I have a deep respect, appreciation, and admiration for local church leaders and their work. I'm talking about those brothers and sisters, church elders or company leaders, who are in charge of church departments. 

I just received the statistical report from Secretariat showing that from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006, 1,093,089 believers accepted the everlasting gospel and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church by baptism and profession of faith. Now we are 14,754,022 members around the world. Almost 15 million brothers and sisters assembled in 60,840 churches and 61,708 organized companies. Amen! It is wonderful to witness the growth of the church as a fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit and an integrated effort of pastors, leaders and members. Every weekend, more than 80 percent of our pulpits are occupied by these leaders. Considering that they conduct more Bible studies, visit more church members, and preach and counsel more than anyone else, I ask myself: What would happen to the church if it weren't for them?

I believe that pastors alone will never accomplish and finish the work. A pastor's orientation and motivation is important, but the strength of the members and the work of local church leaders are indispensable. Imagine if the church had to pay a wage for the work done by volunteers! There wouldn't be enough money; that's why they are good examples of volunteer dedication to the church.

I believe that elders and other leaders are motivated to work for the church for reasons that transcend material advantages. They love God and His church. They are conscious of the solemn time in which we live, and their Christian spirit is evident in the work they accomplish.

God has a purpose and a ministry for each Christian in the body of Christ, the church. It is good to see that many are living according to God's plan, but I feel that church leaders are desperate for more training and better material for the work they do.

Ministerial Associations in many divisions are providing training and appropriate materials for local church leaders: Elder's Digest, The Church Manual, Elder's Handbook, Elder's Guide, and other good resources. One of the Ministerial Association's primary concerns has been to equip, train, and motivate church leaders so that they can work more efficiently. However, there is still a lot to be done.

I praise God for what He has done for His church, and I thank the brothers and sisters who are working to fulfill the church's mission. I believe we'll soon be in Heaven, and together we'll see how good it was to have participated in Christ's church in this world. 

Jonas Arrais