Top Seventh-day Adventist leaders in the Inter-American Division (IAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church gathered recently to review territory-wide I Will Go mission initiatives, setting them in motion for the new year and the years ahead.
“All of our church’s organizational structure, our institutions, plans, and efforts should be focused on preparing the world for Christ's second coming,” Angel Guzmán, vice president of academic affairs for the Inter-American Adventist Theological Seminary, based in Puerto Rico, said in a keynote presentation.
Dozens of administrators and department heads met January 5-6, 2022, to pray, review plans, and solidify initiatives and activities that will mobilize the church membership to greater involvement in spreading the gospel throughout the territory.
As the guest speaker, Guzmán reminded church leaders to carefully study the church’s role in proclaiming the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 as they continue to motivate and engage members throughout the territory.
The Church Preparing the Way
“The church is not the way, but the church prepares the way to Jesus, and that motivation should get to our members,” Guzmán said. It’s not about wonderful programs for church members to enjoy while they are sitting as spectators, but “the church must be very aware of its role.”
That role is about fulfilling the special work of proclaiming the message of salvation as entrusted messengers of God, Guzmán said. “There are many people in the church who are empty because we don’t involve them in understanding the prophetic role that we have as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
Drawing from John the Baptist’s vision and role described in Mark 1 in the Bible, Guzmán reminded leaders that John was aware of his prophetic gift, and he was not focused on himself but on pointing people to Jesus. So it must be the same with the Adventist Church, Guzmán said. “We exist to create a revival and reformation, so we can be the messengers God has called us to be during these end times.” The church is not an enterprise, nor an institution, but a remnant of God with a special message, a prophetic movement that God has raised, he emphasized.
Guzmán reminded leaders that the work of God should not be ostentatious but should focus more on the content of the message, more so than on the instruments used to proclaim it.
Not Losing Sight of Its Prophetic Role
“The danger in concentrating so much in the structure of our ministry is that at the end, we may lose sight of the essence of the message and our prophetic role,” Guzmán said. He stressed that the three angels’ messages, representing the final stages of earth’s history and the church’s identity just as Adventist pioneers were certain of, must be key in effectively fulfilling the mission.
“Every church organization, institution, and each ministry should be focused on its role of proclaiming the ‘final message’; otherwise, there is no reason for its existence,” Guzmán said.
Church leaders delved into a deeper study of the three angels’ messages, reviewed, studied, and prayed for the dozens of initiatives voted under the I Will Go Mission plans focused on evangelism, education, and community service for the next four years.
“We must continue to consecrate our lives in His service, moving forward with confidence as God’s messengers to proclaim this precious message throughout the territory,” Elie Henry, president of IAD, said. To accomplish this, he added, it’s important to “be together and move together,” understanding each initiative, how departments and ministries are interconnected to engage members down to the local congregation.
Leaders also went over specific activities taking place throughout the territory as the IAD continues celebrating 100 years of growth since it was officially organized in May 1922.
Passion for the Mission
“We must continue to have that passion for this [Adventist] movement just like the countless pastors and laypeople had early on here in Inter-America years and years ago,” Henry said. “Do we still have that passion? All the issues around us now, we must be sensitive as leaders, advancing toward the future, giving members and the community hope amid the uncertainties of today.”
Administrators also reviewed membership growth status and the need to double their efforts in spiritually nurturing and retaining church members. Leaders also looked into the financial status of the past 20 years and put plans in place to continue financing the church’s mission during the next 10 years.
IAD leaders also discussed the challenge of getting children, young people, and adults back into the life of the church as the pandemic continues to keep church buildings closed and services running mostly online.
Major Initiatives and Activities
A few of the major initiatives reviewed included reclaiming more than 80,000 former church members, organizing 100,000 Bible studies through small-group ministries, and distributing 6.7 million missionary books in April. Other plans included hosting thousands of community impact events across Adventist universities and schools, training hundreds of church members for mission, and preparing major territory-wide evangelism campaigns in the summer.
“Nothing is more important than continuing the mission God has given us, and we pray God can grant His church extraordinary success in 2022,” Henry said.