July 18, 2007

Something for Seekers

Grounds for Belief
Do you know someone, possibly a younger adult, who may be well-educated and says they have no interest in religion, but who often talks about spiritual things? The person may make negative comments about church or TV evangelists, but seems to be looking for something more in life—something spiritual? That is what is known as “a seeker.”
The context for sharing faith has changed enormously in recent years. The fastest-growing segment among American religions is “no religion.” There are now millions of people in numerous countries worldwide who are actively disinterested—even hostile—toward organized religion of any brand, but very interested in spirituality. It’s called “postmodern” reality, and unless we learn to deal with it, soul winning may be severely impeded in North America, Europe, Australia, and Japan. And people such as Kleber Gonçalves, a Seventh-day Adventist youth pastor in São Paulo, Brazil, will tell you the same thing is spreading fast in the growing urban areas of the Southern Hemisphere.*
Ed Dickerson has produced one of the first practical discipleship tools for postmodern ministry by an Adventist author. Grounds for Belief is a thin (143 pages), deceptively simple book published last spring by Pacific Press Publishing Association. It reads like a novel—with short interludes of philosophy, theology, apologetics, and commentary on popular culture. It could be mistaken simply for a story about Renee, a Christian young adult, and her hopes for David, her boyfriend, who’s home from the Marines and is actively disinterested in church and preachers.
Grounds for Belief, incidentally, is not primarily the title of the book. It is the name of a café ministry in which much of the dialogue takes place. And don’t get your hopes too high. At the end of the story David hasn’t decided yet whether to accept Christ. But the author has made a great case for following Jesus. If this book is shared with seeking persons at just the right moment by the right friend, it could make all the difference.
You can purchase this book from your Adventist Book Center or online at the ABC Web site.
*“The End of the World as the Church Used to Know It,” Journal of Adventist Mission Studies, 2:2, pp. 38-56.
Inmate Spiritual Counseling Curriculum
This tool is a specialized one in the process of making disciples. When a mature Christian is ready to take seriously Christ’s admonition in Matthew 25:36, “I was in prison and you came to visit me,” this resource can help them learn to do that without harming themselves or others.
The curriculum has been published as a series of 18 booklets. It covers such topics as “Prison Subcultures,” “Inmate Worship,” and “Volunteer Chaplaincy,” and was written by a veteran, professional prison chaplain, Cleveland Houser. Houser is one of a growing number of ordained Seventh-day Adventist ministers employed by a state correctional authority, not the denomination, yet endorsed and fully credentialed through the General Conference Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries.
The curriculum can be used as the textbook for a training class or as required reading in a coaching process. If you are an elder or pastor, and someone in your congregation feels called to prison ministry, this is a great tool, even if you don’t know anything about prison ministry.
You can purchase the Inmate Spiritual Counseling Curriculum from AdventSource or by calling 
(800) 328-0525.
Monte Sahlin is director of research and special projects for the Ohio Conference. He chairs a team at the Center for Creative Ministry currently implementing a discipleship curriculum resource project for the North American Division. You can alert him to new resources at [email protected] or (800) 272-4664.