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Best Practices
April 27, 2011
"Where would we be ourselves if Christ, in his first advent, had brought final and infinite justice instead of bearing it on behalf of his people? On the cross, Christ willingly offered himself as the lightning rod for God's infinite wrath, rising triumphantly on the third day. The events of 9/11 did not change everything in the way that the events of 33 A.D. did. Nor will the death of Osama bin Laden on 5/1/11 satisfy the final justice that awaits him - and all of us - on the last day."

 - Michael Horton, "The Death of Osama bin Laden: What Kind of Justice Has Been Done?"



The Multi-church Dilemma
Media: Marvin Wray, Motorcycle Sabbatical
Reading for Pastors: Death of David Wilkerson
Quotes: "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
News & ideas: Federal regulation changes on church nursery cribs
Events: Youth Sabbath, May 14

Loren SeiboldThe Multi-church Dilemma 

by Loren Seibold, Editor, Best Practices for Adventist Ministry


According to the FACT 2000 survey, 58% of our NAD churches are in multi-church districts served by one pastor. It's my opinion that these are generally manageable in terms of basic pastoral care: a district of 2 to 4 small congregations may only have a fraction of the number who need visiting, counseling, baptismal studies, funerals and weddings that you'd have in a single larger congregation. Sure, it takes a lot of driving, but it is quite possible to do the work.

The dilemma is that the one task that most signifies "pastoring" to the average congregant is preaching at a worship service. Every congregation wants to have worship at 11 AM on Sabbath morning - and each wants you there.  

  • Some pastors have solved this by time-shifting worship. You preach at 9, drive to the next location, preach at 11, drive, and preach at 3. It makes a full day for you, but it works. That is, if you can get them to change worship times! Expect heavy resistance. (I've known districts with rolling worship times, so no one congregation has to have afternoon worship every week. How would a visitor know when to come?) And what if your churches are simply too spread out - not uncommon in the sprawling western states and provinces - to get to every location in a day?
  • On the other hand, sometimes small churches are geographically so near one another that it would make perfect sense to combine them so you could worship with what you'd hope would be a larger group in a single location. Good luck with that. Most will cling tenaciously to building and identity even if they're breathing their last gasp. And 2 + 2 rarely equals 4 in these mergers.
  • There's a good argument to be made - and it has been made most persuasively by Hispanic pastors who come from fields where a pastor may have to circuit-ride 20 congregations - that not being there every Sabbath makes the church more self-sufficient, and actually leads to more overall lay involvement. Haven't we been talking for years about equipping lay leaders to do ministry (a la Ephesians 4:12) instead of letting them assume the pastor will do it? To the point of worship, perhaps we could improve lay preaching by teaching preaching classes. Still, it's hard to build a consistent message in any church if your speakers are all over the map theologically. I have occasionally winced when church members recounted another preacher's sermon when I wasn't there - heartfelt, perhaps, but not necessarily constructive. You can teach someone to preach, but it's harder to teach good judgment.
  • Some are experimenting with streaming AV technologies to preach to all one's churches at once. It needs to be tried, but the obstacles here are significant, too. Beyond equipment and set-up, add inevitable technical glitches. And getting several worship services to time themselves so that they're ready to listen and watch when you're ready to speak sounds risky. 

So what do we do to solve the multi-church worship dilemma?

Discuss this topic on our Facebook page Find us on Facebook 


In The Beginning Reality SeriesMarvin Wray, Senior Pastor of Napa recently took a Journeys by Marvin Wraysabbatical where he road his motorcycle from one side of the North American Division to the other and back. Over seven weeks he visited 70 churches and was able to get a snapshot of the state of the Adventist Church in North America. In this video interview Marvin shares some of the stories of his trek and gives some startling commentary on the state of the church.

For a more in depth report on his journey you may wish to read his book entitled Journeys. In addition to the gritty report of his motorcycle adventure Marvin weaves in his own life story. How did this young man, raised in the home of an alcoholic, find himself pastoring Adventist congregations? Most every pastor will be able to identify with many of the twists and turns in his pastoral journey. 


Reading for Pastors  
Death of a great Christian leader: David Wilkerson, Cross & Switchblade author, dead at 79.

Bin Laden and Wilkerson: Reflections on two very different deaths.

Parachurch ministries have proliferated, in our denomination and others. David Ripley
recommends this cluster of articles about them. 

Is the church your mistress? Quote:
"We need to confess the idolatries of worth-by-work, of significance-by-service, and turn to face the loving, all-accepting, never-ending significance offered to us in the arms of our Savior's embrace. ...We don't have to work for the church, the corporation, or the business so hard that we let our families die."

Man arrested for reading the Bible in public. As an evangelistic method, is it effective, unhelpful, or obnoxious? Should he have been arrested for it? Video here.

Good or bad? The Supreme Court declines to hear church-state entanglement charge over religious school choice.
Quote: "'This is not a good day for the wall of separation,' said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United. 'A few more bricks are out of it.'"

Jesuit to become new chaplain of the House of Representatives. Quote: The Rev. Patrick Conroy "will be sworn in as the 60th chaplain of the House of Representatives on May 25, when he will become the first member of his order and second consecutive Catholic priest to serve the House."


Ever heard someone try to sound scholarly by speaking of the "literal" meaning of the word in Greek? According to S.M. Baugh, the literal word isn't necessarily the most accurate.  


WSJ: In honor of Harold Camping's predicted rapture on May 21, a skeptic explores "The Enduring Appeal of the Apocalypse.


To the Point

"All the misery makes me think of a great French general, Ferdinand Foch. He's the one who defended Paris at the Battle of the Marne in World War I. During the darkest hour of the fighting, he is supposed to have looked around him and said:

'Hard pressed on my right. My center is yielding. Impossible to maneuver. Situation excellent - I attack!'"

 - Brett Arends


"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

 - A. A. Milne (Christopher Robin to Pooh)


"Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage."

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson  


Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

 - Albert Einstein


Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

 - Winston Churchill


One man with courage is a majority.

 - Thomas Jefferson


Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.

 - John F. Kennedy


How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them.

 - Benjamin Franklin


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

 - Theodore Roosevelt


"What we seek we shall find; what we flee from flees from us."

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

News, Ideas & Reminders  

  • Important, from Adventist Risk Management: Federal Regulation Forces Crib Replacements in Church Nurseries! The U.S. federal commission responsible for setting safety standards of consumer products has tightened manufacturing and use regulations for cribs, forcing retailers and child care facilities to replace cribs that do not comply with new federal standards.   
  • Future: This is almost bizarre: a paper smartphone? (To think some of us started life when mimeograph machines were cutting-edge!) 
  • Vibrant Life magazine has introduced a special sharing issue that ties in with a theatrical documentary film entering nationwide release at the beginning of May. The documentary, titled Forks Over Knives, is about how choosing healthy foods with your fork can actually prevent disease and decrease your chances of having to go under the knife for surgery. Even though the principles outlined in the film are old news to Adventists, the buzz around Forks Over Knives creates a springboard for sharing with friends and neighbors. The expanded special issue of the magazine includes an interview with the "stars" of Forks Over Knives, and compiles some of the plant-based recipes recommended in the film. For information, go to the Adventist Book Center site, or call 1-800-765-6955. 
  • The Hope of Survivors has designated August 1 as Clergy Sexual Abuse Awareness & Prevention Day.

    Will you join us in this endeavor? If so, please send a short paragraph or two as an endorsement that can be used on the website or in press releases, showing your support and recognizing the necessity to take action against this devastating pandemic. We will include your name and organization on the website to show the world that you are taking a stand to help end clergy sexual abuse. If you're willing to conduct an event of some type

    on August 1 or during the month of August, please let us know so we can add that to the calendar.

    For more information, please visit

Got a tool, resource, site, article, idea or seminar that you like a lot? Share it with us at  
Upcoming NAD Events

Do you have an event you'd like to invite NAD pastors to? Send details to

Youth Sabbath. May 14, 2011, North American Division. Check with NAD Youth Ministries for information.


Non-Profit Leadership Certification - Basic. May 15, 2011 - May 19, 2011, Northeastern Conference, 11550 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica, NY 11434. Nonprofit Leadership Certification Program provides the latest strategies and professional skills to successfully lead a nonprofit operation in the 21st century. It focuses on nonprofit management, community development and Biblical principles of social ministry. Fee: $150 ($99 early-bird through Feb 1, 2011) through April 28, 2011). Phone: 301-680-6438. For more information, email: 


ASAM - Adventist Single Adult Ministries Sabbath. May 21, 2011, Division Wide. Check with ASAM (Adventist Single Adult Ministries) website for information. For more information, email: 


World No Tobacco Day. May 31, 2011, Worldwide. "World No Tobacco Day" is celebrated around the world every year on May 31.
Best Practices is a Vervent publication of NAD CHURCH RESOURCE CENTER. Editor: Loren Seibold, Ohio Conference. E-mail: Best Practices. You are free to republish pieces from Best Practices in your own newsletter or blog, with attribution to the Best Practices newsletter and the author of the piece.