Group Leaders Who Thrive and Multiply

There’s no doubt that the Bible gives us counsel on the need for groups. So why is it so hard to get them going or keep them going in a local congregation?

Recently I presented an interactive training on zoom and Facebook titled “Group Leaders Who Thrive and Multiply.” The training answers these questions…

  • What the Bible says about groups
  • Foundational Principles of groups
  • How and why to start groups for every reason under the sun!
  • Why leaders are the key to the success of groups
  • How to use the 4 connections to start groups quickly
  • How to “appoint” leaders of existing groups to give them balance and greater soul winning potential

This training is a brief introduction to the manual Group Leaders Who Thrive and Multiply.

If you’d like to hear the same material from a slightly different angle you can listen here or here.

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Evangelism Summit Opens Opportunities

On Monday, July 27, 2020 pastors from throughout the Texas and Southwest Region Conferences of the Seventh-day Adventist Church participated in an online Evangelism Summit hosted by the Texas and Southwest Regional Conferences, the Southwestern Union and Adventist World Radio. The fast-moving 60 minutes outlined opportunities for the next 18 months with special focus on this fall, including small groups, online reaping opportunities and potential baptism dates. Check with your pastor for more information.

Here are some of the highlights from the meeting.

  1. Digital Missionaries. All of our members, especially young people, can be digital missionaries using social media for God. Encourage sign ups at https://connect.adventist.org/adventistdigital.  
  2. Four Things to Remember. Baptism Dates. Group Leaders. Reaping Opportunities. Harvest Cycles.
    1. Baptism Dates. If a church hasn’t had a baptism in the past three months they are encouraged to see if they can have one August 29, then every month or two after that. Plan for baptisms even if you don’t know where they are coming from. Jesus said the harvest is great so we must approach ministry with that God-given expectation and go in search of those who are searching.
    2. Group Leaders. These are the new heroes in our churches. Each church needs to identify them and empower them. They will help minister to the church family and win new souls. We expect LOTS of interests from reaping meetings this fall (see below) and need to have as many group leaders as possible ready to follow up immediately and invite interests into existing online groups. Through a special cooperative arrangement we hope to provide a zoom account to every group leader that can be used for ministry through September of 2021. Pastors are the ones to sign up their group leaders.
    3. Reaping Opportunities. We encourage all our groups to be involved with at least one reaping opportunity this fall.
      1. Cami Oetman, Unlocking Bible PropheciesOctober 4-17, 2020 (in 10 languages!).
      2. Max Harvest Options
      3. Spanish
        1. August 22 to 29 Virtual Reaping Crusade. Professor Ismael Castillo. Every day 7:30pm
        2. September 18-20 Virtual Reaping Weekend. Every day 7:30pm
        3. October 16-24 Virtual Caravan for Youth’s Small Groups. NAD Roger Hernandez
        4. October 16-18 Virtual Reaping Weekend. Every day 7:30pm
        5. November 22-29 Virtual Reaping Crusade. Every day 7:30pm
    4. Harvest Cycles. Looking longer range here are some general plans.
      1. Fall 2020. Groups and reaping event as indicated above.
      2. Spring 2021. Groups and Lay preaching online or in person using new ASI materials. Reaping – April 10-24, 2021.
      3. Fall 2021. Groups and in person preaching everywhere with special assistance for 100 meetings in DFW area and 100 more in Houston area. Reaping – September 24 – October 9, 2021.

These are challenging and exciting times. And the world needs to know more than ever that Jesus loves them and He’s coming soon. The Adventist message – the Three Angels’ Message of Revelation 14:6-12 – will go to every nation, tribe, language and people group before Jesus comes. And everyone who has heard and embraced it is invited to pass it on! Soon Jesus will return!

Posted in Harvest Cycles, Outreach, Pastoring, Preaching, Second Coming, Small Groups, Soul Winning, Why Not Try This...?, Youth Ministry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to Start a Movement of Soul Winning & Church Planting

What will it take to see a movement of soul winning and church planting across a conference? Here are some simple clues from a presentation at the 2019 eHuddle in San Diego, California.

https://www.adventistlearningcommunity.com/resources/14464

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My Three Great Grandpas and Ellen White

Reject, Revere, Or Respect?

By Dan Serns

How do you relate to the gift of prophecy? Jesus promised that His final church would have this gift[1] but that the devil would also provide false prophets.[2] The Bible tell us not to despise prophecy but on the other hand it tells us to test it with the Bible tests[3] and to hold on to what is good.[4] Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen White (1827-1915) was given the gift of prophecy.[5] There is danger in rejecting the gift and there is also danger in idolizing the one who received the gift rather than worshipping the One who gave the gift.

How do you relate to Ellen White’s life, ministry and writings? Three of my great grandfathers knew her personally and each one related to her in a different way.

Rejected her – Dr. Frank B. Moran[6]

Frank B. Moran was born in Iowa in 1866. While studying medicine at the University of Michigan he received treatments at Battle Creek Sanitarium and accepted the Adventist message. At the Sanitarium, he also met Adelaide Adams. Earlier in her life, a traveling Seventh-day Adventist evangelist had come to their Iowa town in 1882, hired her at age 15 to be his pianist and by the end of the meetings, she had accepted the Adventist message. A decade later her interest in the Adventist Health Message took her to Battle Creek, Michigan where she and Frank B. Moran met and were married in 1894.[7]

The young couple were soon in demand among Adventist church leaders looking for talented medical leaders. Elder W. C. White, Ellen White’s son, wrote Dr. Moran in March of 1897, “There is an excellent opening [for Adventist medical work] in several of the [Australian] Colonies… Queensland… Sydney… The main question is, Has the Lord called you to go to some of these needy mission fields, and are you ready to respond to his call?”[8]

A few months later another letter from W. C. White stated, “I have Mrs. Moran’s letter… telling me about… your appointment to the position in Rural Health Retreat [which soon became St. Helena Sanitarium]. I congratulate you on the appointment, and wish to express my sincere wish that you may have wisdom, grace and courage to meet the labors and the perplexities of the work…”[9]

By 1901 Dr. Moran was called to establish a sanitarium in Los Angeles, the third major Adventist sanitarium in the United States after Battle Creek and St. Helena. There were differences of opinion on how to proceed.[10] After counsel to not locate in Long Beach[11] or establish a large permanent work in Anaheim,[12] work was begun temporarily in downtown Los Angeles.

By March of 1902 Dr. Moran wrote glowingly to one of the board members of the group that oversaw Adventist medical work in California how “the [vegetarian] restaurant, city treatment rooms, etc. have already outgrown our space in the building which we now occupy.” He had made arrangements for the purchase of a three-story building in downtown Los Angeles. He wanted to open a Vegetarian Restaurant on the first floor, have his office and treatment rooms on the second floor and guest rooms on the third floor. He didn’t have adequate funding but expected church leaders to “sign some very large notes in the near future but the thing is absolutely safe” and “will never cost them a cent.”[13]

Ellen White and church leaders expressed serious concerns about putting a sanitarium on the edge of a rapidly growing city, as well as going into financial partnerships with those who were not fully committed to the Adventist message and mission.[14] She wrote “In attempting to advance the interests of the sanitarium in Los Angeles, Dr. Moran has recently made unwise movements. He has moved in accordance with his own judgment and the judgment of his immediate friends. But this hasty movement on his part is to be carefully considered, lest others should follow his example.”[15] In spite of the counsel, Moran pressed ahead with his plans. As money grew tight he justified opening his restaurant on Sabbath. Ellen White counseled him on both his financial presumption and on his Sabbath rationalization.[16] He was angry that a woman would try to tell him, a doctor and businessman, what to do.

When the business venture failed Moran blamed Ellen White and the Adventist church leaders. He left Los Angeles a bitter and discouraged man. In time, he settled with his wife and infant son in the Dallas, Texas area where he opened a Doctor’s Office.

Adelaide Adams Moran as Preceptress (Dean of Women) for what is now Southwestern Adventist University. Original photo on wall of Pechero Hall.

Over the next twenty years he became harder to live with so his still deeply committed wife found safety and refuge as Dean of Women on the campus of what is now Southwestern Adventist University where their son had gone to study.

Still practicing medicine at age of 80, Frank bought a 55-acre farm out in the country where he lived, walking a mile each way daily to catch the bus to and from his medical practice. Till the end, he let his pride keep him from admitting he might be wrong.

Fortunately, his son, Elder Frank A. Moran, accepted the counsel that his father had rejected, and was associated with Adventist medical work in California and Texas throughout much of his pastoral ministry.[17]

Revered her – Benjamin House[18]

Benjamin House had a very difficult childhood. His mother had become pregnant with him due to an affair while her husband was away from home on an extended trip. When her husband returned he kicked his pregnant wife out of the house where she and little Benjamin struggled financially over the next few years.

Benjamin L. House

But Benjamin determined to make something of his life. He did well in school, studied for the ministry and later served as chair of the religion department and senior pastor of the college church at what is today Southwestern Adventist University (Keene, Texas), then Pacific Union College (Angwin, California) and finally Union College (Lincoln, Nebraska).

He was a widely respected Bible scholar and participated in the 1919 Bible Conference where, among many other theological issues, church leaders tried to grapple with how to relate to the writings of Ellen White after her death four years earlier.[19] Some at the Conference said that Ellen White, like the Bible writers, had plenary, or thought, inspiration, that the Holy Spirit inspired the writer but the writer used their own words to express what they heard and saw.[20] Others, including Benjamin House, countered that Ellen White, like the Bible writers, was verbally inspired, that the Holy Spirit often if not always dictated to them the words to write. The verbal inspiration group prevailed at the Bible conference. A few years later Benjamin House wrote a textbook for college Bible classes that promoted their viewpoint.[21] Unfortunately, he saw the prophet as someone to revere rather than as a humble human being used by God to communicate His messages in her own words.

Several years later, while serving in Lincoln, Nebraska, Benjamin was called into the office of church leaders and asked about an unwise relationship that might be developing between him and one of his young female students. During the meeting he lost his temper, said “If you don’t have any more faith in me than that, then just forget it, I’m done” and stormed out. His pride wouldn’t allow him to try to make things right. He found himself out of a job during the depression.

He went to Ohio, lived with one of his sisters, found a job and tried unsuccessfully to repair his strained marriage. Near the end of his life he returned to the Lord, reconnected with the Adventist church and was re-baptized.

Respected her – Harry Shafer[22]

Harry and his family lived in Wichita, Kansas where he served as first elder of the Adventist congregation. A big topic of discussion in the early 1900s was if there was any special significance to the fact that Adventist membership worldwide was rapidly approaching 144,000. When Ellen White stopped by the Wichita congregation on her last trip across the county Harry asked for her counsel. She said, “Brother Shafer, on this topic, at this time, silence is golden.” He accepted that, respected her, and continued to encourage the congregation to do their part in taking the Adventist message to all the world.

How we relate to the counsel and encouragement given in the writings of Ellen White can made a big difference in a person’s life. Why not read some of her writings and see how the Holy Spirit that inspired her can bless and guide you?[23] “Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” 2 Chronicles 20:20.

#####

An edited version of this article was published in Adventist World (July 2020) and Adventist Review (July 18, 2020) magazines.


[1] Revelation 12:17; 19:10.

[2] Matthew 24:11, 24.

[3] Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Isaiah 8:20; Jeremiah 28:9; Matthew 7:15-20; 1 John 4:1-3.

[4] 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21.

[5] https://www.adventist.org/en/beliefs/church/the-gift-of-prophecy/. Accessed 5/18/18.

[6] My mother’s father’s father.

[7] Frank was 28; Adelaide was 27.

[8] Unpublished letter LB-011A-26 W. C. White to F. B. Moran 1897-03-25. This and other unpublished letters provided by the Ellen G. White Research Center at Southwestern Adventist University, Keene, TX

[9] Unpublished letter LB-011-349 W. C. White to F. B. Moran 1897-05-18.

[10] Ellen G. White: Volume 5—The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905, By Arthur L. White, p. 125.

[11] Letter 143, 1901. Quoted in Ellen G. White: Volume 5—The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905, By Arthur L. White, p. 125.

[12] Unpublished letter LB-018-110 W. C. White to F. B. Moran 1901-11-27.

[13] Unpublished letter IN-032-039 F.B. Moran to E.E. Parlin 1902-03-10.

[14] Manuscript Releases Volume Ten, p. 248-252. See also Unpublished letter S-046-1902 Ellen G. White to C. Santee and F. B. Moran 1902-03-22.

[15] Manuscript Releases Volume 17, p. 357 (MR No. 1299—Locating Sanitariums Away from the Cities; Health-Care Workers to be Deeply Spiritual, p. 348-361)

[16] Letter 157, 1902, pp. 1-14. (To the directors of the Los Angeles County Medical Missionary and Benevolent Association, October 13, 1902) in Manuscript Releases Volume Four, p. 288-289.

See also Unpublished letter M-183-1902 Ellen G. White to Brother and Sister Moran 1902-09-02.

[17] Frank A. Moran talked frequently with his boyhood friend Herbert T. Huguley about the need of Seventh-day Adventist medical work in Texas. At his death Huguley left his estate for the purpose of establishing what has become known as Texas Health Huguley Medical Center in Ft. Worth, Texas. See http://www.texashealthhuguley.org/about-us/history-of-texas-health-huguley-hospital. Accessed 5/24/18.

Frank A. Moran later sold the family farm and gave most of the proceeds to establish the nursing program at what is now Southwestern Adventist University. See Southwestern Union Record/Review June 15, 1978, p. 12D. http://www.adventistarchives.org/docs/SUR/SUR19780615-V77-12__C.pdf#view=fit p. 12D. Accessed 5/23/18. Frank A. Moran served as a Chaplain and taught Bible to medical, dental and nursing students for many years at what has become Loma Linda University Medical Center. He suggested LLUMC’s 50th Anniversary motto “To Make Man Whole.”

[18] My mother’s mother’s father.

[19] http://archives.adventistreview.org/issue.php?issue=2010-1503&page=16, Accessed 5/23/18.

[20] This was Ellen White’s position. “The Bible points to God as its author; yet it was written by human hands; and in the varied style of its different books it presents the characteristics of the several writers. The truths revealed are all “given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16); yet they are expressed in the words of men. The Infinite One by His Holy Spirit has shed light into the minds and hearts of His servants. He has given dreams and visions, symbols and figures; and those to whom the truth was thus revealed have themselves embodied the thought in human language.” The Great Controversy, Introduction, page v. paragraph 3.

[21] Alberto R. Trimm, A History of Seventh-day Adventist Views on Biblical and Prophetic

Inspiration (1844–2000), Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 10/1-2 (1999): 486–542. See pages 503-504. Found online at http://www.atsjats.org/publication/view/156 Accessed March 18, 2018.

[22] My father’s mother’s father.

[23] You can find all her published writings at https://egwwritings.org.  

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Looking for Mission-Minded Volunteers for Dark Areas

I found this chart very interesting. Adventists as a percentage of the population for every county in the US. Gray means we have no presence and dark green means we have almost no presence. We still have a big mission in Texas! This Google Map is another way of seeing the need throughout the United States.

If you live in an area of the Texas Conference where there is limited or no Adventist presence we would love to help you and another family or two start a mission group. Contact Robin Lopez in our Church Planting Ministry here.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:14

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Connect…

June 16, 2020 was a wonderful day for our Adventist mission in Texas!

Through a Presidential Evangelism Think Tank we were able to identify top priorities for this fall (and beyond) and a theme for the public.

Top Priorities/Takeaways…

* Theme for public: Connect…
* Small Groups in Every Church
* Baptismal Class in Every School
* The new heroes in Texas Conference will be soul winning small group leaders and soul winning baptismal class leaders!

These items are nothing unusual. But what is unusual is the unified consensus that this is where we need to put our best energies across our field. There is still room for lots of input on implementation. (Send it to evangelism@txsda.org).

Next Steps…
*   Executive Committee – Thu June 25
*   Survey all Pastors and Teachers
*   All Teachers – Teachers Convention – Aug 2-6
*   All Pastors – Zoom Meeting – Tue Aug 11
*   Church Boards by Pastors; School Boards by Teachers/Admin in Aug
*   All Church Members – Sab Aug 29; Fill Baptistry Sabbath

We can never strategize our way into heaven so let’s be in prayer as this is unpacked and developed across our conference and beyond.

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Why Not Try This? … Give GLOW tracts to others

Every day God gives each of us Divine Appointments, people who are open to know more about Him and His ways. But most of us miss most of these opportunities. How can we be more proactive in finding who God is already working with?

I believe one of the simplest and best ways to form the habit of giving out GLOW tracts to others. Watch this recent interview on Revival for Mission on Hope TV to see how to do it, why to do it and what can happen when we do it!

https://www.hopetv.org/nc/shows/embed/ml/-/sharing-our-faith-with-others/

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How to Avoid Having a Babylonian Mind in an Adventist Body

The prophecies in the Book of Daniel show us that we are living in the time of the end. The stories in the Book of Daniel show us how to live in the time of the end.

Young people played a key role in the Book of Daniel and young people today will play a key role in God’s Final Movement on earth. The same strategy that Satan inspired Nebuchadnezzar to use back then has been adapted for today. Don’t be fooled by his devices. Stand tall for Jesus! Make decisions you will be proud of for eternity! Jesus will give you power and good friends to help you!

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20 Things You Can Do Personally to Destroy Racism

Compassionate people around the world have been horrified as they have watched or learned about the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. They have seen the evil of racism taken to a new, and compellingly visual, level. These are emotionally intense times. How will you respond?

Racism is not new. Moses experienced it in his own family (Numbers 12:1). Daniel and his three friends experienced it (Daniel 3:12; 5:13; 6:13). Jesus had to help his own disciples overcome it (John 4:1-42; Matthew 15:21-28. Desire of Ages chapters 19 & 43).

As you seek The Lord He will impress you with how best to respond to the current situation in the United States. Here are 20 things I’d like to suggest that every believer can do wherever you live and whatever your background.

  • Pray for 5 People who aren’t like you. People you know personally from work or school or the neighborhood, or people in the news. Ask Jesus how best to pray for them. Pray for their conversion? Pray for justice to be applied properly? Pray that Jesus will bless them? Pray that Jesus will comfort them? Pray for the five people by name if you can and be a specific as possible. Pray for them each day for at least a week and see what God does and impressed you to do.
  • Discover 5 Stories of how Jesus treated people who were different from Himself. Skim through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) in the Bible and pick out stories. Ask the Lord to give you insight and wisdom as you read and reflect. Ask yourself what is setting for this story? Who are the people in the story? How was Jesus involved and what did He do and say? Then ask yourself the most important question – What can I learn from this story? Write some notes and share your insights with others. Ask Jesus to help you put these lessons into practice.
  • Clarify 5 Reasons the Three Angels’ Message (Revelation 14:6-12) is needed now more than ever. This is God’s Final Message to Planet Earth that prepares people everywhere for Jesus’ return (v14-20). Focus in on the various parts and become clear on what it means for you as you live it and then give to to others. How does the “everlasting gospel” change hearts, homes, churches and communities? Why is it important that this message go to “every nation, tribe/race, language and people group” so they can be represented around God’s throne someday (Revelation 7:9; 14:6). How will we treat others differently when we “fear (reverence) God and give glory to Him”? How is it good news to hear that “the hour of God’s judgment is here” and that ultimately there will be justice for all (Romans 12:19; Revelation 15:3; 20:12-15)? What will it look like when we truly “worship Him who made” everyone and everything (Genesis 1:1-2:3)? Why is a twisted view of God and false religion (“Babylon”) so destructive to relationships and society (Revelation 18:1-8)? How can we have the “patient endurance of the saints” when we feel like giving up? Why are all Ten Commandments important, not just when written in stone (Exodus 31:18) or in the Bible (Exodus 20:2-17), but in our hearts and minds (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16)? How does the “faith of Jesus” change our worldview?
  • Build 5 Bridges with people who are different from you. This will take some creativity and persistence but it is essential. It will involve some level of discomfort. It will probably involve some heavy doses of asking questions, listening to others, encouraging, appealing and giving of time and/or money. But as you build these bridges you will see Jesus do some things in your own heart that are needed. And someday in heaven you will see the full results of your initiatives. Please share below about one of the bridges the Lord helped you build.

Inspired Insights On Prejudice and Racism Destroyed

The religion of the Bible recognizes no caste or color. It ignores rank, wealth, worldly honor. God estimates men as men. With Him, character decides their worth. And we are to recognize the Spirit of Christ in whomsoever He is revealed.—Testimonies for the Church 9:223. Ye Shall Receive Power 337.3

Thus Christ sought to teach the disciples the truth that in God’s kingdom there are no territorial lines, no caste, no aristocracy; that they must go to all nations, bearing to them the message of a Saviour’s love.—The Acts of the Apostles, 20. Ye Shall Receive Power 337.4

The walls of sectarianism and caste and race will fall down when the true missionary spirit enters the hearts of men. Prejudice is melted away by the love of God.—The Review and Herald, January 21, 1896. Ye Shall Receive Power 337.5

Walls of separation have been built up between the whites and the blacks. These walls of prejudice will tumble down of themselves as did the walls of Jericho, when Christians obey the Word of God, which enjoins on them supreme love to their Maker and impartial love to their neighbors—The Review and Herald, December 17, 1895. Ye Shall Receive Power 337.6

When the Holy Spirit is poured out, there will be a triumph of humanity over prejudice in seeking the salvation of the souls of human beings. God will control minds. Human hearts will love as Christ loved. And the color line will be regarded by many very differently from the way in which it is now regarded. To love as Christ loves lifts the mind into a pure, heavenly, unselfish atmosphere.—Testimonies for the Church 9:209. Ye Shall Receive Power 337.7

*******

Someday soon God’s Final Message will go to every nation, tribe/race, language and people group (Revelation 14:6-12). All will respond by either becoming more sensitive to the Holy Spirit or more hardened against the Holy Spirit (Revelation 13:8, 15-17). Jesus will announce that the first phase of the Heavenly Judgement is finished and He is coming soon (Revelation 22:11-12). He will come again for His people (John 14:1-3; Titus 2:11-14). His people will include those from every nation, tribe/race, language and people group on earth (Revelation 7:9).

It’s going to be awesome! What are your thoughts?

Blessings to you,

Dan Serns

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Outstanding message by Pastor Dan Jackson

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Adventist Preaching Interview

In May 2020 I had the privilege of interviewing with Christopher Findley, who moderates the Adventist Preaching Facebook group. I shared how I got started preaching and things that have helped me become a better preacher and pastor. Here’s the interview.

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