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Are 'Celebration SDA Churches', new path to God, or away from truth?

Look at this as it is a eye opening shock of cold water on those who are pushing the Willow Creek Model of 'Celebration SDA Churches' with its hidden 'Spiritual Formation':

"My Pilgrimage to U.S.A. Celebration Churches

By the late 1980s, Australian Adventist administrators, evangelists, and pastors were looking for an answer to the challenge of this post-Christian era. They wanted to know how to successfully grow their churches.

It was at this time that the "celebration movement" was introduced to the world church of Seventh-day Adventists. The church’s leading papers heralded the first celebration churches in Milwaukie, a suburb of Portland, Oregon; and Colton, California, U.S.A. This new type of church was believed to be the answer to our church growth problems, as hundreds were flocking to these celebration churches. I was one of the pastors who embarked upon this pilgrimage.

My first opportunity to observe the celebration church movement in detail was in June 1990. I was part of a group of 30 Australian pastors who were taken on a Church Growth Tour through the U.S.A. to learn how to grow churches. Two of the "growing" Adventist churches we visited were Milwaukee and Colton. With glowing enthusiasm their pastors told of the crowds of worshippers who were attending. Their excitement was contagious. We took notes, filed materials, and then attended some of their services.

I was in my 38th year of ministry, having been a departmental director and pastor/evangelist. Observing these celebration churches caused me concern as I saw their sacred worship services accompanied with lights and loud disco-type music of secular, worldly entertainment. The distinctive truths of the three angels’ messages and the Spirit of Prophecy had given way to a message of "love and acceptance." Church standards had suffered a similar fate, as members were encouraged to be "loving" and not "judgmental." However, many of those attracted to these services could not see the dangers. They expressed their joy that this new presentation of the Gospel had brought to them love, understanding, and a liberation from Adventist legalism.

With almost evangelistic zeal the members were urging other Adventists from surrounding churches to join them in this newfound experience. These churches were certainly growing, and rapidly. But it was largely "transfer growth" from other Adventist churches. While they were supposed to attract and convert "unchurched Harrys and Marys," few such "kingdom-growth" baptisms were taking place.

While some of us left those celebration churches with questions in our minds, none of us had any idea that both of these churches would later collapse, with the loss of hundreds of souls. The pastor of the Milwaukee church also would become so antagonistic to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its teachings that his soul-destroying influence would even extend to Australia. In fact, little did we realize then that one of our fellow ministers on this tour would on his return "plant" a celebration/contemporary church like those he was observing, and he too would suffer a similar fate, with the loss of the church and himself to the Adventist Church....

The Celebration Movement in the South Pacific Division

When the celebration movement was launched in the Seventh-day Adventist Church by the Milwaukie and Colton Adventist churches in America, some pragmatists in Australia and New Zealand were quick to follow them. Five church plants of this nature were attempted in the South Pacific Division, each of which adopted a celebration-type contemporary style of worship. They were: (1) Cherrybrook, Sydney, Greater Sydney Conference; (2) Cornerstone, North New Zealand Conference; (3) Fox Valley, Sydney, Greater Sydney Conference; (4) Riverside, Perth, West Australian Conference; and (5) Southside, Brisbane, South Queensland Conference.2

These five contemporary churches that were "planted" in the South Pacific Division initially experienced transfer growth from other Adventist churches, but had very little success in their style of evangelism in terms of kingdom growth. Tragically, four of these five churches are no longer in the sisterhood of Adventist churches. Like most of their American counterparts, they experienced a tragic loss of members as well as pastors.3

Besides the church "plants," some established Adventist churches also adopted aspects of the celebration church growth methods. The Church Growth leaders of the South Pacific Division specially promoted one such Sydney church (the Mt. Colah church), hoping to demonstrate the success of these pragmatic methods. However, official conference records reveal that this church only had 19 baptisms in its first nine years, and in the next five years only one baptism!4

This "model" pragmatic church now has such a small attendance that it is struggling to exist. In contrast to this celebration-type church, the neighboring "commissionist" (or traditional) church, Waitara, has so experienced real kingdom church growth that it has been asked to care for the "model" church.5 In fact, more of these celebration-type contemporary churches are in trouble, and conference leaders are becoming very embarrassed about them, having in the past enthusiastically promoted them....

A mistaken assumption of the contemporary church growth movement is that distinctive Seventh-day Adventist doctrines are a hindrance to church growth and must, therefore, be abandoned. And yet, the churches that have jumped on this bandwagon are not growing!"

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Thanks for posting not that I know a lot about church politics, but clearly I wonder if God would bless a church that is stepping away from the foundational message that God has entrusted to the SDA. And as I note on tour OP some of these churches are dying that may be a sign that God does not approve of this kind of apostasy.  

Lets give you more so you see where I am coming from on these 'celebration church's'.
My sister and friends from college were taken to Willow Creek to 'seminars' and 'church growth training' by one of the SDA pastors and they set up a new church based on that model. I had no idea at the time what 'Willow Creek' was or what methods or processes they taught for those who went there. But to make a long story short, I went to the new 'Celebration' SDA church with my family, and they told us, as part of this 'church growth' methods, we would invite people to come,  and we would be taking them as they were, not going and sharing any truths from Adventism or SDA doctrines to the newbies, and having breakfast/food to share when they came on Sabbath morning. It was different but I thought it had possibilities to reach many people who had never been to church or had much contact with anything to do with religion much less Adventist, so helped as much as I was able to.

Then we got other changes, we dropped the Sabbath School lesson and began to use things that weren't connected to Adventism, and the song leaders where replaced by musicians with 'director' which soon became a 'rock band' with electric guitars and drums. Then Ellen White became basically 'verboten' and was eased out as a resource so as not to 'estrange' the newbies. So we changed but the newbies somehow stayed how they were, and all things Adventist was phased out till we become known as 'church lite' to many who visited from other  SDA churches, lots of sound and fury, but little substance. Well, anyway, it got to the point that we had to leave the 'celebration church', as it basically was no longer a SDA church, more like a non-denominational and this is before I saw any part of the 'Spiritual Formation' which is coming out now. I will go into that next...

Thanks for your reply Richard, is that not a sad tale? So we see creeping Compromise being practised here, clearly a thing we should not do. One would have thought that we should have learned from the great compromiser the Catholic Church that that is not the road we should travel. Seems to me that those who are doing this is taking matters into their own hands, instead of following God's leading. 

One of our retired pastor told us about these group of pastors and others who are pushing this 'One Project' which seems aimed at the young people. Many churches seem to have been affected, and they are not saying good things about it and those who have come across it don't find much in it that is positive as it appears to be part of the apostasy coming in.

And from another perspective:

Post the link for the article

"For the last ten or fifteen years some Adventist congregations have been experimenting with the growth methods of non-Adventist churches. I believe the pace of this has picked up, because many church leaders are encouraging the shift. First there was "celebration worship." According to the promoters, this charismatic face lift was going to transform the Adventist church. In the estimation of the proponents, Adventist churches were stuck in a time warp. Their message to all of us was "Change or become a dinosaur." Of course, their scariest message, the one that has always ignited our fear, was, "If we don’t adopt these methods we will lose our young people."

Checking the Fruit

Now that some time has passed, perhaps it is only fair to check the fruit. Let’s look first at the Adventist church that became famous for starting the "celebration" movement among us. It captured the imagination of the North American Division. At its height that church had more than a thousand members. However, with the passing of time some interesting developments took place. Its leading pastor developed an independent spirit that led to internal problems in the congregation. This, coupled with the pastor’s unwillingness to take counsel from his conference leadership, led to his leaving the Adventist ministry. Today he has joined forces with those who are most bitterly attacking the Adventist church and its fundamental doctrines. Buying into the same spirit, one of his leading elders left the church and started his own Sunday-keeping church.

This first "celebration" church went from one sadness to another. The two new pastors who replaced the founding pastor were dismissed over doctrinal issues. As a result of all this turmoil the church went through several splits. Decline in attendance and membership followed. The remaining members could no longer keep up the payments on their large new facility. The conference kindly assumed the payments while the building was being sold. Finally the little group that was left merged with another congregation."

I had not seen that one, but our story is similar.....

For the most part of 2000 years there has not been seen the great move of The Word of God as seen in The Book of Acts.

Here are some reasons why the Word spread amazingly and why it has not been duplicated, along with some exceptions.

1. The apostles waited in Jerusalem to receive the Holy Spirit as directed by Jesus.

2. They received into manifestation the Holy Spirit including speaking in tongues as promised (one of the “...those that believe shall...” signs promised by Jesus.

3. The believers followed the directions and guidance of the Holy Spirit and believed God with great faith: all nine manifestations of Holy Spirit were in operation, great love, unity, enthusiasm, signs, miracles and wonders and the Word moved so that all Asia heard the Word. Multitudes were saved.

4. Distribution was made FOR the saints, so that none lacked. Fellowships occurred in houses and other places, and preaching was done with the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Man wants to have his religion his way, and run the assemblies his way instead of HIS, GOD.S WAY.

5. Revelation is often necessary to guide and inform about any situation, but especially regarding the ministry and move of the Word and deliverance of people from the bondage of the adversary. In fact and truth all 9 manifestations of Holy Spirit are needed and yet hardly utilized and in fact not believed for or understood or practiced by what 95% or so of all Christianity and almost 100% of SDA.

6. God honors and stands behind the move of His Word when done in Love and as directed by the spirit: then amazing things happen. Success is always in numbers and dollars and cents, but the truth held fort is paramount and if people reject the truth, then they have received the opportunity and chance to receive eternal life. If one person is saved then that is greater than all the money in the world.

I have been privileged to see and experience glimpses of Book of Acts type movement of the Word with signs, miracles and wonders following. I know what amazing things God can do when He is believed and followed as directed by the Written, spoken and revealed Word of God. Great opportunities and what could have been have been missed for 2000 years for the most part. It really is a sad commentary of unbelief.

Occasionally a person will believe God big time and great things will happen.

My posts about two great men who believed God: Smith Wigglesworth and George Muller by edit didn’t get saved above. Wigglesworth healed thousands including 14 records of raising from the dead and preached around the world. George Muller ran a large orthanage and school as well as published the Bible and tracts with never asking anyone for money or going into debt, but he prayed a lot and proved that God provides.

Wigglesworth is a Pentecostal like you that I have not heard about before. Muller I have heard about because he was a man of real faith.  

I told you many times I am not a Pentecostal, as I disagree with some of their doctrines and practices.You are hateful towards Pentecostals, as well as non SDA. You refer to Muller as a man of real faith. Yet you automatically judge anyone who speaks in tongues. It takes real faith to literally believe that through the Holy Spirit a person can speak in languages with freedom of will that they have not learned and do not understand, as well as interpret them, prophesy, receive revelation, working of miracles, and gifts of healing all operated by the manifestation of faith, which is to do the seemingly impossible as all these things are seemingly impossible. IF THESE BIBLICAL MANIFESTATIONS ARE NOT FAITH, THEN WHAT IS.

You judge me without justification, as well as attack even your own fellow SDA here. You are hostile to others and hostile to the Holy spirit. PERIOD. 


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