Sarah K. Asaftei is assistant director of the Centre for Secular and Postmodern Studies for the Office of Adventist Mission at the Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters.


Does it sound familiar? Although society shifts and changes through each generation and from culture to culture, the basic principles of biblical evangelism haven’t changed since Jesus lived on earth.

While some Christians invest immeasurable time and energy in creating new ways to evangelize, we often need to return to those concepts Jesus gave long ago–get connected with people, share what God has done for you, and make disciples. It’s what He did while He was here.

There are many missionaries working cross-culturally around the globe, tirelessly attempting to contextualize the gospel message into local vocabulary and culture. But in more developed countries it’s often easy to forget just how many unchurched are in our own communities. 

According to a recent study by George Barna1 , the United States now boasts 100 million unchurched. That’s one in three of the adult population. In the United Kingdom, only about 13% regularly attend church.2 In Australia the figure is even more staggering: 92.5% are unchurched.3

Our current evangelism strategy can benefit from a renewed focus on the unchurched western population. Just as we create tailored mission resources for other vast unreached people groups, such as Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims, we need resources to reach the unchurched in our own backyard.

In the past the Adventist Church has mainly focused on providing Bible study courses for individuals who have an established relationship with Christ and are ready to study Scripture for doctrinal orthodoxy. But there is a need for resources to pique the interest of the unchurched, those who are not overtly classified under a regular “mission field.”

When a new believer is baptized into membership there is a need for nurture, support, accountability, and equipment for service as they begin a lifetime of growth into Christian maturity. Where can pastors obtain authentic resources for contextualized evangelism and discipleship within the unchurched postmodern context?

The Centre for Secular and Postmodern Studies (CSPS) at the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission is working to provide discipleship pathways and other evangelistic supplements. CSPS is directed by Dr. Miroslav Pujic, who worked in ministry to postmoderns for more than five years and developed the LIFEdevelopment discipleship pathway. 

CSPS researches postmodern culture and works to create resources based on Christ’s biblical methods of outreach. Consequently, the materials offered through CSPS focus on the full spectrum of evangelism, not just the Bible study segment. Instead, they start with creating video clips and sharing magazines, encouraging daily mingling with neighbors and friends, and Internet outreach–building social capital in the local community. Using discipleship principles, pastors and lay members are encouraged to begin small groups and Bible studies and then to continue actively training and equipping new believers

In addition to research of postmodern culture and the development of fresh and relevant resources, CSPS provides regular international reframe events, weekends of training for pastors and lay members on how to understand and connect with the unchurched in their communities. These weekends, presented by the CSPS director Dr. Miroslav Pujic, facilitate a deeper comprehension of the underlying patterns of contemporary culture through dynamic and engaging activities.

“This reframe weekend was the Rubicon in my ministry,” says Pastor Sam Chetty from Seattle, Washington. “I am hooked on this! It is absolutely relevant.”

“Postmoderns are a distinct people group, just like any other mission field,” says Pujic, “requiring the same purposeful research and contextualization as people groups in distant lands.”

One of the main evangelistic resources provided by CSPS is the LIFEdevelopment discipleship pathway. LIFEdevelopment or LD focuses on reaching out through three aspects of evangelism: friendship, process, and nurture. It uses a multi-sensory approach including personal testimony, DVD, books, magazines, and interactive small groups.

The LD concepts of community, active involvement, and authentic relationship are also especially appealing to young Adventists. “I’ve tried to share Jesus with people of a postmodern mindset before, and it has been frustrating not knowing how to approach them,” said Carlos Cirilo, theology major at Southern Adventist University. “I can’t wait to learn more about how to apply LD principles in my own ministry as a young pastor.”

“Without paying close attention, we may take cultural shifts for granted,” says Pujic, “and miss golden opportunities. Sometimes we need to adapt what we’ve learned about discipleship in the past to meet the needs of the present without altering our foundation in biblical truth.”

LD is an evangelistic update for a specific culture group. It doesn’t throw out what’s tried and true but builds on what we already know while encouraging us to return to our biblical evangelistic roots. Built around the concepts of getting connected with people (friendships), walking together in a journey of sharing (process), and encouraging the postmoderns in their newfound belief and faith (nurture), LD helps you understand how to relate to secular people in a biblical way.

The LD model was initially implemented in 2002 in the United Kingdom, and has since spread globally to include events in Denmark, Norway, Japan, Korea, Australia, Canada, Slovenia, Serbia, and the United States. LD materials are available to pastors and lay members throughout the world church through the CSPS office. 

CSPS also seeks to link practitioners and scholars together in a global network. You can browse links to churches and ministries on their website. Or search “Centre for Secular & Postmodern Studies” to find the CSPS group on and dialogue with others around the world. You can subscribe online for reframe (the CSPS newsletter), to read news, share ministry tips, and enjoy profiles of men and women active in relevant ministry.

While culture continues to change and shift around us, we have tremendous opportunities to get connected with the unreached. In His ministry on earth, Jesus befriended people, met their needs, and only after they had a relationship of trust did He urge them to follow Him. “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, Follow Me.”4

Has your evangelism outreach integrated this essential component? LIFEdevelopment training and materials will help you and your congregation develop purposeful friendships with the unchurched.

1 The Barna Group =BarnaUpdateNarrow&BarnaUpdateID=267
2 European Social Survey
4 Ellen G. White, Ministry of Healing, page 143

Sarah K. Asaftei is assistant director of the Centre for Secular and Postmodern Studies for the Office of Adventist Mission at the Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters.

The Office of Adventist Mission operates five Global Mission Study Centers in key locations around the world, including the Centre for Secular and Postmodern Studies. Under the direction of Dr. Ganoune Diop, their purpose is to build bridges of understanding with people from major world religions and philosophies. Drawing from years of research and experimentation, the Study Centers equip church members and leadership with more effective means for sharing the everlasting gospel with people from different world views. To learn more about the Study Centers,