Messages from Young Adults

Salty Fortress


Are you ready?
Yes, we are!
Are you sure?
Yes, we are!
Do you have all that you need to get the job done?
Yes, we do!
That’s good, because we are about to open the gates and let you try and win some. Remember that our motto is To Win, To Save, To Protect. You are to win some, run back to the fortress, give the appropriate password and you and the new recruit will be let back into the keep. Under no circumstances are you allowed to linger out there in the world because you just might get polluted.

Don’t forget the five Rs.

Reach, Rescue, Run, Return and Remnant. Reach a lost soul, Rescue them from the life on the outside, a society that is drowning in their sin, grab their hand and Run immediately from their community and finally Return to us so that we all can remain the Remnant.

Does this sound vaguely familiar? Does this sound like the church you sit in every Sabbath? Is it possible that somehow growing up in this faith we have adopted this model of Christianity called the Fortress Model. Last Sabbath, I was sitting in church, surrounded by people who dress just like me, eat like me, pray like me and mercy even listen to the same music I do, and one of our pastor’s describe us all, the average Seventh-day Adventist church, as a light on a hill that serves a beacon to the community while living in this Fortress and I’m stunned.

Is this really us?
Is this really me?

Jon Paulien in his book entitled the Everlasting Gospel, Ever-Changing World sears the image into my mind with such vivid imagery “Every so often the inhabitants of such a fortress city may send out the army, snatch up a few captives, and bring them back in through the gate, slamming it tight behind them. Souls are won but not at the expense of those who remained inside the city. That is the fortress model of ministry. Evangelism occurs, but most of the members of the fortress are not required to have constant contact with “outsiders”.”

So Kemi, what’s the alternative?
There is a second model, if you are familiar with Matthew 5:13-16 you know that there is a light on a hill and also the salt. Paulien later goes on, in his book to describe the Salt Ministry as one which “mingles with the food and blends in with it. It becomes part of the crowd, so to speak… The salt has an effect upon the whole. It is a quiet ministry, an infiltration ministry. It changes the wolrd one bite at a time.”

Now at this point, I have to mention that not everyone is called to Salt, it is a calling and you have to be spiritually grounded and strong to take on this task of mingling in the world but not becoming of it. This is where I lost it. WHAT IN THE WORLD!!!! What is this, shouldn’t we all be spiritually strong, why do we sit and aid and abet the devil by telling people it’s okay to sit on the hill and be a light but not evangelize and mingle with the world because they are weak yet we fail to provide them with the conditions to make them grow. I mean should we all have this burning desire to reach a fallen world?

Whew! So as I sit in church, and I am presented with the merits of both models I try and wrap my head around the division. Why do we need to have two models, why can’t the Fortress be the Salt that affects the community and what good is a Fortress to its inhabitants if it prevents them from truly fulfilling the Gospel Commission which as I recall calls us to Go Ye Therefore….

What does it say about us, our church, the Seventh Day Adventist church, if the majority of our members need to be kept behind walls, in our little exclusive communities in order to preserve our Christianity, how in the world do we grow spiritually if our only means of evangelism is our quarterly excursion outside of the Fortress?
I mean can you be salt in a fortress, or does the salt have to leave the fortress in order to remain salty?
Or does the fortress kick the salt out because the salt wants to leave the door open?
So as the fortress does it mean that I can now justify my whole adventist exclusive community that is my entire friend’s list?
Or is it a voluntary separation?

Okay one more question and then I’ll stop.

Are you salt or are you fortress, or are you striving to be a salty fortress?

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  • Mithun (Author) said:

    Could we look to the Bible for answers to these questions? You gave some support for the “salt” model, but is there any Biblical support for the Fortress model? Would you characterize the ministry of Jesus and the Apostles as typical of the “salt” or “fortress” model?

    Sorry for just putting out more questions.

  • Kemi said:

    In the book that I haven’t read listed above, the author using Matt 5:14
    I quote.
    “Verse 14 describes the model of ministry with which Adventists are most familiar: ‘You are teh light of a world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.’ A hilltop city is very visible; it is beautiful, and people are attracted to it. “that place looks exciting! let’s visit and see what’s going on there.” The city draws people; iits presence is an attracting factor. This metaphor of ministry is sometimes called the “fortress model” THis is the typical Adventist model of outreach. Just as the lighted cities on the hillsides aroud the Sea of Galilee functioned as beacons for those fishing at night, the Adventist Church as functioned as a prophetic beacon to society. A fortress city has walls around it to protect those who are inside from the dangers outside. It may have its own school system and scout programs to keep the children safe. There is safety inside the fortress.”

    This was the paragragh that preceded the one in the post, the only biblical reference is Matt 5 and for the Salt Model another text cited was 1 Cor 9:19-23 where Paul says I try to be all things to all people

    When it comes to examples he compared the ministry of Paul to the ministry of James, Paul went to the gentiles while James “stayed in Jerusalem and kept the fortress together” He also said we should not the difference of how Paul wrote in Romans and Corithians to how James wrote his own epistle.

    I don’t know if all that helps

    In answer to your question, someone in our church mentioned that Jesus ministered both as the Salt to the publicans but he also went to the temple as much as possible.

  • Rhonda B said:

    I love that you brought up this topic because it raises the question I have had for a while: Salt on its own has a distinct appearance, however it disappears and take the appearance of whatever it is added to. You can taste the difference, but you can’t really see the difference. In 1 Cor 9:20-22 Paul talks about becoming like certain groups of people so that he could win them to the gospel. So here is my question: What happens when we become too much like the world we are trying to reach?

    You asked an interesting question: how in the world do we grow spiritually if our only means of evangelism is our quarterly excursion outside of the Fortress?

    Somehow I think that pushing everyone to go out is not the thing that will solve this particular dilemma. I think there is a certain amount of growth that has to take place within the fortress first before one can be sent out into the world, and if one goes out before that level of growth takes place then they risk losing their saltiness. It’s kind of like a new plant. If when it is just a shoot, you take it out of the pot and plant it out in the open, chances are it will not survive. The forces of the natural elements will be too much for it. But if it is allowed to grow to a certain height and strength, then when it is transplanted, it may sway and bend, but it will stand firm and eventually grow firm.

    Essentially I think it is all a process. The fortress model might be good for us in the initial stages of our Christian growth, but the salt model becomes necessary after a certain level of growth has taken place. The key is not to rush or delay either stage.

    Just my two cents.

  • ellamennopea (Author) said:

    There’s also the danger of the salt “losing its savor”. Matthew 5:13 states:

    Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

    I agree with the idea that being salty or barricaded in a fortress are appropriate for certain stages of spiritual maturity. Certainly, we can’t stay in the fortress forever. There must be a time when we go forth to season the multitudes with Christ’s savour. But, there’s the rub. Becoming absorbed, losing the distinction of the salt crystal…basically blending in without being re-charged will make a Salty Christian useless. To be cast out and trodden underfoot is a serious rebuke, one that I think, unfortunately, we sometimes gloss over. In an effort to be “all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22) I think we sometimes wander away from the fortress prematurely, dependent upon our own pride in our “understanding” and power. Sure, the desire to be the salt and the light may be genuine, but salt without its savour, Christ, is not worth anything.

    The burden is thus one of personal growth in order to gain the kind of relationship with God that will keep us salty.

  • Kemi said:

    now i’m thinking which one is worse

    a Salty Christian that loses his saltiness
    a Fortress Christian that bears no fruit


  • Rhonda said:

    Is losing your saltiness the same as falling away? Because if it is, then Paul already answers the question of which is worse in Heb 6 (4-6)

    But then again, there will be no starless crowns in heaven right?

    I am sure this conversation could go on for ever.


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