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At the 2016 NAD Year-End Meeting, the work continues for three committees stemming from the 2014 Dulles meetings
By Kimberly Luste Maran
Three special reports examining the Adventist Church’s missional structure were presented during the 2016 North American Division Year-End Meeting (NAD YEM). Stemming out of the Dulles, Virginia, meetings of church administrative leaders in North America on May 13-15, 2014, the reports centered on recommendations each taskforce deemed important—based on guidance from the 2015 NAD YEM Executive Committee—in Advancing the Adventist Mission in North America (church governance), Advancing Adventist Christian education in North America, and the Advancing Mission Effectiveness in the North American Division. After each report was given, delegates divided into groups to discuss each recommendation and make suggestions if they saw the need.
Kyoshin Ahn, NAD undersecretary, introduced the report on church governance. The 10 committee members and invitees included Ahn (as chair), George Crumley, Elaine Hagele, Ray Hartwell, Randy Roberts, Glynn Scott, Andre Wang, and Bill Winston (Dan Day and Mike Jamieson served as invitees).
The 81-page report gave details on the process the committee undertook, as well as how and why the committee arrived at its recommendations (priority as indicated by the 2015 executive committee). The report offered six specific recommendations: revenue enhancement; increasing the number of local offerings; addressing the tithe-reversion process; tithe percentages, tithe designation for local congregations; and consistency in the use of tithe. Each of these gave details on the recommendation itself, the value behind the recommendation, the benefits, obstacles, and action plan.
The two recommendations that garnered the most conversation were addressing the tithe-reversion process and tithe percentages. Several recommendations were accepted by the executive committee.
First, the committee voted to seek new or better ways of enhancing tithe and offerings throughout the division. It voted to increase the number of local church offerings by four more weeks a year (from 24 weeks to 28 weeks a year) effective 2018. It also voted to adjust percentage of remittance in retirement as part of an ongoing effort to eliminate unnecessary duplication. The other two recommendations in this regard, i.e., evangelism and K-12, were deferred to further study.
Fourth, the committee voted that, from the 2 percent reduction in remittance negotiated with the General Conference (GC) by the division, a total of 1 percent is to be reverted back to local conferences, which may be used for outwardly-focused ministries in local congregations. It also voted to request the GC to modify its policy on the use of tithe for primary/elementary schools. While the current policy only allows up to 30 percent of remuneration and benefits of teachers and principals, this request is intended to increase it up to 50 percent.
Seven specific actionable ideas—along with seven recommendations based on those ideas—were presented in the second report, Advancing Mission Effectiveness in the North American Division. Previously known as “Advancing Mission to Contemporary Audiences,” this committee studied trends among Adventists and other Christian denominations in the United States and Canada, and discovered that the percent change in worship attendance for Adventists from 2009 to 2014 was up more than 8 percent compared to six other denominations. In that same comparative study, however, Adventists were at similar numbers with the other denominations—only 25 percent of Adventists strongly agree that congregations have a clear mission and purpose.
All seven ideas/recommendations were voted. They include: mission-focused branding; every entity strategic; continued financial and creative support for iBelieve, data-driven decisions, and social media; mission–focused leaders; creativity for an impactful mission, including innovation labs, an annual innovation conference, and blogs; “franchising” relational approaches that work; and continued partnership with the online resource Adventist Learning Community (ALC).
The committee reported that they “believe that it is crucial that our organizations learn to adapt to the drastic changes in our society while adhering firmly to the Church’s mission,” and offered ways in which “the church can be salt and light to the world around it.”
The third special report offered ways for Advancing Adventist Christian Education in North America. The committee, chaired by Elissa Kido, director of the Center for Research on K-12 Adventist Education, included Larry Blackmer as secretary, and 19 other educators, pastors, and administrators from unions and conferences across the NAD.
The committee, known as NADET (North American Division Education Taskforce), was charged with prioritizing and fully defining eight recommendations they received from the 2014 Dulles meeting, which were distilled to five recommendations that received the most votes at the 2015 NAD YEM. 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.
After extensive research including interviews, focus groups, and data analysis, and many collaborative committee meetings during the past year, NADET crafted eight final recommendations on the importance of mission of Adventist education; collaboration between pastors and educators, finances, school quality and accountability; leadership development; school personnel quality and accountability; distance learning; and marketing and public relations.
All eight recommendations were voted by the NAD executive committee.
Information, including the history of these committees and their first reports, is available at www.nadchurchstudy.org; click here for the 2016 reports. http://www.nadchurchstudy.org/2016-nad-yearend-meeting-reports/