N.R. Dower, Chairman
Orley M. Berg, Secretary
The Ministerial Association Advisory Council meets annually at Andrews University to review the work of the Association and to discuss how it can best serve the field. The Advisory Committee consists of the General Conference Ministerial Association staff, all North American Division union conference Ministerial Association secretaries, and a representative number of union and local conference presidents, as well as representative local conference Ministerial Association secretaries. The administration and faculty of Andrews Theological Seminary are also invited to participate as their program allows.
This year's advisory, which met April 30 to May 2, dealt with several concerns of general interest to our workers. This report will present a brief summary of these items.
N. R. Dower gave a report of the summit meeting held April 6-12, 1979, at Glacier View, Colorado, to give study to a unified objective in the North American Division that will help to accelerate the work. The specific aims and objectives of this meeting were:
1. To clarify the mission and purpose of the church. (See Statement of Mission for the North American Division, p. 21.)
2. To sharpen leadership and administrative skills.
3. To develop a greater sense of unity of action.
4. To develop plans and strategies for church growth.
5. To launch a concerted program of faith, action, and advance.
6. To develop a system of account ability, including methods and instruments of evaluation.
7. To ensure involvement of the whole people of God in the total mission of the church.
1. To adopt an annual accession rate goal of 6.25 percent.
2. To reduce the loss rate from 3.6 percent to 2.75 percent.
3. To adopt a growth rate goal of 3.5 percent (net growth of 19,826 per annum).
4. To set a goal for a tithe increase of 9 percent.
5. That the strategy for faith, action, and advance involve:
a. Making a deep personal and corporate commitment to Christ and to His mission, based upon a Biblical understanding of the church as the foundation for the growth of the church and its outreach ministries.
b. Focusing upon the local congregation as the primary center of action for church growth, nurture, outreach, planning, and the various ministries of the church.
c. Encouraging the understanding, discovery, development, and exercise of spiritual gifts by the believers.
d. Assisting in building up and expanding the churches by con ducting research; identifying and emphasizing the most effective methods of church growth and outreach; providing resources of finance, personnel, and materials; training leaders and members; and coordinating all levels of church organization.
e. Evaluating the performance of the division and union conferences.
6. To adopt a statement of mission.
7. To adopt plans for implementation.
Reclaiming lost members
The Advisory Committee expressed deep concern over the large number of apostasies taking place. The following were among the suggestions made to help keep our members in the church:
1. Pastoral visitation, with instruction on how to do it.
2. More enthusiastic, Christ-centered doctrinal preaching on Sabbaths.
3. Membership involvement in witnessing.
4. Follow-up of baptisms with a second series of studies—pastor's Bible class, personal Bible studies, doctrinal messages on Sabbath morning.
5. More adequate introduction of new converts to the total church program and organization—offerings, journals, campaigns.
6. Buddy system.
7. Introduction of new members into inner fellowship of members.
8. Keeping of attendance count for Sabbath services.
9. Involvement of elders and other church leaders in visitation and Bible studies.
10. Undershepherd plan.
11. Proper preparation for baptism.
VOTED: To recommend that every pas tor be required to be involved in meaningful pastoral visitation at least two afternoons and evenings each week.
The Spirit of Prophecy instructs that more and more attention is to be given to the public proclamation of the gospel. In this work every ordained minister ought to be involved in one capacity or an other. Today, however, the complexity of a growing church organization tends to divert the minister from this divine task. Therefore, it was RECOMMENDED, "That every ministerial worker, whether administrator, departmental leader, or pastor, conduct or be actively involved in at least one public evangelistic series each year."
The Spirit of Prophecy
The place of spiritual gifts, and particularly the gift of prophecy, as a fundamental belief of the church was dis cussed. It was emphasized that new believers be thoroughly instructed regarding the role of the prophetic gift in the remnant church. While belief in the prophetic gift is not a "test of fellow ship" for disfellowshiping purposes, yet it is one of the points of our faith, and candidates should be willing to express their acceptance of this gift if they desire membership in the church.
Teaching in soul winning
Concern was expressed that although witnessing is expected to be the life style of SDA's there is a lack of courses on soul winning for students in our educational institutions. Therefore, it was VOTED, "To recommend that a required course in personal soul winning be included in every curriculum for all students in our colleges and universities." This recommendation will be considered by the Ministerial Training Advisory at its meeting next spring.
Quarterly bulletin for Ministerial secretaries
As the different union conference Ministerial secretaries reported on pro grams being carried on in their respective fields, the desire was expressed for more opportunities for sharing ideas among the Ministerial secretaries. It was, therefore, Voted, "To publish a quarterly bulletin for Ministerial secretaries, through which all Ministerial secretaries can share ideas from their local fields." Workers in the local fields are encouraged to keep their Ministerial secretaries informed of ideas they find useful and could thus be shared.
Other items that took the attention of the Advisory Council included plans for an Evangelistic Supply Center to be operated at the Review and Herald Publishing Association; the preparation of candidates for baptism; field schools of evangelism; the Aspire Tape-of-the- Month Club; and an evaluation document on church growth.
In connection with the Aspire Tape-of-the-Month ministry it was noted that Mrs. Kitty Hardy was finding it necessary, after seven years of voluntary service, to lay down her work because of increased duties in other areas. She and her husband, Dr. Cyril Hardy, devoted their entire recreation room to the Tape of the Month. Here Mrs. Hardy has handled all orders, cared for the correspondence, and looked after many of the details of the program. This voluntary service has meant considerable saving to tape subscribers. (An adjustment upward in cost may now be necessary.) The Advisory Council voted an expression of appreciation to the Hardys for their years of volunteer labor. We take this opportunity to pass on additional words of appreciation in behalf of all our workers in the field who have benefited from their self-sacrificing service.
Statement of Mission for the North American Division
The North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists is a sisterhood of union (area) conferences composed of local conferences, which are in turn composed of churches that are all a part of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. It conceives of its mission as reaching every person in every part of its territory (Canada, U.S.A., and Bermuda) with the object of making disciples, baptizing them, teaching them, and making ready a people for the soon coming of Christ.
The NAD envisions the church as a fellowship of believers dedicated to Jesus Christ as Lord, Saviour, High Priest, and Judge, and committed to each other as members of the family of God, the body of Christ, which is His church. It perceives the mission of the church as the continuation of the mission of Jesus Christ and the participation in His ministry from the heavenly sanctuary. This mission consists of:
1. Proclaiming the gospel in the con text of the three angels' messages so as to result in the evangelization of every community and every cultural group within its territory.
2. Serving the people in its communities in the name of Christ so as to restore their wholeness and minister to their total needs.
3. Developing Christian community and fellowship in the churches by spiritually nurturing and equipping the believers for witnessing and service.
This commission includes the ministry of every believer.
To assist the congregations within its territory in fulfilling their mission, the NAD is committed to serving those churches through the union and local conferences in these ways:
1. By providing leadership and re source personnel.
2. By developing resource materials and providing programs in response to the needs of the congregations.
3. By supporting and/or operating the necessary institutions, facilities, and services to enable the believers to perform their ministries.
4. By providing training for leaders and members through the designated organizational channels.
5. By facilitating communication and interaction among the organizational units it serves.
6. By upholding and advancing the mission and objectives of the world Seventh-day Adventist Church.
By these means the NAD is committed to sharing the life of Christ so that the people in the territory we serve may know that the kingdom of God is among them and may prepare for the soon coming of Jesus Christ.