by Jon Dalrymple
Spokane Valley, Wash., April 20, 2013 - A new concept in evangelism was presented recently at the Spokane Valley church during an event called IMPACT. The “new concept” is that the Great Commission requires the church to go INTO all the world. This was the overall message of the Upper Columbia Conference event conducted by the Ministerial, Personal Ministries and Adventist Community Services departments on Sabbath, April 20, 2013.
“Far too many churches are waiting for people to come to them – their ministries are attractional, not missional or incarnational – but the Great Commission commands that we go to the people,” said Sung Kwon, Executive Director of North American Division’s Adventist Community Services (ACS) department, who was the keynote speaker for the event. “If we are not involved in the community, then when we say ‘follow me’ the people will say ‘who are you?’”
“I’ve never met a person who is more enthusiastic about community services as a means to reaching people for Christ,” said Patty Marsh, ACS Coordinator for Upper Columbia Conference. “Sung Kwon is very big on building bridges with the community.”
IMPACT was an all-day event that included the Sabbath morning worship service, ministry “fair-booths” at lunch time, a series of short reports (by video and in person) about successful ministries around the conference, as well as presentations about outreach ideas and concepts that churches are experimenting with in their communities to reach people for Jesus.
Over 50 ACS centers and 30 or more local church outreach teams and other ministries across the conference have everyday encounters with people that are leading them to know Jesus better and see the Adventist church as a caring group of Christians.
Some presentations were simply stories of things happening at churches. These included thrift store ministries, diaper banks, a pastor’s ride across America, and how God used a horse to launch a ministry.
Other presentations were how-to topics such as, How to Follow God into Ministry (rather than asking him to join you in yours), Using the Power of Prayer to Influence a Spouse, and Discovering Keys to a Friendlier Church.
During the lunch hour, the ministry “fair-booths” allowed attendees to meet people from the various ministries, ask questions, view some ministries’ handiwork and see photos of many ministry volunteers in action.
With a total of 23 different presentations in all, organizers of the event were concerned that attendees would get tired and loose interest in the topics toward the end of the day. However, with the mix of video and live presentations (rich in content but short in length) the day proved to be a powerful and motivating series of presentations for all.
While the presentations at IMPACT shared some exciting things people are doing for the Lord, there is a deeper message that organizers don’t want members to miss. According to Sung Kwon, it is not the things we DO to share the gospel, but rather the way we LIVE the gospel wherever God has placed us and at whatever capacity he has placed us in.
"Our charge is to both proclaim and embody the gospel so that others can see, hear, and feel God's love in tangible ways,” said Kwon. “We must become involved in people's lives, work to build relationships, walk with them through their sorrows and their joys, live with generosity toward them, love and care for them unconditionally and stand up for their defenselessness."