Businesses know that in order to grow, they need to invest in their company—either by adding locations, expanding into fresh markets that haven’t been touched with their product before, hiring new employees, or focusing on their customer base and acquisition rate.
Companies hire professionals to help them identify areas of growth, then they set goals based on where they really want their company to be in five to 10 years. They develop a strategic plan for achieving those objectives, including “deadlines, teams or persons responsible, and resources for attaining that growth goal”[i]and distribute it to their team members and stakeholders so everyone is working toward the same purpose.
How does that translate to the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Every five years, World Church leaders examine data supplied by member surveys and other key performance indicators, to see how the mission of the Church is moving forward. They develop a plan using that information to help all teammates and stakeholders understand missional goals and become more focused and effective in their work. The strategic planning committee says, regarding the objectives and key performance indicators, that “these were created to give us tangible goals and action plans for sharing the gospel with the world, so that we can mobilize our resources to more effectively reach the unreached.”[ii]
One part of growth is sharing resources. The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s operating structure is built in such a way that territories where the Church is thriving can financially support areas where the work is just being established. Your local church is one of the few places where you can return God’s tithes and offerings and know that they will not only support local ministry but will also be distributed to critical projects, ministries, and faithful church workers in your home country and around the world.
Objective 9 of the Church’s strategic plan is “to align world church resources with strategic objectives.” Seven administratively focused key progress indicators (KPIs) will help Church leadership determine progress in this area.
Very simply, this objective asks that “Every organization systematically reviews and aligns resources in light of the worldwide mission priorities.” (KPI 9.1) This means that instead of heavily investing in their own interests, denominational entities will apply the principle of the “mind of Christ” that Paul describes in Philippians 2:4, looking out “not only for [their] own interests, but also for the interests of others.” The practical outcome of this philosophy is that budgets will be used to increase international service personnel in needy areas, global mission pioneers in the 10/40 window, workers in urban areas, and also among unreached people groups (KPI 9.3).
To effectively reach this goal, it will require involvement from the Treasury Department at the General Conference (GC) World Headquarters as well as the GC departments that support the divisions of the World Church. GC departments are asked to “increase the availability of their time and resources” to support the work taking place in the above-mentioned areas: the 10/40 window, major cities and among unreached people groups.
As departments engage in this strategic support, the GC Treasury will “report on departmental use of time and resources” at key meetings and boards (KPI 9.2). Additionally, a team within GC Treasury that reviews the way monetary assets are released to the various fields of the World Church will “recommend to Annual Council ways to allocate more appropriations” to the fields already referenced (KPI 9.4).
A critical part of aligning resources with strategic objectives is to strengthen the mission of God’s Church by encouraging the faithfulness of every member. Each one of us is called to be a faithful stewards of our time, talents, and finances as we serve the Master. If every professing member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church took God’s command toward financial faithfulness in returning His tithe and freewill offerings seriously, the Church would have significantly more resources to invest in mission.
To foster renewed vision for faithful stewardship, GC Stewardship Ministries, working with their counterparts on the division level, will develop and implement a well-defined strategy for achieving increases in tithe and offerings in each organizational unit of church structure (KPI 9.6). Additionally, each division is being asked to have a Stewardship Ministries director who “has no other responsibilities in his/her portfolio” except to focus on this necessary work (KPI 9.7).
There is no question that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is positioned to touch the world with the message of the everlasting gospel. As God opens new opportunities for advancing His work in unreached parts of the world, it is the Church’s responsibility to strive for faithfulness. Every member is called by God to take part in this crucial work. Will you allow Him to use you to bless the unreached through your faithful stewardship?