I recently conducted meetings in San Marcos, TX. It was a good experiment. I say experiment, because we started with 50-60 guests on opening night. We ended with about 18 active guests who were making decisions. We had 4 actual decisions to become part of the church, another 6-8 still making that decision, and some were on the edge and just enjoying the seminar at that point in time.
But this just reinforced some of my ideas. These ideas are:
- Adventist Churches Grow Differently – I don’t think we are a normal evangelical church that happens to go to church on Saturday instead of Sunday. Yes, we are evangelical, but Adventism was raised up with a specific prophetic message to proclaim and we need to keep doing so. If we ever lose that vision, we’ll lose our purpose and our way. One lady has been going to the San Marcos church for 2 months. I met her only on the last Sabbath we were there. I had just preached about America in Prophecy and she told me she had been in a messianic group and wasn’t sure if this church was for her. After hearing that message, she was convinced she was in the right church. Even the church members responded – after that same message, 25 people ordered a copy of the CDs from the seminar.
- It takes time to process Adventism – I tried something different. Our seminar was two weeks long and three weekends. We went 6 nights a week and twice on Sabbath. We covered all the material. On the closing Friday night, I said I would never do a two week seminar again. Why? Because so many people were on the cusp of making good decisions, and just needed more time to process the information and how it applies to them. Many of the messages we preach are not necessary other than allowing time, and reinforcing what we’ve already said. People need time to process Adventism.
- Who comes to evangelism – a good friend of mine likes to say the only people who come to an Adventist seminar are the “retired, unemployed or the socially unique.” This seminar reminded me that this is simply not true. Sure there are some of those listed above, but there are also young families, single moms working hard, all kinds of people – the people who come are the people who want to know about the Bible.
- Preaching Evangelism is more than the words we use – Not everyone can do evangelism. It’s not just the words, but the speaker has to preach for decisions, not just repeat what someone else has said. This is crucial.
- I love Evangelism and it’s catching – As my daughter, Kylie, and I were driving the night before, she said, “I’m going to miss Texas, but I’m ready to go home.” I asked what she was going to miss and named a couple of things and she said, “I think I’m just addicted to evangelism!” That’s a win! I think my whole family feels that way!
- Evangelism isn’t dead – but there is a good reason they used to call them “efforts!” We are tired but ready to be home and back at our own church.
All that being said, I learned a lot. I’ve done my own evangelistic series before, but I’ve never been a visiting evangelist before. It was the first time in my life that I’ve showed up someplace and a segment of the church distrusted me from the get-go simply because of what I represented. Fascinating, actually. I’m looking forward to this fall when I’m scheduled to do one at my home church.