This is part five of the conversation with Timothy Puko. To read them in sequence, click here. ______________________________________________
You are right to point to the scriptures as
evidence that God cares more about effective leadership than the
sacrificial scent of good news.
The God present in the life of
Jesus (cleansing the temple, healing the blind) certainly cares a lot
more about means than end numbers - whereas I sense that many
administrators primarily rate church workers on their loyalty and
numbers, (baptisms, web hits, tithe, board votes). Now these are all
important, but frankly quite easy to manipulate as your article so
aptly points out. Middle conference management is especially
susceptible to forgetting that long term success always beats short
term numbers however pleasing.
Back to Costa Rica for a moment. I had actually heard from a
student missionary friend of mine about the emphasis on baptisms over
education. Reading your details made me realize that similarity with
some American conferences. There exist presidents who actively recruit
young converts as pastors who have not been educated in Adventist
religion depts.These dudes often attend an eighteen month training
course and then are given jobs because they can "finish the work"
untainted by a liberal arts education. While troubling, especially if
one wants a well-rounded pastor, reading your article I realized that
these young para-pastors tend to be very dependent on their
administration. Trained in authoritarian contexts, in old methods, with
little access to the historical context of the faith, they prove their
worth via obedience. In fact, the last I heard, Michigan conference
doesn't allow its pastors to wear wedding rings. Talk about a testing
truth. Since wearing a ring doesn't seem to destroy God's work anywhere
else, it clearly just becomes a test of submission. Although cloaked in
the language of spirituality, it's about loyalty.
As ol' GC vice president Calvin Rock says in his book, Church Leadership,
conversion doesn't automatically make one ready for church leadership.
And I can say from experience that conviction doesn't always make for a compelling
Since I've got you, a card-carrying Columbia-trained
journalist here, I'd like to get your perspective on the state of
media. I just read the recent Economist cover story entitled "
Who Killed the Newspaper?"
Apparently some experts suggest that mid-level newspapers (Everything
between the Times and niche 'zines) will be gone in less than forty
For whatever reasons - too much free content online,
blogger/reporters, changing advertising models, kids these days - the
newspaper will disappear. Of course this has serious implications for a
church weened on the printing press, with a prolific prophet, and a lot
members. The stark reality is that very few Adventists are willing to
pay to read print issues of Adventist Review or even Spectrum. What are
your thoughts on the publication of prolix in this shifting context?
Wither Adventist media?
Washing the print off my hands, Alex