We have looked at stories of elders who have reached out to their congregations through prayer and the ministry of presence. Now we turn our attention to elders who are intentional about evangelistic ministry and sharing Jesus in order “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). It is our desire that you will be as inspired as we were by these elders.


One pastor divided his church into groups of 10 families, with one elder assigned to each group. Randy and Janelle started a small group in their home for the families they were assigned. Weekly potluck dinners are followed by study groups for adults and children. These groups provide spiritual growth and strengthen relationships between members. The group engages in local or global outreach once a month and commits to praying for new people to join them. They also connect with former church members. Several former members have started coming to the small group, and some have returned to church. When asked about the amount of time he invests in the group— in addition to his work, Sabbath duties, and family responsibilities—Randy said that he wouldn’t give it up as the group is his favorite part of the week and provides a much-needed spiritual lift.

Likewise, Dennis and Annie want to reach the professionals in their city. Once a week, they provide dinner for their small group, followed by a short Bible study. They understand the pressures of work and life and knew they could provide a way to help those pressed for time not to feel burdened by adding another activity to their schedules.

Both couples saw a connection between personal relationships and spiritual growth. They saw the human need for belonging and made their homes a welcoming place.


Steve is an elder with a love for mission; he has coordinated almost 20 mission trips. Working with several area churches, he has been able to provide medical and dental care, Vacation Bible Schools, and evangelistic series while also building churches. It is easy for people, even non-members, to give money to these projects to cover expenses or to pay Bible workers to stay there. It is not just lives overseas that are changed; church members who go on these trips often feel a sense of rejuvenation in their spiritual lives, too. These mission trips keep Steve strong in his faith as he sees the changes God works in the lives of both the people they are reaching and those who go on the trips.

Steve has taken to heart Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19). He feels called to leave the comforts of home to share the gospel and to help other Christians benefit from the same faith-building experience. But you don’t need to travel the globe to find a mission field. There are plenty of opportunities close to home.


Elders all over the world have taken on the task of leading churches. Hundreds of elders in North America alone function as lay pastors and church planters. Tim is a successful businessman who works full-time, yet he was able to plant a church. That plant has grown to over 200 people in attendance. Tim coordinated leadership teams to help care for the congregation and plant another church.

Hannah loves to give Bible studies. After a personal revival, Hannah prayed that through the giving of Bible studies, she could help 2-3 people a year come to Christ. Over the last decade, she has brought 21 people to the Lord. Seeing how God is working energizes Hannah and strengthens her prayer life. With every Bible study she gives, she gets to know her Bible even better.

You don’t have to be a pastor to reach the community; you only need to have a heart for people. Whether you are working with a group or just with one person, your impact on individuals will be felt for eternity.


We encourage you to intentionally spend 3-4 hours a week, in addition to Sabbath services and committee meetings, in ministry to your church and community. Humbly allow yourself to be led by the Spirit. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Pet. 4:10). Our ministries may not be the same, but our hearts should have the same calling to serve people. This can only be done if you are connecting daily to Christ through prayer and the Word. Being an elder is not about rank or prestige; it is about taking up the banner of love in service to others.

S. Joseph Kidder is a professor of church growth and leadership at the Andrews University Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA.

Kristy L. Hodson is a student at Andrews University

To avoid confusion, in this series we will refer to S. Joseph Kidder with the pronoun “I” and reference Kristy by name.