Mission Refocus” is the theme that could summarize both the recent Stewardship Ministries Advisory and the 2022 General Conference Annual Council. After hearing the reports, we celebrated over the increase in global church membership and the exceptional growth in some areas of the world. Another reason to rejoice is the incredible financial support that our members are providing to the church; in most places, the financial situation has bounced back to the pre-pandemic era. However, we cannot dismiss the suggestion from Elder G. T. Ng, the retired GC executive secretary, in support of a realistic report from the secretariat: “To deflate our corporate ego” and to acknowledge “the work done and the work yet undone.” Ng is warning us against triumphalism! As the body of Christ, the future of our mission will depend largely on our capacity for self-awareness.
For an objective assessment of our achievement, no exercise is more appropriate than to revisit Revelation 14:6–12, the formulation of God’s mission for His remnant church. The opening lines of the three angels’ messages provide an adequate yardstick: “Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water” (Revelation 14:6, 7). According to this important passage, our last-day mission is counted done when all people groups have received the eternal gospel, which is an invitation to worship the Owner and Provider of all.
In this regard, two indicators have been flickering red for the past fifty years: The number of cross-cultural missionaries sent by the world church is on the decline, and the ratio of offerings to tithe has constantly gone down during the same period. Are there some relationships between these two variables? This is worth some study. How do we reverse this malevolent trend to complete the mission? Being conscious that we are not yet where we are supposed to be is a good starting point for a change of direction. What else can we do?
The abridged version of the sermon “Repairers of the Breach,” the articles “We Count What We Value,” “Stewardship Lead Measures,” and other articles in this issue offer some interesting suggestions to actualize “Mission Refocus.” However, I strongly believe that the launchpad to propel the church into a different mission gear comes from the rhetorical question of Dwain Esmond: “Can a church that worships at 37% or 52% effectively proclaim a worship-centered message to the world?”1 Our message is about worship and giving, service and witnessing are expressions of worship. Henceforth, going back to the altar individually, regularly, and with our family will make “Mission Refocus” the new way of being for God’s people.
Aniel Barbe, Editor
¹ The set of resources for the “Back to the Altar” initiative can be accessed at https://stewardship.adventist.org/back-to-the-alta...—annual-council