V oting by kneeling in prayer, over 300 delegates to the 2010 Annual Council of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Executive Committee approved "an urgent call for revival, reformation, discipleship and evangelism" during the Monday morning meeting.
The vote followed an hour-long worship and prayer session -- featuring a devotional by Pastor Dwight Nelson of Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan -- in which Adventists were challenged to pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit in "latter rain" power to finish the mission of evangelism given to the movement.
"The Lord wants to finish this work," Ted N.C. Wilson, Adventist Church president, said during the meeting. "He wants to pour out the Holy Spirit in limitless measure."
According to the voted document, "God's Promised Gift," Adventists have a unique, if unfulfilled, challenge: "The Church's growth rate is simply not keeping pace with the world's burgeoning population. An honest evaluation of our current evangelistic impact on the world leads to the conclusion that unless there is a dramatic change we will not complete Heaven's assignment in this generation. In spite of our best efforts, all our plans, strategies, and resources are incapable of finishing God's mission for His glory on earth."
The document adds, "There is nothing more important than knowing Jesus and seeking His promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in latter-rain power for the fulfilling of the gospel commission."
Revival and reformation each have their role to play, the document states. Quoting Ellen G. White, a pioneering co-founder of the movement, as she wrote in The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald on February 25, 1902, the paper notes, "Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit."
Accordingly, the document urges seven different commitments from church leaders and members:
1. To personally place priority on seeking God for spiritual revival and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in latter-rain power in our own lives, our families, and our ministries.
2. To individually set aside significant amounts of time daily to fellowship with Christ through prayer and the study of God's Word.
3. To examine our own hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to convict us of anything that may keep us from revealing the character of Jesus. We desire willing hearts so that nothing in our lives hinders the fullness of the Holy Spirit's power.
4. To encourage the ministries of the Church to spend time praying, studying God's Word, and seeking God's heart to understand His plans for His Church.
5. To encourage each of our church organizations to set aside time for administrators, pastors, health-care workers, publishing house workers, educators, students, and all employees to seek Jesus and the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit together through a study of God's Word and prayer.
6. To use every available media outlet, conference, and workshop to appeal to church members to seek a deeper relationship with Jesus for the promised revival and reformation.
7. To urgently appeal to and invite our entire church membership to join us in opening our hearts to the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit, which will transform our lives, our families, our organizations and our communities.
The document includes this statement: "We appeal to each church member to unite with church leaders and millions of other Seventh-day Adventists seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at 7:00 each morning or evening, seven days a week. This is an urgent call to circle the globe with earnest intercession. This is a call to total commitment to Jesus and to experience the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit that our Lord is longing to give now."
Wilson added, "Our heart's desire is that we see the church revive. It is a message for each of us."
Patrick Mulindwa, an administrator in the Eastern Uganda Field, told delegates, "I thank God for this wonderful initiative. This is the right time for this to come."
Added Heather-Dawn Small, Women's Ministries director for the Adventist world church, "When I look at this document, I see it as a document of freedom. We each can be revived and reformed" to share the gospel, regardless of gender.
Peter Landless, associate Health Ministries director, called it a "timely and needed document," adding, "I hope we can see the wisdom and light in including a phrase that says this is not a new initiative, but a continuation of the direction of the church."
Herbert Brugger, president of the church in Austria, noted his nation is "a secular society, and a secular church, and we sometimes seek excuses for why we don't make any impact in society. I ask you to pray for the church in Austria." Wilson responded saying revival would be concentrated in countries such as Austria where outreach is difficult in a secular environment.
Paul Brantley, an Adventist Church field secretary, noted that "certainly revival is a strong word, but it doesn't end there. It continues with evangelism and discipleship." He asked that "practical, concrete" ways members can "demonstrate the fruits of revival" be added to the document.
The final document is expected to contain several adjustments to its language, but the unvarnished call for revival and reformation will remain prominent.
--additional reporting by Elizabeth Lechleitner
Click here to see the document on revival and eformation