Editors Note: This is one of two articles on the recent Glasgow School of Evangelism event of 12 August 2023. The additional story can be read here.
School of Evangelism in Glasgow: “Evangelism is the life-blood of church; if we do not do it, the church will die.”
Another session of the School of Evangelism took place in Glasgow SDA church. The renowned Dr Kirk Thomas, BUC Evangelism Director, hosted the event. The attendees, coming from many churches in the Scottish Mission, were edified on strategies for effective discipleship and community outreach. The training, initially scheduled for two days, only took place on the 12th August 2023.
Pastor Kirk spoke about unity in church during the morning session. He enrolled three techniques of conducting Sabbath school lesson to keep everyone engaged: Think-pair-Share, Think-pair-Share-Square and Think-pair-Sing. In the first method, the facilitator reads the memory verse, allows people to think about it, and then generates discussions by asking them to share their understanding with the person next to them. The second method is to split the class in groups of four where people can discuss. Each group’s reporter then summarise their views to the facilitator. As for the last method, groups of eight are formed. Each group is asked to summarises the lesson, share their thoughts, choose and sing a song linked to the lesson. The attendees implemented this last method; each group managed to come up with a song as a sign of unity within the groups. However, when the groups started singing, there were some discords as they had different song choices and this situation led to the following conclusion: “if we don’t sing the same songs, if we are not on the same page in terms of unity, then the church can be a place of discord,” Pastor Kirk added.
The kids also learned from this training as they were taught a crucial spiritual lesson during the children’s story led by Elder Benjamin Bakina. He used his personal experience along with Peter’s example in the Bible to demonstrate how much God loves us, care for us and wants to use us all for His service regardless of our imperfections. “We do not need to be perfect to be disciple of Jesus,” he said.
The training continued during the divine service with a highlight on God’s commission to us. Pastor Kirk used three different characters commissioned by God in the Bible: Jeremiah, Jesus and us. Jeremiah’s example helped describing our attitude toward evangelism today as he resigned from God’s commission just because he did not see the expected results. The same as Jeremiah, we are commissioned by God; we are to preach the gospel as stated in Matthew 28: 18-20. However, when our evangelistic plans do not work as expected, we resign and stop preaching. “Our resignation occurs because we take our eyes off our commission and look for our own success and anytime we look for success, we are discouraged,” Ps Kirk said. The same as Jeremiah resigned and was re-signed, God wants us to look back at the sacrifice of the cross, remember His love for us, get out of our comfort zone and do His work. The Pastor emphasised some key points the church should embrace to allow God to kindle the burning fire within them:
- “Effort belongs to us and success to God.”
- “Failure is an opportunity to start again but in more intelligible ways.”
- “Only God can transform someone’s heart.”
- “Evangelism is the life-blood of church; if we do not do it, the church will die.”
- “The discouragement of ministry can cause us to lose our perspective on God, self, mission and ministry.”
At the end of the service, many people, a dozen of youths included, answered the Pastor’s call for a special prayer as they expressed their desire to dedicate their lives to God.
In the afternoon, just after the delicious fellowship lunch prepared by the Glasgow church women, Dr Kirk spoke about the process of discipleship, and the concept retention and reclamation. Speaking about the process of discipleship, he said: “it always begins with God as He is the one who plans the seeds in our hearts, leading us to follow the process of bringing people to Him.” God plants the seeds and needs us to harvest. The church members also learned that evangelism is cyclical. There is no resting time after an evangelistic project; we need to keep working until the next project. One aspect we neglect is to look after the new members, befriend them and develop trust with them. “There is one thing to bring people to Christ- there is another thing to keep them,” The pastor said. He also stressed the importance of always thinking “disciple, evangelism and salvation of individuals when organising any church programme. “
Dr Kirk also expended on how to reconcile with those who have drifted away from church. He encouraged the church to invest in the ministry of reconciliation. As he shared tips and advice on how to help those who have gone astray to return to the altar, the Pastor exhorted the church to train some members,” equip them with skills, knowledge and attitude to be able to conduct informal conversations with former members…The challenges can be either emotional or doctrinal; whatever the reason for drifting from church is, we need a lot of patience as reconciliation takes time- it is a process,” Dr Kirk said. “We want to go to heaven. We are not going alone, we want everyone to go with us,” he concluded.