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Blog Preview: How The Church Works

Updated: Oct 1, 2021

“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. Many committed and teetering Adventists ask basic questions, because we simply don’t always do a good job of articulating how the Seventh-day Adventist church works, and why it’s important 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, which started with a handful of people in the Northeastern US 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 we assembled a team to make How the Church Works: a podcast about the inner-workings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and why you should care.

Hosts Nina Vallado (documentary filmmaker and student Academy Award Nominee, Sisterly), and Kaleb Eisele (Editor, Humans of Adventism) to 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. In our candid conversations with these experts, we were surprised by a lot of what we heard - like 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.

Launching this fall wherever you listen to podcasts. *Heather Moor is a producer for How the Church Works.

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