The pastor on the phone sounded defeated. “I talked to the church board about Evangelism and they said they didn’t want any evangelism this year, and maybe not next year either.”
In situations like this it is possible to forget that evangelism is not based on the fleeting emotions of people but rather on the direct commands of Jesus! Jesus said “Go!” “Disciple!” “Baptize!” “Teach!” and if we are going to be faithful to the One who died for us we must evangelize!
But what should you do if church leaders show little or no enthusiasm, or even try to roadblock your efforts? Here are four things to do.
1. Listen and agree whenever possible. When there is resistance say “Tell me more” or “Help me understand your thinking” then listen well to what they say. You might hear responses like “Last time we did evangelism we spent a fortune and didn’t baptize anyone” or “There were ten people baptized last time we did evangelism and you can’t find any of them now” or “People are so busy that I don’t think anyone would come” or “We need to get our church stronger spiritually before we do evangelism.” Listen without being defensive. Agree as often as you can. You might respond with statements such as “It does sound like a lot of money was spent with few visible results” or “That’s really disappointing to see people baptized and then we lose them so quickly” or “People do seem to be very busy these days” or “We really do need to grow stronger spiritually as a church.”
2. Share the mission wherever possible. But then remind church members and church leaders of our mission as followers of Jesus and as a church. Share in personal conversations, in Sabbath School groups, during visitation, just before you preach, in sermons, in church board devotionals or discussions. Say things like “But we are called to let everyone in our city/county/community know that Jesus loves them and that He’s coming again soon” or “How do you think we can get the Adventist message to everyone in our territory as soon as possible?” or “What are some soul winning methods that have been effective here in the past?” or “How do you think we can catch the attention of busy people with God’s final message before it’s too late?” or “Let’s have a 24 hour prayer vigil/week of prayer/church-wide visitation program and communion service to help our church reconnect with Jesus and each other so we are ready to let others know about His goodness, His message and His soon-return.” Become thoroughly familiar with the following passages so you can preach from them, use them in devotionals, share them in conversations, etc. These inspired passages with divine truth show that “evangelism” is so much more than holding expensive public prophecy meetings with little or no preparation and little or no results. As you prayerfully study these passages it becomes clear that Evangelism is a lifestyle for all believers that involves sowing, cultivating, reaping and discipling of new believers.
§ Matthew 5:13-16
§ Matthew 13
§ Matthew 24:14
§ Matthew 28:18-20
§ Mark 5:1-20
§ Luke 10:1-20
§ Luke 15
§ John 4:34-42
§ Acts 1:8
§ Acts 2:40-47
§ Acts 8-10
§ Acts 16:5
§ Romans 15:20
§ Ephesians 4:11-16
§ 2 Timothy 2:2
§ Revelation 14:6-12
3. Take simple specific steps forward however possible. You are not doomed to defeat! You are not called simply to babysit the saints but to take the Adventist message to all your territory as rapidly as possible. You can take simple specific steps forward that will result in a steady stream of souls being won and disciples being developed for God’s kingdom. Here are some great specific steps. Click on the links to learn more. Pick one to implement every month or quarter.
§ Fill the Baptistry Sabbaths. You don’t need a vote of the church board or permission from the Elders to ask the deacon to start filling the baptistry by faith every month or quarter. Here are the experiences of several pastors who have taken this step of faith.
§ Bible Study Interest Card Mailing using the 8-week plan for follow up. Several church organizations, such as Seminars Unlimited (seminarsunlimited.org) can mail Bible study interest cards to zip codes and/or carrier routes you select. For about $1k you can have 5k cards mailed, resulting in an average of 50 requests for Bible studies. Using the 8 week plan this can often result in 3-5 people baptized.
§ Set up House Blessings in your members and/or leaders homes and follow up with a Bible study group whenever possible.
§ Start a Pathfinder or Adventurer Club to attract and minister to young families. Ask your conference Youth Leader for help.
§ Interview new and long time members on Sabbath morning to hear how they became followers of Jesus.
§ Give the “Ten Minutes More” challenge to your Church Board.
§ Try some of the other Transforming Your Church ideas.
4. Take the message outside the four walls of the church with whoever possible. After listening to the concerns and talking about the mission, if your church board or elders are still not ready to move forward within the church walls, love them but also look for members who are ready to win souls for Jesus’ kingdom. Your situation may be God’s way of nudging you to look at unentered and unworked parts of your district. Look for a group or two in the church or at least 2-3 members who will join you in taking the Adventist message to new territory as an Advance Team. You might have a church family that lives in a neighboring community that would open their home for a House Blessing, a Bible Study group and ultimately a small evangelistic series. If you need a larger venue for public meetings click here for a list of options. The Lord wants you fully engaged in the mission and wants you to involve every willing man, woman and child in the greatest work on earth – bringing people to Jesus, helping them learn and embrace all Bible truth and inviting them to unite with God’s final movement on earth!
Remember to love all the people as you fulfill all the mission!
Dan Serns is Evangelism Coordinator for the Texas Conference