More than 750 ministry leaders attended the 2017 “Beyond the Pew” Adventist Ministries Convention (AMC) in Tucson, Arizona. The convention, held Jan. 8-11, brought conference, union, and division colleagues together to inspire, educate, and renew church ministry leaders across the North American Division (NAD) through daily devotionals, more than 28 ministry tracks, 50 church resource exhibits, general sessions with keynote speakers, special leadership sessions, outreach activities (part of the NAD’s Compassion Movement), and awards given to individuals for ministry achievement.
“The Adventist Ministries Convention is a place [where we] welcome those who are new to departmental ministry, learn about new resources and, most importantly, learn from each other,” said AMC organizers. “It’s also where we recognize accomplishments and celebrate transitions.”
Many NAD ministry departments also conducted advisory meetings—intense half-day or full-day sessions—devoted to addressing challenges, showcasing new resources and programs, and planning for future ministry opportunities. Other departments, including Media Ministries and Children’s Ministries, met several days before the official start of the convention to discuss ministry goals and certify leaders. In addition, Children’s Ministries shared with attendees the new western-themed Vacation Bible School program.
Why We Work
General session keynote addresses began on Jan. 8 with Daniel R. Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America. Jackson’s presentation, titled “Why We Work,” drew from Moses’ story (Exodus 2-3). Jackson challenged attendees to answer these questions: “What is the basis for our activities in the name of God? Why do we do what we do?”
Other keynote speakers included Julian Archer, Tara J. VinCross, and Aidan Thomas Anderson, a 16-year-old who encouraged the audience to learn how to “live to give.” Anderson started his foundation AidanCares after he decided to donate the $80 he received in his fedora as he performed, at about 7 years old, on a child’s harmonica when he was bored at a restaurant. Anderson received an extended ovation after his presentation near the conclusion of the AMC. The ovation spilled into the closing remarks and acknowledgments.
Mark Brown, Southeastern Conference (Florida) family life, health and temperance, and religious liberty director, came to the convention to gather information, and make some contacts. Brown thought the convention was well worth his time. “It was great. As an Adventist Church, we are very organized, and we have quite a lot of resources—it is just a matter of getting those resources to our congregants. That may be the challenge we face, but I believe that, with the technology that we have and the resources and the individuals who are committed to ministry, we will get it done.”
“I got some great ideas and hope that we can have this more often,” Brown added in regard to the convention that occurs twice each quinquennium.
Samuel Ngala, originally from Myanmar (Burma), worked in the ASAP (Advocates for Southeast Asians and the Persecuted) Ministries booth in the exhibit hall. He also helped conduct a church planting seminar for the NAD Refugee and Immigrant Ministries.
Ngala, currently engaged in Adventist church planting and pastoral work in Indianapolis, Indiana, said that after fasting and praying God impressed on him that he needed to work with refugees. “They are like sheep without shepherds. They need someone to guide them, teach them, work with them. There’s a big need,” Ngala said. Working with the NAD on church planting among refugees for the past several years, Ngala was happy to share his knowledge with others at the convention.
“I had a fantastic experience,” said Ngala. “I was able to build a network and at the same time share my passion, which is church planting among refugee populations. The level of awareness and interest is much higher than last time in Monterrey, California .”
Going Beyond the Pew
Debra Brill, NAD vice president for ministries, offered final remarks at the AMC’s conclusion. She shared that the “work that the Adventist church is doing in our conferences, in our churches . . . inspires me as well.”
“Beyond the pew is not just a slogan for us as we leave this place, said Brill. “It is our hope and our prayer for you that you’ve had an opportunity speak to a colleague who is facing similar challenges as you, [and] that you’ve been able to hear something that has inspired you—that has really met a need that only God knew you had. That is the purpose of this event.”
Brill added, “For us to come together as colleauges, friends, and brothers and sisters; to learn again of Jesus’ love for us, His love for the lost, and what a difference we can make for Him and in His name. . . . We will pray for each of you as you return to your places of mission.”
— Click here for a video from the public school Compassion Movement project in Tucson.