GENTRY, ARK. – The Arkansas-Louisiana Conference recently hosted the first of three Lay Evangelism Trainings this spring. The first training was held at the Gentry Seventh-day Adventist Church in Northwest Arkansas on February 16-17.
Richard C. Dye, Sr., taught 20 to 30 adults from nearby districts with the assistance of his wife, LaVonne. At the time, Dye was the director of ministry and the evangelism coordinator. He now serves as conference president. I came from the Yellville Seventh-day Adventist Church, about 130 miles away, and was eager to learn.
Dye explained that “telling people about Jesus” is his main love. During the seminars he encouraged the lay leaders to be warm, gracious, and friendly as we focus on loving persons rather than teaching facts.
He shared that we should try to “connect, not correct” folks. Our goals should be centered on accepting people as they are, because in fact, we are only just “one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is.” Perception is everything and Jesus is the ultimate example of a “yes face” to all sinners. As long as our focus is on lifting Him up, He will draw all people to Himself.
We were taught the nuts and bolts of holding a successful evangelism series. This included items like preparation, ushering, greeting, record keeping, music and teaching the series each evening in one hour to avoid wearing out the saints, and helping or seating the guests.
He shared strategies to be better prepared to host meetings. These include having intentional prayer circles, conducting Bible studies, and working with small groups. He gave counsel on approaching the community as well. While visiting others with the purpose of making friends, we can apply the FORT tool. This means that in conversation we ask questions about Family, Occupation, Religion, and give our Testimony to them. The purpose is to create meaningful connections and have deeper conversations with future guests.
Dye demonstrated gracious calls and shared information regarding preparation for baptism, follow up strategies, small groups, and fellowship socials. He advocated for a special Sabbath School class for newcomers that is led by pastors or elders. Follow-up might include a Bible marking class and a spiritual gifts training and testing to help new members find their ministry niche in the church.
I left the meeting inspired and empowered, armed with a passion to do local lay evangelism. I look forward to loving people into our fellowship wisely and kindly, and helping them find their church home and ministry.
I also have a passion to get this same training into my district, which is comprised of the Mountain Home and Yellville Seventh-day Adventist Churches. It was truly a valuable and motivating training session.
By Susan Taylor