27 March 2023 |
Dear Adventist Today:
It was amazing to read Raj Attiken’s article “Redundancy, Relevance, and Resources: Our Overgrown Church” in the Winter 2023 Adventist Today magazine—then to find a previous related essay from 2018, “Why We Love Our Big Fat Church Administration”!
This subject was painful to the heart of my dad, Edmund Jones
, a pastor from 1952-1992, and an early supporter of Adventist Today
. When Dad retired in 1992 he sent a letter to every pastor in the Southern California Conference about the importance of local pastors and the redundancy of much of the church bureaucracy. He joked that if all the Union Conference workers were translated to heaven, the church would thrive, and their positions would not be missed.
He was always a supporter of local pastors—and was distressed that small churches often either shared pastors or did without. He was pleased that during his final pastorate, his church was able to plant and to support a new Spanish language church with a pastor until it became large enough for the conference to notice and take over.
I’m sure that he would be horrified that now the overweight local conference has created “regions” with more administrative leaders to oversee (interfere with?) the local pastors.
Solutions to problems like bloated administration are often found when you “follow the money.” One problem I wonder about as related to bloated church administration is simply the definition of tithe by our organized church. Tithe envelopes imply that tithe must be sent to the conference/world church “as evidence of our covenant relationship with God.” Hmmm. Doesn’t sound quite biblical to me when anything extra given to the local church is just a “love offering,” encouraged but not required. Nothing in the Bible suggests the 10% tithe has to go to all one place, so how did we get here?
My conference tithe envelope has this suggestion for “love offerings”: 5% to Local church, 2% to the Local Conference, 3% to World Church. One solution to bloated church administration might be to use the love offering distribution plan for the 10% tithe. If that happened, “love offering” totals might actually increase, because it’s usually the local pastor who inspires generous-hearted giving in a congregation, and not the region/conference/union/general conference leaders.
Anyway, thanks for the great articles. Keep them coming. I’ve recently discovered Adventist Today Sabbath Seminar and would like to hear the topic discussed there.
Anita Jones Horner