1 "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."
Focus on Outreach
Evangelism takes many shapes and forms. In this section we shall focus on Bible study, evangelism, and the importance of discipling new members.
- One-to-One Bible Study
- Small Group Evangelism
- Seminar Style Evangelism
- Discipling New Members
A. ONE-TO-ONE BIBLE STUDY
One of the most satisfying spiritual ministries is that of giving personal Bible studies. It takes time and energy, but you will find it one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of life.
Giving Bible studies is not as hard as most imagine, and one does not have to be a Bible scholar to be successful. The number one secret of effective Bible study is prayer. Pray before the Bible study, inviting the Holy Spirit to guide in the study. Pray as you give the study, constantly asking the Holy Spirit to give you the right and loving words.
In giving one-to-one Bible studies, it is important to keep in mind that people don’t care how much you know until they see how much you care!
The art of reaching the heart is a sacred privilege. Angels will attend you as you visit with those who are looking for a better life. By visiting with the people and praying with them, you will reach the heart and lead that person to Christ.
It takes more than personal charisma, brilliant logic, or clever articulation to be successful in sharing Bible truth. You must have genuine love for the Lord and the student.
“The gospel is to be presented, not as a lifeless theory, but as a living force to change the life. God desires that the receivers of His grace shall be witness to its power. . . . He would have His servants bear testimony to the fact that through His grace men may possess Christ-likeness of character, and may rejoice in the assurance of His great love. . . . The wonderful love of Christ will melt and subdue hearts, when the mere reiteration of doctrines would accomplish nothing.” —Desire of Ages, p. 826.
Giving Bible studies is an important work. It is a sacred responsibility to love, nurture, and encourage the student in your charge along the Christian pathway. Because of the joy you have found in following Jesus Christ, you want to share that joy and to make it a growing experience.
In Colossians 1:28 (NRSV) we see the goal of those who minister for Christ. “It is He whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
In a world filled with hatred and violence and suffering, God, in His Word, expressed His love and we are free to choose His way. God doesn’t want us to die. His gift is eternal life. If we can show Christ’s love for us, hearts will respond to that love and want to follow as God leads.
As we pray for others, through the influence of the Holy Spirit, God grants us wisdom to reach them. But remember, God respects human freedom. He gives us the opportunity to choose to serve Him or to reject Him. We can, however, become channels of influence, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Keep in mind that the Word of God contains life-changing power. The same Holy Spirit which inspired the Bible will accompany you as you present its precious truths to others. The Spirit of God will richly reward you as you share God’s Word with others. And God has promised fruit for your labor, souls in the kingdom of God as a direct result of your ministry.
Every serious member of the church should learn the principles of giving Bible studies through the power of the Holy Spirit. Even if a person feels that God has not called him or her to give personal Bible studies, each has been called to witness in some way, and if we will learn the principles of studying the Bible with others, God can use us more effectively in whatever method of witnessing He has chosen for us. To become equipped so that we can explain our faith to anyone to whom the Lord directs us is our privilege and joy.
Personal one-to-one Bible study is one of the main methods of witnessing to which God has called Christians. This is explained so beautifully in Christ’s Object Lessons, page 229:
“The Lord desires that His word of grace shall be brought home to every soul. To a great degree this must be accomplished by personal labor. This was Christ’s method. His work was largely made up of personal interviews. He had a faithful regard for the one-soul audience. Through that one soul the message was often extended to thousands. We are not to wait for souls to come to us; we must seek them out where they are.”
How does a person find someone with whom to study the Bible? These people may be receptive relatives, neighbors, contacts in the community, the workplace, or a friend who has been watching your life and seeing that you have a peace and joy they would like to have. It may be a matter of simply asking them if they would like to study the Bible with you. Among many today, community and work-place Bible fellowship groups are enjoyed. Your pastor may have interest cards that have been mailed to the church from programs such as Voice of Prophecy, It Is Written, Breath of Life or from outreach health programs and others.
The two-by-two plan, as the Lord sent out disciples, is the best way to give Bible studies. That way one can encourage the other, and you can counsel, pray, and search the Bible together. Not only will giving Bible studies two-by-two produce the best results, but if an emergency arises, causing one of the Bible instructors to miss a session, the study can still continue with the other instructor.
Generally one should be the instructor at a particular Bible study. This will help to prevent the student from feeling overpowered. One can be sending up silent prayers as the other talks. One may have an answer the other overlooks. You can give courage to each other too. The principle Bible instructor should sit where she can face the student, and comfortably close enough to be heard and to have a friendly atmosphere.
Faithfully work and pray as though you were the only individual who will ever contact that person with the good news of Jesus’ love for him or her. God will help you. To you, as to the disciples of old, Jesus says, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt. 4:19).
For Effective Bible Study
Giving Bible studies is not as hard as most imagine, and one does not have to be a Bible scholar to be successful. The number one secret of effective Bible study is prayer. Pray before the Bible study, inviting the Holy Spirit to guide in the study. Pray as you give the study, constantly asking the Holy Spirit to give you the right and loving words.
What You Need
Before you can teach others, it is also helpful to have some materials yourself. Helpful source materials for one-to-one Bible studies include a Bible, a Bible concordance, and Bible guides. Study guides help to keep the Bible study focused and moving, therefore keeping the interest of the Bible student and keeping on the subject.
It is helpful if you can meet regularly so that your student can look forward to your visit. Try to make the study time as clear as possible. And it is also helpful if you can schedule the study for the same time, once each week. Don’t make the study long—no more than one hour— minimize the amount of information that is given, giving time for application. Most people can’t concentrate for longer than that. Don’t give the student an excuse to decide that he or she doesn’t have the time to study because it takes too much time.
It is also important for you to arrive at the scheduled hour, that you take a few minutes to get better acquainted with your student at each study hour and that you take time for prayer before introducing the subject of study. After the study of the lesson, it is important to invite a commitment and have a commitment prayer.
Encourage a commitment at each Bible study. Help your student to have the assurance of salvation, based on faith in Christ and the promises of the Word of God. The commitment may be in the form of a prayer of response to the subject of study.
Share your personal testimony, briefly, by telling your experience before you met Christ, how you met Christ, and the joy you have found since you met Christ. Keep your personal testimony brief—from two to four minutes. Be prepared to tell humbly but courageously, “I am a Christian.” Briefly tell about your life before surrendering to Christ, how you came to be a Christian and something about your life since becoming a Christian—the change, joy and blessings. Use phrases such as: I needed help; I found it in Jesus. I found the Bible to be the voice of God to my soul.
If you or the student have always been a Christian, share how being an Adventist has added a special dimension of meaning and purpose to your life. Then share a favorite scripture.
As you take time to get acquainted, your student will become your friend. This will help your student to relax and be more comfortable with you. The prayer time will help your student to realize the presence of God. Following the prayer, introduce the lesson, so that your student knows the purpose of the study. At the end, if possible, supply books for the student to read on the subject of your study.
Praise, support and acceptance are an important part of the study and fellowship. For improvement and growth, ask for feedback. Be open and truthful in your communication and your will discover the joy and excitement of true friendship and caring. Part of support and encouragement is listening; listening is important in a Bible study setting. By listening, we hear the deeper cries for help and understanding. True listening communicates the message, “I accept you, and I value your opinion.” It’s a gift of ourselves we can give to someone.
Be aware that to present information in a forceful, argumentative manner is destructive. Let the information shared be combined with a life completely surrendered to Jesus Christ. Then add deep, earnest, intercessory prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to bless your efforts. It is important to help the student to keep the love of and for our Savior strong. The best way to do this is to help him or her to exercise it by prayer and study and sharing and by being involved in church life as a participant, and sharing the good news with neighbors, friends, and relatives.
Help the student to understand that all of us need the grace of Christ, so realize that those who worship with you are not perfect. They may see flaws and imperfections, but remember, Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Keep in mind that Bible study is designed to lead a person into a saving relationship with Christ and into church fellowship; the Holy Spirit will work with the individual in the process of sanctification.
Organization of a Bible Study
There are five principle parts to a Bible study:
- Get acquainted time . . . Your Bible student must become your friend. So take a few minutes at the beginning of each study time to deepen your friendship.
- Introduce the lesson and pray . . . A short introduction of your subject of study will help your student to know the purpose of the study. Then begin your study time with a sincere prayer, asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in your study of God’s Word.
- Lesson study . . . The question and answer approach, allowing the student to read the Bible text answer, will help to keep the interest of the student. It will also help to establish confidence in the Word of God. Avoid disagreeing on a point of doctrine until you have had time to study it thoroughly from the Bible. It may be explained in a future lesson. It is important to remember that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convince the student of his or her need of Christ and His teachings. Whatever subject is being presented, uplift Jesus as the center of all hope. Remember, the wonderful love of Christ will reach the heart, when the mere reiteration of doctrine would accomplish nothing.
- Commitment and prayer . . . Begin with the very first lesson to ask a commitment question at the conclusion of your study time. You may often give a brief personal testimony that will encourage your student in his or her commitment. Seal the commitment with prayer. Encourage your student to pray when he/she feels comfortable doing so.
- Next appointment time and leaving . . . It is best to leave after your prayer time without visiting except to confirm your next appointment time. At the appropriate time, you will want to invite your student to attend church or an evangelistic meeting with you.
When you are giving a Bible study and walking the student through the process of accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, it is helpful to share your experience, inviting her to join you.
B. BIBLE EQUALS BAPTISM
Several years ago, Edit Fonseca from the Southern Parana Conference, Brazil, dreamed of and began a Bible study program she called “Project B = B” or “Bible=Baptism.” It has been highly successful and many have been baptized as a result all though South America. It is an excellent way to give women opportunities to work for their family, friends, and neighbors in one-on-one Bible studies.
This is how they conduct the program in South America. First, there is prayer. They pray about Project B = B specifically in their Women’s Ministries meetings. They pray before, during the initial project, and as the project continues.
Next, they schedule an interview with the pastors/elders to explain the project and to negotiate the purchase of Bibles through the church, or other means. They schedule the date of this kick-off event. The date should be on any Sabbath during the first part of the year so that there will be enough time to finish all of the Bible studies by the end of the year. Preference could be given to one of the two special dates for Women’s Ministries that are already on the church calendar:
1st Sabbath in March – International Women’s Day of Prayer
2nd Sabbath in June – Women’s Ministry Emphasis Day
They then prepare their material, copying the Project B = B enrollment card to be handed to each person who will participate.
After a kick-off date is finalized, they begin to advertise the date.
The program they plan can include testimonies, congregational singing, special songs, informative talks about Women’s Ministries, local and world wide Women’s Ministries news, interviews, and depositions.
The Women’s Ministries director or another person will speak about the happiness of sharing Christ’s message with others. She includes personal experiences of members who are giving Bible studies or holding evangelistic series and the results of these efforts.
She immediately asks each person present (women, men, youth, elderly) to think of a relative or friend who would be happier if they studied the Word of God. She then explains that Women’s Ministries has a plan to help reach this person. She emphasizes that each person who participates takes a Bible, Bible study guides, and the baptismal certificate. The leadership and planning committee then asks each person to make a commitment to:
- Study the Bible with one person
- Prepare this person for baptism by the end of the year.
The Bible and the Bible studies do not belong to the person who received them in the church but to the person who needs to be reached by the message.
The name of the person who will receive the Bible studies will become part of the prayer list at the Wednesday evening worship and/or the women’s prayer group’s prayer list.
Those in charge of the program request that those who took the Bible and the Bible studies remain in the front after they have heard the above instructions and have filled out and returned the Project B = B Enrollment card. All are asked to raise their Bible and the Bible studies high. A Bible promise is read and if possible a picture is taken of the group. Then the Pastor is invited to say a few words to motivate the group and to offer a prayer of consecration for the group and their work.
Each person who takes a Bible and Bible studies will be supervised in their missionary work by the Women’s Ministries leader of the church, mission or conference. These directors will regularly send correspondence and bulletins or they will maintain contact by phone. Whenever a doubt or difficulty arises during the studies, immediate help can be received because of this regular contact.
The Bible study student is asked to study in the new Bible without underlining, marking, or writing even his or her name. The Bible will only permanently belong to the interested person on the day of her or his baptism or graduation. (There are those who decide to be baptized long after the studies have finished.)
When someone who is studying the Bible asks to be baptized, this person should be directed to the pastor. Any doctrinal questions that this person may have should be clarified.
Not only do the women have a special service to begin the Project B = B, but a special ceremony for the closing/baptismal service. They organize the Bibles and Bible studies on a front table. They have the Project B = B enrollment cards and the baptismal certificates on hand.
The Bible should be wrapped in beautiful paper with a lovely bow and given after the baptism to the person who studied it. A Bible Marking Plan should be given with the Bible. You may want to write a dedication in the Bible, writing a personal message.
Then discipleship begins. After the baptism a class of new members can be formed, or these new members can be studied with individually. However, this time the study will be with the Bible Marking Plan. Students will be taught how to use this plan correctly. This reinforces the topics learned before baptism. It is also the beginning of preparing the new member to teach others.
At the end of the Bible Marking Plan study, there could be a graduation where the certificates for the completed course will be given along with a new Bible and a series of the Bible studies, a Project B = B Enrollment card and a blank Baptismal Certificate so that the new member can continue with Project B = B.
C. SMALL GROUP EVANGELISM
One of the most successful types of Bible studies is the small group study. There are a number of reasons for its success:
- People are often less intimidated by small groups and more willing to share
- It can be held in more convenient, close-to-home locations
- The group can provide a feeling of caring and nurture
- People have a better opportunity to study at their own pace
- The small group creates a natural group for continued discipling
When planning for a small group study, it is essential to include five areas:
- Sharing—getting acquainted
- Bible study—learning about God’s Word
- Prayer—asking for God’s assistance
- Social time—meeting outside the group
- Service—doing something for someone else
Before inviting people to a group Bible study, begin praying that God will attract the group members He wants and that He will enable you to lead and encourage the group.
One of the goals of a small group Bible study would be to create an atmosphere of love and acceptance which stimulates discoveries and freedom to speak about the Bible without fear of embarrassment or criticism. This will foster positive Christian fellowship.
It is best to personally invite potential group members. Be specific about the details of the study by telling them what you are planning to do, when you plan to meet and how many weeks the course of study will require. One way to start a group Bible study in your neighborhood is to invite several people to your home for refreshments. At that time tell them of your interest in starting a small group Bible study and invite them to join you. A good group size is six, but if your group is smaller, God has promised to be with you (Matthew 18:20). Keep to the time schedule. Agree on the length of each session. Take time at the beginning of the study to get acquainted. You might ask each one to briefly share his or her spiritual journey. Ask God, by His Spirit, to guide the study time. Mention that the purpose of Bible study is not only to become acquainted with biblical principles, but more essential, to become intimate friends with a Person, Jesus Christ.
The central purpose of the small study group must be to encourage learning about Jesus and the joy in following the footsteps of the Master Teacher. Set up the direction of the subject being considered with a get-acquainted-type question at the beginning of each study. Give a clear, simple statement of purpose when you introduce each study or activity. Take time to get acquainted, share prayer concerns, and interest in the students. Reserve a time for prayer for the concerns and needs of the group.
- The small group Bible study can be a time to learn to pray together and to bear the burdens of others. It will encourage spiritual growth. Encourage spontaneous prayer response participation at the close of the study or at any time during the study that would be helpful.
- The environment for the group is important too. Encourage a friendly atmosphere, with good lighting and good ventilation. Find a place that is not uncomfortably warm or cold. Meet in a circle for good eye contact if possible. Guard against distractions as much as possible. Pets, children, television or radios could take away attention from the study. Arrange babysitting if needed.
- Appoint a group facilitator but encourage others in the group to provide suggestions. Cultivate a kind and encouraging attitude without the spirit of competition or criticism. Keep in mind that the focus of the attention is not on the facilitator, but the Bible. Allow the Holy Spirit to make application according to each member’s needs. The facilitator should try to stimulate discussion with questions of varying difficulty so that all will be helped. It is a good idea to have an assistant facilitator—or train one—so that if you have an emergency, there will be no interruption in the group study time.
- Be sensitive—try to keep from any embarrassing situation that might arise. Allow the more quiet members of the group to observe until they feel comfortable to share in the group. But help the dominant or critical person to be considerate of the others. Only ask a person directly about his or her personal application when it would benefit the group.
- Confidentiality. Because of prayer time and scripture application, group members may reveal personal items so it is essential to keep confidentially in the group. It would be well to remind the group of this each time. If someone talks about these things outside the group, it may well kill the study group.
A study outline will give direction to the study and keep the interest of the group members. When reading the Word of God ask questions such as these (then allow the group to share their responses):
- What does it say about God?
- What does it say about me?
- How does it ask me to respond?
- What did it say to the people to whom it was written?
- How can it be applied to our lives?
- What did you learn? observe? discover?
- What impressed you?
If you have a women’s study group, ask: How does this passage apply especially to women?
Give sincere compliments as group members respond and share what they have learned from the study time. Approval and recognition stimulates others to greater activity. To involve others in the group or if someone has given a wrong answer, you might ask: What did others of you find? or What did someone else discover? or What do the rest of you think?
If the discussion wanders too much from the topic you could say: What we’ve been discussing is interesting; perhaps we could discuss this more at another time. Then present a thought-provoking question that draws the group back to the topic of study.
Encourage good listening. Be patient, give members time to think. Avoid tension or conflict by pointing members to the Word of God as the final authority, instead of tradition or illogical reasoning.
Don’t hesitate to say, “I don’t know.” Be willing to find the answer, or have the group try to find information on the subject.
Use visual aids when possible to add clarity to your subject.
Encourage a response time at the close, asking questions such as: What did you find helpful in our study time? Or, Did you learn anything new in our study time? Then thank them for sharing their thoughts.
After the Bible study, a time of prayer might include a time of praise, petition and thanksgiving. Encourage every member in the group to pray, responding to the study time or the needs of the group. Prayers can be brief and spontaneous. Let the group know that moments of silence are good times for letting God impress them with His presence.
As the number of people in the group grows, make plans for starting another group.
D. SEMINAR STYLE EVANGELISM
Seminar style evangelism is more formal than one-on-one Bible studies or relational small groups but not as formal as a full scale evangelistic meeting; seminar style invites more dialogue and participation than you would ordinarily have in an evangelistic meeting. I have seen women do well in leading and organizing a seminar. A seminar can be small like a small group or large enough to fill a large church or auditorium. The style sets it off.
Most of these seminars can be held in a large room or auditorium; people who are unacquainted with Seventh-day Adventists sometimes feel more comfortable going to seminars in an auditorium. If you are in a hall, you will have to transfer to the church at some time. If you transfer at least one week before you present the Sabbath, people may not feel that you have transferred just to present the Adventist doctrine. You can transfer sooner if you are not a great distance from the church. If there is more distance, you need more time to make sure people are interested before you transfer.
The seminars can be adapted to be used in a home. Women do particularly well in this type of setting. One of the Revelation seminars has a home series. Some of the seminars mentioned above are translated into French, Korean, Spanish, Ukrainian, and Russian. Most of these seminars are written to contain the beliefs and doctrines of the Church and yet follow a book or topic of the Bible in an orderly fashion.
How Do You Prepare for a Seminar?
Much of the preparation for seminar meetings will be the same as for an evangelistic meeting. One exception is that the presenter will be more of a lecturer or teacher than an evangelist or preacher. Many ladies excel in this type of evangelism. Many of them have already been trained to be teachers, and others are good lecturers.
The material is all printed and out there waiting for you to use although some of it may have to be translated. You may also have to adapt the material and illustrations to the thinking and way of doing things in your culture and area.
There are other types of adapting you may have to do as well. For instance, in some places it would be ideal to be able to give a Bible to each person who comes, but in some places the cost would be too prohibitive. In that case you would need some other way to teach the Bible to these people. Perhaps you could write out the text on a blackboard, or project them on slides or make them available to the people in whatever way is practical to you. Evangelism can be successful wherever an evangelist can communicate with the people even if all that she has is a Bible and picture rolls. God will bless you even in very simple, inexpensive efforts.
It really helps if women work together in evangelism. We can encourage each other, and help each other with ideas. We can also pray together for the interested people and for each other. We can keep each other accountable to God. Through the guidance of the Lord, when women get together for some good purpose, they can accomplish much, even more than they imagined.
You will need lay persons with good social skills to greet, others with detail skills to manage the book work, and run the book table, others who will set up chairs and tables and take care of them after the meetings, and still others who will manage the public address and audio visual systems such as the projectors, blackboards, et cetera.
Seminar evangelism can be greatly enhanced when evangelistic-minded women from the church come to the seminar with the primary purpose of making friends with the people who are attending the seminar. It would even be better if they found their own friends, family, and neighbors and went with them to the seminar each night. Statistics say that people are more apt to join the church if they have friends in the church, and friendship with the people is vital if they are going to stay in the church. Training on how to make friends is good preparation for a seminar.
Vital Keys to Success
There are four vital keys to the success of any evangelistic endeavor, but especially important when conducting seminars:
- Prayer partners praying for the success of each and every meeting, even while the meeting is going on.
- People need to hear you say over and over again that you interpret the Bible (exampleCDaniel) by what the Bible says; that you let the Bible explain itself. We don’t go by human teachings, we don’t listen to preachers, we don’t look at current events to find how to interpret the Scriptures …we let the Bible explain the Bible.
- It is of utmost necessity that you make clear to people who are coming to the seminar that your purpose is to uplift Jesus Christ. Talk of Jesus; let the folk know that you love Jesus, that you have a personal relationship with Him and that you want them to have that same personal relationship with Jesus. This cannot be overemphasized. An intimate relationship with Jesus is vital for them to go through the end time and enter into the kingdom of heaven.
- Share with them that our purpose in studying last-day events is not to just have a detailed understanding of the last days, but also to help them be prepared for that time. Let them know that you’re more concerned about their preparation for the day of the Lord than you are with the exact order of events that may be taking place.
The Evangelistic Team at Work
It is not wise to try to do an evangelistic seminar by yourself. Others need the experience and the blessing. And not everyone’s spiritual gifts are the same and many different talents and personalities are needed in a successful program. Knowing what needs to be done will help you to find individuals who can help make the program a success. Another reason to involve many people is so they will develop friendships with the people who will be coming.
If you are asked to help with registration or with setting up or tearing down of the seminar remember that those jobs are secondary. Your first priority is to build relationships with the people who come. Select two or three people the first night to be your special people without neglecting to be friends with every one. It just happens that you will probably only have time to be close to two or three.
As you get to know the visitors, sit with them in the seminar, learn their names and call them when they miss a night—not to get after them for not coming, but to show an interest in them, to show that you really care.
When you are talking to people, don’t share subjects that are ahead of where they are in the lessons. Wait until after they have studied it and heard the topic at the seminar before you answer their questions. Or you may refer them to an instructor. You will not want to show off your Bible knowledge in the seminar by letting everyone know what is coming. If you do ask questions make sure that they are on the subject. Wait to talk about Ellen White until they have studied about her in the lessons. These new people are like babies. It takes awhile to learn about everything.
Sympathize with the guests when they have to struggle with the truth. A listening ear will really help. Condemning someone only hurts. It will help, if you know of some of the problems that the people are experiencing, to share it with the instructor.
Above all, you are there to be a friend. Know these people better than the instructor does, so that if the instructor has to leave, the people will feel that they have a friend that they really know well.
When visitors first come on Sabbath, invite them home to dinner if possible. Let them see from you how they can keep a joyful Sabbath.
Seminar Leader’s Instruction Sheet
The following instructions for leading an evangelistic seminar were written by Gary Allen who came into the church through a Revelation seminar, and subsequently held his own Revelation seminars. You will find that leadership for small groups, seminars, and even evangelistic meetings, grow out of the fruit (new members) of your evangelistic work. It will take training to develop these men and women and youth into leaders, but it is well worth it.
Use the overhead projector and screen or equivalent visual aids such as a computer and video projector or large TV, or blackboard, or some other chart. Arrange for your partner to operate it for you during the presentation. Check the hall out ahead of time to be certain there are the necessary tables, chairs, and equipment, and the requirements for cleaning after the meeting. Two days before your seminar begins, call the people registered and confirm their reservation. Make sure they know where the seminar will be held and have directions how to get there.
On opening night and the first few nights, put a welcome poster in the front yard and if needed another one on the main street to direct people to the house, or at the main door of the hall and by the room you are meeting in. You could put directional arrows pointing the way to the meeting.
Please make sure it is clear to your attendees the first night that the seminar materials are free—the only obligation is that they finish the class. If something comes up that makes it impossible to finish, the materials should be returned. (For the sake of good will, it may be that you will not require them to return the materials when you come to the last seminar lessons.)
Mr. Allen advises that you make certain that the hall will be opened for you at least one hour before your meeting begins for the first night. If you are meeting in a home, be ready for guests to arrive at least one half hour before starting time. At each place put the first two lessons, survey sheet, pen, ruler, binder, Bible and two handbills. If in a home, have them arranged in sets to give to people as they register, or place them on the chairs.
On subsequent nights, place on the table only the next night’s lesson and a quiz and offering envelope. After that, have past lessons and a few Bibles always available for new registrants. Have one of your helpers in charge of new registrants.
Call your assigned lay helpers and make certain you have enough help for your expected crowd. For opening night, you should plan on two helpers for every 10-15 pre-Adventists expected. Meet with your helpers ahead of time and go over their duties; it is good to give them each written as well as oral instructions with expectations for each job. Remind your helpers that their main reason for being there is to make friends with the new people.
Be certain to keep accurate and up-to-date attendance and money records. After each visit, record pertinent information on the back of the attendance card. Each evening, fill out the report.
The first few nights, encourage people to bring friends each night. Tell them registration will be kept open for these first few nights.
Remember that the people are to do the lessons ahead of time so that you can just go over it in the session.
Be sure to make clear on opening night—and regularly thereafter—that this is a prelude to a more detailed presentation beginning later if you plan to follow up with an evangelistic series and not finish the lessons in class.
Visitation is your key to success. It is as friendships are developed and people have an opportunity to share that you are able to more fully and genuinely share the gospel.
E. DISCIPLING NEW MEMBERS
Women are intimately involved in the birth process. Almost all women love babies. And most of the care for babies is done by women. So it seems entirely appropriate that women should be involved in the process of discipling. But any woman who has had a baby will also tell you that giving birth is painful and raising children is hard work.
If we did not forget the pain of birth, no woman would have more than one child. Giving Bible studies is also hard work. Evangelism is hard work. We probably would do it only once if it were not for the joy that comes when someone with whom we have worked is baptized. Angels shout for joy. But just as we do not abandon a baby at birth, we must not abandon the newly baptized soul.
In Matthew 28:19, 20, Jesus tells us to do four things: 1) go; 2) make disciples; 3) baptize; and 4) teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. As a church we do well with numbers one and three; we do fairly well with number four before baptism. But after baptism, we do not teach or disciple very well. This is one of the reasons why we lose many members.
In 1 Corinthians 3:2, Paul says that the Corinthians are “mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.” We need to be careful not to assume that just because a person is baptized, they are mature Christians, ready for solid spiritual food. We must teach and model the joy of salvation. We must be examples, be patient, be loving. And we must teach them to go prepare others for baptism.
“ Those who have newly come to the faith should be patiently and tenderly dealt with, and it is the duty of the older members of the church to devise ways and means to provide help and sympathy and instruction for those who have conscientiously withdrawn from other churches for the truth’s sake, and thus cut themselves off from the pastoral labor to which they have been accustomed.
“After individuals have been converted to the truth, they need to be looked after. These newly converted ones need nursing, – watchful attention, help, and encouragement. These should not be left alone, prey to Satan’s most powerful temptations; they need to be educated in regard to their duties, to be kindly dealt with, to be led along, and to be apportioned to every man in due season.” —Evangelism, p. 351.
Helping New Members Feel at Home
People resist change. Change is hard. But when people are baptized, we ask them to change churches, or if they have not been a church member, to become one, an even harder change. We ask them to change their day of worship, the food they eat, what they drink, their recreation, sometimes their friends, and perhaps their job. We need to be patient and helpful during this process.
One of the best ways to help them face all this change, to help them become mature Christians, is to be their friend or at least see to it that they have new friends. Studies show that a person needs to have at least six or more friends in a church or organization before they feel at home and are willing to stay. So an important part in discipling is to help the new member make new friends:
- Have a new member committee—This committee is responsible for the integration of new members. They would also assign special friends (spiritual guardians) to each new member, and monitor them to see that they are functioning.
- New member banquet—Meets once or twice a year where new members are featured. The special friends would introduce these new members to the congregation and tell them about their interests, hobbies, and how they came into the church etc. This committee should have members that are new members.
- New member visitation:
1. Once a week during the first month
2. Once a month for the first year
3. Leave special books: morning watch books, Spirit of Prophecy books, magazines, I Chose Adventism, Beyond Baptism, etc.
- Watch for any indication of problems or adjustment (such as: absence from Sabbath School or church, or a failure to make friends). Don’t be surprised at what some may do even after baptism. It is difficult to change lifestyles overnight. Be kind. Don’t condemn. Stay with them. Keep them reading and studying.
Assimilating New Members into Church Groups
Assimilating New Members into Church Groups
Pair the new believers with someone who can be close to them by age, interests etc. If someone has brought them in or is already close to them, they would be the natural one to be the friend/guardian.
It is best to call them special friends instead of guardians. The friend needs to be accountable to someone else who will make sure that they are functioning as friends. In fact it would even be better if they had two special friends. Then if one friendship did not develop, the other one could.
An excellent introduction to the church is a New Believers Retreat. This can be conference-wide or local. Much of the Adventist lifestyle and attitudes are easily and pleasantly accepted in a retreat setting. It’s easy to learn how to keep the Sabbath when you are keeping it with others.
It is more fun to try out a new diet when you try it out with others. Wonderful friendships are formed that help these people truly feel like they are at home. A support network of friends will help new believers be accountable and help them weather the hard times. It is a pleasant medium for training and equipping new members so they become reproducing disciples. Inviting new members to Sabbath dinner or lunch is also important. You can always have a pot luck at church for the visitors and new and old members each week at church and it helps to start bonds of friendships with the older, more mature members. But sometimes the shy, unattractive, and “different” people end up being left out and have a hard time establishing friendships in the church. They are the ones that are the most apt to leave the church in the future.
A better solution would be for one or two families, or singles, to invite the new members over to their homes where friendships can more easily be developed. The focus would be on friendship and less on entertainment. Having people over and showing them kindness, love, and attention is more important than worrying about what you will have to feed them. And sometimes you can do things together that will not involve food.
Training and Equipping New Members
A person is not really a full participating member until he/she becomes a reproducing disciple. If we want disciples in our church we will need to teach them before the baptism and teach and train them afterwards. This training should include:
Further classes in doctrines—People cannot comprehend the whole message the first time that they hear the gospel. We cannot expect them to completely understand the sanctuary doctrine and the 2300 days the first time they hear and accept it. They must hear it again and again.
Special classes for the new believers could be held during Sabbath school class time, or prayer meeting time or Sabbath afternoons—any time that is convenient for the new believers. They could follow Bible study guides that were not used before they were baptized, or some of the full message seminars, or go through the fundamental beliefs book, etc. They could even invite some of their friends, families, and neighbors to these seminars.
Teach them how to study the Bible and pray. There are many good books and seminars on prayer and Bible study. An experienced Bible student and Christian could go through some of the books and seminars with them.
But most of all it is important to actually study the Bible and pray with them, first modeling how it is done and then helping them pick out the Bible topics, and books, or chapters they would like to study and coach them through it. Help them to keep uppermost in their minds the goal of finding out what God is like, what His character is like, and how we can become like Him.
It is also important to help them become accountable to others in their spiritual life. A small group can be very favorable for helping people to become accountable to each other and to lovingly encourage them in their efforts to change their lifestyles.
A mentor or special friend or prayer partner/s can also help to build accountability.
The greatest witnessing potential for new believers is during the first three years that they are in the church. After that, most of their friends will be church friends, and they will have less potential contacts of people they know outside of the church.
Teach them how to give a gospel presentation and to share their own experience in accepting Christ or their current experience with Christ. This can be easily learned in a small relational group situation. Give them pointers, as they learn our wonderful truths, on how to tactfully share what they have learned.
It is important to have opportunities for them to bring their friends, relatives, and neighbors to non-threatening events, seminars, and ministries that are held or sponsored by the church.
Arrange to have lay-person-led Bible studies, small groups, or seminars in their homes where they can invite their friends, relatives, and neighbors.
Prayer meeting can be evangelistic and an opportunity for them to invite their extended family. Have on-going seminars or classes on witnessing. You can use some of the materials that are available in your division or country, or even some of the material that we have in this manual.
It is important that you provide opportunities for them to witness as you train them in classes and take them with you as an apprentice in your witnessing. First model the witnessing and then encourage them as they first try. Be positive in your encouragement.
We must not put each of our new members in a box expecting them to witness in exactly the same way, or to do the same exact thing for the Lord, or work in the same exact ministries as the other church members in the church. God has given each believer spiritual gifts, talents and abilities for “the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, 13).
These talents and gifts are not for us to waste on ourselves for our pleasure only, but they are for finishing and proclaiming the Gospel whether it be in or out of the church.
When our new members are encouraged and trained to discover their spiritual gifts and use these with their talents and abilities in a ministry that fits their gifts, they will have great joy and satisfaction and will bless the church and the community with greater good than if they were required to perform the same sort of ministry as each and every member around them.
We must train our new members and help them discover their spiritual gifts. Have spiritual gifts seminars or classes often so that new members and transfer members can discover their gifts.
Not only must we provide opportunities for our new members to try out their spiritual gifts, but we must actively seek to place each new member in a ministry or task that fits their gifts within the first six months that they are in the church.
It would be well if each church had a spiritual gifts coordinator who would interview each new member after she/he takes the training and work with that member in guiding them into the right role or task that fits each one. The coordinator would also lovingly work with them if the placement needed to be adjusted.
It will take time for the new members to change their lifestyles, to become more health conscious and to change their eating, exercise, and other health habits. Training is needed to help them in these areas. This is an excellent time for seminars such as suggested under Ministry Ideas in response to the Challenge issues. Usually the new members are anxious and willing to make these changes if proper, tactful modeling and training takes place. Many times it is not enough to just tell the people how to change their diets—we must show them how and invite them into our homes for meals and even invite them to share the preparation, before they can feel comfortable making the changes in their own lives.
When you talk about changes do not magnify what they are giving up, but focus on what they are gaining from embracing a new lifestyle.
As you hold these health seminars for new members, you can also encourage them to invite their extended family members to come with them to the seminars.
One of the most difficult lifestyle changes, of course, is the Sabbath. Time should be spent discussing why God gave us the Sabbath. We must emphasize over and over again that God gave us the Sabbath so that we could have quality time with Him to develop a strong intimate relationship with Him. Our new people will not have much trouble with what activities they engage in on Sabbath if they will decide what to do on the basis that God is personally with them on that day and wants them to focus on Him and be with Him.
Some time should be spent personally and in classes or seminars talking about how to prepare for the Sabbath, and what can be done on the Sabbath. Keep the focus on the positive.
One of the best ways to help a new member know how to keep the Sabbath is to let them keep it with you in your home. Invite them over for sundown worship on Friday night. Have them over for Sabbath meals and take them with you Sabbath afternoon as you minister to others, worship together, go out in nature together, and finally close the Sabbath together. (A special friend or mentor could be the person that does this with the new member, or it could be a group of people that takes in the new member).
Can I be Involved?
Is it possible for women to be involved in evangelism? Absolutely! Will the world be warned without women taking an active part? Not in our lifetime, or perhaps ever! Let us let the Holy Spirit, that wonderful gift from the Lord, burn in our hearts, empowering us to help finish the work, to hasten the coming of the Lord.
"Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).