New Audience, New Format for NAD's Fourth "Is This Thing On?"

On May 22, the fourth episode of “Is This Thing On?” (ITTO) broadcast on Facebook and YouTube during the 2019 Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF) Institute. Midway through the institute, which ran May 20-25, college and university students from public campuses, as well as some young adult local church members, asked and answered questions during the 90-minute afternoon dialogue with North American Division (NAD) officers Dan Jackson, president; Alex Bryant, executive secretary; and Randy Robinson, treasurer.

“Having this type of dialogue with Adventist young people from public colleges and universities is a first for us, and we are really looking forward to hearing what they have to say,” said Bryant before the event held at the Life Adventist Church of Berkeley, California.

Participants asked questions ranging from church policy, budgets and funding, social issues, and how young adults can have a voice within the different areas of church structure, from the local church level to the division.

In a departure from the previous events, ITTO Berkeley was broken into four segments. Each NAD officer conversed alone with the audience of 100 during the first three segments. Jackson went first, followed by Bryant and Robinson.

“We have traditionally focused the ‘lion's share’ of funding on our Adventist institutions,” said Jackson in answer to an early question on financial allocation. “And yet, the generation has changed. People are far more interested in mission, and mission on the campus. We're waking up and seeing this. And you all are giving us that awareness.”

Jackson gave his thoughts when asked how young people can contribute in a church that seems unwilling to welcome them in leadership roles. “God's work on this earth is not going to be finished by my generation. It will be finished by yours. That means you should ask, ‘How do I get involved in the local church?’ That’s really is where it's at.”

Jackson added, “My greatest desire—and this is true for the whole church, but specifically for young adults—is involvement. Don't be afraid to be involved in the work of the local church. I know that's difficult in some churches because ‘Brother Jones’ has been the elder for 212 years and doesn’t want to give the job up to you—but get involved. Do what you can, whether it’s involvement in Sabbath School, in outreach, in compassion ministries. Whatever it is that God has given you a passion for, put your needs before God and then do it…Every single one of us is a minister.”

An audience member asks a question during the "lighting round" segment of Is This Thing On? ACF - Berkeley on May 22, 2019.

The questions continued to revolve primarily around finance, and church structure and politics during the next two segments. "I do not apologize for the millions of dollars we put into Adventist Education,” said Robinson when asked about more financial support for campus ministry on public colleges and universities.

“That said,” he continued, “we have to address your question. You have my commitment that I will address the need for funding for public campus ministry."

Audience members gathered at microphones positioned at the ends of the seat rows for the final segment of the afternoon. Dubbed the “lightning round,” those asking questions were encouraged to keep it short as all three officers waited on stage to give 30-second answers. At least a dozen young adults gathered in lines to ask questions — some of which required answers longer than 30 seconds.

One of the questions that came back to all three officers in the final round was: "How can the church show young adults that they are valued and important members of our denomination?”

“Number one, you are needed in the church. Your ideas are needed,” answered Jackson. “What can the church do to help you? . . . We are trying hard at the North American Division, not only in our employment practices, but also as we work through our various governance issues. We are trying very hard to bring young people into the equation. We must hear [sic]. There's a balance needed there, but we must hear.”

Adventist student leaders on public campuses engage in dialogue with North American Division officers.

"We have struggled . . . What are your ideas on how we can attract young adults to the church?" Alex Bryant asks the university student who posed the question.

The answer: "Get involved in social issues."

While close to 100 sat in the live studio audience, many more watched online. According to Facebook statistics, 16,429 people were reached, with 2,482 engagements. The online audience was split almost evenly between men and women; and the Facebook crowd engaged in 729 reactions, comments and shares. ITTO was also broadcast for the first time on YouTube, where more than 400 viewed the event.

This article was written by Kimberly Luste Maran and originally appeared on the NAD website.

Images by Pieter Damsteegt courtesy of NAD website.

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The Lord’s return is not dependent upon SDA youth anymore than upon my generation. There is more evidence upon the world is becoming more like the age of Noah prior to the return. Real news or fake tweets seem to support that prediction.

yes there is lot to be said for answering the call to come unto Jesus and find rest and the obvious corollary to behave as His child.

Answer – Get involved in “social issues”.
This is a HUGE and VALID answer. BUT, in order to “get involved” people
need to be TRAINED.
One Social Issue is the HOMELESS POPULATION. Just sitting on a local
street where there are other benches and talking to homeless persons one-
on-one. Letting them talk. Having a prayer that their day will be OK, perhaps
one for protection. Perhaps an encouraging Bible Verse.
Another could be volunteering with a TUTORING program. But this would
need to be a 9-month school commitment as you would need to be with
that ONE CHILD the whole school term. To help him/her progress to one
or two grade levels in READING Skills, Math skills.
Another – FEEDING the homeless. Some feeding programs live or die by
the volunteers who help COOK, help SERVE, help CLEAN UP. Many
feeding programs are 5-day a week, some are just on week-ends. Many
are Volunteer Self-Scheduling.
Another – DayTime Homeless Shelters – Volunteers for feeding snacks.
Perhaps Laundry service is done there. Shower monitoring, with managing
the list of those who want one, clean the showers between customers.
Some have phone-computer access. Managing that area.
Clean up around the Shelter area at closing time.
Some day-time programs have Teaching of Reading to Adults [many will
probably read on an elementary school level, need math skills] Some have
a limited GED program.
Yes – a LOT of Social Issues available without Marching, and Protesting
down the middle of streets in town. Or POSTING on Facebook.


PS – In this day and age one DOES NOT have to be a Licensed Nurse
to do some things.
One can get one of those Automatic Blood Pressure Machines.
Get 10-minutes of Instruction on HOW to use it.
And can sit on a street corner with 2 chairs. One for you. One for
the customer. Have them sit quiet a couple of minutes, maybe close
their eyes and breath. Put the cuff on. Push the button. Wait for the
numbers to come up. Write down the numbers. Give to the person.
If elevated [according to the Training one received] encourage they
seek a medical professional to check them out.

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Regrettably, due to a. “ glass ceiling “ for female participation in church management, in NAD, our hierarchy is largely composed of OLD WHITE MEN.

So our millennials and younger crowd are rightly concerned about how avant garde and “ cutting edge “ these geriatricians can be, in dealing with their issues.

Great to see that an increasing number of our younger group are enrolling in public colleges / universities where hopefully they have a larger curriculum of career choices and are also able to get in state tuition to avoid crippling student debt.


TW just turned 69 in May. Does that mean… ?

Robin –
Going OUTSIDE of SDA Education WILL introduce them to new ideas,
to whole new worlds.
Will stimulate them to ASK QUESTIONS. If not verbally, at least from
one side of their brain to the other side.
THAT is dangerous for OLD MEN and WOMEN in the church. Can
appear, by them, that these questions are heretical and questioning
God and EGW.
And therefore, will SHUT DOWN any conversation with the 18-30 year
old group by the OLD MEN and WOMEN, and PROBABLY also their

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Having inner city churches that open outside of “business hours” (9am-1pm) on a Saturday. Homeless people are homeless all week long not just on weekends.


In my town we had a national Catholic group develop a homeless shelter
in an abandoned building. They have a number of these in the central
U.S. There were a number of construction businesses which provided
free services to fixing it up.
The idea in our city actually began by a group of nuns who saw WOMEN
who had no place to rest in the day. Had to keep moving because of
loitering laws. But then they looked at the population of homeless and
needed a larger plan which included women and men. Developed into
a rest-socializing area, laundry service, showers, telephone and computers.
Eventually a nurse for minor needs. Social worker. Goodwill representative.
Can use the address for receiving mail. Serves a light breakfast and an
afternoon snack. Monday through Friday.
Community church members volunteer. Community churches – Protestant,
Catholic, Jewish churches become “members” and contribute $3600 a year
for support.
What began as an idea for helping a few women has developed into an
important community asset with community participation.


Get involved is great. But unless the local congregation is willing to allocate resources, and create a setting that is supportive of the outreach and compassion ministries being pursued, why would a young adult, or anyone for that matter spend their time doing it through the local congregation. There are many local organizations that are not affiliated that can be engaged with that are doing God’s work in the local community. Why not spend one’s time and energy doing and helping instead of having to engaged and attempt to gain support from the local congregation, that is likely being pushed out of it’s comfort zone, thus isn’t really committed…


Dee –
Right on topic! We have to be “social” with other humans before we can
be “witnesses”.
If we are not willing to be social with other “religious” and “non-religious”
persons and groups one cannot be a “witness”.
However, the SDA culture is that one is “witnessing” for SDA. When
actually this is wrong. We should be “witnessing” the Good News of Christ.
What group to fellowship with should come later.


Steve -
I’m with you. When the SDA higherarchy can come to terms with social justice, realize that LGBTQI people are an amazing part of God’s mosaic, and adopt positions that are truly inclusive, then the SDA church will have a base that truly allows for positive engagement and deep personal relationships where God’s love and grace are lived out realities. There are certainly congregations within the SDA community that are succeeding, but, many, maybe even most are not.


Make that tens of millions to subsidize Adventist higher education. K-12 subsidies alone amount to nearly one-third of a billion dollars annually. (By the way, this is not a criticism of Robinson. He’s a good guy.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…Of all the young Adventist men and women who attend college/university somewhere, what percentage of them attend an Adventist college/university? I don’t know. Probably no one does. But I’ll bet it’s no more than 35-40%. So we spend nearly all our higher education money for that minority of Adventist students who attend our colleges/universities.

The implicit message from the Church is that we value those who attend our own schools more than we value the others. I firmly believe Jesus values the students attending elsewhere fully as much as He values those in our schools. I also firmly believe He wants us to relate to them proportionally.

Is this a case where we place a higher priority on institutional preservation than our young adults?

I realize that expressing this kind of sentiment is kind of like tugging on Superman’s cape or spitting in the wind (for you Jim Croce fans). Spending huge sums on the minority of our children and young adults is so firmly embedded in our politics and culture that probably only a dire financial crisis would ever give us the “wisdom” and courage to change strategy, leading us to invest more in the majority who attend other schools. But I believe it would be smart Church strategy to quit neglecting the majority of our young.

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When researching potential colleges and universities for my
( non Adventist ) grandson to attend,
I looked at multiple, various surveys.

Surprised to find that according to THE TIMES ( London UK )
world ranking of every higher education institution on the planet,
two of the top three were in California!

CALTECH in Pasadena was ranked NUMBER ONE in the world.
STANFORD in Palo Alto, was ranked NUMBER THREE in the world.

CAMBRIDGE and OXFORD, both in UK, placed second and fourth, respectively.

The USA IVY LEAGUE UNIVERSITIES on the east coast, were left in the dust!

( Two of my four adult children hold IVY LEAGUE degrees — from YALE and COLUMBIA — and I have sons in law with YALE and STANFORD diplomas ).

Would not our aspiring young people wish to attend one of these prestigious universities ?

Three NAD SDA colleges were ranked in the TOP FIFTY in USA !!!

Regrettably, .
but for

This troubling ranking appeared in the
ranking of US colleges!

No wonder our young people legitimately seek out
in state tuition colleges,
rather than enrolling in our high tuition SDA schools.

They not only pay less tuition,
but by attending schools close to their parents homes,
they can also save on board and lodging!

I would wager that our Silver Spring cohort of OLD WHITE MEN, are entirely unaware that three SDA colleges are highest of all colleges in the nation, in graduating students with crippling student debt!

Do any of these calculations even remotely enter into their close minded group think about where the denomination dollars should be allocated for education ??


Our Seventh-day Adventist students are getting job offers, letters of admission to post-graduate schools, requests to apply for credit cards, invitations to join local country clubs, numerous advertisements in the mail and online, and even marriage proposals. How many Seventh-day Adventist churches are writing letters, sending emails, making personal visits, and putting recruitment packages together in an effort to persuade young talent to become members, and more important, leaders? None.

I visited a stately and elegant mid-size church in North Carolina a couple weeks ago. Nice, attractive city. 78 people were in attendance. All of them are old burnouts, (older than I am, it appeared to me), except for 7 kids and 3 of those belonged to the guest speaker. It was depressing just sitting there. I’m-glad-I-brought-my-cell-phone level of boredom. I felt like I had stumbled into a nursing home. An impressively high tithe base, as the bulletin I read notes. But this is a dying church. And as is so typical in a dying church like this, no one seems to care.

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I commend Pastor Jackson for promoting this kind of meetings with the youth. I am not sure, but I have the impression that it’s too little too late of an effort to save the Church by keeping the youth in and active. But, I hope I am wrong.

“I was shown” :roll_eyes: that Ted Wilson is becoming jealous of Jackson’s influence and openness, therefore he is deciding to have some meetings like that with the youth as well.

The format will be a little different, though; there will be four presenters, himself, the treasurer, the secretary, and the maintenance director; all of them will deliver a 90-minute speech. At the end the youth will have the opportunity to listen to answers but there will be no questions asked. Not a Q&A, but just a “A” session… :wink: Something unprecedented in a town hall, … but the questions will be prepared by the speakers prior to the meeting and each one will just answer his own questions. :pensive:

The meeting is expected to be, as Borat said…, “a grrrrrreat sucêêêêêss” … :astonished: with thousands of youth coming back to the barracks… This is what I call, excellence in leadershiP. :face_with_raised_eyebrow: :face_with_raised_eyebrow: :+1: :+1: :+1: :+1:


Something I don’t believe has ever been asked Out Loud –
WHY would 18-30’s Want to join the SDA church to begin with?
WHAT is there about the average SDA church that continues to Invite
18-30’s to Stay?
Or, is there?
There requires for ANYONE to stay to be an Inviting Atmosphere
generated by People. NOT just by the “entertainment” factor from
9:30 to 12:00 on Saturday-- come in, sit on a bench, listen, leave.
People between 18-30 need a REASON to keep coming back.


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Steve, see my comment here (about Kellogg), I thing this is the area we should talk about “off topics”…,

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