We in the home office administration would like to share with you some of our manpower plans for serving our nearly 200 congregations and Bible study groups in the United States. Several of our full-time pastors will be retiring in the next several years after many decades of faithful service. However, the work of leading and shepherding those congregations must continue and we are asking God to show whom He may be calling to serve in the pastoral ministry of His Church. It’s a very important role. One of UCG’s goals from inception has been to give each congregation a live speaker and not become merely a video or Internet church of God.
As you may know, many of our congregations are quite small, often with no more than 20 or 30 in attendance each Sabbath. Our current model has been to give our full-time pastors two, three or four of these smaller churches that may add up to a total attendance of 80-100. But this approach has significant drawbacks. The pastor may not be able to visit any single congregation more than once or twice a month. His travel incurs a great amount of mileage costs and takes a physical toll on the elder and his wife. We believe there are other ways to consistently and effectively serve our brethren in these small, widely scattered congregations.
What we have been doing in some areas, where there is a smaller congregation, is to find a qualified man who is already gainfully employed (or retired), who could be appointed as that congregation’s pastor at a part-time salary or volunteer basis. Before assuming the pastor’s position, he will need to be mentored and have online instruction in pastoral care to equip him with the tools and knowledge for this service. As you know, there is a lot more to pastoring than just speaking or visiting brethren. He would also have access to a mentoring pastor, who would be familiar with his area and would be available to advise and make occasional visits.
A part-time pastor serving only one congregation has the following advantages:• The pastor and his wife will have only one congregation to serve each Sabbath. They will have more quality time with the brethren, knowing that they do not have to leave quickly after services and drive many miles to another church service.
• The pastor and his wife will be in his congregation the vast majority of Sabbaths, which is not possible for full-time pastors serving three or four churches.
• There will be lower mileage reimbursement costs for distances traveled, which will enable us to be wiser stewards of the money that God provides to care for our members.
• The pastor and wife can develop closer relationships with the brethren because they live in the same geographical area.
• The pastor would not necessarily need to forsake his chosen career.