One day a pastor had the unenviable duty of visiting a member of his church who was on his deathbed in the hospital. The pastor faced the difficult task of informing the patient that he had only hours to live. When he entered the room, he said very gently that he had two things to tell him—one good and one bad. The patient asked to hear the good news first and then the bad. The pastor said, “The good news, my dear brother, is that one day you are going to sing in the heavenly choir. The bad news is that choir practice is today.”
Today, I also have two things to tell you—one good and one bad. The good news is that “Tell the World” will continue to be the official General Conference theme for this quinquennium. During the next five years, we hope there will be an unprecedented involvement of the entire church in the proclamation of the Gospel. The ultimate goal is to provide every person on earth with the chance to know Jesus Christ so that we may have a better harvest than ever before. Isn’t that good news?
The bad news is that if Christ doesn’t come during this generation, 80 percent of our church members may die without ever having the privilege of leading a soul to Christ. How sad! Although our church is growing rapidly, this growth is the result of the endeavors of only 20 percent of our members. What would happen if in this year alone more members were trained, equipped, and empowered in the church’s missionary programs? The harvest would certainly grow larger.
Our challenge is to involve the uninvolved to reach the unreached. This means we need pastors and elders who, more than ever, are mobilizing and equipping church members to be involved in church mission. The emphasis is not the number of baptisms but increased member involvement and participation. However, this does not mean that church leaders must carry a heavier workload; rather, we want to see church members—all church members—in action, not just the pastors and elders fighting on the front lines.
Elder Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the General Conference, is emphasizing a strategy called “integrated evangelism.” In this strategy, not only will church leaders and members be challenged to get involved; each department, institution, and church ministry will be urged to commit to the proclamation of the Gospel. Each department has its own specific activities and areas of responsibility, so the departments will not be integrated; however, each department and institution needs to be committed to the fulfillment of the mission. The slogan to motivate us in this endeavor is still “Tell the World.” Every program that the church creates—”Hope Impact,” “Share the Hope,” “Year of Evangelism,” and others in various geographical areas, are strategies to motivate, train, and involve the church in the “integrated evangelism” program.
Several goals have been set for this quinquennium. The first goal, “Reach Up,” aims to motivate people to grow spiritually through Bible study, prayer, and the reading of the Spirit of Prophecy, resulting in revival and reformation. The second, “Reach Out,” challenges members to be more involved in the mission of the church, creating community projects and increasing the number of nonmembers attending our churches each week. The last area, “Reach Across,” challenges church members to improve member retention and increase the percentage of young people involved in the work of the church.
We are calling everyone to get involved. Each local church leader can be an instrument of God by supporting and motivating his or her congregation in this mission strategy. Personally, I pray that God may use me in a special way to tell of His love to those who still do not know Him. Won’t you join me in this prayer? With God’s help, the next five years will be exciting years for our church!
Jonas Arrais General Conference Associate Ministerial Secretary