Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Super-Sized Churches: Response to an article

Trinity Churchphoto © 2005 V Smoothe | more info (via: Wylio)

Recently I read this article entitled, 'Super-Sized Churches: Do we need Adventist mega churches?' from the Adventist Review a publication of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Note: to really be able to understand and fairly judge for yourself if you agree or disagree you should read the article for yourself.

I've embedded it below for you to read and even allow you to download it and share it with others. (Also let me know if you found helpful me embedding the document onto the blog post. May do it more often as needed and if you find it helpful!)

First let me begin by being clear that as a pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist church I'm not advocating that we aim to have or for any Adventist pastor to strive to have a 'mega-church.' Yet with that said, as I read this article a few things really bothered me specifically what seems to be some of the reasoning against a mega-church, as the author Clinton Wahlen states;
The notion that methods and practices can be theologically neutral is a myth. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the methodology that churches employ always springs from theology. The two are inseparable, and each directly affects the other. So we need to consider the theological factors at work in the megachurch movement, as well as other reasons for concern. 
Wahlen then goes on to state six different factors. Now I'm not going to go over each of them but I do want to touch on a few points for you to ponder.

1. The fact that doctrine is down played as mentioned in the first point in the article. Now I'm not saying this doesn't happen. Yet it can happen in any church and is not simply a factor that belongs tagged on a mega-church. I listen to many sermons of different pastors, some being 'mega-church' pastors and let me tell you they are fairly strong on doctrine. Some examples: Matt Chandler, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, and yes Mark Driscoll. Now do we as Adventist agree with every point of their doctrine. Of course not, but that's another story.
2. Another point (#3 in the article) Wahlen tackles is the issue that large churches tend to have or lead to spiritually weak Christians. Essentially the implication that they will not be active but simply hide in the vast multitude. Though there is truth to this yet if we are honest with ourselves this is happening in the Adventist church regardless of it's size. I've often heard from different 'Adventist church leaders' that 80%  of our churches (give or take) are either dying or plateauing. Now if it's true that large churches lend themselves to spiritual decline and most Adventist churches are not growing and their small, perhaps it's not simply about large versus small, but a problem of the heart. When Jesus touches one's heart wether one is in a small or large church they will be led to be active!
3. Profanation of worship is the last point mentioned in Wahlens article. This is perhaps the one that I question the most.  To imply that these churches are profaning God's name in worship to me seems judgmental. Has Mr. Wahlen been to some of these 'mega-churches'? Honestly I don't know if he has or not, but I can tell you that I have been to several and can tell you what I saw. People coming together to worship God! Couldn't it be said that if a small church comes together and sings hymns (or whatever songs they choose) without any true passion along with a heart lifted up to God that they would be 'profaning' the worship experience? Again to be fair we must not state that only mega churches could be profaning God's name in worship. ALL churches must search their own hearts, regardless of worship style and size of the church.

I want to get back to part of the quote Wahlen states that, "...the methodology that churches employ always springs from theology. The two are inseparable, and each directly affects the other." So here's my question; if our methodology as Adventist stems directly from our theology and in North America at least we are not reaching people as we would like and the numbers prove it. Is that a case against our theology or simply our methods? Shouldn't we also be clear that regardless of methods people need to respond to the Spirits call in their lives and the fact that convincing debates don't necessarily produce converted members.

Also a point in regards to the statements made in the article regarding the fact that our large institutional churches don't really fall into the 'mega-church' category, particularly according to The Hartford Institute for Religion Research. I'm just going to be very straight forward and say that I respect Hartford's research and 'their' definition of a mega church. Yet regardless of their definition within the Adventist system 'our' mega churches are exactly those affiliated or in close proximity too our colleges/universities and hospitals. Define mega church however you want, in my book (my definition) Pioneer Memorial church is an Adventist mega church, so is Loma Linda, Forest Lake (in FL) church and we can name several more. Pioneer itself has I believe 7 pastors on staff not including the 'lead' pastor Dwight Nelson.

They are big churches and have a lot to offer and have a lot of expenses, folks can just come and go and never get involved and if the preacher is not careful he can not preach enough doctrine (or in some places to much). In other words these Adventist churches that I'm calling mega churches are susceptible to the six issues raised by Wahlen just as the mega-churches according to Harford.

Essentially I felt that the article was a bit...well...unfair and unbalanced. Bottom line, any church of any size is capable of falling into the six issues raised by Wahlen.  As I stated from the beginning of this post, I'm not advocating that the Adventist church strive to have mega churches. You see I love my church both locally and the Seventh-day Adventist church as a whole. I grew up in it, it has blessed me and my family. I believe in its overall message and mission.

I believe that we are to strive to have spiritually healthy and growing churches. People developing into fully devoted disciples of Christ. If by doing this our churches have 'mega' growth, I wont necessarily call it the start of a mega church I'll call it the work of the Holy Spirit...latter rain?

Did you read the article? Do you agree with it's tone? Do you feel that what is addressed concerning mega churches also is true for a church of any size?


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Joel Osteen: Homosexuality, No Pork, and Influence

Joel Osteen is often noted among some evangelicals for being soft on sin and high on fluff (some have said health and wealth) in his sermons. Sometimes even I have mentioned him on somewhat of a negative tone and honestly will try hard not to do that again.
Joel Osteenphoto © 2007 Cliff | more info (via: Wylio)

Say what we want, Osteen is pastor of the largest church in America. According to his churches website, Lakewood church meets since 2005 in a $95 million dollar renovated arena formerly known as the Compaq center, it seats 16,000. His weekly attendance is over 38,000 along with being seen on television by some 7 million each week and some 20 million each month. Again, this was all taken from their website. Clearly for some time now Osteen continues to have a very strong following and therefore influence on...well...millions.

Yet an interview by CNN's Pierce Morgan who recently took over for the famous and iconic Larry King. Joel Osteen seems to shock even Pierce Morgan in calling 'homosexuality' sin! Now how's that for not speaking fluff! The full interview comes out tomorrow January 26th according to CNN.

In all honesty I actually thing he did fairly well in answering the often asked question to famous preachers about 'homosexuality.' Check out his response below! (Click HERE if you get this via RSS/email)

You may also recall that a few years ago Joel Osteen also stated that he follows the Old Testament dietary laws. He doesn't eat pork! Hey perhaps he's not to far from being a Seventh-day Adventist after all:-) Watch that clip below!

All joking aside. Obviously I don't agree with everything Joel Osteen says, but I certainly can agree, overall, with his biblical stance, yes biblical stance that speaks against the practice of living a homosexual lifestyle and eating 'unclean' foods.

 I bring all this out here at the blog, because this man influences millions of people in one way or another. He will be accountable before God for how he has influenced those people, and you know what I tend to believe that he fully understands that. Nonetheless, I am no one to judge. Yet what about you and me? We too everyday are influencing those around us in some way, wether we believe it or not. We may not have the audience of a Joel Osteen but we do have an audience. Our family, friends, neighbors, and those we work or go to school with.

The question then is not if we are influencing someone, but what kind of influence are we being to others? Are our lives preaching Christian fluff or is it showing that we stand for something? Seems like Osteen stood for something...


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Big Wave Surfing & Faith!

Growing up in California I was your typical kid who absolutely loved going to the beach to bodysurf and bodyboard. One summer the only thing I did was go to the beach, workout, and play sports until my money ran out and my dad said, 'time to get a job son':) Well that was a long time ago.

Big Wave Surfing Teahupoo Tahitiphoto © 2007 Duncan Rawlinson | more info (via: Wylio)

Nonetheless there was always one thing that fascinated me about surfing. BIG WAVE surfers! There are a lot of people who surf, there are NOT a lot of people who are BIG WAVE surfers. It's really amazing to see someone ride a 25-35 ft. wave! Crazy? Needless? Well not for Mark Visser a well known big wave surfer. Recently Mark didn't just go BIG WAVE riding, he went BIG WAVE riding at night, at Jaws in Maui a place notoriously known for it's huge waves!

Watch the video below! The video may look like it's been computer generated but it really is not! Here's what was said about how it was done via the website that posted the video.

The shots of him riding a 40-foot wave is so perfectly awesome that it looks computer generated at times. But it's not. He was wearing a buoyancy vest and a modified surfboard with built-in LED lighting.
The lighting technologies were created especially for the project by Solus Corporation using ground breaking NASA submarine lighting to ensure the wave and board were lit in the right places, at the right time and illuminated the wave without hindering the vision of Visser, the jet ski drivers and the helicopter pilots.
Here's the video: NOTE: The video has NO sound, so don't be raising the volume on your computer:)

So as I was contemplating on what Mark Visser did. I just imagine how it would be if we as Christians were as daring at times to do incredible and amazing things for God that He might be calling us to do. If a man can feel compelled to do something as crazy as riding jaws at night even with NASA lights or whatever or whatever they were and risk his life while doing it. How much more should we feel compelled, being that Jesus risked everything by coming to this planet and dying for us. Should we not risk it all for His cause?

So I don't believe that God is asking you to ride a 30-40ft wave at night! Yet, what might God be calling you to do that requires you to step out in faith? BIG WAVE faith!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Documentary: Adopting Haiti

Last week January 12th was the one year anniversary of the earthquake that hit Haiti. Next month one of my elders and friend from my church will be going to Haiti on a mission trip along with his son and a group from Bass Memorial Academy. So when I came across this post at A Sabbath Blog it drew my attention.

Image source: Mat toid Entertainment

The post tells of a documentary made by Timothy Wolfer a student at Pacific Union college (a small Seventh-day Adventist college in California) he made called 'Adopting Haiti.' Here is a synopsis of the documentary from the production company's website.

“Adopting Haiti” is a documentary by filmmaker Timothy Wolfer about the struggle of the Maison des Enfants de Dieu orphanage and the 135 children who called it home. “Adopting Haiti” shines a light on a side of the Haitian tragedy that few are even aware exists. With only the clothes on his back, filmmaker Timothy Wolfer followed Tawnya Constantino and a team of dedicated volunteers as they navigated the often dangerous conditions in their struggle to evacuate 135 Haitian orphans and bring them to the United States.
CNN recently posted an article written by Mr. Wolfer highlighting the film. I have posted the documentary below, it will be available on Hulu according to A Sabbath Blog for two weeks (until about Jan. 25th or so) then it will be available to download or buy from iTunes, Amazon, or Netflix.

So make sure to watch for free below or at Hulu! (click HERE if you get this via email/RSS feed). I ask all that we continue to pray and support the ongoing endeavors to help the people of Haiti.

One last note if you truly feel impressed to help one of the kids from Bass Memorial Academy go on the mission trip please contact me by email at


Friday, January 14, 2011

Most Pastors Have No Friends

I came across this blog post which has a quote from H.B. London who is head of pastoral ministries for Focus on the Family that said, "at least 70 percent of pastors in the United States claim they have no friends."

hermandad - friendshipphoto © 2005 Rufino | more info (via: Wylio)

Pastor Pete Wilson makes some very good points in his post. Pastors along with everyone else were created to be in community. It is 'heartbreaking' as Wilson says, to hear the alarming statistic given by London, because being in community, having solid, good friends is such a true need.

Jesus no doubt had some good friends, his disciples of course. Yet he also seemed to have an inner core James, John, and Peter. Along those lines he also seemed to like to spend time at the house of Lazarus. The next most famous person in the entire New Testament Paul also seemed to have some close friends read chapter 16 of Romans!

The need for us to have friends is without question. The question is should pastors have/make strong friendships with people from his/her church? What if the church is a small church? Is it easier or more acceptable in a larger church?

As a leader/pastor it can be a difficult line to walk. Wilson points out correctly that often pastors will hear never, never make close friends, specifically it's been said, close friends with people of your congregation because they can use things you say against you. Though there's truth to that, Wilson goes on to say, "If a normal person has friends we call it healthy. If a pastor has close friends we call it a "clique."

Again the question is not if a pastor should have friends over all but if he/she should have close friends from within their congregation(s).

In making close friends there is always a risk, just like falling in love. We risk getting hurt. God made us, knowing that we could, not want to be 'friends' with Him. Though that's hard to fully understand to some point, there is a valuable principle. Making friends, close friends at that, there is always that risk of getting hurt. I believe pastors need to take that risk as they feel led in prayer and congregations should not critique the pastor for it without merit.

If congregations want pastors to stay a long time in their church than they need to understand that he/she will need to make friends. The pastor should never play favorites and the friends must also understand the role of his/her friend as pastor.

So what do you think? If you're a pastor/leader do you have close friends within your congregation/organization? As a member of whatever church you may go to, do you know if your pastor has any close friends among the congregation? Are you ok with it?


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Arizona tragedy and Political Rhetoric

By now we have all heard of the tragedy that occurred this past Saturday in Tucson, Arizona as congresswoman of Arizona Gabrielle Giffords (pic below) was shot in the head, several others injured and six were killed by a young man of 22 years named Jared Loughner.

Gabrielle Giffordsphoto © 2009 Freedom To Marry | more info (via: Wylio)

Since the incident the news media has been talking much about the political rhetoric, as different individuals from both parties (democrats and republicans) to some degree have implied or stated that this is in part the reason a man would just take a gun and start shooting at people at a political event.

Below you can watch two videos, the first is Keith Olbermann from MSNBC making a comment about the 'political rhetoric' after the incident in Arizona. Some important notes: 1) I absolutely don't agree with most of what this man says overall. (note I said overall, not necessarily the video below. 2) I don't normally watch his show. 3) I came across this commentary through someone tweeting it and thought I would post it here and let you decide what you think of it. 4) If you haven't been following all the news this will help bring you up to speed. 5) Lastly, again, I DON'T agree with much of what Mr. Olbermann says overall...

Also here is President Obama's speech at the memorial of the one's killed during the shooting. Some interesting points are made. Again you decide

So how does all this apply here at Bathos? Well in many ways and I'll be brief and to the point.

1. To blame anyone but the shooter regardless of 'political rhetoric' is to open up a can of worms that will be hard to close. Would we blame 'political rhetoric' if for example someone went into a health food store and stole a bunch of healthy foods since unhealthy food is so much cheaper to buy than healthy food and the individual wants to eat healthy but can't afford it. People have blamed lobbyist's and politics for this...
2. As Christians we can't forget there's this huge problem called SIN.
3. Though we should put full blame on the shooter, there is no doubt that everyone, yet especially those claiming the name of Jesus, should be careful regarding what we say and how we say it. The bible is full of admonitions about this issue.

Jesus did say: "But I tell you men will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken." (Matt. 12:36) And Romans 2:6 says, "He will judge everyone according to what they have done." (NLT)

So what do you think about all this? What did you think about Olbermann's comments and Obama's speech?


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We're back: My first v-log!

Check out my first video log as we get back at it here at Bathos! Yes I didn't shave and yes my goatee has some 'white stuff' on it:)

red cameraphoto © 2008 Reinis Traidas | more info (via: Wylio)

Let me know what you think? Would you like to see more video logs as opposed to writing?

Bathos:V-log #1 from Javier Diaz on Vimeo.


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