2015 NAD Year-end Meeting
Three Dulles Reports
Dan Jackson, president of the North American Division, holds a copy of the report on Advancing the Adventist Mission in North America, during the NAD Year-end Meeting, Nov. 3, 2015
Three special reports examining the Adventist Church’s missional structure were presented during the 2015 North American Division Year-end Meeting. Stemming out of the Dulles, Va., meetings of church administrative leaders in North America on May 13-15, 2014,[i] the reports centered on advancing mission to contemporary audiences, advancing Adventist Christian education, and the restructuring of the Adventist church in North America for mission (church governance). These reports led to discussion on the future of the church and its structure, organization, and mission. After a discussion period, sheets for two of the reports were distributed for attendees to choose priorities for the next phase of study and implementation. At the conclusion of the third report, attendees were asked to participate in a digital survey.
©2015 NAD Communication/Dan Weber
Mansfield Edwards, president of the Ontario Conference makes a presentation
during the Advancing Mission to Contemporary Audiences discussion during the
NAD Year-end Meeting, Nov. 1, 2015 in Silver Spring, Md.
©2015 NAD Communication/Dan Weber
Five specific action opportunities were presented in the first report, “Advancing Mission to Contemporary Audiences,” in answer to several areas of concern expressed at the Dulles meeting. Recommendations include developing a branding strategy centered on “Hope and Wholeness,” developing methods for “extending mission to modern and post-moderns,” creating relation-based evangelism, preparing mission-focused leaders and churches in local congregations through use of the book Becoming a Mission Driven Church, and developing a church officer “tool kit” through collaboration with online resource Adventist Learning Center.
Three committee members, Mike Cauley, José Cortés Sr., Paul Brantley, each presented sections of the report. In talking about relational evangelism, Cortés said, “We want to talk, talk, talk . . . but people cannot relate to this. We need to relate with love and compassion. . . . Friendship evangelism, relational evangelism — this is the way Jesus did it with the disciples.”
Paul Brantley spoke about the church officer “tool kit.” He asked, “We want the resources to be indispensable . . . What is indispensable?” and he held up his smartphone.
In a concluding thought, Mike Cauley added, “The Lord will give us the grace to embrace change for effective mission.”
Elissa Kido, Director of the Center for Research K-12 Adventist Education at La Sierra
University, presents during the discussion on Advancing Adventist Christian Education in
North America, during the NAD Year-end Meeting, held November 1, 2015 in
Silver Spring, Md. ©2015 NAD Communication/Dan Weber
The second special report offered ways for “Advancing Adventist Christian Education in North America.” The committee, chaired by Director of the Center for Research on K-12 Adventist Education Elissa Kido, included Larry Blackmer as secretary, and 15 other educators, pastors, and administrators from unions and conferences across the NAD, as well as Brent Geraty, legal counsel from University of Redlands, California.
The committee, known as NADET (North American Division Education Taskforce), was charged with “examining, addressing and prioritizing the eight recommendations” they received from the NAD Dulles summit. Some of these include innovative strategy development for the delivery of Adventist education, program development tied to educators, pastors, and members to encourage students in engaging in personal evangelism, and the appointment of a study group to compare Adventist education with better public and private schools in determining the quality of education and cost.
During the presentation, Kido shared good news: students in Adventist schools had higher-than-expected academic achievement based on their individual ability. This was ascertained through studying outcomes of standardized tests taken by millions of students in the United States.
In his remarks during the presentation, Larry Blackmer said, “Choosing between education and evangelism is a false dichotomy. . . . I wonder what would happen if we planted schools and grew churches around them?”
NADET, after months of study and analysis, divided the 18 recommendations listed in their report into two categories, leadership and financial, and asked for attendees to prioritize their top five.
Dan Day, one of the presenters of the Dulles summit report on governance,
"Advancing Mission in North America," during the NAD Year-end Meeting, held
Nov. 2, 2015 in Silver Spring, Md. ©2015 NAD Communication/Dan Weber
NAD Associate Secretary Kyoshin Ahn introduced the final Dulles summit report on church governance, “Advancing Adventist Mission in North America.” The 24-member committee ranged from pastors and administrators from the nine NAD unions (Atlantic, Columbia, Lake, Mid-America, North Pacific, Pacific, Southern, Southwestern, and the Adventist Church in Canada).
The 110-page report gave details on what and how the committee studied the topic, as well as how and why the committee arrived at its conclusions.
Dan Day, an invitee to the committee, said, “We tried to create a report that would make sense to you.” Process and church history experts, including Monte Sahlin and Bert Haloviak, were invited to give the committee input through reports and historical documents. The committee conducted a survey of pastors, sending 8,000 e-mail surveys out and receiving about 2,000 back; administrators division wide were also surveyed.
Dennis Williams presented a cost-per-membership analysis, a case study based on the NAD church in Canada.
Key findings were highlighted in the report — and recommendations center on tithe redistribution and church restructuring. Committee secretary Alvin Kibble said that the group recognized that driving tithe back toward the local church, “where mission is most fully expressed,” was crucial in proposing the three redistribution scenarios of tithe.
Monte Sahlin, asked to study denominational structure options, presented his report segment by video, which detailed cost savings and reallocation of resources through three scenarios where the driving model is a restructuring to a “union of churches.”
Kibble reiterated that the top priorities given to the committee included making recommendations “specifying ways that administration and ministries of the church can streamline operations and eliminate duplications where unnecessary,” and exploring at least three scenarios for “the redistribution of financial support from members for furthering the mission of the church.”
With their handheld voting devices, attendees were asked to rank their interest in the 14 categories that emerged from the report. The top five recommendations will guide the committee as they continue their work.
Each of the three groups will proceed with their work and report back in 2016. Information, including reports from these committees, is available at www.nadchurchstudy.org.
By Kimberly Luste Maran, writing for the Office of Communication
[i] The Dulles meetings are historic: It was the first time presidents, executive secretaries, and chief financial officers of each of the NAD’s administrative units, conferences and unions have met in a joint session.