Samara United Methodist Church hosted a three-day seminar (21-23 August, 2014) on the issue concerning church ministries organization in the framework of the educational program for UMC pastors in Eurasia. The topic of the seminar was "Pastoral Ministry” and it was held mainly by pastor Tim Walker who has been in pastoral service for over 40 years.
The Volga District and Moscow pastors were the main participants at the seminar. We welcomed the Vnukovo Deacon CMC Lydia Rodionova (Moscow), pastor of the "Rainbow" minisry Fyodor Kim, secretary of the Bishop Catherine Kim, pastor of Lytkarino UMC Zhanna Ivanova. From the Volga District several representatives we invited as well: pastor of Saratov UMC Dmitry Novikov, pastor of the UMC "Saint Luke" in Ulyanovsk Dinara Berlyand, pastor of Syzran UMC Irina Holodilova, pastor childcare leave Olga Paramedic from Kuznetsk, District Superintendent Natalia Prokhorova, pastor of Samara UMC Ganina Olga, Deacon of Samara UMC Stanislav Prokhorov. Pastors from all over Eurasia were invited as well. However, only several responded to the invitation: senior pastor Andrey Kim from St. Petersburg, pastor of the UMC in Pushkin Andrey Kuznetsov, pastor of the Pskov UMC Natalia Chernova.
One of the seminar organizers was the Tyumen UMC pastor Katerina Zubkova who also worked for us as an interpreter and a leading worship singer. We sent out invitations to all the evangelical churches in Samara and our old friends from the Pentecostal Church "House of God" (three pastors) attended the seminar as well as the vicar of the Lutheran Church in Samara.
Accommodation and meals at Samara UMC were both managed and sponsored by the Volga District fund while the participants only had to pay for their own transportation. At the same time, there were a number of pastors and church ministers who could not afford to go. All those three days Elena Sivtsova from the Novokuybyshevsk UMC served as a chef at the kitchen and several sisters from Samara UMC assisted her.
We had enough time to discuss the lecture material in small groups and each of the participants could share their thoughts, experiences, challenges and successes. The Holy Spirit during those days was abundantly enriching us and leading us to grow spiritually.My heart is filled with gratitude to all who participated in the seminar, especially pastors Tim and Katerina Zubkova who left their ministry, their churches and homes to teach us and help us in understanding the wisdom of God in such an important matter as building up The Church of Jesus Christ.
Volga District Superintendent, Pastor of Samara UMC Natalia Prokhorova
When I was on my way to the pastoral seminar in Samara I did not realize how important it would become for me in result. Yet, after the very first day of the seminar I realized that I had arrived for good. As a pastor of a small church I keep asking myself a question how to help more people come to God, ignite their interest in the church and ministries so that the world could see the number of God-loving people grow through the ministries we start up and through the activities we organize within the community. And personally I was willing to hear more pieces of advice on how to organize time effectively.
Pastor Tim Walker shared his rich and valuable experience to show us directions of solving the problems that every pastor inevitably comes across.
For example, we were asked to identify what things in life almost literally steal our time. And to my own surprise I have discovered at least three such “thieves” and now I am determined to get rid of them.
One of the problems that I have identified at the seminar is lack of a well-organized plan for every service and every ministry. That is why sometimes some of the ministries I have do not go as I envisioned them and even fall apart. God guided me through my mistakes with the help of our dear brother pastor Tim.
The seminar helped better understand how to deal with the issues we sometimes stumble upon at church and in the ministries. We now have an opportunity to work out a smart strategy to overcome the difficulties that we encounter and also build up a plan for the whole next year that will include all the recommendations we received during the seminar. One of the first steps I have already made as a pastor is writing down a detailed “to do list” for the following month which I will keep on doing regularly.
In addition, I would also like to share the three most important ideas that I have come up with during the seminar:
1. Sharing the pastor’s prayer activities according to various categories of people within the congregation and doing it in special days of the week
Thanks to this method, we have overcome the mess and major difficulties in communication with members of the community. We started practicing communication with specific groups of parishioners on special days, praying for their needs, worries and concerns.
2. Focusing on one main task for a local church
In my view, some of our churches operate like a carriage in which every horse is pulling in its own direction, all leaders trying to fully manage their ministry alone. However, seeing and understanding the goal for the church is very important in order to stay focused on what really matters.
3. Act wisely to surround yourself by the “right” people otherwise the wrong people will surround you
We should pay attention to the people that surround us. The people surrounding us in our daily lives, people with whom we collaborate play a crucial role in the job of building up the church of Christ. King David was very clear on that issue in the first psalm, where he encouraged us to be more attentive to the people surrounding us. This will help us realize how a bad community may influence us in a destructive way.
By now we have started realizing the new pattern step by step and we pray to God that our efforts bring fruit.
I thank God for all the knowledge I gained from this workshop and for the time spent in fellowship with brothers and sisters. I am also grateful for fresh ideas and for the assistance of Pastor Tim in building communities. And special thanks should be given to the organizers of the workshop – District Superintendent Natalia Prokhorova, for the food we ate, the places where we could sleep and all the love and care we witnessed during the seminar. We also are grateful to the Tyumen UMC pastor for her quality translations and an inspiring worship singing.
And, of course, I am thankful to all brothers and sisters who helped to make this event happen and worked hard those three days to make sure we felt at home.
Dmitriy Novikov, pastor of the Saratov UMC
Photos by Ekaterina Zubkova
Translate by Maria Tigina