“God has people out there waiting for someone to knock at their door, and that someone is us,” said G. Alexander Bryant, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America (NAD) on Sunday, Oct. 29, as the fourth day of business sessions of the 2023 NAD Year-End Meeting focused on evangelism, church membership, and care.
One of the most promising initiatives is a digital evangelism approach being trailed in the Central California Conference, which covers the “Silicon Valley” territory of the San Francisco Bay area and beyond. Introduced by Adventist Information Ministry (AIM) it focused on creating a bridge between the local community with the local Adventist church through social media ads offering prayer for a special request anyone might have. Respondents were then connected to local congregations for quick responses and pastoral care.
AIM found that very locally targeted materials, often featuring local church members, were the most successful at creating connections. For a very low expenditure of location-targeted advertising purchases, the trial generated 2,189 initial contacts and these resulted in 1,400 (44 percent) longer-term relationships. In fact, it was so successful that they had to pause the ads so that churches and members could keep up with all of the new contacts.
“Through this project we can make evangelism reachable,” said Justin Kim of the Central California Conference. “How many people can pray? Everyone. Through this process, we can mobilize our own members. They can be on the front lines. They pray for their community, and they bring in people. We can revitalize our churches.”
AIM director Brent Hardinge shared some examples of prayer requests that had come. “It is so sad to hear the pain and the sadness that people are facing, but it is such a joy to be able to take that to God and to also bring back hope to them as we work with them and connect with them,” said Hardinge.
Next the seven major media ministries of the NAD shared about their overflowing basket of programs and resources. “These are your media ministries. … They have exciting programs and are very focused on winning people to Christ,” said Bryant
- Lifetalk Radio https://lifetalk.net/ — Lifetalk Radio is a network of more than 250 stations and is online through various apps. It produces its own programs, as well as broadcasts radio versions of programs from other SDA ministries, and thus increases their reach. They also have separate streaming channels for Lifetalk Music and Lifetalk Kids.
- It Is Written https://www.itiswritten.com/ — It Is Written is a media evangelism ministry that operates a full-time television channel and conducts evangelistic crusades across the U.S. and overseas. Evangelism training is also a core component of its mission. SALT (Soul-winning and Leadership Training) is now conducting its twelfth session. ReCharge are public evangelism and church growth conferences that are held regularly across the country. My Place with Jesus is the children’s ministry and produces the Vacation Bible School program as well as an extensive evangelism program for children. People can also experience front-line service with transformative Mission Trips.
- Breath of Life https://breathoflife.tv/ — Breath of Life highlighted last year’s successful first Gratitude Project YouTube program that aired on Thanksgiving 2022. They are a television ministry that especially aims to serve the needs of people of color. They hold revival meetings, youth events, and similar initiatives across the country and overseas. Last year they launched two media schools (one for small churches and the other for medium-sized ones), their Fresh Start Sunday morning program, and their first children’s programming — and audio devotional for children.
- La Voz de la Esperanza https://lavoz.org/ — This ministry serves the Spanish-speaking population and has experienced a lot of growth with its audio content through podcasts. They will soon be coming to your kitchen with a TV cooking show focusing on nutrition and dietetics. They provide weekly sermons and hold evangelistic campaigns (15 last year alone). Every week more than 100,000 listeners tune in for the Sabbath School programs. Both Adventist and non-Adventist churches use their programs during their weekly meetings.
- Jesus 101 https://jesus101.tv/ — Jesus 101 exists to introduce people to the real Jesus of the gospel and to equip them to share His love with others. In addition to all of their video and audio programs, they set out to develop a full evangelism package that includes videos for each doctrine. They also have a new Bible study course written by speaker/director Elizabeth Talbot titled Jesus Wins in which she explains the whole story of redemption. These Bible studies are in a magazine format and link to the online video resources through QR codes. Twenty thousand copies of the Spanish edition have been successful and are being used in evangelistic efforts.
- Voice of Prophecy https://www.voiceofprophecy.com/— Voice of Prophecy offers cutting-edge media tools to support local church growth and ministry. Their Discovery Centers are getting close to having hosted 1,000 evangelistic meetings in North America, offer a full evangelistic system and they have 2,200 Bible schools currently operating. One of the timeliest offerings is a new 4-day plug-and-play mental health event called Mindfit that churches and conferences can host for the public. Discovery Mountain has hundreds of thousands of kids listening around the world.
- Faith For Today https://faithfortoday.tv/ — Faith For Today, a television ministry that produces a family of programs, including Lifestyle Magazine and Mad About Marriage, highlighted their brand-new life coaching TV show Friends vs Time that they aim to air in 2024 across commercial platforms as well as their own.
Additional Evangelism Efforts
The day’s session also included inspiring church growth stories from several of the smaller conferences and a report from the NAD Evangelism Institute (NADEI) about their efforts in sponsoring pastors at seminary, operating a field school for student pastors, offering Seeds and Acts Church Planting Training and Seminars for Universities, Revitalization, and Discipleship.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few,” shared NADEI director Tim Madding. “Reaching people is not a them problem. It is not a harvest problem, said Madding. “When Jesus said to pray, he said to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send our laborers into the harvest. NADEI is here to partner together with you to help make that a reality. Not by our strength, Jesus Christ said he will build his church and we are here to cooperate with him.”
The business session closed with a presentation about the upcoming International Pathfinder Camporee to be held in Gillette, Wyoming, next summer. Held every five years, it normally attracts more than 55,000 people from around the world.
The discussions of the day were also supported by two informative presentations to underpin the discussions. The first was the report of NAD executive secretary Kyoshin Ahn, who provided the latest data about church membership; and the second was from the esteemed Adventist academic Dr. David Williams of Harvard University on how we can be more effective in ministry in the contemporary context, using the lens using the lens of health to illustrate the challenges we face in our urban centers and our nation today. Both of these in-depth presentations will be covered in separate articles.
— Heidi Straw Camargo writes from Michigan.