks, outposts and IMASA will be aimed at helping these youth realise that church is so much more than just a regular Saturday service. The main goal is to help them find Christ as their ultimate hope, purpose, and strength.

Media Ministry: To keep the youth further engaged in their spiritual growth, they will be directed to sources of online books, sermons, Christian motivational videos, and music designed for them.

It’s exciting, isn’t it?! Whether you are an Irish Mission member or you belong to a church in the wider British Union Conference, we ask you to pray for us as together we help establish a new start for youth work in the Irish Mission. In your own church, why not become involved by learning the names of your church’s youth and using them, often? For more information on how you can get involved in this youth work, email Pastor Jeff – jeff@adventist.ie Read more

Vincentians face an added challenge

On 9 April, the St Vincent La Soufrière volcano erupted, covering most of the once-idyllic island with a thick grey blanket of ash (up to 42 centimetres in some places). In addition, the neighbouring islands of St Lucia and Barbados have also been affected, with ‘homes, crops and water supplies . . . also destroyed or contaminated’, according to a 27 April Sky News report.2

With the hurricane season just a few weeks away, Vincentians face an added challenge as they try to recover from the ash.

According to ADRA, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency visited St Vincent on 23 April to evaluate the emergency, which highlighted the need for food, water, and shelter, still crucial necessities for thousands of evacuees.

The report highlights (updated on 27 April):

– 85 public shelters house 4,396 occupants.

– 6,790 persons are registered in private shelters.

– 1,618 families are in private homes.

– 1,333 persons in private homes are registered to feed at shelters.

– 156 persons are sheltered in hotels.

A total of 13,303 persons have been displaced by the eruptions.

Cash donations are preferred due to logistical challenges. On the plus side, the local water production capability is growing, and work is ongoing to restore a pipe-borne supply to the public. Bottled water distribution continues across the SVG.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency International (ADRA) will be providing 1,280 meals per day for one month – for 12 shelters.

ADRA-UK has raised more than £14,000 to date, and has immediately made £12,000 available towards providing food to the shelters.

To assist with ADRA’s emergency response on St Vincent, please donate now!

https://app.donorfy.com/donate/C4311R6V76/StVincent

 

Post-quarantine Church

 

 

The Post-Quarantine Church: Six Urgent Challenges and Opportunities That Will Determine the Future of Your Congregation

By Thom S. Rainer, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2020.

 

Book Review by

Joanne Cortes – associate pastor at Beltsville Seventh-day Adventist Church, Beltsville, Maryland, United States.

COVID-19 has impacted practically every church around the world. In this book, The Post-Quarantine Church, Thom Rainer looks at what our church may look like after the pandemic. He offers six urgent challenges and opportunities that may help a church to determine the kind of future it will have.

The first challenge Rainer suggests is that the church should gather differently and better, find innovative ways to use the church facility, and be ready to think of creative ways to reach people currently not being reached (11).

The second challenge involves seizing the opportunity to reach the digital world by designing the most effective social media plan for the church right now. Beware of jeopardizing the church by being digitally busy while having no effectiveness. It is better to simplify the content being shared (25).

The third challenge is to reconnect with the neighborhood. Be a church in and for the community by having a clear purpose and mission and by being a positive influence on those in the vicinity (39).

The fourth challenge is to pray. Take prayer to a powerful, new level by praying regularly and asking members, as well as the community, to join in this challenge. Prayer can happen in an empty church building, via technology, basically anywhere (55).

The fifth challenge reminds churches that after the quarantine, they can practically begin with a “new slate” and serve their communities in ways never done before. This would be a good time to partner with new organizations and groups (69).

The sixth challenge involves encouraging churches to consider making lasting changes that will make a difference. Think strategically and reevaluate ministry objectives, committee budgets, job descriptions, and other aspects of the organization to position the church for success after the quarantine (85).

The final chapter in this book states that challenges faced by the church can also be opportunities. The author lists nine key changes for the post-quarantine church that also reinforce the six challenges provided earlier:

  1. Simplicity will be vitally important.
  2. Only outwardly focused churches will survive.
  3. Worship-service gatherings will be smaller.
  4. “Multi” will multiply.
  5. Staff and leadership realignment will focus more on digital proficiency.
  6. “Stragglers” will become a subject of outreach and focus.
  7. Digital worship services will be newly proposed.
  8. Ministry training will change dramatically.
  9. Pastors will leave their lead positions for second-chair roles.

Rainer concludes by articulating that “the post-quarantine era may prove to be one of the most challenging seasons for churches and their leaders. The opportunity to lead change is likely greater than at any other point in our lifetimes” (110). The pandemic has changed the world and the way we are used to doing church, yet there is a great opportunity in that we are practically given a blank slate—an opportunity to rethink, re-create, and revamp church.

I recommend this easy-to-read book to those who may be unsure about whether the church is being truly effective in the mission during these uncertain times, those who need help in rethinking what church should look like after quarantine, those whose church may be struggling because of COVID-19, and those who are ready to begin to think outside of what is normal. As we enter this new “normal,” we cannot forget that Jesus promises that no matter what we go through, even if it be a pandemic, He is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:1920).

The call of God

The Call of God

Written by Pastor Marcel Ghioalda, Senior Pastor, Newbold Church

The past twelve months have forced us as a Church, a community, and possibly even you as a prospective ministry or mission student, to wrestle with questions about the form and function of what God calls us to be. From my perspective, these questions are placed in five key areas: our commission, community and congregation, and the roles of clergy and church.

Perhaps you identify with some of these questions! Perhaps you seek to discern the voice of God calling you for a life in ministry. Perhaps you search for the heart of God, pulling you towards Himself! Perhaps you wonder if He is the One calling you to join Him in shaping a future with Him. You are not alone in your thinking and questioning. The future is wide open at this point and your hunger for answers may be an indication of His call for your life!

Have you found yourself asking any of the following questions:

Commission (“Why are we here?”):

  • Is preaching, teaching and baptising enough, or is it too utilitarian?
  • Does caring for people form part of our commission, or is this the remit of other organisations? Where does it rank in our order of priorities?
  • Should we care, even when it does not lead to preaching, teaching and baptism?
  • Should we keep preaching and teaching even when no one is listening
  • What should we be preaching and teaching about?

Community and the Congregation (“Who is my brother?”):

  • With regular and physical meetings severely impacted by lockdowns and restrictions, who do we have an immediate responsibility for?
    • Our Adventist members?
    • Our local community?
    • Those with immediate needs?
    • Who decides which needs are more important?
  • Is there even a list of needs priorities?
    • Spiritual needs!
    • Physical needs!
    • Emotional needs!
  • What happens when the priorities of the church and community differ?
  • Should our artificial boundaries still play a role?
    • Membership in the Adventist Church vs. non-members of the Adventist Church
    • Christians vs. other religions vs. no religion
    • Membership in the local church vs. a church in a different country

Clergy (“What shall I say?” / “Who will go and serve?”):

  • Is it about primarily preaching, teaching and baptising?
  • Is it about coordinating church services?
  • Is it about coordinating people to serve others?
  • Is it about rolling up our sleeves and care for people at the expense of the above?
  • Is it about praying for the people?
  • All of the above? More?
  • Who should do all this: the clergy, church members, the community?

Church in the present day (“How will we do church?”):

  • Is church, the gathering of people in a building on a Sabbath morning for traditional forms of study or worship?
  • Is church, the online Sabbath School class, small group I belong to in order to pray, worship with, discuss various issues, read a book and talk about it?
  • Is it the family worship environment I engage in daily?
  • How about the neighbourhood where we connect with people as we meet needs?

Over 52 Sabbaths of experimentation, soul-searching, much joy but also frustration, and many of us are left with more questions than answers. There has never been a time of greater uncertainty in the recent past that challenges all the above aspects at the same time and with equal intensity. The old is broken and rebuilding it may not be what we are called to do. Through His Spirit, God is revealing Himself in a powerful way, redirecting us towards Himself and reasserting His role in leading a people. Now, more than ever God is seeking a group of leaders to follow His calling into a new tomorrow with Him.

If you are serious about engaging with some of these questions while studying Theology at Newbold College of Higher Education, you will be intentional on at least three levels: spiritual (prayer and reflection), experiential (participation in a local and national church, as well as the local community) and intellectual (reading and learning). Ministerial training at the College will equip you with the essential knowledge to help redefine and reshape the commission, community and congregation, the roles of clergy and church, as well as discerning the voice of God as you lead.

If you feel God pulling you towards Himself in wrestling with these questions and if you’re seeking the opportunity to join God in the work He is doing in the church and the community, then you’ve come to the right place.

Welcome to Newbold.

Church is

 

 

Church is . . .

 

A retirement reflection – or is it a doodle?

 

Having served South England Conference members east, west and in-between, Pastor Jonathan Barrett has recently retired from pastoral ministry. I have always appreciated Jonathan’s careful use of words, thoughtful and intentional – the hallmark of an excellent preacher! Reflecting on church life, he put those thoughts on paper and did an A-Z of words in church life, called ‘Church Is . . .’ Any he’s left out? Read more