Trust is earned. Distrust can arise from many sources, among them distrust rooted in specific concrete actions. Looking across the internetscape, what I think I see is a great disconnect for many church leaders in North America. They simply don't understand why such a broad cross-section of NAD membership distrusts them.
I would like to offer a few constructive and positive suggestions for how North American Division leadership can take steps to earn trust all over again.
- Publicly commit to fully cooperating with the General Conference and fully respecting all General Conference decisions.
- Refrain from video and social media campaigns justifying NAD leadership, or lecturing the rest of the church about what love is, and instead work in harmony with the world church family.
- Abandon calls for pluralism in belief or in hermeneutics.
- When the vote goes in a way NAD leadership does not prefer, as in the 2015 General Conference Session, do not make a public demonstration by abandoning your seating area on the session floor.
- Refrain from publishing books attacking core Adventism (LGT) and savaging faithful workers and laypeople who preach it, and instead publish books supporting it.
- Cease to publish books supporting the ordination of women and instead publish in support of the world church decisions not to ordain women to the gospel ministry.
- Cease to compare faithful General Conference officers with Nazis, the Inquisition, Popery, Stalin, or the FBI.
- Avoid using the pages of the Adventist Review to publish mysterious articles hinting or insinuating that serious Adventist members who disagree with the ordination of women should be marginalized or otherwise isolated. Instead, publish articles unequivocally supporting the decisions of the world church.
- Refrain from publishing photos taken to demonstrate solidarity with the presidents of conferences or unions which are out of compliance with the world church. Instead, publish photos showing agreement with world church leaders who respect the decisions of the world church.
- Refuse to publish supportive links to articles in Spectrum or Atoday or to non-compliant entities which advocate disregard for General Conference authority.
- Refuse to reproduce in a supportive manner documents by the pro-women's ordination faction in the church such as dissident statements issued by German Conferences or Netherlands Union.
- Address with proper discipline situations such as the baptism of practicing lesbians at the Chico, California Seventh-day Adventist church.
- Avoid all mentions which suggest weaponizing tithe or NAD money in order to have your way.
- Issue a public confession of having caused disunity, and combine this with evidence of action steps taken demonstrating repentance.
The above, executed as actual steps, would begin a process of trust renewal in the North American Division. This seems a constructive way to aid the church in more unitedly advancing its heaven-assigned mission.