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Introduction—In order to fulfill the North American Division

(NAD) goal of planting new churches, additional personnel is

needed and that can be partially met by using volunteers to assist

regular pastoral teams. Additionally, due to the trend of assigning

more churches to conference-employed pastors, volunteer lay

pastors can perform a valuable service to the churches in the NAD.

A volunteer lay pastor is an individual who has not been

professionally trained for ministry, has not worked as a licensed or

ordained/commissioned minister, and is not a ministerial retiree.

These guidelines are provided so that the church in the NAD

recognizes the valuable service of VLPs and, at the same time,

follow denominational policies, laws, and regulations.

Role and Function of a VLP —1. Purpose:The purpose of

the VLP program is to provide pastoral assistance to a church or

company under the oversight of a designated supervising pastor.

2.Focus: The specific function of a VLP depends on the needs

of the congregation or group where the VLP serves. In consultation

with the supervising pastor, the VLP needs to focus on areas such

as preaching, conducting the Lord’s Supper, visitation, evangelism,

planning, and overseeing other church meetings and programs.

3.Teachings and practices: The VLP needs to know and follow

the teachings and practices of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

This includes, but is not limited to, believing in and supporting the

Fundamental Beliefs and following Seventh-day Adventist

practices, such as faithful stewardship.

4.Reports to supervising pastor: The VLP reports to the

supervising pastor. The supervising pastor will give leadership to

the VLP by adhering to these guidelines, conference policies, and

input from the conference ministerial secretary who is the

conference coordinator of VLPs. Since the VLP is under the

direction of the supervising pastor, the function and contact

information for the supervising pastor needs to be communicated

in bulletins, web listings, etc.

5.Ordained elder: The VLP must be an elected elder of the

congregation (if it is a company or group, then of the sponsoring

church). It is recommended that the VLP not serve as the head


6.Relationship to head elder and other elders: The VLP

functions under the direction of the supervising pastor and is an

extension of the supervising pastor’s ministry. In view of that

relationship, the VLP needs to follow the policies and guidelines

defining the relationship between pastor and elders. These policies

and guidelines are stated in the Church Manual and amplified in

theMinister’s Handbook and Elder’s Handbook.

7.Limitations of role: The VLP is not authorized to organize or

disband churches, officiate (though may participate) in the

ordination of elders, deacons, or deaconesses, or conduct

counseling therapy. The VLP may participate in weddings, only as

permitted by conference policy and applicable laws and


8.Baptizing: The VLP, who is also an ordained elder, may

baptize as recommended by the supervising pastor and approved

by the conference president, as stipulated in the Church Manual.

9.Church Board: As an elder, the VLP is a member of the

Church Board. The pastor, according to the Church Manual, is the

chair of the Board. The pastor has the authority to appoint an elder

to serve as the chair and thus the supervising pastor may designate

the VLP (who is an elder) to be board chair. The chairing of the

Board by the VLP is at the sole discretion of the supervising


10.Tithe, offerings, and reports: The VLP will follow the

denominational policies regarding the receiving of tithe and

forwarding tithe and non-local offerings to the conference. The

VLP will also work with the congregation to make certain reports,

such as clerk and baptismal reports, are submitted to the


11.Not a Path to Ministry: The VLP is a volunteer and

recognizes that the VLP program is not a path to ministry. The

path to ministry is outlined in NAD Working Policy and those

wishing to enter full-time ministry need to follow it.

12.No remuneration: The VLP is not a conference employee

and will not receive any compensation from the conference,

congregation, or individuals for pastoral functions. The conference

may arrange to reimburse the volunteer for travel and other

approved expenses. Any such arrangements must be stated in the

Condition of Volunteering form that will be signed by the

conference and the VLP.

13.Denominational policies: The VLP needs to know

appropriate policies and procedures (such as the Church Manual,

Minister’s HandbookElder’s Handbook, and conference policies)

and follow them.

Qualifications and Ethical conduct of a VLP—1. Theological:

The VLP, under the leadership of the supervising pastor,

will exercise great care to use resources that are in harmony with

denominational teachings. This includes, but is not limited to,

resources for sermons.

2.Background check: The VLP will undergo a background

check as stipulated in the NAD Working Policy.

3.Financial integrity: The VLP will neither solicit nor accept

financial gifts from members or visitors.

The Conference and the VLP—1. Administrator of the plan:

The conference is the administrator of VLPs. It is the responsibility

of the conference coordinator to explain the VLP program to the

volunteer, the supervising pastor, and the congregation.

2.Conference coordinator: The ministerial secretary, or

designee, is the conference coordinator for VLPs.

3.Training and evaluation: It is the responsibility of the

conference coordinator of VLPs to provide training and resources

to the VLPs and supervising pastors. Initially the VLP shall receive

a minimum of 20 hours training and thereafter at least 20 hours of

training each year. Additionally, the conference coordinator, in

consultation with the supervising pastor and congregation, shall

conduct an annual evaluation of the VLP. If needed, the evaluation

may be conducted more frequently.

4.Length of appointment: The conference executive committee

appoints a VLP for a period of one year. With input from the

supervising pastor and conference ministerial secretary, the

appointment may be renewed. Either party may terminate the

agreement with notice to the other.

5.Communicate with the congregation: It is the responsibility

of the conference, along with the supervising pastor, to explain the

role of the VLP and make certain that the VLP is properly

introduced to the congregation.

6.Identification card: The conference will provide a completed

identification card for each VLP (template provided by NAD).

7.Business card: The conference will provide a business card


The Division and the VLP—1. Provide guidelines: The North

American Division will provide and update, as needed, guidelines

for the VLP program.

2.Advisory Committee: The Division will appoint a VLP

advisory committee. The committee chair will be the division

ministerial secretary; the secretary will be the division associate

ministerial secretary who coordinates the VLP program.

3.Resources: The Division ministerial association will provide

training resources, Condition of Volunteering form to be

completed by the conference and the VLP, identification cards

template for the conference to complete, and business card