“Sabbath-To-Go” – Making the Holiday Season Relevant
So long as church members make no effort to give to others the help given them, great spiritual feebleness must result…The greatest help that can be given our people is to teach them to work for God, and to depend on Him, not on the ministers…There are times when it is fitting for our ministers to give on the Sabbath, in our churches, short discourses, full of the life and love of Christ. But the church members are not to expect a sermon every Sabbath.” -Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7, Pages 18-19
“Unchurched people will not come to church simply because the building is open… Too often, we confuse a church service or the establishment of a church building a fulfillment of the Great Commission…The New Testament church didn’t grow like this, it grew via personal contact…Although meeting on Sabbath is important, what about those who will not come to us?” If your convicted your church is too inwardly focused, here are practical steps on how to “get out of the box and take your Sabbath-to-Go:
- Set a date: Choose a Sabbath and close your doors!
- Determine your community’s assets: List three to five non-profit organizations (e.g. rescue missions) which are already working in your community. Jesus is already working in your community, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Partner with them.
- Discover needs within your church and community: Take a small group to your sick, nursing homes, or those who have not attended for a while asking if you may come to pray and share some time with them. This becomes your “interest list.”
- Set the teams and divide the workload among your leaders: Determine who will be the main contact for each geographical site and responsible for mobilizing the volunteers.
- Promote the event and have members sign up: 1) Connect Team visit members, no cold calls, they will be expecting you, 2) Prayer Walk for homes in the neighborhood. Leave prayer/connection cards on doors. Prayer card plus wording, “God loves you, no strings attached,” with contact name, address and phone number. Care Teams
- Have a launch party: Gather Sabbath morning for a short devotional. Members unable to join due to health issues can become prayer warriors (e.g. prayers for those engaged in service around the community.)
- Take pictures and video: Always with permission, post on your church website.
- Celebrate the return: Share stories of encouragement for the entire congregation to hear. The 70 disciples celebrated upon their return and Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven!” (Luke 10)
- Send notes of appreciation to your leaders and organizations which helped.
- Set a new date: Follow-up. Nothing hurts community service more than when people feel they are nothing more than a project.
Make outreach part of your church DNA. Consider taking your next Sabbath “to go!”
Nelson Fernandez, pastor for administration and outreach at Miami Temple Church, Florida. (used with permission)
Making Holidays Count
Thanksgiving dinners. Nativity scenes. Christmas carols. In spite of the mass commercialization of the holiday seasons, people’s hearts are still touched by God’s love and His gift to the world. During this time, people are more likely to be open to the gospel message than at any other time. Ellen White encouraged church members to use the printed page to witness during this time of year.
“…It is right to bestow upon one another tokens of love and remembrance if we do not in this forget God, our best Friend. We should make our gifts such as will prove a real benefit to the receiver…” Review & Herald, December 26, 1882
- The gift that keeps on giving. Send a magazine subscription such as, “Signs of the Times” to a friend, coworker, relative or neighbor.
- The story of Jesus’ birth from “The Desire of Ages” is certain to touch the hearts of many.
- Include a pocket tract such as “An Hour with your Bible” in each Christmas card which you send.
- Add a book to every Thanksgiving and Christmas basket given to families by your church’s Community Services center.
- Remember former and inactive members. Let them know you’re missing and thinking of them. Send a book or magazine subscription with a Christmas card or letter from the church and/or pastor.
- Use your local newspaper. Pace an advertisement offering a free book to anyone who writes or calls to request one.
- If your church has a special Christmas event for the community, be sure that each of your visitors takes home a gift of a book or magazine.
- A literature rack filled with fresh material and placed in a prominent location in your foyer with a sign which reads, “Free, help yourself,” is always a blessing to visitors.
- Leave Bible study enrollment cards and a Christ-Centered piece of literature in your contacts.
- Give a book to a friend. A book or gift card from the Blue Mountain Academy Health Food Center makes an excellent gift for the “hard-to-shop-for.”
- Give the gift of music. Chapel Music offers a wide variety of hours of enjoyment.
- When you give holiday greetings to your neighbors, be sure to include a gift for their children filled with exciting stories sharing Bible truths in ways children can understand.
Dynamic Principles to Share Your Faith Through Literature
Since 2009 Community Concierge has focused on ideas connecting churches with communities in fulfilling the first two steps of “Christ’s Method Alone,” that is to make a friend and fill a need. Ellen White wrote much about the power and use of literature. This issue will focus on Christ’s “third step” to follow Him.
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you.
- Build relationships – people are more likely to read something given them by a friend.
- Cover a particular area, develop a follow-up strategy & leave some material for children.
- Include a Connection Card which says, “God Loves You, No Strings Attached.” On the other side “contact information.”
- Keep a supply of literature with you at all times.
- Choose appropriate material, read the literature yourself so you know what it says.
- Comment how helpful you have found the particular piece and hope they will enjoy reading it
- Never force the person to take the literature and don’t litter.
- Include a Bible study enrollment card, or information for requesting Bible studies
- Keep with you at all times Lesson 1 of Bible studies, tracts, Steps to Christ
- If you are a business owner set up a literature rack or magazines in the waiting area
- On vacation share on the plane with the person next to you, leave a tract in the seat pocket, leave a tract in the Gideon Bible in your hotel room as a bookmark in places like Psalm 23.
- Include with your payments when paying bills
- Include in Welcoming Baskets or Thanksgiving/Christmas baskets
- Distribute literature at your local fairs.
- Commit to supplying Signs magazines for a news box in town.
If the doors of your church were to close, would anyone even notice? Based upon the amount of Community Services initiatives in which your church is engaged, would anyone in your community care? Impact people from different faith communities. Begin efforts toward understanding and building bridges with friends from the Muslim community. The advent of Ramadan, a lunar holiday during which Muslims fast during daylight hours, is a prime opportunity for fellowship and dialogue. The 29-30 day fast is based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon. Muslims do not let food or drink pass their lips from dawn to dusk. This year Ramadan will begin in the evening of May 15, and end the evening of June 14. Reach out with an “Act of Kindness” by preparing dishes for the feast which takes place after sunset at the local mosque, opening a wider door for fellowship and dialogue. If you cannot do an entire meal, offer several side dishes and deliver them. Educate yourself prior to the event regarding a possible language barrier. Following are four of several tips to get you started.
- Christians say: ‘sin” referring to the Ten Commandants. Muslims interpret the word “sin” murder, adultery (ravishing a female.)
- When using the word, “Christian,” Muslims think, “Crusades, immorality, unclean, booze.” Do use, “Adventists.” “I know many amazing Adventists!”
- Christianity articulates, “died for us.” Muslims are astonished: “A prophet lives forever, he doesn’t die!”
- Muslims will tell you they are all not the same, “Some love God.”
Become an outwardly focused church fulfilling the first two steps of “Christ’s Method Alone” – make a friend, fill a need. Want to learn more about “Reaching the Stranger Within Our Midst?” Contact email@example.com for an afternoon seminar.
Many clients of social service organizations report providing diapers as a difficult need for them to meet. In addition, there has been increased awareness in the media about how lack of diapers can affect a low income individual or family’s ability to work. Many daycare programs require parents provide disposable diapers to participate in their programs (www.babaycenter.com). Parents receiving food stamps cannot use those funds for diapers, and food banks can only distribute diapers that they get through donations. Lack of adequate diapers can lead to negative outcomes in children such as, increased diaper rashes and infections (www.babycenter.com). Additionally, parents who struggle to afford diapers report increases in depression (www.babycenter.com).
Recently, State College Seventh-day Adventist Church Community Services received a grant to distribute diapers. Their goal is to reach 50 infants/toddlers on a regular basis. After distribution, any remaining diapers and wipes are donated to food banks throughout the area. As a new ministry outreach, it is hoped partnering agencies will begin to contribute to the program.
Thank you to Janene Adu, Director, and Pastor Robert Snyder for passing on this innovative outreach idea as they build a relationship with their community.
The “Get Out of Jail Free” Card
For those churches which have a van, begin a ministry whereby you help women who are newly released from prison get home if no one is meeting them. Determine the prison’s policy regarding the place of release. For instance, some are given a bus voucher and driven to a bus station to get home. Greet them at the bus station as they disembark to await their transportation home. Some are intimidated and frightened by the process. Since many are released having no money, present them with a “survival package” containing personal care items: bar of soap, comb, hair brush, deodorant, hygiene supplies, shampoo, toothbrush/paste, washcloth, hand towel, lip balm. Prepare a bagged lunch for the ride home. While they are awaiting their transportation connection, take them to lunch in the terminal. If they cannot utilize their voucher because there may be no bus connection to their home, keep them company until transportation arrives for them.