I grew up hearing a lot about the "Adventist Movement". Today I hear people lamenting that we've lost that, and our very top leadership appears to be calling us back to "movement" days.
But there is a problem with that. We actually are a denomination. Like it or not - we are.
So what's the difference?
If we were truly a movement to tell the world Christian church that Jesus is literally returning, then we would actually be Baptists, Methodists, maybe even Pentecostals, or appearing each week in a Church of God building. The trouble is, in the early days of our movement, our pioneers as we like to call them, did not always remain welcome in their home churches. This Jesus coming thing was out of their theological box.
So all these various people from a variety of congregations started meeting together. Reminding themselves never to write down their beliefs so that they in turn did not have to throw people out of their "church". Yes, resist as strongly as we did in the early days - this movement became a denomination. And finally in 1863, we organized. Later we wrote down our beliefs so people would know what we stood for.
We got ourselves some institutions. We became known around the world for our hospitals, schools and disaster and relief agency. We've a network or shortwave radio stations filling the airwaves with present truth.
We are a denomination. We became an organization with rules and expectations.
And while there is the possibility that we could also be a movement... we can't only be one. We have taken on the responsibility of discipling or growing in Jesus, of being filled with his Spirit. We can't be preaching Prophecy, the Sabbath and the Second Coming at every event, or every church service we have. We are a church, and while evangelism is part of this too... so is nurturing your flock. To abandon this once we've organized and said we offer you a place to worship and fellowship, then no matter how much you think we as Adventists ought to be a movement, the Seventh-day Adventist church is a ... church. We are a denomination.
So let's not lose sight of why we started. But let's also not shirk our current responsibilities - responsibilities that have come as a result of our moving.