Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reviewing Five Years of Progress

A report presented by the North American Division President Don Schneider on Saturday, June 26, 2010

Adventist Review
Bulletin 2
June 27, 2010


Ironically, a church that was founded in North America because of a “Great Disappointment” has grown exponentially. Only the blessing and direction of God could explain the success of the Seventh-day Adventist movement worldwide.

It’s not surprising that Don Schneider begins his report with these words about the world church because under his leadership, NAD has become just a corporation that employs Adventists. The leadership is hiding that fact behind a smokescreen of ineffective evangelism.

For decades the church in North America has grown steadily. The North American Division (NAD) closed the decade with a major effort to “share the hope” of Jesus by setting a goal of a 10 percent membership increase [during 2009].

What is important to notice in this second introductory paragraph is that Schneider talks about a “goal”. The 10 percent increase in membership didn’t happen in 2009 despite reported General Conference injections of millions of dollars of “extraordinary tithe”, huge evangelistic campaigns supported by local and divisional media, and local pastors and parishioners that were “challenged” to hold two local evangelistic efforts.


In 2006 there were 1,012,238 members and 5,080 churches.
In 2007 there were 1,030,361 members and 5,118 churches
In 2008 there were 1,050,210 members and 5,172 churches
In 2009 there were 1,069,898 members and 5,196 churches
Currently there are 1,090,217 members and 5,243 churches

According to Schneider, 194,486 people were baptized or joined by profession of faith in the last 5 years. He neglects to mention that the increase in membership was only 84,979. (It is assumed that this number includes the Adventist immigrants who joined the church.)

Why has there been such anemic growth in membership when

9 Conferences

12 Division Ministries

39 Division Ministries and Services

NAD Evangelism Institute

Division Wide Evangelistic Campaigns
  • Share the Hope - the “largest, boldest divisionwide soul-winning initiative in the NAD’s history” according to Schneider
  • NET Events - making it possible for congregations with limited budgets to host quality public meetings.
Information technology services behind a strong suite of Web programs including
  • The Adventist Channel - the first 24-7 inspirational global broadband digital network

Why has there been such anemic growth in membership when

15 colleges and universities, in addition to 2 closely aligned colleges

Over 1000 elementary and secondary schools

Adventist Health System: 37 hospitals, 50,000 employees

28 Adventist Radio Broadcast Association Stations (ARBA)

Major television evangelistic programming
  • The Hope Channel
  • It Is Written
  • Amazing Facts
  • Faith for Today
  • “Discoveries ’08”
  • La Reds
  • The North American Division Hispanic NET


First and foremost, the NAD audience isn’t buying what NAD is selling.

The Church’s pick-and-choose literal interpretation of the Bible, that includes the notion that earth was created about 6 thousand years ago in six literal 24 hour days, and that Noah's flood was a factual account of a universal event that destroyed all but eight humans and every animal not on board a wooden boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.

The idea that Adventists are God’s REMNANT PEOPLE who alone, correctly understand the Gospel message

The Church’s misogynistic tendencies and homophobia

The hypocrisy of “strict” Sabbath observance that forbids anything that “Adventists in good standing” define as “work” or “pleasure”

Food, drink, and dress requirements

Second, NAD’s leadership is insensitive to the emotional and intellectual needs of its members.

Members are made to feel irresponsible when they make organizational suggestions and raise theological issues.

Young people are not valued for their ideas or as leaders.

Orthodoxy is regarded as religious, and dialogue, dangerous.

The beasts of Daniel and Revelation and end-of-the-world scenarios that picture God as cruel and judgmental make thoughtful potential members cringe.

The editorial policies of the Adventist Review, NAD’S “flagship journal”, make it a boring read, as evidence by its anemic circulation. There is a steady diet of party-line editorials, kosher theology, heartfelt devotional pieces, and snippets of Adventist history that even when well written, become predictable and irrelevant for most readers. Instead of a vibrant, intellectually challenging educational publication that stimulates personal participation in the life of the Division, it puts the intellect to sleep, along with the desire to evangelize.


The cure is obvious, particularly when the General Conference exposes NAD to the evangelistic tactics that are working so brilliantly in the other divisions of the church. Namely, living the Gospel of Mathew 25:31-36.

Open the doors of Adventist churches in the North American Division to the hungry for acceptance, the thirsty for kindness, the stranger to love, the naked to the clothes of compassion, the sick to the healing of the spirit, and the prisoner to the arms of a family.

Or, speaking plainly, reduce the bureaucracy, end the evangelistic campaigns, and do what we as Adventists can do superbly. Establish free medical clinics, shelters, and food banks where they are needed. Open charter schools in the inner cities. Preach kindness and compassion and love. Only when those we serve ask us who we are, should we mention that we are Seventh-day Adventists.

In addition, it wouldn’t hurt for Adventist officials to march in Earth Day parades and anti-war demonstrations, and get politically active as champions of the poor and dispossessed. It would be righteous if the Adventist Review was a magazine where science and religion were respected partners in the healing of the nations and in the unfettered search for TRUTH, i.e., the way things really are.

1 comment:

Renee Hernandez said...

I appreciate the candor of your article. While I don't agree with every statement I do with the majority. I have literally been thrown out of a Adventist church simply because I took the risk of standing up & asking for prayer,compassion, & help from the church to work out a situation. But it seems the "church" is so regimented in their programmed Sabbaths that anyone trying to address concerns is dismissed as a disruption.
I am totally over the sit in the pews & be entertained Sabbaths. I for one believe in a participatory worship where God blesses by bestowing his gifts for the edifying & building up of the church that is the body of believers. All people,women, men, younger people, are in that body & God may choose to give any person a heartfelt message. I have long be tired of the "big men" running the institutional church & not having a system that resembles the Acts 2 community. One that I see as revealing the love of God & others by the way they lived & shared their lives,hearts & resources. God is love & we are to be His love revealed