A Conspiracy in North America

What if our Adventist Churches across North America began a conspiracy? What if we decided in harmony with all the other churches across Bermuda, Canada, United States and the islands of Guam and Micronesia that we are going to love our cities like Jesus did? What do you think would happen if we ventured outside the walls of our churches, asked people about their needs, and did something transformational for individuals and communities?

What if our local churches conspired together to do the following?

  • Respond to disasters in the community (fires, earthquakes, storms, tornados).
  • Feed the hungry.
  • Clothe the naked.
  • Mentor children after school.
  • Minister to prisoners, and also minister to their families.
  • Visit and pray for the sick in the community regularly.
  • Offer FREE Marital Counseling (married couples) and FREE Pre-Marital Counseling (engaged couples).
  • Offer FREE Parenting Classes for parents.
  • Donate space, FREE of charge, for community weddings and funerals.
  • Advertise the Services of the local Adventist Pastor to conduct Weddings, Dedications of Babies, and Funerals, FREE of charge for the church’s community.
  • Provide manicures and pedicures for battled women
  • Celebrate communion with the homeless and bring them in when it is cold.
  • Lead Toy Drives during Christmas.
  • Stand against modern Slavery and the abuse of women, children and the elderly (not a silent church).
  • Teach FREE Financial Management Classes (How to budget? How to buy a house? How to become debt-free? Financial Freedom, Income Taxes)
  • Hold FREE Fitness classes.
  • Connect with governmental leaders and work with them to support good causes regardless of their party affiliation.
  • Hold a reception for community business owners and pray for their success.
  • Promote and facilitate the adoption of children.
  • Co-sponsor and organize concerts with well known musicians in some of our very beautiful, historic, landmark buildings, rather than having these buildings closed to the public most of the time.
  • Organize and sponsor celebrations during special days and recognized holidays such as: New Year’s, Superbowl, Valentine’s, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and others.
  • Partner with the city and other organizations to serve as volunteers in events such as: marathons, fairs, festivals, and others.

What would happen with our churches if we would venture to open our doors more often, rather than just Saturdays, for a few hours, and Wednesdays for an hour? After all some other churches who don’t have the beautiful and powerful message we have, keep their doors open all the time. What if we dared to distribute flyers in our communities, not with beasts on the cover, but offering the few services mentioned above and many others? What if we did this, not just for a day, or for a season right before the evangelistic meetings, but on a regular basis as a lifestyle? What do you think would happen?

1. A Relevant Church is never empty. Jesus was surrounded by people constantly, He did not preach to empty pews, there is a reason why He always had a crowd.

2. A Relevant Church reaches and reclaims its community. Jesus did that on a regular basis. He went to the synagogue, sat and read, and then went out to reach and reclaim His community.

3. A Relevant Church retains its members. When a community of people are active and happy doing something good, which they enjoy, they don’t leave; the total opposite happens, more people come, youth, young adults, adults, and children, believe me it can be viral. Jesus went viral, and that’s why our church is here today because of what He did.

It’s time for a Conspiracy of Compassion in our Adventist Churches in North America!

Pastor Jose Cortes Jr., is an Associate Ministerial Director and Leads Evangelism for the Adventist Church in North America.

Memorial Day Message

Boy-memorialdayMemorial Day gives us the opportunity to remember those who have given their lives in service for our nation; the selfless men and women, whom through their ultimate sacrifice, have helped to secure our personal and spiritual freedom, as well as an unparalleled way of life. It is because of them that we are able to live without terror, worship without fear, give without restraint, and serve without limit.

Today, we honor our fallen heroes, among whom we count many Seventh-day Adventists, who proudly served our country. We pray for the comfort and hope of their surviving families and encourage our members to reach out with compassion to these fathers, mothers, boys, and girls, letting them know how much we appreciate their sacrifice and that of their loved ones.  On this Memorial Day, I encourage you and your church to make a call, sign a book, hug a family member, and say thank you to those who have served, still serve, or mourn the loss of one of our heroes.

We also look forward to the Second Coming of Jesus, the time, when deployments will end and war will be no more, when death will ultimately be defeated, and peace will reign forever. 

– Pastor Jose Cortes Jr.

Who Can the Church Love?

Joanne, Jose III, & Joel Cortes speak with a gentleman in the streets of Hamilton, Bermuda

The ministry of Jesus was a ministry of inclusion, not exclusion, and that makes perfect sense. After all, what would be the point of dying for people and then excluding them from experiencing God’s love and the opportunity of accepting His grace? Doing that would be inconsistent, not smart, and perhaps a waste of Jesus’ time on earth and of His ultimate sacrifice on the cross. It is simple and Jesus knew it, you cannot save people by excluding them. Jesus was crystal clear, if He was going to have a shot at saving humanity, they needed to see His love for them. That’s why He came and dwelt amongst us and became one of us.

I met an 18 year old, who shocked and saddened me when he unapologetically told me that he had found more evidence for Satan’s existence than for God’s existence in his church. When I inquired more about it, he told me a sad story, showed me two tattoos on each side of his neck and added, “no one in my church ever acknowledges me or says anything to me, they look at me funny and move on, as if I had a contagious disease, I definitely don’t belong there.” 

I saw, with my own eyes, how a young lady was asked to leave church on a Sabbath afternoon because she was wearing pants. When my wife and I stood up for her, she told us it had been a while since she had last been to church, but feeling unworthy and inadequate to come to the morning “Worship Service” she had decided to come in the afternoon. We were holding a special prayer session for an upcoming Evangelistic Series we were about to launch in that area. As soon as she walked in, she was told she could not enter the sanctuary wearing sweatpants. Turns out she was pregnant, out of wedlock, and trying to hide her belly.

Who Can the Church Love?

If the Church of Jesus cannot love guys with tattoos, ladies who wear pants to church, girls who are pregnant out of wedlock, and people who smell like smoke, among others, who can the Church of Jesus love? What is the purpose of the church then? Why do we even exist?

If the Church of Jesus cannot love all sinners, like Jesus did, then it is not a Church, and it is not of Jesus. Jesus loved all sinners and was always ready to minister to them, regardless of their sin. If you don’t love them, it will be very hard to reach, retain, or reclaim them.

Jesus did not baptize all the people He healed, fed, and counseled; yet He still healed them, took away their hunger, and blessed them because He loved them.

Is Your Church Filled with People of Different Walks of Life?

If your church is not filled with people of different backgrounds and walks of life, it is perhaps because they don’t feel that your church is a safe place for them. Jesus loved tax collectors, prostitutes, Jews, Gentiles, poor, rich, children, men, women, and Pharisees. This is why people of different walks of life approached Him and followed Him.

We, the Church of Jesus, must be willing to love people who sin differently than we do. Jesus died for them, as much as He died for me and you.

Where Do We Draw the Line?

Where do we draw the line? The answer is simple, we draw the line where Jesus did. When a woman, who had just been caught in the act of adultery, was brought to Him, and her accusers looked for approval from Jesus to stone her, He said: “He who is without sin, cast the first stone…” Then He told her “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

We are much more like Jesus when we are inclusive with other sinners. We reflect His character best when the doors of our churches are opened to people of different walks of life and backgrounds. We are way more effective reaching, retaining, and reclaiming North America when we are filled with the Love of God and the Compassion of Jesus.

Let’s just try it! Jesus did!

Pastor Jose Cortes Jr.

 

Truth that is not Afraid of Innovation!

Truth and Innovation are not enemies, I would even venture to say that Truth and Innovation must be best friends, and more so for people who are passionate about Reaching, Retaining, and Reclaiming North America with a lifestyle and a message of Compassion, Hope, and Wholeness.

I say this for the following reasons:

God, the source of all truth, is an innovative God. He created our universe, our world, and us, though there was a possibility for failure. He could have chosen not to innovate, but He used His innovative spirit combined with His love and came up with something new and beautiful. As sons and daughters of God, we have been given the ability and intelligence to be creative. 

Jesus, the truth in person, is innovative. During His earthly ministry Jesus continuously came up with things that had not been done before by his contemporaries in ministry. He fed people after the sermon, touched lepers, talked to the children, used parables when preaching, ate with sinners, and defended a woman who was about to be stoned for adultery. It seems that every time He did something new and creative, He did it to bless someone in need. Jesus was innovative for the sake of the very people He wanted to save, not for innovation’s sake.

Innovativeness is in the DNA of Adventism. As we look at the history of our church, we realize that our predecessors were willing to do things that were new and different. These innovations helped to make a movement out of Adventism, to keep it alive, and to make it a global movement. If they had been afraid of doing things a bit different, and at times a lot different, had they not been innovative, and received God’s blessing, perhaps we would not be where we are today.

When I think of people like, James White and the creation of our church’s first papers and magazines, Adventist Review, the Youth Instructor, and Signs of the Times; John Nevins Andrews and his sacrificial travels to Europe; Anna Knight, the first black woman of any denomination to serve as a missionary to India; John Harvey Kellogg’s creativeness in the health field, which initially brought notoriety to Adventists, and the many declarations of Ellen G. White about coming up with new methods and ideas; I have to accept that no matter how I feel about change and new things, there has been an innovative spirit in the DNA of our church, from our very humble beginnings. 

In 1902, Ellen G. White said: “New methods must be introduced. God’s people must awake to the necessities of the time in which they are living. God has men (and women 😉 whom He will call into His service,—men who will not carry forward the work in the lifeless way in which it has been carried forward in the past…. In our large cities the message is to go forth as a lamp that burneth. God will raise up laborers for this work, and His angels will go before them. Let no one hinder these men of God’s appointment. Forbid them not. God has given them their work. Let the message be given with so much power that the hearers shall be convinced.”—The Review and Herald, September 30, 1902.

The same Holy Spirit that led our predecessors, is still alive and willing to guide us as we reach, retain, and reclaim North America. As we do so together, remember:

  • Creatives and innovators have always had a place in God’s work, even “In the beginning…” 
  • Not one single method works for everybody or everywhere; fishermen can testify to this.
  • Innovation is God’s answer to the needs of the people He wants to save through us.
  • Don’t give up quickly. Some methods may take a while to produce fruits, effectiveness can be measured best over a period of time.
  • When offering opinions about innovation or innovators, please make sure you are fully informed. 
  • The fact that someone does not agree with it does not mean that God cannot bless it, God blesses anything He wants to bless, regardless of human opinion, my opinion, or yours.
  • Being an Innovator may hurt at times, yet you should not hinder what God has called you to do, it is for an awesome cause, people will be blessed and the church will grow.
  • Don’t hesitate to utilize methods and tools, that may be different, for the sake of those you would like to see saved.

Oh, and one last thing, “by our fruits we will be known…”

Pastor Jose Cortes Jr., is an Associate Ministerial Director and Leads Evangelism for the Adventist Church in North America.

Everything

A few days ago, I walked into our Division President’s office with a question: “What would you like to see happen in North America, when it comes to Evangelism?” His answer was quick, sharp, and brief. He replied: “EVERYTHING.” Pastor Jackson’s reply has stayed with me since that day and I would like for it to stay with you, “EVERYTHING.”

When it comes to Evangelism and Outreach in the Adventist Church across the United States, Canada, Bermuda, Guam and the Micronesian Islands, EVERYTHING goes. Yes, you read it right. If it Reaches, Retains, and Reclaims individuals, families, and communities for Jesus, EVERYTHING and ANYTHING goes, it must be tried and it must be used. After all that’s what Jesus did, and our Church is His Church, and we are His followers.

This means that subscribing to only one or two methods to reach, retain, and reclaim our communities and cities for Jesus is no longer the norm. This means that creative outreach ideas must not be shut down by a few people, who know the power of the infamous phrase, “we don’t do that here.” Evangelism needs to stop being just an event or a non-event, which happens during a season, in which only some participate, and become the lifestyle of all Adventists, 24/7, 365 days a year. It means that there is work beyond the four walls of our church buildings; it is perfectly appropriate and smart to minister outside, where most people are. Those who are doing it are seeing the difference.

It means we must continue to enhance what has worked, abandon what is not working, duplicate what is working for others in our context, and find ways to become more innovative and effective in the fulfillment of our mission. Each Adventist disciple of Jesus in North America, should get a chance to experience the joy of sharing Jesus daily and seamlessly, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or language. For that to happen we must open up many evangelistic avenues and opportunities, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This means that if you cannot Preach or Teach, there’s got to be a way for you to Reach someone, somehow.

We must await the Second Coming of Jesus being relevant, with all hands on deck, moving in the same direction, without in-fighting, although our methods may differ; remembering that unity in mission is paramount while multiple methods are necessary. Let us continue to pray and work for a spirit of unity and grand-collaboration that extends from our youngest members, pastors, evangelists, administrators, and to our most renown and influential Adventist entities. People, churches, schools, ministries, hospitals, and institutions who are the eyes, the heart, the hands, the feet, and the mouthpiece of Jesus daily and constantly, become blessings to humanity and huge magnets for people. Jesus did that while on this earth, and now calls you, me, and our church to do the same in this so called Post-Christian era.

As we Reach, Retain, and Reclaim North America together, please count on our support, prayers, and love. Our team exists to empower and support you!

Pastor Jose Cortes Jr., is an Associate Ministerial Director and Leads Evangelism for the Adventist Church in North America.