Name: Ardis Stenbakken
City, State: Loveland, Colorado
What is the basic purpose of our conferences and Unions? I assume it was/is to support the local churches, but for the most part I don't see that happening. I will speak of the ministry about which I know the most:: women's ministries. I believe it is a powerful ministry for evangelism and outreach, but at the local church it is often entirely absent. I think part of the reason is that it is often absent at the conference and union levels or staffed by a volunteer who has little or no stipend or budget. Materials are sent from the General Conference and Division that can support the local churches and it sits in the union or conference office and the local church never sees or hears of it. Why? Because at those levels they either have no interest or no finances. So what do we do?
At this time in our electronic world we could have resources go directly to the churches and eliminate the middle men (and it usually is men). With that money we could have resource people who go directly to the churches and help them become aware of possibilities and resources. There might need to be some people available for conducting special programs: commissionings/ordinations, constituency meetings and pastoral searches and such, and maybe a few to forward and keep track of the monies, but more money and resources could be spent on developing and resourcing the local church. A lot of money is being spent on new conference and union offices when much of the money could be used for helping local schools, church plantings, and support. With electronic conferencing, Skype, instant messaging, and such, most meetings could be held from any distance. I would suggest that there be fewer union and fewer conferences or eliminate the conferences entirely and have a few more unions (NAD may need more unions to keep representation in the world church body--GC Executive, GC Sessions, etc. But we don't need the number we have now for the number of conferences there are. If the union were to cover the territory it would probably be more economical if funds were allocated to resourcing the local church.