Why Not Try This? …Check your attitude about the Adventist mission

 When I was a boy in Miami, Florida our family would go to MV (Missionary Volunteer) meetings on Sabbath afternoons. The youth and young adults led out but everyone was invited. That was when I first heard the MV aim- “The Advent Message to all the world in this generation.” Even as a second grader I could see that this was a huge challenge, one worth devoting my life to.

          A few years ago, on my way back from a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, I stopped by that same church building. It had become a Haitian Seventh-day Adventist Church. Some workmen were doing some remodeling and they let me walk around the facility. There, behind the platform, on a white board, were written the words “The Advent Message to all the world in this generation.” I reflected on the forty years that had passed since I first heard those words in that same building. I thought of many times when I had forgotten the purpose of my life, and how I had emotional scars and sad memories to show for it. But I also thought of many of the times when I truly devoted myself to that mission and what a blessing it had been- giving me a hunger for God, seeing Him change lives through my humble efforts, and being a part of the local and global mission God has called this church to.

          What has been your attitude toward that mission recently? Is there an excitement when you talk about Jesus and soul winning in church and school board discussions and decisions? Is your commitment reflected in your weekly schedule and monthly budgeting? Is there a passion for the completion of the mission? These are crucial questions for each of us as church leaders in the last days.

It is a challenge to be a leader in God’s work in the last days. We need to avoid being too dictatorial or choleric in leading our district. On the other hand we must avoid the other extreme of being too phlegmatic and laissez-faire. Finding the pro-active balance is probably a lifetime challenge.

          I recall hearing of a pastor who was very sluggish in his approach to ministry. The conference president stopped by one day and found him sitting in his office reading. On the wall was a large plaque that read “Slow me down, Lord.” The conference president told that pastor he believed God had answered his prayer long ago and that it was time to pray a different prayer, one more consistent with his calling as a pastor!

          Here is strong counsel for all of us called by God to lead His people in taking the Adventist Message to all the world in this generation, if possible—

          “Here, ministers of Christ, is your Pattern. You are to copy the life and character of the Master. Humility, meekness, and love are to be revealed in your character as they were in his. Your labors need not be without marked results. If they are fruitless you should investigate your own case,–examine yourselves whether you be in the faith. If Christ abide in your hearts, you will go forth, weeping, bearing precious seed, and will doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing your sheaves with you. You who have labored year after year, and have seen no souls brought to the knowledge of the truth, no churches raised up and organized, should change your manner of labor. You should fast and pray. You should lay the matter before your brethren, and solicit their counsel and prayers, lest you be self-deceived, and, what is more, deceive others also.” {Review & Herald, October 21, 1884 par. 18}

          “God designed that his work should be continually increasing and extending in the earth; and the reason that it makes no greater advancement is because men who handle sacred things are not what they might be, nor what Christ has made every provision that they should be. If we slight the superior privileges so freely offered us, which have been purchased for us at an infinite cost, we show contempt of Christ. His claims are continuous. They are in accordance with the ability he has intrusted to us; and the enlightenment given.” { Review & Herald, October 21, 1884 par. 20}

          “Some who engage in missionary service are weak, nerveless, spiritless, easily discouraged. They lack push. They have not those positive traits of character that give power to do something,–the spirit and energy that kindle enthusiasm. Those who would win success must be courageous and hopeful. They should cultivate not only the passive but the active virtues.”–Gospel Workers, p. 290.

          Diligent work is now called for. In this crisis, no halfhearted efforts will prove successful. In all our city work, we are to hunt for souls. Wise plans are to be laid, in order that such work may be done to the best possible advantage.” {Evangelism  59.2}

          I love Nehemiah’s example of courageous leadership. He shared a bold vision with those around him. When there was a positive response each person was given their own section of the wall to rebuild in their own way, but what they did had to fit with what those around them were doing. Chapter 3 shows that some were more faithful than other, some were more effective than others, some took on additional work voluntarily and others were actually a hindrance to the coordinated effort. There were dangers from the outside and fatigue among the workers (ch. 4), mistreatment among God’s people (ch 5), threats, rumors, intimidation, distractions and even traitors to deal with (ch 6) but God helped them accomplish the impossible in 52 days through united, focused, cooperative efforts.

          What is God going to do over the next five years in your district? No one but God knows. We can be sure there will be some incredible challenges and testing times, just as there were with Nehemiah. There will be some members who are very faithful and effective in soul winning and others who may actually block opportunities we have. But, as we are faithful leaders, by God’s grace we will see some dramatic increases in the souls brought into the Adventist movement who take their place and begin to bring other in.

Blessings to you,

Dan Serns

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