Local church elders from Chiapas, Mexico, hold their certificates during the second online certification program launch by the Inter-American Division’s Ministerial Associationheld in Chiapas Convention Center in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico, Feb. 16, 2019. Photo by Libna Stevens/IAD

February 20, 2019 | Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico | Libna Stevens/IAD

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America launched the beginning of its special certification program for thousands of local church elders across the Inter-American Division (IAD) territory, during an online event from Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico, on Feb. 16, 2019.

The two-and-half-hour online session is part of the comprehensive certification training program aimed at equipping church elders to better nurture and disciple members throughout the more than 22,000 churches and congregations across the IAD.

IAD President Pastor Elie Henry challenges church elders across the territory to double their efforts in discipleship in their local congregations. Photo by Libna Stevens/IAD

Coined as Every Elder Involved, the initiative is on its second of three levels of training and development skills program focused on empowering and providing tools to church elders on discipling others.

IAD President Pastor Elie Henry challenged the more than 2,000 at the Chiapas Convention Center and online viewers to double their efforts in discipling and motivating more members to be involved in the mission of the church.

“To be effective in discipling others you must first seek God with all your heart,” said Pastor Henry as he quoted Jeremiah 29:13. “You as church leaders in the church must build a daily relationship with God, take the mission call of making disciples seriously and take the time to nurture, to feed the members and new members in the church.”

“As church elders, we have the responsibility to care for all those God has entrusted us with in the church, grow in Christ and move forward in making disciples,” Pastor Henry said.

Pastor Josney Rodríguez, ministerial association secretary for the church in Inter-America, speaks to church elders on getting more involved in discipling and training active members. Photo by Libna Stevens/IAD

If every church elder who assists pastors in shepherding the flock in each congregation, could get more involved in discipling and training active members in discipleship, the church in Inter-America would grow stronger, said Pastor Josney Rodríguez, ministerial secretary for the church in Inter-America and main organizer of the training certification program.

“We need you to be committed to go for more for the kingdom,” called on Rodríguez. “There’s a great challenge to have every member become a disciple of Christ Jesus and transform the thousands of churches in Inter-America.”

It’s about getting 30,000 active church elders to preaching the Word, nurturing members and motivating the ministries of the church into joining forces for a powerful revival for the glory of God in reach the community with the gospel, explained Rodríguez.

Jose A. Rizo Castillo of the La Trinidad No. 2 Adventist Church in Esteli, northwest in Nicaragua is among the 1,750 church elders enrolled in the church elder certification program in the South Central American Union which oversees the work of the church in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Castillo works alongside the pastor to disciple and run the 150-member church every week.

From LtoR from the IAD: Pastor Samuel Mancilla, stewardship ministries director, Dinorah Rivera, children and adolescent ministries director, Abel Márquez, communication director, and Pastor Josney Rodríguez, ministerial secretary speak on ways church elders can motivate more involvement of the membership in mission. Photo by Libna Stevens/IAD

“The certification has helped me grow a closer relationship with God and to be more intentional about testifying inside the church and outside the church as well, which has also improved as I prepare sermons,” said Castillo.

Erik Hernández, a local church elder in Caracas, Venezuela, shared that he is happily part of the great task of training and developing young people, children, and adults to be involved in the work of reaching others for the gospel

At 16 years old, Norma Castellano Espinoza of the Grijalva Mission in the northern outskirts of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, in Chiapas, stood with her certificate of completion during the online training program. She took in the day’s presentations and beamed at the fact that she belonged to such a large group of fellow church elders passionate about their role and responsibility in the spiritual leadership of the church.

Norma is one of many young church elders who are in the process of being mentored and guided to work hand-in-hand with the pastor to serve and assist in the discipleship ministry of her church, said Pastor Rogelio Morales, ministerial secretary for the church in Chiapas.

NormaCastellano Espinoza, 16, holds her certificate during the online certification training session in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico. Photo by Libna Stevens/IAD

“This certification program allows for more integral work in the church, highlighting the role of the church elder as the right-arm of the pastor, and training and mentoring young people is important in the pastoral leadership of the church,” said Morales.

So far 2,740 church elders are enrolled in the certification program, a program that is helping them be clear on their responsibilities and their calling, said Morales. “The average Adventist pastor in Chiapas has 15 to 20 churches per district and that means he needs to rely con dedicated church elders to keep the church running with the ministries leaders every week.”

“We are so impressed to see how committed our church elders are in the mission of the church, “ said Pastor Rodríguez, who is scheduled to visit training sessions across most of the 24 unions in the IAD this year. Getting Every Elder Involved is about strengthening church elders to greater minister in churches, keeping members active in discipleship, preaching the word and understanding their ministry in reaching out to their communities.

Thousands of church elders viewed the online program and received completion certificates at churches, local fields and union offices across the IAD. The live online program drew some 1,260 connections in 37 countries around the world.

Crowd at the Chiapas Convention Center in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Mexico, Feb. 16, 2019. Photo by Abel Márquez/IAD

The program also highlighted the needs for churches to seek out former members, set a plan to help the poor and the needy in the church and the community, as well as a panel discussion on getting the youth and children involved in discipleship, available resources, and more.

Churches across the IAD were also recognized for their outstanding nurturing, discipleship and growing initiatives during the past year.

To view the online Program for:

English: HERE

Spanish: HERE

French: HERE

To view a photo gallery of the online program click HERE

For information on the Every Elder Involved certification program visit everyelderinvolved.com

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