Emerald City Reconnects With Members

As part of its strategic plan for ministry, the Emerald City Community Church (ECC) in Seattle, Wash., identified a goal to reconnect with missing and inactive members who for various reasons stopped attending.

The reclamation ministry team, led by Alonzo S. Wagner, who has pastoral experience, met with Paul Richardson, from the Center for Creative Ministries, and Mike Jones, an expert with personal experience in reconnecting with former Adventists, for a time of training. Team members also participate in an on-going Sabbath School class for training and to report on weekly visits to non-attending members.

"ECC is going through a process by which it looks for opportunities to extend love to guests and returning members," says EuGene Lewis, senior pastor. "The church family is intentional in how members respond to those who are returning home."

A Year of Growth

In a little over a year, the reclamation ministry has grown from thought to reality. Emerald City is one of the few churches across the North American Division that has a reclamation ministry, a reclamation ministry director, a reclamation ministry team of 12, and a reclamation ministry strategic plan.

From the ministry's start until now, 83 members have come home (defined as an inactive member attending church at least twice), and 36 of those attend regularly (defined as attending church at least twice a month). And this number is growing as the team continues to labor and pray.

Through on-the-job training, praying and studying together, team members discovered how to work effectively and carefully in this ministry of love. Relationship building is the key.

From their experiences, the reclamation ministry team put together a manual of guidelines for sharing this ministry of compassion with churches that have a commitment to seeing missing sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and fathers and mothers come home.

A Time of Celebration

The Emerald City Church organized a fall picnic to celebrate God's blessings in reconnecting with members. More than 200 attending members and non-attending members showed up, some for the first time in many years, to play, pray, fellowship and eat together.

The sounds of laughter, the sight of hugs, the warmth of greetings and the spirit of games gave clear signals that relationships were being established, repaired and deepened. Church attendance the following week was bolstered because of time enjoyed together outside of church at the picnic.

The church is continuing its focus on evangelism and reclamation. The church's leadership team recently developed a monthly calendar of reconnect-friendly events and continues in its commitment to reconnect with members.

To request ECC's Reclamation Ministry Guidelines, email eccsda@gmail.com.

February 01, 2012 / Washington Conference