In our previous post we talked about the way the Seventh-day Adventist Church is organized around the world. Today I invite you to think on some of the values of this structure, how it helps in carrying out our mission, and how you can contribute to it.
Facing Global Challenges
The first value of an efficient organizational structure is the church’s ability to address global challenges. Despite all efforts in the past, the mission of the Adventist church is far from finished. We know there are millions of people who have never heard the name of Christ.
Hundreds of people groups are still completely untouched by the Christian message. Hundreds more have not yet been entered with the Adventist message of Christ’s soon return. This challenge demands the mobilization of resources that go far beyond local capacities alone.
Strategizing for World Evangelization
In 1990 the Adventist church created a “think tank” to develop and implement the church’s efforts to evangelize the thousands of unreached people groups. This initiative, called Global Mission, has resulted in the mobilization of thousands of Global Mission Pioneers penetrating many new areas and planting thousands of new churches.
In addition, this new vision has influenced churches and organizations at the local levels to take the challenge of unreached population groups in the world seriously and find ways to reach out to them.
Coordinating the Worldwide Enterprise
The General Conference Secretariat is responsible for coordinating the global missionary flow of the church. The members of the Secretariat all have specific responsibilities for calling and sending missionaries and volunteers to specific areas of the world.
While the number of career missionaries has not increased during the last few years, the number of short-term missionaries and volunteers has exploded, leading to the establishment of the Adventist Volunteer Center (AVC) at the GC Secretariat, which seeks to encourage the further development of opportunities for involvement, for cross-cultural training, and for local church initiatives for worldwide mission.
At the beginning of this new century the church is again establishing voluntary mission service, so common in the pioneer days of the Adventist church, as the defining characteristic of the Seventh-day Adventist lifestyle.
The diverse structure of the church has the potential to be a great asset in making this vision a reality again by opening up many opportunities for service and bringing mission back to the local church.
Training for Mission (Institute of World Mission)
For more than forty years the church has prepared missionary families for cross-cultural service through pre-departure Mission Institutes.
These institutes teach future missionaries not only how to live in another culture, but also how to be effective missionaries. They have proven to be a great help to missionaries.
This training is a requirement for all regular General Conference missionary appointees. Through online mission preparation classes, and training seminars and retreats, the Institute also helps to train volunteers as well as missionaries serving with supporting ministries.
How You Can Contribute
You understand now how the church is organized to support the worldwide missionary enterprise. You have also seen how all this can help you in your involvement in mission. But the most important question is: How can you contribute to the fulfillment of the mission of the Adventist church?
Remember that mission does not start with an airplane ticket to an exotic place, but in the heart of a believer. To be a missionary means to recognize we are Christ’s representatives called to witness of His goodness. So, you can become involved in mission right now.
There are also specific things you can do to contribute while “at home.” At the very least, you can get informed about the missionary needs in the world.
Start bringing missions back into the program of your local church. Is the mission report interesting? When was the last time the different departments of the church adopted a mission project? Why not adopt a people group?
You may even do that yourself as a personal project. Collect information about unreached people groups, then select one you will start praying and becoming an advocate for.
In the Field
As missionaries, you will be a part of some aspect of our church organization. It is most important that you go with a positive attitude toward those you are working with.
Remember that if you desire to bring about change or make a contribution to the organization you work with, you need to communicate thoroughly. Always work in close harmony with the chairperson of your board or committee.
You will discover in various cultures and church settings outside the homeland that there are many different styles of leadership and various approaches which differ from the ones to which you are accustomed. In many ways the success of your work has much to do with attitudes and relationships.
The church is excited about your interest in serving as a missionary. It needs your support and involvement. As a member of the global church family, you will hopefully find your niche where your gifts and interests can make a difference.
What do you think are the strengths of an efficient global church structure for mission? What kind of ministry would you like to serve in?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.