NAD Concludes 2021 Year-End Meetings

The North American Division wrapped up its year-end meetings this week. Like the annual council meetings held by the General Conference a few weeks prior, the year-end meetings allow the division to present a summary of the past year to its executive committee and lay out plans for the coming year.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11492
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The financial report of Randy Roberts to the recent NAD meetings is both heartening and astounding. However, I believe that it belies what lies ahead of us in the coming future. We may not be facing a red light now. But, I suggest that we are facing a yellow light of caution which portends a more dismal financial future that Roberts has suggested.

• Independent, self-supporting institutions: More and more SDA members contribute to those organizations because our members either believe that either they are doing mission that the organized Church is not doing, or that they are doing it at a lower cost. These institutions are supported by members who generally divert both tithe and offerings to their support. Yes, I am aware that these institutions do not knowingly accept tithe. So, our members do not label their gifts as such. I predict that if the organized Church cannot get on top of this, the diversion of funds will increase over time.

• Congregations that have a local church school are charged a fee based upon the Conference employed teachers along with some Conference overhead for management purposes. Larger schools, with businesspeople on the governing Board are able to offer teachers who would like to be employed by the local congregation a salary package that matches denominational income and medical and retirement benefits for less cost to the congregation that it would incur if the teacher was employed by the conference.

• Congregational pastors: While I do not have current exact figures, I have seen the time when a conference needed from $100,000 to $150,000 in tithe income to hire a congregational pastor. Probably just about every “Conference in the NAD has congregations that employ local pastors. They can obtain a qualified, experienced pastor for a sum of $75,000 to $100, 000 per year. If they employ an inexperienced person, they can cut their cost to $30,000 to $50,000 depending upon job requirements. In every congregation of which I am aware, all such congregations had people who supported the local hire by decreasing the amount of tithe paid to the Conference. I predict that this will increase over time.

If the organized church does not get on top of this now, I believe that the financial issues that we face will grow rapidly over time

I am disappointed that the NAD did not address the religious liberty issue in regard to many good members who are opposed to forced vaccination. I know of one church where member who are opposed to vaccination are meeting separately from the church and have stopped supporting it with their tithe. These issues should not be ignored.

I only can wish that the NAD could give guidance to defining how a healthy congregation should operate. Most of our church buildings are empty all week with little no activity. Church service music should be modernize to include all musical instruments that can be used to praise the Lord.

Brand awareness?

We live in a competitive world. “Everyone” is trying to sell something.

I am saddened to think that we have become a brand. Should it really be our mission to get the “world” to buy into what we are peddling?

Jesus is number one! He invites us ALL to come unto Him.

I’m just a tired old man. My race here is almost over.

While the SDA denomination does have a lot to offer, it also carries a lot of baggage: evangelism in it’s current form, Revelation as a focus, works-based readiness, perfectionism, stuck in a 1950’s worship experience, EGW sanctity, several dubious doctrines, etc: these just don’t convey the attractive love and mercy of Jesus. Then there are cultural issues, especially with the pandemic; I know of several members who don’t attend because other members refuse to mask-up in church - not much “love thy neighbor” going on. Young women look at the male-dominated leadership (but female-member-dominated pews) with skepticism. I think cultural adventists could be enticed back into active membership, particularly if they aren’t dissed by the “real” SDA’s - speaking from personal experience here. It was all too negative for me, but Hey, my episcopal church fellowship fills the void.

Rural small churches are hit particularly hard. They go months/years without a steady pastor (who likely has not attended any school of theology except amazing facts, anyway), and is lead in a direction the strongest elder leans toward. Their membership is aging, the middle-aged and young have moved away to cities for jobs and I daresay, amenities, yet the denomination is failing the cities where they have gone.

Maybe the leadership could ask the people what they want? What could work? Small groups at Starbucks on Tuesday nights? Choose a non-one-size-fits-all model and work on that, rather than choosing death by attrition of leaders and members? What works best in one place will not work in other places, and that could be okay. The main things are to love one another and love others as Christ loves them. Because, as our Idaho bishop says: Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us; so be quick to love and make haste to be kind!

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I was heartened for a while, thinking the NAD was finally beginning to support and understand its LGBTQI members, but that seems to have died on the vine. If the NAD is interested in keeping its younger members, it needs to educate itself and its members on the scientific understanding and the need for love and acceptance in this area.

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Although the executive committee has nearly 300 members, only around half were logged on and present when the meeting began—a pattern also seen at the General Conference meetings.

I’m glad Alex was willing to point this out. The leaders (?) gloss over it, and it needs to stop. I get that something can happen where a few can’t login. But not half, and not every time. Come on. Not when these self-same people want to tell us how critical these meetings are, how urgent it is to prepare for The End Times™, and how dare anyone question the wisdom of our anointed leadership.

You want to claim to be God’s emissaries on Earth? Start acting like it. It’s bad enough that it’s been going for years, and it’s even worse now because it’s a virtual meeting! All you had to do was roll out of bed! For crying out loud, just login while you go pour yourself a cup of coffee Postum.

There were plenty of people out there watching along and commenting on social media. Funnily enough, all of them seemed perfectly capable of logging in on time and actually paying attention. (Most of them were in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, despite yeoman efforts to drive them away!) It’s almost like they actually care about the church and other people, as opposed to glad-handing their way into a stupid yeehaw good old boys club with more insularity than a black hole.

Again: I’m not saying every SDA leader is like this. I know better. But I am saying the half that couldn’t even be bothered to login on time ought to give an account for themselves.

Either take it seriously, or stop wasting tithe money holding these things.

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