“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ . . . Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 14 NIV)
Throughout the Bible, we see the value of teamwork again and again. Yet, the need for teamwork and for each member to use his or her gifts for the Kingdom is no less important today. For the sake of church health, it is vital that each member, including the pastor and other church leaders, take on tasks that align with his or her unique giftings and that those gifts be used in combination with one other. If this is not done, the Body of the Church cannot be expected to be healthy or to live up to its full potential.
As part of the 2017–18 Global Church Member Survey (2017–18 GCMS), conducted on behalf of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, data was collected from the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD). This Division includes the countries of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam, as well as the Southern Asian countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The SSD includes over 1 million members who speak more than 1,000 languages and dialects. Data for the 2017-18 GCMS were collected in this Division by researchers Jimmy Adil, Carthy Joy Aguillon, Ray Opao, Susa Opao, and Arceli Rosario. A total of 6,873 church members were surveyed in all the SSD Unions. Members from every generation participated. It is very important to know how well-qualified pastors and lay leaders are in such a diverse Division and how well they work together as a team.
The SSD members who participated in the 2017–18 GCMS were asked if they felt that their pastors were qualified to lead their local churches. Four out of five (81%) of the respondents agreed that their pastors were qualified leaders. This is encouraging and is a demonstration that these pastors are utilizing their spiritual gifts and/or pastoral training. However, 15% admitted that they were unsure of their pastors’ qualifications, and 5% shared that they felt their pastors were not well qualified.
Qualified Lay Leaders
When survey respondents were asked if the lay leaders of their churches were qualified to lead, a slightly smaller, but still high percentage (77%) agreed that their lay leaders were well qualified. Thus, it is clear that God has blessed these lay leaders with unique gifts that allowed them to work for the church in a lay capacity. However, nearly one in five (18%) members remained unsure of their lay leaders’ level of qualification, and the same small percentage as in the question about pastors’ qualification (5%) felt the lay leaders in their local congregations were not well qualified. This may be due to a lack of lay training or due to a mismatch of gifts and tasks.
Teamwork Between Pastors and Lay Leaders
Finally, SSD members were asked if they believed that there was good teamwork between their pastor(s) and lay leaders. Almost four out of every five (79%) respondents felt that there was good synergy between their pastor(s) and lay leaders. Here, we see that the leadership body is working together; this gives the Church better potential for experiencing overall health and vitality, just like a body that has all of its organs functioning properly. However, 15% were not sure of their teamwork and 6% disagreed that their pastor(s) and lay leaders worked together well as a team.
It is very encouraging to know that a strong majority of church members in the SSD had such a high view of the pastors’ and lay leaders’ qualifications for their work! Hopefully, they let them know, not only, but especially on the Pastor Appreciation Days, how much they appreciate their efforts in connecting people with God. However, the excellent qualifications of a leader are not enough for real success in church work. It lies in the harmonious teamwork of both pastors and laypeople.
When we continue to read 1 Corinthians, we are reminded of the following:
“But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:24-26 (NIV)
While the SSD is a good example of such collaboration, this should be a goal for all Adventist local churches. When pastors and lay leaders utilize their qualifications/spiritual gifts and work well together, the church and the Kingdom of God are honored!
To learn more about the SSD, click here: http://adventist.asia
For more research findings regarding the SSD, please see the SSD 2017-18 GCMS Report.
If you are interested in research findings from the total sample, please see the Meta-Analysis Report.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry
Published by ASTR on 10-20-2021