Human effort, with God’s power and leading , is a successful formula for the church. Joshua 1:8 worked for Joshua and should also work for the challenges of the SDA church today. God will not remove the task of decision-making from human beings. Men and women must do their part, while God does His. God encourages people with sufficient light to make right choices, always providing, when asked, the wisdom to make the right choice and the power to act. When correct decisions are made, God has His special way of endorsing those decisions.
A bureaucratic organization, such as the General Conference, has major weakness: They tend to hire people who accept and support the established routine. A General Conference leader recently said to colleagues in the West Coast, after the SA meetings, at a social event, that he felt “trapped” in a “bureaucratic maze” and he feels that he is “going through the motions until I can retire” Speaking of the current administration of which he is a part, of he said, “Too often the GC allows irrelevant criteria (longevity with the organization, being related to the boss or whoever is in charge, institutional loyalty, et cetera) to outweigh ability or qualifications, in crucial decision making.” He went on to say that that what has happened at the General Conference in the last five years is “It has lost it’s organizational vitality, creativity, and awareness of the need to change.”
The decision of how to move forward after the WO disaster is only a symptom of systemic problems. There is very little open and honest peer review at the highest levels of the church. Without new insights, the General Conference cannot respond effectively to current trends or needs. A closed system of thought tends to become self-serving. The top persons in leadership become defensive, closed to the outside world. They will listen only to those who support them specifically. This precludes new insights even before crucial decisions are made.
The problem with the Adventist Church in the 1890s and early 1900s is exactly the same problem we are having today. It can be understood in terms of rapid growth and of long-time leaders who are not used to a multiplicity of challenges, not only in numbers but in variety. The charges of “kingly power” and sluggish decision-making were all too accurate. (Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 233; Schwarz, “The Perils of Growth, 1886-1905,” in Land, Adventism in America, pp. 123-125.)