March 1, 2017 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens/IAD
Top Seventh-day Adventist leaders at the Inter-American Division (IAD) took time last weekend to honor the work of its thousands of church elders who assist pastors in ministering to the 3.7 million members across the vast territory.
The live two-hour online program was also a time to launch a new certification program aimed at equipping church elders who nurture and disciple members every week across more than 21,000 churches and congregations in the IAD.
“You as church elders are called by the congregation to do the same spiritual work as the pastor, to ensure that each [believer] remains saved in Jesus,” said Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America, as he addressed the scores of viewers.
Pastor Leito reminded church elders that besides preaching and coordinating the church’s program each week they have specific responsibilities like visiting members in their homes, and being dedicated spiritual leaders. “By visiting members, listening to their needs and ministering to them spiritually it helps them to intercede for the Lord,” said Pastor Leito.
Equipping the more than 30,000 active church elders in Inter-America is vital in keeping members and getting them involvement in the mission of the church, said Pastor Josney Rodríguez, associate ministerial secretary for the church in Inter-America and main organizer of the live event.
The 3,200 pastors can only “shepherd the flock” and move forward with the church’s evangelistic efforts and other activities alongside the support of church elders, explained Rodríguez.
“This project has to do with ensuring that each one of the congregations in our Inter-American Division is being cared for correctly,” said Rodríguez, “and that means and that means that each church elder should complete a certification program that will provide leadership and ecclesiastic training.”
Coined as Every Elder Involved, the comprehensive certification program will include three levels of training and developmental skills, with the first focused on spiritual emphasis to strengthen the ministry of elders in preaching, pastoral roles and discipleship, explained Rodríguez.
The second level will seek to empower the elders to oversee the membership going above and beyond the simple planning of church service and organization of the calendar, to accompany the district pastor in caring individually for the sheep of the flock, while keeping follow-up record of church members.
The third level of certification will include use of a special software application that will serve as a tool to share information with the elders regarding their training, evaluations, resources, record of visitation and discipleship reports, and more.
The certification is intended to take place for the next three years until 2019 with 60 hours of training, which will review doctrines, unity in the church, family, music, and post-modernism, among others, organizers said.
“We are looking for this program to have an extraordinary impact across the territory, because it’s about keeping the flock, every church, the sheep that the Lord has given us,” said Rodríguez.
Rodríguez reported that more than 13,000 church elders have already registered to begin the first level of certification training across Inter-America’s unions, or major church regions
Ministerial Association Secretary Héctor Sánchez challenged church elders to seek out the sheep in the congregation and care for them just as pastors are entrusted to do so.
Sánchez also spoke on the importance of recognizing the work of church elders in the territory and honored a dozen of church elders from the IAD who have served for more than 30 or 40 years in their local congregations.
The live online program drew some 1,166 connections in more than 47 countries all around the world.
The program also included presentations from IAD Treasurer Filiberto Verduzco on ensuring the care of church property and the proper management of the church’s financial resources; IAD Communication Director Abel Márquez on using technology, available tools and resources to network and connect with the church membership.
To view the online program click HERE
For information on the Every Elder Involved certification program visit everyelderinvolved.com
To view a photo gallery of the online program, click HERE