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Grow Michigan Progress Report!

Grow Michigan Progress Report!
- Elder Jay Gallimore -
What a wonderful year we had in 2016! The billboards, handbills, bumper stickers, yard signs, Glow tracts, Bible studies, community outreach, and your enthusiasm was used by the Holy Spirit to bring 3,400 people out to the opening night of Unlock Revelation in 2016. We saw a 62% increase in baptisms and profession of faith from the previous year. Even when we factor out the immigrant profession of faith, it was still about a 50% increase!

This year we are engaged in BibleStudyOffer.com to be followed up with another statewide Unlock Revelation in the fall. Once again we are committed to working together with similar advertisement initiatives. And once again the Lord is blessing our efforts. We are close to 2,800 requests for Bible studies. By camp meeting, we believe we will be approaching 3,000 requests. Members and pastors are busy following up!

The Seventh-day Adventist Church exists for one reason and one reason alone—“to call all people to become disciples of Jesus Christ, to proclaim the everlasting gospel embraced by the three angels’ messages, and to prepare the world for Christ’s soon return.”[1]

The “in” thing for churches today is to be engaged in social justice or meeting people’s physical needs. While Jesus cared about people’s temporal needs, His greatest compassion was for their lost condition. Adventists are busily engaged in relieving suffering and should be. However, if these other good things become more important than winning souls, then Satan wins by extinguishing the life of the church with its own good deeds. Our passion for the lost must be supreme in our life and the life of the church. If any other passion is sovereign, it will be the death knell to the spiritual life of the church and its members.

I once had a head elder whose passion was winning souls. After I left his church for another assignment, he, some years later told me this story. It so happened that on a Sabbath morning, that the new pastor casually remarked that the growth of the church during my tenure had been transfer growth.

The head elder told me that he then opened his Bible and showed the dear pastor a list he had kept of roughly 140 baptisms and professions of faith during my time there. The fact that the elder kept such a list was unknown to me or long forgotten. But it illustrates the fact that he was passionate about soul winning and so was the church!

Here are essential fundamental strategies that work if a church wants God’s work to move!
  1. The minister and elders must be passionate about winning souls. Their enthusiasm will produce a culture of soul winning. That culture will be found in the prayer meeting. The foyer on Sabbath will be vibrant with love as it watches for souls. Then the members will come to church expecting a soul winning culture. Sabbath School teachers will join in and teach that culture. And the Holy Spirit will fill the baptisry.
  2. Every year—yes every year—the pastor and elders will hold training sessions teaching the members how to find Bible study contacts and how to give Bible studies. Every member should be encouraged to give someone a Bible study.
  3. Every year—yes every year—a reaping evangelistic meeting should be held! An evangelistic church never gets tired of hearing the message or seeing souls won!
  4. Every Sabbath—yes every Sabbath with rare exception—the preacher should make it his business to offer a call for baptism. Whether there is a response or not is God’s business. It is the business of the preacher to make the call. In the same church referred to earlier, the choir wanted to do a resurrection cantata for the divine service. However, they told me they would do it on one condition—if I would make a call at the end of the service. I did. Eleven adults walked down that isle for baptism. That’s how strong the culture of soul winning was at that church. Whenever I initiated the baptismal call, I would watch as the elders bow their heads, one by one, and begin praying for souls. Sometimes they would get out of their seat and offer to walk down the aisle with someone.
  5. Soul winning plans must be the centerpiece of the board meetings and budget planning. When a church makes the Lord’s priority its priority, it wins souls! That priority must be organized.
Many churches make excuses as to why they are not winning souls. However we should ask the question: Is it possible for a church to be serious about winning souls if they are not focused on giving Bible studies and holding evangelistic meetings? After all, those are the only two ways people are prepared for baptism. If you want an indicator of whether a church is healthy listen to the prayer requests. Are there more prayer requests for the sick than for the lost? Both the sick and the lost need to be prayed for earnestly. But too often we only hear about the sick, and nothing about praying for “my” Bible study contact or someone who needs the Lord. Great churches are ones that are passionate about saving the lost.

This year the Michigan Conference needs to raise 350,000 for evangelism! This money will go towards the following: (1) to local churches by helping them do mail-outs for BibleStudyOffer.com and seed money for Unlock Revelation; (2) it will fund the websites for Biblestudyoffer.com and Unlock Revelation; (3) it will supply billboards, advertising materials, and other essentials.

In short, the money will be spent directly to help churches win souls. We get a lot more “bang for the buck” when we work together instead of independently!

Can any of us out-give the Lord? Has God put means into your hands? Then use it liberally to win souls. The Lord would love to have you partner with Him! Perhaps you can sacrifice some things that aren’t good for you anyways. How about a walkathon or a loose weight program? Perhaps an investment idea and sacrifice the proceeds? Maybe you should sell a boat, car, or a “toy” that you don’t really need. Or what about a bake sale or yard sale? Ask the Lord for some ideas. The Holy Spirit knows of a thousand ways to raise funds, and He will help you. Satan hates it, but the Lord loves it when we work and give to win souls!

On the tithe envelope under the heading “Michigan Conference” is a line marked “other.” Write in the donated amount and write “Evangelism” on that line. You can choose to give in one lump sum or monthly.

Let’s give in a way that will praise the Lord for His goodness to all of us. And there is nothing that pleases Him more than winning souls!
[1] https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/-/mission-statement-of-the-seventh-day-adventist-church/
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