The "old" truths of the Bible

Bringing old and new together in contemporary worship

David Livermore is senior pastor in Kelso, Washington.

I pastor a church, rather contemporary by design. We have programmed ourselves, on Sabbath morning, to be "seeker sensitive." We define seeker sensitive as "planning for the guest to arrive." Everything---from the time visitors park their cars to how clean the restrooms are---is taken into account. Though our target is the Baby Boomer, my generation, all generations are invited. Our worship service is overseen by a worship coordinator, and our music is put together by praise leaders and practiced before Sabbath morning. Sometimes drama is used to raise a question the sermon will answer. Every thing we do focuses on how to make the proclamation of the Word more effective.

We have a program once a month called Seeker Service, where we even more intentionally target the unchurched friends of the church family. Series such as "Self-Esteem" or "How to Overcome Adversity" or "When Enough Is Too Much" are used to introduce church members' friends to Christianity. The Seeker Service consists of several numbers of our "Bridge Band," a drama that fits and leads into the message. We also have a strong, exciting children's ministry.

At one of these "Seeker Services," on Easter Sabbath, the topic was the "Empty Tomb." We were looking at the meaning of the Resurrection. Our band, though rather shorthanded that Sabbath, helped to set the tone. The drama was powerful and communicative. A member, dressed in biblical costume, played the woman caught in adultery. She told the story from her point of view. I followed, in my talk, by stressing how she must have felt to be accepted by Christ rather than rejected and condemned to death. As I preached, I began to focus on the new life that comes when Christ is encountered as this woman encountered him. I then shifted to concentrate on the miracle of the empty tomb, which brought new life to the world. I ended by talking of the triumph of eternal life over death and the matter of the real condition of people after death. As I covered this topic, that truth palpably pierced the hearts of people, and they were visibly moved.

Up to that point I had thought that seeker services were meant only to introduce people to Jesus. I had theorized that once this was done, people could be taken further through some other program. I see more than that now. I witnessed what truth did in that service. One of my members, a seventy-five-year-old man, came up to me with an unchurched friend and kept saying "What a message! What a message!"

I sensed the presence and power of the Holy Spirit at that service, so I took the chance I invited everyone there to come to our worship service during the next two weeks, where I would be giving a two-part series on the Second Coming, another "old" truth not spoken of as often as it should be these days.

The following Sabbath, I preached on the Second Coming. After the service, that same seventy-five-year-old member, with his same friend, patted me on the back and said, "That message, that message was from God! Doesn't it thrill your soul!"

We have designed our program with people a certain kind of people in mind. And we have the "trappings" that go with such a program. But, now, I am just as convicted that our truths the truths that make us Seventh-day Adventists are the most powerful agents we have for reaching everyone and anyone, Baby Boomers included.

No doubt there is a time for "felt need" preaching. But I have learned: Never wander very far from the truths that make us who, and what, we are.

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David Livermore is senior pastor in Kelso, Washington.

December 1998

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