Loneliness is the frequent companion of singles and marrieds, pastors and parishioners alike – and the results can be damaging to one’s life and ministry. Here’s a word up for those who are down alone.Read More
In a time of unparalleled digital connection, finding time for meaningful conversations with those you care for the most becomes challenging.
This second version of the At Home Conversation Starters issue of the CALLED magazine targets both single and married pastors, and chaplains and their spouses. It also features five timely articles and ten short video vignettes, and provides questions to dialogue about with family or colleagues. With a refreshing transparency, the authors have shared their experiences and perspectives, so, we hope that you will be challenged and your understanding and empathy for others in ministry will grow.
This resource can also be used in small or large group discussions. We recommend it for conference workers’ meetings. (One seminary teacher has used part of the July 2015 edition of At Home Conversation Starters 1 in one of his courses.) Feel free to come up with your own ideas and questions, and share them with us. We welcome your feedback!
At Home Conversation Starters is viewed best on your electronic tablet or smartphone. For instructions on how to download the NAD Ministerial Resource app Click this link to subscribe on an Apple powered device, or this link for a Google Play device. PDF Version
Pastors and pastor families are just as human as anyone else. So how do we stay real in the face of it all? How can we lead lives and ministries marked with authenticity and emotional health?Read More
It was my first church where I was the senior pastor and the 7th and 8th grade teacher was for a reason that I can’t now recall needed to be gone and I was asked to teach Bible and PE for a week or so. I had never had any pedagogical training but went to the elementary school to be a teacher. I quickly learned to appreciate the challenges provided by pubescent boys and girls. They were quick to give all the right answers in Bible class but when then we went to recess the Bible lessons we spoke of in class did not have any effect on behavior when it came to playing baseball. I quickly learned that the theory of Christian living in a Bible Class did not always translate into behavior on the ball field.
What is true for pubescent boys and girls is also true of adults who listen to preachers giving moral instruction in church, and is true of some university students who find the freedom of university life releases them from the moral constraints of their home life. After my week of substitute teaching I was ready to go back to pastoral ministry with a greater appreciation for those who have given their lives to teaching. I would encourage every pastor to have such an experience. I not only had a greater appreciation for teachers and the work that they do but I had developed a relationship with many students who were also parishioners of mine and who would, hopefully, pay more attention to the pastor when he/she preached on Sabbath because he/she had spent time on the ball field with them.
Leadership, as John Maxwell says, is influence, and the influence of a pastor is dramatically increased with parishioners when he/she spends time with the children of those parishioners. Whether those children are in elementary school or in college or university. Influence is gained through relationships and there is no quicker way to develop a relationship with church members than to connect with their children. And there is no better way to do that then to spend time either in a local elementary school, academy or college connecting with the young people of the church. It is said that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” well the way to the heart of parishioners is through their children.
My experience as pastor of the university church in Collegedale strengthened the conviction of the importance of building relationships. Being at the university church enabled me to connect with many college students and I learned that they are just older elementary school students. They appreciate personal attention in the same way as younger children do. Connecting with them on the racket ball court or the ball field developed the relationships that enabled my spiritual influence to be more significant. As previously said, “leadership is influence” and you don’t gain influence without building relationships and you don’t just do that from the pulpit.
When I became president of the university I tried to build relationships by teaching a class or two but found that my schedule did not allow it to be done effectively (and besides that I was not the most effective teacher), so I sought other means to build relationships with students. Once again it was playing on the ball field, just watching football/basketball games or eating with students in the cafeteria that enabled me to build connections with students. Showing interest is building influence. When it comes to college students it is not necessary to play games with them. (In fact, given my skill level it was better if I didn’t play with them.) It was just important to show up, listen, and talk to them. The word transparency comes to mind. Influence is developed when the students see the “real you” without putting on the pastoral cloth.
Ellen White wrote in the book Education that “the work of education and the work of redemption are one.” (page 30) For many pastors the most significant evangelism campaign that they embark on will be the work they do among the young people of the church.
I have found that what is true for students in elementary school and academy is also true in the university setting. The expression “out of sight out of mind” too often applies to students who leave home and the local church and make their way to a college or university to continue their education. They are often forgotten by the local church. There are those who complain about the young people leaving the church when they graduate from academy or when they go away to college or university, but do those people remain connected with the young people? As previously indicated, “Leadership is Influence.” We have no influence over those with whom we maintain no connection. It is about relationship and maintaining relationship with the church, and that is not a building, but it is people who love and care for young people and show that through actions.
The single most significant thing that a pastor can do after establishing a position of influence with the young people in his church is to use that influence in encouraging them to attend a Seventh-day Adventist school. Generally, parents and students, particularly those of modest means, believe that they can’t afford higher education. They have heard stories of tuition rates in the multiples of 10 thousand dollars and on their wages, they don’t see how it is possible for them to even think about having their child go to one of the 13 SDA higher education institutions. But the fact is that when you consider scholarships, government aid and work it is not as expensive as it sounds. In fact, it is generally less expensive than sending a student to a boarding academy.
Research[i] demonstrates that when young adults attend Adventist higher education they are
· Eight times more likely to experience professors who helped me develop spiritually.
· Seven times more likely to experience professors who studied the Bible, and prayed with me.
· Seven times more likely to participate in mission service or mission trips.
· Four to five times more likely to work on campus.
· Three times more likely to experience positive dating interactions
· Three times more likely to participate in campus activities, such as sports teams, music groups campus publications, student clubs.
· Two to four times more likely to develop lifelong friendships with classmates, faculty and staff.
· Two times more likely to learn the importance of healthy living.
Churches have school boards to monitor the function of schools, they have Sabbath School Departments that plan programs for all age groups. It would be helpful, even if the church has no young adult class, for there to be a young adult ministry department that maintained connection and therefore relationship with young adults no matter where they were living. When my daughters left home and went away to school you can be sure I maintained close connection with them through care packages, phone calls and visits. It would build influence with our young adults if the church family worked at maintaining close connections with their young adults who went away to school. Why not:
1. Send a care package of goodies.
2. Make a pastoral visit to the campus and take the students from you church out for a meal.
3. Send personal notes or call on birthdays
4. Make a special announcement and welcome students back when they come home for vacation. (“You are missed and loved.”)
5. Make a financial contribution to the student’s education (no matter how small. Education is expensive and your gift will send a significant message of support.
On more than one occasion when I was president of Southern Adventist University I received a thank you email from a student when I simply showed up to watch a basketball game or football game. The pastors who made the effort to travel to Southern once or twice a year to simply take the students from their congregation out to eat developed a positive influence in the lives of those students. So, to sum up the pastor and his//her relationship with college or university students – just show up.
Gordon Bietz serves as the associate director for higher education for the North American Division Education Department
Reprinted from the second quarter 2017 issue of CALLED
[i] CollegeImpact research report results from a study of the college experiences of alumni of Adventist colleges and universities and Adventist graduates of public colleges and universities in North America November 2014
For Pastor Noah L. Washington, “a wonderful field of evangelism” sits in plain view of his church, right across the parking lot.
It’s Columbus Adventist Academy, the school his congregation, Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church, started about 15 years ago.Read More
For church, school and hospital leaders in and around Dayton, Ohio, symbiosis is more than high school biology lesson. It’s the essence of their relationship, which they also describe with words like “synergy” and “interconnected.”Read More
Pastor Cliff Keith sits down with Pastor Seth Pierce and Principal Craig Mattson to find out more about how Puyallup Seventh-day Adventist Church and Northwest Christian school share the same facilities.Read More
The closing of many Adventist schools over the last few years highlights the observation that Churches and Schools seem to be competing for a seemingly dwindling pool of resources. Is it possible to combine resources toward a single mission? The newly released special edition of CALLED magazine answers these questions as it focuses on the relationship between pastors and schools. CALLED can be viewed on your smartphone or tablet and can be downloaded on either the ios or googleplay platforms. You can even download a PDF version.Read More
As a pastor you are probably active in the volunteer placement process in your congregation. As your team begins to explore possible candidates for the position of worship leader, the following article may be helpful.Read More
There is no one-size-fits-all in health ministry. We are working with individuals and communities that have their own specific needs and barriers. Our churches have their own individual list of available resources and talent. But every one of us is called to bear the message of hope, healing, and wholeness.Read More
With the millions of dollars being spent on Adventist Education and on studying the effectiveness of Adventist education would it seem wise to also designate some funding to develop youth ministries specifically targeted to reach the large numbers of Adventist teens that are only marginally being reached by the existing system?Read More
The sad reality is that 247 schools in 14 years or 170 in seven years of our NAD Adventist schools have closed. When I heard this alarming statistic, I asked myself if we in the Seminary can contribute to reversing this trend.Read More
After my week of substitute teaching I was ready to go back to pastoral ministry with a greater appreciation for those who have given their lives to teaching. I would encourage every pastor to have such an experience. I not only had a greater appreciation for teachers and the work that they do but I had developed a relationship with many students who were also parishioners of mine and who would, hopefully, pay more attention to the pastor when he preached on Sabbath because he had spent time on the ball field with them.Read More
Are people placed in ministry positions just to fill empty slots? Or does your congregation’s ministry selection process match gifts with mission? The newly released special edition of CALLED magazine answers those questions in its focus on equipping members for service.Read More
It seems to me that both ministries (Sabbath School and Personal 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!Read More
the church’s media ministry gets to serve the local congregation and the surrounding community through living out and sharing the mission: “Through grace we are a church engaging with each other and our world.”Read More
The church newsletter must be carefully planned and executed, and meticulously reviewed and managed. The newsletter must always meet the church’s objectives in a clear, concise, accurate, and interesting manner.Read More