A t Annual Council last fall, the Executive Committee of the Seventh-day Adventist Church approved the strategic plan for the next quinquennium. The initiative, “Reach the World: I Will Go” is rooted in the Great Commission, “which calls Jesus’ followers to go and make disciples of all nations. The details of the plan reflect data collected from Adventist members through several research studies. This information identifies areas that can help us, as Seventh-day Adventists, grow spiritually and become more effective in our mission to the world.” (https://iwillgo2020.org)
The strategic plan was to be officially launched at the General Conference (GC) Session in Indianapolis, Indiana, this summer. However, due to widespread uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak and safety concerns for delegate travel, GC Session has been postponed until May 2021. This has presented a challenge for formally unveiling the new five-year strategic plan, although divisions and other Church entities are already in the process of implementing the main objectives.
During Spring Meeting, the Executive Committee discussed how to publicly introduce the new strategic plan. Mike Ryan, former general vice-president for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, proposed that July 3 and 4, the dates originally planned for the first weekend of the GC Session, be used for official launch through various media platforms. His motion was strongly endorsed by the Executive Committee.
Gary Krause, director for the Office of Adventist Mission, shared that the inspirational weekend would include testimonies, music, mission stories, a special Sabbath School lesson taught by Mark Finley, and a Sabbath sermon by Adventist Church President, Ted N.C. Wilson .
Communication director for the Office of Adventist Mission, Rick Kajiura, explained how the worldwide Church can participate in the virtual launch. The event will be live-streamed, and they are considering a rolling start so that different time zones can join the program at convenient times. Details are in the initial stages and more particulars will be shared as they emerge.
To promote this event, the “I Will Go” strategic communication committee will produce a three minute spot communicating to the World Church what the initiative is. Jennifer Stymiest, assistant communication director for the Adventist Church, says they are also planning a series of Facebook live feeds, podcasts and YouTube videos to be released starting in April and leading up to the July event. The live events will clearly explain what the objectives are. They will also be releasing a regular stream of content through the various news platforms for the Adventist Church: ANN, Adventist Review, Adventist World, Hope Channel, AR TV, and other media outlets.
A shared visual identity is currently being designed that will provide an easily recognizable connection for every form of the “I Will Go” promotional materials. Mostly importantly, the Adventist Church is dedicated to ensuring that promotional material is translated and translatable. Local communication networks and Departmental Advisories are vital in helping this go forward.
The “Reach the World: I Will Go” initiative covers a broad spectrum of church life, but predominately focuses on the responsibility of individual and corporate mission. There are three main emphases: Mission, Spiritual Growth, and Leadership, and 10 objectives, with Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for each category. These can be found online at IWillGo2020.org. If Church entities look at these KPI’s, they can begin to adapt them to their evangelistic cycle.
Continuing on in the strategic plan discussion, David Trim, director of Archives, Statistics and Research for the Adventist Church, presented the strategic framework and plans for research throughout the next five years.
First, he said, “the reason for our strategic plan is to make certain that we remain focused on the really important matters. How do we know what the really important matters are? By the research that we do. (Our current initiative) “Reach the World” was based on research and it remains our overarching strategic plan. But, we are now transitioning to a new strategic focus.” Trim went on to say that the number of objectives have been reduced by nearly half of last quinquennium, and KPI’s by nearly one-third.
Trim said that the Adventist Church will be testing the progress on the KPI’s, whether they are successful or not, by research. Research indicates strengths and weaknesses in the system. Trim pointed to statistics from 2012-2018 as indicators of areas where growth needs to take place.
“We plan on carrying out a church member and pastoral survey beginning 2022-2023, hoping to reach every union,” Trim shared. “This isn’t something to be feared. I know at times we are a little wary of research, but these KPI’s can’t be empty rhetoric; they have be tested, because we want our Church to continue to be anchored in the Word of God and proclaiming the Word that is God. We want our people, and in particular, our young people, empowered by prayer and the Word of God, to say ‘yes’ to mission: to say “I Will Go.” The performance indicators will provide insight into how the Church is doing in accomplishing that goal.
As shared on the I Will Go website, this five-year plan “is more than a strategic plan. It’s a mission-focused tool based on real data and the Great Commission. Its value will be determined as the Church works together as a worldwide team of brothers and sisters, under the power of the Holy Spirit” (https://iwillgo2020.org).