29 Sep


By Kiefer Dooley — You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. —Matthew 5:14

The church that I want to belong to in 2026 will not only be a warm, welcoming, and inclusive body of believers, but will also focus on the broader context of local community. The church that I want to belong to is a fresh expression of the Seventh-day Adventist movement that puts more emphasis on Jesus and less emphasis on being “SDA.” This church worries equally about creating holistic outreach opportunities through community partnerships as it does about creating Sabbath School lessons that will inform participants about the “straight and narrow.” Did I say equally? My church forms partnerships, meets needs, shows love, and offers truth. My church knows that the gateway to the straight and narrow is love.

This church might have all the normal, liturgic forms to which we are accustomed–music, a community prayer time, a sermon, a benediction, and a closing song. But it also might introduce snacks at the beginning of the service. Those snacks might grow to be a whole breakfast bar. That I wouldn’t mind.

Yes, the church of the future should definitely have a complete breakfast bar.

This church might also have all the “hip” church lingo, sleek marketing, fun church band, and a pastor who wears skinny jeans (or whatever the trend is in 2026).

Does all this matter—the breakfast bar and the marketing and the skinny jeans? Maybe yes; maybe no.

What really matters is that the church I will belong to will be comprised of a community of members who care deeply about three things:

  1. Their individual relationships with Jesus,
  2. The church community to which they belong,
  3. Sharing their excitement about items 1 and 2 with everyone else.

At my church in 2026, the people do not come to church on Saturdays to consume a service; they arrive to create a service.

There is a passion and excitement centered around the hard work of engaging community that fuels the creation of music sets and sermon series, outreach programs, Saturday morning jam sessions, Saturday afternoon Bible studies, and every-day ministry in the workplaces, classrooms, and non- profit community organizations all across town.

New arrivals in town hear about this church because, after all, it cannot be hidden. When church wraps up on Saturday afternoons, it’s not the end of the service but the beginning of it. From there, my church spreads throughout the entire community into schools, workplaces, gyms, auto shops and grocery stores. Where the people go, so does my church.

Saturday’s sermons usually prompt hearty conversation and sometimes spirited debate. Discussion takes place not to prove “right” or “wrong” but to seek understanding and continues through the lunch hour and often at the dinner table.

Members don’t ask my church to serve them better, to cater more fully to their desires, to put out a better breakfast bar or to wear skinnier jeans. My church understands that a community that only looks inward, seeking after its own selfish desires, and feasting on its own strife, loses its flavor and appeal. After all, “. . . if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” (Matthew 5:13).

No, there is no inward focus in my church. Its members there are too focused on diligently creating a safe and healthy space for others that they lose track of their own preferences. A rotating group of community members share the responsibility for leading and directing the church from crafting sermon series to running sound or setting up the breakfast bar. At my church, genuine passion, generosity, and excitement about how Jesus meets our needs drives our desire to wholeheartedly meet the needs of others. We seek those needs and selflessly work to fill them.

My church in 2026 feels like it holds the center of gravity for its community, actively drawing in those around it, meeting needs, sharing the Gospel, inspiring action, and granting responsibility. Everyone knows and everyone cannot help but be, all in.

A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

— Kiefer Dooley is RMC corporate treasurer for asset management. Until recently he was RMC youth ministry director. Email him at [email protected]

05 Jan


By Jessyka and Kiefer Dooley — Jessyka and Kiefer Dooley in conversation about equality and the American Dream

Twenty-twenty has been a year for the books. We’ve all become accustomed to words like “unprecedented,” “can- celled,” “social distancing,” and “quarantine,” thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. If that wasn’t enough, we were also caught up in a period of social unrest brought about by in- equities in our country that were highlighted by the highly publicized slayings of several people of minority ethnicities by police officers. So, while we were quarantining and social distancing in the midst of these unprecedented times, we turned on our televisions or opened up our Twitter apps to watch as social justice initiatives called out for the (re?) establishment of equality in America.

Jessyka: As followers of Jesus, we should be the first people to acknowledge that every single person is made in the image of God and loved by Him. But it’s one thing to acknowledge that and another to actually walk that out in our day-to-day lives. Jesus was one to not only root for the underdog, but to highlight them as loved and whole.

Over this past year I’ve seen many Christians go out of their way to proclaim how they are leaning on God during these troublesome times, then go out of their way to speak harshly against those they dislike, vote in ways that suppress the basic rights of their fellow citizens, and become more self- seeking rather than going out of their way to care for others.

Kiefer: I’m with you. I’d even go so far as to put our own titles in the mix . . . because I think that as Seventh-day Adventist Christian followers of Jesus, we do a very good job of acknowledging that every single person is equal in the eyes of God. But we may not be so good at putting it into practice. This could be in part because we’ve been set up to arrive at this point by the world around us. Our founding fathers, held in great regard by our country, made sure that equality was front and center in our nation’s charter documents. We all know the lines by heart. “We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

But like you said, Jess, somewhere along the line, we got mixed up and stopped way short of the call. We stopped with writing it down and never put it into practice. The ineptitude, the double standards, the “all men” actually meaning “land owning white guys” crept out of politics and into the way we live our lives as individuals…even now 244 years later. And it’s just counter to the way of Jesus Christ.

Jessyka: We have definitely stopped short of the call as a country, but as a church it seems like we lag even further behind. In the book of Galatians, Paul shares, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” If our church lived that out, I for one, would have had a better experience growing up as a female in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I think, in a lot of ways, denominations across the board have become a mere reflection of their current culture and political climate rather than pursuing the way of Jesus first and foremost.

Kiefer: To take what you’ve said and elaborate . . . we can’t rely on the world, or America, or the constitution or even the institution of the Church to be our guide. If we do, we’ll always be disappointed. We’ll always see some flaw in the reflection. I feel like this is especially true of the call to justice and equality—both of which are very much biblical ideals. Before highlighting the flaws anywhere else, we must find ourselves fully known and loved and filled in a relationship with Jesus.

We need to see others equal because it’s what Jesus sees. Not because the Church or anyone else asks us, or doesn’t ask us, to see that way. It’s from our position as sons and daughters of Jesus that we can go about the politics (or activities associated with making decisions in groups) of equality inside of the church and inside of the country with His mindset. After all, what is the Church and what is the Country other than the people who make it up?

Jessyka: Exactly. I’ve often found myself easily pointing out the flaws I see in our country and in our church when it comes to the poor execution of equality, but at the end of the day, I’m a United States citizen and I’m a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. If I’m not actively living in the Spirit and following in the footsteps of Jesus, I’m just as much to blame.

The crazy part is what Jesus calls us to do is so radically different from the “American Dream” so many of us aspire to pursue. He does not call us to accumulate heaps of wealth, but rather to give to those who are in need. He doesn’t ask us to draw barriers both physically and metaphorically between ourselves and others, but rather to welcome them with open arms. He doesn’t call us to hatred and violence, but rather to turn the other cheek. Sometimes I feel like living a life modeled after Jesus is very “anti” American.

Kiefer: Jesus’ way is definitely not the American way. I think we can look to the Sermon on the Mount to see that Jesus takes everything we hold in high esteem and flips it up- side down. Blessed are the poor and the meek? The last shall be first? Excuse me, Jesus . . . don’t you mean blessed are the rich. The hustlers? The winners? No. He was pretty clear.

The way of Jesus is different and uncomfortable when held against our American worldview. But this is where we must take action to make decisions that demote the self and elevate the other. Because this is where we find equality and justice. We can make personal sacrifices for the good of our communities. We can see the tax collector, the prostitute, the thief, the stranger, the foreigner, the homeless, the “other,” and maybe even a woman, as equal. When the “other” is authentically viewed as an equal through the lens of Jesus, our actions will fall into place. When our actions fall into place, equity and justice will have a foothold to take root and transform our community, our church, our nation, and our world.

–Jessyka and Kiefer Dooley are RMC youth leaders. Email them at: [email protected] and [email protected]

25 Nov


By Kiefer Dooley – Ward, Colorado … Summer camp returns to the Rocky Mountain Conference in 2021.

When the global pandemic hit the Rocky Mountain region, the RMC youth ministry department had to cancel their usual summer programs at Glacier View Ranch and Mills Spring Ranch, which were missed immensely.

“We thought that as summer faded to fall, we’d miss camp a little bit less. That hasn’t happened. We miss it more every day,” Kiefer Dooley RMC youth director said. “That is why we’ve been working extra hard to make sure that, regardless of what the pandemic throws at us in the Summer of 2021, we’ll be ready! So, mark your calendars, because with a few changes, summer camp is back.”

The week-long program will be a little different next year due to COVID protocols.

“All of our camp sessions (excluding Family Connect Camp) will operate on a Sunday to Friday schedule. Families should plan to drop off their campers at GVR or MSR on the Sunday their session begins and to pick up their campers on the following Friday afternoon,” Jessyka Dooley, RMC assistant youth director said. “This update to a Sunday to Friday camp is necessary for our team to clean, sanitize, disinfect, and ready the camp facilities in between sessions.”

Registration opens Friday, November 27, at rmcyouth.org/camp. Register early for a $50 discount on all reservations made the first week of registration between November 27 and December 4.

“We are opening registration at 50% of a normal year’s capacity and we expect space to fill up fast. The reduction in capacity will ensure that we can operate camp with appropriate distancing, group separation, and cleanliness standards,” Jessyka stated. “At this time, we’ll be allowing regular activity sign ups; however, there is a chance that ‘stable group’ requirements will void individual activity selections to be replaced with a system where your camper will rotate through all of our activities with a ‘stable group’ throughout the week.”

Kiefer Dooley added, “regardless of what 2021 throws at us, we’re confident that we will host a program that is safe, fun, engaging, spiritual, and best of all, allows kids to be active in the outdoors of the great Rocky Mountains.”

–Kiefer Dooley is RMC youth director; photos supplied

04 Nov


By Kiefer Dooley – Casper, Wyoming … Laughter and fellowship filled Mills Spring Ranch at the annual Casper church hayride held in early October.

Some thirty-five individuals gathered for this much-anticipated, multi-generational evening. Piling onto the hay trailer for a slow ride through the mountains spotted with the colors of the fall, participants were welcomed by an unusually warm Wyoming October evening.

“We love the hayride, rain or shine,” Liz Cornett, Casper church member commented.

“Back when Joanne Robinette was attending, it didn’t matter the weather–everyone showed up! It could be full-on snow and the hayride would go on,” she continued.

The trek through the wilderness made its conclusion back where they began at MSR where the camp director had everything ready for a campfire and cookout. Families quickly gathered for roasted hotdogs. Conversations continued into the night as church family relationships were built and strengthened.

The Casper church is grateful to MSR for opening the camp for an evening they will cherish throughout the long winter coming across Wyoming.

–Kiefer Dooley is RMC Youth director; photos by Kiefer Dooley and Tom McDonald

08 Oct


By Kiefer Dooley – Grand Junction, Colorado … Intermountain Adventist Academy (IAA) students learned how to become “Fully Alive” in Jesus during the week of worship, September 20 – 25, hosted by the RMC youth department.

Each morning, students met to learn what the Bible has to say about living life Fully Alive.  Telling stories from his life, Kiefer Dooley, RMC youth director, was able to connect with the students while also coordinating messages that supported the biblical foundation message and bottom line from either the life of Zacchaeus or Esther.

Jessyka Dooley, RMC assistant youth director, led out in activities to demonstrate lessons from the morning talks.

Tuesday’s activity was especially fun for the participants and especially un-fun for Kiefer. Having learned that God values each one of his children as whole and holy despite living in a sinful world, students were called to recognize that they can value themselves the same way. Individuals took turns spraying whipped cream off of Kiefer’s face. It was all giggles, laughs, and a few extra jets of water here and there, but the kids left understanding that God does not alter the value he places on us because we might have marks of sin on our lives; rather, he sees us and values us as being washed clean.

“The group recognized that a life with Jesus not only changes how we view and value ourselves, but how we care for and live Fully Alive with our friends, neighbors, churches, communities, and ultimately, the world around us,” Kiefer Dooley commented about the experience.

The week resulted in six decisions to commit to a relationship with Jesus and begin a course of study that will lead to baptism.

Responding to the assemblies, Joel Reyes, IAA principal said, “I believe [what made the difference in] having Kiefer and Jessica was the fact that they are young and passionately in love with the Lord. They spoke from their hearts and the kids could tell they were genuine. They weren’t just saying things, but felt what they were saying and kids listened. They presented the gospel in ways kids could “feel” and experience.”

Kiefer Dooley reported that “more than the messages, fun and funky activities, pizza and crafts, we’re leaving having built relationships with kids that show them that living with Jesus means living Fully Alive.”

–Kiefer Dooley is RMC youth director; photo by Joel Reyes

16 Sep


By Kiefer Dooley – Ward, Colorado … Glacier View Ranch was filled with activity this summer, including the creation of a 52-week, theme-based curriculum for RMC youth for 2021.

Implications from the continued pandemic kept normal camp programing from operating, but GVR staff were not discouraged; rather, inspired. Camp staff from Union College and Southern Adventist University worked to improve GVR facilities and programming and to create youth initiatives to benefit churches throughout the year.

The team, led by Nena Madrigal and John Kent, GVR college staff from Tennessee, crafted a set of weekly lessons that tackles the biblical concept of living life with purpose.  Over the next few months, the curriculum will be finalized and released to RMC churches in January.

“It’s really exciting to have a product like this rolling out from the RMC Youth Department,” Kiefer Dooley, RMC youth director, said. “This is a curriculum written for Adventist youth with messages, ideas, and inspiration to drive the formation of relationships between leaders and youth. The curriculum will also complement the programming at GVR in 2021.”

While the concept and the material are exciting, making a difference in the lives of young people will not be possible without the participation of local congregations. The Youth Department is looking for youth leaders to connect and engage at a deeper level.

If you’re a youth leader, please email [email protected] or text them at (870)688-8508 to be placed on the mailing list for the 2021 Fully Alive curriculum, receive important updates about functions and invitations to monthly youth leaders’ online gatherings.  Include your name, local church/community, and cell phone number or email address.

The Youth Department is committed to the success of Youth and Young Adult Ministry and are looking forward to partnering together – making it easy for kids to know God, while living a greater story.

–Kiefer Dooley is RMC youth director; photo by Unsplash