Local conferences exist to build up local churches for doing outreach and nurture in preparation for Christ’s soon coming. They should devote all available personnel, finances and other resources toward that purpose.
That process begins when individual members are led to experience revival and reformation in their own souls. Then they will become Christ-centered and uncompromisingly fervent believers and transformative disciples who exude love, joy, peace and the other elements of Spirit fruit. Our churches will then become training centers for strategic acts of kindness through the discovery, development and exercise of everyone’s spiritual giftedness—not in isolation but in synergy with fellow members in the body of Christ.
Such spiritual growth will immediately revitalize family relationships within the church. It will also stimulate prayer and care among members for colleagues in the workplace and classroom, with whom they daily interact. Regenerated men, women and children will form friendships that are missional in nature for the sake of outreach, nurture, mutual encouragement and innocent relaxation or recreation.
Diversity in all its forms—ethnicity, gender, socio-economic background, age, marital status and personality type—is not only tolerated but encouraged and celebrated. Nobody is left out or treated with disdain, on one hand, or favoritism on the other. Every advantage that anyone has—regarding influence, talent, finances, time, opportunity, physical strength or attractiveness—bestows neither entitlement nor favoritism but responsibility for ministry.
Local church leaders mentor fellow members in both outreach and nurture. These devoted and precious lay people will in turn be equipped, empowered and guided by pastors so that they will serve in ministry teams. The conference president and his departmental staff will mentor pastors in spiritual and professional growth as well as their family life. They will help pastors become both respected and respectable leaders of integrity in the eyes of their members, and support them in using their professional influence and opportunity to build up the church and represent Adventism in the community. Pastors who are interested and capable will be encouraged and to serve within their communities as law enforcement chaplains and to join civic service organizations.
Pastors and conference employees will never be micromanaged in terms of their process—which must vary according to their individual talents and style—but they will be accountable to develop strategic plans to fulfill their responsibilities as employees who are paid through the sacred tithe returned by faithful members.
The uniqueness of Seventh-day Adventist fundamental beliefs, presented with clarity and with love, will enhance the spiritual experience of the church and deepen the spirituality of members.
When disputes arise (which is inevitable in human relationships) they will be settled according to the principles of Matthew 18, with the hope and expectation that every conflict is an opportunity for relational and spiritual growth. Those with particular lifestyle convictions regarding diet and other reforms are expected to live out their convictions in a spirit of grace as well as truth—teaching not through intolerance or arrogance but by the example and influence of loving, Spirit-filled lives. “In essentials there must be unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity” through the Spirit.
It is the sacred responsibility and joyous privilege of the conference president to facilitate and oversee all of the above within the territory of his field. He himself is accountable—directly to the conference executive committee and indirectly to conference employees and members of the churches—even as he leads them by example as much as by execution. He also is accountable to the leadership of the union conference and the global Seventh-day Adventist Church. The ultimate goal in everything he does is to encourage awareness of, commitment to, and excitement about the great and glorious day of Christ’s soon coming.