TED Spring Meeting

"For we are to God, the pleasing aroma of Christ."

News May 24, 2024

23 May 2024| St Albans, UK [David Neal]

It’s a warm Monday morning in St Albans. In the third-floor boardroom of the Trans-European Division (TED) office, the 20 May Spring Meeting’s 22-item agenda is waiting to be ploughed through. But item 1 invites members of the Executive Committee to convene across the road in the St Albans church for worship.

‘Praise My Soul the King of Heaven’ is sung – beautifully accompanied with harmony and descant by Victoria and Antoinette Hall on the Violin and Cello.* A line describes the beauty of the gospel story, headlining the steps God took to save humanity: ‘Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven’.

Is it a Triumph When God leads us as Captives?

Chosen by Bjørn Ottesen (president of the Danish Union of Churches Conference), the hymn is a fitting introduction to his meditation on 2 Corinthians 2:14-17, setting the spiritual agenda for the day. It is God who ‘leads us in triumphal procession’ (2 Cor 2:14 ESV).

“But hold it there for a moment,” says Ottesen. “Think about the make up of a triumphal procession in Paul’s time. At the front is the Roman emperor, the army generals, and military heroes. At the back are the slaves and prisoners.” Ottesen continues, “And where do you think Paul identifies himself in the procession? Right at the back.” Referencing 2 Cor 4:9 (we are… ‘persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.’), Ottesen asks, “Amazing as it is, is it really a triumph when God leads us as captives? We are like prisoners in the triumphal procession of Christ, on display, but not in triumphant mode.”

Ottesen then continues to ponder over the question, “How can we say then that we are in a triumphal procession?” The clue he suggests is found in verse 12 when Paul shares his painful experiences in Macedonia, Thessaloniki, and Philippi. “When we are ‘in Christ’ the procession is always triumphant,” he explains.

“There will come a time of revival in Europe again one day. In the meantime we are called to be faithful.”

When Losing the Battle is Victory

“When we think in Europe that we are loosing the battle for the gospel of Christ, remember the Enlightenment – we have been here before. But later came the Great Awakening,” encourages Ottesen. “There will come a time of Revival in Europe again one day” he predicts. “In the meantime we are called to be faithful – in the procession, yes at the back, but we are in the procession.”

A Call to be the Aroma of Christ

Concluding, Ottesen calls on those present “to be faithful during this time and allow God to use us to spread His aroma everywhere. Can we be the smell of the gospel for God? Yes we can,” he assures, “because we are the pleasing aroma of Christ – in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15)

“It’s Quite Incredible Really”

“The primary purpose of the Spring Meeting is,” explains Nendad Jepuranovic, “for the Treasurer to give an account of the prior year finances.”

As Jepuranovic does just that, four words capture his mood about the financial health of TED. “It’s quite incredible really,” states Jepuranovic, announcing a record increase of tithe return of 11.3%. “At the beginning of 2023 we were still in recovery mode from the Covid 19 pandemic.”

Jepuranovic reminds the committee of the the dual role in supporting the work of the global church.

  1. To distribute the tithe across the global church, from the local church, conference, Union, Division and the General Conference.
  2. To support the mission of its constituent Unions and Attached Fields.

“During 2023″, reports Jepuranovic, “the TED returned to the Unions 30% of the total tithe-sharing, to be used for evangelism projects. We give thanks to our members for their faithfulness.”

The Auditors Report

The auditors give ‘a green bill of health’ to the finances and reporting of them for 2023. A combination of increased tithe sharing income, and reduction of workers expenses resulted in a healthy operational surplus that will be used to further the mission of the church.

Zagreb Earthquake Reconstruction

A core reason of why the TED exists, is to support Unions and Attached Fields within its designated territory. Among the many projects the TED is currently working closely with and supporting – is the Adriatic Union Conference (AUC), the Croatian Conference and Zagreb members rebuild their church building destroyed in the 2020 earthquake.

On 22 March 2020 an earthquake of magnitude 5.3 hit Zagreb, Croatia, with the epicenter 7km north of the city centre. 1,900 buildings were reported to have been damaged to the point of becoming uninhabitable.

“The pastor has to be a disciple first.”

TED Education and Disciple-Making director Kayle de Waal gives a presentation about the proposed Disciple and Evangelism Institute. Later, I catch up with de Waal during an outbreak moment to ask the ‘why’ questions, above and beyond the details of how it will operate.

“We want our pastors to grow and mature, so that our members who are also disciples can be fired up by what Jesus is doing both in the pastors life and in their lives.” (Kayle de Waal pictured here during a Scottish Mission presentation earlier this year).

Why is the Institute necessary?

“The Institute exists to train, inspire and support both our members and pastors. It’s one way in which we have contextualized the GC Total Member Involvement Initiative. One feature of the Institute is the new Pastors Discipleship Network. The network aims to reframe how pastors operate in their ministry context. The purpose of the Discipleship and Evangelism Institute is to build a support system, reminding pastors that they are not alone but a part of a powered-up and passionate team of disciples and disciple-makers, not just in their country or context but across our Division.”

Why do pastors need to learn to how to be disciples and disciple-makers?

“First up, we have a group of committed and hardworking pastors across our Division. We give God praise for their lives, families, and ministries. However, so often pastors operate with a ‘programme’ mindset. We keep feeding the members rather than making disciples! The church is both an organisation and an organism. And it is in the organic context within which the church functions that new life, new ideas and the fresh working of the Spirit is found. Discipleship and disciple-making often happen in that organic context – small, slow, awaiting on the fire and power of the Holy Spirit to motivate and inspire pastors and leaders to begin thinking and operating differently.”

So are you saying that the Institute is not only about helping the pastor grow and mature as a Christian, but also to help keep him or her fresh, to help keep them energised about following Christ?

“Absolutely, the Pastor has to be a disciple first, fired up for Jesus. Sometimes we assume that pastors have a vibrant growing relationship with the Lord. Reality says we can’t take that for granted. We want our pastors to grow and mature, so that our members, who are also disciples, can be fired up by what Jesus is doing both in the pastor’s life and in their lives. One of the ways in which this happens is by following the disciple-making methodology of Jesus. He invested in a few, knowing that the few would impact the many. We want to encourage pastors to invest in a few because discipleship always begins organically.”

What happens to a church when pastors and members are energised to grow as disciples in Christ?

“That’s a loaded question! Who knows what the Holy Spirit can do when the pastor and members grow together and mature into radical disciples for Jesus? Who knows? But what I do know is that the Spirit can transform that community and impact its local community in meaningful and relevant ways. As Bjørn Ottesen expressed in his presentation earlier today, I know we would experience revival!”

Digital Mission Strategy Report

The final major agenda item considered is a report from the newly formed Digital Mission Strategy Committee chaired by Ian Sweeney.

moblie phone showing apps
One idea is to hold a Digital Discipleship Conference for young adults, loaded with imagination and creativity to buzz with ideas about how to share Christ from a hand-held device.

Through a number of briefing papers, three ideas are put forward for consideration:

  1. To invite Unions to recognise the new reality of digital ministry groups operating from within their territory, but also to be aware that digital ministry has no territorial border. Can digital ministry (online Sabbath schools, worship services, prayer meetings, study and fellowship groups) be an effective tool for reaching isolated members, an evangelistic tool for connecting with new interests and for reconnecting with former members? What process is required for a digital community to become a recognised group within the Union?
  2. To invite Unions to appoint and financially support a Digital Ministry coordinator (sole position) with possible financial help from the TED. The position would be both a coordinating and pastoral role. To provide an excellent standard of pastoral care to digital members in need as required (where there is no other designated pastor/leader).
  3. To hold a Digital Discipleship Conference at Newbold College of Higher Education February 2025. Targeting young adults loaded with imagination and creativity, it would be about how to share Christ from a hand-held device – and other devices! Ideas and outcomes from the weekend would be used as a launch pad for TED shaping digital mission & ministry strategy from July 2025 onwards.

“This matter is important,” says Daniel Duda, “because in the spirit of providing exceptional service to our Unions, we need to work together about a media and ministry strategy in the light of new digital realities. I want to invite you to think about a strategy for your field, because the diverse nature of the TED does not foster one unified digital media strategy.”

  1. Antoinette Hall (TED support staff member) and Victoria Hall (Customer Service Representative, Adventist Risk Management, St Albans)

[Photos: Jimmy Botha/Adventist Media Exchange, CC BY 4.0, David Neal and Shutterstock.]

Featured image: Bougainvillea – with its bright citrusy smell, captured in Athens, Greece, April 2024 (David Neal).






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