NAD Leaders to Young Adventists: 'Undiluted, Transparent, Let’s Talk'

The North American Division has planned a Facebook Live town hall meeting to engage college-age Adventists. NAD President Daniel Jackson and Executive Secretary G. Alexander Bryant will answer audience questions in an conversation they have said will be “undiluted, transparent.” The Tuesday, March 14 event, called “Is This Thing On?” will be livestreamed from the campus of Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. It is the first in a series of broadcasts planned for various Adventist universities.

Young adults are notorious for their movement away from organized religion, a trend that has worried leaders of the Adventist Church in North America. Accordingly, the denomination has sought ways of involving young Adventists. At its Year-end Meetings, for instance, the student body presidents of each North American Division college and university are invited to participate as delegates with voice and vote. President Jackson has intentionally sought input from those student delegates during important business sessions.

The move to hold live, unscripted conversations with young adults has a precedent in the presidency of former General Conference President Jan Paulsen. During his years as president, Paulsen participated in over thirty “Let’s Talk” conversations with young adults from around the world. The one-hour meetings, broadcast on the church’s television network, covered topics ranging from racism to homosexuality and from jewelry use to women’s roles in the church. After his retirement, Paulsen compiled material from the conversations in his 2013 book, “Let’s Talk.”

Dan Jackson and Alex Bryant pay homage to Paulsen’s work in their event’s tagline: “Making sure we can hear each other. Let’s talk.”

The event “aims to connect young people with church leadership and get the concerns of the 21st century heard and answered,” according to the event website. Jackson and Bryant say they will invite “any and all questions about the Bible, church policy, Adventist lifestyle, theology, relationships, and more.”

The NAD has taken advantage of a changing media landscape since Jan Paulsen’s conversations. Young adults are invited to send in their questions using #NADnow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The broadcast will be streamed from 8 PM - 9:30 PM CDT on Facebook Live. Recording will take place in the atrium of Union College’s Don Love Building.

The NAD institution in Canada, Burman University, led in submitting questions, compiling a list of ten questions to submit in writing, and in a video to NAD leadership, winnowing the list to their three top questions:

1. Are there any actions being taken by the North American Division regarding Women's Ordination? If yes, what? If no, why not?

2. What is the North American Division doing to respond to the issue of abusive/inept/incompetent church leaders (at all levels) being shuffled throughout the church system?

3. What is the North American Division doing to make Adventist education (at all levels) more appealing, cutting edge, and affordable?

In addition to those three, Burman students also asked questions likely to be echoed by other young Adventists:

What are the obstacles that remain, and what is the North American Division doing, to eliminate Regional Conferences?

What steps will the North American Division take to be more inclusive of the LGBTQ community with regards to church membership and employment?

How is the Adventist Church working to teach our health message in a more holistic way, using the most current scientific evidence? Specifically, when and how will the Adventist Church drop its stigma toward those who use caffeinated drinks?

What is the North American Division doing to respond to the refugee crisis?

First Nations peoples have specific challenges (e.g., poverty, insufficient housing, violence, suicide, unemployment, drug/alcohol abuse, poor literacy). How is the North American Division responding to these challenges?

When and how will the North American Division respond to current events as they occur (in the world or the church) rather than addressing them once they have already passed or been dealt with?

What is the recommended policy of the North American Division for our schools, concerning the rights/privileges of transgender students? How will the NAD treat the rights of transgender students?

Jared Wright is Southern California Correspondent for

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The underlying question:
What makes SDAism viable in the 21st Century?

The problem is SIN, my own sin! But, if we can pass off the responsibility to a patently inept organization, then my own ‘missing the mark’ is irrelevant. Just because the ‘parent’ organization is willing to discuss its shortcomings as identified by its spawn does not mean it is willing to overcome them.

It is indeed curious (but not surprising) to note that Christ is completely ignored in these questions.

Come out of her my people that you be not partakers in HER sins.

Lord, have mercy.


Are ANY of these questions REALLY relevant to what REALLY goes on in the INSIDE of persons 18 to 25 looking around at the average church community???
WHAT REALLY turns persons 18 to 30 OFF from the local SDA community?
In my friend’s AA meetings that I bring him to there are a number of persons who “grew up” in their religious denomination. Going to church. Several had pastors as fathers.
Stated it wasnt until they got really down and out, were forced to go to meetings to get their “attendance papers signed’” that they met their Higher Power for REAL. And has made a huge difference. NOW they find they HAVE to pray to their Higher Power TWICE a day in order to have their day go well.

Has the way we “do church” in the local communities, and perhaps even in our educational programs, such as Academy and College not allow our Youth to meet their Higher Power? So that they miss being with their Higher Power when they dont talk to him/her twice a day?

There might be OTHER questions more immediate to their minds that members and Clergy are AFRAID to ASK, because they might get the answers they DO NOT WANT TO HEAR, if the 18 to 30’s REALLY believed they could REALLY be allowed to be honest in answering.

“Leaving Church” really begins at the Local community level.

Jeff K. – Regional Conferences. It is my understanding from past comments the Regional Conferences are much stronger financially [have much more money saved toward their obligations] than the “White” Conferences. Would THAT be a strong reason for having them become one with the “White” Conferences?? To me, that would be a huge incentive. Just the MONEY.

J3rryC – If what is “broken” isn’t fixed in the local community, then it ISN"T fixed. By the way WHO IS IT that declares “something is broken”? And WHO DECLARES when something is Fixed.

Rodney – Bull and Lockhart, “Seeking a Sanctuary”, is quite an eye opener on quite a few subjects.
Have one in my library. Bought it on Amazon.

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Great approach and very good questions all in all.

Excellent question, and here is the answer I hope to hear: “no true obstacles, and we’re getting rid of them to save millions of dollars.

I’m afraid the answers are as much relational as anything else. Young people don’t appreciate the way they are treated by the more sanctimonious members–whether families, friends, leaders, or others.


i think this is a terrific initiative…when i was in college, nobody could talk about anything too personal (the good old days had a lot going for it, but open communication wasn’t on anyone’s list of priorities, especially for boys)…the result was that all of us had to figure things out on our own…not that we would have actually heeded anyone bothering to explain something to us just like that…but i think it is possible that communication could have spared at least some of us a lot of grief, even from just hearing that our biggest problems had already been solved by others, or at least experienced by others…this would have been true even if we sat there and pretended to be totally unimpressed, or to be feeling sorry for the person communicating with us…

i don’t think there is such a thing as too much communication, even when it doesn’t seem to be yielding dividends, and especially with people who are in an age range where they can think substantially differently every few months…i think one of the biggest hurdles for at least some young persons is the tendency to think that they, and only they, have serious problems, and that everyone else is dealing with things much less substantial…it probably is good to hear that this isn’t even remotely true, even if that message doesn’t register until retrospect internalizes it much later…


I applaud the excellent, pertinent and provocative questions that these college students have already raised.

Most are the very concerns that I would have raised.

However, I doubt that the NAD responses will be meaningful and satisfactory to the MILLENIAL crowd.

Our young people have been raised egalitarian so they have already been turned off by the women’s ordination fiasco.

The young women feel demeaned, denigrated and discriminated against by the heretical "headship " dogma. Their male siblings and cousins, rightfully, are in full support of equality for their female relatives.

Surveys have indicated that young people, even from the most conservative Republican households, are in direct opposition to their parents viewpoints, when they favor overwhelmingly, same sex marriage.

I doubt that our denomination will favor either world wide women’s ordination nor same sex marriage anytime soon, so these will continue to be alienating and contentious issues, causing millenials to ".vote with their feet ".

Making Adventist education more affordable is a very pressing issue, since of the 4000 institutions of higher learning in USA,
three of our NAD universities ranked highest,
not in academic excellence, but in those schools graduating students with the most student debt. ( US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT COLLEGE RANKINGS ).

Interesting, that the coffee issue is raised, since coffee, has multiple beneficial components, polyphenols, anti oxidants, and yes, even the caffeine, all medically proven, in multiple studies, to be beneficial against cancer, Alzheimers and many other afflictions. For the greater population living on “fast foods” , their coffee is about the only healthful item in their diet.

If the NAD were to endorse coffee, it would be an embarrassing humiliation that our church “prophet” was not always infallible in her pronouncements!


SDA schools have never been current on current social issues. When I was immersed deep within the cloistered campus, the big issues were girls’ skirt, and guys’ hair lengths; and what film was appropriate to show for a Saturday night program in Machlan; and, this, while Jane Fonda was giving up US prisoners to the Vietcong -the Kennedy brothers were assassinated - Martin Luther King was shot - and the South was boiling over with social injustice. Radios in the dorm rooms were only reluctantly tolerated, while the Beatles debuted on this side of the pond, which was the only way to keep up with the real world. But who was listening to MPR while they were in town.

I realize it’s more than a full time job keeping a campus full of effervescent young people toeing the line as outlined in Messages to Young People: so they kept us busy with “sunshine bands” and Disney films that would break down just when Mini mouse stepped on the beach wearing a bikini. (I kid you not.)

So, based on the above issues, I guess, amazingly, SDA campuses have grown up somewhat. If they are run by my generation, I’m not surprised. We had great hopes back then that we were going to make great changes when released. However, also based on the issues presented, it appears the imminent return of Jesus has been moved back on the 2300 day timeline.


Perfect strategy when talking to adolescents and early adults for the simple reason that there is nothing adults know that they do not know already. What is needed here is the fact of being heard and validated, two factors alien to fundamentalist and LGTer leaders. Eventually, these adolescents and early adults will find their psychological space themselves within their accepted world views with or without “papal” or “parental” pontifications.

No kidding.


Some of these responses represent the attitude that our young adults (and even some of their parents) dislike about the Adventist church. If the answers to these questions indicate that nothing is really going to change, we will see many more following our kids out the door. “I hear you” isn’t good enough. “We are fixing what is broken” is the only chance we have to keep this generation.

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The central question today is-Why are we building walls instead of bridges? Race, gender, religion, and. Party spirit? Grace is available to each and all, so why not a showing of gratitude and generosity? How does guarding the edges of the Sabbath bring us closer together?

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NAD Leadership should first get all their young people to see, Raising Men Lawn Care Service , on Facebook . This is a call to community service . Short of that , many young people do not know the Landmarks of the church, thus many of their suggestions will go contrary to church policy . We tend not to be big enough to tell them this .The only thing relevant about the church in the 21st Century is it’s message . We are trying to make our message suit our young people instead of the other way around. Is the Spirit of Prophecy still relevant ? Are we going to change for change sake, or stand our ground, up lifting Jesus in all His beauty.? We need an army of youth to finish this message. It is our duty and role to fit them and properly train them for the task ahead. A little fact not known by many, " The Adventist Church has lost as many young people as it now presently haves. " This is amazing. We have yet to figure out why the back door swings .Please read Bull and Lockhart, “Seeking a Sanctuary .”

While it is good that the church says it wants to dialog history says it will not change things. I am now in my 60’s. Went to public schools until college and have several degrees from both Adventist and non-adventist universities. You were considered an outsider if you did not attend the local school. While in college the church conducted several studies on the same questions that are currently being addressed. I spent considerable time trying to find the results of those studies - the church did not want to give that out. Once I had a chance to review the results it was apparent they had a major problem in the 70’s and 80’s with their youth. The studies recommended that several things be done. I never saw them implemented. So what will be different this time? I doubt much.


I think this is another PR endeavor, a feel good meeting…not much more.


Two-way communication is always superior to one-way, top-down hierarchial communication. Transparency is always better than closed doors, nonresponsive communication.

More administrators should hold these kinds of press conference, Q & A, and interaction no matter who makes fun of them.


It may be a PR endeavour, and a worthy one at that. But I think this may also be a way of sending a message to the GC of the issues that will not go away.


“What are the obstacles that remain, and what is the North American Division doing, to eliminate Regional Conferences?”

This is absolutely the wrong question, and it highlights the very reason why Regional Conferences don’t yet feel comfortable with reorganization. Why, after white church leaders necessitated the creation of Regional Conferences through their unwillingness to be inclusive, and after some whites even questioned whether black members could successfully govern themselves, should Regional conferences now be the ones up for “elimination?” No. If anything, it is the systems of white power and privilege in the church that must be eliminated. Then–and only then–should reorganization be considered…

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