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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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Stop! James, enough already!

Well for those who think there is no issue with the Willow Creek model, take a look at the following and tell me what it is...

"It would appear that the entire purpose of The Practice is to practice Spiritual Formation and all of its contemplative components, like Lectio Divina, a centuries-old mystical Catholic practice involving repeating a word or phrase from the Bible over and over until you reach a higher level of consciousness to “hear God speak” to you: "

https://www.theaquilareport.com/willow-creeks-the-practice-blends-n... or  https://bereanresearch.org/willow-creeks-the-practice-blends-new-ag... 

and many others, but not many look below the surface... 

http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c176pf.shtml

https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/willowcreek.htm

"repeating a word or phrase from the Bible over and over until you reach a higher level of consciousness"

This is a direct copy of eastern meditation techniques replacing the "god-name" with  Biblical words or phrases. It is the direct opposite of Godly meditation, that is, the practice of meditating on the word of God, and much more akin to The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola the founder of the Society of Jesus.

I am rather surprised that the trend of celebration churches is still in the SDA Church. I thought that they died a natural death c.20 years ago and that even the "youth" churches have given up on this "Christianity-lite" as containing way too much sugar and no nutrition.

Judging by your responses, Richard, I am mistaken in thinking the trend had died a natural death.

Can you give a bit more information about the extent and type of celebration churches in your neck of the woods? And if you don't mind at least the country if not the specific area? Thanks.

The SDA churches that I know of directly are in the Interamerican Division, the North American Division, and some may be a part of others as you can see from the article. It is being spread by the leaders at many of the levels and we have dealt directly with the Conference level and I have personally dealt with people that I know, so it is not outside but from the inside that this what I can only call apostasy is being brought in. To give a understanding of how it happened, we were building our new church and the conference  came and told us that a new pastor was going to come and they would present him to our church board for our approval.

I went to the church board and I personally heard the new pastor say that he would take our congregation into account in his ministry, and be a pastor that would preach from the Spirit of Prophecy and traditional Adventist doctrine, etc...And he did at first, but once we moved into our new church, all that change. He gave what I would call sermons devoid of any spiritual SDA beliefs,  SOP or Adventist doctrine such as the 3 Angels message, and stopped us from greeting what I would call newcomers who wanted to see what these Adventist that had built in their community were all about.

The pastor began a style of preaching that I had heard in the previous ''celebration church' I had been at, which my sister had helped start, so I knew it very well. I found it curious at first that the pastor changed so suddenly and shedding traditional Adventist doctrines and beliefs as our church was more of the conservative type. But then the pastor brought in people that were new or not what I would call spiritually minded into the church board, and began to get rid of all our elders and long time leaders on the board. We were in shock and utter disbelief and didn't quite now what to do.

We sent letters to the conference and they sent people to look into it, and they said everything was proper. So I confronted the conference man who I know personally, who had brought the pastor before our board and had heard all the promises he had made, and asked him to listen to our concerns. Well, he told me he did not want to talk about it because there were other members who might hear, and to send him it by email. And when I did, he said he did not want discuss it because there where not other members to verify what I sent. So he basically avoided the issue and put me off, and this was a pastor I went to school with, and served at my old church, and I worked with for years assisting him.

So I can tell you that this is coming from within our church, with leaders we know, and people we trusted. Many churches near us including the Spanish church we helped start are reporting similar events or being taken over in a similar fashion and the Pathfinder leaders are telling us the same thing is happening at their level. I went to several Pathfinder camporees and saw it personally and it also is happening at the Men's Ministry level as I came across it there, and I would say at many other parts of the church from the feedback we are getting.

Be ready, as this is what I can only call it a apostasy of 'a most startling nature' and it is being directed with intent and purpose, and taking over our churches and spreading.

Amen Brother and thanks for sharing 

We as people of God eyes need to be open so that we can detect when the appear in different forms 

We need to learn to say no to every form of act that is not in according to Gods teaching.......

AND THEN ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLE, THERE ARE THE ULTRA CONSERVATIVE CHURCHES/GROUPS ETC.  IN IRVING TEXAS AND IN OTHER CITIES/STATES THERE IS THE "ADVENIMIENTO CHURCH OF 7TH DAY":  THE ONE IN IRVING TEXAS IS A SPANISH CHURCH, FOUNDED BY EX SDA WHO THOUGHT THE MODERN SDA CHURCH IS TOO LIBERAL, THIS CHURCH WAS FOUNDED IN 2012 AND ENJOYS A NET WORTH OF $11 MILLION.  THESE CHURCHES ARE ALL INDEPENDENTLY OPERATED (NO CONFERENCE TO TAKE THEIR THE MONEY), HAVE SABBATH SCHOOLS AND FOLLOW BIBLE, EGW.   

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