The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is fulfilled as spirit-led people cooperate with God in serving and ministering to others. This heart-to-heart ministry is the lifeblood of the church. One of the key roles of institutional entities is to support full-time workers God has called as they use their gifts for the Master.
In harmony with this purpose, Objective 8 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s strategic plan is “to strengthen the discipleship role of pastors, teachers, and other frontline workers and provide them with regular growth opportunities.”
Individuals called to full-time ministry are not superheroes. While blessed with God-given gifts and talents, they, just like anyone else, are affected by the challenges and pressures of ministry, isolation, living cross-culturally, and other issues related to a life of service in this sinful world.
It is vital that our institutions support pastors, teachers and missionaries ministering in these challenging days just before Jesus returns. As church leaders recognize the part they play in strengthening frontline workers, we hope to see “evidence that most pastors and teachers feel supported by church members and by conference administrators, continue to feel called to ministry, and are engaging in continuing education and development.” (KPI 8.1)
God calls workers from every background and stage of life. Like Peter, called from the Galilean fishing industry to “fish for men” (Luke 5:10), or Matthew, who gave up his Roman tax collection booth (Matthew 9:9), God still needs men and women today to serve in ministerial, educational, and professional capacities. As Christ’s representatives, it is the Church’s responsibility to help train and equip them to achieve standards of ministerial qualification and competency.
The Board of Ministerial and Theological Education (BMTE) is a helpful entity that serves the needs of each division of the World Church and supports the broader church in the development and promotion of theological and ministerial educational standards. KPI 8.2 encourages institutions to ensure that ministers “with limited Seventh-day Adventist education are working to complete course work necessary to meet their local BMTE requirements.”
In places where the Church is beginning to grow and mature, frontline workers provide a critical piece of the Church’s mission strategy. These workers may not consistently have the support they need to help them to flourish in their challenging field of labor. Church leaders need to make sure that frontline workers have opportunities “to deepen their passion for and broaden their experience of mission.” (KPI 8.2)
Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White recognized this when she wrote: “The forces for good among. . .members of the church cannot be developed and brought into proper working order without careful planning and systematic training. And as these workers are developed, they must be given the wise, helpful supervision of experienced leaders. They should not be left to struggle along alone, unaided” (Review and Herald, October 22, 1914). As the apostle Paul pointed out in his first letter to the Corinthians: “Let all things be done in decency and in order.” I Corinthians 14:40
Learning from other experienced workers, observing how projects in different contexts have been successfully organized and operated, or simply being ministered to through spiritual retreat with others, will increase our workers’ competence, dedication, inspiration, and spiritual strength for the ministry to which they are called.