Book launch a call for churches to seek disciples not members
An Avondale seminarian’s new book describes the local church as the future of Seventh-day Adventism but issues this challenge: biblically reinvent or become irrelevant.
“Many churches are in maintenance mode,” writes Dr Kayle de Waal in the introduction to Mission Shift: Multiplying Disciples in Your Community. “Even though transfer growth and biological growth are steady, kingdom growth is minimal or only by addition. . . . Our church often seems to be servicing institutions more than engaging in frontline mission work.” A key question: Will the local Adventist church change its structure to resource ministries that are not just audience-centred and program-driven?
de Waal, Head of Avondale Seminary, is convicted: churches willing to change can thrive. It is a conviction based on teaching, ministry and evangelism experience in South Africa, South Korea and New Zealand, a master’s degree with a major in missiology and a $50,000 grant from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific to study discipleship with a multidisciplinary team of academics from Avondale.
According to de Waal, changed local churches will be relationally structured, multiplying churches seeking “more and more of the Spirit.” Their leaders will be visionary, empowering and compassionate, caring equally about those in the community and those in the church. Worship will be inclusive, participatory and gospel-centred. And young adults will be given greater buy-in.
What Kayle does is challenge the ruts, the routines that have lost meaning and significance.Pr Glenn Townend, President, Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific“These are some of my convictions,” writes de Waal. “But convictions need to be tested and tried, not only in the crucible of life but, more importantly, they need to emerge from the foundation of Scripture and in the transformational realities of the gospel of Jesus. . . . The local Adventist church must be rooted and grounded in mission . . . to become a multiplying movement.”
Signs Publishing Book Editor Nathan Brown launched Mission Shift this past Tuesday (January 31) at the church in the South Pacific’s Church Planting Conference, which Avondale is hosting on its Lake Macquarie campus. “While book editing can be an isolated task . . . books are a team effort,” he said to the delegates in his opening remarks. “The ultimate part of the team is the people reading the book and putting it into practice. You’re part of that team.”
Brown and the president of the church, Pr Glenn Townend, encouraged the delegates—church administrators, local church ministers and local church members—to share the book with others. “It is one of the books I would like every leading elder in Fiji, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, everywhere, to read,” said Townend during the dedication. “Our lay leadership and our pastoral leadership and now others need to think about why we are doing church.”
Townend has “an enormous amount to read” but could not stop reading Mission Shift—it supports the church’s vision “of making more and better disciples.” But the challenge for the church in the South Pacific: “in most of the places where we’ve worked, we’ve been working for more than a hundred years. . . . And when you’ve been working for more than a hundred years, you can get into a rut, going through the motions of just doing church and not thinking about its purpose: to house all the new disciples coming into God’s kingdom. What Kayle does is challenge the ruts, the routines that have lost meaning and significance.”
Dr John Skrzypaszek introduced de Waal in his role as Director of the Ellen G White Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre, which is based at Avondale. He described his colleague as “one of the major thought leaders in the Christian church” who “takes the profound things of Scripture and translates them into common language.” “We need to thank God for people like this, people who are creative, who are innovative, who are thinkers, who are not afraid to challenge but to speak.”
de Waal dedicates Mission Shift to the Newlands East Seventh-day Adventist Church in Durban, South Africa, which he attended during his formative years. “I started as the Assistant Sabbath School Superintendent. That’s where God really began to chip away at me and shape me.” The church has birthed four ministers and another church. “I’ve lived Mission Shift, reorganising the church and making it more missional focussed,” said de Waal during the launch. “I pray it’ll bless you and inspire you and advance the kingdom and hasten that day when Jesus comes back again.”
Mission Shift: Multiplying Disciples in Your Community
Mission Shift: Multiplying Disciples in Your Community by Dr Kayle de Waal is now available from Adventist Book Centres in Australia and New Zealand. For more information and to download discussion questions, visit www.kayledewaal.com.PURCHASE MISSION SHIFT
the One project: Avondale 1:1
Dr Kayle de Waal is one of the speakers at the One project Avondale 1:1 on August 12. This focused one-day gathering explores what it meant and what it means to follow Jesus. Reflection sessions will revisit the story of Jesus and discover how His disciple-making shapes our life and mission as His disciples now. Recalibration sessions and a response session will help participants apply the messages to their lives by encouraging conversation through discussion and questions. Gathering limited to the first 150 people who register. Register by May 26 and receive free entry to two post-gathering events: Tell Me A Story and Just Disciples.REGISTER!