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CSPS to Host Year-End Global Mission Center Directors’ Meeting at the “Zero Church” Plant in Madrid, Spain

By: Samantha Angeles Peralta

On December 3-8, 2018, the directors of the Office of Adventist Mission’s six Global Mission Centers, along with staff members, will gather in Madrid, Spain, for the yearly Global Mission Center Directors’ Meeting.

Photo courtesy of Adventist Global Mission

The six Global Mission Centers include the Center for East Asian Religions, Center for South Asian Religions, Global Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations, World Jewish Adventist Friendship Center, Global Mission Urban Center, and the Center for Secular and Postmodern Studies.

“The centers were set up 20 years ago to help the Church understand the people groups that we have historically struggled to reach,” said Homer Trecartin, director of the Global Mission Centers. “As a church, we’ve done well reaching out to people with a Christian background, but we have struggled to reach the majority of the world, which primarily has a non-Christian background. So our Centers have been experimenting with different projects, doing research and producing materials to help us share our faith with these people groups. It’s exciting to see the work grow in different places.”

Zero Church in Madrid, Spain

The annual Global Mission Center Directors’ Meeting is an informal gathering that each of the six centers hosts in turn. This year, the Center for Secular and Postmodern Studies (CSPS) will host the group in Madrid, Spain, near the Zero Church community.

Photo courtesy of Cero Church

“The goal is for the Center directors to have an experience in a real context that will stretch and challenge us,” said Kleber Gonçalves, director of CSPS. “Even though each Center deals with a different worldview, we are all dealing with human beings who are looking for similar things. I believe these cross-experiences help us learn about different cultural realities, broaden our perspectives and energize our ministries.”

In 2016, Zero Church, a pilot project of CSPS, began as an experimental ministry community focused on reaching secular and postmodern Spaniards who are “starting from zero” in their relationship with God. (See “Starting from Zero” for a more in-depth exploration of this church plant).

Now, as a result of Zero Church’s ministry through community service projects, small groups and church services, Zero has an average of 100 attendees each Sabbath, most of whom were previously unchurched, and the community is now looking to rent a new space that will fit their growing congregation.

“By God’s grace, this project has advanced quickly, and has been a blessing to the Spanish Union,” said Gonçalves. “I believe that it can be a blessing to Europe, and potentially develop models of outreach within the secular European context.”

Photo courtesy of Cero Church

The Center leaders will spend the last two days of the week-long meeting, Friday and Sabbath, with the Zero Church community. This time will include participating in children’s hospital visits, feeding the homeless on Sabbath morning, and other community service projects that have been so effective in drawing secular Spaniards to the church. The Center leaders will also join Zero for their Sabbath services and interview the church leaders, including Jonathán Contero, the Zero Church pastor.

“We hope that the Center leaders experience our church’s environment of hospitality, of acceptance, of the love of Jesus, and our value on family and relationships,” said Contero. “I hope that they see that this ministry is working with the secular Spaniards who come our church.”

Trecartin expressed anticipation for the time spent with the Zero Church community, knowing it will be mutually beneficial.

“We’ll give them some encouragement and get some encouragement,” said Trecartin. “We’ll sense the struggle of what it’s like to try to reach a massive city like Madrid that has a secular, postmodern European mindset. It’s exciting to see that if we sincerely want to learn about a group of people, become their friend and truly care about them, we will have an opportunity to share Jesus with them.”

Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide

Photo from Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide

A special focus of this year’s meeting is the development of a missions-themed lesson series for the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide (commonly known as the “quarterly” among Adventist readers).

The six center directors, along with the directors for Global Mission and Adventist Mission, will spend the first two days of the meeting with Clifford Goldstein, editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, to bring together their collective mission expertise on Adventist missions on behalf of the world church.

“Cliff will help us brainstorm how to develop lessons that are cohesive, rather than six different lessons that sound like six different authors wrote them,” said Trecartin. “We want to teach about our work in ways that will be meaningful to the world church.”

Global Mission Issues Committee

Another primary function of the Global Mission Center Directors’ meeting is the selection of issues to bring forward for discussion at the next Global Mission Issues Committee, one of the pre-meetings for the GC Annual Council. This day-long meeting with Division officers and GC leaders is focused on challenges faced by the Centers, and has led to significant missional decisions that have impacted the world Church, including the addition of the 28th Fundamental Belief.

Photo from Global Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations

“The 28th Fundamental Belief came as a result of this group recognizing that there’s a non-western part of the world that looks at spiritualism and the spiritual power of prayer in a different way than the rest of the world,” said Trecartin. “We needed another Fundamental Belief that helped those people understand prayer from a biblical perspective.”

In the past, conversations from this meeting have also resulted in adjustments to the language of the Church Manual to make it more accessible to people from non-Christian backgrounds; provided guidelines for helping polygamous families in the transition of becoming Adventist; and addressed issues that have historically hindered those in the world religions from belonging to the Adventist Church.

“We want to bring forward topics that the committee can wrestle with that will make a difference in the work of the church for the future,” said Trecartin. “We want it to be interesting, exciting and meaningful.”

Fellowship & Encouragement

Though the Center leaders have much to accomplish in this week-long gathering, an important aspect of the experience is simply the opportunity for the leaders to fellowship and encourage one another.

“This is a time of bonding and sharing,” said Trecartin. “We, the Center directors, face a challenge that very few other people in the church face. Though we work with different unreached people groups, there’s a lot of similarities, a lot of isolation. This meeting gives them a chance to open up freely, share what they’re wresting with and be encouraged.”

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