Pastor’s Corner: Ontario Conference Strategic Planning

Pastor Glenn DeSilva

Recently, I was perusing the booklet which contained the Strategic Plan 2023 – 2028 of the Ontario Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. As members of the Willowdale Church, we are a part of a greater body of believers who comprise 36,516 members, from 133 churches, twenty-five companies, and eighteen groups in the Province of Ontario. Our membership is diverse, and every continent of the globe (except Antarctica) is represented within the Ontario Conference Church membership.

As I read the booklet, my attention was drawn to the vision of the Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department. Listed under their departmental heading were the Mission, Goals, and Outcomes that this department hoped to achieve with the help of conference churches, companies, and groups. Listed below are the audacious goals of Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department:

  • Enhance holistic small groups in each congregation.
  • Increase Sabbath School attendance by 40%.
  • Revitalize evangelism through Sabbath School in existing churches.
  • Promote and conduct regular in-person or virtual Bible studies in all churches.
  • Facilitate conference-wide ministry conventions.

The top three outcomes that the Ontario Conference Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department hoped to achieve over the next five years are:

  • To have at least 50% of the church membership actively engaged in soul-winning endeavors for church growth.
  • Increase Sabbath School involvement and member community outreach by 25% because of continuously implementing the Sabbath School “Holistic Small Groups Family Model.”
  • To have at least 75% of churches consistently submitting their Sabbath School and Personal Ministry quarterly reports to the Ontario Conference.

Wow! Audacious goals, big plans, and so many numbers. Overwhelming, where do we begin as a church? Remember, Willowdale is a mother church, a large church, and our influence cast a shadow over the entire Metro North Central Ministerial District. Our district has nineteen congregations, and we are the largest church, our district is by far the most ethnically diverse region within the Ontario Conference. How do we play our part in “Making Jesus Known” to our family, friends, and surrounding community? Simply put, if a church like Willowdale chooses not to support Ontario Conference plans, the General Conference Sabbath School initiative, and, more importantly, the Gospel Commission mandate found in Matthew 28:19,20, then our sister and daughter congregations might want to follow our lead.

The Pastoral Staff has a plan, and that plan begins with PRAYER. Individually and as a church, we need to recognize that our minds need to be filled and our hearts guided daily by the Holy Spirit. Our collective response to ministry and service should be “Not I, but Christ.” Secondly, the Pastoral Staff at Willowdale believes that the General Conference emphasis on “Sabbath School Alive” is the key to fulfilling the goals and outcomes listed above. Finally, as a Pastoral Staff, we are helpless to achieve anything without the support of our church family. Over the next five Sabbaths, we hope to inspire, motivate, and encourage the members of Willowdale to embrace “Sabbath School Alive.”  Only as we work together can we hope to lead people into a relationship with Jesus. Not only do we want to personally “Know Jesus,” but we also want “To Make Him Known.”

Pastor Glenn DeSilva


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