Karen Pires and her husband are musicians and Bible workers who travel with evangelist John Earnhardt, holding meetings in the Southern Union. This article was inspired by a question Karen received during the last meetings.

The evangelistic meetings had gone well. Usually there were more visitors than members attending. In the end, there were six wonderful baptisms and one happy profession of faith!

The pastor arranged follow-up meetings to meet three times each week. At the first meeting one member, one new member, and one non-member showed up to meet the pastor. At the next meeting, one member, one new member, and one non-member attended. After two or three meetings like this, the non-member asked, “Where have all the Adventists gone? On Sabbath I didn’t see them in Sabbath School. Do they have another class in another room that they are attending?

How would your church answer that question? Do you have more members or more non-members each week? Why? What can you do about it?


In preparing for evangelism, there are some basic things that a church can do to make the meetings more beneficial. First and most importantly, pray. Pray alone, pray in groups, pray at church, pray when you are alone in the car, pray when you are walking, and pray when you are working. The Bible says to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Talk with Him as you would to your closest friend.

When you are alone, pray for your family, church members, friends, neighbors, and community leaders by name. Pray for specifics for each of them. Pray for your pastoral family that they will have the strength and firmness of character to be strong leaders for God. 

Prayer walking

I enjoy walking in nature and praying. I feel closer to God without the earthly distractions that may be in the house. Early in the morning, there is peace in being outside and hearing the birds. It is wonderful to look heavenward and think of the greatness of my Savior.

One prayer walk that I was involved with was done inside the church. As a group, we walk to different areas of the sanctuary, praying for the activities done there and the people that did them. The group leader would pray first and then others would pray before moving to the next area. Sabbath School areas need prayer for the students and teachers in each class. The church office is another place that needs prayer. 

Your church may decide that this is a way to grow together. You can designate one or more Sabbath afternoons each month for a neighborhood prayer walk around your church neighborhood. As you walk, pray for the people in each house, the needs you feel they might have, and ask that they might grow spiritually and become closer to God.

Sometimes sentence prayers give everyone in the group a chance to pray. This can be meaningful to those who are shy and who feel uncomfortable praying a complete prayer in public.

Prayer meeting

Prayer meetings are wonderful times to begin evangelistic meetings. Invite church members and non-members. Make these meetings joyful, learning times for rejoicing in God and sharing His love with the world. Prayer meetings provide opportunities to pray together, study the Bible in depth, and learn how to put God’s Word to work in our lives.

Start a children’s prayer meeting. With the right leadership, you may be able to get the children and youth to lead out. One child could be the song leader, another have read a scripture verse. Someone could be the prayer leader and choose who will be the leader for each of the prayer circles each month. One child could be responsible for bringing a prayer story to share. Children like and need to be involved. This is their place to learn. Make it exciting and enjoyable.

Sabbath School

Make Sabbath School an exciting time that members and non-members would enjoy attending. Use interesting, up-todate materials. Vary the program. Try not to just get up and read something. Illustrate it. Tell it. Be excited about it! This will take some planning and thought, but it will be well worth the time. 

The Children’s Sabbath School should be age-appropriate. Use interesting, hands on, up-to-date materials. Make it lively! Choose a theme for the quarter and decorate your room in that theme. Have contests, continued stories, Bible drills, and rewards for learning memory verses or bringing friends. Let the children take turns reading Bible verses. They may be slow at first, but they are reading their Bibles and becoming future leaders in the church. And pray for each of them!

Outreach ministries

Plan activities that will include everyone: the lonely, depressed, poor, rich, new, old, popular, and unpopular. Organize your church for outreach ministries. Each ministry needs a leader. While not everyone will belong to the same ministry, each should have the opportunity to join as many as possible. 

Singing bands

A young person may be able to organize a singing band for a local nursing home or hospital. He or she can learn to lead a group and plan the program: song service, Bible reading, special music, story, and prayer. Then have the participants shake hands with the patients.

Another young person could organize members and youth to visit shut-ins, taking them the church bulletin and singing and praying with them. Keep these groups small.

Bible studies

Bible studies can be given by all ages. By the times I was six years old, I knew how to operate a projector and would take it and some Bible film strips to give Bible studies to our neighbors. Then I would give them a Bible study sheet to fill out for the next week. Today most children by age four could take a VHS tape or DVD to the neighbors, have prayer and put the tape or DVD into the player and watch it with them. Then they could give the neighbors a Bible study sheet to fill out. Most pastors would be glad to grade the sheets for a young person. A person of grade school or academy age and older can take lessons to a person’s house and fill them out with the person.

Note writing

Call and write notes to members, nonmembers, and visitors. This can be done by anyone, but it may appeal to an older person who cannot get out or a young person who is still at home. The notes need to be encouraging in nature and may include a Bible verse. Birthday and anniversary notes also show that a person is cared for.

Community surveys

One way to get community interest is with surveys. The purpose is to get acquainted with people and possibly get them to take Bible studies. Some questions you might put on your survey:

Are you a Christian?

Does the Bible really mean what it says?

How many of the Ten Commandments are important?

What happens when you die?

If interest is shown, you can offer them some Bible lessons, invite them to a cooking school, or whatever outreach your church has coming planned in the near future.

Stop-smoking clinics

Many people today want to quit smoking but don’t feel they have the courage or ability to do so alone. A well-led class can be a blessing to many people. Advertise it in newspapers, hospitals, and doctor’s offices. Do follow-up on these people for several months. Call them, invite them to your home, and become their friend.

Cooking classes

Most women would welcome a chance to learn something new about cooking. Provide nutritional information as well as new recipes. Teach them how to cook balanced meals that look attractive. Provide an opportunity for them to make some of the dishes themselves and also to taste new dishes. Tie in some of the health benefits related to healthful living.

Food baskets

Many church youth collect cans of food and then pass them out as food baskets during Thanksgiving or Christmas. But why not make it happen year ‘round? Put a nicely decorated basket in the foyer of the church and ask members to bring food each week to put in the basket. As soon as you get enough, find a family that can use it. If you need names of needy families, contact the human services or police departments in your town.


Make your church visible. Even if it is on an unused country road, people will still drive by it. Make sure that you have neat signs directing people to the church. These should include the times of your services.

Check your local paper, telephone book and hotels to see if they have an area for church advertising/information. I have been in some areas where I knew there was an SDA church, but it wasn’t listed in the directory at the hotel where we were staying. 

Space has been made available on the Web for each church to have its own Web site. Even if you don’t know someone knowledgeable about the Web, check into it through your local conference or through AdventSource.

When you have an upcoming program of interest, try hand-delivering announcements to the local community. Many times a hand-delivered notice will be read sooner than a mailed one. Ask for permission to display notices in local store windows. Check out advertising on TV and radio.

Make sure your church is clean on the inside and outside. First impressions are very important! Paint, replace, or repair whatever needs attention. Spruce up the lawns and shrubbery. Show that you are proud of your church!

Work together

These plans will work best as the church learns to work together. Don’t gossip or cast doubts on someone else’s plans. 

If your church has actively been involved in several of these ideas and made them a part of the church structure, you will be much more in tune with evangelistic meetings being held in your area. You will already have a community that knows who you are and people who see you as friends. You will have someone to invite to the meetings.


I would like to have been able to answer the non-member by saying that the Adventists were out in the community bringing friends in to Sabbath School and church. It would have been wonderful to have all the Adventists joining in the meetings and helping the new members and visitors feel comfortable and included in the family of God.

God has given us much to do. Let’s let others see our love for Him by our actions.

Karen Pires and her husband are musicians and Bible workers who travel with evangelist John Earnhardt, holding meetings in the Southern Union. This article was inspired by a question Karen received during the last meetings.