When you have lived as long as I have (and some of you have), you know the adjustments and modifications that have come to our language. Western humans tend to delight in formulating new clichés and other terms that seem to speak of new meanings and directions.  But when the cultural reality sets in again, the only thing that really changes is the language itself. Reality continues unabated with business as usual.

In political circles this is made abundantly clear in our election cycles. To use an old cliché, “the more things change the more they stay the same.”

In church life we are not immune to such language modifications.  In the 1970’s in Adventism there was great fear of what was then termed “new theology.” It was nothing more than a return to the 1888 message of Righteousness by Faith in Jesus that believers everywhere find a continuing challenge. The tendency to want to save oneself by our own efforts no matter how miniscule is part of the crucifixion of the self that saving faith in Jesus requires. Self doesn’t die easily.

In the 1980’s and 90’s there was the talk of a “paradigm shift” which gave rise to new sets of words to describe how society was moving from modern philosophical constructs to post-modern thinking which throws out all absolutes in favor of moral and/or faith relativism. It is really nothing more than an excuse for continuing in our headstrong ways.

Next came the 2000’s with the buzzwords “think outside the box” dominating many discussions— making their way even into TV commercials.  When I have queried  my peers as to what the cliché means the response is “well you know what I mean…” But perhaps I don’t.  What then?

And through it all life goes on in often very predictable cycles.

So what about 2013 and beyond?  Our OUTLOOK theme for this year is Not Business as Usual. What does that mean? Let me try to set at least five possibilities before you that are already modifying reality within our church and its mission.

Throughout 2013 and beyond you can plan on seeing much more information in OUTLOOK with regard to young adults and their approach to Adventist mission. At least one of our conferences has made a conscious decision to pass the baton of leadership to the next generation by deliberately hiring younger pastors. Our AdHoc study group on Young adults noted at our 2011 constituency meeting is working on more and more ways to connect across our conference lines and work toward involving their generation. We must make way for them. No, they won’t do things the way we did in our youth, just like we were different from our parents. There is nothing to worry about because even as they take up the reigns of leadership, the Lord is still in charge.

You can expect to see much more in our publications on the way women are coming in to leadership including full pastoral leadership. This is in full harmony with the General Conference’s North American Division and is a voted strategic building block at that level. At least three of our conferences have embraced this and more will as the months unfold.  Business will not be as usual in this arena either.

Collaborative Evangelism is already being employed across conference lines in ways that I describe as being led by the Holy Spirit. The idea of evangelism being a military raid was never the best one even as that method did raise our baptismal numbers. But often that approach does not result in fully committed disciples. Longer view, comprehensive evangelism involving greater numbers of disciple makers in our congregations is in development and you will learn much more about that.

Two of our conferences are leading the way toward providing Adventist Education in electronic often real-time on-line ways that will make our education available to more young people. While it isn’t in any way inexpensive, the economies achieved by ramping up the scale could be significant in the long run. Watch for much more on this.

For 80 plus years the church has relied on long-format and formal preaching in the media to try to reach the masses of society. That will continue a while longer but look for more and more experimental evangelism to be done on line using computers, smart phones, tablets and various software platforms to get the Gospel message out there where people are today. Again in a couple of our conferences there are people tasked with finding ways to move us forward in the coming year.

Not business as usual means exactly that. In the MAUC 2013 will be a shift toward greater involvement of more people in more ways employing more talents and investing more resources than ever in the mission of the church.

Welcome to 2013—Same mission, same message, new methods, new words.