Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Mark A. Kellner, Adventist Review/ANN

Delegates to the 2009 Annual Council of the Seventh-day Adventist world church voted unanimously October 11 to move forward a continuance of the current "Tell the World" evangelistic strategy for the next quinquennium. The plan will come before delegates to the 59th General Conference Session of the Adventist world church due for Atlanta, Georgia, beginning in June 2010.

The plan, said Jan Paulsen, Adventist Church president, underscores "our untiring, relentless commitment to engage in mission."

The move comes against a backdrop of continued growth in church membership, congregations and the ratio of Adventists to the general world population. By 2010, it's anticipated that 17 million people will be baptized members of the Adventist Church, a document prepared by the Office of Adventist Mission stated. That's more than 14 times the 1.2 million Adventists on church rolls in 1960. It's projected that more than 64,000 Adventist congregations will meet weekly by 2010, a roughly three-fold increase from 1980's 21,555 congregations. Also projected for 2010: 1 person out of every 405 on Earth will be an Adventist, up from 1 in 1,268 just 30 years earlier.

However, those projections belie some growing issues, said Michael Ryan, a general vice president of the world church. Inside the 10/40 window -- a geographical rectangle extending from West Africa, through the Middle East and into Asia, where more than 60 percent of the world's population live, and where most have not yet been reached with the Gospel message -- the ratio more than quadruples to 1 in 1,736. In the world's 22 largest cities, it's more than double: there's only one Seventh-day Adventist for every 953 people.

The document stresses steps Adventists can take to enhance progress in completing the mission.

Among those steps in "Reaching Up" in worship to God, is calling Adventists to "increase Bible study, prayer and reading [of] the Spirit of Prophecy [writings]" as well as "return a faithful tithe, and support local and mission offerings, be involved in the witness of the church, [and] use denominationally produced Bible-study materials."

To "Reach Out," members should "become involved in the mission of the church [and in] community projects," as well as "increase the number of non-Seventh-day Adventists attending church each week." To "Reach Across," the church is called to "improve retention of members, nurture members" and "increase the percentage of young people involved in the work of the church," as well as the percentage of young people who are "retained within the church."

Summarizing the goals, Mark Finley, an Adventist evangelist and general vice president of the world church, noted the plan's pictorial history of Adventism and asked the audience, "What pictures will be written in 2015? Managers manage what is; leaders dream of what could be. Managers are concerned with the problems of the present; leaders are concerned with the opportunities and possibilities of the future. The future never just happens; it's created in the minds of men and women who believe that God has given them a vision for the last generation."

The final document will include reference to the church's Literature Evangelists, who, said Robert Smith, president of the Review and Herald Publishing Association, make a significant contribution to the church's outreach efforts globally.