Members listening as Juan R. Prestol-Puesan, Treasurer, General Conference (GC), delivers his Treasurer’s Report during the Annual Council 2019 in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States of America. [Photo Credit: Brent Hardinge / GC Communication]

General Conference

Strategic Plan Calls for Transparency

It’s imperative that the Church practices accountability in a way that maintains the highest credibility.

Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Beth Thomas, ANN

All organizations operate best when there is transparency—not only between entities within the organization, but with stakeholders, too. While God is the head of the church, members, denominational establishments, and supporting institutions are held together through mutual surrender to Him and a bond of trust and good will toward each other. 

In order to successfully complete the mission God has given us, it’s imperative that the Church practices accountability in a way that maintains the highest credibility. The Church already relies on regular independent audits of its financial records and practices, but there are other areas of ethical responsibility in which the Church has identified the need to grow.

In harmony with this goal, Objective 10 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s strategic plan is “to enhance the transparency, accountability, and credibility of denominational organization, operations, and mission initiatives.” Key progress indicators (KPIs) fall into three categories: membership records, church leaders, and implementing the I Will Go strategic plan. 

It is vital that the Church keep precise membership records, including accurate representation of members who have passed away or no longer desire to be in fellowship. Membership statistics in a given area provides data to plan for resource allocation and decide boundaries for church territories, such as local conferences, fields, missions, and unions. 

To keep everything uniform across the global field, KPI 10.1 provides for the “widespread adoption of approved membership software to enhance accuracy and accountability of records of local church membership.” With all denominational entities working together toward this goal, we will be better able to assess our progress across the diverse fields of the world.

A second aspect of Objective 10 relates to church workers. As the ministry advances and individuals around the world are called to various positions, it is necessary that they are adequately trained to take up their duties with competency and integrity. To aid in this process, I Will Go suggests an “orientation process for officers and executive committee members of all units of denominational structure that is developed and widely implemented (10.2).” While there is some room for different fields to implement this according to their particular needs and/or cultural considerations, the core competencies of their responsibilities should not be overlooked. 

It’s also essential that local church leaders and pastors show evidence of their commitment to the position that God has called them, and “demonstrate the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior in interpersonal relations and finances (10.3).” This includes moral purity, dignity, and courteous respect in human relationships, as well as ethical management of their own personal finances. Someone with these principles can be trusted to manage God’s resources, returned to the church by faithful members.

The final goal for Objective 10 relates to the I Will Go strategic plan. Divisions should be prepared to give an annual report on how they have achieved progress in the KPIs outlined in the plan. This will be facilitated by an online standardized form as well as regular reports at each Annual Council (10.4).

In addition to this, every five years, General Conference departments, institutions, and agencies will report to Annual Council on what they have contributed to achieving the goals laid out in this plan.

Our church is incredibly diverse. By God’s grace, the gospel is going to “every nation kindred tongue and people” (Revelation 14:6) through a number of different denominational outlets and by the faithful efforts of members like you and me, working together towards a common goal.

The intention behind Objective 10 of the I Will Go strategic plan is to bring administrative consistency to the beautiful diversity of our global movement, and more closely unite us in clear expectations and data-based assessments as we seek to be faithful to the Master.