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General Conference

Church Strengthens Theological Foundations for Pastors, Elders, and Leaders

Objective is to intensify training to strengthen work in local churches

Brazil | Jefferson Paradello

"We understand that there are intense challenges that we must face, and many of them start with bad theology, a misinterpretation, and a fragile pulpit,” identifies Pastor Adolfo Suárez, dean of the Latin American Adventist Theological Seminary (SALT). It was to address issues such as these that the Adventist Church offered the Identity and Mission theological training course on March 29–31. 

Conducted entirely online, it was aimed at two groups: 1) pastors and elders, and 2) local church leaders. The model, according to the organizers, allows more people to have contact with the content and be able to review them at other times. In addition, it gives access to knowledge shared by speakers who speak other languages. 

In the case of this edition, which had simultaneous translation into Spanish, one of the guests was Dr. Frank Hasel, associate director of the Biblical Research Institute at the Adventist world headquarters. In his approach, which focused on Adventist theological identity, Hasel pointed out that the issue goes beyond the denomination's beliefs. "Our identity is formed by what we live. Do we, for example, live the Sabbath in a way that people perceive it to be a day of joy and blessing for us? Are we becoming like Jesus in the way we act?" 

Dr. Carlos Flávio Teixeira, from the Adventist Faculty of the Amazon (FAAMA), and Dr. Emilson Reis, from the Adventist University Center of São Paulo (UNASP), also participated. Their presentations dealt with Adventist hermeneutics and how the pulpit should be used, respectively.

Teixeira recalled that the Bible itself follows fundamental basic principles to be interpreted. Therefore, the analysis of the biblical text must be done carefully, and that takes these elements into account. Some of them are sola scriptura, tota scriptura, and prima scriptura, which bring specific aspects that help in this process.

For Reis, the preacher needs to have a spiritual preparation in addition to his gift. Even if someone is a good speaker or communicator, if he lacks dependence on the Holy Spirit, his message can reach the hearts of his listeners in an empty way.

Consistent Theology 

"Daily practical life is lived in the light of a theology. So, if we want to have a safe and solid Christian life, we need to strengthen our theology, our understanding of the Bible, and the quality of our preaching," emphasizes Suárez. 

For Pastor Lucas Alves, ministerial secretary for the South American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, the meeting was an opportunity to prepare and give tools, for example, to the elders. When it comes to hermeneutics, (i.e., the correct interpretation of a biblical text), the elders who preach and advise need to make a faithful analysis of what is recorded in the Bible. 

“If they start to apply to the text something that it is not saying, it can have a very negative impact on the church because it says what God did not say and affirms things that God did not say,” explains Alves. 

The course is also one of the milestones commemorating 100 years of the Ministerial Association, an area that was born in 1922 to support pastors and elders of local churches. One of its principles is precisely that of continuous training to help them in their challenges facing the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. 

"What we want is to reaffirm what we already believe. As was presented by Pastor Emilson, when we have a more prepared leadership, more familiar with the Bible, who have the proper tools to interpret the text, it is extremely important when you look for what a leader says [when reviewing] the Sabbath School lesson, for the preaching they do in church. The effect of this is tremendous because it improves the quality of our preaching," emphasizes Alves.

In each of the three days of broadcasts, approximately 16,000 unique hits were recorded, a number that is expected to increase, as the content is available on the Adventist Church's official YouTube channels. 

To see or review each of the themes, check out the playlist: https://youtu.be/A9OQuYbweMc?list=PLtT7fGpN_s4KW7vsn_-1qTq7qNT6JuW0a

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s news site