January 21, 2013


"If there be any one point in which the Christian church ought to keep its fervor at a white heat, it is concerning missions. If there be anything about which we cannot tolerate lukewarmness, it is the matter of sending the gospel to a dying world."  
Charles Spurgeon
Free Webinar: Staying Power for Pastors
Preaching Toward Faith
Seven Days of Miracles
NY13: A Miracle in the Making
You Lost Me. Live!
The Art of Storytelling
Free Funerals
You Know You Want To...
Tools of the Trade
URGENT! Register now for a FREE Webinar: Staying Power in Pastoral Ministry
You do not want to miss this incredible free webinar scheduled at 1:30 EST on February 19 (that's tomorrow). Pastor Dwight Nelson presents Staying Power in Pastoral Ministry.  
Pastors minister in an ever-changing world that requires more dedication and spiritual focus than ever. Because ministry requires a full commitment of mind, body, and soul, those on the front lines need staying power amidst all that is required of them. They need replenishing! 
What will I learn? 
* Practical insight that will help you avoid becoming a ministry statistic.  
* Dr. Dwight Nelson will share from his personal experience what has sustained him in ministry, marriage, and more.  
* Discover preventative measures that can help sustain your passion for ministry. 
Don't forget: it begins at 1:30 EST.  Tomorrow.  Space is limited, so reserve your Webinar seat now by clicking on this link: 

Editorial: Preaching Toward Faith
Quite a number of years ago, I heard a preacher talk about some of the doubts and questions he had regarding portions of the Biblical narrative.  Admittedly, he was not the first preacher to struggle with questions.  The problem was that he did it in front of his congregation on Sabbath morning, and without coming to any kind satisfactory conclusion.  He didn't do so much as mention, "and yet in spite of this, I believe."  All he did was raise questions - doubts - and send the congregation home.

The Bible, inspired by a mind infinitely more complex than ours, is a many-layered book. "My ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts," God reminds us. (Isa. 55:9) It's nearly impossible to study it and not discover something you'd never noticed before. From time to time, you'll stumble across something that's tough to understand. Even Peter pointed out the difficulty that some people had sorting through Paul's letters: "in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also with the rest of the scriptures." (2 Pet. 3:16)

It's natural to have questions and even the occasional doubt.  Over time, most of these are satisfactorily resolved.  I keep notebooks in my study, and when I find something I don't understand, I write it down. Invariably, I'll come across the answer another day - sometimes years later.  A notebook is an appropriate place to wrestle with your own unanswered questions.  So is a trusted friend.  But the pulpit is not often the wisest place to express them in an open-ended way. 
You'll notice the writers of the Bible gave little real airtime to ideas that compete with Christianity. They weren't in the business of encouraging doubt; they were in the business of encouraging faith

Ellen White reminds us, "...God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those who really desire to know the truth will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith." (Steps to Christ, p. 105)

If we think of the pulpit as a lectern in a philosophy or theology class, we might be tempted to air a lot of our thoughts in a theoretical way. We might feel free to open doors of doubt and leave them hanging open. There is a time and place for such questions; I challenge whether the pulpit is the best place for it. We can be honest about what we don't know. We can be honest about the fact that we struggle - in fact, the world needs a few preachers who are genuinely human. I am not suggesting we be anything but authentic, tangible human beings. Without authenticity, you'll have a lot of trouble winning people to Christ, because you'll end up doing little else but trying to win people to yourself.  
It's perfectly okay to admit that we, too, wrestle with the realities of life. Pastors and evangelists do not check out of planet earth each evening to retire for the night in heaven and come back in the morning.  It's okay to admit that the harsh things of the world bother us, too - that we struggle to explain some things.  In fact, honesty demands it.  We struggle with death - with suffering - with injustice - with the problem of evil. Sometimes we struggle to explain the gap between reality and the ideal.  So did Job; but you'll notice that in spite of not answering every question, the book still challenges the reader towards faith.  
Some of the most powerful moments I've had with people who struggle happened when I said, "I struggle with the same thing, and I don't know." It's particularly important with young people. There's little question that it is not enough to cover up difficult questions with easy platitudes and clichés snatched from a pop-culture devotional calendar - it only makes your hearer questions whether or not you've actually lived.  But if we are to preach biblically, we must preach faith. We cannot simply open the doors of doubt and leave them swinging. We must, at the very least, provide some hooks on which our hearers can hang their faith. We must offer them the courage to believe.

What I witnessed that morning wasn't a struggle with the problem of evil, or an honest admission of a struggle to live an authentic Christian life in a world where reality often punctures your desire for an Edenic existence. It was an open-ended public questioning of the Biblical narrative itself, and fortunately, that's a rarity in Adventist pulpits. It's something we ought to guard against. There are enough skeptics and doubters in the 21st century. Use your pulpit for faith. Challenge your congregation to believe. Hebrews 11 suggests that it's an approach that has landed a lot of people in God's hall of fame.
One Month Left: Seven Days of Miracles


It's just a month away: an opportunity for every single member in the NAD to focus on reaching an individual for Christ at the same time.  You'll want to read the simple manual (it's short and easy - promise!) and download the bookmarks you'll need to help your members participate.  


It all kicks off on March 23 - but you'll want to think about it sooner than later. It's designed to easily and comfortably fit in to your plans for the Easter season - and it will give you a powerful opportunity to remind your church that witnessing is an intentional process.  

NY13: A Miracle in the Making
As the steel wheels of the New York subway train screeched to a grinding halt at Manhattan's Hunter College station a strange refrain filled the air.  A group of Adventists waiting on the platform began to sing, "Lift up the trumpet and loud let it ring; Jesus is coming again."  The echoes of the familiar hymn were picked up by another group of Adventists waiting for a different train on the opposite side of the track.  Up and down the line, more voices joined the chorus.  Soon the subway station was filled with the glorious, hopeful refrains. 
"Lift up the trumpet ... Jesus is coming again."  These Seventh-day Adventist members were among the 2,000 who had just heard a powerful and moving sermon by Elder Ted Wilson, President of the General Conference, at Hunter College.
Things are really picking up in New York.  You'll want to read the rest of this exciting report from Mark Finley.  
You Lost Me. Live! Free Conference
The Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church is hosting a FREE half-day learning experience with David Kinnaman, put on by the Barna Group: You Lost Me. Live! Dallas.  

Is the Church losing the next generation?  This generation of teenagers and young adults is facing an unfamiliar cultural context, with changing values, unprecedented technologies and new ways of interacting with people and institutions.  If leaders, educators, pastors and parents misunderstand these trends, they will miss what God is doing in the next generation.  The event takes place Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - from 10am to 3pm.   
The cost?  Free - due to the generous support of sponsors.  Space is limited, so click here to get more information and to save your spot.  
Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He recently reflected on what exit interviews revealed about people who quit coming to church.  Apart from the things we think of, like damaged personal relationships and hurtful encounters, he suggests that churches often struggle with a sense of entitlement among members.  
"Many times, probably more than we would like to believe, a church member leaves a local body because he or she has a sense of entitlement. I would therefore suggest that the main reason people leave a church is because they have an entitlement mentality rather than a servant mentality."  
You can find the rest of his thoughts at his blog.  
The Art of Storytelling
Jesus was a story teller.  It's one of the reasons that His sermons still resonate all these centuries later (apart from the fact that His stories were the product of the mind of God).  Successful evangelists know that it takes more than the presentation of facts to hold the attention of an audience; the facts must be gift-wrapped in stories that stick with people. 

There's an interesting interview with Eugene Peterson (author/translator of The Message) to be found at this link.  

Outreach Idea: Offer Free Funerals
Back in 2009, Christ's Church of the Valley, a non-denominational church in Peoria, Arizona began offering free funerals to anyone in need of the service.  
Many pastors have had success offering free weddings to people who do not have a church home - it opens the door to personal contact, especially if you offer pre-marital counseling.  Why not consider serving families at the other end of life's road?  The death of a loved one offers a unique opportunity to minister to the needs of people faced with life's harshest reality - and offers a chance to share the hope that Seventh-day Adventists enjoy.  
While you're thinking about innovative outreach ideas, try looking through this list.  


C'mon - you know you want to help!
Helping Hand

Remember what it was like when you got started with public evangelism?  How challenging it seemed?  Then remember how, later on, you discovered that someone had already discovered solutions to some of the problems that plagued you most - years ago?    

Someone out there is just getting started.  You have already faced a number of challenges, and God has blessed you with ideas to make life easier.  Don't let them discover - years from now - that you've already solved some of their biggest problems.  Let them discover it now!

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. 

Tools of the Trade: Keynote Remote


This month, we're playing favorites and featuring a public presentation for Mac users.  (If you're doing media-rich public evangelism and you still haven't come over to Apple, why in the world not?)  Keynote Remote is an app that will let you drive your slides wirelessly from an iPhone or an iPad.  You can set it up so that your mobile device will show you (a) current slide and next, or (b) current slide and speaker's notes. (The second option is beautiful in that you can place sermon notes directly underneath each slide, only visible to you.)  
The beauty of the app is that you don't have to load your presentation into your mobile device - your laptop will transmit the images to you wirelessly. All you need for a connection is to log both your laptop and mobile device into the same wireless network.  If you don't have a wireless network, create an ad hoc network on your Mac, and presto! - you're in business.   

The best news?  It's only a dollar.  That ought to warm your Adventist blood.  :)
OK: for those of you who really love Powerpoint (although I can't imagine why), there is an alternative.  Some of my PC-loving friends have discovered that you can drive Powerpoint with your mobile device using i-Clikr remote.  It costs ten bucks and, according to those who have tried it, it runs like a top.  



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