If you can remember a time when people packed into theatres to hear the gospel, then maybe you come from Lowestoft, Britain's most easterly town and home to one of its earliest Adventist communities. In truth, you could be from any number of churches in any city across the country, grappling with the fallout of societal change. Compared to the somewhat religious-affiliated past, how people's interests and affinities have changed! Yet human need remains constant and the Good News is still the best solution to today's problems. That is why in Lowestoft the church is exploring creative ways to boldly advance the gospel into today's religion-averse consciousness; not by turning back the clock, but by re-envisioning the winning formulas of the past.
In June and July this year, Lowestoft opened its doors for a prophecy-focused outreach entitled, 'Into the Time Machine'. Now, if a prophecy seminar sounds boringly 'business-as-usual', prepare to be surprised, engaged and challenged by a guided tour through the book of Daniel, from Ancient Babylon to our present geopolitical restlessness, and forward to future hope and redemption.
For six consecutive Sabbaths (except during camp meeting), retired pastor Michael Walker presented a sneak peek into the future of the planet, blending biblical, historical and archaeological facts with current knowledge to reveal the truths that embody hope and strengthen our faith. Pastor Walker led an hour-long morning session during the revamped divine worship segment; and he continued with another hour-long session after lunch.
12 sessions in six weeks! Definitely ambitious and intense, but perfectly counterbalanced by the social fellowship that evolved around the potlucks, bringing people together over a feast of healthful favourites. Add to that a concurrent children's programme featuring Babylonian and Daniel-themed arts and crafts ‒ the seminar fulfilled in-reach and outreach goals, uniting members in a common purpose as volunteers and supporters, and welcoming the community in for days of learning, sharing and fellowship. If that family feeling was not present before, it fanned out gradually, as the week progressed, connecting and affirming people in friendships old and new.
Into the Time Machine concluded with a Q&A, hosted by Pastor Mark Borrett, during which Michael Walker applied his extensive Bible knowledge and understanding of the book of Daniel to wide-ranging questions from the floor.
"It's the first time I have been able to hear these topics without distraction", one grateful parent enthused; while another admitted, "I realised how much I don't know!"
Most encouraging, though, is the fact that throughout August and September several community interests from the seminar have come back to visit Lowestoft church for Sabbath service and midweek Bible study. Into the Time Machine is definitely a step in the right direction.
The Into the Time Machine series is posted on the Lowestoft Adventist church website at: https://greatyarmouth.adventistchurch.org.uk/