Author Archives: Marella Rudebaugh

From Leader to Leader – Why Attend Church?

by César De León Ph.D LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference

You’ve had a long week!

You’re not merely disappointed with yourself for not tying all the loose ends on your upcoming projects, but you are emotionally and physically spent! The last thing you want to do is to get up early on Sabbath morning to join your church family. 

If you weren’t the pastor (or a church leader), what would motivate you—after a long week of increasingly challenging personal, marital, parenting and professional challenges and demands—to arise, get ready and leave the comfort of your home on a Sabbath morning to attend your local church?

In his article entitled “Why Attending Church No Longer Makes Sense”, Carey Nieuwhof, says: “Increasingly, I’m convinced there’s no point to merely attending. You drive all the way in to connect with three or four songs, hear the message and then head home. All of that you could almost do by yourself in a much more convenient way. Slip on Spotify and grab the message via podcast or on demand and boom, you’re covered.”  (link for full article below)

Indeed, our Adventist members have a growing number of options at their fingertips if all they are seeking is an inspiring worship moment.

I agree with Nieuwhof, who says:

“YOU DON’T ATTEND CHURCH.  YOU ARE THE CHURCH. . . I think being the church has something to do with living your life for Christ, demonstrating God’s love by serving others and sharing your faith with people. That’s very different than consuming church in a back row, which you can just as easily do on your back deck.”

Indeed, just showing up at church weekly does not qualify you as “the body”.  There is a vast difference between being a disciple of Jesus Christ who daily feeds on (meditates) passages then prays for the Spirit’s empowerment to live out His Word in the daily work and leisure movements of life.  We, as spiritual leaders, must pray and ask for divine wisdom on how we might move our members from being consumers to contributing members of the body of Christ.

When my wife and I visit an Adventist Church during our ministry travels, we ask ourselves if we would be compelled to return next week, if we’re guests visiting that church for the first time.  When we are tempted to be too judgmental with our responses, we are compelled to remember that Jesus attended His local synagogue, even though He knew the actual intentions of the hearts of the priests and rabbis. He knew that they had little understanding of the Scriptures and the laws they so compulsively worshipped. He knew the spiritual leaders were plotting ways to make Him disappear . . .permanently; yet He still arose on Sabbath mornings, as was His custom (Luke 4:16) to go to the temple to worship. Jesus is my hero and my example!

Five things we can do to encourage people to come and worship on Sabbaths:

  1. Pray intentionally for the people you notice missing church frequently.
  2. Contact them, via phone or text, during the week to let them know you have missed them (a simple note card can be meaningful for older members).
  3. Offer yourself or an appropriate alternative to meet a felt need (offer a car ride, secure attire, offer to sit next to them etc.)
  4. If and when they show up, ensure they are greeted with warm and authentic joy.
  5. When the service is over, ask them how their experience was and if there is anything else that you can do for them to facilitate their return the following week. Keep praying for them.

Let’s continue to be intentional about asking God for effective ways to teach and inspire our church families about the importance of following Jesus’ example.  Not merely in church attendance—as many may feel content with merely showing up, then leaving without contributing to and interacting with the body. Rather, let’s empower our members to fill their deep spiritual yearnings by feeding on His Word, spending sweet time in the contemplation of radical, salvific sacrifice, and sharing God’s love with someone who needs it.  Let’s disciple our members into seeking and finding deep peace and joy in His presence as He, in turn, refills their parched and weary souls with deep love for Himself, for themselves and for their “neighbors”, both within and without the walls of our sanctuaries.

Recommended Articles:

  1. 7 Startling Facts: An Up Close Look at Church Attendance in America
  2. Why Attending Church No Longer Makes Sense
  3. 10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders are Attending Less Often

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Why Not Try This? – Responding to Nasty Emails

If you haven’t received one yet, you probably will. Nasty emails can not only hurt, but leave us with a sense of “what do I do now.” You’re first inclination might be to respond in kind, defend yourself, or maybe even just ignore it. But what is the best thing to do? Here’s a helpful article with practical advice on 4 Rules for Responding to Nasty Emails.

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Can Intellectuals Be Saved?

by Dr. Stan Hudson, who served as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 38 years and is currently the Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference

For many, that question might have the same impact as Jesus’ words about the difficulty of rich people being saved.  It was “easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle,” He said.  He even added “with man, it is impossible.” 

We might think of intellectuals as “rich in knowledge.”  And what better thing to be rich in?  A lack of knowledge is dangerous.  “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you…,” says the Lord in Hosea 4:6. 

However, the record of salvation for intellectuals is relatively short.  In the New Testament there was Paul with his “much learning,” and then there was, uh, …?  Fishermen were more likely saved.  And why is that?  Aren’t the truths of the Gospel and the Infinite God of creation begging for students with three-digit IQs?

In my current fields of study in origins there is this world of intellectuals called “science” (which is from the Latin “Scientia,” meaning knowledge!) is almost entirely run by what the Bible calls “fools!”  “A fool has said in their heart there is no God.”  Psalms 14:1.   More than that, Romans 1:20 suggests that these observers of nature miss what is obvious:  “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen.”  Pardon my French on this, but the Bible suggests that those in charge of science are both “stupid and crummy scientists!”

But operating from an atheistic worldview, it’s all they can do.  The things of God are foolish to them, not able to discern spiritual things.  But is science the only place where sophomores live?  “Sophomores” is a word that literally means “wise fools!” 

I Corinthians 8:1 says that knowledge has the tendency to “puff up” people (compared to love which “builds up”).  I love that description.  Sophomores!  How many of us have met puffy people!  But puffiness is pride, which I frankly think is most difficult of all barriers for God to encounter in people.  It is the opposite of humility, which God loves.  And humility about the things of God is logical, given the greatness of God and the comparative puniness of man.  My own puffiness, which is sizable, diminishes quickly in the presence of Infinity.

But this intellectual puffiness I have seen in others besides myself, mostly from our universities.  At various ministerial retreats we sometimes have guest speakers whose expertise in an area apparently qualifies them to spiritualize portions of scripture to mean something other than their obvious meaning.  And to be knowledgeable means to be a skeptic.  I have heard a well-meaning theologian comment on a non-Adventist theologian colleague that he no longer believes in God, but that he is otherwise “brilliant.”  Not according to the Bible!

We need not cower to the great intellects in this world, as they often work counter to the purposes of God.  Can intellectuals be saved?  “With God all things are possible.”

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Changed Lives – Big and Hard Choices

by Guadalupe S. Richardson

The road to giving my life to Christ was not exactly easy as some may think. Big and hard choices had to be made in my life first.

In the year 2012, do l retire? Do I continue with my teaching career of thirty-two years? Do I take care of my husband after his neck surgery? Do I continue taking care of my mother, who is showing signs of dementia? How do I finish my remodeling project? These questions are eating at me.

It became too much to handle. I finally hit rock bottom and felt beyond broken. I was physically and emotionally drained.

While driving from one place to another, I kept hearing “Go to a sanctuary and talk with someone.” In 2017, my husband visited the Seventh-day Adventist Church down the road from our house. He found solace there. One year later, he was baptized.

On July of 2018, I lost my mother. My father and a sister are both gone. I started to visit the church on and off. I kept hearing “Visit the sanctuary.” That’s where I met Pastor David Morgan and the family of the Selah Seventh-day Adventist Church. They welcomed me with open arms and lots of hugs. They have become very good friends. Their friendship helped me with my losses, troubles and gave to me time to heal.

On May 4, 2019, I was baptized. God has lightened my load of burdens. I’m active in the church, helping with the community services. I am now a member of the family of God!

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Resources – An Introduction to Texting for Churches

Should your church text message members? Many pastors, church leaders, and ministers face the same problem: how to quickly communicate important information to your entire congregation. The emergence of numerous digital, mobile, and online communication channels has created a wide variety of digital options and tools that you can use to get your messages out and cut through the clutter of daily life. MORE

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From the Desk of the Ministerial Director – Leaders Bleed Too!

“Leaders hurt.  Leaders weep.  Leaders are afraid.  Leaders get knocked down.  Leaders fall down. Leaders bleed. But the best leaders just keep getting up one more time.” If you are needing a “leader booster shot” take a few minutes to read Leaders are Bleeders: Pastors Who Want to Quit by Brian Dodd. Praying you can remind yourselves DAILY that everything you do—motivated by love—really does matter to our Heavenly Commander in Chief!

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Why Not Try This? – 4 Things to Do if Your Church Says “No” to Evangelism

What should you do if church leaders show little or no enthusiasm, or even try to roadblock your efforts? Here are four things to do. Read More

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From Beyond the Pulpit – My Car Doesn’t Trust Me

by Stan Hudson, who served as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 38 years and is currently the Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference

Every 270,000 miles or so I usually turn my Honda Civic in for a new one.  I just did it again a few months ago.  I like the gas mileage and the reliability…but I spoil myself with a higher model, one that has a few bells and whistles.  This time I got one that has a bunch of “safety features.”

There is a not-so-subtle trend today among auto manufacturers where they are trying to be helpful, I think, in pointing out our “mistakes.”  My Honda literally jiggles the steering wheel when it thinks I am too close to a painted lane line.  And should I do the unthinkable and take off my seat belt a second or two early as I am pulling into a parking spot a female voice warns “please put on driver’s seat belt.” 

This untrusting attitude is established early when you prepare to start the engine.  A printed message says something like “you DO understand that if you have an accident it’s YOUR fault for not being a responsible driver, don’t you?”  Self-driving cars are based on a very clear view of drivers like you and me; that view is that we can’t be trusted to do a competent job of getting to where we need to get without major problems along the way.

My Honda isn’t the only car I’ve driven lately that doesn’t trust me.  A GMC rental I drove in Arizona while I was on vacation bird watching was a real nagger.  On a canyon dirt road I was driving, then stopping, then driving slowly as I was spotting interesting birds.  A strict warning flashed on screen:  “Good driving requires focus.  Keep your eyes on the road.  If you need to stop for a rest, please do so.  DO YOU AGREE?”  And that message would not go away unless I hit the “I agree” response.  And I mean it stayed up even after I had stopped the engine later, then drove some more.  The rebel in me didn’t want to agree, but it would not let me get away with that!

A Mazda we recently rented for Oshkosh had a radio that could not be turned off!  No kidding;  all you could do is turn the radio down so far you couldn’t hear it.  But it still displayed the song currently playing on the radio station.  And what about these cars that lock doors when you aren’t wanting them to?

I have wondered what this “Big Brother” trend really means in our world today.  Is it the insurance industry?  The government?  Whomever we are talking about, they have a negative view of our IQs.  They think we need help!  More than that, they aren’t offering it to just those who would like it, because it’s not an option.  Just try to find ways of turning off these “safety features.”  Most can’t be, including that woman telling me to put on my safety belt.

There is talk that cars are being developed that are completely self-driven.  And the worries that follow that is, “will the government monitor where we are and perhaps have better ideas about what society should be doing in their cars?”  For instance, like remotely keeping people from driving on high traffic days…or maybe even not driving on Sundays to preserve the environment. 

The progressive movement in our culture today has a poor view of humanity; it is that we are all fairly stupid and in deep need of enlightenment (okay, some truth there!).  Pop science with their views on origins is part of that.  And so are Christian scholars who don’t believe in the reliability of God’s word (and thus God Himself); apparently God needs modern help in communicating truths to us.  That thinking is large and in charge.  And just like in our Hondas, we can’t turn those voices off!  My Honda just doesn’t trust me.

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Momentum – The Vision

by Myckal Morehouse, pastor of the Stone Tower Seventh-day Adventist Church

The vision for an evangelistic series for Stone Tower Seventh-day Adventist Church began in late summer, 2018. In 1953, Stone Tower had been built as the evangelistic center of Portland. “Evangelistic Center of Portland” was even engraved into this cornerstone set into the foundation of the church. With this in mind, our church plan was not simply an evangelistic series held once, but to re-establish Stone Tower as an evangelistic center in Portland once again. That plan would include yearly evangelistic meetings, bridge events, training for Bible Workers, fostering an atmosphere of friendship evangelism, and equipping every person with the resources they would need to embrace our returned focus on evangelism.

To kick-off our shared vision, our church decided to do an evangelistic meeting in the spring of 2019, that was bigger than anything Stone Tower had done before. The plan included coordinating a major evangelistic series with two other churches (Mt. Tabor Seventh-day Adventist Church & Lents Seventh-day Adventist Church), mailing to more than 100,000 homes in Portland, advertising through banners, yard signs, billboards, and a large 30 feet banner that would span down the side of the church. We included money to fly a team of literature evangelists (14 students) from Kentucky to canvass the area for four weeks. It also included setting up a 3 month Bible worker training school, with students from Generation of Youth for Christ and other areas. The total cost of the program was $60,000 and we immediately began fundraising.

Within a few months, we had not only raised our goal, but far exceeded it, while watching our local tithes and offerings increase. Our churches were excited! Mt. Tabor advertised for the series, and Lents setup several billboards. We were blown away, when 270 people showed up opening night, then 260 for our second night. We averaged 150 during the week and 200 on the weekends throughout the entire series. We had up to 36 children on our closing night of the series, which concluded with a
special concert from the children for all the attendee’s.

We praise the Lord for the 26 people who made a decision for baptism and joined the Church. As a result of the series, our churches are re-engaged and enthused about evangelism. God is inspiring many families to give Bible studies in their neighborhood. Several gained victory over cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana as a result of giving their lives to the Lord in this series. One young adult who came to the series as a result of seeing a billboard, has now become our social media director and is enthusiastically sharing the Adventist message!

We praise God for inspiring us back to our evangelistic roots, and the imperative of Jesus to make disciples. Our Church has our identity back and more importantly, men and women are responding to the gospel in one of the most secular places in America; Portland, Oregon.

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Changed Lives – Public Evangelism Doesn’t Work?

by Scott Tyman, pastor of the Tacoma Central Seventh-day Adventist Church

I was privileged to share the three angels’ messages in the Tacoma community at four different locations. Our budget was around $10,000. I have heard recently that people no longer come to meetings from brochures. Well opening night in the four different locations we were blessed to have around 35 pre-Adventist come to the meetings. Five of those who attended had either Master of divinity degrees or masters degrees in theology. After the 10-week seminar, almost all these people went through the entire series of meetings on the book of Daniel.

As follow up to this prophecy seminar, we invited Brian McMahon to be a part of the reaping process. Opening night, we again had approximately 35 pre-Adventist. 15 to 19 came directly or indirectly from the prophecy classes that I had been teaching. So far, we had 7 become part of God’s last day church and we have 10 “A” interests that will be baptized in the very near future. We also have formed 3 small groups for continued studies with these interests.

We have another person who attended my Seminar who now is studying with 10 different people using the prophecy series that I had been using. Out of this group, 30 to 35 are now starting to keep the Sabbath. We are hoping this will be a part of our new church plant in the very near future.

Everyone who gives their life to Christ has a story and I would like to share a very quick story from one who attended Brian McMahon’s series. His name is Mo. He is an overnight truck driver. One evening around midnight he was in western Washington channel surfing and came across a radio broadcast on 3ABN. He was so impressed with the program that he listened night after night. He could not believe what he was hearing so he shared it with his mother. The mother was so impressed that she decided to call about the speaker, Brian McMahon. Brian told Mo’s mother that he was coming to Tacoma to do a live series in the spring. They both looked at this as providential and God’s leading. In May, both Mo and his mother are now part of God’s worldwide church family.

Don’t let anybody tell you public evangelism doesn’t work!

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