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27 April 2021 | St. Albans, UK [Paul Lockham]  

Continuing with the theme of Wellbeing, four new Devotional Webinars were shared during the Trans-European Division (TED) morning devotional time from 19-22 April.


Serving with Volunteers - Continuing development of local leaders – who is responsible?

maureen rockPastor Maureen Rock, Director of the Adventist Discovery Centre for the UK and Ireland, commenced the week with the challenging question “Who trains the local voluntary leaders?”
Maureen explored the idea that the wellbeing of the pastor, the local leaders (especially the elders), and the local church depend on getting the training right. While there is a need to recognise the spiritual “qualifications” for electing elders there is also a need to take into account the “professional skills” they may have. At times, the skills from their professional backgrounds need to be “honed” for the church context or problems may arise.

Ps Rock drew on examples from her own experience to show how a pastor and elders can complement and learn from each other. She also used the example of Jesus with the disciples to underline the need for pastors to intentionally get to know their local leaders by spending time with them, listening to them, and building into elders’ meetings a time for training. Ps Rock also raised the idea of working with the church election cycle to have an apprenticeship programme to help prepare individuals for positions of leadership.

In conclusion, Ps Rock returned to her initial question and suggested it is the responsibility of office-based officers and directors to help pastors in intentionally training their local leaders, for the wellbeing of the whole church.

Pandemics and Public Health in Ancient Israel: What did Moses do?

Julian Thompson Pastor Julian Thompson, lecturer in the department of Theology at Newbold College of Higher Education, shared the sad statistic that on 17 April 2021, 3,000,000 people died as a result of Covid-19. He then pondered if there is anything to be learnt from the Biblical experience in dealing with the current pandemic?

Ps Thompson shared that a person’s theology can dictate their view of the pandemic and too often this may lead to an inappropriate response to governmental and health guidance, which in the worst cases can lead to death. He has encountered three prominent approaches:

  • denial (it is all a deception, a conspiracy),
  • spiritualisation (I have faith, God will protect me), and
  • misinterpretation/misunderstanding (the vaccine is the mark of the beast).

In turning to the Biblical text, Ps Thompson underlined that we have to guard against imposing our own, modern context and ideas on the text. The ideas of Pandemic, contagion and public health are modern ones. Looking at the “law of the Leper” found in Leviticus 13 and 14, he looked at the health issues and then pointed out that was not the primary focus of the instructions given, which were in the context of worship rituals. Despite this following the law would have brought an enhanced protection from disease. Faithfulness to these laws reinforced an understanding of who God was as well as the individual’s responsibility to the wider community.

In the end, Ps Thompson suggested that living responsibly in a time of pandemic can reveal a lot about God and, if addressed sensibly, our theology can actually save lives.

MIND Your Child’s Health

clair sanches schutte photoClair Sanches-Schutte, TED Children’s Ministries Director, was the speaker for Wednesday morning and directed our thoughts to the importance of children in both society and more especially to the church.

After sharing a number of statistics about children and mental health issues, Sanches-Schutte pointed out that a child’s mental health is very dependent on how they think about themselves. Under the pandemic, the widespread closure of schools and the restrictions on movement have impacted their lives, isolated them from friends, shut down their routines, removed their “normal” activity, etc. All of these can negatively affect how a child views themselves. The closure of schools has affected 1.5 billion children and young people!

Looking at research on the impact of the “temporary closure of the world”, she shared that some families have done well, whereas some have done worse, and this is where the church can provide support and resources for parents. In truth, most positive outcomes are achieved when parents have been able to positively “reengage” with their children. Sanches-Schutte shared a number of ideas on what can be provided to help parents positively help their children. She also shared from experience the positive effect for children of church leaders specifically reaching out to contact the children in their Sabbath School or Pathfinder class.

The Changing Face of Evangelism – seeking the Shalom of our communities

Simon MartinThe final webinar of the week was presented by Pastor Simon Martin, TED Discipleship Coach to the Scandinavian countries.

Ps Martin commenced by sharing the verses from Jeremiah 29:4-7 and, after discussing the background to the exile to Babylon, pointed out the richness of the word translated “welfare” as it is the Hebrew word “Shalom”. Jeremiah was effectively telling the exiles they were to live and settle and be an agent for God’s shalom in Babylon.

Drawing on the story of the Choluteca Bridge, Ps Martin posed the oft asked question, “Will anyone in the community notice if the church is closed?” referring to the Barna “Reviving Evangelism” and the big challenge all Christians face and how others view the reputation of the church at large may impact their personal witness. Sharing from his own experience when moving to the Dunstable church plant in England, Ps Martin shared how little things can impact and even lead to invitations to take on community responsibilities.

Reaching the post-Christian peoples of Europe requires a church that is focused on building relationships across normal societal (and religious) divides, a church that sees evangelism as building relationships that can lead to bring “shalom” into the community.

See also Taskforce on Mission/Evangelism post-Covid document mentioned during the webinar. 

 The four webinars from this week can be viewed on the TED Website or on the TED YouTube page


tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
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