In 2007, Ministry began focusing its October issues on the resources, strengths, opportunities, and challenges of various geographic regions of the Adventist Church. Five years later, we now take a look at the sixth and final territory, North America—a vast area with 346,670,000 residents and 1,135,000 Adventists.*
While recognizing that there is no monolithic culture that defines North America, I do still understand the mind-sets that govern those who live in the United States and Canada more than those from other parts of the world. I admit I knew very little about other parts of the world as recently as seven years ago. However, since 2006, I have interacted with many pastors and ministers from various parts of the world; and they all have educated me and enriched my life in more ways than I could ever explain.
In many ways, we differ in our worldviews and how we process life. But I have discovered one very important thing: the more we differ, the more we are exactly alike! I speak both personally and as a North American, a Christian, and a minister of the gospel.
Distinct, yet similar
In this issue, the writers are North American in their background and understanding; yet what they write applies to the worldwide Ministry readership audience. Many of the challenges pastors face in Ukraine or India mirror those that ministers also face in Canada or the United States.
We also practice our faith in different ways while upholding biblical principles. For example, on a recent visit to Thailand, I noticed countless pairs of shoes outside the entrance to the church where pastors were holding a workers’ meeting. Those church leaders would never think to wear their shoes into the sanctuary. I have never thought to remove my shoes in my North American context; but deep within our hearts, we all strive for the same effect—to show reverence when we enter into the presence of God. I have come to learn that pastors, whether North American or from elsewhere, possess a deep love in their hearts for God, His church, and the people they serve.
Even within North America, there is great diversity—differences amid similarities. I have preached in churches that have long worship services, and in others they have been short; some whose members enjoy more contemporary music, and others whose members prefer traditional hymns. Regardless of the length of the service or style of worship, the heartfelt aim of the worshipers remains to uplift the holiness and goodness of God. In this issue, you will enjoy our interview with the president of the Adventist Church in North America, Daniel Jackson, who discusses the matter of unity that does not morph into uniformity within North America.
Also in this issue, Dan Day indicates that a strong desire exists within the hearts of many to participate and be affirmed in ministry and service. Whether evangelistic success comes as the result of small group efforts in territories such as
South America or due to large-scale evangelistic meetings such as in parts of Africa, we must all work together to advance the kingdom of Christ through the Holy Spirit.
In various parts of the world, some pastors can have more than 30 congregations. In North America, that number can range, as a rule, from one to five. Yet the challenges of multichurch district (MCD) ministry are the same regardless of where one labors. You can also read Tom Glatts’s article as he accentuates the advantages of MCD service.
As always, the Ministry editorial staff prays you will be blessed, edified, and enriched as a result of reading this month’s issue.