Updated: Apr 29, 2019
Oh, boy! Well, this church check was definitely an adventure!
Adventure Church has been recommended by a few of our readers, but even if it hadn’t been, we’d still make checking this one a priority. The name alone makes you curious, doesn’t it? Perhaps that’s why it has become another one of Utah’s more popular churches.
So, let’s check ‘em out.
When you go to the homepage of Adventure Church’s website at http://www.theadventure.church/home, you see these words:
“IT'S NOT ABOUT RELIGION
IT'S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
“...And it's especially about our primary relationship with God, and we want to help you know Him! Please join us every Sunday at 9:00 or 11:00 am in Draper, or 11:00 am in American Fork. We hope to see YOU there!”
Okay, I like the distinction between religion and relationship. Let’s see if they can uphold that image as we peruse their website.
There’s a video on the homepage as well. You can watch it for yourself at the same link to their home page, but it’s basically a minute and a half commercial for the church, with as little mention of God, Jesus or the Bible as humanly possible without excluding Him entirely. One guy does mention God near the end.
If you go to the I’m New Here page, you see a picture of pastor Jodi and this welcome message from her:
“Welcome to the Adventure!
“Life with the Living God is truly and adventure and we are here to help you discover the blessings and joys of living a life of PURPOSE and FREEDOM. Our main goal is to “Love God, Love People,” and to discover not only who you were created to be but also to know Christ more deeply.
We are so happy you have visited us and we hope to be a place where you can grow your LIFE, impact your WORLD, and live your DREAM, and find deep and meaningful relationships with the Lord and His people.”
- Jodi Van Rhee, Lead Pastor
The key words make it kind of obvious that it’s all about YOU, YOUR PURPOSE, YOUR FREEDOM, YOUR LIFE, YOUR WORLD, AND YOUR DREAM.
As a writer, I noticed something very peculiar at the end of pastor Jodi’s message as well. Re-read the last paragraph again and see if you can catch it too.
She ends with the church’s mission statement, which is a trio of goals that ends with “...and live your DREAM,” but then adds yet another “and” to include “...deep and meaningful relationship with the Lord and His people.” To me, it looks like that last part wasn’t originally there, and was added on after the fact, possibly at the last moment, once it was realized that God wasn’t even mentioned.
I could be wrong, but the redundant “and” and NO emphasis on the statement about your relationship with the Lord at all, it certainly appears that way. If they didn’t intend on making God a side note, they should probably reword this paragraph, and make the LORD big, bold, and more prominent, so He doesn't appear to be so minor at the end of the sentence there.
This message isn’t just a red flag. This is like a parade of red flags marching in your front yard. Please don’t ignore it.
When you go to their What To Expect page, you can see a whole list of red flags, just one bomb right after another.
They have special parking spaces just for YOU, the new guest! They have Greeters and a Connect Team ready and waiting to help you feel special. They have a Cafe! The Adventure Cafe! Where you can get a complimentary drink as a new guest. And don’t forget the “Living Room,” which is their sanctuary, where you’ll receive a powerful message to transform your life!
Now, if you don't know why these are red flags, you might want to read our post on churches that serve money.
Their Good News page is nice.
Go to the “who we are” page and you can read more about their mission.
"Our desire and Mission is to help people:
A) GROW their LIFE
B) IMPACT their WORLD
C) LIVE the DREAM that God has put in their hearts!
"To summarize our heart...
We want to “Love God and Love People". The God we love is the God of the Bible, who is revealed in the Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit. The "People" we want to love is YOU, the person that Jesus died for on the cross. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”–John 3:16
"Every person, every team, every leader, every ministry and every pastor is called to fulfill the heart and mission of the Church. With God's power we will GROW our LIFE, IMPACT our WORLD, and LIVE God's DREAM for our lives."
Beneath this mission statement they expand on each bullet point and add some Bible verses to support them, but the point in the end seems to be that it’s all about YOU, with God being a side note.
The “our vision” page is a little better, but this church as a whole seems to suggest that people can be “transformed back to their original purpose and design,” and that hints of the Prosperity Gospel and something more New Age-y. (http://www.theadventure.church/who-we-are/our-vision)
Let’s move on to the Questionnaire. It’s a THUMBS DOWN for the Website Review.
This church stonewalls with the best of ‘em, folks. I emailed them the Questionnaire on March 1st, waited three days, no response. So I hopped on Facebook and messaged them there, where someone told me they would look at it the next day (on the 5th). I waited, the 5th passed, and nothing.
So, I emailed them again on the 6th. And then again on the 8th. On the 11th, I finally got a response.
“Jodi has been sick for most of the week and will be happy to get back to you when she is able. Thanks for your interest in Adventure Church. We want to invite you to come one Sunday and enjoy the love of the Lord with us.”
‘Oh, okay!’ I thought. I told them I’d follow up in a week. A week passed, and again...nada. So I emailed them again on the 16th. Yesterday was the 19th. I’d waited long enough.
So I sent one final email, which I sent to their Facebook Messenger as well (for some reason people respond more quickly to FB Messages) on 3/19/19 and gave them 24 hours to respond.
This is the message I sent:
“I just want to follow up one more time with you before I proceed with the review. It's been a few weeks since I originally emailed my questions and I've attempted following up several times since then. At this point, I will have to write my review of your church with the impression that you refuse to answer my questions. If that is not what you intended, please answer my questions within the next 24 hours. I will be publishing the review tomorrow afternoon. If I can't get your answers to the questions by then, it will reflect poorly on the final rating of your church.
“Please let me know if you have any questions.”
To this, I finally got a response. Pastor Jodi personally sent me a very long message on Facebook to discuss Check My Church in general, but she still has yet to answer the questions themselves. Here was her response, and my response follows. (emphasis is mine)
Hi! This is Jodi Van Rhee. The past couple of weeks I have had a bout of the flu and RELAPSED THREE times, so I am sorry I wasn’t able to answer your questions.
Also, before I answered what you’d requested, I wanted to look into “checkmychurch” and see what it is that you are doing. While I think I understand and appreciate your goals in what you’re trying to accomplish, I do have some questions I’d like to pose to you.
First of all, I am, as I am certain you are, very aware of the problems in the American church today. Anyone who loves the Bible can see that we have ALL fallen far short of the original intent for the believers to gather and for the “Church” to truly represent Christ on the earth. I am concerned about consumerism in the Church; we are called to lay down our lives for the sake of the Kingdom and to give up our own agenda. Too many people are trying to find a church to “meet their needs” and that is, in my opinion, the antithesis of Jesus’ desire for His Church. It is in losing our lives for HIS sake that we will truly find LIFE.
My goal in writing to you, Sarah, is to “reason together”. You have very definite opinions on certain issues with the churches you’ve rated. However, there are “disputable matters” (Romans 14) and it is a little unsettling to me to “rate” churches based on a person’s subjective and particular ideology of what constitutes a Biblically healthy and “correct” church concerning issues of baptism, tithing, how churches conduct their services, how much the pastor earns, etc.
Sarah, I believe that Jesus LOVES His Bride, with all of her shortcomings, blemishes and failings. He looks lovingly at His Church, despite our own apparent blindspots. Believe me, there are particular areas I disagree with some of the churches you have rated, and I agree with you about a few of the things you’ve pointed out. However, I sincerely believe I am called to PRAY FOR the Body of Christ in Utah—to pray for BLESSINGS, trusting that the Lord will bring the appropriate correction and discipline to each of us. We are simply called to humble ourselves and serve His Bride—It IS HIS Church, after all!
My questions for you are based on these concerns. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be ONE even as He and the Father are One. I am just having a hard time grasping how pointing out the failures of churches, and ranking them, from a subjective opinion, serves the goal of building up and unifying of the Church.
We are commanded in Ephesians 4 to BUILD UP the Body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:11 “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the Body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”
Sincerely, I’m not trying to be antagonistic. My heart is FOR you, my sister in Christ. I am extremely concerned that we all work toward UNIFYING the believers in Jesus rather than separating, categorizing and dividing them. Other believers in Jesus are NOT our enemies. We have no enemies in the Body of Christ (Ephesians 6).
With less than 3% believers in Jesus here in Utah, don’t you agree that we should be extending GRACE to those who believe in the essentials of true Biblical Christianity—that they are saved BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH and not of our own works? Those who have put their hope in cross for their forgiveness of sins are, regardless of our differences and disputable matters, called to become ONE.
Sarah, you seem like an amazing person—I stalked you on Facebook, (jk!) and I believe you love the Lord with all your heart.
So I ask you, my sister:
1) How does the rating of churches BUILD up the Body of Christ? Do you believe you are building up the Body, Sarah?
2) Do you believe this falls in line with Jesus’ prayer found in John 17 for His Church?
3) Could some of the ratings you use fall under the category of “disputable matters” in Romans 14?
I know that you will rate The Adventure however you will and I am ok with that. We have nothing to hide. Our sole purpose in existing is to Love God and Love People. We have no ulterior motives. We are a VERY imperfect church that has been through a LOT since my husband died three years ago.
My heart is simply to “reason together” with you. If you are still open to talking with me, I’d LOVE to sit down and talk with you and answer your questions. If you are in the Draper area, Sarah, I would love to take you to lunch!
God bless you!
Jodi Van Rhee
And here was my response (emphasis added):
“Hi Pastor Jodi!
“Thank you for getting back to me. I’m so sorry about your sickness. I hope you’re doing much better now. I appreciate the response, and I am glad to finally be talking to you.
I agree with your concerns about consumerism in the Christian church today, and completely agree with everything you said about how we are called to lay down our lives and give up our own agenda. I’m also glad to reason with you.
First, to clarify some things. While you might think our ratings are based on one person’s subjective, particular ideology, we actually have tried very hard to keep them based on the objective standard set by the Bible. For example, I don’t think any Christian will dispute the Biblical fact that we should serve God, and not money, that we should preach the Gospel and not law, or that we should teach the Word of God, rather than the words of men/women. While people may disagree with our stance on more particular issues such as baptism, tithing, etc…, they are directly related to those objective truths within the Bible. So that is why we address them.
I understand, and agree, that Jesus Loves His Bride, and that is actually why I am doing this. Too much have I seen the damage that local churches have done to the Body by its legalism and materialism. I am not criticizing the Bride of Christ at all. My criticisms are for local churches in how they are operating relative to the Word of God. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I would never suggest that as Christians we must individually perform or be perfect in our flesh. That is of course impossible.
On the other hand, I believe that our leaders in the Body, the pastors and the churches, have a responsibility to abide by the Word of God. They’ve been made shepherds over His flock, and it’s their responsibility to take care of her, teach her, and lead her. I think that too many shepherds of the flock are leading us astray, and if one of the sheep notices, we should probably do something about it, or stand by and watch the flock flounder in legalism and materialism.
I have prayed about this for a long time. When I was creating the website, I asked God, “If this is not Your will, I don’t want to do it. Please lead me on Your path. I don’t want to do anything in opposition to You and Your will.” After meditating and praying on it for such a long time, I truly believe this is my calling as a Christian in this life.
To answer your first question, while it may give you the impression that I am merely pointing out the failures of local churches and ranking them based on some subjective ideas, which could be very divisive and unloving, what I’m actually trying to do is confront its leadership/shepherds for their refusal to see the problem, and holding them accountable to the Bible for its objective standards on us all. Dividing over minor doctrinal issues and ignoring major issues like materialism and a neglect of the Gospel has not unified the Church, but on the contrary, has separated us all into tens of thousands of different denominations and created hundreds of thousands of churches that ignore the Bible entirely.
I think a re-focus on the majors such as the ones I address on the site (Worship God alone, Preach The Gospel, & The Teach Word), will unify the Body much better than the division that’s occurred over the minors for thousands of years. I think by reminding people who may have forgotten about these key issues within Christianity will also unify the Body in true freedom and love, whereas the legalism and materialism that currently plagues many Christian churches today only serves to bring people down and divide them, rather than build them up and unify them.
It may not make pastors and the people being criticized very happy, but I think this could be God’s way of pruning local churches back to where they need to be. He prunes us to build us up, doesn’t He? I’m not God, but He uses us for His purposes, right?
Telling the truth in love is my goal, and I may fail in it from time to time (the loving part mostly), but I think it will unify the Body and build it up over time, if we can all humble ourselves before God.
Let me ask you a question, too. What do you think the Bible means when it says “build up” the Church? Do you think we build up the Church by ignoring things that might be directly insulting and antagonistic to God, such as leaving the Gospel for another, which as Paul said, is no Gospel at all?
I have no enemies in Christ. I have no enemies at all. Not in flesh and blood anyway. That is why I am being careful not to personally attack people who I think have done something wrong by God. It can be hard to avoid that, but this isn’t about the failures of the Body itself, but the infiltration of principalities and spiritual forces that reside in the Church today. We need to get them out, and I think the only way to do that is address them, point them out, and flee from those ideas and practices that negate the Body by lying to her, rather than building her up.
I absolutely agree that we should be extending grace to everyone. That’s one of my big problems with the local churches in Utah. Ex-Mormons who have been stuck in legalism and law, not freedom in the grace of Christ, come to our churches and become trapped in the same systems of laws and ordinances that they had in the LDS Church. Don’t you think that’s a big problem? Shouldn’t we be concerned that after being burned so many times by such religious practices that these people are resorting to atheism and agnosticism as a result? There are more agnostics and atheists in Utah than Christians, I’m willing to bet. Something needs to change about the way we do things here.
My contention is not with churches who preach grace and believe in the essentials of true Biblical Christianity. Those are the churches I encourage Christians to attend. It is with churches that claim to believe in those essentials only to negate them in practice by putting people in religious bondage, or propping up idols, or teaching contrary to what we’ve been told in the Word, that I will point out and expose, because it’s one thing to claim we believe in something, it’s another thing entirely to prove otherwise through our actions.
So, to recap:
I do believe I’m building up the Body, by pointing out the roaches that seek to destroy it and give Christians a solution/alternative - the churches that appear to have no roaches(Materialism/Money/Other Idols, Legalism, etc…).
I do believe it falls in line with Jesus’ prayer in John 17, specifically because I believe He is protecting us by the power of His name as He protected us while He resided on earth. Legalism and teachers of the law angered Him like nothing else during His time here, and He pointed them out very loudly whenever He had the chance. Not that I am Jesus, but I think pointing out legalism and the ideas that insult His work on the cross is exactly what all of us should be doing as Christians.
The main criteria I use to rate churches in the end, I do not think are disputable, but also, I am not judging individual Christians in their walk with God. I am judging doctrines and practices which churches have propped up in lieu of what the Bible teaches - Worship God alone, Preach the Gospel, Teach the Word. Those are my main issues of contention with churches. If any of those are disputable in your mind, I’m curious to find out why.
Lastly, I know I may come off as very stoic and robotic in my tone in general, but I truly have nothing against any church or pastor personally. I’m doing my best to tell the truth in love, to protect and unify the Church through the truth and freedom of Christ, and to confront what the Bible says are in opposition to Christ and His Bride.
I’m just trying to do what I think God is leading me to do. It may come off as unloving and judgmental to some, but the truth must be told. We can’t pretend that anything and everything a church does, as long as they claim to believe in the essential doctrines of Christianity, is okay. We should hold our churches to a higher standard. God’s standard. I know you don’t think the criteria I’ve set is God’s standard, but I’m perfectly willing to hear what you think I should change about it. After all, if my standard isn’t the objective, Biblical one, I want to fix it so that it is.
I read about your husband when I began my review of your church, and I am so sorry for your loss. It must have been very hard on you and your church to go through that, and I can’t even imagine what it feels like. You and your church are in my prayers, and you are a strong woman to be able to come out of that and lead a church as its pastor through it all.
I am always open to talking, and again, I appreciate the response. The reason I email these questions, however, is because my family and I are still working on moving back down to Utah. We currently live in Idaho, having hopped back and forth between the two states a few times over the years, we’ve finally settled on Utah. Anyway, once we are moved, I would be open to sitting down with you, but in the meantime, do you think you’d be up for answering my questions for the review itself?
Thanks again and God Bless,
I could see on Facebook Messenger that my response was “Seen” just a few minutes after I sent it. But nobody answered. Then I waited for the 24 hours, and sent one last reply:
“Hi, Pastor Jodi. So are you going to be able to answer those questions for me today? I need to know either way so I can finish writing my review and post it this evening.”
That was several hours ago, and they saw it within an hour, so at this point, I believe I am being ignored.
Therefore, I have no choice but to try and answer these questions myself. Luckily, their website is very informative.
1. What is your church's official position on tithing?
Their Give page on their website says this:
HONOR THE LORD "...with the firstfruits of all your crops..."
“In all things—our time, our daily decisions, our work, our relationships, our possessions, and our finances—we are called to put God first as we allow Him to be Lord over our lives. Our "firstfruits" are also what God calls a tithe, which means 'tenth' or 10%, and we seek to honor Him with this offering. We are not so much giving to God as we are giving back for what He has given us.”
“Thank you for honoring and worshiping the Lord through the giving of your firstfruits!”
So, they preach the Old Testament Law of tithing, but for some reason all over their website you receive this message of “we’re all about grace and relationships and fun, not religion!”
2. Does your church have a particular set of rules or requirements that members must follow or abide by in order to retain their membership status with the church?
While I don’t know whether Adventure Church has the same kind of contract or membership requirements that other churches have, I did found out that like so many other churches that tout grace while practicing law, they have a Base Camp class.
See for yourself: http://www.theadventure.church/events/base-camp
Some phrases that sent my red flags flailing?
The Identity Experience: Living a “New Creation” Life
The Power Experience: Power—Fruitfulness—Confidence
The Impact Experience: Live God’s Greatest Purpose For You
The Adventure Experience: Vision—Values—Life Application
The One Heart, One Mind Experience: Connection & Relationship
The Live My Dream Experience: Your Unique Design and Gifts
The Make My Mark Experience: What is Your Personal Mission?
The Service Experience: Service supercharges the growth experience like nothing else!
The Heart Experience: Learn the way of Jesus!
No one has to tell the Christian how to live a “new creation” life. This presumes that the Holy Spirit isn’t already within us, guiding us, and showing that to us Himself. You don’t need to be instructed in the ways of being a Christian. As they explain so well on the Good News page, it’s not about following a set of laws, rules, or instructions. It’s letting go and letting the Holy Spirit take the wheel.
All this talk of “power” sounds like New Age self help talk, not Biblical Christianity. Any “power” that we have comes from God, and it’s made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). The fruitfulness we exhibit comes from God in us, and I don’t know what confidence has to do with any of that. Why does it even matter?
The Impact Experience? Just more new age self help language.
The Adventure Experience sounds like they do have a set of standards and/or expectations for their members.
The One Heart, One Mind Experience sounds like legalism through rose-colored sunglasses.
The Live My Dream Experience - Just more stuff that’s focused on you and not God, the Bible, or the Gospel.
The Make My Mark Mission - Again, it comes off as being focused on you, and not God.
The Service Experience - You should serve the church because it supercharges your “growth experience”? Sounds both legalistic and self absorbed.
The Heart Experience - A whole class and Jesus gets one little bullet point at the very end.
They have another class called The Summit, and it comes off as very humanistic in nature. I think they teach Mysticism at this church. Check it out for yourself. At the top of the page, they quote Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, who appears to be a Christian Mystic that teaches the Enneagram.
This is mysticism and man-made philosophy, and is a self help tool for people seeking to know themselves better and improve their personality. It’s been labeled pseudoscience by many scientists, but the important fact here is that it has nothing to do with the Gospel, God, or the Bible.
Additionally, I haven't read any of Adele's books, but the few quotes I've read by her seem to suggest a works or performance based relationship with God:
“we keep company with Jesus by making space for him through a spiritual discipline. Our part is to offer ourselves lovingly and obediently to God. God then works within us doing what he alone can do. Our desires don't obligate the holy One. God is free to come to us in spiritual disciplines as he wills, not as we demand. But unless we open ourselves to him through spiritual practices, we will miss his coming altogether.”
― Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
I don’t understand why a church is spending time, money, and energy on something like this rather than teaching the Word of God.
3. Are you transparent with your church's financial information? How much does your church bring in through donations and tithing, and how is that money distributed? What do your profit on average?
So far, the answer is no. But don’t forget, they preach tithing. (Financial hypocrisy?)
4. Which denomination does your church align with the most, if any?
Initially I thought this was another non-denominational church, but they are actually affiliated with the Foursquare Church. A few distinctions to note here is that the Foursquare Church believes in “divine healing”, “moderation”, “church relationship”, and again, “tithes and offerings.”
Read about these in their statement of faith: https://foursquare-org.s3.amazonaws.com/resources/Print_Brochure_What_Foursquare_Believes_English.pdf
5. Is your church's pastor available for other questions or comments regarding the church, its doctrines, etc.?
Perhaps only if you are willing to meet in person. That is the impression that I’m getting right now.
6. If a member has a disagreement with the pastor or leadership on a certain doctrine, how is it handled? Does the church change its position on doctrines fairly often, if at all?
There is no way to answer this based on the knowledge we’ve found on the website or our conversation with pastor Jodi. I would be willing to bet that according to her emphasis on building up the church and avoiding conflict and division, that pastor Jodi does not like to make a big scene over minor or “disputable” matters in the church. My guess is, like so many other churches, grace is allowed in the minors.
7. Does your church require that its members be baptized? What is your church's official position on baptism?
They don’t mention baptism on the website from what I can tell, but according to Foursquare, their denomination, they do believe in baptism by immersion. Whether the church requires baptism for membership or believes it is necessary for salvation, we do not know.
8. Please describe what a typical service and/or meeting looks like in your church.
This is what their website says (emphasis mine):
“We begin with a time of worship through music and singing led by one of our amazing worship teams who turn our attention to Jesus. We can get a little excited—but nothing over the top—and we will raise our hands in worship, all of which is an appropriate response and expression of praise and adoration to our awesome Savior, Jesus Christ! Solid biblical teaching follows from one of our pastors or teachers, led by Lead Pastor Jodi Van Rhee. Our focus on the whole is to experience God’s power, bringing transformation to our lives.”
9. How many people do you have on staff at your church, both paid and volunteer?
The website doesn't answer this question, so we don't know.
10. What is the pastor's educational history?
I can’t find any educational history on any of the pastors of Adventure Church.
11. How does the church discipline its members with their sin?
We won’t know this until pastor Jodi answers our questions. My guess is it is similar to how most churches operate, according to Matthew 18. How strict they are with their interpretations of sin and their level of involvement in an individual Christian’s personal life and walk, however, is unknown.
12. How is the pastor compensated (income, benefits, bonuses, etc.)?
We don’t have an answer to this question. We could make a guess if we knew how many members the church has, but we don’t know that either.
13. What is the size of your church and any other space the church owns for meetings and church services?
Their Facebook Page has over a thousand likes and follows, so my guesstimate is that they have at least 400-500 members.
In conclusion to the Questionnaire, since it was ignored, we have to give them a thumbs down, but additionally, we’re not happy with the answers we’ve found.
I couldn't find a video recording of Adventure Church's worship service. Until we can find one or physically attend the worship service, we will abstain from giving either a thumbs up or down here.
If you want to listen to the same sermon I’m reviewing today, you can find it on the church’s website here: http://www.theadventure.church/media/podcast.
Is the sermon topical or a verse by verse study through the Bible?
It’s topical. Colossians - Hidden Treasures: Healthy Relationships.
Scrolling through the podcast of Adventure Church’s sermons all the way back to 2013, it looks like sometimes the topical sermon is based on a particular book of the Bible, or where they’re at in their study of the Bible, and sometimes the topical sermon doesn’t have a book of the Bible attached to it at all.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that those particular sermons aren’t Biblically based, but I’m curious to know if they are based on a verse by verse study through the Bible, or if they are like other topical sermons that speak on a certain topic picked by the church/pastor and then verses are cherry picked to support their ideas.
I’ll have to listen to more sermons to find out for sure.
Is the message Biblical? What’s it about? God, The Word, The Gospel, or you?
It’s about relationships, but not with God. With other people. In fairness, that’s what Colossians 3:18-25 is about. So technically it’s Biblical, but it’s completely focused on relationships with people.
How frequently is the Bible used? Is it interpreted in context, or cherry picked to support a different message?
Colossians 3:18-25 is the passage used for this sermon. There are a few references to other passages in the Bible throughout to support the topic, but this is the main one that is read and focused on. It isn’t cherry picked or read out of context per se either, since Colossians 3:18-25 is legitimately about relationships. The problem I have is that this passage could have been chosen specifically because it is applicable to people today, rather than naturally stumbled upon as a verse by verse study through the Bible.
I will have to listen to more sermons from Adventure Church to get a better context and understanding of how they do sermons here.
Were you fed the Word, or the words of men?
While technically the Word was read in context and the topic of the sermon is based on the words of Colossians 3:18-25, the majority of the sermon consisted of the pastor’s views and commentary regarding relationships themselves. There are so many passages that could have been used to give us a more contextual idea of what the Bible says about relationships and marriage in other places, but instead we basically get a marriage seminar. Topped off with a call for everyone to go to the church’s marriage seminar this Saturday. It’s $25 a pop.
So, barely. We read one passages of the Bible, but I did not feel as though I was fed the Word. I was fed the pastor’s ideas on what one passage in Scripture means and how it applies to us today.
All in all, while I can’t say the sermon was contradictory to the Word, nor was the passage chosen taken out of context technically, I was fed more the ideas and advice of the pastor than the Word itself. Additionally, there’s an emotionalism in her voice that makes me wonder if this is an emotionalistic (is that a word?) church overall, through its worship services and general tone.
Lastly, she ends the sermon by challenging members to compete with each other and “outdo one another in love and good deeds.” She has them stand and commit themselves to the Golden Rule. Then has them lift their hands up to show their commitment.
Encouraging Christians to try and compete with each other in their good works? Isn’t that what legalistic Christians do? Should we really be comparing our good works to other Christians’ good works? And having people raise their hands to show they’re going to commit to competing in their performance of good works? That made it worse. Yes, the idea is based on a passage from the Bible, but I think the way it’s being applied here is taking that passage wildly out of context. This is not what the Bible teaches us as Christians. Our good works are not in competition with others’. They are out of love for the Lord and being filled with His Spirit, and love for others. Not to be seen by men or to win a competition of good works.
I can’t give the sermon a good rating in good conscience. All in all, while there are a few positives to note, there are too many negatives to outweigh them. The Bible is read in context and it’s the basis for the sermon, but the focus is on relationships with people, there is too much extra-Biblical commentary and advice inserted by the pastor herself, it comes off like a self help seminar rather than a sermon centered on the Bible.
I did not feel fed by the Word, the call to compete in good works is not at all what the Bible teaches us, the emotionalism and the call to raise your hand and show a commitment to competing in good works all made me give this sermon a thumbs down.
Due to a lack of information, our Grace Scale will not be perfectly accurate for this church. Without knowing for sure whether or not they have membership requirements or covenants, whether they require baptism for membership, or require that people take a class for that as well, we can only go off what we already know.
We know they preach tithing, have a Base Camp class for new members, and that in that class they teach about being a member of the church and serving in the church. This is all pretty legalistic in nature, but since we don’t know anything else, we’re putting them at 50/50.
Once we can verify for certain some of the answers to our Questionnaire, we can adjust the scale in the right direction.
This is the first time I’ve heard a pastor make a political statement from the pulpit, but pastor Jodi did in fact admit to being a “Feminazi” in college, which led her to have a really hard time accepting the commands in the Bible for wives to submit to their husbands.
Whether she is still a feminist or not today we don’t know, but being that Jodi is one of the rare female pastors in possibly the most conservative state in the country, I think it’s safe to say this church leans left politically, at least a little bit.
Scandals & Controversies
The controversy with Adventure Church is more than the materialism and people pleasing that we can see so clearly on their website. It’s more than neglecting the Gospel as they preach tithing, and it’s more than neglecting to feed the Word through their skim milk sermon that’s focused entirely on relationships.
This is the first church we've found that appears to actually promote the ideas of Mysticism and humanistic ideologies.
All the talk of power, transformation, and the Summit class which appears to be all about such transformation through man-made philosophies and ideas like Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s, who teaches Enneagram...who knows how deep that rabbit hole really goes?
That is a controversy, and a big one.
In the end, although pastor Jodi was very kind in her message to me and the sermon itself wasn’t as bad as some others I’ve heard recently (until the end), there are some serious problems with this church.
They preach tithing while at the same time claiming to be all about grace.
They have classes for members that appear to include standards for members in their performance, service, and behavior.
They have classes that appear to teach Mysticism and man-made philosophies that have nothing to do with the Gospel, the Bible, or God.
The Website Review shows that they are extremely focused on being a consumer friendly church, and since they have not answered the Questionnaire, this leads us to believe they are not financially transparent with their church, or anyone, and may be a very money serving church.
Since the signs of serving money are so strong, while our knowledge on how they operate regarding legalistic practices is still limited, we cannot recommend this church.