This is part five of the conversation with Timothy Puko. To read them in sequence, click here. ______________________________________________
You are right to point to the scriptures as evidence that God cares more about effective leadership than the sacrificial scent of good news.
The God present in the life of Jesus (cleansing the temple, healing the blind) certainly cares a lot more about means than end numbers - whereas I sense that many administrators primarily rate church workers on their loyalty and numbers, (baptisms, web hits, tithe, board votes). Now these are all important, but frankly quite easy to manipulate as your article so aptly points out. Middle conference management is especially susceptible to forgetting that long term success always beats short term numbers however pleasing.
Back to Costa Rica for a moment. I had actually heard from a student missionary friend of mine about the emphasis on baptisms over education. Reading your details made me realize that similarity with some American conferences. There exist presidents who actively recruit young converts as pastors who have not been educated in Adventist religion depts.These dudes often attend an eighteen month training course and then are given jobs because they can "finish the work" untainted by a liberal arts education. While troubling, especially if one wants a well-rounded pastor, reading your article I realized that these young para-pastors tend to be very dependent on their administration. Trained in authoritarian contexts, in old methods, with little access to the historical context of the faith, they prove their worth via obedience. In fact, the last I heard, Michigan conference doesn't allow its pastors to wear wedding rings. Talk about a testing truth. Since wearing a ring doesn't seem to destroy God's work anywhere else, it clearly just becomes a test of submission. Although cloaked in the language of spirituality, it's about loyalty.
As ol' GC vice president Calvin Rock says in his book, Church Leadership, conversion doesn't automatically make one ready for church leadership. And I can say from experience that conviction doesn't always make for a compelling sermon.
Since I've got you, a card-carrying Columbia-trained journalist here, I'd like to get your perspective on the state of media. I just read the recent Economist cover story entitled " Who Killed the Newspaper?" Apparently some experts suggest that mid-level newspapers (Everything between the Times and niche 'zines) will be gone in less than forty years.
For whatever reasons - too much free content online, blogger/reporters, changing advertising models, kids these days - the newspaper will disappear. Of course this has serious implications for a church weened on the printing press, with a prolific prophet, and a lot of DIY members. The stark reality is that very few Adventists are willing to pay to read print issues of Adventist Review or even Spectrum. What are your thoughts on the publication of prolix in this shifting context? Wither Adventist media?
Washing the print off my hands, Alex
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4493