By Damon Washington
A volunteer lay pastor (VLP) is a person who volunteers their time in order to help lead a congregation that cannot afford to have its own pastor. The VLP is mentored and supervised by the director of the VLP ministry and other Nevada-Utah Conference (NUC) clergy. The NUC territory, which has congregations in four states, has several small congregations and church plants where they plan to place VLPs.
Who is qualified to serve? The VLP must be a person who, first and foremost, loves the Lord in words and action. The VLP must have a desire for serving the Lord and others—a person who loves people. Their desire is not to be up front to be seen by others, nor are they looking to control a church. They are willing to work with the rest of the laity as a unified team, to serve not only the members but also their community.
The VLP is not brought on board to maintain the status quo but to help build the church spiritually and to move the church forward to reach the community. VLPs are to unify the congregation, and they are responsible for leading out in evangelism efforts. Their responsibilities include administrative duties, preparing the church service, visitation, conducting prayer meetings, and preaching.
The VLP is not brought on board and then left to themselves to figure things out. The director of the VLP Ministry works closely with each of the VLPs and is responsible for providing them with the proper training and guidance. They report their needs and how things are progressing to the director, who is committed to supporting them and seeing that they are successful in ministry. Post-COVID-19, the director will visit the various churches that have VLPs serving.
On April 1, 2020, Terry Janzen became the first VLP for the NUC, serving the Yerington church in Nevada. Terry is well qualified and has a love for serving God’s people; he has already added members to this congregation. He and his wife, Kathy, are both retired and have served as evangelists and elders. Terry and Kathy’s love for Christ and His church is their priority. They are new to the Nevada-Utah Conference, coming recently from Northern California, and have been welcomed with open arms.
A VLP is currently in the process of being added to the Fallon church in Nevada. Jose Karry is no stranger to being a lay pastor; he has previously led other congregations. Jose, who was unanimously voted by the Fallon church to be their VLP, graciously accepted the responsibility and has the support of the entire elder board. Jose, who holds a full-time job, will also be supported and assisted by his wife, Claritza, a retired SDA schoolteacher who is an evangelist in her own right. The Karrys have attended the Fallon church for over 30 years and are known and loved by the congregation. Church member Moriah Ward said, “Even before being selected as VLP, he stepped up to lead the church and has not only made evangelism to our neighbors a priority but has helped to encourage fellowship among the church members.”
Within the NUC territory, there are many more churches that we will be working with to introduce and implement VLPs. The VLP director also works closely with NUC Director of Church Planting Ministry Pedro Pozo; together they will lead as directed by God through much prayer in order to ensure that the right people are put in the right places. The vision is that, as each new church plant forms, the appropriate VLP will be assigned to lead.
If you have a desire to serve as a VLP or simply want to learn more about the VLP Ministry of the NUC, please contact: email@example.com.