“Where does our tithe money go?”
“Who’s really in charge in the church?”
“Why do we have 28 Fundamental Beliefs, and has it always been that way?”
“And what really makes somebody an Adventist?”
I often hear questions like these from Adventists from all backgrounds, but especially ones that are on their way out the “back door.” Both committed and teetering Adventists ask basic questions because the Seventh-day Adventist Church doesn’t always do a good job of articulating how the church works, and why it’s important that we care. The Adventist Church is a large worldwide institution — with a rich history, deep theological frameworks, and layers of church, educational, and hospital structures — that started with a handful of people in the Northeastern U.S. in the 1800s.
Confusion and questions about Adventism’s place in our world, and our personal lives, have driven younger Adventists, in particular, to struggle with connecting to a religion that at times doesn’t make sense to them and the world they experience. Could it be that we need to understand the past so that we can make sense of today?
That’s exactly why the Adventist Learning Community assembled a team to make How the Church Works, a podcast about the inner-workings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and why it’s important to care.
Hosts Nina Vallado (documentary filmmaker and student Academy Award Nominee, Sisterly), and Kaleb Eisele (editor, Humans of Adventism) take a deep dive into how the Seventh-day Adventist Church works — how our structures, theology, and worldview work; and how sometimes they don’t.
Each episode explores the history and development of a specific aspect of the church, including church structure, tithe, social action, Ellen White, and education through interviews with church leaders, authors, and historians. Surprising stories and details emerge through the podcast’s candid conversations with these experts, such as that the first General Conference president was likely an operator of a station on the underground railroad; that Ellen and James White’s son Edson struggled to find his place in Adventism until he refurbished an old riverboat, floating it up and down the Mississippi after the Civil War to provide education and religious studies to recently freed African Americans; that Ellen White didn’t think her writings should be used in the pulpit; and that the tithe system is trickle up, not trickle down.
With the Adventist Church, there’s more than meets the eye, and we’re so excited to take you on this journey with us!
Find How the Church Works wherever you listen to podcasts, or at HowTheChurchWorks.com.
— Heather Moor is project manager for the Adventist Learning Community.