Keys to Successful Evangelism

By Steve Schefka -  April 1, 2024


Keys to Successful Evangelism

In my personal prayer time, I had been asking the Lord for 17 baptisms.


Several years ago, the Saginaw congregation recognized that membership had been dropping for years. With members moving away and evangelistic efforts producing few baptisms, morale was low. They realized that if the church was to grow, a change of course was needed. “Our church is not large in number,” says Elder Ethan Booms, “we knew whatever we did it needed to be agreed upon by most so we could have the most participation."

With the church in between pastors, Elders John Boldt and Booms began a monthly ministry meeting after fellowship lunch, to get department leaders and church members together to exchange ideas and talk about how to grow the church. They felt that ministry is not the work of the church board alone, but of the entire church. In these ministry meetings, members united together in setting goals, planning outreach, and discussing Bible study interests.

There was an additional blessing, however. "The revival of the prayer ministry that came as a result of those meetings that was the key to the success we have realized," says Boldt. Prayer meeting attendance increased. Often a list of each person's Bible study interests, missing members, and others were prayed for by name. The church also conducted several weeks of prayer.

In 2020, Pastor Jerryn Schmidt arrived. Under his leadership, the church began a capital campaign fund to improve the church facility and support evangelism. The members responded by pledging to raise $250,000. Some of the money funded a multi-session health seminar and a prophecy series. A few people joined the church, and the members were energized and eager to keep the momentum going. When Schmidt left, they pressed forward in faith. They continued the cooking classes, church ministries, prayer ministry, and did a mailing to generate Bible studies.

In the spring of 2023, God led my wife, Staci, and I to the Saginaw church to join these dedicated workers in preparing for the state-wide Discovering Revelation series in October. Early on, I encouraged the church to participate in a social media advertising campaign to generate further Bible interests. The church agreed and soon more church members were giving Bible studies. Soul-winning training sessions were held and door-to-door outreach planned to distribute the Great Controversy. Two members also attended Emmanuel Institute.

In the month prior to Discovering Revelation, the church opted to pay for radio and TV ads to promote the series. Twenty thousand handbills were mailed out and members visited previous seminar attendees to personally invite them. The church prayed earnestly and worked hard. And the Lord answered! On opening night, there were 63 people in attendance of which 34 were enthusiastic guests from the community. Nineteen of these came from personal invitations. Ten of those 19 were current Bible study interests.  

The meetings were held in the church fellowship hall. As the host, Boldt immediately put the guests at ease with his warm and loving tone. By Session 20, there were still 21 guests in regular attendance. Everyone sat at round tables with a church member acting as table leader. This allowed members and guests to get to know each other. Each session began with table leaders taking 10 minutes to go through a Bible lesson to review the previous night's topic. This also helped to ready the guests for the next topic. Many of them were learning how to look up scriptures for the first time. During these study times, they developed a genuine trust in their table leader.

When I got up to preach Word of God, I kept my presentation concise, interesting, and easy to understand. “The blessing that I personally received was watching our prayers being answered right before our eyes, specifically at my table,” says Michelle Corke, one of the table leaders. “The ladies were amazed with what the Bible had to say. So many truths that they had never heard, especially on the Sabbath and the state of the dead.”

The table leaders proved invaluable during the seminar. They followed up with their missing guests by phone calls and visits. They established friendships, ensuring guests had a church family here. I emphasized the importance of relying on the Holy Spirit to connect the hearts of these people with their Creator. Weekly the team met to pray for each precious soul by name that they would make decisions for Christ. 

I made an appeal for baptism mid-way through the series and 12 people made a decision. Later, when preaching on the topic of the remnant church, I made a second appeal. Five more made decisions. This was significant. In my personal prayer time, I had been asking the Lord for 17 baptisms. When the final count of baptism decisions came in at 17, it was confirmation that the Lord was listening and ready to deliver. I started a baptism preparation class to begin readying these people for discipleship. The first two baptisms were in November, followed by two more in January. Three are scheduled for February and March. Our members continue to pray that all 17 will be baptized. A follow-up Revelation “Verse by Verse” class is also in progress for the guests and members.

Many things contributed to the success of this evangelistic series. The ministry meetings, the pre-work, and an active lay-member led Bible study. But by far, the most critical component was the time spent in prayer. “I can’t stress enough how much we prayed,” says Booms. “Prayer was a huge focus and we saw the Holy Spirit work in people’s lives.” One example is Lisa, a young mother who began Bible studies with Staci five months before the series. She wanted to attend the seminar but feared that the unbelieving father of her children would never allow it. The church began to pray earnestly for Lisa and her partner. Miraculously, he not only pre-registered the family, but accompanied Lisa and their daughters to the meetings. The couple were captivated by the presentations. Answered prayers like these have encouraged the church to keep praying for the salvation of more souls!

Ezekiel 36:36 says, "I, the Lord, have spoken it, and I will do it.” The Lord is doing great things in Saginaw and He wants to do the same in your church.