Everyone knows what a pastor is, but what in the world is a VLP? In the Carolina Conference and in a growing number of places around the North American Division, a VLP is a volunteer lay pastor. The church in North America has seen the need to plant more churches to reach communities. However, they do not have the financial resources to hire the number of pastors required to lead all the new churches they need to plant. So, what can they do? At least one part of the answer is use VLPs.
In many cases, churches are planted from healthy, growing “mother” churches. Dedicated members from the mother church, and perhaps even neighboring churches, rally together with Conference leadership to take on the amazing adventure of beginning a new church plant. When a new mission group is formed, competent leadership to oversee the fledgling plant is needed. That leadership comes in the form of many hands working within their spiritual gifts to advance the cause of Christ. The district pastor of the mother church is the official pastor of the new group, but there is additional help needed to provide pastoral- type care. That is where there is a need for a VLP. VLPs will always be a local church elder recommended to the program by the district pastor, then approved by the local church, and finally approved by the Conference VLP coordinator. This appointment is for a one-year period that can be renewed or changed according to the needs of the group at the end of that year.
Once someone is appointed as the VLP, they are required to attend the quarterly training events for non-Hispanic groups and monthly training for Hispanic ones. These training events are sponsored and endorsed by the Conference. Apart from the quarterly or monthly training events, there is also an in-person VLP training weekend held at Nosoca Pines Ranch. This past year, many were blessed to have seminary professor Joseph Kidder, D.Min., author of The Big Four, present on what it means to have a Spirit-filled ministry for the Lord. Leslie Louis, Carolina Conference president; Gary Moyer, vice president of administration; and Haskell Williams, ministerial director, also shared and blessed the team.
As the work advances in Carolina, there will be an increasing need for each disciple of Christ to do their part for the Lord. Who knows? The Lord may want to use you as a VLP too.
Carolina | April 2023