Training Forums Focus on Evangelism
Church growth is a hot topic in national media this spring with the release of the National Council of Church's yearbook and prominent articles in publications such as USA Today.
But church growth is not a new topic. Some Seventh-day Adventist churches across North America experience little or no growth, or decline altogether. The Washington Conference recently invited pastors and their leadership teams to a church-growth practicum to lead church teams through a variety of proven church growth concepts and principles and to discuss: "What does a healthy, growing church look like?"
"Adventist churches are primarily worship-centric," says Bill McClendon, Washington Conference ministerial director and church growth expert. "We're suggesting an evangelism-centric model of ministry to see unprecedented growth for God's kingdom."
The three-day practicum featured a variety of presentations such as mission and purpose, identifying roadblocks, committing to the Gospel Commission of Matthew 28, developing an evangelistic plan, understanding the characteristics of healthy churches, creating a culture of discipleship, and mobilizing members for ministry. A tabletop exercise followed each session and allowed church teams to immediately discuss church growth concepts and develop plans.
In all, 14 churches with more than 120 leaders participated in the first church growth practicum. Additional practicums will be offered in August 2011.
The evangelism focus of ministry extends beyond the church growth forum. Women's ministry leaders from Western Washington met in mid-February for a leadership training session with Eileen States, new women's ministry director.
States challenged the 50 leaders in attendance to be intentional about integrating evangelism into ministering to women. "‘Stay little' in ministry and ‘live intentionally' to point people to Jesus," says States.
The forum also provided an opportunity for leaders to network and share ideas for effective ministry to women and families.
John Miller, Washington Conference literature ministries coordinator, continues to expand the Giving Light to Our World ministry by offering training sessions to equip churches to participate in monthly GLOW activities, such as regularly distributing pocket-sized tracts and conducting community surveys.
Miller provided 20 ministry leaders in mid-February with practical resources and advice to involve their church in door-to-door outreach and evangelism.
"Training is important for equipping people for ministry," says McClendon. "It is even more important for members to apply their training and get involved in ministry. You learn how to do a ministry by doing a ministry."