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Book Release: Let’s Talk

Story by V. Michelle Bernard
Published 8/14/13

Seventh-day Adventists under the age of 35 often feel like their concerns aren’t being heard, says Jan Paulsen, DTh.  Paulsen, who retired from his role as president of the worldwide Adventist Church in 2010, recently published Let’s Talk, which covers issues raised by young adults on the Hope Channel’s broadcast of the same name and throughout his time as president.
 “In some ways it’s fairly raw,” says Paulsen, a member of Chesapeake Conference’s Spencerville church in Silver Spring, Md. “It comes straight from their mouths ... I wanted the church to feel how passionately and caringly they feel about church issues.”
Each chapter begins with feedback and questions from young adults, followed by a response from Paulsen. They end with discussion questions to help keep the conversations going at a local level.
Q: What themes did you hear the most in your talks with young Adventists?
A: They feel that although they make up 50 percent of the church community they have so little practical engagement. They would like to be part of the life of the church, to be trusted with some responsibility. They have a wealth of ideas, and they would like to use them. They are also very concerned with community issues and think the church should be too.
Although they have lots of questions, they didn’t except me to have all the answers. They were pleased that I cared enough to give them serious time. That should be a signal to us as a church.
Q: What would you like church leaders to take away from this book?
A: I would like my fellow leaders to go away with a conviction and vision of the incredible value that the youth and young professionals bring to the church. If we want them to stay, we have to trust them with an affirmation or a recognition of the spiritual gifts they have and allow them to practice them in our church.
I also think it is important for leaders to not be intimidated by the questions that come. We need to let the church be an open society.
Q: You must have gotten many questions about marriage and sexual relationships. What was your response? 
A:  How do we sound to our young people when we talk to them about God’s ideal for human relationships?  What principles should guide our message and tone of voice?
I believe our starting point is simply this: The church, as God’s chosen instrument to communicate the gospel of salvation in Christ Jesus, will reach out to embrace all people.  There is no one who shall not be wanted and loved by the church.  Yet, at the same time, the church can’t be a body of maximum accommodation for all points of view, constantly shifting and adjusting her values and personality to fit the broadest possible spectrum of human opinion.
Buy the book at your local Adventist Book Center or at adventistbookcenter.com.

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