Adventist leaders introduce a framework and model for every congregation.
Ramon Canals, ministerial secretary of the Adventist Church’s General Conference (GC) Ministerial Association, appealed to church leaders to recognize the urgent needs of evangelism at the 2023 Spring Meetings in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, as he introduced the Global Disciple-Making Evangelism initiative on April 11.
“As we witness the rapidly unfolding signs of the times, we recognize the urgent need for the church to unite in an extensive evangelistic effort. Jesus is coming soon,” he said.
As the world around us reveals the nearness of Christ’s soon return, Canals added, “we need to put a little more urgency to our work.” However, rather than focusing on mere events and special dates, this initiative aims to foster a culture of wholistic evangelism and disciple-making within every Adventist congregation.
The Adventist Church’s strategic focus for 2020-2025 emphasizes the revival of worldwide mission and mission as a way of life, not just for pastors, elders, and other church leaders but for every church member to experience the “joy of witnessing for Christ and making disciples.”
Canals encouraged church leaders, telling them that “the best work pastors can do for their members is not delivering sermons, but planning work for them [to do] and teaching them to work for Jesus.”
“The question remains, ‘How can we encourage our pastors and members, young and experienced, to get involved in global evangelism?’ ” he asked.
Global Evangelism Framework and Model
Jim Howard, director of the GC Sabbath School and Personal Ministries department, took to the podium as he suggested a solution: a framework and model for global evangelism.
Earlier, Canals had reminded attendees that, in Gospel Workers, Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White wrote,“The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers” (p. 351).
It is this concept of Total Member Involvement, involving every church member and church leader in the participation of evangelism and disciple-making, that is the foundation of the Global Evangelism and Disciple-Making Model.
Beginning in May 2024 and continuing for a one-year period (and beyond), Howard said, this initiative invites every Seventh-day Adventist division, union, conference, and local church to unite and adopt this model as a global emphasis to share the Three Angels’ Messages with their entrusted territories and communities.
Howard reiterated that this is not an event-focused initiative, but rather it hangs on the principles of having a full-disciple-making process and being primarily people focused. “It aims to involve several different ministries throughout different phases of the evangelism and disciple-making process, including health ministries, literature ministries, and media ministries,” he said. “Through this process, every church member should have the opportunity and the essential training necessary to participate in any phase of the process.”
Under the Global Disciple-Making Evangelism framework, every church, in its own individual context, can incorporate the various phases of the initiative. In this way, church members may learn to become medical missionaries and literature evangelists; and every church can have a Bible school and establish a Bible study ministry, while at the same time including other ministries in the process, Howard said.
This model calls for a reaping event to be held sometime during the year; however, rather than ending the process after baptisms and decisions for Christ are made, Howard emphasized, a systematic plan to train and nurture new members be put in place by every congregation. “Through this plan, new members can be trained to not just be disciples but join the disciple-making process as well,” he said.
A Personal Ministry
Howard reminded church leaders watching and listening that Christ’s method of soul-winning is personal. “We can’t accomplish [personal ministry] through large events.” Our evangelism efforts must be infused with personal ministry, involving every church member, he said, and a major part of this effort has to do with making sure individual members are connected with God, which is why the church’s other initiative, Back to the Altar, also plays an important role in this model of global disciple-making and evangelism.
Local churches are encouraged to spend more time during the year generating and working with interests at their local level and focusing on the people, not on activities. As congregations focus on involving their members in being more intentional about meeting the needs for a person’s individual discipleship process, they will see greater results, Howard said.
He also explained the upside of the initiative, which
- gets church members involved in every phase of making disciples
- prioritizes personal ministry — praying, distributing literature/media, inviting, visiting/calling, giving Bible studies, mentoring, etc.
- incorporates personal labor into public events for optimum results
- combines health and gospel work as Jesus did
- ensures that interests are being generated prior to reaping events
- leads need-based ministries to generate Bible studies and baptisms
- ensures proper preparation for baptism
- nurtures new members and trains them to win souls
- multiplies workers instead of merely adding members
- develops a culture in which every church is a training school
“Through global discipleship-making,” Howard said, “we can ultimately engage every member of every church in every nation to make disciples using Christ’s method.”