Reaching Non Seventh-day Adventists

There is no doubt that as Seventh-day Adventists we know much about doctrines. In fact, some of us can explain them and defend them if necessary. Unfortunately, some of us use this knowledge to lambaste others who do not think or worship the way we do. If that was not enough we do so feeling it is God's will of reaching non-Seventh-day Adventists. After all, to do otherwise would be to water down or sugar coat God's more direct way of reaching others. Is that really so? Undeniably there are times when our approach of reaching others should be direct, but make certain that God is directing. However, the current Adult Sabbath School lesson teaches us that there is a method or sequence of sharing the doctrines, and therefore my article this week.

Relationship Is Crucial
Consider the following quotation by Ellen White. To me it makes a salient point. Ellen White explains, "Not just preaching but relationship that saves or retains people." Additionally, she points out, "It is not only by preaching the truth, not only by distributing literature, that we are to witness for God. . . . Not all the books written can serve the purpose of a holy life. Men will believe, not what the minister preaches, but what the church lives. Too often the influence of the sermon preached from the pulpit is counteracted by the sermon preached in the lives of those who claim to be advocates of truth." (9T 21.1)
In a familiar quote, it is said that Christ mingled with people. Essentially, people are not interested in how much we know. Instead, they are interested in knowing how much we care about and for them. Thereby we will win the confidence of people only when we demonstrate this genuine concern. That comes by mingling among people, for the most part, outside of the church. How many of us have friends outside the church? How many of us see it as our responsibility to make friends and mingle with non-Adventists?

Presenting the Truth Sequentially

It is equally important that we reach people where they are, but how often do we? Have you noticed that for the first time seeing a new prospect, even before getting to know him or her, some among us are inclined to present "testing truths" such as the seventh-day Sabbath or unclean foods? These advanced teachings may require one to make significant changes or lifestyle adjustments. Also, if there is a failure to present Christ and His love for sinners, people are greatly challenged, confused and may resent Adventists and their teachings. Sequence, timing and tact are all important, but the guidance of the Holy Spirit is extremely important.

Retention or Follow Up
At times we are motivated (myself included) to lead a person to the point of baptism and overlook that there is more to growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. This requires nurture, patience and endurance. Newly baptized persons, for the most part, are new babes needing understanding and befriending. This puts much pressure on the pastor and elders when only a few members regard this nurturing seriously. Such demands are placed upon so few, and the possibility of letting go is real.