The Seventh-day Adventist Church utilizes many avenues for outreach and church ministry. Two of the most popular, and fruitful, are the Adventurer and Pathfinder clubs that stretch around the globe. Here are two stories from events in North America — both show how clubs can bring people to the church.
Club Ministries and God’s Vision
This past April I was privileged to be at the Adventurer Family Camp for the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference, held at Camp Yorktown Bay. There were close to 350 attendees, which included many Adventurers and their parents. As I talked with a variety of people at the event, I discovered someone who knew my father and me from Mexico. He was one of the leaders of the Little Rock Spanish church on Baseline Road.
I remember him only as “Pastor Tele” (his first name is Telesforo). An ordained pastor in Mexico, here in the United States he was simply helping out as a lay pastor. Even though he was not leading as a full-time pastor, he hadn’t lost his passion for ministry and mission.
As we talked, Pastor Tele mentioned that a small Spanish-speaking group was meeting with the local English church, but when he started looking around, he knew their group would not grow too much. While they had a place to worship, the neighborhood was not very accessible for the Spanish-speaking community. In other words, the demographics of the neighborhood where they met did not match with the mission they had in their hearts. Pastor Tele told me that in order to grow, the group needed to move into an area where there were a lot of potential members. With a prayer and a vision, he set out with his wife and another couple to go and plant a church in a neighborhood where many Hispanics lived.
For months, the little group met in houses, and looked for interests for Bible studies in the community. They persevered and, after some time, with the influx of people that started to come, they decided to start a Pathfinder Club. It brought so many people that the church plant had to start an Adventurer Club! And that is when I met him at the family camp. The group has been active as a church for a little more than three years with an active Pathfinder Club and, now, a new Adventurer Club. Pastor Tele mentioned that not all the attendees to the camp were baptized yet, but that they were there involved and supportive of the club! I was amazed — their group was one of the larger clubs, and they had a lot of children there!
I realized that it just takes willingness to follow the vision that God has given. God will give success!
Pastor Tele continues supporting the local pastor, but he definitely is the motor behind the club ministries. They work! They are bringing people to the church!
Teen Director, Incredible Club Growth
A few weeks ago, while at the Illinois Conference Pathfinder camporee at Camp Akita, I met youth pastor David Kokiong. Kokiong is from the Hinsdale Fil Am church, and as we got acquainted, I noticed that his church had brought a large group of Pathfinders.
The more I learned about the club, the more impressed I became with the church. The Pathfinder director, 19 years old, has been a director for two years! His name is Rodney Pidu, Jr., or “RJ,” as he is known. I was amazed at the responsibility given to this young man, who is also a physician’s assistant student, and part of a network at church impacting the youth programs tremendously.
I needed to know more. Before I left on Sunday, I spoke with the youth pastor again, and met the young director. They shared the entire story.
The youth pastor had been serving the church for a little more than two years. In those two years Kokiong began implementing plans to incorporate, empower, and trust youth and young adults in leadership positions. When he showed me his plans, his teams, his network of young leaders, which included RJ, I realized that I needed to ask more about the church. What had driven them to trust, release, and mentor these young people?
The answer came quickly: for many years, the church had minimal growth and poor engagement from young people. The board and the leadership of the church decided to make a bold statement. One of the elders had already been mentoring RJ for a couple years. He asked that the church trust the young man for the directorship.
The youth pastor told me that this young man was focused on leading his club (many of the members of the club are close to his age), while the adults focus of supporting him and the entire staff, also filled with teen leaders and young adults, by making sure that food and other necessities are provided.
The older leaders constantly mentor and support the young Pathfinder leaders. The youth pastor is also always around, but in a very supportive role, where he fills in the gaps, and mentors.
The Hinsdale Fil AM church’s Pathfinder Club has grown under RJ’s leadership from 35 to almost 50, and the activities for youth and the spiritual growth of the young people at church have exploded exponentially! God is blessing indeed!