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General Conference

How to Help Someone Who Has Returned to Church

Adventist Church initiatives encourage welcoming friends who no longer attend

Brazil | Mauren Fernandes

Figures recently collected by the secretariat of the Adventist Church in South America revealed a reality regarding membership attrition after baptism. The data led the denomination to act formally in order to reduce this situation.

Reencounter Integrated Evangelism was born out of the church's need to seek out those friends who, for some reason, left the Adventist faith. In addition to approaching those who left the community, the project's objective is also to encourage members to provide genuine care for these “re-converts”.

The project, which actually takes place in local churches, has three stages and starts with preparation. To begin with, the group or church secretariat updates the membership list, identifying the people who are no longer regularly attending services and need to be reconnected.

“From that point on, the names are strategically distributed among all members, who decide whether they will reconnect through a visit, call, message, or even an invitation to join a small group”, explains Pastor Joni Oliveira, secretary assistant for the church in eight countries in South America. Still in the first stage, an intercessory prayer movement takes place in favor of the people who will be contacted.

In the execution stage, evangelism takes place in the churches, with special services that can take place over a week, three days, or whatever is best for the local situation. A special week is also broadcast on Novo Tempo television and radio and all official Adventist Church channels on the internet, with special sermons, songs, and testimonies (see details about this programming throughout this content).

To finalize the execution of the project, a celebration takes place at the local church, bringing together the Ministry of Reception, Sabbath School, Youth Ministry, and Women's Ministry, among other fronts. The aim is to provide a welcoming atmosphere on this special day.

The last step of Reencounter Integrated Evangelism is to involve the rescued members in discipleship. “After the return of these dear friends, the best way to keep them among us is to involve them in the mission, working on church projects”, explains Oliveira.

Special Week

One of the strategies of RIE is to hold a special week, which involves the Evangelism, Communication, and Secretariat ministries of the Adventist Church in South America. This year, for example, Pastor Josanan Alves, director of Stewardship Ministry for the Adventist Church in South America, will speak for seven days bringing messages and real stories with the theme “Restored”, on TV Novo Tempo and all official channels of the denomination on social media.

"Often, Novo Tempo is the return door in the lives of those who left and who don't have the courage or don't want to go to church anymore, but are willing to attend a service [on] Novo Tempo in their own home", adds Oliveira. To watch the programs that have already aired and the ones to come, visit ntplay.com

Reception in Practice

Know how to act practically when welcoming someone who has been away from the church.

Be consistent. According to Oliveira, even before going to meet someone who is absent from the religious community, it is necessary to live a coherent Christian life. “These people want to find a church that is consistent in its spiritual life and practical faith”, he points out.

Welcome the person with love. Perhaps the prior days of the life of this friend who has just returned were not easy. Therefore, this is the time to welcome him or her without judgment, just listening to one’s pains and achievements and offering affection and love. How about booking a lunch and inviting this person? or exercising with this person? Take the opportunity to create real connections.

Make it useful. A good way to help converts is to make them feel useful. How about inviting them to participate in the Pathfinder club or at the Ministry of Reception, for example? or in the worship ministry? Find out what their gifts and talents are and provide opportunities for them to put them into practice.

Encourage him or her to study the Bible. Even after the “new yes”, it is necessary to continue studying the Bible. Therefore, invite that person to join your small group or Sabbath School class. Biblical knowledge always needs to be revisited.

Make him or her a disciple. This entire process will make sense when that person is able to help another person who will also return to the church. Pastor Joni Roger concludes that this is the essence of discipleship: "Bring close to me who I want to be close to Jesus, and help him/her do the same for someone else."

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s Portuguese news site