Attempting to pitch old school liberal Adventist views to today’s young Adventists is a bit like trying to convince them that dial-up internet is the future of connectivity. It’s a tough sell, and here’s why.
1. Desmond Who?: Young Adventists have never heard of Desmond Ford, a figure prominent in old school liberal Adventism. BarelyAdventist is not here to comment either way regarding his views of the Heavenly Sanctuary (although, he was, by all accounts, a very reasonable, warm Adventist his whole life.) The point is the theological debates and controversies he generated are not on the radar of today’s young Adventists.
2. More Than Critics: Simply critiquing traditional Adventist beliefs or practices isn’t enough to engage young Adventists. They seek constructive dialogue and action-oriented solutions rather than dwelling solely on what we perceive as problems.
3. Beyond Anger: While passion and concern are important, relying solely on anger as a motivating force has limited appeal to young Adventists. Enough of grumpy old Adventist guys, already! They prefer channels of communication that are respectful, inclusive, and focused on positive change.
4. Advocacy for What?: Instead of just opposing outdated ideologies, young Adventists want to know what old school liberals are advocating for. They seek clarity on the vision and values that drive their movement and how it aligns with contemporary social and spiritual needs.
5. Excitement Factor: Old school liberal arguments may lack the excitement and energy needed to captivate the interest of young Adventists. They want to be inspired and motivated by causes and ideas that resonate with their experiences and aspirations. Social entrepreneurship that helps the local community is popular among young Adventists, not rehashing why Ted Wilson is wrong about everything.
6. Eschatological Shifts: We all get that Jesus hasn’t returned yet but the knee-jerk liberal reaction of saying we were wrong about a soon coming Jesus? Not appealing or even Biblical.
7. The Plan for Change: Young Adventists are pragmatic and seek actionable plans for effecting positive change within their communities and beyond. They are less interested in theoretical debates and more focused on practical solutions to real-world challenges. That’s where the focus should be. That’s mission.