Imagine that the New Jerusalem is coming down from heaven at the end of the millennium. Now picture yourself there. You’ve made it! Although you experienced so many struggles and temptations while on earth, you managed to keep your eyes on Jesus. You know you’re only there because of Him, so once again you look at your King and Savior. His majestic and kind appearance moves you to tears. You can hardly believe that 1,000 years have passed since the first time you saw Him.
Then something disturbing happens. You notice that the dead who have rejected salvation are coming back to life. They still carry the signs and consequences of their previous diseases. Although they look like zombies, they are still conscious. As you contemplate the vast numbers assembled, your gaze focuses on someone you recognize. Perhaps it’s a family member, a neighbor, or a co-worker. Whom have you known and cared about who has never made a decision for Jesus? Say his or her name.
The city lands on the Mount of Olives, and Jesus is crowned in full view of everyone. The sight is magnificent. Then the books are opened, and God pronounces judgment on those who have chosen evil—they realize this is their final day. Everyone then watches Jesus’ life story being projected in the sky. You see His life and suffering to save humanity.
The person you recognized before is still there. His or her eyes meet yours, and you know they remember you, too. Your friend’s face changes from anger to sadness, and you know exactly what he or she is thinking: “If you knew this was going to happen, why didn’t you do more to help me?” The thought overwhelms you, and you begin to cry for the loss of those you’ve loved (Rev. 21:4). But a deeper cry comes for all the things you could have done to help more people choose. So you say to yourself: “If I could go back in time, I would do everything in my power to help the people I love to choose Jesus.”
So, here is the good news: there is time, and you can still help others meet Jesus! This is what Total Member Involvement is all about.
Over 100,000 people became disciples of Jesus in Rwanda this year. Months before the event, every Seventh-day Adventist in that country knew very well that if they didn’t immerse themselves in mission, people might perish. The General Conference is planning to have a similar outreach in Romania as we depend on God to lead us there also.
However, Total Member Involvement is not only a project, it is not simply an initiative, it is not a campaign, and it certainly isn’t a series of events. Total Member Involvement is a call to action. Your part of the world may have different names to explain it, such as “Evangelism, Everyone, Everywhere” in the South England Conference or “Lord, Transform Me” in the Inter-American Division. Regardless of what name your local project has been given, the Total Member Involvement call to action is still the same: every Seventh-day Adventist deeply engaged in mission. The mandate has come from Jesus Himself and, as the final messengers of hope, every one of us must get involved. In fact, Ellen G. White says: “The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their effort with those of ministers and church officers.”1
THE TWO PARTS OF CHRIST’S METHOD
As a leader in your congregation, your focus must be to create an environment where Christ’s method is a reality. “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.’”2
There are two parts to Christ’s method. The first involves compassion. We are called to care deeply about people and their lives right here, right now, in the old earth. The second involves proclamation. We are called to challenge people to choose Jesus because we care deeply about their lives in the earth made new. If we choose only one of these parts, we will never have true success.
Many Seventh-day Adventists prefer only one of these methods. Some prefer to focus only on compassion and seldom move to challenge people to full discipleship. It’s understandable because it is a scary process; people might reject them completely. However, we don’t have an option. Jesus proclaimed discipleship even when He knew they would reject Him (the young rich ruler, for example).
Many other Seventh-day Adventists prefer to focus only on proclamation without true compassion for those they challenge. It’s understandable because they don’t need to be vulnerable in the process. They are right, sinners are wrong—just tell them! And if they don’t choose Jesus, it demonstrates how hardened their hearts have become.
Just choosing one of these parts in detriment to the other is absolutely not Jesus’ method. As a leader in your local congregation, you have the divine calling to create an environment where the whole of Christ’s method is carried out. Total Member Involvement is your call to inspire every Seventh-day Adventist under your leadership to be involved in mission, to encourage members to use their gifts, talents, abilities, influence, and resources to fulfill both parts of Christ’s method in your community.
BECAUSE YOU CARE
From toddler clubs to food distribution, from counseling to small groups, from youth clubs to community activities, from free hugs to financial help—lead your congregation to experience compassion because you care for people right here on earth.
From leaflets to intelliPaper, from small groups to public meetings, from the Great Hope book to the “Tell the World” film, from sermon appeals to intimate dialogues—lead your congregation to proclaim the everlasting gospel because you care for people’s eternal life in heaven.
It is only through Total Member Involvement that we will “Reach the World” and fulfill our mission.
1 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, 9:116.
Samuel Neves is Associate Director of Communication at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists