Power and/or influence

As a rule people with power have influence. That is true in society at large and in the church. Leaders have a form and a degree of power over the organisation they are part of, and over other people in that organisation. Politicians often have far-reaching power and their influence may extend far into the future. They have influence as their decisions may have  consequences for many years to come, some of which may perhaps never be reversed.

Church leaders also have power. The fact that people have been elected in certain positions or have been appointed in certain jobs, means that they can take all kinds of initiatives or obstruct the initiatives of others. They are able to promote particular people or block their promotion. Leaders play an important role in processes of change, and in steering the trends in the church. Their influence is even greater if they also posses charismatic qualities, enabling them to enthuse and inspire others.

In democratic countries and democratically led organisation the power of leaders is limited and is shared with others. In addition, there are mechanisms to evaluate their decisions and, if necessary, to remove leaders. In non-democratic countries and organizations leaders may be able to impose their will on everyone.

In a world-wide church, such as the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, leaders tend to have considerable power and influence. How much power they have differs from place to place. In the United States, for example, presidents of church entities have considerably more power (and influence) than a union or conference president has in a European setting. Inevitably, the administrative model of church organizations is strongly influenced by the political system in the  region or country where they are located.

However, there are also lots of people who do not (or no longer) have power, but continue to have influence. Frequently, former politicians and people who have built an extensive social network during their career continue to have much influence. Likewise, authors, artists, academics, and those who work in the media, may not have the kind of power that policians or captains of industry have, but they may have a lot of influence, which they can use in such a way that those ni power cannot ignore what they are saying.

Similarly, there are many people in the church without any administrative power but with considerable influence. I am thinking of former church administrators, but also of others who over the years have built extensive social networks within the church.  I am also thinking of theologians and other academics, key preachers, who have become well-known, and of men and women who write blogs and books, who are visible at different forums and may lobby while at the sideline of the denominational administrative system.

More than ever before it is essential for the Adventist Church that those of us who do not (or no longer) have any power, use their influence. Today we see leaders (especially in the higher echelons of the church) who want to use their power to enforce uniformity and demand the implementation of particular policies. This may have catastrophic consequences. It is important that all those without formal power and authority, but with influence, who are  concerned about some tendencies in their church, will use that influence to encourage those who have the power to lead with more tolerance and with with more respect for opinions that differ from their own.

In the autumn the executive committee of the world church will once again debate the question what must be done with those church entities that refuse to comply with certain GC imposed policies, because their conscience tells them that it is morally wrong to discriminate between men and women, also regarding the issue of full recognition in the gospel ministry. I hope that all people with influence will in the coming months do what they can  to convince the church leaders to find a solution that is acceptable to all.

[I have no power, but I am determined to continue using the little influence that I still have. I hope that all those who have much more influence than I have, will use that influence in the coming months as intensely and strategically as possible.]

2 thoughts on “Power and/or influence

  1. Emil Ene

    Dear Reinder Bruinsma:

    I am so sorry, and it deeply moves me, to see the path that is being pursued by your actions, and that sadly now others are publicly urged to also follow.

    I love you as a person, but I strongly oppose words and actions that foster sentiments of distrust and suspicion, and undermine the Seventh-day Adventist world church and its leadership.

    By openly urging others to oppose the Biblical decisions of the highest governing body of the Seventh-day Adventist world church, the General Conference in session, lately consisting of more then 2500 delegates, as well as the decisions of the General Conference Executive Committee, the second governing body of the world church, lately consisting of more then 340 delegates, you are, so I understand, publicly betraying sacred trust.

    On the ‘day of dialog’ you organised, March 25th 2017, the following topics were discussed (according to the invitation that was sent to the secretaries of the Dutch churches):

    1. Who is in control in the church?
    2. How do you read the Bible?
    3. Current trends in the SDA Church.
    4. Questions concerning the 28 Fundamental Beliefs
    5. How relevant is the church still?

    Sacred trust has been granted, first of all as a member of the body of Christ, the Seventh-day Adventist church, by baptism, and in a most sacred way, as an ordained minster, an undershepherd of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Seventh-day Adventist church.

    The Working Policy, section L50, Examination of Candidates for Ordination, mentions 15 points of ‘evidence’ that need be examined on candidates that desire to be ordained as ministers (of Christ) in the Seventh-day Adventist church. Some of the points are:

    c. An acquaintance with and full acceptance of the vital truths we believe we are called to proclaim to the world

    h. An aptness as a teacher of truth

    i. An ability to lead souls from sin into holiness

    k. a cooperative attitude and confidence in the organisation and functioning of the church

    l. A life if consistent exemplary Christian conduct

    o. An understanding of and adherence to church principles as set forth in the Church Manual.

    Let us learn from the history of the great controversy, how it all began in heaven. In the heart and mind of the highest, most intelligent of all created beings: Lucifer. He claimed the best intentions, and a desire to ‘improve’ the government and order in heaven. To correct the law of God, and to lead the highly intelligent beings of heaven, the angels, to true liberty and justice.

    A path that eventually cost the life of the Son of God!

    A concise article where we are reminded of this history can be read here:
    http://advindicate.com/articles/2015/7/15/lessons-of-warning-from-lucifers-rebellion

    One day every person will stand before the Judge of all the earth, the Lord and King Jesus Christ; at that day ‘papers’, books and arguments will not be heard, but everything and all will be open before Him.

    What have you done with the light that I have (graciously) given? What have you done with the truth, My Word, My truth?

    You are in my prayers.

    I also daily pray for the (leaders of the) Seventh-day Adventist (world) church. Our mission.

    Remember: we have one enemy, and we should unite under One Leader, Who has delegated leadership to His church, and speaks through His Word and testimonies.

  2. Emil Ene

    Dear Reinder Bruinsma:

    I am so sorry, and it deeply moves me, to see the path that is being pursued by your actions, and that sadly now others are publicly urged to also follow.

    I love you as a person, but I strongly oppose words and actions that foster sentiments of distrust and suspicion, and undermine the Seventh-day Adventist world church and its leadership.

    By openly urging others to oppose the Biblical decisions of the highest governing body of the Seventh-day Adventist world church, the General Conference in session, lately consisting of more then 2500 delegates, as well as the decisions of the General Conference Executive Committee, the second governing body of the world church, lately consisting of more then 340 delegates, you are, so I understand, publicly betraying sacred trust.

    On the ‘day of dialog’ you organised, March 25th 2017, the following topics were discussed (according to the invitation that was sent to the secretaries of the Dutch churches):

    1. Who is in control in the church?
    2. How do you read the Bible?
    3. Current trends in the SDA Church.
    4. Questions concerning the 28 Fundamental Beliefs
    5. How relevant is the church still?

    Sacred trust has been granted, first of all as a member of the body of Christ, the Seventh-day Adventist church, by baptism, and in a most sacred way, as an ordained minster, an undershepherd of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Seventh-day Adventist church.

    The Working Policy, section L50, Examination of Candidates for Ordination, mentions 15 points of ‘evidence’ that need be examined on candidates that desire to be ordained as ministers (of Christ) in the Seventh-day Adventist church. Some of the points are:

    c. An acquaintance with and full acceptance of the vital truths we believe we are called to proclaim to the world

    h. An aptness as a teacher of truth

    i. An ability to lead souls from sin into holiness

    k. a cooperative attitude and confidence in the organisation and functioning of the church

    l. A life if consistent exemplary Christian conduct

    o. An understanding of and adherence to church principles as set forth in the Church Manual.

    Let us learn from the history of the great controversy, how it all began in heaven. In the heart and mind of the highest, most intelligent of all created beings: Lucifer. He claimed the best intentions, and a desire to ‘improve’ the government and order in heaven. To correct the law of God, and to lead the highly intelligent beings of heaven, the angels, to true liberty and justice.

    A path that eventually cost the life of the Son of God!

    A concise article where we are reminded of this history can be read here:
    http://advindicate.com/articles/2015/7/15/lessons-of-warning-from-lucifers-rebellion

    One day every person will stand before the Judge of all the earth, the Lord and King Jesus Christ; at that day ‘papers’, books and arguments will not be heard, but everything and all will be open before Him.

    What have you done with the light that I have (graciously) given? What have you done with the truth, My Word, My truth?

    You are in my prayers.

    I also daily pray for the (leaders of the) Seventh-day Adventist (world) church. Our mission.

    Remember: we have one enemy, and we should unite under One Leader, Who has delegated leadership to His church, and speaks through His Word and testimonies.

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