The state of the Minnesota Conference in terms of numbers shows:
- A net increase of 43 members in 2023 for a total of 11,334,
- 289 people baptized according to the eAdventist dashboard,
- a slight increase in student enrollment at our schools for a total of about 400,
- a significant increase in campers for summer camp over previous summers,
- a tithe increase of 10.7 percent,
- and financial stability for the conference as a whole.
We have much to be grateful for in Minnesota.
The conference Board of Trustees recently voted a focus for the next few years that we hope will capture the imaginations of Adventists in Minnesota and stimulate us to emphasize mission in ways we can see and celebrate in real time. Many details remain to be worked out, but in general terms here is what it would look like.
Considering the increasing shortage of Adventist pastors and teachers in North America, Minnesota plans to begin an intentional emphasis on producing quality pastors, teachers, missionaries and tentmakers. In terms of mission, there is something for everyone, including those willing to intentionally use their careers for ministry, whatever their work may be.
The idea is to gear our activities, institutions, churches, schools, camp meetings and everything else toward involving Adventists in Minnesota in mission. That means:
- for children, by planting the seeds of mission and ministry in their minds from the earliest ages;
- for students, by sponsoring, mentoring and encouraging them to take up studies and activities that can lead to a lifetime of ministry;
- and for adults, by promoting, training and celebrating those who transform their work into a primary mission.
A visioning and planning taskforce is working through specific ideas. To give ourselves some benchmarks and goals to work toward and celebrate, here are some ideas:.
- What if we set a goal of sending at least 10 students to Union College as theology or education majors before our next constituency session?
- What if we send at least 10 students from Minnesota as student missionaries?
- What if we send at least 100 people from Minnesota on short-term mission trips in the next couple of years?
- What if we send at least one family from Minnesota overseas as cross-cultural missionaries?
- What if we invent a tentmaker program and enroll at least 100 people employed in secular work who want to be more intentional about making their career ministry-focused?
Such goals would necessarily affect the way every aspect of the church operates. Topping the agenda for conference leaders would have to be focusing, communicating, inspiring, training, mentoring and finding funding to achieve the objectives.
Churches in Minnesota would need to creatively broaden the standard definition of evangelism beyond just public meetings. Creativity in evangelism must become much more flexible and personal.
Minnesota schools would need to become laser focused on inspiring and training students to prioritize mission. Every teacher, no matter what they teach, can plan how to instill in students the reality that God calls them first and foremost to ministry, whatever their career.
Adventist families in Minnesota are as easily caught up in secular thinking as anyone else. So with such goals, families too would be inspired and taught how to become intentional ministers in their circles, and how to instill in their children from the earliest years the values and priority of ministry-centered lives.
These plans distill to one word: discipleship. This was Jesus’ primary focus with His disciples as He instilled, trained, mentored and engaged them in the mission summarized in Matt. 28:19–20. So, we are not starting anything new in Minnesota. We are only hoping to breathe new life into God’s long-term mission by giving ourselves tangible short-term goals, which will allow us to observe and celebrate real-time progress.
Jeff Scoggins is president of the Minnesota Conference.