Bernadine Delafield, she is the project coordinator at Adventist Communication Network.

October 18-November 17, 2002

Are NETS still effective?

NET events have been one of the highs of evangelism since 1995 when Mark Finley was asked to hold the first evangelistic series to be up linked via satellite. The highly technical approach to evangelism, which remains unique to Adventism today, revolutionized the way in which the Adventist Church could reach the world with the gospel.

Satellite evangelism works for the global church because it is a strategically sound way to fulfill the gospel commission through one major effort and without excessive expense at every participating site.

Glenn Aufderhar, NET 2002 coordinator, noted that, "Technology is not the power in the NETs. The power lies in a large percentage of churches doing the same thing at the same time." Surveys show that the number of participating sites grew with the NETs.

NET '95 ......... 676 sites
NET'96....... 1,700 sites
NET'98. ...... 1,985 sites

Strategically, it looks like the thing to do, but does it work?

Robert Tomlin, assistant to the president for church ministries, Southeastern California Conference says: "Conference records show a direct correlation between satellite evangelism and church growth." But, he adds, "The value is not just in baptisms. NET '98 did so much for our young people. Students packed the University Church."

Does the concept work at the grass roots level?

Not every church finds the NETs to be effective, depending on the skill levels of the members and the attitude of the local community. And not every pastor feels called as an evangelist. Many pastors are relieved that there is such an exciting resource available to them. Church boards, particularly those with smaller congregations, find it difficult to put together an ample budget for evangelism, and their people resources are limited.

Multichurch pastors are grateful to turn sermon preparation and presentation over to seasoned evangelists

Especially before the first NET event, many Adventists were concerned that guests would not be interested in attending meetings projected on a big screen. A survey performed after NET '95 showed that of the 23,000 non-members attending, only 105 (or about one half of one percent) expressed negative comments about the method.

Some pastors wondered if the TV evangelist's appeals would seem real and personal to those watching. The same survey showed that three out of four pastors reported that the response to Mark Finley's appeals met or exceeded their expectations.

Participating pastors were asked after NET '95, "Does satellite evangelism work for you?" Ninety-seven percent of them responded that it was either an "excellent" or a "useful" evangelistic tool.

The Church in Canada casts the NET

Though the method may not be perfect, NET events have had an astounding track record. More than 300,000 have come to know the Lord via satellite and now the Adventist Church has nearly twelve million members, due in part to global evangelistic efforts in recent years.

In the fall of 2002, NET evangelism returns, this time from Canada. There's an air of excitement in the Canadian Union as members attend Re-igniting the Flame workshops to prepare and equip themselves for successful evangelism.

Young adult to test the waters

Adventist Communication Network (ACN) will uplink the series live from Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the prestigious Dalhousie University Student Union. Shawn Boonstra, a young, energetic and gifted speaker for It Is Written Canada, has been chosen to partner with Henry Feyerabend, an experienced evangelist and speaker also of It Is Written Canada.

"It's a special privilege for me to accept this invitation for it was at an It Is Written meeting that I met the Lord and felt called to devote my life to the ministry of evangelism," Shawn explains.

Shawn Boonstra grew up in a conservative Christian home anchored in the Dutch Reformed faith. His political aspirations to become the prime minister of Canada got derailed when he attended the It Is Written series.

Now as a young adult, Pastor Boonstra is inspiring people across North America with the prophetic gospel. As he preaches, listeners find themselves understanding more about the Bible in a few nights than some people learn in a lifetime. He's been likened to a twenty-first century HMS Richards Sr. in that he can seldom pass a bookstore without going in. Boonstra uses his voracious reading to enrich his Bible-based preaching.

"Revelation Speaks Peace will be much like any fullmessage series," assures Feyerabend. The twenty-one meetings will be every night except Monday and Thursday with one exception-Monday, October 21. In addition, a Sabbath morning, November 16 meeting will give many people their first opportunity to worship on the Bible Sabbath. All meetings can be downlinked by ACN sites that are properly equipped to receive it.

New approach to NET casting

"We're suggesting a whole new approach to NET evangelism in 2002,"says Kermit Netteburg, assistant to the president of the North American Division. "It will allow congregations the freedom to create the evangelistic meeting and follow-up that best fits them."

According to Brad Thorp, director of Adventist Television Network (ATN), "Satellite evangelism is moving in a new direction. Unions and conferences are using it to conduct efforts that focus on a particular approach appropriate for their region." Thorp cites Romania as an example. Recently more than 25,000 people attended meetings live each evening.

Boonstra and Feyerabend have conducted several highly successful evangelistic efforts that have spanned generational and cultural diversity. More than 300,000 viewed a series live in Brazil, where leaders have identified it as one of the most successful satellite events ever.

Don Schneider, president of the North American Division, urges churches to begin planning. "The Lord wants to bless your efforts," reminds Schneider. "Since Revelation Speaks Peace begins just after the first anniversary of September 11, people will still be thinking seriously about their spiritual relationship with God. It's a perfect opportunity to meet people's needs. Let's be prepared."

Written by Bernadine Delafield, she is the project coordinator at Adventist Communication Network.

Bernadine Delafield, she is the project coordinator at Adventist Communication Network.