This summer, 80 students graduated from the Southern California Conference (SCC) Hispanic Region’s annual lay ministry training.
Each year’s training emphasizes a specific area of ministry for lay members. This year’s preaching training was certified through Andrews University, which “provides training to advance the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist church through Hispanic ministries in North America.”
The motivation was simple: “We want to win more people for Christ,” said Ezequiel Gonzalez, Hollywood Spanish pastor and leader of the lay ministry training for the SCC Hispanic Region. “The church is growing, and we want to prepare more lay people for preaching and sharing the gospel.”
There are many districts within the Hispanic Region, where several pastors lead two, even three, congregations. “Pastors sometimes have a hard time finding preachers when they have multiple churches,” said Jaime Heras, SCC Hispanic Region director. “To supply that need, we decided to give this training on preaching.”
The program began in March, and participants spent a weekend at Camp Cedar Falls. There, Ricardo Norton, director of the Institute of Hispanic Ministry at Andrews University, taught three classes on homiletics. The following classes were then offered once a month for eight months at Spanish-American and Hollywood Spanish churches. To accommodate commuting participants, this year was the first time classes were hybrid—in person and livestreamed. Classes were taught on topics such as evangelistic preaching, prophetic preaching, foundations for healthy preaching, evangelistic strategies, and more.
Following the graduation, a group of lay preachers had an opportunity to put their learning into practice in October through a week-long evangelistic campaign in the Dominican Republic. Next spring, the graduates will host evangelistic campaigns in their own territories.
“I want them to get exposed to public evangelism,” said Heras. “By going to a place where evangelism is strong, we can learn how to apply the principles here to make our church grow. Not everything will apply to us, but I want the lay people to get excited about evangelism.”
Gonzalez hopes this training will inspire more collaboration between pastors and lay people. “We are motivating the pastors to work together with lay people and to involve them in preaching,” he added. “The Bible tells us to go into the world and preach the gospel. The more people who are prepared to preach, the better.”
By Araya Moss