Registration is now open for the North American Division Church Planters BootCamp.
This three-day experience has been designed and created exclusively for Church Planters, Pastors, Volunteer Lay Pastors, Church Planting Core Teams, and Conference/Union Leaders currently involved in church planting or planning to plant a church between now and 2022.
The benefits of attending include: practical teaching on how to plant a church from our best church planters in North America, networking opportunities and experiential learning with other practitioners who are traveling the same journey, and in-depth, direct information on funding initiatives which can help church planters navigate the first few years of a new missional congregation.
The following nine Equipping Tracks will be offered during the BootCamp:
-English Track for first time participants
-English Advanced Track for those who already attended the Church Planters BootCamp
-Español para participantes que asisten por primera vez
-Español Avanzado para participantes que han asistido al BootCamp anteriormente
CLICK the picture above or HERE to access the registration page.
For those who missed the VLP Bootcamp, or would like a reminder of the overview that was presented by Jose Cortez, Jr., below is an article to consider.
On the eve of the 2015 North American Division Year End Meetings I felt a bit hesitant and nervous. Pastor Dan Jackson, our Division President, had asked that we developed a bold missional vision for North America. Our team, in consultation with some of our Union and Conference leadership and several pastors, had a plan. During the days before the event we had spent a few hours making presentations to the Union presidents, and Union administrators, without a major pushback, but the next day was the day. Dan had asked to cast the missional vision and launch the initiatives during the Presidential Report and a vote would be taken. This was in no way an attempt to interfere with the great things happening in churches, conferences, and unions across North America. It was an effort for a greater collaboration which would involve as many active participants as possible.My father was home for the meetings. As a Conference President, he would be participating and voting on the missional initiatives. So in an attempt to find assurance before my presentation on the next day, I mentioned to him one of the big pieces of our plan - the Plant1000 Initiative, which calls for 1,000 churches to be planted between 2016 and 2021. After I spoke to him about it, I asked, “Dad, do you think you would support an initiative like that?” The reply from the conference president I thought would be the most supportive one was quick and shocking: “Not sure! In New Jersey we have lots of territories where we need new churches and we have planted a lot of ‘Caleb Missions’” (that’s how they called their church plants there), but it is going to be difficult to plant more. Our budget is maxed with the pastors we have, and we cannot hire more pastors to plant more churches. I am sorry.”
As the conversation continued, I remember thinking about a very special group of people, with whom I had spent a whole weekend at their retreat in Camp Kulaqua, Florida earlier in 2015. I don’t know how much I inspired and taught them during that event, but they had surely inspired and taught me. They were the volunteer lay pastors from Florida Conference. So, I reasoned with my dad: “What if you were to enlist some of the awesome and faithful lay leaders of the Conference, equip them properly, and empower them as church planters?”
On the spot we called our friends, Mike Cauley, Florida Conference President at the time, and Walter Castro, Director of Volunteer Lay Pastors, and we asked them a few questions. During that conversation we learned that there were about eighty-nine volunteer lay pastors in the Florida Conference, who pastored eighty-nine churches and mission groups, with a total of about 12,000 members under their leadership, thus helping the full-time pastors and opening more lanes to plant churches and to do ministry. After the conversation ended, my father said: “I am willing to give that a shot. If it is as good as they say, it can be a blessing to our church and a tremendous help to our pastors who already do so much!” To make a long story short, he supported the Plant1000 initiative, as did the other Conference presidents, but he went beyond that. My dad returned to New Jersey, and between January 2016 and September 2017 (when he retired), twenty-nine new mission groups had been planted under the leadership of volunteer lay pastors working in direct collaboration with the local pastors, making that Conference one of our top church planting Conferences in North America!
History of Volunteer Lay Pastors in North America
Of course, the concept of Volunteer Lay Pastors is not new and has been practiced in North America for over 30 years. There is a document, “The Ministry of the Lay Pastor” which was published in 1988 by our Division. Today, the Ministry of the Volunteer Lay Pastors is operating in several Conferences across North America, and very successfully when done intentionally and is well organized. There have been instances where it has had a negative effect when not carried out appropriately.
Missional Objectives of the Ministry of Volunteer Lay Pastors
As I’ve met with Conference Presidents and Administrators around the Division, the concern continues to be the same, “we have plenty of territories without Adventist presence, we agree that planting churches is vital to reaching each corner of our Conference, yet we do not have enough pastors to plant the churches which need to be planted.” This is how the general interest and the need for Volunteer Lay Pastors began to spark across the North American Division, out of a missional need. The conversation and the need, both, originated locally as several Conference leaders thought about kingdom growth.
The objectives of the Volunteer Lay Pastors Ministry are the following:
1. Put more hands on deck: The Ministry of Volunteer Lay Pastors in North America is not intended to replace full-time pastors, or as a short-cut to full-time ministry, but rather a ministry designated to collaborate with pastors, as more missional lanes are opened to reach the millions of unreached people in our Division.
2. Enable church planting movement: As previously mentioned, it is impossible to plant the amount of churches we need, in order to effectively reach our territory, with pastors alone. Although pastors are key, the work is great, and the laborers are few. Our pastoral team in North American needs help to get the work done! Besides, our Conferences do not have the funds available to hire more pastors to plant more churches. Therefore, the need of enlisting lay leaders, who are dedicated, faithful, skilled, passionate about the mission of the church, and willing to be equipped, is paramount.
3. Provide financial flexibility: I know a pastor in North America who has three churches, and each church is located in a different state. I know many other pastors, in North America, who lead districts with 3-4 very small churches, which are also very far apart. In these types of situations, which are common in our Division, especially in our most rural territories, the pastor spends most of his/her time on the road and the churches are not able to experience the leadership or ministry of the pastor in frequent and consistent manner, creating frustration for the congregations as well as for the pastor. Equipping and appointing volunteer lay pastors, who live in the community and are able to provide presence, and leadership to each one of these churches, would allow the congregations to receive better coverage and at the same time would give the Conference flexibility to place the pastor where his presence, leadership, and gifts can be utilized more efficiently, perhaps in church planting.
In our consultation with Conferences which have done this in an intentional manner, we have heard that both pastors and churches feel positive about the Ministry of Volunteer Lay Pastors.
North American Division Guidelines for Volunteer Lay Pastors
Having considered the previous points and after receiving multiples inquiries from the field about the effectiveness, appropriateness, and legality of having a Volunteer Lay Pastors Ministry, our Ministerial Team worked in collaboration with Secretariat, a group of Conference Presidents and pastors who have been engaged with volunteer lay pastors, and recommended to make the Ministry of Volunteer Lay Pastors official in the North American Division. After two years of hard work and vetting with different teams, committees, and legal counsel, our North American Division Executive Committee officially voted the “North American Division Guidelines for Volunteer Lay Pastors” during our 2017 Year End Meetings.
These guidelines are available for the use of Conferences who have an active Volunteer Lay Pastors Ministry or would like to begin one. There are a few words of caution here, and I will deal with them a bit more in an upcoming newsletter. Yet this is a special word of caution for Conference leaders. If you are going to launch a ministry of Volunteer Lay Pastors in your Conference, please don’t cut corners. Be intentional, well organized, and follow the guidelines, which are in place to bless the church, bless the volunteer lay pastor, and to protect both. The failure to do so, may result in the detriment to the church, the volunteer lay pastor, and the mission of the church in North America. Please, if you are not going to do it right, perhaps it is better to wait till you are ready to do it.
Pastor Jose Cortes Jr., is an Associate Director of the Ministerial Association and leads Evangelism, Church Planting, and Adventist/Global Mission for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.
Registration is now open for the first ever North American Division Volunteer Lay Pastors BootCamp!
It will take place virtually on the weekend of November 6-7, 2020 with the participation of hundreds of Volunteer Lay Pastors from across the United States, Canada, Bermuda, and the islands of Guam and Micronesia. Registration is now open.
This two-day experience has been designed exclusively for Volunteer Lay Pastors, Senior/Supervising Pastors, and Conference/Union Leaders in the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.
The benefits of attending include: practical teachings on how to lead an effective ministry, networking opportunities, and experiential learning with other Volunteer Lay Pastors who are navigating the same journey, as well as inspiration from some of our leading Volunteer Lay Pastors and church leaders in North America.
Here is the link to register: https://www.nadministerial.com/bootcamp
Some time ago I read a very heart-wrenching parable about God's plan of using us to save the world. It made me pause for reflection for some time after reading it. I hope that as you read it you will reflect not only on the idea of reaching out to save others, but on how POWERFUL it will be when God's people work together as teams to reach those around them! How amazing it will be if we use ALL of our resources for His glory and all for just 1 soul if need be. For if one person lives for all eternity, then they will eventually outlive ALL the people who have EVER lived and died on planet Earth (yes Enoch and Elijah are already ahead on that score now)!! Please read this prayerfully:
Inasmuch. . . An allegory based on Matthew 25:31-46 and Education, pages 263-264.
by Judy Burton.
THE OLD MAN AWOKE and glanced at the clock.
Shock registered on his aging face as he realized that he had slept too long. The tide would be coming in and his three youngest children were still out collecting shells on the island. He leaped through the door and ran toward the beach, stumbling over the jagged, cutting rocks.
"My children, my children!" he shouted. "Someone
help my children!" He could see the little island and the rising water between it and the shore. He could faintly make out the outline of the three small bodies against the rugged rocks. "My children will drown. Oh, God, My babies will die. Someone help me!" The water was rising.
Only a matter of time. Higher and higher.
A short distance down the beach he saw a group of picnickers. They would help. His legs nearly buckled as he ran. Nearing the group, he saw his older sons.
"Sit down, Father, and join our potluck. Here's a
chair. We were just wishing that you could be here with us. We wanted to tell you how much we love you." "You'd better rest a minute, Father. You shouldn't run like that at your age. What's the trouble?"
"The island—the little ones are out there. They're going to die!" Great sobs tore through his body.
"Now, Father, calm down! I'm sure it isn't that bad.
Look, the rocks are above water." John clumsily patted the old gray head, then lifted his father's face to his.
"Take it easy. We're here with you, and we love you
"But you don't understand. The tide is rising. Oh, my babies! Please, oh, please, help me."
"There's no rush, Father. Don't let yourself get so
worked up. It's not good for your heart. We'd die if anything happened to you. Say, look. There are Joe and Dave and their new lifesaving boat. They're more able to help than we are."
The weary father turned away and shouted into the wind. Joe and Dave, other sons of his, heard and came in to shore.
"Save the children! The island will be covered soon!"
They seemed to understand and strong hands pulled the weeping man into the boat. Then the eager motor sprang to life and they headed out to sea. In the distance he could see three tiny figures clutching the highest rocks as the waves washed about their feet.
"Hurry, please hurry," he cried.
"Yes, Father, we understand. This is a lifesaving boat and it's really grand. We brought it over today just to show it to you. Look—padded seats, air-conditioned cabin, stereo music—the works. This'll be good PR, Father. When people see this, they'll know it's great to be a son of yours." Dave laid his well-muscled arm around the shaking shoulders.
Joe looked over from behind the controls and tried to ease his father's distress. "Cheer up, Father. Say, look at what this beauty can do." He grinned, gave the throttle a thrust, and spun the wheel. The boat turned in a graceful arc and headed into the waves.
"You're going the wrong way. The tide is coming.
Save my children!"
"Yes, Father, we understand. Didn't we tell you? This is a lifesaving boat. We'll go in a minute. But first look at this."
The boat bounded back and forth across the waves, its powerful motor thrusting forward with thrilling power and speed. Joe executed the turns with smoothness and precision.
"No, no! Please, oh, please!" The father's anguished
voice tore through the wind.
"Look at this, Father."
He could barely see the little ones now. In horror, he imagined their terror and pain. Only the tips of the rocks broke the water now. As he watched, unable to turn away, the dear, sweet heads, one by one, slipped into the waves and disappeared.
"They are gone!" Unbearable anguish ripped his body and he fell prostrate to the floor.
Then—concerned and tender hands gently cradled his frail body. "Father, we love you—please, Father
He gave no answer or indeed any sign that he had
"Father, we didn't know you cared so much. We
love you, Father, don't you understand? If it had been you ---
There was no response. Just wind and waves and—silence.
(REVIEW, JULY 7, 1977; pages 4-5. accessed online HERE).
May we see that it is high time to join the Father in His eternal mission to save as many as possible. May we see that TOGETHER we can better accomplish His purposes, utilize our resources and make an everlasting impact for HIS GLORY!
Murray Miller will be a contributor and the moderator, but many can help to shape the content.