From Pastor to Elders

Journey of Hope

James A. Cress was the General Conference Ministerial Secretary when he wrote this article.

Former US President, Bill Clinton, launched his election campaign for the presidency by harking back to his Arkansas hometown, a place called Hope!

For believers, hope is more than our heritage. Hope is more than even our destination. Hope is a journey, a process of moving our lives and the lives of our members from “here” to “there” through Jesus’ power. 

For this five-year quinquennium, Adventists have adopted, “Journey of Hope” as the overarching theme of our spiritual life and experience with the task-oriented mission objective, “Tell the World,” growing out of the church’s corporate core values of unity, quality of life, and growth.

“Tell the World” and “Journey of Hope” are both messages that every spiritual leader can preach as well as mission methodologies which every member can utilize to hasten Jesus’ coming.

Seven specific goals were adopted for the world church during the next five years. Imagine what could happen if we adopted the following goals, not just as agenda minutes, but as an integral mission for our congregations and our personal lives: 

Spiritual Growth. The essential elements of spirituality (Bible Study, Prayer, Fellowship, Witnessing, and Obedience) begin with our individual commitment to invest more personal time in the Word and in prayerful interaction with our God. When Sharon and I challenged our own congregation to “just ten minutes more” each day in studying the Bible, we saw lives transformed, marriages restored, factions dissolved, plus financial, numerical, and spiritual growth.

Community Involvement. If your church were to close its doors, would anyone in your community miss its presence? Who would come pleading for you to re-open? How is your own congregation viewed in your community? People are seeking far more than intellectual information. They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. The greatest argument in favor of the gospel is still a loving and lovable Christian.

Personal Witness. We add approximately one million new members annually. What would happen if we blossomed these new members into full discipleship. Can you envision five million members individually committed to introducing one other person to Jesus and then to bringing that individual into fellowship? “God will do the work if we will furnish the instruments” (Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 9, pg. 107). The only instruments I can furnish is myself and my members.

City Outreach. Soon, over half of the world’s population will reside in large metropolitan centers. The largest unentered mission fields are the world’s largest cities. Multiplied thousands of people transition from rural to urban life every day. What would happen if the church was determined to be there and become meaningful in the lives of individuals who are most spiritually open during such transitions?

Church Planting. Growth is more than expanding the membership of our existing congregations. Even more important than adding new believers to your church is the necessity of adding new lighthouses for the world’s darkness. The kingdom of evil will be vanquished only as the kingdom of light permeates the gloom of hopelessness. No method is more penetrating than establishing newly-planted churches.

Media Ministry. Consider the potential for reaching every soul on earth through the technological advances of radio, television, internet, and printing. Consider the power if all our various methods were united in determination to proclaim a consistent, unified message of hope and assurance. 

Evangelistic Experience. To put shoes on the vision, consider the unique impact if every local congregation hosts one specific, well-planned public evangelistic initiative every year. Open the doors of your churches and you will open the hearts of your members as well as the hearts and minds of those who come to share the joyous reality of hope. 

Our world president, Jan Paulsen, challenged the church to envision a church of praying members, filled with the Spirit, nurtured on God’s Word, with all departments, entities, leaders, and individual members unified in single-minded mission to provide opportunity for the entire world to hear and respond to the good news about Jesus Christ.

Our journey begins with the assurance of God’s love and purpose and culminates with the return of Jesus. Our journey will thrive only as we individually and corporately open our lives to the Holy Spirit’s power and furnish ourselves as the instruments which heaven will use to accomplish the task. 

You and I can purpose, preach, and powerfully proclaim this Journey of Hope.

James A. Cress, General Conference Ministerial Association Secretary