April 28, 2017

We Baptized 20,000—Now What?

Over 400 pastors and church leaders gathered at the University of Eastern Africa Baraton in Kenya a few days ago for a five-day pastors’ convention sponsored by the West Kenya Union Conference (WKUC).

Keynote speakers for the event included GT Ng, Executive Secretary of the General Conference; Hensley Moorooven, Associate Secretary of the General Conference; Alain Coralie, Executive Secretary of the East-Central Africa Division (ECD); and Pastor Musa Mitekaro, Ministerial Director of the ECD.

The pastor’s meeting was a follow-up to the recent Total Member Involvement (TMI) initiative that took place in Kenya. TMI is a world church initiative that seeks to get every church member involved in mission. In this case, over 1,400 sites conducted simultaneous evangelist series across the territory during two weeks, baptizing more than 20,000 new members.

Alain Coralie, Executive Secretary of the East-Central Africa Division (ECD), was one of the speakers at the members' retention convention in Kenya. [Photo: West Kenya Union Conference]

GT Ng challenged the pastors to be faithful stewards in whatever office they have been called to serve. “Why is it that when you are called to a higher position, God has called you, but when you are sent to the Island of Patmos, the nominating committee has made a mistake?” he said. “We need to be faithful stewards in any position we have been called to serve.”

Hensley Moorooven gave a compelling presentation in which he quoted research data showing that growing churches share common principles in reaching out to the world and retaining new members. He said evangelism is a cycle that involves revival, training and equipping members for outreach, reaping and nurture.

Alain Coralie encouraged pastors and members to pray for the daily infilling of the Holy Spirit to accomplish their divine mission. Quoting Ellen White, he said: “There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, by putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart, and lives a life wholly committed to God.”

"There is nothing that can replace warm face-to-face communication."

Musa Mitekaro shared that although the church needs to embrace technology, pastoral visitations cannot be done away with. “Pastoral visitation is a divine opportunity to communicate God’s love through our time and care,” he said. “There is nothing that can replace warm face-to-face communication. Our ministry must go beyond sermonizing to meeting people where they are.”

In his keynote address during the opening of the ministerial convention under the theme “Mission in Motion: Seek to Nurture and Aim to Retain,” president of the WKUC Kenneth Maena urged the pastors “to consider themselves not as police or governors or judges or dictators, but as gentle shepherds.” Maena outlined how a minister’s relationship, experience with God, attitude and the methods used for spiritual nurture make a difference.

Union leaders and pastors resolved to strengthen new members through nurture and retention programs, prayer, Bible study and involvement in mission. Participants also committed to helping new members discover their spiritual gifts, and to use information and communication technology such as social media, websites and cell phones for ministry.

The WKUC embodies Adventist history in Kenya. It began at Gendia, Kindu-Bay, on Kenya Lake Conference church region, where the first Adventist mission station was set up in 1906, before the church spread its wings to other parts of the country. The territory now has 2,740 churches with 380,649 members.