On Spawning a New Church

Speaker: Categories: Sep 09, 1989


[1hr, 19min, 5sec / 20min, 15sec]


How different can or should Seventh-day Adventist church services be? How varied can or should be the ministries of Seventh-day Adventist congregations?

Time was, and probably within the memory of many, when the Seventh-day Adventist church prided itself in the uniformity, the sameness, which enabled one easily to recognize an SDA church by its Sabbath morning worship service. Such self-pride obviously suggested that uniformity and sameness were virtues, a kind of special blessing bestowed upon the "favored ones."

But as Adventist congregations multiplied, especially within concentrated geographic areas, they also became different in theological focus, outreach ministries, and the nature of the worship experience.

The Loma Linda area provides evidence to this phenomenon. And one newly spawned church congregation provides an audible and visible rationale for such planned-for diversity bearing with it the approval and commendation of the Southeastern California Conference administration!

Dan Simpson, pastor of that congregation and speaker for the September 9 San Diego FORUM meeting, suggests that within the Seventh-day Adventist church and throughout Christendom there is a "renewed emphasis on worship, a worship that is meaningful, relevant and spirit-filled, where there is freedom for people to express themselves in music, word, and action." Such renewed emphasis, he contends, "comes from a recognition that God is alive and present. If he is alive, then worship must be an experience with vitality!"

Even the name, Celebration Center, portrays this! Note -- this is not the "X-Street SDA Church," not the "X-community SDA Church," not the "X-Venerable Founder SDA Church." This is the "Celebration Center"!

Spawned by the Azure Hills SDA Church, the Celebration Center offers an alternative to the traditional Adventist worship service. It is the outgrowth of four years of "pilot-testing" optional styles of worship, catering to different audiences: family, youth, and traditional.

The Celebration Center has patterned its worship offerings after the youth model "tested" at Azure Hills. "The music," attests Pastor Simpson, "is praise centered, using many different kinds of instruments . . . Music is as big a part of the service as the sermon . . ." Other departures from the more recognizable and traditional SDA service are the Garden of Prayer as well as an enacted drama through which the congregation can be stimulated to ponder "truth" during the days following the worship experience.


Born in Mankato, Minnesota, Dan Simpson received the major portion of his education through SDA schools. He is a graduate of Union College, Lincoln, Nebraska. He has served as conference evangelist in both the Oklahoma and Chesapeake Conferences. His pastoral ministry includes eight years with the Minnetonka Church (Minneapolis) and the last six years in Southern California. He and his wife, Darlene, have three children, ages 18, 14, and 12.

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