Lay Pastors from around Wisconsin converged for an inspiring training at our SDA conference office on May 17-19, 2019, at Fall River. Pastor Titus Naftanaila put together another amazing weekend for the group…we were educated, encouraged, and renewed. It is quite possible to expound each presentation into its own thesis, yet here are a few “nuggets of gold” from this weekend…
One would think hearing about our church’s administrative structure would be dryly informative, yet Brian Stephan did a tremendously interesting and eye-opening presentation on our church’s history, forming, growth, and order. One of the many take-aways from his time with us is that our NAD (North American Division) website offers many resources and good videos to help our membership understand where tithe dollars are used, especially within our World Budget.
Pastor Titus gave our encouraging Sabbath morning devotional.
Linda Bishop, one of the Wisconsin Lay Pastor originals, delivered a compelling message and testimony as God continues to strengthen and guide through her recent loss of her husband, Bill. Words are inadequate to express how God is using, and how great a love He shows through Linda in her ministries…to God be the glory! We continue to uplift the Bishop family in prayer.
Personal devotions…time with God, our Savior, being filled with His spirit. Even Pastors must make the place in the day to pause…amidst sermon prep, visitations, various distractions, meetings, life as the man of the house, family time. And Lay Pastors need to do so as well. Pastor Titus was inspiring in sharing his humbly real journey and importance in carving out this valuable period in his day.
Have you ever considered all of the characters in a Bible story and the different perspectives each one would have within the same event? Our Lay Pastor group brought characters to life in the story of blind Bartimaeus found in Mark 10:46-52. Some portrayed the blind man, himself. Others were disciples, Pharisees, and unhealed witnesses. Think about doing so in your personal study time, or group Bible Study. This is yet another powerful method to bring God’s Word alive in a meaningful way.
Groundwork was laid to the topic of Spiritual Transformation and what it looks like, as well as the process. In a nutshell? It’s a decision. A conscious choice. A process God lovingly takes each through, but daily answering His knock on the door of your heart is the key to beginning this precious journey.
Conflict within a Church?! Yes, it can exist. The Joys and Pitfalls of Conflict Management: Matthew 18.
Pastor Jonathan Fetrick did a masterful job in presenting his varied experiences of conflicts (that would hold potential to drive one from the Ministry). Praise God for His Biblical consuls in such situations and for wise support our pastors are given within our NAD. The struggle is real people…we need to pray for our pastors and congregations fervently, as well as to follow the guidelines given to us directly from God’s own word…lovingly discuss your conflict with the person individually as a dear brother/sister and work privately towards resolution, instead of broadcasting your woes to the public first…please!
Jonathan became our professor as he instructed our Lay Pastor group through a professional level of sermon preparation. We were held to task through a four-step process…and have been refined in our sermon structuring. It’s all good, all good, no one cried for “mercy.” May we serve God with clearer messages from His word, inspiring the fold to not only make but find time to seek deeper relationships with our Heavenly Father.
Pastor Sheldon Bryan traveled from Milwaukee to present Sunday morning on finding a vision for each church. A needful topic. I’m sure the group in attendance had many points to ponder and to bring back to their home churches.
“Why be a Lay Pastor? That’s the pastor’s job and he/she is paid for it.” Has our God called only pastors??? If our Savior has placed on your heart a love for people, for nurturing the spiritual growth of those in your church family, a desire to serve your community…to be on the front lines where you are at, then you are already a minister reaching those God has uniquely given to you as His instrument, His presence… you are already a Lay Pastor.
You have NOTHING TO LOSE and ALL TO GAIN in receiving these trainings our Wisconsin SDA Conference offers. You are here “for such a time as this”…so as we embark on these last days, let’s do so together with confidence and surety these trainings offer. Three valuable weekends a year, Friday evening through Sunday noon…pray about it. The next training is the first weekend in November, and we hope to see you there!
Jill Rae (Lawson) Ahrens, Sparta SDA
Photo credits: Rob Ahrens