Our home sits on a wooded lot that borders a beautiful bubbling creek. The mixture of flowing water, ferns, and moss creates a delightful little Eden that's all our own. And so we built a gazebo overlooking the creek, a perfect place to relax and reflect.
There's just one problem. We hardly ever find time for relaxing and reflecting. Our lovely gazebo just doesn't get used, and nothing is much good unless it's put to use.
The General Conference Ministerial Association fosters a lot of what we think are good programs. They're designed to minister to you, the minister. As we be gin the new quinquennium we must ask ourselves if we're providing what you will actually use. Nothing is much good unless it's put to use.
Please let me share with you a few highlights of what the Ministerial Association has attempted to do for the ministry these past five years and what it hopes to do the next five. Is the Ministerial Association really ministering to our ministers ?
Global Mission. We have just recently concluded Harvest 90, baptizing nearly 2.5 million people in five years. This church growth emphasis must continue under the new Global Mission pro gram. We are encouraging divisions to allow each congregation to set its own baptismal goal and to form plans for the discipling of new members.
Elders. There are nearly 31,000 Adventist churches in the world and about 16,000 ministers employed to do evangelistic and pastoral work. So laypeople, usually local church elders, preach about half of the sermons preached in Adventist churches each Sabbath. Yet the denomination has done next to nothing to train its elders, and both they and their congregations are suffering because of it. Since elders work so closely with pas tors, often serving as virtual lay pastors in many congregations, the Ministerial Association is planning to help fill this need. We hope to prepare both a manual that will detail the work of elders and a book that will give them basic help in preparing sermons. And we will publish in Ministry material designed especially for the local church elder.
Ministerial supplies. Once a year we hope to insert in Ministry a little resource catalog. In it we will list our self-study and video continuing education courses, and manuals such as the one for interns and their supervisors and the one containing evaluation instruments. In it we'll also include slides, filmstrips, baptismal certificates, computer software designed for Adventist churches, and other soul-winning tools used especially by ministers.
Ministerial families. Surveys indicate that finances place more stress on pastoral families than does any other factor. We hope to find ways to help. And we hope to encourage the preparation of materials that will educate congregations to better understand, appreciate, and sup port their pastoral families.
Special projects. The Manual for Seventh-day Adventist Ministerial Interns and Intern Supervisors is completed. We are now working toward and praying for the time when interns will always be placed in a true learning situation and introduced to the ministry by trained pastor supervisors.
We plan to revise and update the 1977 Manual for Ministers within the next year. We also are considering compiling a Spirit of Prophecy book giving counsel specifically to pastors.
Deep cuts are being made in some departments here at headquarters in an attempt to make our work more efficient and economical. When the field was surveyed prior to the downsizing, those surveyed quite strongly supported the Ministerial Association; consequently, our cuts have not been as deep as those made in some departments. But we lost two salaries and one travel budget.
With fewer personnel we must do less, so we want to be sure that we eliminate only what is least important, at the same time retaining what counts. What I've listed in this article, of course, only partially covers our programs of the past quinquennium and our plans for the next. Are there ways we, through your local, union, and division ministerial secretaries, can be of greater help to you? What are we doing that you feel is not necessary? What are we not doing that is necessary? More than anything, the Ministerial Association wants the Lord to lead us to minister more effectively to our ministers.