In this issue, we interviewed a district pastor and a local church elder within the same district. Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success. Copperbelt Zambia Field is growing rapidly and a big reason is due to the team effort between pastors and elders. In their opinion, team stands for “T-ogether E-veryone A-chieves M-ore!”
Pastor Gilbert Poso, 58, is currently serving as a district pastor for the Luanshya East Mission District in the Copperbelt Zambia Field of the Zambia Union Conference (Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division). He has served the church for 36 years in various positions— pastor, departmental director, conference secretary and conference president. He has been married to Agness for 30 years and they have 8 children. He enjoys teaching the scripture, psychosocial and marriage counseling, health education, and writing. His district has 8 organized churches, 6 organized companies, over 2,000 baptized members, and a team of 25 elected church elders.
Elder Geoffrey Mukuma, 64, was ordained as an elder in 1986 and has served for 7 years at the Mpatamatu Seventh-day Adventist Church. He is a retired accountant and currently engaged in public service transport as an operator. He is married to Edith, a retired primary school teacher, and they have 8 children. His church has 350 members and 5 elders, making the ratio 1:70.
1. WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF LOCAL CHURCH ELDERS?
Gilbert Poso (GP): The work of local church elders is very vital. In my church, they are my undershepherds; my right-hand men in ministry. I depend on them for mentoring, nurturing older and newly baptized members, chairing the church board meetings, conducting communion, administering funerals, and reclaiming backsliders. I have embarked on leadership training workshops in all the local churches for the purpose of reaching our intended goal of one elder per twenty-five members.
Geoffrey Mukuma (GM): I find it very important to provide local spiritual leadership to my local congregation under the pastor’s guidance. This sharing of the burden provides my pastor enough time to attend effectively to those issues requiring his professional ministerial services. I share the responsibility with my pastor who is looking after 20 organized congregations and close to 3,000 members in the district.
2. WHAT IS A PASTOR’S ROLE IN SUPPORTING THE ELDERS?
GP: I have set aside every Thursday to meet, discuss, plan and counsel my elders. I try to equip them with authentic spiritual material and personally pray with them every chance I get. I avoid discussing their weaknesses in public and thank them for their personal commitment to the church. Quarterly, I conduct a district elder’s meeting for fellowship, training, counseling, and harmonious programming.
GM: I need the pastor’s prayers and encouragement to help me offer effective and dedicated service to local church members. I need ongoing professional advice on matters of church administration, as well as counsel to conduct annual workshops to train and equip new church officers.
3. WHAT ARE SOME QUALITIES YOUR ELDERS POSSESS?
GP: I enjoy working with elders who love the Lord, are committed to church organization, are apt to teach the word, and are faithful stewards of money, body and time-keeping. These characteristics describe my elders. All the newly elected elders at my church go through a well-planned orientation seminar in all phases of the church. This cannot be understated enough.
GM: The qualities the elders in my church possess are the ability to be friendly and available to all members, young and old, both in the local church and in the community. The capacity to listen to problems and complaints, analyze and offer solutions. The competence to plan, organize and implement local church programs. The skill to motivate our workers and recognize their contributions and efforts that have been put in for achieved goals. Above all, they strive to live Christ-like in word and deed.
4. HOW DOES YOUR DISTRICT REACH OUT TO THE COMMUNITY?
GP: In 2008, we embarked on a program that reached out to the local community through the Voice of Prophecy Bible study lessons. We enrolled and trained over 3,000 bible instructors. We currently have a continued program of witnessing through the Bible correspondence school where each instructor studies with at least two people in their vicinity. We have also installed a satellite dish in our state prison which broadcasts the Hope Channel. Many prisoners have been converted and baptized.
5. DOES YOUR CHURCH IMPLEMENT A VISITATION PROGRAM?
GM: Yes, it is a ministry I very much enjoy! Our visitation program includes building relationships, assessing their needs and offering spiritual support. This gives me an opportunity to fellowship with them on a personal level. Other programs we implement are evangelistic crusades, baptisms and spiritual and social events for our members and the community.
6. ANY FURTHER ADVICE FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH ELDERS?
GP: Study the Bible in order to understand the will of God for your life. Fear the Lord and depart from evil. Be loyal to God who has appointed you as His servant. Be loyal to your organization and ministers. Let there be no division between you and your pastor. Finally, preach logically, positively, and relevantly.
7. WHAT IS THE MINISTRY THAT RESONATES DEEPEST IN YOUR HEART?
GM: The ministry I relish most is planning and inspiring members to get involved in praise and worship and personal testimony. Elders, minister wherever the Lord leads you and always seek His will.