Our Northwest Strategic Plan

September 26, 2018 | John Freedman

Nothing has the potential to change the world like the mission of the church, led by Christ, who is the head of the church, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Yet, sometimes I wonder why Jesus chose the church to accomplish His mission. The church is made up of fickle, flawed and often unreliable human beings. I think to myself, "Surely Jesus could have come up with a better strategy." But He didn’t.

Jesus chose the church to accomplish His mission. Jesus picked you. He picked me. That’s not only amazing, it's yet another sign of God’s grace and deep love for humanity. As a church member, you are one of millions of human beings whose normal lives have been disrupted by a call to the most important task in the universe — to share the hope of Jesus Christ with the world He so desperately loves.

Our beloved Seventh-day Adventist Church has many challenges to effectively accomplishing the mission of Jesus here in the Pacific Northwest. How can we effectively share the everlasting gospel of God’s grace in a post-Christian culture? How should we authentically share God’s love with our neighbors and relatives? How will we stop the flow of young adults out of our churches? How can we make a lasting impact on communities that have no clue who we are or what we represent? We are living in a time that is exciting yet daunting.

To answer those questions, to move our mission forward effectively, we need to change our conversations. We should stop talking about what is not possible and start talking about what is possible "in Christ"? We should engage in more courageous, honest dialogue about mission — including humble, passionate prayer — and then go do something for Jesus. I believe when we fall before the Lord and humbly confess our lack of progress in reaching our communities for Christ, we are then enabled to take hold of the Holy Spirit’s strength. Then, and only then, can we be empowered for Spirit-led action.

Jesus promised “that all authority has been given to Me (Jesus) in heaven and on earth” and then promised to be “with us always” (Matt. 28:18–20). Christ promised us that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against” His church (Matt. 16:18). Jesus also gave us the help of heavenly angels, including the greatest gift ever given to empower His church — the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the only One who can provide the power for the us to begin "Moving Forward Together."

Popular author and speaker, Simon Sinek, reminds us of something so obvious it is often forgotten. “If every member of a team doesn’t commit to grow together,” he says, “they will grow apart.”

That is not God's will for us. The principles of God's church are clearly spelled out in Scripture. We are to be the body of Christ, bound together by Him and His mission. That includes spiritual foundations as well as organizational principles. So what steps can His family take here in the Northwest in moving forward together? One crucial step in our journey is the creation of and agreement to a collective strategic plan. Over the last year we have revised our mission statement and created a new vision, a list of core values and strategic priorities. I’ve met with every local conference president and their administrative teams to ask them what they see as the greatest needs and challenges in their territories, as well as how the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) can more effectively and efficiently assist them to fill those needs and overcome the challenges. We have agreed on the points you see on the facing page that reinforce our goal to grow together in Christ. This reflects a "working document" that will remain ready to move as the Spirit moves. 

The NPUC’s role is to support our six local conferences and Walla Walla University to accomplish their mission. Each territory has unique challenges. Each local leadership team has adopted a unique plan to meet those needs. Yet in the daily, weekly flow of mission, it is easy, as referenced by Sinek, to unconsciously grow apart — to become individual silos that are resistant to other influences. Instead, the union conference is designed to help each local conference join a teamwork approach to mission. It provides  resources, guidance, financial subsidies, mentoring and coaching.  As we collaborate with our conference and university leadership teams and assess the changing needs across the Pacific Northwest, we believe we can accomplish more by working together, allowing the Spirit to draw us closer in Christ.

Pray with me that we can move together on God's mission, in His will, in His way, in His time.