Montana Conference Holds Convocation Sabbath
Members from churches throughout the state of Montana attended the Conference Convocation Sabbath held Oct. 5 at the Great Falls Church. The purpose of this year’s training was to emphasize the need for reclamation ministries that reach out to the former and inactive members within our territory.
Paul Richardson, North American Division reclamation ministries director, was the guest speaker for the weekend. He presented statistics indicating that many former or inactive members are within our communities and need to be reached by our churches in loving and thoughtful ways. He described four personality types that respond to and relate in particular ways to the world around them and described how to reach them.
The presentations were interspersed with congregational singing, vocals from a Mount Ellis Academy student and an inspiring cello duet.
During lunch it was exciting to hear conversations among participants relating to one another and sharing stories of how God is at work in their lives, churches and communities. Those present exuded a sense that they are in this work together and can be the church God has called this generation to be.
In the afternoon Richardson further described nine habits of effective church reclamation ministry to those who have slipped away. These habits include aspects such as effective greeting at the church doors on Sabbath morning and the importance of that first, fleeting impression that either welcomes or turns away. The importance of listening well to the stories of those disillusioned or questioning their past experience of faith was mentioned as a key skill to be developed within our church membership. Being intentional about building bridges and establishing relationships with others through a relaxed presence that is kind and accepting was also encouraged.
At the conclusion of the day members broke into groups to pray and discuss how they might more effectively reach those who may no longer attend church.
The spirit of God was definitely at work on the hearts and minds of those who were at the convocation. An awareness of the importance of reaching out to those who have slipped away was achieved by being together. Organizers pray the flame of love and a desire to reclaim others will continue to grow throughout their constituency.