So, you want to work for God?
Many of us want to do something remarkable for God, but we aren’t exactly sure where to start. Isn’t there someone who can share his or her years of experience? Isn’t there a place we can hone our expertise? Elisha had the schools of the prophets, the disciples sat at Jesus’ feet and Barnabas was schooled by Paul. What about us today?
We may not have Elisha or Paul around, but we do have Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and we have wonderful men and women with years of experience and great expertise willing to share everything they have. And it’s our privilege to connect them with you at the Australian Union Conference Lay Training Centre. The centre has been operating since 2010, and we’ve seen the Adventist mission and vision catch fire in class after class. “This is all about equipping anyone who is ready and willing for active ministry and engaging them in fulfilling service and leadership,” explains AUC president, Pastor Chester Stanley.
The course is broken into two, three-week intensives, over two years. The classes meet at the picturesque Jumbunna Lodge in the Yarra Valley, about 70 kilometres from the Melbourne CBD. The Lay Pastoral Assistant and Youth Bible Worker courses are designed to equip members to participate in evangelistic and pastoral work. The responsibility and workload of local church pastors is becoming more complex and demanding, and the support and leadership these graduates provide is greatly needed and appreciated.
A favourite part of the course is the practicum between each learning block that gives students the hands-on training they desire. The local church pastor is responsible for teaching students how to give Bible studies, nurturing the members through pastoral visits, preparing and presenting sermons, and providing the opportunity to participate in, and sometimes even present, an evangelistic series. The practicum is where the rubber hits the road!
The training centre partners with the Lay Adventist Seminary at Andrews University. The Lay Adventist Seminary provides academic support with two semester graduate credits per certificate which may be earned through the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. The successful completion of all certificate requirements, including an undergraduate degree, qualifies the student to participate in a post-graduate program.
One Woman = 37 Baptisms and Counting
Australia is a very multicultural society. But how can the Adventist Church reach every community? How about through our diverse members? Take Nan Myat for example. Nan, a Burmese refugee who arrived in Australia several years ago, decided she wanted to reach the Karen, Chin and Burmese communities in Melbourne so she attended the AUC Lay Training Centre. In four years she has led just over 37 people through to baptism. “I feel equipped. A big thank you to AUC Training Centre and the teachers who taught me how to preach, prepare and give Bible studies,” Nan says. Today, she is studying with 17 young people, 10 senior members from the community and two groups of individuals via Skype who live interstate. She is just at the beginning of her ministry!
North Perth church in Western Australia had a vision to reach its potential in spreading the good news so it sponsored three members to attend the training centre. Melinda Muscara, Shirley Georgiou and Caroline Laredo were all professionally trained, but felt impressed by the call of the Holy Spirit to serve their church and community. Melinda, a recently baptised member, is currently working with a church plant in an Aboriginal community and expressed the impact the training has had on her as “an experience I will never forget”. Caroline says, “The courses on Adventist Identity and Personal Spirituality have impacted my life in a meaningful and profound way.”
Lay Training to Full-Time Ministry
The AUC Training Centre is a ‘stepping stone’ for some of its students to further their education. For example, Wayne Humphries is graduating with a Diploma in Ministry and Theology from Avondale at the end of this year. “The training centre confirmed within me the conviction that I was moving in the right direction,” he says.
A Love for Youth
Sheldon Warner, who graduated from the Youth Bible Worker course in February, is now studying for a Diploma in Recreational Studies. The Youth Bible Worker course is an opportunity for those who are interested in working with young people, both in their local church and community. The course focuses on personal evangelistic work, finding and leading young people to Jesus, and discipling them as church members.
Pastor Roger Govender is Personal Ministries, Sabbath School and Stewardship director for the AUC.