The One Project 'Create Conference' Mandate: "Keep It Local"

“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers….” (Eph. 4:11) Any attempt to fulfill all of these roles at the same time inevitably results in tension and disappointment. So, the large gathering on the first two days of The One Project in Seattle this year maintained a pastoral focus through gospel-centered presentations on the final week of Christ’s life. Then, on the last day of The One Project, a smaller group of about about 180 attendees met at the Create Conference, billed as a "hopeful, faithful, constructive, creative, and prophetic conversation about the future of the Adventist Church," focusing on prophetic dialogue and faithful critique.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

What is the ratio of pastors to administrators in other denominations, especially those that are growing? The major growth appears to be in administrators at the expense of pastors on the front lines. This robs churches of a local pastor but helps to maintain control by the institutional church.

The churches in all cities that are creating favorable publicity are those that are often featured in the local media feeding the hungry, collecting food, cleaning and painting homes to give them more value in the neighborhood as well as disabled individuals. Has the church lost its mission?


I had hoped very much to be at this portion of the One Project conference. Thank you for the reporting. It is a burden for my husband and I that our children are going through Adventist educational institutions, and we don’t know if there will be a spiritual place for them in Adventism when they move on to find their own communities and churches. The pastor vs. administrator statistic is very telling. My hope is for this church that we can hear the voices of our youth and take seriously the terrible attrition rate. These are thoughtful, spiritual, Christian children leaving our church.


the pulpit should be considered the higher calling than administration. TZ


My awareness of the Business of Church came about 1953,54 as a kid.
Have you noticed? I have since then How Many PROGRAMS those in Administration have come up with through the years. They are here for a short season, if they are at all accepted by the local congregation. Then it isnt long before another PROGRAM, or is it PROGROM that is pushed on “the church” to accept and try.
Too numerous to count over the years. And NONE seemed to work, since they dont last long.
I presume that is WHY we need so many administrators. Having to come up with new programs to try.
Having to keep the pastors busy.
Sometimes I believe we look at Pastors the way local city and county officials look at their Cop employees. Having to reach a Quota. Those who dont reach their monthly quota are assumed to not be working diligently enough.

You can check the stats at

The ratio of pastors to administrators is troubling.
Our conference/Union conference/division structure was set up in the distant past, prior to interstates, air travel, and certainly prior to the Internet/fax/social media! “Horse and buggy” era constructs still endure.

Thanks to modern communications you do not need to be on Wall Street, to be a successful investor, a Caribbean Island would be just fine!

I have long thought that either Union conferences or conferences should be eliminated due to overlapping WASTE.

This perceived waste of resources has motivated me for many decades to mark my church donations as anything except “tithe”. The bulk of my giving has been to the local congregation’s needs.

However, as Spectrum has pointed out in other articles, the only upward trajectory for pastors ( since salaries are all equatable ) is the promotion to higher ranks of administration. Administrative rank replaces higher salaries as an indicator of performance/pecking order.

How can we change this stratification to ensure that local pastors have prestige and adulation?


my home church, calgary central sda church, just released a list of its known ministries in its church bulletin for today - it apologized for any ministries not on the list, and unknown to church management:

-Adult Sabbath School
-Bags of love
-Children’s Division
-Christmas Dinner
-Depression Recovery
-Diabetes Undone
-Divorce Care
-Family Ministries
-Forgive to Live
-Health Expo
-Home Schoolers
-Men’s Ministries
-Moms Flying Solo
-Mother’s Bible Study
-Music Ministries
-Mustard Seed
-Native Women’s Ministry
-Prayer Ministry
-Prime Timers
-Prison Ministries
-Radio Bible Light
-Reconnect with Missing Members
-Russian Newspaper
-Single’s Ministry
-Small Group Bible Study
-Stampede Supper
-Strum and Sing
-Sunshine Band
-Vacation Bible School
-Women’s Ministries
-Worship Ministries

my guess is that most churches with four pastors and 1,200 members have a similar list…

my view is that while congregationalism probably militates against denominationalism, i believe a full spectrum of local ministries tends to boost attendance and perceived relevance…today i arrived slightly late by less than 5 minutes - i accidentally overslept - and had to park my trusty bmw very far up the road, since everything closer, including our church parking lot, was filled to over-flowing…and it was impossible to find a seat for one person in the main sanctuary…i had to go up to the balcony, where i just barely managed to find a seat…

but it was worth it…an entire hispanic family was baptized today, and our hispanic youth pastor, allan perez, preached a fiery sermon, “Encountering God, Experiencing Change”, on making church relevant, replete with a number of references to the GYC Phoenix meetings he attended…we’ll probably see someone from The One Project at some point…

Eh? Adventists are growing, faster than most others.

Not here in the NAD. Any growth is more apparent than real. It is mostly immigrant growth, transfers of membership largely from the Caribbean and Latin America.

The structure that is in place, that numbers more administrators than local pastors is disturbing, to say the least. It reveals the attitude of the hierarchy towards the local church. You put your money where your mouth is. The organization shows where that is. The local level, where the life of the church really is, suffers.

Continue apologizing for the company brand all you want.



Thanks for an excellent report, Brenton. This was in many respects the most important day in the history of The One Project. Now let’s see what is done with this catalyst.

It is a law of the human mind that we believe what we do more than we do what we believe.


I agree I follow the local needs.

The local church suffers reduction in memberships permanence due to unsustainable economic contributions by attrition realism: seniors mortality, expensive cost of housing, lack of affordable housing and job opportunity for young sda families, unless self employed, encapsulated job loss in UNION SHOPS private or public sectors. The local churches are not spiritual bankruptcy if all but suffered the demagogue watered down economic accountability of trust the GC handles billion dollars transparency funding transfer away from its followers. Local churches democracies of equity are not met. GC is Wall Street mimic. The GC demagogue obliterated the local community imperative realism perspectives to the human spiritual and physical needs. It’s the, I and ME and MINE, Wall Street sectarian bumper slogan.


Thank you Brenton Reading for your succinct summary of Create.
One item that I thought was important and clearly articulated by the audience was that a major advantage to the church structure, as opposed to congregationalism, was that our ministerial staff and our educators do not have to go before a board and, in essence, beg for their compensation; In addition, central employment allows much lower costs for benefits than the local church. The issue is how to give tithe so that it goes only to your pastoral staff?
I have read that in growing churches, the ration of pastors to members should be 1:200. That when the ration reaches1:150, the church needs to start recruiting another pastor. We are far from those numbers.

I hope in the future that conversations about local churches could include pastors and members of small churches in small communities, who don’t see other Adventists except on Sabbath; whose churches may see the pastor two Sabbaths a month (or lass). I’d like to hear from pastors who mentor their elders, and understand that the elders will carry on the ministry long after they’re gone. I’d like to hear from churches with ministries that grow out of the community in which they live. Where members don’t have to walk around a community to get to know it, because they have lived in it and grown up with it. I’d like to hear from local churches not connected with Adventist institutions, that have pastors who are too busy with hospital visits and funerals to write for publications. I’d like to hear from pastors who know the name of the “non-Adventist” pastors in their town, and have friends among them. I’d like to hear from pastors who have been able to stay several years in a community, and have formed deep relationships in it. I’d like to hear witnesses from other churches and community organizations that can say they are thrilled to have an Adventist church that is an essential part of the community.