Following is an interview conducted by Jeff Wines (conference communication and youth director) with Ed Barnett (president and evangelism coordinator) and Doug Inglish (personal ministries director).
JW: What is your vision for evangelism in the Twin Cities?
EB: We are planning a massive outreach for the Twin Cities. There are 3.5 million people within a 30-mile radius. This is the largest metropolitan area in the Mid-America Union living right here! We have 30 to 40 churches that will be engaged in this evangelistic push.
DI: This is a cooperative effort between the Mid-America Union, Central States Conference and the Minnesota Conference.
EB: We are very excited to have Shawn Boonstra and Robert Costa each holding meetings. Shawn is from the Voice of Prophecy and Robert, formerly an evangelist from It Is Written, is currently the Associate Ministerial Secretary for the General Conference. They are going to be speaking in March of 2015 to wrap up the evangelism campaigns. However, all of the churches are a part of this evangelistic series of meetings.
DI: Every church in the Twin Cities will be having at least one evangelism series from the fall of 2014 to the spring of 2015. Elder Barnett will be doing a series in one of our churches as well as Mid-America Union President Tom Lemon.
EB: One of the things that we are trying to do is to fulfill the challenge that the General Conference gave to reach every major city in the world. This is our response to reaching the population in our area. This is also in keeping with the mission and vision of the Minnesota Conference.
Mission: To help people realize they are accepted in Jesus Christ, and come to know, love, serve, and share Him.
Vision: Recognizing that Jesus will return soon, we will all actively engage in ministry.
DI: Our efforts are broader than the Twin Cities-wide evangelism campaign. We also have a plan to reach every mailing address across Minnesota with information about how to know Jesus. Sherman McCormick, our Ministerial Director, is coordinating that program.
EB: We are continuing to do evangelism seminars across Minnesota. Currently, I am helping Pastor Bill Nixon lead an evangelism series in Red Wing, Minnesota.
JW: There are a lot of NADEI (North American Division Evangelism Institute) training events coming up in Minnesota. How does this tie into the evangelism events of 2014 to 2015?
DI: The workshops and seminars are designed to help our members across the Conference be engaged in their local churches, which will help to build healthy churches. Such as the seminar coming in March of 2014 entitled “Invest in Life” where Richard Moore (a business manager) will be dealing with subjects of “time, talent and treasure”. In May, Ron Clouzet (Professor of Christian Ministry and Pastoral Theology at Andrews University Theological Seminary) will lead a weekend of Christ-centered, spiritual training bringing people to a deeper relationship with Christ. For more information on the seminars go to www.mnsda.com.
EB: All of these seminars help to get our lay people trained.
DI: People will also have the opportunity to understand their role in the church as well as where God is leading them to work for His kingdom. Churches will need to know how to engage the new members joining through the evangelism series so they can have a role in ministry.
JW: What leaders are involved in these efforts?
EB: I am coordinating the evangelism meetings and Doug is planning the training seminars.
DI: Karen Lewis is training Bible workers for the next two years in the Conference and Pastor Rob Lechner is assisting part time in the personal ministries department to help facilitate the programs.
JW: What financial commitment is the conference making?
EB: The Minnesota Conference has already guaranteed that they will put in $300,000 for this effort. Part of this money is renting the Conference Center in downtown Minneapolis.
DI: The Conference is also supporting each of the individual meetings of the local churches as well helping to provide some promotional materials.
EB: At this time we are also in discussions about putting the meetings on satellite.
JW: What type of follow-up is happening after the meetings?
EB: We will continue to have training seminars.
DI: Karen Lewis is also helping to coordinate Bible studies and training of Bible studies following the event.
EB: In addition, we are trying to get the youth motivated to be apart of this.
DI: Following the meetings in 2015 we are planning a major rally! This may very well be the largest gathering of Seventh-day Adventists in the Cities. We are anticipating Shawn Boonstra and Robert Costa to returning for this rally. Additionally there will be a youth rally happening on the same day and at the same location.
JW: Taking off my Communications hat for a moment and putting on my Youth Director hat, I am thrilled to see what is happening with evangelism efforts in the Minnesota Conference, we want the youth to be involved in evangelism. We will be having several 2014 youth rallies and the Minnesota Camp Meeting, all of which will be pointing to this culminating event in 2015.
EB: Jeff, that is exciting! We will be doing everything we know how to do to further the Kingdom of God through these evangelism efforts. Our prayer is that God’s Spirit will lead in people’s lives, guiding them to make decisions to be baptized and be a part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We are hoping to realize at least 1000 new members from these meetings!