November 1 Business Session
Dan Jackson began his 10th presidential report by citing God’s promise in Romans 8:32:
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
“I have far more hope in 2019 than I had in 2010,” said Jackson in regards to the church growth in the NAD, despite the ups and downs over the last few years. While leaving the church is a path some have taken, the president stated his own position thus:
I am a lifer. By God’s grace, I have no intention of ever moving away from the message or the people who carry the message of the three angels…. Not because everybody likes me or I like everybody, but because it’s God’s church, it’s Gods movement, and I actually believe we ought to move away from the church idea and get more back into the idea of a movement.…The key foundation of this church always has been, always will be Jesus Christ. Always
Growth in Churches
Speaking about the trends in our work, Jackson appreciated the concept of “multiplication” as 2020 outreach motto and emphasized that each person is called by God to use their gifts in some form of ministry.
God has called you and me in our local congregations, in our homes, in our workplaces and classrooms. He’s called us to be His witnesses… Expansion and growth must always be before us [and] failure to view the expansive view of the church is just failure. …The church that does not do outreach is not a church, it’s a club,
The president indicated that a few years ago the division planned to have 1000 new congregations within five years and that 750 new congregations have already been planted in the last three and a half years. Yet that is not enough, suggested Jackson,
I hope and pray that the years of counting numbers and patting ourselves on the back are gone. Because I don’t think any of us ought to be able to count the number of where we need to be and where we need to go.
He also highlighted the role of strategic planning, illustrating its importance with the expression “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”
Concerning the trends in education and grieving the loss of ±16,000 students over the last few years (250 schools closed, including a university), Jackson stated:
I believe the Seventh-day Adventist church has made a mistake, and that is that we have not included in our Fundamental Beliefs a Fundamental Belief called ‘Christian Education.’ It is a part of who we are genetically and spiritually. You cannot separate education from the work of the church. The best evangelists in the SDA church are teachers…. We baptize far more people out of our schools than we do out of our evangelistic meetings.
Inviting the audience to plead with God for our institutions and not assume the future of education is secure, Jackson implied that we are at a time in the history of our church where failure to consider different ways of doing things will cost us more institutions and organizations.
Education must be maintained as a priority in our church…. Kill the education program, kill the church.
Youth and Young Adult Involvement
Next, Jackson emphasized the division leadership’s commitment to involve youth and young adults.
We need them. We want them. We need to be careful how we incorporate them into the work. … We have got to bring our youth and young adults more and more into leadership roles and into committee presentations,
…he stated, encouraging the attendees to ensure that young adults “are represented on those corridors of power that make the decisions that guide the church.”
Women in Ministry
Concerning women in ministry, Jackson reiterated the division’s commitment to continue encouraging their work:
I hope no one in the world, regardless of who they are, or where they are from, or what they think regarding the term ‘women in ministry’ … will ever get the impression that the North American Division will somehow pull back on this idea of having women in ministry, because we won’t.
He specifically affirmed the work of the female presidents of three higher education institutions (La Sierra University, Andrews University, and Union College) as “people … ordained by God as much as any person [who] lead in God’s name… We thank God for the women in the North American Division who are participating as pastors and educators and administrators…. The North American Division just simply isn’t going to move away from this.”
Addressing more specifically the aspect of women involved in pastoral work, the president indicated that the number of women pastors in the NAD has grown in the last few years from 102 to ±175, a progress towards the goal of hiring 1000 pastors. He reiterated his personal conviction in the calling of both men and women to pastoral ministry in the following words:
I still believe, I hope and pray that I live long enough to see the day when we have 1,000 women pastors in the North American Division. Not to have women for the sake of having women, and not to have men for the sake of having men, but having individuals who are called by God, serving God and humanity. Period.
Adventist Medical Work and Abortions
Jackson also emphasized the important ministry of medical institutions as representatives of the name of Jesus and of the Adventist Church. He grieved the false perception that our hospitals are abortion factories:
We think it’s cute at times to take pot shots at them because we think they are abortion factories. That they are abortion factors is hooey.
Referencing the General Conference Annual Council discussion on abortion, Jackson shared some data representative of the abortion statistics in our hospitals – for example, 26 abortions versus 30,000 live births in Adventist Health (Florida Hospital). Recognizing that some situations call for abortion as illustrated in the case of a nine-years old girl who had been raped by her father, Jackson said: “I am not talking about mandatory yay or nay. I am just saying, keep the head open.”
The president also appreciated the press for their “commitment to publishing the word of God and sending it out through every little town and village,” the Christian Record Services for the Blind for their growing service, and the ministries of Advent Source and Seminars Unlimited.
In the conclusion of his report, Jackson announced his retirement in June/July 2020 and encouraged the audience to trust that God is leading the church despite the attack upon it.
We have nothing to fear for the future…. The devil … has unleashed the greatest evil thrust that he ever could. And he wants to undermine and to destroy the church…. He wants to undermine and destroy people’s confidence in Jesus and in the church that Jesus started…. But there is so much evidence from our past … that God does not stop. God will not give up on His church, on His people…. This is the 10th time I’ve made this report… to this body, and it will be my last. At General Conference time I am going to officially retire…. What an honor you all have given to me to serve you and to serve this division. It has been a privilege for me, and it will a privilege that I will always cherish…. I love the people who work in this building, and I love our members throughout the North American Division.
Jackson’s speech was received with a standing ovation.