Pastor Jonas Arrais, Associate Secretary of the Ministerial Association for the South American Division, held this interview during a meeting of elders and pastors at Varzea Crande (next to Cuiaba), in the Mato Grosso Mission. Those interviewed are leaders of Adventist congregations and residents of the State of Mato Grosso.

Elias Frederico Alves was born into an Adventist home and is an elder of the Central Caceres church.

Ercy Nascimento Nachado has been an Adventist for at least ten years; she is vice principal of the group in Chapada dos Guimaraes.

Jose dos Santos has been an Adventist for 45 years and serves as an elder in the church of Cohab Canela, in Varzea Grande.

Manuel T. Nieves has been an Adventist for 10 years and is an elder in the church of Planalto, in Cuiaba.

They speak about the challenges faced and the strategies employed by their congregations in their neighborhoods.

Question: What does it mean to be a church elder?

Elias: It means to be called to do an important task for God and His church. I believe it means to be a friendly person, humble, who knows how to lead by sharing responsibilities in the church.

Jose: To be a leader is a great privilege, it carries a great responsibility.

Manuel: It's being a privileged person. To be able to cooperate with the work in the church and to be involved in wining souls is something fantastic!

Question: Which is the most important characteristic of a church leader?

Elias: Consecration and a good example. It is to know how to teach and to delegate responsibilities.

Ercy: Integrity, capability and responsibility.

Jose: Sincerity and having the Spirit of Christ.

Manuel: Organization, humility, love for the members, and love for souls.

Question: Which are the greatest challenges facing the church today?

Elias: Preaching the Gospel and getting the members ready for Christ's return. There is something preventing the proclamation of the Gospel today, the newly baptized members are not being prepared to become disciples.

Ercy: The preaching of the Gospel and a firm adherence to the principles of the church.

Jose: The greatest challenge is the spiritual growth of the members and their pledge for the mission of the church.

Manuel: Help the church continue to grow and to advance spiritually and numerically.

Question: How can a leader help to fulfill the church's mission?

Elias: The leader must be in agreement with the goals of the church, also advising, inspiring and preparing the members for the task.

Ercy: Guiding the members to pledge cooperation in the preaching of the Gospel according to the spiritual gifts given to each member.

Jose: Building new churches and working to fill them up.

Manuel: Working, organizing and training the members of his congregation. Establish goals in harmony with the guidance of the district pastor.

Question: What strategy is being used by your church to promote evangelism?

Elias: We follow the leaders of the Mato Crossense Mission's plan and use the program "Messengers of Hope." We get 25 kits containing a Bible, a Bible course, 50 pamphlets and instructions on how to give Bible studies. In this work we try to involve leaders and members.

Ercy: Small groups with a double task: to visit the homes and Bible groups.

Jose: The strategy for 2003 is to work with small groups.

Manuel: Teaching the membership and their preparation to form a strong army of members to work in the project: "Messengers of Hope." We use Bible classes in Sabbath School and during Sunday night meetings.

Question: How important is the family in the life of a leader?

Elias: It's a great asset and an inspiration.

Ercy: It's a powerful inspiration that helps us work in close harmony.

Jose: There is nothing more important than family support.

Manuel: It's fundamental for a leader to receive material and psychological support from the family in church work. It helps all the time.

Question: As a leader of your local church, what do you expect from your pastor?

Elias: I hope that the pastor is a faithful friend. I believe that he should train the members for their jobs and be zealous about the principles established by the church.

Ercy: The pastor should have a positive influence on the membership through his leadership and his preaching.

Jose: I expect the support of my pastor to accomplish the work that, as a leader, I'm doing in the church.

Manuel: Partnership, friendliness, motivation and help.

Question: What's your opinion on women's roll in the church?

Elias: Women have always done a great work for the church. The Lord gave women the responsibility of being mothers and thus they are qualified to work for the church. Ellen C. White said: "that her work at home was the same as that of the pastor in the pulpit."

Ercy: Women do a marvelous work and are a strong arm in the church. Things that men are unable to obtain, they are able to accomplish.

Jose: The women's roll in the church is very important, and uniting their strength to ours we can haste Jesus' return.

Manuel: It is of extraordinary importance; they possess tact, creativity, and sensibility that can guarantee the success of any work. That has been observed in the work that they do through the Women's Ministry in our church.

Manuel: It's a great privilege to get involved in soul winning.

Ercy: The challenges are the preaching of the Gospel and keeping a close relationship with the principles of the church.

Elias: It's necessary for the leader to be in tune with the purpose and the reason for the existence of the church.

Jose: Our strategy for 2003 is to work with small groups.

2003 First Quarter

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