Developing a cycle of training for local church elders in Masbate in Central Visayan Conference, Philippines
Pantaleon, Dianito Pilapil
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In the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church, the success of local church leadership is highly reliant on the church elders. The shortage of pastors required to oversee each local church is a primary concern. Many local church leaders struggle to carry the burden of responsibility placed upon them. The leadership abilities of local church elders in Central Visayan Conference—Masbate, Philippines—were examined in this study. The study employed descriptive research, a quantitative design. The survey results, based on the data gathered from 130 local church elders from 207 churches throughout Masbate’s 8 districts, had a 95% confidence level and a 5% margin of error. This study determined (a) the biblical-theological foundation of elders’ training in the local church, (b) the conditions faced by church elders in the districts in Masbate, (c) the type of training required for church elders, and (d) the theoretical basis for the cycle of training for local church elders in the districts in Masbate. The abovementioned training cycle is reinforced in Exod 18 and Num 11. The NT also supports this idea. Masbate is located in the farthest territory of Central Visayan Conference and the conference’s poorest province. Hence, conducting seminars and implementing programs in the province is challenging. It was found that church elders’ attendance in care group meetings is very low and they least read Ellen G. White books. The leadership satisfaction of elders in the province of Masbate is far below the ideal rating. Survey questions number 18 (M = 4.42, SD = 1.769) and number 24 (M = 3.05, SD = 1.501) did not yield satisfactory answers. The leadership professionalism questions number 20 (M = 5.38, SD = 1.102) and number 23 (M = 5.01, SD = 1.640) received more satisfactory answers than the abovementioned questions. However, this improvement (or difference) only means that the church elders still have more to learn about leadership professionalism. Servant leadership is achieved through a continuous process of learning. Question number 21 (M = 4.52, SD = 1.681), which focused on church conflict management, and question number 22 (M = 4.88, SD = 1.434), which was about rivalry and jealousy between members, indicate the reality of constant conflict within the SDA Churches in Masbate. The multi-church structure of the SDA Church, wherein one pastor is responsible for multiple churches, proves the need for better leadership skills among church elders. Elders must perform their tasks very efficiently as the church membership grows. This study’s results suggest the urgent need to create and implement a training cycle for church elders. The training cycle should aim to improve the spiritual leadership skills of church elders to become shepherds of God’s flock in the local churches.