April 9, 2008

Resources to "Tool" Us for Ministry

Seven Weeks to a Generous Life
2008 1511 page24Generosity is a mark of the Christian life. That is the simple message behind A 7-Week Spiritual Journey to a More Generous Life, a new tool available for families, individuals, small groups, or midweek meeting series. The slim, full-color paperback includes a one-page devotional reading for each day, made up of Bible texts and a challenging question for thought or discussion. It also includes a weekly project—a series of useful worksheets—that helps an individual or family get a better grip on their resources, values, and quality of life. And its weekly story can be used in group settings to get discussion going.
The focus is deeply spiritual and entirely practical. Church members could work through this material for seven weeks and never know that it has a “stewardship” emphasis. It helps people align their lifestyle and resources with the things they really believe in—such as coming closer to God and our purpose in life.
It has become popular for congregations to focus their daily devotional readings, weekly small-group or Sabbath school discussions, the midweek meetings, and the sermons all around one theme. It is a good teaching method and has proved to increase attendance, Bible study, and commitment to Christian living. This is a tool that could be used precisely that way.
This resource is published by the General Conference Stewardship Department. You can find information about how to obtain copies by sending an e-mail via the department’s Web site—www.adventiststewardship.com—or by calling (301) 680-6157.
Christianity and Islam
2008 1511 page24Several million people in North America are now followers of Islam, and large numbers are not immigrants, but native-born Americans and Canadians. The Muslim religion is also frequently in the news media. It has become important for the average church member to know something about Islam, if for no other reason than simply not to offend neighbors, work associates, and other acquaintances. Many Muslims in North America tell pollsters they feel Christians often look down on them, make unkind remarks, and are not fair with them. This is, of course, not a positive witness; not the way Jesus would treat them. Often these things are probably said or done out of ignorance more than real hatred.
This makes a new video resource quite timely for Adventist churches in North America and throughout the world. Christianity and Islam was produced by Adventist documentary filmmaker T. N. Mohan, who worked for the North American Division in the early 1990s and helped launch the Adventist Communication Network (ACN). It features Timothy George, a conservative Protestant scholar, and two Muslim scholars, both of whom teach at universities in the United States. It has top production qualities, equivalent to the Discovery Channel or PBS.
This resource comprises 14 segments, each 5 to 10 minutes in length, so it can be used in a small group or class. The whole documentary is 125 minutes in length, including credits, so it can be viewed in a single setting, too. It is informative and pitched to the average American, or even high school students, in terms of the understanding required. It covers the basic beliefs of Islam, then compares Muslim teachings with the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. It includes interesting, high-quality film from Middle Eastern and North American Muslim settings, as well as a 32-page discussion guide.
You can get a copy at www.amazon.com.
We Believe
2008 1511 page24Are you looking for something concise and attractive to explain what Seventh-day Adventists believe? Signs of the Times magazine, produced at Pacific Press Publishing Association, has recently published a special issue that includes no more than one page of information on each of the 28 fundamental teachings of the Adventist faith. It is 36 pages in length—the size of a typical magazine—with a full-color cover that shows Jesus holding a 6-year-old child and surrounded by a contemporary, multicultural, multigenerational group of men and women. It is for the serious reader—not those with a casual interest and a 90-second attention span—and includes Bible references for further study at the end of each section.
You can get copies from your local Adventist book center at (800) 765-6955 or www.adventistbookcenter.com. It is an excellent item to have on hand for the unexpected conversation.
2008 1511 page24What does the average young adult in North America think when you tell them you are a Christian? Some Christians have become so politicized in our secular society that for people under 40, “Christianity” does not necessarily appear to be a good thing. You can no longer assume that most people at least understand and agree in general terms with that which is “Christian.”
I strongly recommend that if you live in a metropolitan area and care about the mission of Christ in our world today, you should read the new book UnChristian, by David Kinnaman, director of research at the Barna Group. It reveals attitudes of the general public who see Christians in a negative light and increasingly believe that so-called Christian religions have strayed so far from the intentions of Jesus Christ that they are really not Christian anymore.
This book will wake you up! You can purchase it from Amazon or ask your Adventist Book Center to order a copy for you.
Monte Sahlin is director of research and special projects for the Ohio Conference. He also serves as chair of a team that is developing a comprehensive discipleship curriculum for NAD Church Resources. You can suggest resources to him at [email protected] or (800) 272-4664.