Town Hall Meetings See Ideas Shared
What an experience! In just two weeks we had the privilege of connecting with members all around our Conference. We were blessed by our time, both in connecting with our pastoral team in the afternoons, and then spending time at each of the Town Hall meetings. As those of you who were there remember, I stated that all the ideas gleaned would be shared in the eCommuniqué. One of our five breakout groups was designed more for information than feed-back, and as a result, we do not have a report from the women in leadership discussion. However, I was blessed to read through the comments that came back from the other four groups. Though the scribes in each group may not have captured a word-for-word entry of everything that was shared, I hope you too will be inspired in some way by the comments included below.
Youth and Young Adults
How do you share a relationship with Jesus? We must have one to share one. Teach them to know Him and He will ignite them. We need to turn to God in prayer and show a deep soul need for Jesus. Genuine humbleness demonstrated will blow youth away. Being real and genuine is what our youth really desire. They are tired of the excitement and lies of the world... they want truth and they want the REAL Jesus.
Let teens think outside the box. Then help them to fulfill their dreams of reaching out with God's help.
Get youth [involved] in worship teams, not just participating, but [in] leadership. Don’t mold them to our way, but be willing to bend and include. We need to show real love, warmth, hugs, and smiles, not just profess [them].
Kids pregnant in teen year. It is very hard to keep them coming to church because people/kids judge them. I don't believe they are going to church. Although they posted on FB about their belief in God or God's blessings. This is encouraging. I chose to stay in their lives as positive influence and example.
Better communication from Conference about up coming meetings.
Calling members from class when they are absent so that they know they are missed. Are there other meetings like this where leaders get together to discuss what works/doesn't work in their groups?
Create a relationship with the young people at the church. Accept them as they are.
Call our missing members. Reunite "the flock." Help each other move up to God's standards. An active youth revives a church, renews vigor in the older generations and motivates all to move forward in God's work and closer to God.
Sole purpose of associating with non-believers is to affirmatively seek their conversion.
Church has become a show. The Bible is exciting, interesting, and engaging and can capture the youth. The Bible applies to all generations and all situations if taught appropriately. Teaching youth has to be relevant to them by way of the scriptures, open, honest. Teach the Bible first.
Bible importance is not to be discounted, but where is common ground if they don’t value the Bible initially. Keep focus on God. Beware of compromise. Acceptance of the people in the church can do more than a worship style or entertaining program. Would be good/helpful to hear from students at public or non-Adventist schools.
There's a difference between judging and condemning. You can't be close-minded. However, you should stick to the Bible and what Jesus says.
Young people should be given more opportunities to be involved. They should be heard and get their questions answered. Why are the sexual questions being asked? All should be treated in the same loving way. Give youth the opportunity to think about why we believe what we believe. Questions need answers and church should be a place to find them. There is a difference between a "doubt" and a question; doubting God's goodness and word is a sin, questioning and looking for answers is not a sin.
Yes, coming to church is important. Just staying by yourself struggling is not the best. Young people could speak their opinion not just listen. God should be the only one who judges people.
Young people are our future–just because they are young doesn't mean they can't help; they just need the right inspiration. God is the only one that can judge. If leaders have doubts, don’t infect the whole church. It’s not their job to confuse people. Instead they should be prayerful and ask God and/or people who are really grounded in their faith.
Reasons why youth can feel disconnected from church:
Church can be unpersonal, unreal, unrelevant, boring, and unchallenging.
Many are getting married later in life and trying to figure out who they are.
Feelings of judgement, or that their friends might be judged. Discomfort. Not fitting in. Unresolved hurts in the church. Others who can be narrowminded.
What they read on the faces of others.
Youth can be more upfront with themselves, many times adults aren’t honest with themselves.
We pound them with issues such as internet use.
Missing a huge social gap, interaction.
Not grounded in the fundamentals. We dilute the message.
Don’t belong. No connection. Need to be involved. Not a part of the church.
What we can do to connect:
It should start with us and how we treat the youth.
What is our mission in our church… what kind of a reflection do they see?
Church or home life – focus on God. What is our walk with the Lord?
Spend time with them, get to know them, listen to them.
Accept that there will be differences.
Be a friend, get involved with them and in the church duties.
Be honest with them. Be honest with ourselves.
Taking them by the hand and leading them. Share with them.
Pray for them, pray for our church, pray for each other!
Involve them on mission trips.
Creative Ideas for Evangelism
Community interest groups such as: remote airplanes, greeting card clubs, gardening class, star gazing.
Bags of Love –Yoncalla.
After-school program for kids.
Evangelism focus on children first and always – families come and follow.
Pastor's training class –" Lifting up Jesus" series in Klamath Falls.
Start/get involved in Community Crises Pregnancy Centers and abstinence/purity programs.
Use Facebook – use internet: Google AdWords is good tool – Good News Advocates can help your website come to top of Search.
Community gardens – North Valley.
GLOW tracts, Great Hope book distribution.
Help community with graffiti removal. Develop intentional artwork.
Put together kits for homeless – work with local agencies.
Throw a party for the women and children at a shelter (adopt one of the rooms to decorate, etc.).
Mini mission trip in your local town – Help people by painting, cleaning yards, helping people. Contact city manager for local needs.
Invite non-members to join your church's mission trip or other community projects.
Become involved in Neighborhood Watch.
Spiritual Guardians: Team together new members with other members (1 year minimum).
Invite neighbors over for Sabbath meal along with others from church.
Understand the guidelines: 1. What is the Law? 2. What are the Policies? 3. What is Prudent?
Our own heart preparation – becoming contagious christians.
Training members to do colporteur work/Youth Rush.
Lay-led evangelism (ShareHim).
Mentoring released prisoners – integrating into society and our churches – educate members how to minister to them.
Community car rally.
Spread door hangers and leaflets from HOPE channel.
Connect with community events. Give out bottles of water and books at motorcycle rallies and Christmas parades.
Develop local radio stations.
Conduct smaller series of meetings following major meetings. Incorporate small groups as follow-up to evangelistic meetings.
Develop the spiritual health of members. Form groups for fellowship and friendship. Pray together in small groups.
Follow up on Bible studies from visitor cards and visitors. Foyer greeting.
KBLN TV – Better Life TV. Beams to 82 percent of Oregon. Promote it!
VBS - Vacation Bible School.
Adventist Youth meetings Sabbath afternoon.
Education — Supporting and Growing Our Schools
There is a waning of interest in our schools and education system. Spiritual experiences need to be shared with stories. Academics can follow as we see in Matthew 6:33.
Work has to be done to minimize church and school distances that have been on-going.
We need to engage the congregations and communicate what is going on at the school. Churches want to know what is going on rather than just a call for money.
Get the school involved in the community – join community groups, service days, local outreach and mission trips. Have our congregations get involved at the schools to create ownership.
We need to do a better job at marketing our schools. Better communication regarding what is going on at our schools. The financial impact means we need to market better.
Not a strong support for combining offering concepts into one large encompassing offering that would include two or more entities with Youth Education Fund.
The church needs more education on the funds for Christian education – what to say (have a script to read and share) etc. Information in the bulletin prior to the offering call. Identify specifics that people can relate to and use students to call for the offering. Create a one minute DVD to share at the time of the call. Have students take up the offering.
Kids don’t have the passion (sense of need) in their hearts for church school. Some churches offer kids assistance to church school and they aren’t interested. Parents aren’t committed to sending kids to church school.
Would a larger pool of youth at church/school draw more in?
It is important to keep our kids in our schools and keep them in the church. We need to instill in them the value of service to others. We need to say more about the good things going on at school.
There is declining attendance at Sabbath school. Does this correlate to a decline in school attendance?
Relationship is KEY! Knowing people by name is important. Adults have lost their connection to the youth and don’t greet kids by name, etc. One of our churches has a member who specifically engages/invites youth to participate in church. The church needs to involve the youth more. Empower the youth to minister at church.
The Church is losing its mission to take the gospel to the world. The only denominations growing in the U.S. are Latter-day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists.
There is a need to keep our kids in school and the church. Youth Rush program empowers kids.
North American society is backwards. They have knowledge but not wisdom. African and Central/ South America have it right.
How do we market to youth and young families? Some factors: economy has driven families out of the area, church schools are too expensive, many see church school as a luxury and not a necessity. Consider marketing through booths at city/county fairs.
Upper Columbia Academy has capital improvements taking place, shows something is happening. We have members going up to UCA to work as volunteers. We would go to Milo or others schools here at home but we haven’t been invited.
What can we do as a church to help our schools? Create and develop a sense of positivity. Share positive experiences. Talk it up.
What can we do to work on financial assistance for students? Get youth involved in fund raising. Be a presence and spread the blessings. Let churches know what’s happening in our schools.
Develop an intentional growth plan.
How can we consider Christian education more than just an option? Follow Matthew 6:33. Present church programs to build interest in schools and academy. Visit other Christian churches and schools. Create summer outreach by schools. Set a goal for each student to find one more. You don’t have to be a ‘cool’ school, you can be something more.
We need to present the Youth Educational Subsidy and Youth Education Fund more clearly to the churches. Have students present the needs.
How do you get your church involved with Christian education? Establish an educational prayer director and bring a report every two weeks to the churches about the answers to prayer and requests on Sabbath morning.
Have youth do a prayer and praise part of the Sabbath service, short like a praise singing team. Have the youth call for the offering with real interest and passion. Use slides to show stats and the needs at our schools. Get appeal going before church time by emails, in the previous church bulletins and other reminders.
Invite a non-Adventist family to share what a blessing our schools are to the community.
Encourage the young people to reach higher – others will respect and listen to their testimony.
Door-to-door contacts with small brochures. Hold an education series in the community. Have non-Adventist families help present the school.
Add a postcard or information sheet to the literature being distributed by the Magabooks focus about Christian education.
Start recruitment and focus on young church families.
Have students make ‘business cards’ for kids to share and spread the word. VistaPrint online. 500 cards are very inexpensive.
Have the youth tell stories at church with a direct focus on school and what they are doing about the mission of the church.
How can we thank our churches for the help already given? Have school kids provide church service or a special presentation. Have a conference-wide educational Sabbath. Have adults become student mentors. Speak up and share our ministry to the community.
Stronger communication with the church is needed.
Invite the pastor to see your school.
Lift up the standard. Too much bad news.
Too much money is going outside of our conference–more needs to go to schools.
Stewardship: Supporting the Vision
Adding a stewardship leader at the Conference level was not the answer.
Stewardship resources sent to the churches from the Conference level would be very helpful.
Stewardship education needs to be handled locally by the pastor and other lay leaders and it needs to be done regularly (not a once a year, hit or miss). It needs to be intentional. From sermons to pamphlets, to PowerPoint slides, to short, but educational calls for offering. It needs to be done weekly with different formats and methods.
Regularly thank people for their faithfulness. It draws attention to and helps the members understand the importance of regular systematic giving. Steer our people away from emotional giving.
Emphasize that tithe is the Lord’s. Create trust in God to provide for all your needs, not your wants. Educate people on the “test me” of Malachi chapter 3.
Conference resources for local church: The PowerPoint slides would be welcomed. Short 2-3 minute testimonies on the blessings of giving (like a mission spotlight on stewardship). Stewardship stories should be age, gender and culture inclusive. Everything should be put on our web site to be easily accessed by our local churches. Look at retired pastors and others to be regionally available for stewardship sermons/education. Maybe the Conference can assist with their mileage.
Provide Conference material on the 'use of tithes and offerings'.
We need to emphasize offerings as well as tithe. Tithe and offering ratios are deteriorating. Educate people not to always restrict local fund, for one project or another. Utilities and other local expenses need to be paid. Explain how the local budget operates. Be transparent. Build trust in the local church leadership and the Conference too.
How do we develop ownership with people to assist in financing the local and worldwide church? As people become engaged in church and in minis try buy-in occurs. Somehow, in a confidential and sensitive way, report to the church the percentage of the congregation involved in regular systematic giving, but avoid any specific individuals.
People must understand being accountable to God. If people are not faithful in the giving of tithe and offerings it is a spiritual problem, not a money problem. The church needs to provide support.
Develop all possible methods of giving. Online giving is well liked. Look into automatic withdrawals and other methods.
Local churches should look into Dave Ramsey and other programs. If people aren’t loaded with debt they will have more to give. Teach people about family budgets and responsible personal finance. Put emphasis on financing out reach; giving for others takes the focus off of self/selfishness.
We should be marketing the trust department of the Conference better; what services are available. People need to know how they can provide for the Lord’s work after death. Work on developing endowments or increasing existing ones. Create foundations and annuities.
Continue a strong outreach program. Use traditional and non-traditional forms of evangelism. Think outside the box.
All the aforementioned can and will be productive if guided by the Holy Spirit and immersed in prayer.
As you can see, there were many ideas shared -- ideas which show the creativity, vision and passion of the members in our conference. To those who attended, thank you. To each of our members in ministry, God’s richest blessings as you take these and other ideas and allow the Holy Spirit to inspire and empower you to complete the great commission in our corner of the world.