20 Years --- What Have We Accomplished
As I watch the sunset on our 20th year, I can’t help but reflect on what God has accomplished through this cause we call the Center for Creative Ministry. Allow me to quickly highlight some of them:
We have involved over 850 people as employees, contract workers or volunteers. Fewer than 1% have ever worked
under one roof for any length of time. We have created a supportive structure for the Adventist Church but we have not organized it in the usual way. We have been decentralized, letting technology and an entrepreneurial spirit hold us together. We don’t own large management offices or camps or medical institutions or publishing houses or media centers. Yet we have accomplished a great deal for the mission of Christ and in support of new mission initiatives.
We have raised the awareness and increased the conversation about generations and what they are looking for from the Church. When the Center started, you graduated from the youth room at your church and were lumped together with all the other adults whatever your age and life experiences. Now congregations are better about recognizing that there are Builders, Boomers, Busters & Millennials and specialized programming is being provided more frequently. Of course we weren’t the only ones in this conversation, but we have made major contributions.
We have also increased the conversation about the stages of faith that makes for mature disciples. Adventists specialize in bringing people out of chaos into a structured faith. But God invites all of us to stretch beyond rigid religiosity to a mature faith that winds its way through a time of making one’s faith one’s own. It’s no longer your parent’s faith, or your pastor’s faith; your teacher’s faith, or your spouse’s faith. It’s yours. A large number of the people who have left Adventism over the past four decades have often done so at the point where their questions and conclusions made family and friends embedded in the Church panic. The resulting emotional and spiritual damage is deep; it’s going to take some serious intentionality to bring healing and reconciliation and that’s what we’ve been about.
We’ve raised the retention issues primarily in North America but now to a world-wide church audience. Adventists (really most denominations) allocate enormous funding to get people in the front door of the local church. It’s like recruiting the freshman class into an Adventist university. But every president of an academic institution knows that the viability of his or her organization is not based on large freshman classes. It is in making sure that a large percentage of that first year cohort, returns for a second, third and fourth year that they are financially viable and spiritually/intellectually mature. The same is true for the local congregation. Unfortunately we’re letting the back door swing wide open and new generations of members are leaving in droves. A growing chorus is now singing the Reconnecting Ministries tune, and we’d invite you to join us.