I continue to be amazed at our Lord’s “sense of humor.” That He would give an opportunity to one who was raised in a housing project—the Richard Allen Homes—of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and assign same to a Seventh-day Adventist pastoral ministry post in 1973, which has continued through local conference directorship, conference presidency, and the union secretariat to this day, never ceases to amaze me! That He would give you the privilege, and honor, of mentoring/guiding ministry department leaders in your local congregation should lead you into continuous shouts of “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”
That you stand as the visible head of a local congregation, whose members call you “Pastor,” is an honor of the highest order in and of itself. That the members look to you for guidance, mentoring, and inspiration toward the competencies required to lead people to unite in “advancing the kingdom” toward the “growth of the church,” which will result from the “stable functioning” of the ministries that emerge through the members of the church.
By making use of the processes that it adopts for placement of ministry personnel, a pastor is likely to hear this question raised by a newly appointed person: “Now that I’ve been elected to serve as a Sabbath school or personal ministries leader, what do I do?”
While by now you have come to sense that not even my nickname is Solomon, it is my hope that you will find at least one of these thoughts beneficial for one of those times the question is posed to you.
Pastor, I encourage you to make sure the person realizes that you are a real, “regularized” minister, called by God to serve through His church in these last days! In 1 Peter 2:9 the apostle Peter declares to all who serve through God’s church, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood [of ministers, and there are no biblical qualitative distinctions regarding anointing—either we are or we are not!], an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (KJV).
Pastor, please impress upon the local church leader that he or she is an official agent of heaven, assigned to assist others in the process of “choosing to make the journey”—whose anointing comes from the same source as yours! Pastor, yours is a serious, vital assignment.
Pastor, also ask the newly appointed local church leader to realize that the objectives of the two ministries (Sabbath school and personal ministries) are the same. That’s right! I said it! By definition, “Sabbath school is Seventh-day Adventist local church educational fellowship that builds faith and practice in the context of the four goals of Sabbath school: Bible study, community outreach, fellowship and nurture, and world mission emphasis.” Personal ministries is any ministry carried out by individual members or small groups focused on direct evangelistic contact. It seems to me that both ministries are like two trains that depart from the same location on parallel tracks for the purpose of transporting the maximum number of passengers that need to reach the same destination at the same time! Different vehicles—same destination! Sabbath school and personal ministries! So please do all you can to eliminate some of the stresses that arise between these ministries.
Pastor, please encourage the local church leader to seek direction from such training resources as www.festivalofthelaity.com, www.adventsource.org, www.sabbathschoolpersonalministries.org, and Christian Service and Counsels on Sabbath School Work, by Ellen G. White.
In conclusion, Pastor, please implore, beg, this new leader to make use of his or her most powerful asset—power for his or her various ministries through prayer!
“The greatest victories gained for the cause of God are not the result of labored
argument, ample facilities, wide influence or abundance of means; they are gained in the audience chamber with God, when with earnest, agonizing faith men lay hold upon the mighty arm of power.”[i]
It is my prayer that at this point you have other options to the “What can I do?” question. Blessings! Maranatha!
[i]Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1915), p. 259. (Italics supplied.)
J. Alfred Johnson II serves as director of adult ministries for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.