Maranatha, p. 168
Young men and women will be lifted up, and will regard themselves as wonderfully favored, called to do some great thing. There will be conversions many, after a peculiar order, but they will not bear the divine signature. Immorality will come in, and extravagance, and many will make shipwreck of faith.
Center for Youth Evangelism (CYE)
Located at Andrews University, this training and resource center was established to claim, train and reclaim youth for Christ. It also serves as a “think tank on how to effectively minister to youth” and provides classroom education for youth professionals to try out creative ministries for post-modern youth.The website included these ministries or resources:
- 180 Symposium which addresses issues facing youth in the SDA Church and the Christian community. They stated that their desire is to “move forward together in a prayerful, contemplative way,” being sure to “think about the things that really matter.” http://www.adventistyouth.org/180
- Catalyst, which is a non-SDA organization for “shaping leaders in the church,” and “equipping them to engage and impact their world.” Their vision states, “Catalyst sees a need to ignite and unite the next generation of leaders allowing their passions and gifts to flourish and have maximum impact in our churches and culture.” In referencing their national tour, they state that they have seen “community developed across denominational lines.” This is another ecumenical organization involved in social justice, and the charismatic, contemporary, emerging church movement. Why do SDAs send their youth to this organization when they have the best information already available through the Scriptures and the writings of Ellen White?
- Children’s ministry resources from non-SDA websites, such as The New Church of Joy which advertised “Faith for Kingdom Advancement” and “Revolution, Reformation, Revival: Jesus is back on the throne of people’s hearts.” It also included a video about people being “anointed” by the Holy Spirit. This new church is “multi-cultural,” seeing the “authentic and true power of God” and people “being healed from sickness and disease.” It states to “come experience what God may have in store for you.” The adult congregation is “reaching an intimacy” through their “dynamic, spirit-led praise and worship” that drives them “closer to Christ.” They advertise that their youth services will have them “on the edge of their seat” as they hear the “truth of God's Word” through media, drama, video, music, etc. The Children's Ministry is “jammed pack with fun and exciting teaching.” http://www.thenewchurchofjoy.com
This type of advertising reveals characteristics of a false revival and the emerging church. Children need to know that life is not all about fun and excitement.
Child Guidance, p. 139
The more quiet and simple the life of the child--the more free from artificial excitement and the more in harmony with nature--the more favorable it is to physical and mental vigor and to spiritual strength.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, p. 415
Novelties in the form of sensational dramas are continually arising to engross the mind, and absurd theories abound which are destructive to moral and spiritual advancement.
Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 459
Through the drama he [Satan] has worked for ages to excite passion and glorify vice.
- Church of Refuge ministry that included a link to an Adventist Review article, which stated that “struggling over petty preferences” such as diet, dress, music, and vocabulary has “shattered relationships” for the youth and that we should not be “judgmental.” The truth is that if those are “petty” issues, then the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy books are petty as well, since they are filled with those issues. Yes, we must not judge, but we still must lovingly teach truth, even if it is not popular.
- Creative Arts included the art of drama.
- Cruise with a Mission: Beware of these cruises, since the activities have included spiritual formation workshops, Christian comedy, and a prayer chapel with prayer stations.
Website links to non-SDA resources were also included, the worst being Youth Specialties, a non-SDA youth-oriented organization that promotes the New Age and emerging church movements. It hosts the annual National Pastors Convention, where many contemplatives are invited to speak. They also provide a prayer labyrinth, yoga, contemplative prayer sessions, “emerging worship,” “Creating Sacred Spaces,” and “God Encounters: Spiritual Exercises That Transform Students.” It is a tragedy that SDA youth directors have attended the Youth Specialties conferences and model their youth ministries on what they learned.
It is interesting to note that this website called “Sacred Space” is promoting Christian unity, prayer for peace on earth, prayer with the pope, and is run by Irish Jesuits in Ireland.
World Youth Prayer Congress
The NAD Youth & Young Adult Ministries advertised combining “4Extremes”: Youth Ministries Leadership Summit, the Just Claim It Prayer Congress, Ignition – God-encounters, and a Children’s Worship Festival (sponsored by Ohio Conference of SDAs) in one location with separate programs. It was entitled “World Youth Prayer Congress” held April 2010 in Columbus, Ohio with the theme being “Just Claim It: Experience the Power of Prayer - Claiming Communities for Christ.” It was stated that the Holy Spirit was being poured out and that this effort combined four “filling stations for spiritual growth, training, motivation and encouragement.” Over 15,000 youth attended this five-day event, which included, among other activities, biblical drama nightly, a Sabbath biblical floats parade and children’s worship festival, sports teams, a prayer journey, daily prayer/devotional walks, prayer rooms, 24 hour prayer chapel, prayer chain, secret prayer pal, prayer drills, prayer tag, 5K prayer run, prayer walls/altars, and experiential prayers.
Some SDA churches now have a “Prayer Garden” or “Garden of Prayer” during their services. It is interesting to note that the Roman Catholics include a charismatic ceremony called the “garden of prayer” which includes walking from person to person during prayer and the laying on of hands. All this praying may seem admirable. However, with all that is involved, it is nothing more than part of the emerging church movement. Other prayer fads include “prayer warriors,” “Jericho marches” or “praise marches,” “prayer offensives,” “prayer anointing services,” and “prayer expeditions.” There are also prayer initiatives, prayer retreats, prayer ministry teams, prayer guides, prayer swaps, prayer evangelism, and even a prayer shop. It is as if prayer and the promotion of the Holy Spirit have become commercialized. There is nothing in the Bible that shows we should be involved in these kinds of activities. It is popular to say that prayer is a spiritual gift, but God’s Word tells us otherwise. Prayer is available to everyone.
Guest speakers at the Prayer Congress included: T. J. Foltz, Tim Elmore, Jeremy Grant, Paula Olivier, Willie Ramos, Jonathan Cobb, Susan Perez, Rashard Burton, and Eddie Hypolite. It was stated that Hypolite is a “pastor, educational consultant, leadership trainer and motivational speaker, who travels internationally, speaking and teaching in the area of urban evangelism and church planting, life development, social education and youth and street culture. His vocational background was originally in the area of social work. He now serves as Associate Youth Director for the South England Conference.”
In his Sabbath sermon, Hypolite warned leaders about not making church doctrines “a yoke and burden,” that they are “teaching the traditions of men” as “commands of God.” He stressed the centrality of Jesus and that He “is not a doctrine.” If church doctrines are a burden to anyone, then the Ten Commandments must also be a burden, and for that matter, the whole Bible would be a burden. If Jesus is not a doctrine then we cannot believe in Him, since a doctrine is a belief. If we followed Hypolite’s instructions, we would throw out the Bible and our belief in Jesus. That path will not lead to eternal life.
This website included the London Live - Special Easter Event on a Friday night in 2008, which included an agape feast with Hypolite as the speaker. Also included were the London Live drama team, media team, and music. It was announced that the Café would open at 6:30 p.m. with the program starting at 7:45 pm. and that there would be a special focus on the Easter message.
The June 2010 Pacific Union Recorder included an article on the prayer congress. It described the massive prayer wall which was placed in the convention center so that young people could write their “prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication” and mentions the importance of people needing to feel, hear, and touch God before He “becomes real.” Are they being prepared for Satan’s impersonation of Christ on this earth, where they can feel, hear, and touch him, thinking he is really Christ?
As a pre-convention prayer initiative, a “40 Days in the Upper Room” was held. It was stated that, “. . .we are positioning ourselves for the expected outpouring of the Holy Spirit.” “God is preparing His young people for a great Kingdom movement of the 21st century. We firmly believe that during JCI-2, youth and youth adults will see God's vision and purpose for them and will be Holy Spirit empowered to bring Kingdom change to the world.” One activity was to “participate in the Prayer Torch Relay that will culminate at the opening night of JCI-2 with the lighting of the Prayer Torch (yes! just like the Olympics).” Just like the world. Why?
Since upper rooms are becoming popular for SDAs, we found it interesting that an international and interdenominational ministry called “The Upper Room” includes the following:
- Instruction on worship, prayer, Bible reading, meditation, and journaling.
- Spiritual support groups and in-depth training in the Christian spiritual life.
- Courses in core spiritual practices and spiritual formation.
- A prayer wall.
- The Academy for Spiritual Formation.
- A Pathways center for Congregational Spirituality.
- A Soulfeast yearly conference and SoulFiesta: Leading for Christian Transformation occasional conferences.
- The Upper Room Chapel, Museum, and Bookstore.
Danny Chan is the founder and lead pastor of the ministry called Renovatus (Latin for “renewal”), a weekly Friday night multi-sensory worship experience held at the Eagle Rock SDA Church in the Los Angeles area of California. Chan is the young adult pastor of the church, where he is “committed to discovering new ways of relating to and connecting with the mystery of God.” He enjoys film and television production and has traveled extensively.
The information below comes from an interview between the AToday online editor and Danny Chan.
- The service is described as “an ongoing journey” . . . to experience God’s mystery through “contemplation, hands on interaction, prayer, silence, multi-media, etc.” to make worship a “multi-sensory encounter.” One example is a “road” that cuts through their worship space as they “meditate on passages of scripture.”
- The AToday editor experienced their agape feast by “sitting on floor cushions in the dark, eating pita bread and hummus and smelling the burning of incense while taking in one of the best modern worship bands in L.A.” which gave him a “sense of inclusiveness and acceptance.”
- Chan responded that for most young people today, worship has become “too stale, too predictable and too theoretical to be experienced.” He described the agape feast service “where we experience what it means to know grace and reconciliation with others in the context of a middle eastern meal. Which is a really long way of saying we had communion.”
- Chan explained that Renovatus is “a new approach to the worship itself that's responsive to postmodern trends in culture,” which largely came from the United Kingdom but is rooted in the worship approach of Christianity in the first century.
- Renovatus was created mainly for young adults (18-35) who “are seeking a fresh approach to church.”
- Renovatus explores Bible truth “through releasing the depth and insight found in stories and metaphors.” When they experience the stories first hand, they have a “life changing quality that is relevant and applicable to both churched and unchurched people.”
- During Chan’s sermons, he uses a lot of graphics and images that are “looped and splashed on two large screens.” Although some have complained that it's distracting, Chan’s explanation is that it is “to engage all of the senses as we experience truth, particularly the visual sense. But we are honest about not succeeding at it all the time.”
- Chan produced a short film, entitled “Air Film,” which is “about seeking because that's the road so many travel on. The film is the first in a series of films about a young man on a quest for a true spiritual experience. The plot takes a life-changing twist when the young man meets a wise figure who gives him more than he bargained for. The film not only helps to draw people to our site called areyouseeking.com, but it's an insightful story that speaks about our quest for something more.”
The “wise figure” was dressed in what appeared to be a brown jacket with a hood, which resembled the brown cowl which monks wear. Is this a subtle way of desensitizing people to pagan ways?
- When asked how Renovatus informs and reflects SDA beliefs, Chan replied that it is a “new approach to an old message.” It is to help young generations “approach and connect to the same Gospel story and Adventism. . . . And one of our contentions (and I'm paraphrasing Eugene Peterson), is that Revelation doesn't so much share new information, it simply helps us to experience what we've already read throughout the scriptures.”
- Tony Campolo is one of Chan’s spiritual influences and he is currently reading Stand Against the Wind by Erwin McManus, Reversed Thunder by Eugene Peterson, and anything by Philip Yancey.
It is evident from the contents of The Barbarian Way [another book by McManus] that McManus has a fascination for old Celtic lore. The ways of the Celts in battle, their commitment to cause and their loyalty to their king seem to be a recurring theme. From the beginning, this book emphasizes the “barbarian way” of doing things and walking through life, hence its name, and declares these ways superior by far to traditional Christianity.... The bottom line is that Jesus Christ doesn't want barbarians. The barbarian heart is the one from which He has delivered us. That “primal,” sensual, I've-got-to-be-me attitude that casts off restraint has no place in the Christian congregation. As romantic as that distant era of warfare and wild living might seem, we can't go back, and we don't really want to. There's nothing back there for us anymore. We need to be satisfied with Christ alone, as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. That is enough, and more than we can possibly live out in this short earthly span. The true barbarian way—brutal, self-serving, violent—needs to remain in the deep past where it belongs, where my own Celtic forbears are buried with their swords and superstitions. —A review of The Barbarian Way By Kevin Reeves
Of course, those who read The Great Controversy by Ellen White already know that the barbarian way will return to this earth at the end of time and be worse than before.
The Renovatus website included a video with the following:
- Mention of The Road Less Traveled book by M. Scott Peck.
- Describes their prayer stations and stations of the cross.
- Shows darkened rooms with candles, cross icons, etc.
- Includes a bedroom setting as a place of solitude, rest, and intimacy with God.
With the Renovatus worship area filled with so many of these items, how much time and expense is put into this type of worship practice? The simple days of pews and songbooks for the youth are quickly passing away. Will they realize too late that all these “things” were not necessary to gain a deeper relationship with Christ, that these were actually leading them away from Him, that it was child’s play on the devil’s playground?
This is the Renovatus website: http://areyouseeking.org/#/renovatus. It advertised its music as the “highest quality modern worship music.” On the other hand, the true God believes that modern worship music is an abomination.
With the above information, it can be concluded that Chan is very influenced by the emerging church movement.
Link 2 Uth
The following information comes from the January 2007 Link 2 Uth Adventist Youth Ministries newsletter through the General Conference of SDAs. Activities during a tour to the U.S. by the Euro-Africa Division youth directors included:
- Attendance at the National Youth Workers Convention organized by Youth Specialties, which they “enjoyed tremendously,” thought it was “extremely inspiring,” and profited in the technical and “personal spiritual training.”
- Attendance at an Andrews University seminar entitled “The Youth Leader: Evangelism, Leadership and Spirituality” with lecturer Joe Kidder. The directors spent time talking about their personal leadership and spirituality and thought Kidder “did a great job.”
- On a Sabbath afternoon, visited Willow Creek Community Church. They were “really impressed and inspired” with their Guest Service and Reception Ministry and thought it was a “great example for us all.” Sunday morning they attended the Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan (non-SDA mega-church with Rob Bell, who promotes contemplative prayer and the emerging church). They stated that it is always fun to talk with those “in our global community.”
- Visited the Mennonite “Sight&Sound Theatre.”
- They stated that they “have to learn from our non-Adventist brother preachers” and that they were able to “grasp a huge amount of ideas by attending different programs and events.”
This is an SDA young adult movement (ages 18-35). Notice the “God Encounters” title from the Youth Specialties convention. These SDA youth claim that GODencounters is a “holy movement” among “new generations” who desire to have a 24/7 experience with God, “recklessly living for His renown.” In wishing for deeper experiences with God, these youth focus on seven “discipleship themes” where “practices” of Christian faith are emphasized.
In 2008, their website included instructions on the art of “being still” by first identifying “sacred space” in any place that is free of distraction to spend time with God. Secondly, take deep breaths while imagining Christ breathing life into you and then exhale your worldly cares. Then ask God to speak to you. If you read Scripture, ask what God might be telling you. Learn to listen. If your mind wanders, repeat the names of Jesus over and over. Again, this is part of mystical spiritual formation and contemplative prayer.
A GODencounters website link displayed this information:
- The Atlantic Union Conference GODencounters retreat in 2008 entitled “Transition—It's Your Choice.”
- A 2007 GODencounters retreat entitled “Here I Am to Worship” in Pennsylvania and sponsored by the New Jersey Young Adult Ministries (with a graphic showing young adults with their hands raised while singing).
- A 2007 GODencounters Conference entitled “Reflecting the Son” and held at the Forest Lake SDA Church in Florida. It began on a Friday night with worship leaders and artists including “Sea of Glass” (rock music) and “Acts of Renewal,” which is a “Christian” comedy act. In one scene it shows someone praying and it was stated in a way to make people laugh. How can the churches recommend artists like these who are disrespectful to God and His truth?
This link advertised the “Encounters Café: A time of relaxed worship and fellowship with intentional direction” at the Collegedale Church of SDAs/Southern Adventist University.
This link from 2008 mentioned how “seven years ago a handful of young adults began a journey, returning to the heart of worship,” when GODencounters began. A “40 days of prayer and devotion” was advertised, with information on websites with “devotional entries to aid in your prayers and meditation on the theme--Jubilee.” It was stated that the “40 days” was a time to seek to “follow GOD’s footsteps,” and “joining Him in what He is doing.” They also “aim to give focus to GOD,” “continuing to be morphed into a reflection of Jesus” and that they are “ignited to disciple and be discipled.”
The brochure for a weekend retreat in Florida that year was entitled “The Kingdom of GOD is a Party.” It was also mentioned that they are “learning to live a life of joyous celebration” because of their Lord and Savior Jesus. These were also advertised: 1) a “GODfest” in San Luis Obispo, California; 2) GODencounters Conferences in Washington State, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey; 3) Texas would soon reveal the GODencounters weekends slated to occur throughout the state; 4) to pray over the many gatherings and the “desire to pray over the transformation process GOD is working in young adult lives daily.”
It is alarming that the SDA leadership is not only allowing this but promoting it. GODencounters is blasphemous and its name takes God’s holy name in vain. How much worse will it get before God intervenes?
On the website home page, a You Tube video was included of youth performing contemporary gospel/praise music while swaying, jumping, clapping, and raising their hands. It was filmed on July 1, 2010 at an Impact Atlanta event held at another location during the SDA General Conference Session.
Currently, GODencounters is promoted by the following SDA conferences: Pennsylvania; New Jersey; Florida; Georgia-Cumberland; and Washington State. There are certainly others who are joining the list.
It is interesting that GODencounters mentions “recklessly living,” since reckless means to be careless, headstrong, rash, indifferent or disregarding consequences. This is exactly what they were doing. It is hard to imagine that just down the road from the General Conference Session, the youth were engaged in such disgraceful activities. It is not the God of heaven that they are encountering. It is an insult to the holy and heavenly Father and disgraces the SDA Church for the world to see. The majority in the Church are not witnessing to the world; the world is witnessing to them.
This website included the monthly e-newsletter for Adventist youth ministry leaders in cooperation with the Center for Youth Evangelism in which it advertised the book GODencounters: Pursuing a 24/7 Experience of Jesus. The authors of the book include Allan Martin (a seminary professor and the curriculum coach for GODencounters); Lynell LaMountain (founder of Life Ignited “to ignite people with life, laughter, and love by sharing God´s pure grace”); Shayna Bailey (relationship columnist for Insight magazine and a medical student), and many other collaborators and was published by Pacific Press Publishing Association. It is endorsed as the 2010 Discipleship Book of the Year and “mirrors a discipleship movement among new generations, seeking a 24/7 experience of the living GOD.” The book states that hopefully it will bring “blessing and deeper intimacy with Jesus.” Unfortunately, this book is available through the ABCs. It is also recommended at the following website by José Rojas, the Director of the Office of Volunteer Ministries for the NAD.
Also on the Adventist youth website, there is a video about a GODencounters weekend with contemporary music and speaking presentations. The video projects these words: “Craving something deep and real? We’re taking a risk . . . recklessly seeking an encounter with God.” Youth that were interviewed described the weekend “as a party,” as “diverse and eclectic,” that it was a “jubilee” with “great vibes,” felt God’s presence in the worship and speakers; and another mentions the term “sacred space.”
The New Hope SDA Church in Fulton, Maryland included information on Matthew Gamble as the speaker at a GODencounters event at their church in October 2010. It was stated that the event began Friday night with a worship band, Gamble speaking on “restore: rebuilding relationships through rejuvenating faith,” and ended with a 10:00 p.m. Encounters Café where a band filled with “Jesusness” played Christian rock music. Sabbath afternoon and evening included speaking and a book signing by Gamble. This was also advertised at many other SDA websites. According to God’s instructions, the event was far from restoring and rebuilding relationships through rejuvenating faith. Faith comes because we obey God, not through rebellion.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
“Empowering God's Kingdom and beyond”/IMPACT Atlanta 2010 [iATL] The young delegates to the General Conference Session were to find opportunities for “servant leadership” and to experience “discipleship equipping” which was to “empower” them to “expand God’s Kingdom” in Atlanta and beyond. Baraka Muganda stated that the General Conference Youth Department’s focus in 2010 was to remind the youth on the importance of being involved with evangelism and leadership. Jonatan Tejel shared their goal to help the youth discover leadership roles in the SDA Church and prepare them for those responsibilities by “strengthening their relationship with Christ.”
How can the leadership help the youth to strengthen their relationship with Christ when they are using the world’s methods? Was the leadership aware of what was transpiring at the youth event? If so, did they not see the danger? Do they just not care because they enjoy the music themselves and are concerned with raising the membership count to bring more funds into the treasury?
Jan Paulsen, the past SDA General Conference President, was instrumental in promoting young people to leadership roles in the SDA Church. Another example of why there is such a pitiful situation with SDA youth is partly due to the 1993 General Conference Annual Council in which it was recommended that the youth leaders would implement the following: 1) Encourage youth to become involved as elders, deacons, deaconesses, Sabbath School leaders, and to serve on church boards and as delegates to constituency sessions, and as conference and union committee members. 2) Friday night and Sabbath afternoon programs are to involve the youth in activities such as forums, agape suppers, drama, mimes, puppets, radio programs, outreach, campouts, and “spiritual” weekends. [Basically, they are to fellowship, party, and have fun.]
These recommendations have only led to the multiplying of emerging churches, in the quest to be innovative, relevant, cultural, and entertaining. Certainly youth need to be involved as well as older adults, but not when they are unsanctified. This simply leads to growing the kingdom of this world. Have the SDA leaders lost their senses? Do they not realize that they will be held accountable for the loss of souls?
“Adventist Leaders invited to Discipleship and Habitudes Training”:
Tim Elmore, president of Growing Leaders (not an SDA organization), equipped iATL delegates with attitudes and leadership habits, “sharpening their ability to make a positive impact in their church and community.” Elmore has provided resources and nationwide leadership training for the Future Farmers of America, multiple athletic programs such as the University of Texas football team, and a number of government offices (Washington, D.C.) have used the “Habitudes” curriculum. http://www.habitudes.org
The May 2010 Pacific Union Recorder wrote an article about “Ignite”—a one-day “intensive worship” conference for youth in Northern California. It was held on a Friday in February 2010 at the Palo Cedro SDA Church with over 70 students participating. Two of the church worship leaders and the assistant pastor of the Chico SDA Church “dreamed of equipping a new generation of worship leaders” in order to worship God in a “fresh and authentic way,” “to equip and empower students to lead worshipers in their home church,” and “Ignite was born.” The conference included an evening program led by a non-SDA pastor and his Christian rock worship band. One attendee stated that “we need some direction with praise and worship music in the Adventist churches.” It was felt that the “presence of God moved greatly through the music” and that at the end of the night the students had “committed to taking the world back for God.” The article closes by quoting one of the Palo Cedro worship leaders who explained that “this generation is so hungry for meaningful, new ways to worship” and that Ignite was a “catalyst for exploring new territory.”
You Tube advertised Ignite as an “equipping event for high school worship bands” and to come and “be ignited!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIDxMxdtNC0
The Palo Cedro SDA Church has a Christian rock band, “En Route,” which travels to share their music. They believe it is “an opportunity for students to express worship in unique and varied ways,” that they are on “a journey from some place to another place” and to a “greater level of spiritual maturity.” They strive to be “revolutionary” with “fresh ideas, elements and talents” to lead their peers into the “very presence of God.” It was very disheartening to hear a sample of their version of “How Great Thou Art” played in a blasphemous rock style. On a regular basis, En Route provides the worship for “The Journey Service,” which is for the “progressive” members. “God: Out of the Box” was the title for one of their September 2010 services. The subject for the “Family Service” was “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (named after a television show).
Again, we see a church trying to cater to everyone, but in the process they have brought in error. History shows us that if that pattern continues, error will win out. The direction their church is headed is downward. Unless they repent, their journey will not take them where they believe it is headed. We can appreciate the youth and their desire to become involved in the Church. However, just because we want them to feel needed and accepted, does not mean we allow them to do everything they wish even when it is not right. Children can be “spoiled to death”—eternally. Lack of discipline is a crucial issue. On the other hand, we can be too harsh and unloving as well. Satan desires to have us at one extreme or the other, and that includes guiding our children. It is important that we are balanced in every area of our life.
The “presence of God” continues to be stressed. However, the types of events and practices becoming popular today are driving out the presence of God. Satan is being worshiped and the majority do not realize it.
An April 2009 Adventist Review article entitled “ConneXions99 a Decade Later” focused on how “lives changed by this young adult movement.” In April 1999, four hundred youth “stormed” the General Conference of SDAs with “dreams, prayers, worship, and hope.” It was a follow-up to the “eXcite98” grassroots youth gathering at La Sierra University. Andy Nash explained that participants created new ministries and networked with existing ones. An event planner said that “it was a movement of the Spirit amidst a generation wanting to be the change.” The June 98 Columbia Union Visitor featured information about “eXcite 98.” Some of the conference events included “powerful workshops,” “enjoying Adventist bands and entertainment,” meeting SDAs from across the country, inspired by keynote speakers, and “focusing on the face of Christ through awesome worships.”
Unfortunately, they could not focus on the face of Christ through “bands and entertainment.” Then ten years later, the Adventist Review asked some participants what ConneXions99 meant to them and how their lives changed as a result. Here is some of what the comments included.
- From Spain: “My dream as an artist . . . was to transcend postmodernism by locating and standing on timeless and universal multidimensional principles instead of traditions.” This led to his studies of theology, arts, theater, physics, filmmaking, etc. He is now working on several artistic projects, which include some “Christian film feature” projects based on the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy.
- Marcel Schwantes, Chattanooga, Tennessee: “That event was instrumental to my ‘born again’ experience. The year before, I was divorced and felt hopeless.” He stated that both the ’98 and ’99 events ministered to his soul and revived his spirituality. He saw Christ working with 400 “visionary kingdom-builders.” Because of that he believes the Holy Spirit fueled him to carry out two West Coast events: Unite99 and Unite2000 at La Sierra University. He has a Masters in Organizational Psychology and a Bachelors in Communications and is now in private practice as a certified life and leadership coach. He provides “personal, career, and organizational coaching to help clients shift, take action, and effect changes from a place of Divine strength.” He also provides training and seminars in human resources and leadership development for churches, nonprofits, and small organizations. Schwantes is the online editor for Adventist Today, a “progressive journal reporting on contemporary issues of importance to Adventist church members.” LifeTalk TV, with Steve Gallimore, included segments with Schwantes discussing his coaching, where self-help and psychology were mentioned.
On Schwantes’ website, one of the coaching questions he included for someone to ask is “What ethnic cultural activity (such as Hanukkah, Swedish Dance of Lights, Kwanza, Cinco de Mayo) will I engage in within the next month?” Also included was a testimonial by Lennox Fleary, a recording artist of contemporary gospel/jazz music, in which he describes Schwantes’ ability to “draw on the blueprint within, to facilitate a person's innate ability to guide their choices.”
Schwantes is a graduate of the Institute for Life Coach Training, which is an accredited training program through the International Coach Federation and known worldwide. This program teaches such practices as “heightening consciousness” and includes a link to a psychosynthesis call that one can listen to. Psychosynthesis is an approach to psychology developed by Roberto Assagioli, a psychologist, humanist, visionary, and a world famous occultist. It uses such techniques as guided imagery, drama therapy, journaling, body work, meditation, self-psychology, individual and group psychotherapy, and self-help groups. Assagioli also wrote the book entitled Psychosynthesis. The institute also promotes “transpersonal psychology” which focuses on “higher states of consciousness,” self-realization, personality, and humanistic psychology. Tilden Edwards, a promoter of contemplative spirituality, suggested that those who practice this discipline and have started experiencing “spiritual unfolding” and other unusual experiences should read the book Psychosynthesis in order to understand the dynamics at certain stages.
Schwantes is also a certified trainer using the PeopleMap System, and as stated on his website, it is an “incredibly useful and powerful tool for helping individuals and companies understand the various personalities that comprise their company or business.”
- Julene Duerksen-Kapao, New Zealand: “I brought a group from La Sierra University and we had a great time.” Kapao is now part of the North New Zealand Mosaic SDA church plant that is “completely outward-focused” and is the Senior Bible teacher at Longburn Adventist College in New Zealand.
The North New Zealand Mosaic SDA church plant is advertised as “bringing together disconnected, diverse, and broken people and transforming them into a creative community of faith. Regardless of your journey, Mosaic is about second chances and new beginnings.” Is it a coincidence that this church has the same name as the Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, California, pastored by the emerging church pastor, Erwin McManus?
The Longburn Adventist College website, under the Bible/Religious Studies section, mentioned teaching the personal application of “positive self-talk.”
Kapao wrote a news item for the Record (South Pacific Division of SDAs) which stated that each year Longburn Adventist College students enjoy a yearly outing to a play, with the last one being the fairy tale, “Beauty and the Beast.”
Kapao is also a book reviewer for The Edge, published by the SDA Signs Publishing Company in Australia, a contemporary magazine for youth, typically versed in the ways of the world.
- Jami Keller, Boise, Idaho: “My wife, Marla, and I presented at both conferences.”
The Kellers are members of Oasis Church, Boise, Idaho (listed on the General Conference of SDAs church directory). “Jami and Marla Keller (interim) is our Spiritual Formation Team Leader.” They minister in the Children's Ministries, Men's Ministry, Family Ministry, Praise and Worship Ministry, Pastoral Coaching, and Collegiate/Sr. High Student Ministries. They have traveled nationwide to present Spiritual and Emotional growth seminars, and have shared with the church community. One daughter is majoring in Theater Arts, the other in Spanish and Philosophy.
The Oasis church family provides “uplifting contemporary Christian music.” They are “warm and friendly, non-judgmental, grace-filled people” and “basic biblical truths” are presented in “a way that's relevant to today.” “Come as you are, and everyone is welcome!”
This church recommends the book Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton, which is about spiritual transformation. She is a contemplative speaker who has authored numerous other books, including Invitation to Solitude and Silence and was trained at the Shalem Institute. She taught at the Willow Creek church and is now the president of the Transforming Center (Illinois) and teaches spiritual formation to Christian leaders and pastors.
The church also went through a “50-day Jubilee spiritual growth experience” as a time of “spiritual renewal.” This is a typical emerging church.
Have the previously mentioned individuals changed their lives for the better by attending ConneXions99? If so, why are they headed in the direction of the emerging church movement?
Youth Gospel Crusade, Bahamas
An “Obsessed with Jesus” Youth Gospel Crusade was held on Friday, August 8, 2008 in the Bahamas. It was advertised that the “Holy Ghost Power” was “moving like a magnet in the hearts of young people in the communities and as a whole the North Bahamas Mission.” The youth were instructed to turn their hearts over to Jesus and to stop allowing peer pressure “to build up walls of discourse that seems hopeless to break down or even difficult to get over.” It was also stated that many souls would be “turned over to Jesus Christ.” To close the crusade, a “Youth Summer Splash” was announced for the following Sunday. It was to be the largest beach picnic ever, with “lots of fun and surprises” and “more competition so lets get geared up” and “remember to bring your bathing suits.”
Is it really the “Holy Ghost Power” when the crusade ends with a beach party and competition? The youth are admonished to stop allowing peer pressure, yet along with truth, their elders are teaching error.
The Review and Herald, October 27, 1896
The gaiety, the foolish nonsense, the lack of sobriety, that are current in pleasure parties and picnic gatherings, lead to grave evils. The youth are pleased with exciting pleasures, as was Herod when the daughter of Herodias danced before him.
Confrontation, p. 67
The numerous socials, festivals, and picnics, to tempt the appetite to overindulgence, and the amusements which lead to levity and forgetfulness of God, can find no sanction in the example of Christ, the world's Redeemer, the only safe pattern for man to copy if he would overcome as Christ overcame.
United Arab Emirates
Four youth mime to contemporary music at the 7th Anniversary Celebration of the SDA church in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. April 24, 2010.
Collegiate Sabbath School Quarterly (CQ)
Each week’s lesson and illustrations are done by seven different young adults worldwide, including Australia, Philippines, Jamaica, England, Kenya, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, United States, Ghana, Grenada, Thailand, Sweden, and Bulgaria.
Each month CQ’s World interviews someone. One interview took place with Thomas Macomber, an attorney who owns a music production company called “Walkin’ on the Water Records” at http://www.wowrec.com and includes the blues, jazz, rock, and bluegrass music. He has also been an adjunct professor at La Sierra University since 1985. Macomber has now merged his business knowledge with his love for music and teaching into a class at LSU’s School of Business, a course which “turns the classroom into a start-up music company” with students as marketing and promotion executives who are responsible for its success and development. He believes it is important that others in the church “care about what the young adults are doing” and that “resources can be made available for them to act.” He hopes to see his class “become a model for other Adventist colleges.”
Yes, some of us do care about what the young adults are doing, and we are alarmed because the music they are participating in originates from the ex-heavenly choir director.
One of the resources recommended on the CQ website includes the Center for Secular and Postmodern Studies out of the Global Mission Study Center of the General Conference of SDAs, which “explores the potential for authentic Adventist ministry in today’s rapidly evolving postmodern culture.” It also seeks to “discern opportunities for mission presented within emergent culture,” to create resources, and provide training seminars and tools. At present the leaders are Matthew Gamble and Kleber Gonçalves (Brazil).
Gamble received a Masters of Divinity from Andrews University and in 2008 completed a Doctorate in Ministry with emphasis in Transformational Leadership. He has spoken worldwide through his nonprofit ministry, VagaBondservant International and has appeared on 3ABN. He serves as a Senior Consultant for the Center for Creative Ministry and the Center for Secular and Postmodern Studies. Gamble is also an advisor to the Adventist Christian Fellowship board and the NAD Young Adult Advisory.
Gamble recommends The Ragamuffin Gospel and The Signature of Jesus books by Brennan Manning, which both promote contemplative prayer.
In one online posting, Gamble admits his love for secular music, especially the alternative rock band Incubus. His conclusion is that music is “a medium that is more often than not an expression of a person’s spiritual journey.” He does not think the band is for everyone and that they do not appear to be God-fearing. However, he states that the Bible says that the temple of the Holy Spirit is in you, so “that does not limit the Spirit of God only to followers of Jesus.” His conclusion is that “God’s Spirit is working inside everyone to save them from themselves.” So as he listens to music, he listens for the “spiritual warfare/the great controversy that’s going on inside someone” and that “when that is packaged with a genre of music” that he likes then he has “got a win-win.” Gamble believes that more people, especially leaders, are “realizing the difference between tradition and gospel-truth” which will result in the progress of our denomination.” He feels we need to “continually take our heads out of the sand” and become more serious about the teaching of the Bible and “less concerned about various traditions we came up with 100 years ago (unless they are based on the principles of the Bible).”
These emerging ideas will result in the downward progress of our denomination, not upward. How tragic indeed that the apostasy and spiritualism in the SDA Church has affected the youth like a wide-spreading wildfire that cannot be stopped. In the 1970s, a popular Christian song entitled “Pass It On” begins with these lyrics: “It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up to its glowing.” How ironic that even though its words refer to God’s love, that it was songs like this which began the movement toward Christian rock music in the Church. The spark ignited into a roaring blaze of “sing and celebrate,” which has led down the smoke-filled path to the emerging movement. Just like the discos of yesteryear, many Church members, especially the youth, sing with lights dimmed or with dramatic lighting. Their words and thoughts are saying, “Let’s party. No need to worry. We can sin and be forgiven, sin and be forgiven. God’s grace will cover us until Jesus returns.”
Adventist Youth Society
This is an organization for senior youth in the SDA churches. While some of the program ideas are good, others are not, such as performing drama and puppet shows, and watching movies (including some on You Tube, in which one included profanity). In the 2010 Yearly Programming for AYS is this statement: “Are you allowing pollutants (TV, music, games, idols, etc.) to contaminate your air?” This is ironic, since they are promoting TV, music, games, idols, etc.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, p. 609
Modern Israel are in greater danger of forgetting God and being led into idolatry than were His ancient people. Many idols are worshiped, even by professed Sabbathkeepers.
Here are some of the points listed as advantages of YouthFirst:
- The youth bring energy and new ideas to “traditional ways of running a church.” [This is dangerously in line with the emerging church movement.]
- Pathfinder honors and Adventurer awards are “geared for involving youth,” including silver and gold awards. [Here again is seeking after the prizes of the world, honoring and praising self rather than Christ.]
Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 81
There are many professing Christians who know not Christ by an experimental knowledge. Oh, how my heart aches for these poor, deceived, unprepared souls! As I stand before congregations, and see the self-sufficient, self-righteous ones, and know that they are not preparing themselves to do acceptable work for Christ, and to meet Him in peace, I am so burdened that I cannot sleep. I ask myself, What can I say to these souls that will arouse them to a sense of their true condition? Self is the all-absorbing theme of their life. I long to reveal Christ so plainly that they will behold Him, and cease to center their attention on self....
The Review and Herald, June 18, 1889
Whatever has been done to attract the attention to self, has detracted from the glory that should have been rendered to God, and has brought leanness to your souls. It is through this avenue of self-esteem and self-sufficiency that Satan will seek to ensnare the people of God.
- When we affirm what the youth do, we send the powerful message to them that “what you think and what you do, matters.” [This only applies if we guide them properly in what they think and do.]
- Both the youth and older adults “will benefit from the energy and creativity.” [This depends on what the energy and creativity produce.]
Many activities which are not approved of by God have come into the SDA Church to “keep the youth in the Church.” When will the lesson be learned that there is never an excuse for watering down God’s truth and His instructions? The youth are still leaving the SDA Church. It is not entertainment that they need. If God’s directions are followed in the church programs and the youth still leave, that is not the fault of the programs. As the end of this world draws near, truth will become less popular. Therefore, less youth and even adults will be interested. That is no reason to change. How does it secure their eternal life when they are given more of what the world has to offer?
The website also included a story about the lives of two altar boys and two priests and how the boys grew up to become Marshall Tito (the abusive head of the communists in Yugoslavia) and Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Roman Catholic bishop who “received an Emmy award for his work on television where he positively affected hundreds of thousands of people”). Why would any faithful SDA wish to promote these types of personalities?
The Great Controversy (1888), p. 565
Every cardinal, archbishop, and bishop in the Catholic Church takes an oath of allegiance to the pope, in which occur the following words: ‘Heretics, schismatics, and rebels to our said lord the pope, or his aforesaid successors, I will to my utmost persecute and oppose.
The Golden Angels, Korea
The Golden Angels are a youth singing group from the Northern Asia-Pacific Division of SDAs. They have assisted in almost 20 evangelistic meetings in Japan, Taiwan, Mongolia, Korea, and Hong Kong. They also visit churches, camp meetings, schools, patients, orphans, prisoners, and soldiers. In 2010 they performed at the SDA General Conference Session. Their music is similar to the Heritage Singers, who are known for contemporary praise worship and southern gospel.
The July 9, 2009 Adventist Review had a cover feature on the Amanecer SDA singing quartet in Argentina. Their inspiration has come from such groups as the Gaither Vocal Band, Take 6, Avalon, and the Heritage Singers. The article begins by describing their performance at an event where “you can feel the electrifying excitement . . . the explosion of cheers” as “four young men walk onto the stage” and “harmony envelops the crowd, bringing honor and glory to God.” How can they bring honor and glory to God when they are singing popular contemporary Christian music and are at an event with non-SDA evangelist, Luis Palau? He had a close relationship with Billy Graham, is popular with young people, and suggests that some individuals are “born with an inclination” towards homosexuality. It is estimated he has shared Christian teachings to 25 million people in 70 countries. He stated that “God has truly blessed the Alpha team and the millions who have attended their courses in over 160 countries. I pray our organizations will continue in partnership and purpose as we strive to reach the world for Jesus Christ.” Palau is referring to the Alpha course, which is mentioned earlier in this chapter.
Why would any SDA wish to be associated with such an event? Amanecer stated that they have “started a new repertoire with secular lyrics to open doors to places” they “couldn’t have dreamed of going with only Christian music.” They wish to uplift Christ with their music, but how is that possible by singing the devil’s music? One member of the group stated that “many of our Adventist churches are losing their young people” and that “at times there are such limitations on the style of music that the positive message never gets delivered in a way the youth will hear it.” Amanecer also “focuses on reaching youth with the true message of Christ’s love,” but their music and the true message do not coincide. What kind of individuals will be brought into the Church through such deception? Amanecer also performed at the 2010 SDA General Conference Session. It is obvious that the Church’s theology is beginning to match up with its musical preferences.
The North Asia-Pacific Division News & Views for March/April 2010 included the following on the SDA work in Mongolia:
- Eighty-five percent of the SDA members in Mongolia consist of young people.
- The Youth department held its first interchurch gospel singing “Eternal Sound” contest/festival in August 2009, with eight churches participating. The talent included creative/motion songs. It was planned to make the festival an annual event.
- The first Mongolian AMiCUS festival was held in December 2009. A Christmas theme was presented where they “enjoyed watching our young people’s creative productions.” These included groups singing, reading poetry, presenting dramas, and other fun activities. The article stated that the “most exciting part was the musical drama” presented by each of the eight groups. They “contextualized the Biblical stories into modern lifestyle and culture of Mongolia using the melodies of the country’s popular songs for the conversational parts. . . . It was fun and interesting.” They are hopeful and believe that the AMiCUS programs will help reach many non-SDA Mongolian students. (AMiCUS is the Adventist Ministry to College and University Students, which is under the direction of the General Conference of SDAs. It seeks to meet the needs of the SDA students on non-SDA campuses worldwide and train them to witness.)
- In December 2009, the first Bible Olympiad was held in Mongolia. “People were so excited about this activity” that the various churches began preparations a month ahead of time, and included 88 participants from 14 churches. When the first level started, “participants were tense as they were very serious” about the Olympiad. The end of the competition resulted in “a tie for second place and one first place winner.” They believe that the next Olympiad will be “a tough competition because many who failed this time will prepare wholeheartedly to try to get to the top.”
- Another event included a rented 500-seat amphitheater so that many could watch a musical play about the first missionary to Korea presented by a Korean team named Sullami. The concert hall was “jam-packed with people” and some had to stand. The members of the cast “performed well” as they sang, danced, and acted, and the “musical play was a success.” The following day, the AMiCUS leaders organized games and indoor sports for the students. The purpose of the social activity was for the students to enjoy fellowship. It was stated that they hope God will bless the movement.
- The Youth Department also decided to organize its own Mongolian Golden Angels team in order to dedicate one year to God. Their purpose is to train the young people for service in order to support, empower, and energize the churches.
This website, College and University Dialogue, is an international “journal of faith, thought, and action” published by AMiCUS in cooperation with the world divisions of the SDA Church. An article is included by Kris Coffin Stevenson promoting the use of breath prayers, such as “Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” She stated that it could be “mentally said in rhythm to your breathing pattern,” and that “this method can eventually make prayer a part of your very soul as the prayer expands to fill your subconscious.” She recommended being “assured that God will continue to lead you on if you persevere in understanding the mysteries of communication with Him.” Pacific Press published Stevenson’s book, Delighting in God: Prayer Is Opening the Heart to a Friend, and the ABC sells her book, God’s Mighty Champions. She is a former assistant editor of Insight magazine.
Adventist News Network for November 2010 reported that the 7-member Mongolian Golden Angels chose the name Descendants. The group “offers concerts and classes during five-day public evangelism meetings.” The article stated that the group “has aided church growth” and “contributed to the church's health and cultural outreach.” Also mentioned was the fact that the group “will drive for two days for a gig” and that on one 750-mile trip, their rental van broke down ten times. Perhaps the Lord was trying to tell them something?
Gig: “a job, esp [especially] a single booking for jazz or pop musicians to play at a concert or club.” This describes perfectly what groups like the Descendants do.
How disheartening it is to see worldly practices being taught and accepted even in new frontiers such as Mongolia. This is truly becoming a worldwide epidemic.
The Purity Ball is becoming popular among SDA youth. At the Madison SDA Church in Nashville, Tennessee, teenage boys and girls lined up before being paired off to learn ballroom dancing. The dancing is justified because it “features a vow to abstain from sex until marriage and offers tips on ‘appropriate’ touching between the sexes.” That is to be commended; however, if the Lord has instructed that dancing is not to be a part of a Christian’s lifestyle, why is it being promoted? Purity can be taught much more effectively without the dancing element.
The Purity Ball was also a cover story in an issue of Insight magazine for SDA youth. The article began with these words: “The Revelation Worldwide Purity Ball, jointly sponsored by the Revelation Worldwide organization and the Youth Department of the Northeastern Conference [of SDAs] . . . .”
The Adventist Home, p. 498
There are amusements, such as dancing, card playing, chess, checkers, etc., which we cannot approve because Heaven condemns them. These amusements open the door for great evil.
Ibid., p. 517
David's dancing in reverent joy before God has been cited by pleasure lovers in justification of the fashionable modern dance, but there is no ground for such an argument.
That I May Know Him, Ch. 242
Some regard sin as altogether so light a matter that they have no defense against its indulgence or consequence.... With some... religion is purely a thing of feeling. You will see a fair show of fervor and devotedness for a time, but soon a change comes.... They want a sip of the pleasure of excitement--the ballroom, the dance, and the show....
Ibid., Ch. 312
Let every one, for Christ's sake and for his own soul's sake, shun conformity to the world, to its customs, vanities, and fashions. Beware of human commandments that will obscure the holy commandments of God. The pleasure lover is ever unsatisfied, and continually desires to seek again the excitement of the ballroom, the theater, or the party of pleasure.
The author writes: “Here on Insight’s Web site, we try to feature some of the most accessible groups from across the genre spectrum: gospel, pop, country, rock, indie/alternative—we’ll even review some hip/hop releases in the coming months.” It goes on to state that “what I stay away from are the ‘extremes’: the heavy metal, the mainstream/Christian crossovers, anything that more than a small group of people might find offensive,” admitting that the music they feature may not be what you are comfortable with. The advice given is to “take the safe route” and that if the music encountered doesn’t “speak to or give aid to your relationship with Christ” we should avoid it, but to remember that “a particular style of music might really speak to you but not to your friend.” They planned to start including “select music clips to accompany each review to better aid in your music selection.”
What the author fails to acknowledge is that it does not matter what we think about music but what God thinks about it, and He is very displeased with the type of music promoted. It is not His music. To say that it is alright to listen to popular music as long as the majority like it, does not make it right. In spiritual matters, the minority are in the right. They always have been and always will be on this sinful earth. Unless we learn to love the “music of heaven” now, we will not be found singing with the heavenly choirs.
Christian Education, p. 42
If you lower the standard in order to secure popularity and an increase of numbers, and then make this increase a cause of rejoicing, you show great blindness. If numbers were evidence of success, Satan might claim the pre-eminence; for, in this world, his followers are largely in the majority.
“Every year, Insight's Writing Contest makes teens famous--well, maybe not famous, but a little richer. Next year it could be you!” Here we have in one sentence, not just one issue but three: competition, fame, and fortune. This magazine is not even close to preparing young people for what is ahead of them.
ScreenSmart/“Get the Facts to Make Wise Media Choices” (Hollywood movie reviews)
Regarding a certain movie, an adult reviewer stated: “What I liked about this movie. . . ” and “What concerned me about this movie. . .” then “While I’m not making recommendations for whether or not you should see this movie (that’s for you and your parents to decide!), here are some ‘thinking’ questions. . . .” Concerns about the movie included: taking God’s name in vain, inappropriate gestures, hint at the theory of evolution, white lies, etc.
The Adventist Home, p. 330
By beholding we become changed.
Other features included: “Cartoon of the day,” “Caption the Cartoon” by Guide editor, and “Rich's Cheezy Jokes.”
The Publishing Ministry, p. 217
The illustrations I could not possibly accept under any consideration. Some of them look as if prepared for a comic almanac....
Our High Calling, p. 292
Jesting and joking may please a class of cheap minds, and yet the influence of this kind of conduct is destructive to spirituality. I speak to you as a class and also as individuals: Guard your words. Let sobriety and sound common sense characterize your conversation. Do not trifle with the purity and nobility of your souls by condescending to indulgence in stale jokes, and in cultivating habits of trifling conversation.
The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.
The following were promoted: JellyTelly and Adventures in Odyssey (non-SDA programs through Focus on the Family) and Sabbath Hangout (contemporary music).
The Guide Blog for April 1, 2010 included the following information in an article entitled “Meet the Lads!” by the editor, Randy Fishell: He met a group of “wonderful young men known as ‘The Lads.’ ” (This is a Christian Rock/pop band, writing both songs of praise and worship as well as contemporary music and originally from New Zealand but now in Nashville, Tennessee.) Fishell writes, “(you know, ‘Music City,’ and all of that). These fun-loving guys play energetic, God-honoring music. . . . Now, the music may be a little TOO energetic for some of you and/or your parents. But before you leave the Lads behind, check out their funny ‘Lads TV’ sketches, or listen to their goofy radio antics. (But no matter what, always put your parents' desires first!)”
The Lads’ music is far from being “God-honoring.” How are the youth being prepared for heaven when not only the world’s music but Music City, “funny TV sketches” and “goofy radio antics” are being endorsed? Since the parents may enjoy the world’s music and the “funny” stuff as well, instead of suggesting that parents’ desires come first, why not point them to God’s desires?
The Adventist Home, p. 515
All want to be thought brilliant, and give themselves up to hilarity, foolish jesting, cheap, coarse flattery, and uproarious laughter. The eyes sparkle, the cheek is flushed, conscience sleeps. With eating and drinking and merrymaking, they do their best to forget God. The scene of pleasure is their paradise. And Heaven is looking on, seeing and hearing all.
Ibid., p. 524
There is mirth and carousing, hilarity and glee. In all this the youth follow the example of the authors of the books [or media] placed in their hands for study. The greatest evil of it all is the permanent effect that these things have upon the character.
Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, pp. 156-157
In the broad road all are occupied with their persons, their dress, and the pleasures in the way. They indulge freely in hilarity and glee, and think not of their journey's end, of the certain destruction at the end of the path. Every day they approach nearer their destruction; yet they madly rush on faster and faster. Oh, how dreadful this looked to me!
Vocational honors were first introduced in 1928. These foster pride, a focus on self, and a love for competition, such as the drill team. It was stated that it will teach order, morale, enjoyment, fellowship, leadership, self-control, and respect. There are other more honorable ways to learn those attributes. What message do the badges that are displayed on the sashes send to others? “Look what I did!” Additionally, some of the honors are not conducive to the children’s spirituality, such as Parade floats; Christian drama; Puppetry, etc.
This video shows the Mt. Rubidoux Pathfinders drill team in senseless marching and tap dancing with much cheering and applause. It is as if they are being prepared to join the world’s army instead of God’s, not to mention the pride that is being fostered.
This video is of the Northeastern Conference Pathfinders drill team and drum corps with a hypnotic syncopated beat that is used at popular parades instead of the steady march beat.
Puppet and clown ministry is included in the Personal Evangelism honor. The Basketball and Soccer honors involve writing about famous players.
The Adventurers (four years to fourth grade) honors include Gymnast; Media Critic (time spent each day with a variety of media, whether Christ-centered or secular); Olympic; Prayer Warrior(new in 2005; includes a prayer walk); and Troubadour (includes acting and entertainment).
In 1996 the Pathfinder Leadership Award (PLA) and the Pathfinder Instructor Award (PIA) curriculum were developed, bringing in more honor to self.
This website discusses how the Pathfinder Leadership Award (PLA) was introduced as the entry level training package for Pathfinder leaders and staff members in the South Pacific Division on January 1, 2009. Among other areas, it provides “comprehensive and quality training in various aspects of spiritual formation.” The Pathfinder Specialist Award (PSA) is the highest level of Pathfinder leadership training and was introduced in the South Pacific Division in April 2010.
The August 27, 2009 Adventist Review focused on the Pathfinder Camporee and an article was included on the honors. It stated that these are “proudly displayed on Pathfinder sashes.” “The proud sense of achievement and accomplishment . . . was all part of the fun.” “They are now challenged not just to wear the Honor patches proudly, but take what they have learned and go serve proudly.” An article on “off-site fun” mentioned sumo wrestling (a Japanese national sport) where children could put on inflatable suits.
Australian Union Conference Pathfinder Camporee (January 2011): It was announced that there would be exciting activities, top speakers, outstanding night programs with awesome music and drama.
Pathfinder Radio includes miscellaneous contemporary, country-style musicians, etc.
Pathfinder Bible Achievement/Bible Bowl (PBA) was developed in 1987. This is a program for Pathfinders (grades 5 through 10) in which groups of up to seven team up to answer specific questions from the Bible or portions of a designated book. The article stated that this is a “fun way to encourage Pathfinders to study the Bible, while they also learn team work and excellent study skills.”
Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 133
The time is altogether too full of tokens of the coming conflict to be educating the youth in fun and games.
PBA most likely fosters a lifetime commitment to “fun and games” rather than studying God’s Word. On the day of the event, each Pathfinder must wear their full dress uniform, including the sash, etc. so that they will “look sharp.” Again, the sash brings attention to self. Part of the rules state that “if the team members believe that they should have received more points than the judge gave them, they may have a runner send their paper up to the panel of judges at the front of the church.” This type of program is not conducive to keeping the sanctuary holy and reverent. It was stated that “there is no need for the negative side of competition that sometimes occurs in other team activities. Every team can be a first place team.” However, it is also stated that “As you get closer to the Area level date, you will need to select the six (6) best qualified Pathfinders plus one (1) alternate, in case of illness.” This is competition. There is also the pride that goes with winning. How are the others feeling because they did not win? Certificates, pins and trophies (from small to very large) are handed out as well as an engraved bar for each level. First place is gold, second place is silver, and third place is bronze—just like the Olympic games.
Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 182
We should not seek to imitate Sunday schools, nor keep up the interest by offering prizes. The offering of rewards will create rivalry, envy, and jealousy; and some who are the most diligent and worthy will receive little credit. Scholars should not try to see how many verses they can learn and repeat; for this brings too great a strain upon the ambitious child, while the rest become discouraged.
Child Guidance, p. 294
In God's plan there is no place for selfish rivalry. Those who measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10:12.) Whatever we do is to be done "as of the ability which God giveth." 1 Peter 4:11. It is to be done "heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:23, 24. Precious the service done and the education gained in carrying out these principles. But how widely different is much of the education now given! From the child's earliest years it is an appeal to emulation [ambition to equal or surpass another] and rivalry [The act of competing]; it fosters selfishness, the root of all evil.
Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 101
The word of God is to have a sanctifying effect on our association with every member of the human family. The leaven of truth will not produce the spirit of rivalry, the love of ambition, the desire to be first. True, heaven-born love is not selfish and changeable. It is not dependent on human praise. The heart of him who receives the grace of God overflows with love for God and for those for whom Christ died. Self is not struggling for recognition. He does not love others because they love and please him, because they appreciate his merits, but because they are Christ's purchased possession.... He is kind and thoughtful, humble in his opinion of himself, yet full of hope, always trusting in the mercy and love of God.
The motive for reading and studying the Bible should not be to learn trivia so that you can win at a competition. It should be to learn truth so that you can learn to love God and become like Christ in preparation for His return.
Adventist Youth Ministries, South Pacific Division
This division encompasses Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and islands near the Equator, which comprise the Australian, and New Zealand Pacific Union Conferences; and the Papua New Guinea, and Trans Pacific Union Missions.
Move With The Power III is a Youth Ministry Summit to provide training and development for Youth Ministry leaders, including Pathfinders, Adventurers, chaplains, church pastors, and elders. It was stated that training would be provided “by experts in various areas of youth leadership,” such as discipleship and leadership development in order to be “equipped in the best possible way for kingdom-building ministry with the young people in your area of influence.” Pastor Brendan Pratt, Director of Personal Ministries and Sabbath School, Greater Sydney Conference of SDAs, focuses on discipleship and “healthy” churches. His workshop was on how to “put together a spiritual formation plan that is just for you. . . to grow in connection with God and how you’ve been shaped with a unique connection with God.” While discipleship, leadership, spiritual formation, and a connection with God sound like wonderful areas of development, when they are combined with Satanic ideas, they are of no use to God’s people.
A “focus on mission” comes from the July 1, 2010 Adventist Review. In 2009 delegates from the South Pacific attended the first Festival of Mission in Australia to discuss “ideas and concerns including a possible strategic direction for the church.” Delegates stated that the “praise and worship modeled a new way forward, and keynote speakers, Hyveth Williams and José Rojas, set the tone for deeper spirituality.” The article concluded by saying that in the South Pacific “we are involved in innovative mission for our Lord.”
General Conference of SDAs Children’s Ministries
The General Conference handbook, The Children's Ministries Coordinator, includes these ideas:
- Children’s Music Festival with the purpose of providing children the chance to use their talents, including musical mimes, with the festival referred to as a “music extravaganza.”
- Puppet ministry.
- Easter dramas.
- Christmas plays.
- A recommendation of George Barna, along with other non-SDA authors. Barna has held roles in advertising, politics, research, media, ministry, and marketing research on faith and culture, and has served hundreds of parachurch ministries, thousands of Christian churches nationwide, corporations, organizations, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army. He has authored 41 books on such topics as trends, leadership, church health, and spiritual development. Examples include best-sellers such as Revolution, Revolutionary Parenting, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions. His book entitled The Power of Vision states that “tradition can snare us.” Some of Barna’s books have received national awards. More than 100 of his articles are published in periodicals, and more than a million people yearly access his bi-weekly research report on his website at http://www.barna.org. The media cites him as an authoritative source and “one of the nation’s most influential Christian leaders.” He has been referred to as “the most quoted person in the Christian Church today.” Barna is a “popular speaker at ministry conferences” worldwide and has taught at Pepperdine and Biola universities and several seminaries. He served as pastor of a large church and has been involved in church start-ups. He also received a doctorate from Dallas Baptist University, and was awarded the Eagleton Fellowship (politics and government) at Rutgers University. Two of his hobbies are watching movies and reading novels. We cannot rely on someone of this background and with that much influence and popularity in the Christian world today.
The Review and Herald, November 21, 1878
Wrecks of character have been made by these fashionable church festivals and theatrical performances, and thousands more will be destroyed; yet people will not be aware of the danger, nor of the fearful influences exerted. Many young men and women have lost their souls through these corrupting influences.
The Signs of the Times, April 21, 1890
The words of Jesus addressed to this generation may well be regarded with sorrow and awe. He asks, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Christ looked down the ages, and with prophetic eye marked the conflict between the antagonistic principles of truth and error. He saw how real Christianity would become almost extinct in the world, so that at his second advent he would find a state of society similar to that which existed before the flood. The world would be engaged in festivity and amusement, in theatrical shows, in the indulgence of base passions. Intemperance of every grade would exist, and even the churches would be demoralized, and the Bible would be neglected and desecrated. He saw that the desperate revelries of the last days would only be interrupted by the judgments of God.
This link shows a letter dated May 18, 2000 from the General Conference Sabbath School/Personal Ministries Department. It states that it has moved to an “interactive teaching mode in which students and teachers participate in the lesson with the use of dramatic presentations, skits,” etc. following the formats in Counsels on Sabbath School Work, which say that Sabbath School exercises should be as interesting as possible and that children should be involved in the activities. It is “common practice” worldwide, in youth groups, and the GraceLink curriculum for Sabbath School and other church activities. It also states that the Bible books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel used these kinds of activities to illustrate biblical truths. This is amazing. What Bible version was used to come to that conclusion? It would also prove that Ellen White contradicted herself, since she made many statements to the contrary. Tragically, the Church leadership stoops very low in order to cater to entertainment desires. The letter ends by stating that the SDA Church does not change its theology but the methodology must always be “updated and meet the minds of the people with whom we are working.” In the process of changing the methodology, the theology is changed. It is an emerging church idea that worship and theology needs changing to meet the needs of a postmodern culture. However, we are not to change God’s truth just to meet people’s “needs” or to cater to their feelings. God’s truth stands forever. It is the lack of straight truth that has led to the pathetic state the SDA Church is in today.
North American Division of SDAs Children's Ministries
A “Go Fish Conference” was advertised as a “fun packed, hands-on, opportunity to learn how to work with children. Each day is fast-paced, interactive, and practical. With over 70 workshops there will be plenty of time to learn and be encouraged by those who have worked in children's ministries.” Attendees can include pastors, parents, leaders, teachers, and “anyone who works with children birth to age 12 will find practical ways to improve their ministry. Churches that are involved in or would like to start creative ministries such as puppetry, clown, and drama are encouraged to bring their teams. Children's ministry resources are available with the 40 or more exhibitors from a variety of publishers and companies.”
The Georgia Conference of SDAs “Go Fish Conference” was held on the weekend of February 11-13, 2011 at Cohutta Springs Conference Center, Crandall, Georgia. A keynote speaker included Craig Jutila, founder and president of Empowering Kids, and who served as Children’s Pastor at Saddleback Church for 13 years. He received his Christian Education degree from Biola University. He is the author of many books and articles and was recently identified by ministry experts nationwide as “one of Children’s Ministry Magazine’s Pioneers of the Decade.” Here again we see the SDA Church supporting someone in the Purpose Driven and emerging church movements. Biola University includes the Talbot School of Theology, which teaches spiritual formation, spiritual direction, spiritual renewal, spiritual disciplines, and promotes Dallas Willard, Ignatius of Loyola, etc. It is almost unbelievable that our SDA leadership would stoop so low as to invite this type of promoter of unbiblical methods. José Rojas and Wintley Phipps (SDA pastors) were among the keynote speakers.
Following are some of the topics included in teacher certification: The Post Modern Child; Kids in Discipleship; Leadership Styles; Temperaments; History of Clowns/Clown Ethics; History of Puppetry; Making Simple Puppets; Puppet Manipulation; Puppetizing Songs; Starting a Puppet Ministry; Street Ministry; Stages, Lighting, Special Effects; Writing Skits; Basic Ballooning; Silent Comedy; Face Paint Lab; Gospel Illusions; Improvisation; History of Drama/Use of Drama in the Church; Children’s Drama Ministry Basics; Costuming; Cultural Shifts; Elements of Pantomime; Sketches, Monologues, One Acts; A.C.T.S.; Hearing God; and Prayer Styles.
This SDA educators website discusses “Oz & Wilde,” who were included as presenters for the conference. It states: “Filled with Biblical truths, witty comedy and colorful apparatus, Oz and Wilde tell kids (& their adult friends) about Jesus through ‘Christian magic.’ ”
A “Go Fish--Putting Families First” was a Pacific Union Leadership Convention held at Leoni Meadows November 11-14, 2010 for Family Ministry and Children's Ministry Leaders. “Inspirational General Session speakers” included David Hall, Nevada Utah Conference Family Ministry; Debra Brill, NAD Vice President; Manny and Melanie Cruz, NAD Youth and Church Ministries; and Randy Fishell; Editor of Guide Magazine. Vendors selling the latest Family and Children’s Ministry resources included the ABC and Advent Source. Presentations included: The Postmodern Child; Diversity in Children's Ministries; Kids in Discipleship; Storytelling with Cartoon Characters; Basic Face Painting; Basic Ballooning; Developing your Clown Character; History of Clown Ministry & Clown Ethics; History of Drama - Children's Drama Basics; Sketch Writing; Street Ministry; History of Puppetry & Start-Up; Backgrounds, Staging, Music & Sound Effects; Hand Puppets; Shadow Puppets; Creating a F.U.N. Church; Temperaments, etc.
The “Go Fish Convention” in Loma Linda, California, November 8-11, 2007 provided training and the “most current research and information on the 21st century child. Children’s Ministries’ goal is to reach across cultural, socioeconomic boundaries and replace the secular worldview with a biblical worldview.” One can only imagine where the “current research and information” came from to help the “21st century child,” since this convention included the world’s view on ministering to children. Part of the convention included a tour of the Saddleback Church.
The Florida Conference of SDAs “Go Fish Convention” in Orlando, Florida was held September 11-13, 2009. Here is what one participant stated: “The staff was a perfect blend of fun-filled story tellers and message-sharing gospel workers. One never knew when, out of the laughter of a clown act, an inspirational message would follow. . . . Among balloon animal classes, magic tricks, puppetry, health tips, nature walks, and meeting new friends, the main purpose was not lost.” It can be agreed that if the main purpose was about entertainment, then the purpose was not lost. Another stated, “Even the music class turned out to be a fun, praise-the-Lord-with-all-you’ve-got experience.”
The link above also included information on an SDA Singles’ Ministries Annual New Year’s Retreat held December 30, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010 at Camp Kulaqua, High Springs, Florida. The entertainment featured “Professor Doodad,” who is Darren Casteel, the CEO of the Creative Arts Store in Cleveland, Georgia. He has been a children’s pastor for 15 years and created Quakeville, a “high energy, exciting and fun filled drama relating Scriptures and Bible truths to the children.” He uses “mascots, puppets, original music and special effects during services each week” and is a “professional puppet designer and performer as well as a superb talent in magic, storytelling, and gifted lecturer.” He has worked “across denominational lines to provide quality children’s programs across 24 states.” According to God’s instructions, those programs are not providing quality and should never be used by intelligent-thinking leaders.
The Ohio Conference of SDAs has a “Go Fish Convention” planned for October 7-9, 2011 at The Conference Center at NorthPointe, Lewis Center, Ohio.
It is heart-breaking to realize that the emerging church movement is snaring in even SDA children at a very young age. God’s faithful must cry out, “Lord, can you at least spare the children?” They cannot save themselves, because they are too young to know the difference. Truly this will bring God’s wrath upon those who are responsible for this travesty.
And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
When Jesus commissioned Simon and Andrew to be “fishers of men,” He did not have this type of spiritual formation in mind. The two disciples “forsook their nets.” The SDA leaders have not forsaken their “nets.” In fact, they are using the devil’s nets to snare the unaware.
Vacation Bible School
A 2010 Vacation Bible School program entitled “Kids’ and God’s Communication Network” (KCGN) and produced by the Review and Herald included skits and a drama/puppet show with puppeteers “Oz and Wilde” as a “different genre for your Bible story time.” The “History Mystery station” used storytelling, drama, interactive activities, and “sleuthing to share the day’s Bible story.” It was stated that there was an effort to keep the drama “light” but still keep the truth of the Bible stories. Drama is drama whether it is light or not. “Play-by-Play” was an “opportunity for some fun and games,” with some “more rambunctious than others.”
The October 2009 Pacific Union Recorder included an article on the Antioch Church Vacation Bible School. The third night began with a song service led by the United in Christ house band, in which the “gym resonated with kids and staff clapping, jumping and singing lively songs.”
Adventist Review KidsView
Any faithful SDA will be dismayed with the KidsView section of the Adventist Review. Here are just a few examples that do not encourage children to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
- March and April 2009: The monthly calendar featured items such as “Michael Jordan played his last NB [national basketball] game in 2003”; “National Heroes Day in Barbados”; “Daffy Duck debuted in 1937”; “Dr. Seuss was born in 1904”; “Barbie debuted in 1959.”
- March 2009: “If I Could Live in the White House. . .” article with the following question and children’s answers.
Question – “If you were moving to the White House, what would be the first thing you would do on your first night there?”
Answers – “I would get every video game in the world. . . . I would also get 30 cats. I think I’d also get a 500-foot TV with ultra surround sound and I’d get lots of cars too.” Another wrote about having a party and if no one came he would just play games. One girl said she would have a slumber party with popcorn, pizza, and drinks, invite friends to watch Alicia Keys sing (R&B/Hip Hop), stay up all night, have a pillow fight and watch a movie.
- May 2009: A “Student Work” section with SDA schoolchildren’s responses to a writing assignment on a time when they were “proud and happy about something they had done”
“When I got my report card, I started counting all my A’s: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. . . . I got on the . . . Principal’s List for the very first time! . . . That was the best day I ever had and I was very, very proud.” One boy told about winning a poster contest and how he was so proud. Another boy talked about the fun of playing basketball and how one day he helped his team to win and they celebrated and he was so proud. Another describes playing football with his friends and his teacher and how at one point when he caught the ball, his team was “cheering and chanting” and he “felt really proud.”
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
The Signs of the Times, February 5, 1894
Can anyone think it possible that pride can exist in the heart and yet that heart have a place in the kingdom of God? It was pride that caused the fall of Satan. His heart was lifted up because of his beauty. All his wisdom and glory were the gift of God; but the very gift bestowed by the generous love of God was perverted to wrong use in exalting himself, as if his glorious endowments were something that he himself had originated.
Not only is self the hero, but there are the “world’s heroes,” whether real or make-believe. The true Hero, Jesus Christ, is forgotten. It’s all about fame, fun, and fortune, and eternal realities are forgotten. Self takes the throne and forgets that God is on His judgment throne. Let us pray that not one of us will be found guilty of leading any youth astray.
Matthew 18:6; 25:40
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. [25:40] And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 190
All around us are the young, the impenitent, the unconverted, and what are we doing for them?