All pastors and evangelists know the best source of interests for evangelistic meetings are the friends of our members. Therefore, finding a way to encourage members to invite their friends to attend evangelistic meetings becomes a very high priority. However, when the subject of evangelism comes up it is common for lay people to say things such as, “it takes too many evenings out of my week,” or, “it wears me out, and I don’t think I can get my friends to come to such a demanding schedule.” In addition, it is harder than ever to get our own members to attend meetings of any kind, even on Friday nights. Sabbath seems to be the only time we can depend on a decent crowd.
With all of this in mind I decided to try holding a full series of evangelistic meetings on consecutive Sabbath mornings. I announced the meetings well ahead of time, and I encouraged our members to invite their friends to church to hear the various subjects that were being presented. I was delighted to discover 11 guests attending Sabbath by Sabbath to hear the evangelistic presentations. At the conclusion of that series of meetings we baptized 3 of those individuals.
What I have learned from this experience is that everything we do, including church, should be seen as an evangelistic opportunity. In addition, to use a woodworking metaphor, it is much better to sand with the grain than against it. If we work with our members and are considerate of their limitations they will respond enthusiastically and cooperate with our mission to win souls. Another lesson from this experience is that non-members are not opposed to attending our church services if they have a personal invitation from their friends and if they believe the content is worth the effort. Thus, Ellen White’s counsel becomes very relevant to our time when she said we should make our services “intensely interesting.”
I fully intend to try this again using what I have learned and put even more time and effort into the planning.Kevin Wilfley Pastor of Linwood Seventh-day Adventist Church Spokane, WA