"Building Together." That theme defined the direction and goals of the North American Division during the 2013 Year-end Meetings. Business sessions from Sunday through the close of meetings on Tuesday evening considered several "building blocks": The place of women in ministry, uses for media and data gathering, keeping young adults engaged,
WOMEN IN MINISTRY
NAD Executive Secretary G. Alexander Bryant led a building block session considering women's place in pastoral ministry within the Adventist Church. Numbers at the outset looked grim. Out of 4,000 Adventist pastors, 107 are female. Fully half of current pastors will be eligible for retirement within the next ten years. The division indicated its goal is to double the number of women pastors in the next five years. To advance women in gospel ministry, several hundred thousand dollars will be allocated from the division's budget. The money will serve to help women reach key of leadership through recruitment, mentorship and opportunities for growth and networking.
The NAD also set the goal of educating congregations throughout its territory about God's calling of men and women to ministry, that God used women throughout Scripture, that Ellen White maintained a positive stance toward women in ministry, and that General Conference policy currently permits women ministers. Look for articles in NAD publications that affirm women ministers throughout the coming year.
The NAD also indicated its intent to widely distribute the Theology of Ordination Study Committee Report.
View the Women In Ministry building block presentation here.
MEDIA STRATEGIES FOR THE CHURCH
Another building block focused on potential uses for media in congregational contexts. In this age when data mining is a multi-billion dollar industry, and data gathering ventures like those of the NSA make daily headlines, churches stand to greatly benefit from the use of metadata collecting. Perhaps more significantly still, people spend astronomical amounts of time engaged with social media. Alvin M. Kibble led the discussion and presented compelling reasons to allocate resources toward accomplishing the following goals:
•Use social media to reengage with community for outreach and service
•Develop a mobile media strategy
•Train pastors and lay leadership in the use of social media
•Provide Division-level leadership for social media ministries, and encourage leadership at all levels of ministries
•Use modern metrics to measure success
•Develop specific social media products to meet specific needs, including ministry specific networks
•Provide budgets, grants, and incentives for effective social media ministry
•Local Churches will benefit as they are enabled to bring social media tools online immediately.
•Departments and Ministries will be able to bring “early adopters” to the general endeavor with crossministry benefits for the entire church.
•The NAD will begin to realize the Social Media structures and toolsets it will need to be successful in meeting its mission outreach and evangelism goals, particularly among young adults and urban populations.
• The NAD will demonstrate the commitment required to be successful at bringing social media fluency to all levels of the church in North America. There are compelling reasons to put forward the resources and time to do this
See the entire media use report here.
MILLENNIALS AND THE CHURCH
The Young Adults building block considered how to connect with the millennial generation that seems increasingly disengaged from church. The session examined attitudes of young adults, ages 18-29, about church. Research by the Barna group compared young Adventists' attitudes with those of young adults in other denominations. The findings showed that across the board, Adventist young adults have more firmly-held negative views of their church than their non-Adventist peers.
In the graphic below, the blue lines indicate attitudes by percentage of non-Adventist young adults using the words on the left to describe their denominations. The red lines indicate percentages of Seventh-day Adventist young adults.
A clear message, backed up by large quantities of data, was that the more engaged an individual, the more closely she will adhere to church teachings, and the more positively she will view her church. Leadership opportunities, whether at summer camps, in literature evangelism programs or in local congregations, corresponds with higher levels of engagement.
One of the most poignant moments came during a discussion of Adventist students on public college campuses. Over 125,000 Adventists attend public colleges and universities. Five of them spoke to delegates, presenting a letter they created together for the church. In their letter, they said that they want to be invited to eat in church members' homes. They want to be welcomed. They want church members to reach out to them. They care about social justice issues. They are looking for reasons to be involved in their churches. They are looking for social activities. They want to be given a seat at the table. They love receiving care packages. They want to be able to discuss sexuality. They don't want to be told what to do; they want to be dialogue partners. "We love you, we need you, we care," they said.
EMERGING IMMIGRANT POPULATIONS
NAD vice president Ernest Castillo presented findings on immigration trends and how the Adventist Church is responding to those trends. The graphic below shows numbers of members in various ethnic blocs within the North American Division.
The discussion of how the NAD addresses immigration is neatly summarized in this six-minute video.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5622