Church Governance

Thoughts on Church Governance

Name: LeRoy Washington

City, State: Kamuela, Hiawaii

In recent months a Hot Topic has resurfaced again in the North American Division (NAD): Regional Conferences. This is but a symptom of a larger, festering problem for the 21st Century.
The question is can we continue to manage a 21st Century church form a 19th and 20th Century modal with roots dating much further back to mid-evil times. We live in the present with historical knowledge; that knowledge giving us hope for the future, but how do we make it relevant for today? CHANGE IS INEVITABLE, WHILE GROWTH/PROGRESS IS OPTIONAL.
Our Church is being dragged into the 21st Century whether we like it or not. We do have choices and options. In 2015 we are at a crossroads, which can be progressive or regressive. What choices will we make? Will we attempt to enforce uniformity at the expense of unity in diversity allowing divisional autonomy? What is our goal, our end game?
Definitions are important. Unity and Uniformity have different meanings. Abusing their meanings or using them interchangeably clouds the understanding and when it is done intentionally becomes a form of deliberate manipulation. (Does that sound in anyway like current national politics?) Unity is a process which takes time and is achieved through leadership with power given and growing up through the masses. Uniformity on the other hand is usually coerced and demanded for control and conformity with power being top-down.
Sameness and conformity masquerading as unity, is uniformity without wholeness.

Ole-Edwin Utker on a Spectrum blog on November 11, 2013 stated it this way:
“The only possibility for a global church is unity-across-differences, not
unity-through-sameness. The command to "Go ye and teach all nations"
doesn't mean to make all nations and cultures fit one hegemonic frame.”

Our SDA Educational System has done its job and we have an educated membership who have abilities of learning, research, independent thinking, ability to read and interpret the bible as well as our trained clergy/theologians, and the membership does not easily conform to autocratic, dictatorial, and manipulative, attempts at leadership.
Therefore the hierarchical church structure of the 19th and 20th centuries needs to be revisited for this century if it is our desire to retain a committed membership and especially the children of the Baby Boom and Millennial generations who are better educated in general and are better at accessing information than generations preceding them. We (referring to the Adventist education system) have done our job. Now we have to adapt to it, accommodate, and willingly, surrender, as we pass on the torch, and trust as we together grow.