Equipping Shepherds and Employing Social Action
by Mark L. Williams
    We Must Equip Shepherds
O

ne of the most important gifts Christ left the church is the pastor. Pastors are shepherds and form one of the most vital forces for God and His kingdom in the world today. As the pastor goes, so goes the Church of God.

Today, shepherds are called upon to carry out the mission of God in an age of religious pluralism and materialistic world-views. It is a day when the church and its message are being marginalized. Those coming to Jesus often face opposition from family members and persecution from peers for deciding to follow Christ.

Families are being redefined. People are historically dislocated. It is an age of addiction, and pastors face intense spiritual warfare. For this reason, the Church of God must give priority to affirming, resourcing, training, and caring for its shepherds.

I carry a burden for pastors. The Vital Initiative (vitalinitiative.com) for pastors
of smaller churches was launched through Pastor Michael Nations to say every pastor and every church is vital. Small churches are not failed large churches. God has strategically placed congregations in towns and communities to shine in the darkness. Bi-vocational pastors may well be the most important mission force in our world today.

With 800 million users of Facebook, 40 million Instagrams posted each day, and 140 million users of Twitter sending 340 million tweets each day, I believe social media is one way pastors can be connected and resourced. Faith Matters was launched with the desire to bring matters of faith to the table in a conversational way.

Last summer, the International Executive Committee and I were thrilled to announce the debut of Ministry Source. It is a one-stop website that offers a robust, easy-to-search collection of useful content offering pastors inspiration, training, and continuing education. This site is designed to equip anyone in ministry through live webinars, archived church services, worship music, children’s resources, sermon outlines, and even PowerPoint slides. New content is being added regularly from our network of partners, including exclusive content provided by Lee University’s Division of Adult Learning. Ministry Source is still in beta test, so give us your feedback. The site is free to use, but you must register to access it (MinistrySource.com).

    We Must Employ Social Action

For some time now, I have felt the Church of God corporately needs to regain its prophetic voice. So many issues—including abortion on demand, human trafficking, the exploitation of children, redefining of marriage, religious freedom, poverty, global hunger—call for a word from the Lord and action.

In this regard, I am so proud of Women’s Discipleship. More than $400,000 has been raised for Operation Freedom: Rescuing Servant Children in Haiti. These funds are being used to build a transitional safe house in Port Salut, Haiti, for children rescued from slavery.

World Missions, Men and Women of Action (MWOA), and YWEA are combining their efforts to build a firewall in Africa by establishing seven training centers in Senegal, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zambia, and the Horn of Africa. The strategy includes planting new churches, strengthening existing churches, equipping laity for service, and developing young leaders.

In 2014, MWOA volunteers completed building project number 1,500. They have built and/or remodeled churches, schools, orphanages, clinics, and parsonages in 76 countries and 48 states. We thank God for their tireless efforts.