Project Documents

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Stanley E. Patterson

Abstract

Problem. Current organizational structure within the North American Division (NAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church appears to be relatively inefficient and allow for little or no collaborative efforts among Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) congregations within any given local ministry area. This situation encumbers the ministry effectiveness of local SDA churches. The redundancy present in the current organizational system, with large and often overlapping local conferences, results in substantial waste and inefficiency. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether an alternative organizational model could foster greater levels of cooperation among neighboring SDA churches, and if such a change would correspond to increased efficiency and effectiveness.

Task. The task of this study was to explore the potentialities to be found in a move towards a church organizational model that more intentionally fosters cooperation among all Adventist churches comprising a given ministry area located within the NAD. Conditions and structures deemed likely to foster, or hinder cooperation among neighboring Seventh-day Adventist congregations were analyzed. The aim was to investigate whether an alternative organizational structure would better foster cooperation among neighboring SDA congregations and, thereby, result in greater administrative efficiency and congregational effectiveness. In the process, this study also examined the feasibility of effecting such changes.

Method. The primary method of inquiry employed in this study was that of textual theoretical academic research. The study fundamentally consisted of textual theoretical research of primary and secondary sources, and analysis of the resulting information gathered in this manner. The study generally employed a systems theory approach in an attempt to discover what, if any, changes in church organizational structure within the NAD—particularly on the local conference level—would contribute to an increased level of cooperation among the several churches, with the expectation that such an increase in collaboration should result in greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Conclusion. The majority of scholars, whose literature was reviewed in this study, concur that freedom, cooperation, and empowerment of local leaders are crucial elements for an effective system of organization. Therefore, this study concluded that a less hierarchical and more horizontal structure should be employed by the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (NAD), in order to achieve its full potential and more successfully accomplish its God-given mission. This study found compelling evidence that the current organizational structure in the NAD does not have inter-congregational cooperation as a primary concern. In contrast to the current NAD structure, the model for conference reorganization proposed in this study has inter-congregational cooperation as a principal priority. The results of this study indicate that, if the concept of local conference was redefined away from both state and regional conferences and toward conferences defined by natural ministry areas, then inter-congregational cooperation would increase and there is a reasonable expectation that greater efficiency, increased effectiveness, and improved public awareness/opinion within the NAD will be the corresponding result.

Subject Area

Cooperative ministry, Organizational change, Organizational effectiveness

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