By G. Alexander Bryant
The North American Division (NAD) has voted to focus on six areas of emphasis over the next quinquinnium, which we refer to as “Building Blocks.” These building blocks are foundational for the continual growth of the North American Division. The six focus areas are designed to connect many areas of ministry, which exists as a part of the NAD mission. These six areas are: (1) Adventist Learning Community, (2) Transformational Evangelism, (3) Media, (4) Emerging Immigrant Population, (5) Retention of Young Adults, and (6) Women in Ministry.
The focus of this article is on the “Women in Ministry” Building Block. This Building Block is not designed to deal with the ordination of women, which is being addressed in another venue through a study group/committee. The “Women in Ministry” building block is a human resource emphasis, which focuses on the recruitment of more women in pastoral leadership, and it will move forward independent of the findings and conclusion of the ordination issue. Presently, there is a lack of women in pastoral work within the North American Division, and we need them to help finish the work of God in this territory.
Joel 2:28, states that in the last days “God’s Spirit will be poured out on ALL flesh—your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” My prayer and hope is that this article raises the significance of “women in ministry” and awakens a sense of urgency that propels our leaders to partner together in the advancement and inclusion of more women, to help gather the harvest and finish the Lord’s work.
Why is there a need to increase the female pastoral work force?
Of the approximately 4000 pastors employed in our division, only 107 are women. In order
to finish God’s work we need the women who are called of God to work alongside the men who are also equally called by God. As we face the possibility of losing approximately half of our workforce to retirement in the next ten years, here lies a great reservoir of laborers for God’s vineyard. Let there be no mistaking of our resolve to make the accomplishment of God’s mission within our Division territory our number one priority. Therefore, we will exercise a stubborn determination and commitment to find solutions to the many issues, which could negatively impact our ability to mobilize this mostly unused pool of resources for God to effectively carry His mission forward throughout the North American territory.
The North American Division, its Unions, and Conferences must become more intentional (as local circumstances permit) in the development of pathways to ministry for female pastors. Thus, it is also imperative to develop intentional methods of mentoring women who can become conference Executive Secretaries and Treasurers.
What is the strategy? What kind of collaborative “Human Resources” approach is needed to initiate, develop, and implement this new “Women in Ministry” Building Block?
The strategy is to design, build, and implement a process mechanism, which identifies, targets, and provides a partnership to support females, who feel called by the Lord, from college level through the seminary, leading to full-employment into the local conferences. The goal and result of this strategy is to increase the number of employed female pastors by 100% over the next five years or by 2016. The strategy will also include a comprehensive approach to education and communication of the NAD membership.
Concrete activities and events that make up the strategy include such activities as the following:
• Programs for the orientation and education of church members
• Incentivizing the hiring of greater numbers of women clergy and administrators
• Development of church administrator support structures for women clergy
In 2013, the North American Division will begin to aggressively implement an emphasis on “Women in Ministry” within its territory, which will start with a communication strategy while simultaneously building partnerships with employing entities to place and identify women God has called to assist in ushering in His Second Coming. There will also be a significant financial commitment from the North American Division to support this endeavor. We cannot fail in this Building Block, and we will not fail because God’s work needs and calls for these additional laborers in His field. Jesus said, “The harvest is plenteous but the laborers are few.” Yet, there are women lined-up and standing at the gate waiting to come in to help with the Harvest. It is time to let them in!