At Leadership Council they discuss how to move forward in times of a pandemic.
Published on: 03-29-2021
Should the Seventh-day Adventist Church buy a satellite to ensure that it can proclaim the gospel in the last days? Are Zoom video-conferencing calls the future of mission amid the COVID-19 pandemic? Should Adventists be more intentional about uploading videos to YouTube, knowing that their voices can be heard around the world while they are sleeping at night and even after they die?
Those were among the issues raised by world church leaders at a two-day leadership conference focusing on how to implement the church’s I Will Go strategic plan amid the pandemic. The First World Church Leadership Council, which met on Zoom February 9-10, 2021, concluded that innovation and creativity, with the Holy Spirit’s power, are essential to fulfill the church’s mission of preparing people for Jesus’ return.
“We are facing unbelievable challenges for the future,” Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, told the gathering of about 70 leaders representing the General Conference, world divisions, educational institutions, and other church organizations. “This is an opportunity to be creative and allow the Holy Spirit to provide that creativity.”
While reaffirming the church’s commitment to proclaiming the three angels’ messages that Jesus is coming soon, Wilson said new methods are needed to convey it. “The message has not changed, but the methods have changed,” he said.
ZOOM GOES BIG
Conference speakers spoke about new opportunities for reaching children, young people, and adults that have emerged in a world drastically altered by the pandemic. One of the new opportunities was on full display at the conference: Zoom.
“With COVID, look at what has happened with Zoom,” Geoffrey Mbwana, a general vice president for the world church, said as he gave a presentation over Zoom about the vital role of the Holy Spirit in spreading the gospel. “We used to travel a lot. We have been made aware that there is a lot that we can accomplish through Zoom as well.”
Artur Stele, another general vice president, expressed amazement at the number of people who are able to attend Bible conferences through Zoom. While several hundred people might have traveled to a Bible conference before the pandemic, online attendance at recent gatherings in the Euro-Asia Division and the Southern Asia-Pacific Division numbered in the thousands. “This never would have happened in person,” he said.
GETTING CREATIVE ONLINE
Stele, who gave a presentation about using the Internet and social media to implement the I Will Go plan, suggested that online gospel outreach has a biblical foundation even though the word “Internet” never appears in Scripture. He noted that the Bible portrays Christ through many genres, including prophecy, poetry, and wisdom literature. David, he added, wrote psalms in which each line began with a subsequent letter of the Hebrew alphabet. “These give us a hint that we need to be creative in presenting our message,” he said.
Cautioning about online limitations, he said the Internet might be a better place to proclaim the gospel than to nurture people. But, in an example of its enormous potential, he said a church member halfway around the world had recently thanked him for an online sermon that had proved a blessing during a time of deep discouragement. Stele marveled that he had been sound asleep when the church member had watched the video. “When we are sleeping, we are still working. When we die, we will still be working,” he said.