The Purpose of Business-Related Adventist Institutions: A Kingdom Focus

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Adventists have a unique model of ministry. They use many methods – including those outside the four walls of the church – to bring new members to Adventism and win hearts for the Lord. This ministry model includes the use of publishing houses, which manufacture many types of religious publications that are instrumental in spreading the Good News of Jesus; medical and health institutions, which follow in the footsteps of Jesus by ministering to the physical needs of people; and through businesses such as food factories, which are designed to promote and expand the ideals of the SDA Church, such as a healthy, vegetarian diet.

In a global study (2013) commissioned by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church and conducted by Roger Dudley and Petr Činčala of the Institute of Church Ministry, 4,260 Adventist pastors around the world were asked what they believe the main purpose of these institutions is, and then they were asked if these institutions are actually fulfilling these ideals.

Publishing Houses

When asked what the ideal main purpose of publishing houses are, almost two-thirds (65%) of pastors felt that winning converts to the Church should be their main focus. Another 15% responded that the ideal purpose of publishing houses should be providing services to the community, while 11% of pastors feel these organizations should focus on demonstrating practical examples of Christianity in action. A small percentage (5%) of pastors felt that publishing houses’ main priority should be supporting the church financially, while only 4% responded that these organizations should be focused on providing jobs for Adventist members.

Pastors were then asked if the thought that publishing houses were actually providing those services. Almost half (45%) of pastors felt that providing materials for nurturing believers and mission was the top focus of these organizations, with another 27% indicating that these organizations were focused on winning converts to the church. About one in ten (10%) of respondents shared that they believe publishing houses are focused on providing jobs for Adventist members, and 9% feel they are focused on supporting the church financially. While it came in second in the “ideal” category, only 5% of pastors felt that providing service to the community is a priority for publishing houses. A small percentage (4%) felt that publishing houses were focused on demonstrating practical examples of Christianity in action.

Medical and Health Institutions

The Adventist Health Message has long been one of the things that separates Adventists from other Christian denominations. A large network of medical and health institutions is part of the network that turns this Message into action.  When asked what they believe the ideal main purpose of these medical and health institutions is, almost half (45%) of pastors indicated that winning converts to the church should be their main goal. Another three in ten (29%) pastors shared that providing services to the community should be their main purpose, with an additional 21% indicating that it ought to be demonstrating practical examples of Christianity in action. Only a small percentage (3%) of pastors thought that these organizations should be focused on supporting the church financially, with another 3% feeling their ideal main purpose should be providing jobs for Adventist members.

When asked how medical and health institutions actually measure up when it comes to these ideal purposes, nearly half (44%) of pastors indicated that they feel their actual performance is focused on providing services to the community; one in five (20%) pastors felt that these institutions are focused on winning converts to the church. Fifteen percent of respondents indicated that they feel that Adventist medical and health institutions are focused on demonstrating practical examples of Christianity in action. Just over one in ten (13%) pastors feel that these institutions are focusing their attention on providing jobs for Adventist members, while 9% shared that they believe they are focused on supporting the church financially.

Businesses such as Food Factories

Pastors were asked what they feel the ideal purpose for businesses such as food factories ought to be. A little over one-third (34%) of pastors shared that they feel the priority of these businesses ought to be winning converts to the church. Nearly another third (30%) of pastors shared that providing a service to the community should be their top priority. Seventeen percent felt that these businesses ought to be focused on demonstrating Christianity in action, 12% said that these businesses should be working to support the church financially, and 8% that they should provide jobs for Adventist members.

How do pastors evaluate businesses such as food factories in action? One third (33%) of pastors feel that these businesses are focused on providing a service to the community, while 22% shared that they feel they are focused on supporting the church financially. One out of five (21%) pastors shared that they feel businesses such as food factories are prioritizing providing jobs for Adventist members. Sixteen percent of respondents indicated that these businesses are focused on winning converts to the church, while 9% feel they are concentrating on demonstrating a practical example of Christianity in action.

When it comes to the ideal, you can see that in all three categories, pastors ranked “soul-winning” as the idyllic priority and focus for each of these organizations. However, in practice pastors do not feel that this prioritization is actually put into action.

The data reflects institutions’ goals as perceived by pastors, and it is important to compare these perceptions with the mission statement of each entity. However, it is also true that it is easy to become bogged down in things of this world – especially in the realm of business and forget that we must hold ourselves to a higher standard, focusing and refocusing our attention constantly on the Kingdom. Everything we have here on earth will pass away; only our work done with Heaven in mind will last!

You can read the full report here: http://www.adventistresearch.org/sites/default/files/files/The%20Adventi...