Building Soul-winning Momentum in the Northwest

mo·men·tum — Strength or force gained by motion or through the development of events. “So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers” (Acts 16:5, NIV).

in·er·tia — Resistance or disinclination to motion, action, or change; Laodiceanism. “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:16–17, NIV).

Last spring, the Kalispell, Montana, congregation, led by their pastor, Tom Glatts, went all-out to let their community know about Jesus and the Adventist message. They shared their faith with neighbors and friends and sent out tens of thousands of handbills for an evangelistic series by the North Pacific Union Conference evangelistic team of Jac and 'dena Colon. When it was all said and done, by God’s grace there were about 40 new members of the Adventist Church!

Here’s the question—When should the Kalispell Church have their next public evangelistic series?

a. In twelve years, when it is their turn to have an NPUC evangelist again.

b. In five years, when they have saved enough money to invite an Amazing Facts evangelist.

c. In a year and a half, when the church members aren’t tired from so much evangelistic effort.

d. This fall.

Lizzie Johnson graduated from Portland Adventist Academy last June. For a year and a half she has served as a volunteer assistant pastor of the Mt. Tabor Church at the invitation of her pastor, Bob Dale. She gained experience visiting, giving Bible studies and preaching. She and a few other youth in the church even held their own evangelistic series, taking turns speaking. When she was trying to decide what to do for her senior project, Pastor Bob suggested she write a set of baptismal guides that youth could use to study with their friends. She wrote and published her baptismal manual,1 covering all the fundamental Adventist beliefs with a Christ-centered, Bible-based, teenage focus. This fall she will begin studying theology at one of our Adventist colleges. Lizzie said at her academy graduation she would love to preach her own evangelistic series.

Here’s the question—When should Lizzie be given the opportunity to preach that series?

a. When she graduates from the seminary.

b. When she finishes her theology studies in college.

c. When she is a student pastor during her college studies.

d. This fall.

How we answer these two questions depends on our attitude toward the Adventist message and mission, who we think ought to be involved in taking the Adventist message to all the world in this generation, and what we understand about how people make decisions to embrace the Adventist message and unite with the movement.

There are about 13 million people in the North Pacific Union Conference territory2 and about 90,000 Seventh-day Adventists, or one Adventist for every 144 people.

How long would it really take to give every person in the Northwest a chance to know Jesus, hear the Adventist message and join a vibrant Adventist group? This is what church leaders throughout the Northwest have been discussing in earnest recently.

For years the NPUC has been very active in Global Evangelism. Every year hundreds of academy and college students and laymen spend their Christmas or spring break or vacation taking the Adventist message to many corners of the globe. In addition, Walla Walla College sends out about 100 student missionaries each year. And the NPUC office staff, led by Jere Patzer, has assisted with large-scale evangelistic series, often with satellite uplinks, in Bolivia (2006), India (2005), Philippines and Brazil (2004), Dominican Republic (2003), Guatemala, Africa and Russia.

On these mission trips it became increasingly clear that God has people in every culture waiting to be gathered into the Adventist movement and that when church members, pastors and teachers work together to win souls there is a much larger harvest. Mission trip participants also noticed that in the parts of the world where the Adventist church is growing there is a continual involvement by the churches and schools in soul winning.

This has caused church leaders to ask what can be done to have a greater impact for God back home in the Northwest.

They have adopted a plan called “Building Soul-winning Momentum,” which challenges every church, school and institution to be involved in two harvest cycles a year for the next five years, beginning in 2007. Not just another program, it is an attitude toward the gospel commission, the role of the church and each member, and the importance of being involved continually in some aspect of the harvest. It includes a plan to reach the 10 largest cities, to provide soul-winning tools for youth and laymen, and local and satellite reaping resources twice a year.

Every church member will be invited to participate in intercessory prayer for those they hope to reach with the Adventist message. They will be encouraged to find a missionary partner to reach out together with and form a small Bible study or ministry group. Lay members and youth will be encouraged to hold short reaping meetings followed by an eight-night satellite meeting coming from one of the 10 largest cities in the Northwest. Those baptized from the reaping meetings will be invited to begin praying for their family and friends as the next harvest cycle begins. There are plans to have two cycles a year for five years, until soul winning becomes a lifestyle in all the churches, schools and institutions of the Northwest.

“Those who take up their appointed work will not only be a blessing to others, but they will themselves be blessed. The consciousness of duty well done will have a reflex influence upon their own souls. The despondent will forget their despondency, the weak will become strong, the ignorant intelligent, and all will find an unfailing helper in Him who has called them.” 3

You can expect to hear more and more about this exciting opportunity to take the Adventist message to everyone in this generation.

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14, NKJV).

1 My Journey with Jesus by Lizzie Johnson, available at www.lulu.com ID: 278500.

2 The North Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is comprised of six conferences (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Upper Columbia and Washington Conferences) that are united to take the Adventist message to everyone in their five-state region (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington) and beyond.

3 Ellen G. White, Ministry of Healing, p. 148.3.

September 01, 2006 / Feature