Day 1 of the 2016 General Conference Annual Council Business Meetings as Reported by Kat Taylor
Before the 2016 General Conference Annual Council (GCAC) even began, there have been weeks of meetings in preparation for the arrival of delegates and invitees from around the world. The executive meetings, many closed door and private, have been a way for the leaders of the church at the executive and division levels to make changes to proposals that will be made during this year’s session. The other set of meetings were held not by church leaders, but by prayer worriers as they prayed throughout the building, stopping at all the conference rooms to pray for God’s blessings on the daily meetings and asking for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to be poured upon each and every person who worked there.
This call for God’s Spirit was echoed by Elder Wilson as he officially opened the business session on Sunday morning when he stressed the need for prayer throughout the meetings during GCAC, and calling for all to allow the sweet Spirit of God to remain.
Sitting in the morning meetings, there was an overwhelming urge to laugh as Sec. G. T. Ng, employing his trademark humor, shared statistical data from the office if Archives, Statistics & Research (ASTR) that can only been viewed as grim at best.
The grim fact is that while we can praise God that the Adventist church has seen a dramatic increase in baptisms, the fact is that we are not keeping them in the church. The “come in the front door and leave out the back door” mentality is more than just prevalent; it is occurring a staggering 49% of the time. Ng stated that out of the 18 million people that have been baptized into the church, 9 million are now apostate…they have left.
For all the programs and outreaches that are seen from many churches, if there are not people willing and able to take new members under their guidance, to mentor and encourage them, then this trend will not only continue but may well get worse. Our churches should not be about all the different programs and activities that they have, they should be about the people, the salvation of every soul!
Ng put it plainly when he said, “Is it possible that as a church we suffer from amnesia?” Have we forgotten where we came from and where God has for us to go? Have we forgotten those who were there for us when we first learned of Jesus?
There cannot be a value put on a human soul. As a church, we must go back to the basics, minister to “the least of these” Matthew 25:40 just as Jesus did and love as Jesus loved.
Just as the US government enacted the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, Ng suggests that our church must adopt a similar stance. If we desire to keep those who have come in the front door from going out the back, we must have strategic plans in place to nurture new members.
Even with the ability to laugh as the day started, there is no denying that there are things hanging over the meetings…the elephant is not only still in the room, but has grown, and has now been joined by a flying pig.