In a recent collaborative effort, two Adventist professionals facilitated a coaching event in the Mindanao region of the Philippines that sought to enhance communication, leadership, and engagement within the Seventh-day Adventist community, with a focus on reclaiming members who have left the church.
Armand T. Fabella, a certified master life coach, and Arnelio Gabin, vice president for Nurturing Discipleship Retention-Integrated Evangelism Lifestyle (NDR-EIL) at the Southern Asia-Pacific Division of the Adventist Church (SSD), were the facilitators at the Life Coach Reclaimer’s Trainers Training for two unions in the southern Philippines, at the Southwestern Philippine Union Conference Guest House, January 22-24. The coaching event brought together participants from missions and conferences across Mindanao.
The initiative focused on reclaiming members who have left the church and developing skills to understand and connect with church members who may have strayed. Emphasizing Christ’s communication methods as highlighted in the Bible, the program delved into effective ways of responding to people in need, covering topics ranging from leadership to personality development.
Research indicates that 40 percent of baptized individuals eventually leave the church. In the span from 1965 to the present day, a staggering 42,294,215 people joined the Adventist Church. However, within the same timeframe, a significant 17,594,544 individuals made the decision to leave, according to 2022 data from the Office of Archives, Statistics and Research (ASTR) of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
One of the key highlights of this coaching program is its emphasis on mental health and gospel study, setting the tone for the year ahead, according to Jerrymil Pamonag, vice president of the NDR-EIL department at the Southwestern Philippine Union Conference. Pamonag underscored the importance of gaining essential skills for effectively dealing with members of the church and people facing various life challenges.
“God has granted us the wisdom to discover means of extending the blessing of hope to those who are vulnerable and alone,” Pamonag said. He emphasized that the church's ministry goes beyond the pulpit, reaching into communities beyond one’s comfort zone to share the transformative message of Jesus and His love with those in desperate need.
Beyond the individual skills it teaches, the coaching program contributes to the creation of a more connected and supportive Adventist community, organizers said. “By addressing the pressing need for understanding and connecting with individuals who may have strayed, the initiative fosters a sense of belonging and community within the broader Adventist network,” they explained. “Attendees not only gained valuable skills for personal and spiritual growth but also became integral contributors to a more cohesive and supportive Adventist community.”