Unprecedented Meetings Examines Church's Missional Structure

An historic meeting of administrative leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America met near Dulles Airport outside Washington D.C. on May 13-15, 2014, to discuss the future of the Church and its structure, organization and mission. It is the first time presidents, executive secretaries, and chief financial officers of each of the Church's administrative units, conferences and unions have met in a joint session.

Rick Remmers, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Chesapeake Region, joins other leaders from throughout North America in prayer. (NAD Communication/Dan Weber)

Rick Remmers, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Chesapeake Region, joins other leaders from throughout North America in prayer. (NAD Communication/Dan Weber)

The conference began with Church leaders, including education and healthcare leaders, expressing a strong willingness to place the needs of the Church's effectiveness and mission before their own position. When asked, an overwhelming 95 percent of attendees said they would be willing to sacrifice their position if it would help further the mission of the Adventist Church. The delegates welcomed the voted result with strong applause.

Here are the intentional outcomes from the historic meeting.

I.      Mission to Contemporary Audiences
 
    1. Develop a branding strategy for Adventism tied to a clearer positive sense of our identity, including shifting our evangelistic emphasis from educational to relational approaches. Empower members through training and internal promotions programs, to mingle with the secular community, including opening our churches more hours to be available to local communities.
 
    2. Promote a stronger emphasis on discipleship which encompasses evangelism into nurture resulting in retention.
 
    3. Create a program for educating, mentoring, and training, members, including contextualizing the Adventist witness, providing a greater emphasis on contemporary issues, including involving the young adults.
 
II.     Education

    1. Develop innovative strategies for the delivery of Adventist education including: after-school and online programs, including requiring all churches in a given constituency to support their local Adventist school, whether they have students there or not.
 
    2. Develop a program for the promotion of Adventist Education for educators, pastors, and members tied to mission, and find ways to encourage students to engage in personal evangelism.
 
    3. Develop alternative funding streams for Adventist education, including endowments, changing tithe ratios, and expanding enrollment by including non-Adventist students already in our community.
 
III.    Church Structure
 
    Make recommendation specifying ways that Administration and ministries of the church can streamline operations and eliminate duplications where unnecessary at every level.
 
    Assign to a representative commission the challenge of exploring at least three scenarios for the re-distribution of tithe for furthering the mission of the church.
 
    Appoint a representative study group to examine the relationship between the size and complexity of our organization and achieving our mission, resulting in three recommendations based on the relationship between conferences, unions, and the division. 

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