January 21, 2013


Those who feed on the Word without burning caloric intake through evangelism, will stay in the pew of theological obesity. 


Street Evangelist Ray Comfort, in a New Year's Day Tweet. 

Forever Relevant
A Gift for Pastors
Seven Days of Miracles
Eight Secrets for Evangelism
The First Thing You Do
Religious Affiliations Down
Consensus Messaging
Dawkins a Fundamentalist
Everybody Wants to Hear from You!!!
From the Field
Editorial: Forever Relevant 

At the age of forty-three, I find myself standing on that bridge that spans between youth and age. From that vantage point, I have a message for those who are at the beginning of their preaching careers: don't build your ministry on being cool.  Not that there's anything wrong with it, and you certainly don't want to be altogether uncool.  Just don't make it the foundation of your ministry.  The day will come - sooner than you expect, and through no fault of your own - when you will no longer be cool.  No matter how how you try, you will try to be contemporary in vain.  It just happens.
Those kids crawling around your ankles on playmats?  You know, the ones chewing on plastic teething rings?  In two short decades, they will take to the adult world with the starry-eyed idealism of youth.  You will not be one of them, and they will know it.    
You won't be cool.  Sorry.  I know it hurts, but it's absolutely true.  A little while ago, I asked my oldest daughter to weigh in on it: "Is Daddy cool?"  She didn't want to hurt my feelings.  She stalled.  "Ummmmm...."
"You know I was cool, right?"  Another embarrassed pause.  Embarrassed for me.  

Cool slips away from you quietly.  There is nothing you can do about it; in fact, trying to cling to it only makes it worse.   You cannot fool the next generation into thinking you are one of them.  

Don't pin your ministry hopes on being hip - cool - trendy - bad - sick - or whatever the next word happens to be.  Build your preaching on eternal concepts that speak to every demographic, in every age.  If you can do it and still put it in a contemporary-sounding context, by all means do it.  But make eternal principles the foundation of your preaching. 


There are some questions every generation asks.  Neil deGrasse Tyson, the popular director of the Hayden Observatory, in a January 2013 interview, was asked which questions he receives most often. The answer was telling: "I'd say there are three.  'What was around before the Big Bang?  How did life get here?  Are we alone in the universe?' And typically toward the end, I get a question about God."  Tyson is not a theologian. He is a physicist, and yet people still want him to deliver the big answers.  

Read the words of Jesus - the everlasting questions are easy to spot.  Jesus used one-size-fits-all stories that appealed to the entire audience - whether teachers and rulers, or farmers and laborers.  The stories had something for everyone. If you had little educational background, you'd easily get the gist of what Jesus was saying.  If you were highly lettered, there was enough meat in the story to provide endless reflection (we're still pondering those stories two millennia later, after all.) And notice: Jesus got right to the heart of the most important questions in the universe.  He spoke of love, life, suffering, meaning, purpose, death.  

He gave answers to the questions that, sooner or later, everyone asks.  Those questions will not lose relevance until the day people stop suffering and dying, and maybe not even then.   Contemplate the big questions that God answers in the book of Revelation.  The questions aren't spelled out, but the answers certainly are.  I was dead, and am alive forever.  I will wipe away every tear and make all things new.  I have the keys of death and the grave.  

Find the questions that these statements answer, and your preaching will be forever relevant - even if you don't seem to be.    



A Gift for You from NAD MInisterial

We know you work hard, often without thanks.  We know it because we have all pastored, and we understand the kinds of sacrifices that pastors make as they care for the church and grow the kingdom.  As our way of thanking you for the contribution you make to the church, we have a gift for you: a PowerPoint/Keynote template we created just for you to use in your preaching.  You won't find this one in an online graphics resource, and nobody else in your congregation will have it, because we developed it for you as a small way of returning thanks for your faithfulness.  

It's also a reminder that we're busy creating new resources for pastors to use as they carry out their God-given responsibilities.  We're creating a user-modifiable set of Bible studies to use in your Pastor's Bible class - classic Adventist studies that you can edit to suit your needs and then print out in a professional-looking format.  We're also working on new, user-friendly evangelistic graphics developed just for pastors - that won't break the bank.  

You can pick up your gift by clicking on this link: presentation template.  

Thank you for answering the call, and we're praying for you in 2013.

Your NAD MInisterial Team.  

Seven Days of Miracles


What if every church member in the Division had an intentional plan to reach out to someone at the same time?  Seven Days of Miracles provides that opportunity.  Most of our members long to reach another individual for Christ, but for the most part, they wait for something to happen.  They wait for God to provide an opportunity.


But what if we gave them an opportunity?  would happen if we all spent an entire week being very intentional about outreach? And what if it was such a simple program that every church member could participate - at his or own level of ability, and within his or her comfort level?
Eight Secrets for Evangelism
Ralph Ringer
Ralph Ringer
 This article, by Ralph Ringer, was originally published in Southern Tidings back in May 2012.  He makes some excellent points about the synergy between personal and public evangelism, so it's worth having a look.  "Combine friendship, personal and public evangelism for the greatest results," he writes.  The link takes you to a PDF version of the magazine article.  
Scroll down to find the article; it begins on page four.  


The First Thing You Do at a New Church
Pablo Gaitan
"What do I do first At my new church?" The conference letter came to confirm what on the phone was a shock and an instant-prayer request. "Dear Pastor Gaitan you are being assigned to a new district..." My heart was beating faster than usual because it was going to be my first experience as a Lead Pastor. Then the question popped in my mind, "On what should I spend my energies the first year in my new assignment?"
Fewer North Americans Profess a Religious Connection
Statistics can be a tricky thing: sometimes, it's hard to tell which numbers to rely on when you're building a strategy for outreach.  The numbers that religious surveys produce can be valuable, but at the end of the day, no matter what the numbers say, you've got to move forward on faith, believing that God did not make a mistake in the evangelistic assignment He gave His church.  
A 2010 study, recently re-circulated by the Pew Research Center, provides a considerable amount of data on the religious habits of modern Americans. (While the religious atmosphere in Canada is not identical to that of America, Canadians will still find much to ponder in the study.)  One in five Americans now professes no formal religious affiliation, but the number of people who define themselves as spiritual or religious is much, much higher.
You can download the report by clicking here.  Get comfortable, because it's eighty pages of data, but you'll find it's worth your while to peruse it.  

When you're done digesting those numbers, you might find it interesting to compare and contrast them with some other recent articles:

- according to an article The Christian Post ran in December, a University of Nebraska study revealed that Roman Catholics have the smallest proportion of American adherents (35%) who describe themselves as "strongly affiliated."  Evangelicals did better at 56%; mainline Protestants came in at 59%.
The December 14 edition of The Week gave these statistics (but forgot to mention when the poll was taken; one assumes the study was new): 40% of Americans describe themselves as "very religious." 29% are "moderately religious," and 31% described themselves as "non-religious." Mormons scored highly among those who tended to be very religious.  You can read the brief report here.  
- on a global note: in November, The Economist predicted that both Catholic and Anglican churches will be losing ground to secularists in 2013.  Edward Lucas, author of the article, also suggests that 2013 will prove extremely difficult for Christians churches located in the Middle East because of an anticipated exodus of believers from Egypt and Syria.  Expect a boom in Asia, however.  Read more about it here.  
- Sam Rainer, a Baptist pastor from Tennessee and president of Rainer Research, posted a blog article in mid-December on general cultural trends and attitudes to watch for in 2013.  
Consensus Messaging
Persuading people to follow Christ is not quite the same as persuading a corporate board to buy into your business proposal, and far too often, presentations on the art and science of soul-winning sound like sales training. Yet we should probably admit that there is some overlap in the necessary skill set. "To us also the commission is given," Ellen White wrote, "We are bidden to go forth as Christ's messengers, to teach, instruct, and persuade men and women, to urge upon their attention the word of life." Evangelism, p. 15

To that end, you might find it interesting to browse an article posted at the
Wall Street Journal's website a few weeks ago: Improve Your Power of Persuasion. Much of it doesn't really apply to ministry, but pay attention to the principles behind "consensus messaging." It might help strengthen your appeals!


From the Other Side of the Fence

Theoretical physicist Peter Higgs (discoverer of the recently confirmed Higgs boson, or Higgs particle), while not a believer himself, has apparently become tired of Richard Dawkin's relentless tirade against Christianity.  He recently took a swipe at Dawkins for being a "fundamentalist evangelist" for atheism in this interview posted at The Guardian's website.  Higgs seems destined for a Nobel prize for his work in physics, and ironically, many refer to his discovery as the "God particle."  
Mentors needed - for the whole Division!

You've been working on the front line for quite a while, and you have first-hand experience with soul-winning.  Some ideas you tried didn't work very well.  Others produced average results. But some ideas were home runs. God blessed them beyond your wildest expectations.  

We'd love to hear about it.  Many of your coworkers could really benefit if you chose to share it.  Please consider writing a short article for Best Practices for Adventist Evangelism - say four to six paragraphs - to help us make this a truly Division-wide periodical.  
You know how often you've picked up an idea from someone else.  Please consider letting someone pick up a few of yours!


Find out how to contribute to the discussion here.

Please write as if you are writing for an audience.  We're happy to do some light editing, but if you address it personally to the editors or submit it in the form of bullet points, it's not nearly as useful. 

From the Field: Current Experiences in Personal Evangelism


We love it when you share personal experiences in leading churches to be more effective in evangelism.  This month, Pastor Steve Cook from Spring City Tennessee describes his experience with a door-to-door prayer ministry, and shares how he encourages his church members to participate.





Send your evangelistic ideas and descriptions of your best ministry tools to bpevangelism@gmail.com.  

Please be descriptive in your submission and follow the guidelines posted in this article.



Best Practices for Adventist Ministry is published by NAD Ministerial. Editor: Shawn Boonstra; Managing Editor:  Dave Gemmell. Copyright 2012 North American Division Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists. v(301) 680-6418