I reported recently to our Conference Board of Trustees that we were the only conference in the Mid-America Union with a membership gain in 2020, and yet we had only seven churches in the entire year that added 10 or more people to their membership.
That means 57 of our churches did not record any baptisms or professions of faith in the whole year. And we had 39 churches who recorded a decline in 2020. Sadly, the reality is that many churches across our conference—and perhaps the whole division—are simply not reaching people for Christ.
I know there is an alleged idea about the church playing the number’s game. I think if we as a church really take the great commission seriously, then it should be clear to everyone that it is not a number’s game; we must try to do everything by God’s grace to reach more people [numbers] for Christ by creating a culture of evangelism in our churches.
On January 16, I chaired a Church Board meeting at the Edge Christian Worship Center Seventh-day Adventist Church, where I have been serving as interim pastor. In this meeting we discussed evangelism and how we as a church would be involved in Propel Minnesota. Propel Minnesota is a 2021 Minnesota Conference incentive for evangelism across the state. We voted to create a culture of evangelism in our church.
We took two steps to begin building an evangelistically focused church. The first step was to buy a baptismal tank, to say to the congregation that we are modeling evangelism (Matt 28 19-20). The second step was to invite It Is Written evangelism coordinators Jack Phillips and Luis Luciano for an evangelism training Sabbath, with the hope of creating an evangelistic environment in the church and challenge church members to see evangelistic opportunities in their secular relationships.
The conference administration wants to thank many of our churches across the state who are already creating a culture of evangelism in your church. Do not give up! Remember whatever you are doing you are planting a gospel seed in your church members and your community. Keep praying for your community by using the Andrew’s prayer card, praying for specific names in the circle of friendship.
We also want to challenge some of you (if you are part of a church that has forgotten its roots in the evangelism ministry of the Three Angels’ messages) that it is not too late to begin praying for people in your community during this 2021 Propel Minnesota. Allow God to turn things around for you and your church.
The most neglected resource in evangelism is prayer. Our prayers are a spiritual weapon in a spiritual war through which our God can accomplish much for the salvation of our neighbors. Prayer is our act of dependence on God. As we plant the gospel seed, it is a way to allow God to make the seeds grow in the soul. Every Seventh-day Adventist in our conference should commit to prayer in 2021, acknowledging our own weakness and asking the sovereign God to work in our hearts and the hearts of our neighbors. We must pray for our children, spouses and neighbors to come to Christ and be saved.
2021 is a year of evangelism in our conference and I believe that the Lord will bless our efforts. Let us pull together. Let us build a culture of evangelism in our churches so that more people may find the hope, peace, love, forgiveness and purpose that only comes through Jesus Christ.