Billings Gets 'Shot in the Arm'

Visitors and members of the Adventist church in Billings, Mont., received a proverbial evangelistic "shot in the arm" from Jim Howard, on Sabbath, Oct. 6, 2018. A convocation entitled “Grow Montana” took place with the goal of preparing lay people to do discipleship activities in their community. Howard is the General Conference Sabbath School and personal ministries associate director.

Howard delivered the sermon for the church service followed by an invigorating two-hour learning session in the afternoon. He shared small segments of his own journey of faith. Howard had been raised by Adventist parents, but when he turned nine the family moved to a different state and simply stopped attending church.

During his growing up years, he had recurring thoughts of God. Finally, during college he moved back home at one point due to some health issues, and in his parents’ basement he wrote a to-do list. Among the mundane items, such as laundry, studying and cleaning, he added what would be for him, a life-changing note: “Read your Bible.”

The words Howard read in the Bible cut through the pretense and pride he had held in his heart. It seemed as if he could not get enough. He had to learn more. His journey led him to a full commitment to Christ as he became a believing member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

As the sermon came to a close, Howard made an appeal for people to attend the afternoon session. He asserted with a chuckle that finding the right motivation was key. He told the congregation each of them would receive a free book during the afternoon. That motivation worked, and a large number of members stayed after potluck to hear more about the work of discipleship.

The passionate emphasis of Howard’s presentation was on making disciples for Christ. The session was aimed not only at church leaders but lay people as well. The model was fashioned after the steps in a harvest cycle: preparing the soil of the heart, planting seeds of spiritual truth, cultivating the growing spiritual interest, reaping a harvest of spiritual decisions and preserving the harvest through intentional discipleship. For inquiry and resources see, www.grow.adventist.org.

Howard offered practical strategies, such as showing effortless ways of giving Bible studies along with the free resources available on DVDs. The highlighted programs were Landmarks of Prophecy and It Is Written Bible study guides. They can be located at www.biblestudyoffer.com.

The greatest hindrances people often give were discussed and simple ways to overcome those were shown. Howard also highlighted Total Member Involvement, a full-scale, world-church evangelistic thrust that has the goal of involving every church, every administrative group, every outreach ministry, every member. The idea is that each person can do something to reach others for Christ and tell of His soon coming. For more information, go to www.tmi.adventist.org/about.

At the conclusion of the afternoon session, Howard distributed the promised free books. The book, Discipleship Handbook, focuses on the fifth part of the “harvest” cycle — preserving the harvest through intentional discipleship. There will also be books soon to be printed for each of the other facets of the cycle.

Each participant left the session equipped with ideas and resources for doing discipleship work in the community. 

December 03, 2018 / Montana Conference
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