January 31- February 2, leaders gathered from around Wisconsin for Lay Pastor Training at our Conference Center in Fall River. Here is a brief synopsis for those unable to attend, and an encouragement for those who may be considering joining these trainings as God places it upon your heart….
Revitalizing Worship – Revitalizing Mission. There is no better way to open our learning sessions than with worship of our great Creator God. Have you considered that each Sabbath Worship includes everybody? Pastor Rowell Puedivan from the Madison Community District presented biblically that GOD IS OUR AUDIENCE, not the congregation. The musicians who prayerfully prepare, practice, and rehearse no matter the level of musicianship are not getting up as the congregation’s personal entertainment…NO WAY! We are humbly presenting worshipful gifts and words to our one and only God. And worship is not a spectator sport…those in the congregation should be joining in. (And by the way, the musicians are not providing background music for your conversations with each other either… please be respectful of our God, His sanctuary, and His people and take those conversations out to the narthex, even during special music or concerts.)
Give God the worth He deserves. Worship shows we understand God’s free grace…when that is the central theme, Jesus as the Way the Truth and the Life…it is about God not our ability…we do it because we know we have been saved by His grace. The only response we can make is worship…and that includes each individual.
Want to personally read what is the biblical role of worship and specifically music in worship? Here are just a few texts: Psalm 27:6, Psalm 150:3-4, James 5:13, Psalm 32:7-8, Ephesians 5:18-19, Psalm 40:3. Spiritual music= spiritual people: 1 Chronicles 23:3-5, 2 Chronicles 5:12-14, 20:15,18-24. We are to give everything in worship: body, mind, and spirit.
We were also given creative worship ideas for including generations and music talents for our mission oriented churches.
Worship. Sabbath morning, Adam Case, Wisconsin Conference Ministerial Director, spiritually fed this faithful bunch with a message about Jesus’ anticipations…His birth, His ministry, His death…Yet even more so, His resurrection and victory over death. Now He has tremendous anticipation over coming back and getting to spend all eternity with you!
Church Doctrine: Our Fundamental Beliefs. And then, our group got to explore our 28 Fundamental Beliefs. Hang on: Don’t fall asleep or check out now…. have you read them or are you blindly going on what you’ve heard from someone else? Our beliefs as Seventh-day Adventists are beautifully Christ centered and are not a dry list of “do’s and don’ts”… And they are not our Creed. The Bible is our unchangeable Creed. Our beliefs are a framework; statements that may and can be changed to be more inline for enlightenment through scripture. As an educator for 26 years, I assign you the task of reading and studying these for yourself and with your family…please know for yourself, as you should the Bible, and not just take my word, or rely on anyone else’s. “Come, let us reason together.” Isaiah 1:18
Church Discipline. Adam Case delved into the ever hot and uncomfortable topic of church discipline: Why do we do it? Our church has created careful guidelines to maintain harmony amongst the body of Christ. Focus needs to be maintained on loving persons enough to point them back to Jesus, reclaiming people for Christ mercifully through redemption. And note: avoiding necessary corrections is as wrong as disciplining in a wrong or mean-spirited way. There are biblical precedences and steps to follow, which again, our leadership has outlined. Church discipline should be done as little as necessary, but as often as needed.
Sharing Time. Pastor Titus Naftanaila, from the Green Bay District, set aside time for each member present to give a testimony as to how Jesus is leading in their lives and in the current service to each member’s local churches. This is truly a collective of servant leaders, and God inspired people. And there is room at the table for more individuals….
Cultivating a Gossip-resistant Church was the next subject addressed by Pastor Titus. Gossip is defined as bearing bad news behind someone’s back, out of a bad heart. And gossip is everywhere: on line, television, in the workplace, in our families, and even our churches. The Bible has clear words about gossip as can be found in the book of Proverbs 20:19, 17:4, and 26:22. So why do we do it? Everyone loves a story and unfortunately we humans are attracted to the wrong stories, often out of anger and unhappiness, or to feel superior over someone else.
A basic rule to keep at the forefront of our thoughts: we don’t gossip if we are loving people…we want to cover and protect them instead.
Instead of gossip speaking, say nothing at all, and/or provide encouragement. Talk to people, not about them, and offer words of mercy. Talk to and about the Lord.. bring Him into the equation.
There is oh so much more to be said on this topic, yet each person can check out what the Bible has to say in dealing with this in such texts as 2 Corinthians 12:20, 1 Timothy 5:13, Matthew 18:15-17. Regarding guidance for church leadership: 1 Timothy 5:19-21, Proverbs 6:16-19.
How to Lead a Small Church. Are you a member of a small congregation? Be not afraid. When Jesus is leading, there is a specific purpose only your group can fulfill. As a little David (small church) you don’t need to put on Saul’s armor (a larger church’s mission) to fight the Goliath in your community. God has got you; keep your focus on what He can do, is doing, and His victory…it’s all about Him anyway! The American Dream says “bigger is better”, and that may not be God’s way…remember Jesus stuck with twelve disciples. Do what you as a collective do well, and your unique connections within your communities. Fulfill the Great Commission while equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry.
Pastor Titus shared these good, common sense tips with our Lay Pastor group:Stop doing “come and watch” events and instead think in terms of the following: Come and Help, Come and Give, Come and Have Fun with us, Come and Learn, Come and Worship.
“Not every church is called to be bigger, but every church is mandated to do effective ministry, and every church can.”
Finding Jesus in the Book of Daniel
On Sunday morning, Pastor Myoung Kwon from the Waukesha District beautifully helped us to rediscover Jesus as the main character of the books of Daniel and Revelation. Also, the seminar about the Intergenerational church emphasized the idea that all generations have to worship, have fellowship, and minister together as a spiritual family of God.
Jill Ahrens, Sparta SDA Church, LaCrosse District