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January 19, 2018


Revisiting the Call

 In 2 Timothy 1, the Apostle Paul counseled young Timothy to remember his calling and ordination to the gospel ministry. It came at a time when Timothy was being affected by the arrest of his mentor, Paul, who could perish anytime as noted in chapter 4:6: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.”  The likelihood of a possible death may have led Paul to confront Timothy to be bold and not timid, for he said, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind(1 Tim. 1:7, NKJV).  Consequently, Paul admonished Timothy, “That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us(2 Tim. 1:14, NKJV). Additionally, he advised him “to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Tim. 1:6).

When Last Did You Reconsider Your Call to Ministry?

As a pastor, departmental director or officer and by implication, local church elder, it could have been 50, 30, 10 or 5 years ago since you were ordained. But with time and the daily demands of the church or office as in my case, it is possible to get caught up in the maize of doing things, meeting deadlines and preparing for some board or committee, not to mention travels; and rightly so, for these need to be attended to. Notwithstanding the need to address these, time must be found to revisit the uniqueness of God’s initial communication or impression upon us to enlist in His work. That confronts me every now and then especially when I engage in some outreach. To explain, it is never easy to break away from the routine of the office as an administrator and engage primarily in evangelism. However, there is such a joy that I experience when I do this.

Why Get Involved?

Apart from the need to get in the trenches of crusades and revival pulling us away from the office, the upcoming LTM Celebration from March 23 to April 7 in Haiti accords some of us throughout the Division territory to get involved. In fact, it is personal for me and the Atlantic Caribbean Union as LTM will be hosted in the four conferences that make up the union. Already, our LTM union coordinator, Pastor Peter Kerr, is working assiduously in targeting key personnel, providing ongoing training and attention ensuring that ATCU will be ready for possibly 50 pastors, who will conduct short reaping campaigns in all four fields of the union. With a soul goal of 10,000 members for the period 2016 to 2020 and somewhat now behind our target, we are determined to have a great time of harvest across our union. As such, the support of each member in accordance with Total Member Involvement is being pursued by each local field. Furthermore, the focus of Lord Transform Me allows for each member to visit his or her call to some form of ministry in the context of the priesthood of all believers. What a privilege! What an honor to work for God and to be reminder of the initial call to ministry!


Ministerial Weekly is a weekly article for pastors and elders produced by the Ministerial Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Inter-American Division / Author: Pastor Leonard Johnson, IAD Associate Ministerial Secretary 



January 12, 2018


Pastoring Made Easy

The above caption may prove to be misleading, especially when one considers the demands of pastoring today. Nevertheless, pastoring can be fun? I declare yes, it can be exciting and fulfilling. Here are a few basic but far reaching steps.

Staying in Touch with the Source

Unlike other professions, pastoring is a calling. However, that is not to say that one may not sense a spiritual pull or liking to a given profession. My point is to underscore the need for a deep spiritual conviction before getting into pastoral ministry. Otherwise, one is likely to be unhappy or non-committal in the midst of opposition and pressure. Ellen White notes that “The greatest work, the noblest effort, in which men can engage is to point sinners to the Lamb of God (Gospel Workers, p.18). And the Bible confirms, “No man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was” (Heb. 5:4).

Given this fact, it is absolutely necessary that one who ministers to others engages in meaningful time with God daily- if he or she is to be effective in reaching others. That involves daily devotion and reading to feed one’s soul, praying consistently.

Love People and Love to Serve

It is not easy to love in every instance, but to be a pastor is to model Christ. He demonstrated an unparalleled caring disposition for people of all ages. Recall in Mark 10 that children were brought to Jesus, but His disciples thought that Jesus was too busy to concern Himself with such little ones. But how mistaken were they, for He said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for such is the Kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14, NKJV).

Not everyone possesses an outgoing nature, nonetheless one can still foster a caring attitude for parishioners. Even when he or she is met with opposition and/or coldness, a pastor can determine that he/she will reach out and minister. That involves picking up the phone and calling to inquire how the member is doing. It involves sending e-mails and yes, answering emails, returning calls in a timely fashion. Additionally, it involves visiting members and their relatives at home and in the hospital. Members love it when they know that their pastor cares. You have heard that “people are not interested in how much you know until they know how much you care.”

To visit requires a bit of discipline. Schedule regular visits on given days, and eventually it will become a pattern.

Teach and Preach the Bible

Teaching and preaching demand study, and study demands discipline. Fortunately, there are numerous resources to aid a pastor in sermon preparation.  However, he or she must pull away and read and pray, and read and pray until God gives understanding. Now that takes time, and hence the need to set aside study time. He or she may not be dynamic or the best orator, but when people sense an anointing upon the pastor’s life, they will trust him/her and call upon him/her for prayer and counsel. Stay with God long enough and He will give you something to say. So you can be a great pastor by adhering to these simple steps.


Ministerial Weekly is a weekly article for pastors and elders produced by the Ministerial Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Inter-American Division / Author: Pastor Leonard Johnson, IAD Associate Ministerial Secretary 



January 5, 2018


Preventing Drop Outs

So often pastors and church administrators are questioned and criticized about the retention of new believers. There are those who feel that the same energy and enthusiasm that go into bringing persons to baptism need to follow post baptism. Some observe that there would seem to be a cut off period. In some instances, the observation and criticism are true. As pastors, leaders and elders we can do more and need to do more even with the training of members to assume their role in helping to nurture and anchor new converts. Therefore, in this article, I will seek to make some observations that may prove beneficial in this regard.

Looking at New Believers

As the caption denotes, new believers are new believers just like new babes needing love, food, changing and attention again and again and again. Noted Evangelist Mark Finley states, “Baptism is not a panacea to solve all spiritual problems.” In fact, from my personal experience and observation, the act of baptism may result in problems and difficulties for new converts.  From unwarranted criticism to isolation of family; to transitioning to a new church and making new friends, pose challenges and difficulties, to say the least. Then, adjusting and living up to the high standards of the new faith are not easy! Compounding the situation is the lack of acceptance or tolerance of “old members” – Old, not so much as in age, but as persons who have been in the church for some time. With a slip here and there, or a failure to maintain a certain “walk” may draw uncalled-for remarks such as “I told you he was not ready,” or “They are not serious.”
 
Time and Attention Are Needed

It takes time to assimilate and adjust to new ways, practices and make new friends. Have you ever visited a new church, or attended a new school or university? That calls for serious adjustment for some of us. Becoming a member of the Adventist church can be radical. For example, up to three weeks ago, you went out on Friday evenings and did house chores on Saturdays. Now three weeks later, you are attending church, and with the crusade having ended, there is no Friday night meeting, and you are at home with a non-Adventist spouse and possibly children. The television channel is turned on to basketball or some weekly sitcom that you watched. If only the world could come to a stop and all observe the Sabbath, but that does not happen. And if you are without family and friends to assist, it gets really unsettling. Of course, your appetite has not necessarily changed. It may be changing, so if the conch or pork is being cooked, or your spouse desires that you continue preparing his favorite dish of “pig feet,” you have real issues. How does one transition? These are not imaginary questions; they are real.

What Can the Church Do?

Ellen White makes the point: “Those who have newly come to the faith should be patiently and tenderly dealt with, and it is the duty of the older members of the church to devise ways and means to provide help and sympathy and instruction for those who have conscientiously withdrawn from other churches for the truth’s sake, and thus cut themselves off from pastoral labor to which they have been accustomed” (Evangelism, p. 351). 

As pastors and elders, we must teach our members to share the load and responsibility of caring for one another. There by not every eye or person will be focused on the pastor to do evangelism and conserve new believers following crusades.  Also, we need to teach them how to be practical and patient; so with certain dress styles worn by some recently baptized ones, the older members need not hit the roof and say the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, place a loving arm around the young brother or sister in the faith and offer to assist. Take the person home regularly, or if this is not possible, ensure there is a meal at church in order to assimilate and establish the new member. Also, invite him or her over to your house on Friday evening to welcome the Sabbath, or if situation allows, go to their house for the same. Call regularly and visit. Just as it takes time to nurture an infant, it takes time to nurture babes in Christ. We can do better, and we need to. 


Ministerial Weekly is a weekly article for pastors and elders produced by the Ministerial Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Inter-American Division / Author: Pastor Leonard Johnson, IAD Associate Ministerial Secretary 



Ministerial Weekly is a weekly article for pastors and elders produced by the Ministerial Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Inter-American Division / Author: Pastor Leonard Johnson, IAD Associate Ministerial Secretary