May 4, 2022

Together in mission: I will go

I once heard a guest lecturer at a preaching seminar. At the conclusion of his presentation, there was a time for Questions and Answers. One of the attendees asked if his church had a mission statement.

The speaker quickly responded that, indeed, they did have a mission statement and that it came from our Lord Himself: And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18–20 NKJV).

In the opening chapter of his outstanding book, Mission Drift, Peter Greer writes: “Without careful attention, faith-based organizations will inevitably drift from their founding mission . . . Slowly, silently and with little fanfare, organizations routinely drift from their original purpose, and most will never return to their original intent.”

Equally challenging is an unimaginative devotion to maintaining operational traditions from the days of the founders. We find ourselves seeking that sweet spot between these two dangers. Every generation runs the risk of sliding off the slope. Mission must be identified and intentionally pursued in relevant and biblical ways.

On the website of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, you can find the Mission Statement for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, to “Make disciples of Jesus Christ who live as His loving witnesses and proclaim to all people the everlasting gospel of the Three Angels’ Messages in preparation for His soon return (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Rev. 14:6-12).

Historically, making disciples in the Adventist context has been through three general modalities: preaching, teaching and healing. In the reporting for the past quinquennium and as we look forward to plans for mission in the future, it will be in the context of these three. In this report you will hear about evangelistic programs in the churches of the Lake Union, education in the schools of the Lake Union, and healing through the health ministries programs— from the healthcare institutions to the health seminars conducted in local communities—throughout our four-state region.

In these pages, there are stories of how the five conferences of the Lake Union— Illinois, Indiana, Lake Region, Michigan and Wisconsin—have pursued mission during the past quinquennial period. The stories cannot help but include the impact of COVID-19 on ministry in our Lake Union territory.

The role of the Lake Union Conference in the accomplishment of mission is in the following areas:

  • To articulate the mission of the Adventist Church within the context of our territory.
  • Resourcing—helping the conferences to identify or produce resources for accomplishing mission in their areas.
  • Coordination of efforts between the conferences
  • Engagement with the institutions that reside in the conferences of this union—some of which are owned and operated by the conferences, others are not, but they all have an impact on the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in our territory.
  • To communicate the plans and stories related to mission from around the Union to motivate and inspire all members to be engaged in outreach in their communities.
  • To serve as a sounding board and consultants in applying church policy to issues throughout the Lake Union.
  • To work with conferences in the selection process for their leaders.

During the coming quinquennium, the Lake Union office team will focus on promoting and implementing plans that are consistent with the North American Division voted initiatives known as the 3 Ms: Multiply, Media and Mentorship. Detailed information about these three areas of emphasis can be found at www. mentorship-intentionality-growing- church-christ.

There is an area of engagement that we wish to especially address in what remains of the upcoming quinquennium. That is, Mission to the Cities. As a denomination, we began in small towns and in rural areas. But over the decades of our existence, we have not kept up with the burgeoning populations of then great metropolitan areas.

Some years ago, the General Conference began to especially emphasize the massive population shift from rural to urban settings. In the Lake Union, we have four large metro areas. The combined population of our four states is about 35 million people. Of that number, about half (over 17 million) live in the cities of Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and Milwaukee.

While good work has been done by the churches in these cities in the past, we must join hands and find ways to impact these metropolitan areas in an even greater way. We have made a good start with the Indianapolis project, including the mega health event, Your Best Pathway to Health. But we should be looking at proposals to fund Urban Centers of Influence and church planting programs and training programs for lay ministry. We should be exploring ways that we can engage with the civic leaders of those cities to discover the best ways in which we can serve their populations.

In short, we should be a visible and participating part of the community. This often quoted passage from Ministry of Healing, page 147, is always true: “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”

A word to those who live in towns and smaller cities throughout our territory. This is not a strategy to abandon the good work that is going on in places like Lansing, Elkhart, Peoria or Green Bay. It is simply an appeal to be aware of and work for the cause of the gospel where the masses now reside.

I hope you enjoy and are challenged by the reports that you will read in this special edition of the Lake Union Herald. As we spend time with Jesus in our personal devotional lives, may His heart for a growing and faithful community of believers be contagious among us.


Ken Denslow, president, Lake Union Conference