Adventist laymen’s convention 2018 starts with a call to allow God to use us for mission.
If we ever want to finish the work of sharing Jesus with everyone, we cannot go on doing business as usual, said John Bradshaw on the opening night of the 2018 Adventist Laymen’s Services and Industries (ASi) international convention in Orlando, Florida, United States, on August 1. “There is no way in the world we can be satisfied with the status quo. We must change gears!” said Bradshaw, speaker/director for the It Is Written international television ministry.
According to the event organizers, more than 2,300 have registered this year, a 30-percent increase from last year’s convention in Houston, Texas. Even though the ASi annual event is based in North America, people attending come from as far as Spain, South Africa, and Australia. Almost all of them are Adventist church members working in a variety of professions, including academia, banking, entrepreneurship, and charities.
Bradshaw’s keynote address played on the theme chosen for this year for the lay-led event — “Business Unusual” — to reflect on why, according to him, Adventists need to entertain the possibility of doing things differently. “If you keep doing things the way you’re doing, you’re going to get the same results,” he said. “And results have taken us this far, but it is not enough.”
He used a simple illustration to hammer home his point: “If you are producing 100 pairs of shoes a day and you want to storm California [U.S.’s most populous state] with them, you know things have to change, or you’ll never make it!” he said.
Sometimes, Bradshaw explained, business unusual comes along because someone has a brilliant idea, is motivated to make money, or finds out that “there is a better way of doing something.”
Other times, however, other considerations arise. “Sometimes, business unusual is pressed upon us because times are changing,” he said. “Business practices change because circumstances change.” Either way, he said, Adventists must challenge the status quo to make sure they fulfill their God-given mission of sharing Jesus with everyone.
The million-dollar question, of course, is how to do it — what to change to switch from business as usual to business unusual.
The Key to Business Unusual
Speaking on the Bible story in Numbers 11, in which the people of Israel complained to Moses and God was displeased, Bradshaw said that as we tackle our mission, we should avoid the pitfalls of ancient Israel. Noting similarities with some local churches, he said, “There must be a better way than the complaining we do!”
But in the middle of all the complaining, Bradshaw reminded his audience, God gave the people His Holy Spirit, and the whole dynamic changed. They began to prophesy, he said. And when Joshua felt uneasy about the new prophets, Moses answered, “Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” (verse 29, NKJV).
“The key to business unusual is being filled with the Holy Spirit,” Bradshaw said. “It is not your role to limit the work of others.”
Even as he cautioned his audience to remember they are part of a whole and should work in unity, Bradshaw said that in God’s mission there is no place for meanness. “We must thank God for what God is doing wherever and whenever He acts,” he said. “We need more people to rise up, filled with the Spirit of God.” Noting that in some churches members are vying for office and get angry if they don’t get it, he reminded, “The highest you can climb in the church is sharing your faith with another person.”
It is the reason, Bradshaw said, that anything we do without the Spirit of God is business as usual. Thus, business unusual is not about better plans, more workers on the payroll, or more programs, he said. On the contrary, “it’s more of God’s Holy Spirit, more people on fire for God, to share Christ in every way they can.”
Sharing Your Life
Bradshaw, who recently led an evangelistic initiative in Manila, Philippines, shared that as he was baptizing people on the last day of the series, he would ask the new converts how they were drawn and got to know God’s message. “Ninety percent of them told me, ‘A friend invited me [to meetings, or church],’” Bradshaw confessed. “It is the reason why God wants people to share their personal life and experience with the Lord.”
It is also the reason, Bradshaw explained, why we must be filled with God’s Spirit to do things differently. “Our doctrine is solid, and our methods are good,” he said. “The problem is not the message nor the method; it’s the messenger!”
Bradshaw closed by challenging his audience, “Imagine if we prayed and looked for ways — 24 hours a day — to share Jesus with others,” he said. “Imagine what could happen!”
The 2018 ASi annual convention continues until August 4.