by Jeff Boyd

From News Release, September 11, 2014

A summit entitled “Pathways to Effective Pastoral Ministry” convened on the campus of Andrews University September 6-8, reports the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The summit's goal was to create a clearly defined educational path to the ministry for pastoral candidates.

The primary motivation for convening the summit was demographic data that shows that more than 450 Adventist pastors across North America are currently eligible for retirement. With hundreds more joining their ranks every year, a shortage of qualified pastors looms ahead.

The diverse group of thought leaders from across the North American Division gathered to discuss the need for a comprehensive plan for the recruitment and development of effective pastors across the territory.

A recent study by the Adventist World Church Headquarters revealed that while two-thirds of North American Adventist pastors have graduate degrees, 7 percent of pastors have not yet completed a college undergraduate degree. Many pastors have attended unaccredited Bible training schools that provide lay training, with an emphasis on traditional evangelism, typically lasting less than half a year. Additionally, the study showed that three in five pastors expressed a need for ongoing in-service training.

Summit attendees included administrators, ministerial leaders, pastors and educators, who made recommendations that will be presented at the North American Division Year-end Meetings.


Some recommendations include:

  • Forming a pastoral council to address pastoral development
  • Establishing a council of educators and ministerial leaders to coordinate learning outcomes of ministerial students
  • Starting a task force to develop a strategy for pastoral recruitment

The recommendations made at the summit have no formal authority, but will be passed on to the appropriate bodies which can take action.