Organizational RestructuringOctober 31, 2006
At the moment there is quite a lot of discussion about restructuring the SDA church. Sherman Cox II has two posts on his Adventist Pulpit blog. The first points readers to two articles by Harold Lee on the Adventist Review website: Church Structure in 2025 and Proposals for Structural Change. (Lee’s first article is reprinted in edited–shortened–form on the Re-Inventing the Adventist Wheel blog here.) Cox’s second post points to the website of the GC Commission on Ministries, Services, and Structures. The commission was set up following an action of the GC Annual Council on October 11, 2005 and held its first meeting on April 11, 2006. The commission’s website has a number of interesting documents available, including one by George Knight entitled Organized for Mission: The Development of Seventh-day Adventist Organizational Structures. Other good sources on the historical development of the SDA Church’s organizational structure include:
- George Knight’s Organizing to Beat the Devil: The Development of Adventist Church Structure (Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2001 (Apparently republished as Organizing for Mission and Growth in 2006); (A short abstract from Knight’s book is published on the Adventist Today website here.)
- Andrew G. Mustard’s, James White and SDA Organization: Historical Development, 1844-1881 (Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 1988);
- Barry D. Oliver’s, SDA Organizational Structure: Past, Present, and Future (Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 1989);
- Gary Land’s “Where Did Adventist Organizational Structure Come From?” Spectrum 7:1 (1975), 23-27.
- Godfrey T. Anderson’s “Make Us a Name.” Adventist Heritage 1:2 (1974), 28-34.
For a succinct overview of how the GC administration sees the SDA Church’s structure and governance, see this press-release created for the 2005 session.
For a radical reinvention of the Adventist Church (essentially a congregationalist approach) see Mission Catalyst’s website and blog. Blog the Future has a number of posts commenting on Mission Catalyst, church growth, and church organization and administration issues. Unfortunately it’s not currently being updated.
It will be interesting to see the outcomes of these meetings–will the SDA Church actually manage to make the necessary structural and organizational changes necessary if we are to efficiently work and survive in the 21st Century?
Change is never easy and likely to be quite painful. Even the SDA Church;’s early formation as a denomination faced serious opposition:
In 1844, the Millerite George Storrs expressed the position of many when he stated that “no church can be organized by man’s invention but that it becomes Babylon the moment it is organized.” (The Midnight Cry, February 15, 1844, 238.)