Pastoral Letter: 1st Quarter 2020

AFM Colleague,

Greetings in Jesus’ Name. I am thankful for the opportunity to communicate with you through this first Pastoral letter in 2020. I am grateful to all who read my previous Pastoral Letter and gave me feedback. The contents of this first 2020 Pastoral Letter include the important motivations for the new nomination process that will culminate in the elections of the new AFM of SA National Office Bearers in September this year. I have also included the role of our pastors in the missional church context. You will also read about how our congregations can implement one of the Game Plan Drivers, namely, Community Involvement.

THE AFM OF SA 2020 ELECTIONS
Past. M.G. Mahlobo (President of the AFM of SA) – [email protected]

I would like to highlight a few things regarding the election of the new National Office Bearers (NOB) in September this year. The 2018 General Business Meeting (GBM) took important decisions regarding the election of the National Office Bearers of the AFM of SA. These are: (i) eligibility requirements, (ii) the nomination pool, (iii) elections, and (iv) transitional mechanisms. Allow me to say more about each point.

Eligibility Requirements 

All prospective nominees for NOB positions must be ordained pastors who have served at least five (5) years in a local assembly/assemblies as presiding pastors. In the past, no pastor was eligible for election as NOB unless he/she had served as an ordained fulltime worker in a registered local assembly of the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa for at least three (3) years. Furthermore, it is now a constitutional requirement that candidates for the position of President must have also served at least one (1) full term as a National Leadership Forum (NLF) member.

“All prospective nominees for NOB positions must be ordained pastors who have served at least five (5) years in a local assembly/assemblies as presiding pastors.”

The motivation on the above was to bring some higher level of experience and to ensure that future Presidents of the church have been exposed to the operations of the national structures of the church.

Nomination Pool by local AFM Congregations and Regional Committees

The 2018 GBM resolved that a list of possible candidates for the positions of the President, Deputy-President, General Secretary and General Treasurer be made available prior to the delegates of the 2020, and subsequent elective GBMs. This list is referred to as a “nomination pool.” The nomination pool will enable the GBM electoral college to know the names of the people who are available for election prior to elections. This information would also lessen the number of spoiled nomination and voting ballots, during the election process. This new development is an attempt to ensure wider participation of the church’s structures in the election of the leadership of the church.

A policy regarding the creation of the nomination pool, and the actual election at the GBM, was approved by the National Leadership Forum (NLF) and has been sent to the Congregations- and Regional Committees. Congregations- and Regional Committees have been provided with Nomination forms which must be completed and returned to my office by 16h00, 31 March 2020. Subsequent processes of scrutinizing nominees will be done by the Scrutiny Committee to be appointed by the NLF. All nominees will be afforded the opportunity to indicate their nominations’ acceptance. The information of nominees who have accepted nomination will be sent to all AFM Congregations and other GBM statutory bodies.

“Congregations- and Regional Committees have been provided with Nomination forms which must be completed and returned to my office by 16h00, 31 March 2020.”

Elections

At the GBM the same process will be followed as in previous elections. The first round will be the nominations. These nominations are used to determine the names of those who must go into the first, second and subsequent rounds of voting, as the case may be. It might happen that certain candidates are elected at the nomination phase, based on the percentage of votes they receive from the electoral college.

Transitional Mechanism

Another important 2018 GBM decision relates to the transitional mechanism. In the past, the NOB’s were expected to assume their responsibilities, immediately after their election. This expectation created practical challenges for the newly elected NOB’s. Some of these challenges were contractual obligations to their congregations. In some instances, those elected had to relocate, in order to be within close proximity of the National Office. In order to act responsibly and properly, to mitigate these practical challenges, newly elected NOB’s require time. After the election of new NOB’s, there will be a three (3) month transitional period.

The 2018 GBM amended the church’s constitution in such a way that it provides a transitional period during which outgoing NOB’s are expected to present exit reports and offer orientation to the incoming NOB’s. This would ensure a smooth transition.

“I request all pastors, congregations and other church structures to pray for the 2020 elections.”

I request all pastors, congregations and other church structures to pray for the 2020 elections.

THE ROLE OF THE PASTOR IN A MISSIONAL CHURCH CONTEXT
Dr. H.J. Weideman (General Secretary of the AFM of SA) – [email protected]  

During the 2019 NOB regional visits, a wellness survey was done. This included a measurement of the different perceptions of a pastor’s role. We asked our pastors how they themselves, their members, and the Governing Body see their role as pastor. We discovered the following:

** An Extract from the Final Report:

In Summary The Number One Choice Of The Three Groups Were:

This means that many pastors focus mainly on the so-called shepherding model.

According to this model, the pastor provides all the spiritual input and teaching, as well as the pastoral caring for the flock (Shepherding). Church members are then generally the objects of ministry and not the source. The main expectation from members in this assembly model, is to attend and participate.

Many assemblies who are following this model find themselves in a maintenance mode, where the focus is on keeping the assembly, its activities and the members (the flock) “going.” This is seen as the pastor’s main responsibility. In many instances there is a strong investment in the status quo and a lot of energy available for the maintenance of what has been.

There is usually a great resistance in maintenance mode congregations to the hard questions that the missional challenge raises.”

There is usually a great resistance in maintenance mode congregations to the hard questions that the missional challenge raises. Questions like: What is our calling and purpose? What does God expect of us as an assembly? What difference do we really make in the community? What is the “work of ministry” that believers are supposed to fulfill? (Eph.4:11-12)

In this context it is not uncommon to find individual believers who receive a call from God and travel to a far-away foreign country to preach the gospel in what is called “the mission field”, while very few experience the calling to be missionaries in their everyday life in their own communities. This is the traditional concept of missions.

A new paradigm of Missions and of being Church is emerging.

A model of being church in which every member sees him-/herself as a missionary. A model in which the church becomes a missional movement and believers become true followers of Jesus, and not just church members. Team players, and not just spectators.

“It is a paradigm in which every believer understands that when Jesus said: “As the father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21) – He was speaking to ALL His followers and not just to Pastors.”

It is a paradigm in which every believer understands that when Jesus said: “As the father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21) – He was speaking to ALL His followers and not just to Pastors. That each member is called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt.5:13-16) each and every day, everywhere.

The realization of this missional model of being church, implies that the pastor cannot just be a bystander, but must fulfil an active role in especially the following aspects:

1. The Pastor’s role as (internal) Evangelist and Change Agent

God’s Holy Spirit wants to convert our congregations from an inward focused preoccupation, to a missional vocation. The focus should not only be upon the needs of church members, but upon the calling of all believers to be “Christ’s letter to the world” (2 Cor 3:2-3). It is not a “return” to something that once was and is now lost: It is a matter of “conversion” not just “reformation” or “renewal.” In achieving this conversion, the pastor must be an evangelist preaching and advocating the conversion to a Missional focus and way of life.

2. The Pastor’s role to Interpret Scripture Missionally

“Missional hermeneutics” is a way of interpreting Scripture that starts from the realization that the New Testament religious communities (assemblies) were all founded in order to continue the apostolic witness that brought them into being. Pastors need to probe the text in terms of its missional purpose, to understand what it is saying to us today in terms of our task and lifestyle as people on God’s Mission. This will contextualize the Gospel message for assembly members and will revolutionize the pastor’s preaching and teaching ministry.

3. The Pastor’s role as Equipper

Believers must be equipped to become witnesses (Eph.4:11-12). Every New Testament congregation understood itself to be under the mandate of our Lord at His ascension: “You shall be my witnesses.”

4. The Pastor’s role as Team Leader & Coach

God’s mission is not carried out by soloists but by teams. The ordained leadership of a congregation must make it a priority to seek those people whom God has provided and gifted, to share in the missional formation of the community, make them part of the ministry team and provide inspiring leadership and coaching to them. The ministry that “equips the saints for the work of ministry” is always apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, deaconic & instructive. In this context the pastor is not only a shepherd to members, but a coach empowering thém to be shepherds, carers and witnesses to the whole community.

5. The Pastor’s role as Missional Strategist

An important part of the role of a pastor in a missional church context, is to be constantly looking for points of connection in the life and story of church members that will open up the converting power of the Gospel. The pastor must find creative ways of drawing Scripture into the center of people’s lives, as God’s instrument for missional formation. He/she must also discern how God is calling and sending the congregation in practical ways to “be Christ’s witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

6. The Pastor’s Personal Example

Becoming a missional church, implies that the leaders of a congregation will take the notion of being sent, of being on a mission – to a personal level.  More and more congregants are not only interested in what the Pastor has studied, but in studying the pastor. They want to see how we live the life that we are professing.

“We cannot preach to and teach others to live as missionaries in their every-day lives without setting a similar example.”

We cannot preach to and teach others to live as missionaries in their every-day lives without setting a similar example (1Cor.9:27).  Maybe this is the biggest challenge of assembly leadership today: To not only talk, but to walk our talk….

IMPLEMENTING THE ONE AFM GAME PLAN DRIVER: COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Ashley Theron (Acting CEO of the Executive Welfare Council of the AFM of SA)  
[email protected] 

AFM Assemblies are part of the communities they serve and are one of the main community structures to address the prevalent challenges like poverty, crime, family breakdown, AIDS, substance abuse and addiction, violence against women, children and older persons.  In fact, many of their members are victims of these challenges. AFM members should therefore rise up and take up their God-given calling to get involved and address these challenges faced by their members and others in their immediate communities.

Though some assemblies are already involved and making a difference in the lives of vulnerable families and individuals, many of them are not sure where to begin and how to implement this driver. It is here where the Welfare Department (AFM Welfare) can play a role to equip assemblies. AFM Welfare has the tools, programmes and information to support AFM Assemblies to implement their social development actions. AFM Welfare can assist to give meaning to the One AFM Game Plan Driver: Community Involvement. The AFM Welfare does this through it uManelisi Community Development Programme.

“AFM Welfare has the tools, programmes and information to support AFM Assemblies to implement their social development actions.”

Community Involvement leads to Community Development

The answer lies in assemblies starting small by getting involved in existing community processes and to do what their own resources and skills allow them to do.  Community involvement means:

  • Reaching out to people in need, starting with their needy members.
  • Doing good to others without making them dependent on hand-outs.
  • Uplifting of people by empowering them to help themselves.
  • Helping others meet their needs.
  • Serving on school and NPO (Non-Profit Organization) structures.

Community Development – Where to start

We would like to share a few steps that will assist assemblies to start their own community project:

1. Defining the Community Needs

Find out what is needed in your community by firstly talking to the leadership and members of your assembly, and then with other community leaders and structures.

2. Action a Team of Volunteers

Form a task team of like-minded people and agree which challenge/s needs to be addressed first, what resources and abilities you would need to undertake the project. Work towards having both a coordinating- and advisory team.

3. Community Profile

Undertake a desktop research of all the community structures and what they are already doing, number of churches and what projects they are running, number and roles of NPOs, number of schools, government departments, review existing information and statistics.  Find out what is already being done in the community, with the aim of narrowing down the challenges.

4. Choose a Project

If you have a group of people you’re going to work with, allow them to help you rank the ideas. Vote on, or decide which activity to focus on. Make sure it is reasonable, within your means, and that you can actually make an impact.

5. Roles and Responsibilities

Agree on who will be responsible for what in your team.

6. Consult, Consult, Consult.

Identify your internal and external stakeholders and make sure that you consult with them and give them feedback. Understand what legal and other requirements you must meet. Learn from the experiences of others and seek advice.

7. Develop a Plan

To start, write down exactly what you are hoping to accomplish. This will include a big-picture goal as well as the specific smaller tasks that you will need to do in order to get to that main goal.

8. Prepare a Budget

Now that you know your goals, you need to know what resources you have and exactly how much money you will need to implement the project.

9. Development a Fundraising Campaign

Make a list of the top groups and sources for you to contact to mobilize the necessary cash or in-kind donations. Be sure to add as many possible sources as you can think of to help you in meeting your funding goals.

10. Make a Timeline

You should already have a rough idea of how long your project will take, but now you need to narrow it down to the specifics. Mark specific goals on your timeline. Make a note of specific things that are critical to success. Include the time slots to review progress.

11. Publicity & Community Support

Start by seeking the advice from a Communication/Marketing/Public Relations expert with the development of a marketing strategy. Make a list of contacts at different radio, television, and newspapers/magazines in your community.

12. Implement & Evaluate

Create your list of measurable “process” and “impact” indicators related to your goals as well as how and when they will be measured.

For further support, training and coaching on Community Involvement contact me:

Ashley Theron (Acting CEO of AFM Welfare)

[email protected]

012 753 7940/1 (Ask for Lizelle de Bruyn or Rebecca Kola)

CONCLUSION

I hope this communication will add value to your ministry, and provide clarity on the issues being addressed. Your ministry is greatly appreciated. I will value your feedback on matters raised in the Pastoral Letter.

Blessings!

Past. M.G. Mahlobo