The Ins and Outs of Bulk Mailing for Adventist Churches

Lori Ball Marketing Tools, Uncategorized

Before we dive in, know that SermonView has you covered. 

US Postal service systems and regulations have been changing at a faster pace in the last 5 years than ever before. We work hard to keep up with everything, so you don’t have to worry about it. As policies and postage rates change, we’ll let you know about what impacts you, and we’ll find the solutions for the rest.

For most of the people reading this, you can stop here knowing that we’ve got you covered. However, if you are thinking about doing a mailing yourself, continue reading for some things to keep in mind as you plan your next mailing.

The unique way Adventist churches do mailings

We know the Adventist church is already different in our message to the world, so it’s no surprise that the way we do bulk mailings is just as unique. In 2022 SermonView sent out event invitation mailers on behalf of churches to over 3 million homes. Those are the kinds of numbers you would see mostly from businesses, not churches, who would need to hire a professional mailhouse to handle that kind of volume. And while secular mailhouses handle business and non-profit mail all the time, most don’t handle Adventist mailings very often, which they don’t realize needs additional effort and care, especially when they are time-sensitive for reaping or bridge events.

What exactly is specific about how our church does mass mailings? We don’t stop at “non-profit” or “saturation” like many other churches do, we utilize all of the USPS systems established to reach more targeted areas of our communities. It takes a bit more work and understanding of the postal systems, but you can optimize mailings even more to get the best postal rates available, and increase the likelihood of timely delivery that many commercial printers don’t take the time to utilize for their church customers.

What to ask if hiring a secular bulk mailing company not familiar with Adventist needs.

If you decide to hire a secular bulk mailing service provider in your area, here is a list of specifics we recommend you check on up front to make sure they are going to be able to provide your church’s unique mailing needs:

  • Can you use the Adventist denomination’s non-profit church status? As part of the denomination, I have access to get non-profit saturation mailing rates without requesting my own permit. (Be sure to have paperwork ready for them if needed.)
  • Can you create my targeted list of direct mailing names and addresses that is: saturated, presorted by zip code, carrier route and uses walk sequence, or is that something I need to provide?
  • Confirm they can ship your mailers to the local SCF(s) and that they can get delivered there within a short, specific window before your event.
  • Confirm your postage rates are the best you can get.
  • (If they are printing the mailers) Can you design my marketing mailers or do you have templates that include mailing area so I can have it designed according to USPS mailing regulations for non-profit flats? 
  • (If they are not printing your mailers) Find a professional local printer who can design the shape and size of your mail piece to still guarantee your mailers are setup according to USPS regulations and that they can deliver the product on time to your bulk mailing company for processing the addresses.
  • Give your mailing list a final review to ensure the recipient addresses are set up correctly.
  • Confirm the mailhouse transported your mailing to the post office, and that they are tracking it to confirm its delivery.

How to do it yourself

If you are not going to use a bulk mailing service, you won’t be able to get the same lowest non-profit bulk postage rates, but you can still get a discount from standard first-class mail through something called Every Door Direct Mail, or EDDM for short. While this is a great option, it does come with limitations and requirements that may not work for your church’s needs. 

The Biggest advantage to EDDM is you won’t need to get your permit cleared ahead of time. Mailing permits can be pricey and add another level of complexity to the standard mailing process. EDDM mail can be taken to your local post office and with the right setup, can be given to a standard postal worker at the front counter.

Here’s some basic information about what you need to know about this service:
  • EDDM allows you to send targeted mail to specified areas with flats at a discounted postage rate. As of February 2023, according to the USPS website, the cost per EDDM mailpiece is 18.9¢. The current USPS postage rate that you get from SermonView for non-profit, saturation mailing is 10.2¢ for jumbo cards or 11.5¢ per piece for bi-folds. (For reference, standard-sized, rectangular postcard stamps start at 48¢. Oversized postcards need letter stamps, which start at 63¢.)
  • EDDM is for “small” mailings. It only works if you are mailing less than 5,000 pieces. You can do more, but only if you are willing to break it up and go in over multiple days for larger quantities.
  • Since EDDM is for small mailings, it can go fast. They typically go out within a day of being turned in to a local facility, making them a better option for churches with little time before a meeting.

EDDM mailings have specific requirements:
  • They have to be a flat (min. 11 ½ inches long and 6 1/8 inches wide) 
  • You have to have this special information in the mailing area:

We’re here to help

Church mailings can be confusing, both for the local church as well as many of today’s print and mail shops. (We’ve even seen USPS employees struggling to keep up with all the changes.) SermonView has spent years exclusively working with local churches and building relationships with USPS professionals to better understand and define the ins and outs of mailing for Adventist churches.

SermonView stays on top of the rapidly changing USPS policies so we can continue to provide the service you know and love. 

Bags or trays? Shipping to the SCF, DDU, or BMEU? Form 3624 or 8125? That’s not your problem, that’s ours. And we don’t mind doing the research needed to stay on top of the rapidly changing USPS mailing policies because that is our ministry gift to you. No matter what changes, SermonView is committed to providing you with the quality marketing, design, printing, and service you’ve come to know and love. As policies and postage rates change, we’ll keep it simple and only let you know about what actually impacts you, we’ll find the solutions for the rest.

If you are considering running a mailing in your area soon, give us a call. We would love to connect with you and see how we can help you share the message of hope and wholeness through Jesus Christ in your community.

The perfect window for Evangelism

Lori Ball Basic Marketing Principles, COVID-19 Response, Evangelism Practices, From the Field

When are people most open to coming to church?

You have an idea for a bridge event or evangelistic series, but when should you run it to maximize attendance? While there is no perfect formula, history and current trends indicate that shortly after Easter is an ideal launch window for spring evangelism.

Pew Research indicates there are dramatic spikes when Americans search online for churches near them.

One such time of year has historically been Easter when the term “church” spikes even more than it does leading up to Christmas. Many Sunday churches are packed for Easter—65% of Americans identify themselves as Christian, but 79% of Americans celebrate Easter.

Of course, the pandemic has dramatically impacted church attendance, but what does this mean for Easter now?

People are more open to authentic spirituality in the wake of the pandemic. 

This falls in line with the findings of many studies on how traumatic experiences affect one’s spirituality. So even while church attendance is down, people continue to search for the term “church.” But now we are seeing a rise in more terms such as “Is God real?” or “How do I know God loves me?”

In fact, at SermonView we’ve seen huge success with our LeadGenerator campaigns that use terms like “God Cares” to encourage Bible study requests.

Right after Easter—specifically, the following two weekends—is a prime window to start your evangelism efforts.

Given the cultural climate and fear around the future, many people will be searching for hope during a time of year that draws attention to the love of God, Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice, and a desire to reconnect to their faith.

In their searching, will they find your church?

SermonView would love to help you promote your next event!

Spring has been a popular season for evangelism, however, we are still seeing some delays in the print product supply chain. We are encouraging everyone to consider contacting us early to get started sooner rather than later to help reduce the risk of delays for your event marketing.

Our team can look up populations and demographics in your community to help you decide how much budget should go to direct mail, online advertising, event signs, and more. ​

We’re here to help. Get a FREE quote today to get started!

Guaranteed Monthly Bible Study Leads – A Texas Conference training event for pilot host churches.

Lori Ball Evangelism Practices, From the Field, Leadership

This training material is part of the Texas Conference’s innovative evangelistic efforts in 2023.

The Promise Prophecies is a yearlong evangelistic cycle that starts off with a Bible study lead generation campaign that starts a few months before the public evangelistic series. As part of this cohort, you will get 12 months of a LeadGenerator social media ad campaign to get new leads in your community. LeadGenerator is designed to meet people right where they are in their spiritual journey, and connect them with your church.

In this webinar, Texas English Evangelist Byron Corbett, SermonView founder and president Larry Witzel, and SermonView Campaign Manager Sarah Grant walk through this unique program and how it will benefit your church. You’ll see firsthand how LeadGenerator gets you Monthly Bible study requests and you’ll also walk away with a better understanding of how the InterestTracker software works with this program, so your team can keep track of offer requests and engage with your leads.

Here are excerpts from this conversation:

Byron: I’m here with the founder and president of SermonView, and Larry and I go back a long, long way. We kind of knew of each other before we knew each other. I won’t get into that story. We did early teen ministry at the Washington conference camp, meeting together for a number of years, had a great time, and I’m just excited that Larry is in this evangelism marketing space and that we have the opportunity to work together. So, Larry, just talk to everybody here from your heart and from your passion and how you see SermonView being a part of this.

Larry: Yeah, well, yeah. Thank you, Byron. SermonevangelisticView is a ministry that’s dedicated to helping introduce people from your community to your church. So we do that in a number of different ways. When you do an evangelistic event, for example, whether it’s a reaping series, a full message prophecy series, or if you’re doing a parenting seminar or an archeology seminar, if you’re doing an event, we can do marketing using direct maile, w use online advertising, and we can use outdoor banners and road signs to let people in your community know about the event. And then we have a registration platform for people to be able to sign up, reserve seats, and then we also have attendance tracking software to help you through the process of that event. So event marketing is a big piece of what we do when a church is doing an evangelistic event, we can help introduce people to you.

Larry: The other major thing that we do is what we call Bible study lead generation. So we have found that we can go into almost any community in North America and find people in that community that are interested in studying the Bible with you. We have a program called Lead Generator, which is a year long program that we use online advertising methods to invite people to request Bible studies. We then pass those names on to you. You make the introduction and you reach out. You say that you’re the person that’s been asked to make contact and provide the Bible study information, and then you’re off to the races. From there, you’re handling the Bible study as if it was any other Bible study.

Larry: Those are the two main things that we do. Lately, we’ve been getting into church websites as well, but that’s less relevant to what we’re talking about today. I’ll tell you, my passion is the local church. I believe that the local church is the heartbeat of ministry for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And everything that we do at SermonView is focused on the local church. And when we partner with an organization like the Texas Conference, we’re doing this in order to support the local churches that are participating in the program. We’re focused on you. We’re not focused on the conference. (Obviously, the conference has its needs, and we want to meet those needs as well. But ultimately, we’re working together to support you in your ministry and your outreach in your local community.)

Larry: I am an entrepreneur and I have a degree, an MBA from one of the top entrepreneurship schools on the West Coast. Actually just got Entrepreneurship magazine today. I saw that it was listed as the number one entrepreneurship school on the West Coast, University of Washington. And I’ve done a number of startups. I was involved in tech marketing for several years after I got my MBA. Innovation is really my passion and over 20 years ago, God brought me into this space where I’m helping churches with their evangelism. And this is a confluence of things that I’m interested in. I want to help churches be more effective. And I love Innovation. And when you marry those two things together, innovation is not about innovation in and of itself. I find it fun, but ultimately it’s not about the innovation, it’s about improving effectiveness. You want to innovate in order to improve effectiveness. I just read an article today that talked about creativity and ideas and where those come from and how to have great ideas.

Larry: Basically, the bottom line of this article was you need to try a lot of things and iterate rapidly. And when something’s not working, stop and do something else. This article is saying the best way to write great symphonies is to write a lot of symphonies. The best way to write a great article is to write a lot of articles. And so at SermonView, we’re committed to the innovation process and we try lots and lots and lots of different things. I’ve made almost every mistake that you can imagine when it comes to evangelism and when it comes to marketing, especially when it comes to evangelism marketing. But that’s not failure, that’s learning.

Larry: When we’re going through this innovation process, this entrepreneurial journey together on this project with the Texas Conference, with you guys, as local church leaders understand that our goal is improving the effectiveness of evangelism. We want to reach more people. We want to make more and better disciples of Jesus through what you guys are doing. It’s no secret that the effectiveness of traditional Adventist evangelistic methods have been declining as cultural shifts have taken place, as changes in society have happened. Our methodologies are not as effective as they once were. But what’s really important to understand is just because they’re not as effective doesn’t mean that they are not the most effective method possible.

Larry: But the only way to know that is to try lots and lots of different things. Over the last decade and a half, SermonView has handled over 6000 marketing campaigns on behalf of churches. And we’ve done some really creative stuff that didn’t work. We’ve done some really creative stuff that worked okay. And through all of this, we’ve really dialed in our ability to help you be as effective as possible.

Larry: So in this project with the Texas Conference, there are two specific points of innovation that we’re going to be looking at. And you guys, as our pilot churches are going to be crucial in helping us to test some of these things. And as we learn, then we’ll be able to deploy them to more churches and scale this program more widely in the Texas Conference and beyond, outside of Texas as well. There’s two specific points of innovation. And when I say points of innovation, these are questions that we have. And we’re going to try some things and see how they work. We’re going to define clearly what success looks like, what we call the success metrics, and we’re going to measure those. And if something works, we’re going to keep it. And if it doesn’t work, we’re not going to keep it.

Larry: The two points of innovation, the two things that we’ve seen as issues:

The first is when it comes to online evangelism, the difficulty has been translating an online engagement into a face-to-face relationship. Church is a social experience, and there’s a vertical component to it between you and God. And there’s theology and there’s biblical belief, and that’s important. But church is fundamentally a social experience. If you just have that vertical component that’s called discipleship, that’s you and God, that’s a personal retreat. Jesus said, where two or three are gathered together, there I am with you. And when two or three are gathered, that’s when you have church. And when two or three are gathered, you have a social component to that. So there’s this horizontal social component to church. And evangelism needs to account for this. It’s not just spreading Bible truth. It’s not just helping people understand the biblical perspective on different topics, like the end of the earth, the state of death, the Sabbath, or health. It’s not just about helping people understand this mentally or even emotionally. Until your evangelistic process accounts for how to integrate those people into the social dynamics of a local church, you’re not done. And what we found through the COVID experience, we did a lot of experimentation with online evangelism, and some of it was quite effective. But we still had a difficulty in connecting people into a local church, because from my perspective, until someone is actively engaged in the life of a local church, our job in terms of evangelism is not done. It’s not just teaching people Bible truth. So it’s not just doing online Bible studies and then saying, “Great, God bless you.” We need to find a way to bridge the gap from that online experience into a local church. We want to move from an online interaction to a face-to-face engagement in a local Seventh-day Adventist church.

Larry: So one of the things that we’re going to be looking at, we’re going to be experimenting with some methods. We’re going to be equipping you with some tools and a framework, a mindset for when you’re interacting with someone in this online space, what can you do to help move that relationship forward into an in-person interaction.

Larry: So that’s the first thing. The second point of innovation that we’re looking at, some of you may have participated in some of the bridge events that The Voice Prophecy has done over the years. Shadow Empire, A Pale Horse Rides, Final Empire, The Appearing. These are projects that we worked with them on, and the delivery methodology of a video, about half an hour (30 to 40 minutes video) followed by a guided discussion was a really effective way of building relationships. So you offer something of value, high production value, with this video. You invite people to come see it, and then you have this guided discussion where you’re actually building relationship through this conversation. And then afterwards, you’re having conversations with your guests. This methodology, this delivery modality, has never been used in a full-message evangelistic series. So Byron is working on developing content and there are going to be three aspects to the delivery of the evangelistic message: the first is going to be a video that Byron is going to be putting together, but it’s going to be followed by a guided discussion that someone in your local church will be leading.

Larry: So the professionalism, the production value of these videos adds credibility to Byron, but he’s going to be transferring that credibility over to somebody in the local church. Because you don’t want people to be building a relationship with Byron, they need to be building a relationship with you. So this guided discussion has been proven as a method to transfer that credibility into that local church. And so we’re going to be trying this out in a full-message series to see how that works. And then the third thing is that we’re going to be putting together a podcast on each topic that people can then connect with after they leave the experience of the church environment. So they got the video, they got the guided discussion, where there’s the social support that people are talking together about, answering questions and filling in their study guides, and then the ability for people to be able to then follow up and listen to a podcast on that same topic that Byron and I will be putting together.

Larry: So those are the two points of innovation. How to bridge the gap between online engagement and an in-person face-to-face encounter, and then trying out these, these delivery methods with the video, the guided discussion, and the podcast for sharing the Bible truth through these methods. So those are the two main points of innovation that we’re going to be working on. All right, I think I’ve used up enough time. Did I say everything that I needed to Byron? Did I hit the key points?

Byron: Yeah, I think you did a great job, Larry. I know there’ll be questions at the end and we can probably on things that we might not have got, but I think that’s a great overview. Thank you so much.

Larry: Great. So I want to pass this over to Sarah and she’s going to be telling you more about this LeadGenerator program and the way that it interacts with the interest tracker software. And she’s going to go into some detail about how that’s all going to work. Every one of your churches is a pilot church in this program. The Texas Conference is paying for Lead Generator for a year for you to be able to use this. They’re also paying for some add-on modules for InterestTracker. Sarah is going to be telling you more details about this. But I wanted to give you that background that the Texas Conference is giving this to you because you’re participating in this pilot program. So Sarah, take it away.

Sarah: Yeah. Thank you, Larry. So what is LeadGenerator? Larry kind of touched on it a little bit, but what it is is it’s an online advertising campaign that introduces you to people in your community who are expressing an interest in learning more about God, the Bible, or both. So the campaign is run on an annual basis and it guarantees a set number of Bible study requests every month through these online ads. So what happens is somebody is going to be on their social media platform. (These are primarily going to be run on Facebook and Instagram. Some of the larger campaigns are going to be run on Google as well. But we see the majority of the leads coming in from Facebook and Instagram, so that’s where a lot of them are going to come from.) When somebody is online and they see an ad pop up and click on it, they are then going to click through about four pages to confirm their request before that ever gets submitted to you. As you get them and you have these interactions, you can know that these are not submitted by accident. Somebody had to hand type in their address, their phone number, their email address, all of those things before it got sent over to you.

Sarah: And then once they submit that request, they get a confirmation email letting them know that their request has been received and that somebody is going to be reaching out to them. Then you’re going to get notified as well, we’ll come back to that here in a second. Now, the ads are going to be run under the account of “My Free Bible Study”, which is an account that we have. It’s not run under your church name, it’s not run under the Conference name, and it’s not identified as an Adventist account at all. And we do that intentionally. We want there to be a little bit of separation from any denomination or anything like that to prevent any kind of bias or any previous experience that somebody may have had. Although it’s unfortunate, we know that not everybody’s experience with church or with somebody from a church has always been positive, and we don’t want that to be reflected on you. We want to let you make your introduction and show them who you are without any other interference. With that being said, when you reach out to meet this person who’s requested the Bible study, we recommend that you introduce yourself as a local representative or a local Bible coach from “My Free Bible Study” since up to that point, that’s the only name that they’ve seen. We don’t want to create any confusion or anything by throwing in a different name. So we just suggest that you introduce yourself from that and avoid any confusion.

Sarah: Once somebody responds to the ad, we mentioned that they get their confirmation email, that serves as an introduction and confirmation for them, their information then gets sent to the church. And that’s going to happen one of two ways: somebody is going to get a confirmation email letting them know that they have a new Bible Study request, and then that person’s information all gets imported into InterestTracker, where you’re going to see the theme of the ad that they responded to and be able to assign it to somebody on your team. We’ll come back to that here shortly.

Sarah: One other thing I just want to mention is that no specific Bible study is advertised, so there’s no specific study that they’re going to be expecting to receive. But each ad has a theme. So you might have a theme of God Cares, you might have a theme of Bible prophecy, and so you’re going to probably have best results when you choose a Bible study that matches the theme of the ad that they responded to. You can also use that to get a sense of what drew them to respond in the first place. Typically we find ourselves seeking God or turning to the Bible when we have circumstances going on in our life or see them happening in the world that just feel like they’re out of our control and leave us at the end of ourselves. So getting a sense of what the theme of the ad was will kind of help give you a little bit of insight into where they are at when they responded.

Sarah: I know Byron is going to talk a little bit about Bible studies as well.

Byron: Great. Thank you, Sarah. That’s really exciting to have these things come real-time to your local church. What I want to do, is just walk through how you connect with the people once you receive that email with the lead information, and if they fill out everything in the sign-up for the Bible study, there’s a lot of good information there for you. (See attachement.)

Byron: One of the first things that we want to be aware of is considering that person who’s behind that email, it’s not just an email, it’s not just an electronic document or a piece of paper. There’s an actual person there that we need to be thinking about, and obviously, probably from the name, you’ll be able to figure out whether it’s a male or a female. And again, right away this begins shaping how we relate to the people. We have to remember that they’re coming from all walks of life, they’re coming from all religious comfort levels. Some of them might be super dedicated Christians and totally into Bible study and just want to add to that. Others may not really have any exposure to that at all and are just kind of launching in and experimenting with us for the first time. And so in our first interactions with the people, it’s very important that we’re sensitive to them and that we kind of gauge them and listen to them and respond to them as we read body language, as we try to listen well and ask the sorts of open ended questions that can help us get to know them better.

Byron: When you begin to follow up leads, I just want to mention that we want to do this in teams of two people. Jesus sent His disciples out two by two, and that’s really the best method for doing that. It’s important that the teams are either male-only two guys, female-only, two gals. Or to me, the kind of best team, is a husband and wife. If you can get a husband and wife together, following up and making contact, that’s just beautiful. Because it doesn’t matter if it’s a male or a female, there’s that dual connection point, and it really provides a great lead in for that contact.

Byron: Now, when they register their Bible study request, it gives them the option to give their age, their church’s name, the denomination, and other kinds of information. You do want to make sure that when you open the email, you read all the way down through it to gather as much information as you can. You want to mentally prepare yourself as best you can by looking at what’s there, because if they give some of that age and church denomination information, it can be really helpful. For example, you’re going to prepare yourself mentally a lot differently to visit a 60-year-old Baptist guy versus a 35-year-old nondenominational Christian woman. It’s going to be a whole different dynamic. And you can actually prepare yourself mentally for that by looking at that information. If a person indicates no affiliation, that may also give you cues. So you want to be sensitive and pay attention to that and take note if it’s there and how you can use that.

Byron: When I follow up Bible study leads, I like to do my best to match the gender of the team with the gender of the Bible study lead. If that’s not possible, it’s okay. Two guys can visit a gal at the door, two gals can visit a guy at the door. That’s not a hard and fast rule, but it does help to match genders as best we can as we go along. If you have a husband and wife team, no problem at all either way.

Byron: What I want to just touch on is how do we then make the first contact? Your lead generator packet is going to come with instructions on how to make contact with your Bible study interest. It gives you options of doing that by phone, by text message, and by email. I just want to give you my experience in this and probably save you a lot of time and effort. When we began this project in Richardson, when I was still pastoring there, I used all three of those methods to try to make initial contact. Phone, text message, and email. I did not meet, and we did not in general as we followed this up, beyond just myself, we did not meet with much success in making the initial contact via those methods. There was a low response rate. The phone call would always go to voicemail. I’d leave a voice message, they would never return the call. Didn’t respond to emails or text messages. So my best success immediately after I saw that, after several attempts, I pivoted to making this an in-person visit right from the get-go. I began bypassing skipping all the emails, phone messages and everything. I just went right in person with a partner to follow up the leads in person at the home and found way better success. There’s no comparison between and so I want to encourage you, since the whole point of this is establishing a personal relationship, face-to-face relationship with someone, don’t think that you can just do your work electronically in cyberspace. It’s got to be that in-person contact.

Byron: And so just some quick thoughts here that you might want to take note of. The sooner you follow up with the lead, the less explaining about who you are and what you’re doing you’ll have to do when you get to the door. Because people will remember that they signed up for this Bible study yesterday or two or three days ago or whatever the case. And so the sooner that you do that, it’s fresher in their minds and they’ll make the connection much more rapidly. The longer the time that goes by. You might just have to be prepared to explain who they are, remind them who you are more. Remind them that they signed up for these Bible studies via Instagram or whatever it was that they used to do that. So the sooner the less explaining makes it easier for you.

Byron: I always dress in business casual. I don’t wear a tie, but I wear a collared shirt of some sort and some sort of dress slacks. Just business casual. Because when a stranger comes to the dooe’ve, we’ve got big questions about that, and what we want to do is be able to communicate credibility and comfort right at the outset. And that even happens just by the way we’re dressed and people first see us before we say anything. So that’s what I would recommend, business casual that gives you a professional appearance and lets folks know you’re not some scammer or something like that. For the most part.

Byron: I also always wear the Lanyard. The LeadGenerator kit will come with a couple of lanyards with cards on them that say “My Free Bible Study” as an Identifier. I always wear that lanyard and I have it there around my neck. And I also always print out the email that I received with that interest name and request and information and I bring it with me to the door along with the first two Bible studies. So I always take the first two Bible studies that we’re going to be offering them in fulfillment of their request, and I take the email so that if they’re confused about something I can always show them the email and say, “here’s the information that you signed up for.” And they can actually look and see that physically. So those are the things I do to prepare for following up the leads.

Byron: Then once you’re at the door and you ring the doorbell, what I want to encourage you to do is make it a point, after you ring the doorbell, step back from the door so that there’s some space that’s more non-threatening to people. Also, don’t talk to your partner. Both of you need to stand there silently smiling and just wait for the door to be answered. Particularly since people nowadays have the cameras and video recorders right there at the door. And when you ring their doorbell, it’s recording you, and they’ll hear everything you say. So it’s very important that you don’t talk and that you just smile and wait for them to answer the door. Or if they do talk to you through their camera at the door, then you’ll want to respond to them through that as well. So what I do is I step back from the door, I wait for the door to get answered, and then when they answer the door, here’s what I say.

Byron: So then I go on to say “I stopped by to deliver the first two Bible studies in the series that you requested online. Here they are.” And I hold out the Bible studies and show them to them. And I say, “Let me show you how they work.” And so for different Bible study guides, if it’s amazing Facts lessons or Voice of Prophecy lessons, you’ll show them the pictures, explain the question answer format, and then show them the quiz section or the response section at the back. If they are It Is Written lessons that you’re using, you again show them the format, how it asks a question, but then they need to look up a Bible verse and fill in the blanks for the answer. So I like to take a few minutes to show them the lesson right there at the door, walk them through how it works, and how they can respond to it.

Byron: And then once I’m done with that, I’ll say to them, “Do you have any questions about this?” And I wait, obviously, for their response. Then I go on to say, “What I’d like to do is leave these lessons with you for you to look through them over this week. And then I’d like to come back in about a week with the next two lessons in the series to drop off for you. Is this a good time for me to do that, or would you prefer a different time?” And so again, I wait for their response in terms of if this is an okay time, we’ll just set it to drop by again that week. If they prefer a different evening we work that out with them.

Byron: Then after that, you’re about ready to wrap up the visit. And so then I say this. “When a request comes to me, I like to be sure to pray for you as you start to explore these Bible studies. I was praying for you earlier, and I felt like I should find out if there’s something specific that you could use prayer for. Is there something that I can pray about with you before I leave?” And then I just wait and listen empathize with them, give them a chance to share, and then after they share and if they don’t share, then say, “Great, no problem, I’ll be back next week with your lessons.” If they do share something, then I like to say, “Would it be okay to pray with you right now about that?” And most of the time, 99% of the time people say, “yeah, I’d really appreciate that.” So then I have a very short prayer with them, and it’s very important that you make sure that you pray specifically about the thing they brought up. Don’t pray for them and not mention the thing they ask you to pray for, that just shows that you didn’t listen and pay attention to them. So it’s very important that you listen well and pray specifically about what they brought up.

Byron: Then as soon as you’re done praying, go ahead and say “Goodbye! I’ll stop by next week and see how you enjoyed the studies, and I’ll bring the next two. God bless!” Then I wave and I leave promptly. Don’t hang around. So this really is quite a short visit at the door. It’s probably not more than about five minutes on this first initial contact. Now some of you might say, well, what if they say, “I thought this was an online Bible study.” And I’ve had some people, not many, but I’ve had a few, ask that question, and I simply have responded them by saying, “We found that what really works best for people is to just deliver them like this and that way we can help with any questions or anything like that. And so that’s what we’d like to do.”

Byron: Okay, so that’s the initial contact. You’ve left the studies, they’ve accepted them, and they know that you’re going to drop by in a week with the next two studies. So the long-term follow up or communication strategy with them: go faithfully every week with the next two lessons. For the second visit, here’s what I would suggest that you say, and this is what I’ve done. “Hi, Bob, this is Byron from My Free Bible Study again with your next two lessons. How is this past week for you?” I’m just trying to begin building rapport and showing interest in that person. I wait, I listen, I empathize with them, and respond appropriately to what they say. Then I follow up with, “Did you get a chance to go through the lessons I left last week?” I wait for them to respond. Then I ask them, “How did you find the lessons? Did they make sense to you? Did you enjoy them?” And I wait for them to respond to that and then I’ll follow up with, “Do you have any questions about what you studied?”

Byron: Now you’re going to get a couple of responses here. One of the responses is, “Yeah, we studied the lessons.” Then I like to say, “That’s great, here are the next two lessons for you. I hope you enjoy them too. By the way, next time could we share we could share maybe a little bit more about what really speaks to each of us in these lessons. Is that okay?” So I’m beginning to set them up to move from just a few brief minutes at the door to a little bit longer of a conversation and hopefully eventually being able to get into their home to sit down and spend a longer time with them talking about the lessons. So I like to say, “Hey, by the way, next time maybe we can share a little bit more about what really spoke to us, each of these lessons as we went through them.” And then after that, I simply say, just before I leave, “I’d like to pray with you again. Is there anything in particular you’d like me to pray about?” And again, follow that same process, listen to what they have to say, say short prayer, praying about the specific thing. And then I simply say, “Have a great evening and I’ll see you next week at the same time.” And then I leave promptly.

Byron: That’s what I do if they’ve studied the lessons, if they did not study the lessons, what I like to say is, “Hey, I know life is busy and I also know that you really wanted to do this too. Would it help if we studied the lessons together? Or do you want to give it another try on your own this week?” And I’ll wait for them to respond. If they say to me, “let me try this again on my own this week” then I say, “Hey, that’s great. And just so it doesn’t get overwhelming for you, why don’t I hang on to these next two lessons until next week so that you can finish the first two, and I’ll bring them back with me when we touch bases next time.” And then after their response there, then I just wrap up the visit with the same process, asking if there’s anything I can pray about with them having prayer and then leaving.

Byron: If they say to me “It would help if we study them together.” Then I like to say “That’s great, do you have a few minutes that you’d like to do that right now, or shall we plan for another time?” And if they say to me, “Yeah, now is fine.” Then what I’ll do is I’ll step into the home with them and I’ll only spend about 15 to 20 minutes. I don’t go through the whole lesson, I go through several questions with them and then after 15 or 20 minutes I say, “See? Do you see how this works now? I don’t want to keep you any longer this evening, so why don’t I have prayer with you and be on my way and you can finish up the rest of the lessons before next week when I get back to you, okay?” And so then I wrap up the visit for them. If they say “Let’s plan for another time.” Then I say “No problem about that. Would tomorrow evening work for you or is there another evening?” So I right away follow up with them to set up the time and if they say, “Well, tomorrow evening is no good.” Then I say, “Well, what would be a good time for you?” And I just keep working with them to get to the place where we can make that appointment set that time to go back and look at the lesson together. And then of course, after we get that time set, I wrap up in the same way by asking them for prayer, telling them I’ll hang on to the next two lessons until we see each other next time and have prayer and go.

Byron: Since our goal, like I said, is to get a weekly in-home Bible study going with these interests, by the third visit, we want to try to be moving in the direction of getting to that in-home connection. And so if they’ve been doing them on their own, and I’ve just been dropping them off at the door, what I say is, “Hey Bob, I’m back again with your next two Bible studies.” I don’t have them to them right at that moment, but I say, “I’m back again with your next two Bible studies. How are things going for you with the studies so far?” And then I listen for their response and then if they say, they are really enjoying them and learning stuff, I say “That’s great. I’d really love to hear more about some of the things you’ve learned. Could I sit down with you for just a few minutes and hear a little bit more and maybe talk about some questions if you have any?” So I’m just asking, I’m just beginning to open that door up gently to them. If they respond to that and invite me in, then again, I take that time to talk with them a little bit, but I don’t stay more than 15 to 20 minutes. Just make it short. Wrap up the visit by praying for them their specific prayer request. And then I just keep going back each week to build on that personal connection. And then, hopefully, as it has in many cases, turns into a weekly sit down Bible study where you’re spending more time going through the lesson, reviewing what they’ve studied on their own and answering questions.

Byron: If a person never does the lessons that you are trying to drop off for them, and you’re never able to get into their home, after seven visits or after you’ve dropped off a total of 14 lessons, you can stop going to their home. However, don’t just drop them altogether. This is a person who showed a lot of interest, enough interest to sign up for personal Bible studies. And so if they’re not following through somehow when you’re stopping by to visit, or maybe you’re never catching people home, and so after a while you’re starting to leave lessons at the door for them with a note. What I want to encourage you to do is add those names, their contact information to your interest file. And then whenever you do an event at your church, a social event, a bridge event, any kind of a community sort of event, send them an email or a text message inviting them to come out. Give them a personal invitation via email or via text message to come out because you never know when they’re going to be ready to respond and when they’re going to be activated and take that next step.

Byron: If a person tells you they’re not interested in continuing the studies, then you need to respect that and stop going to their home. However, once again, go ahead and add them to your interest file. And whenever you do an event at your church like I just talked about, send them an email or a text message, invite in them to come out because once again, we never know what the Holy Spirit is doing in people’s lives and how they’re going to respond.

Byron: All right, thank you. I’ve tried to cover a lot of ground really quickly. I’m going to send it back to Sarah here to give you an Interest Tracker demo real quick.

Sarah: Byron, I just want to thank you for what you shared. As somebody who came into the church as a young adult, I appreciate your approach that works to establish trust and moves towards relationship in a way that’s very aware of the person and caring of the person. I know that that was really important to me as a young adult. Anyways, I appreciate your approach and think that that’s great.

The live demonstration might show more than what is listed below. Some steps have been removed or paraphrased to make the feature assets read clearly.

Sarah: All right. So I’m going to go ahead and share my screen and we are going to view my InterestTracker screen and we’re going to do a quick demo. I’m going to run through it really quick. This is not going to be comprehensive. What I’m going to do here is show you how you can use InterestTracker to further those relationships. This is a tool to move interests towards membership. So we’re going to run through it really quick and we’ll send out some more comprehensive training afterwards.

Sarah: When you initially log in, you’re going to see your dashboard. It’s going to give you a very quick glance at SMS messages, tasks, offer requests, your number of interests, if there are any new ones. As Byron had mentioned, this is really going to be successful as a team effort. So I’m going to jump first to user management and show you how to add your team members onto your InterestTracker account.

Sarah: So first you have your left navigation panel. The ones that have a little arrow are going to have a drop-down menu to expand. To set up your team is going to be very simple. You click on the users and you’re just going to click “Add New User” button. Once you click that, it’s just going to ask you for a few pieces of information. You’re going to need somebody’s name, their email, and then you’re going to need to assign their role.

There are three user roles that you can select from:  Church Admin, a Coordinator, and a Basic User.

  • Church Admin is going to have access to everything in Interest Tracker.
  • The Coordinator is going to have access to everything except being able to add, edit or delete other users.
  • And then your basic user is only going to have access to the interests that are assigned to them.

Sarah: So you’re going to enter those three things, click Save. The system is going to send them an email that lets them know they’ve been invited to Interest Tracker. They’re going to click a link to establish their password and then they’ll be in the system and see whatever access their user level allows them to. So that’s setting up your new users. Once somebody is set up, you’re going to want to have them, or a Church admin, go in and set up their User notification settings.

Sarah: And the ones I want to specifically focus on right now are “alert settings”. You’ll see there’s alerts for when a new interest is assigned to them, a new task or to do is assigned to them, or new offer delivery. Those are all turned on by default. Somebody can turn them off, but we recommend they stay on. Those are not things you want to miss. “New unassigned Interest added” is for somebody is a church Admin or a Coordinator. This is going to be helpful to you in this how Interest Tracker is going to notify you when you have a new interest that is imported into the system that is not assigned to somebody. So those new Bible study requests when they come in, this here is what will notify anybody that has that turned on our system will notify somebody through a different email. But this will allow you to set up whoever on your team needs to get those notifications. Once you’re done setting those up, you just click Save and it will be set.

Sarah: The Interest List is where you’re going to see all of your interests in your church account. Now you can change the number of entries that are shown. As you are starting out the default at 50 will probably cover them all, but as you continue to grow your Interest List, or maybe if you import a list in there, then you’ll quickly exceed that and we’ll need to set that. You’ll see you can change your column visibility so you can change what columns are available on your list view. So you can add when they were added, when their last interaction was their birthday, or an alternate phone number, zip code, etc. You select them, click outside the box and it will add those columns. And then to remove them, you just do the same thing. You’re going to remove any that you don’t want to view and then just click outside the box.

Sarah: You can also export your list by a number of different ways so you can just copy it to a clipboard. That’s helpful. When you want to do a bulk email, export it to an Excel sheet, labels, etc.

Sarah: Once somebody is imported into the system because they’ve responded to your Bible study ads, they will be imported into the system and it’s going to assign tags to them automatically. Which real quick, tags are used to sort your list. You can use those to put people into groups. If you have members that you import, you can tag them as members. Each of your leads that come in are going to be imported with “LeadGenerator” and “Bible study interest” tags. So you can always search by those as well.

Sarah: Anytime you click on a tag, it’s going to sort your list (you’ll see in the search) by that tag. So you can search by a tag just simply by clicking on it. You can also search by name, by who it’s assigned to, etc.

Sarah: Looking at a profile, you’ll see the information that came in, their phone number, email address, address, their age. And again, the tags here. You’re going to see the Offer request which shows the theme of the ad. Now, again, I’m just going to mention what I did earlier. “God Cares” is not a specific Bible study. This is a theme of an ad. So again, if it says that here, we can use this to understand that they were drawn to this ad as somebody who is likely looking for more information on the character and the love of God. So using that to inform us as we go and visit them is helpful.

Sarah: Now, the difference between notes and interactions, a note is like more of an FYI. An interaction is something that is exactly what it was. It was some kind of interaction between you and the lead.

Sarah: Once you have delivered their Bible study request or once you’ve made contact with them you use the Deliver button. And once you click it, I just want to let you know this does not deliver them anything. This is for your information to let you know that somebody has made contact with them. So mark that action as delivered, list who it was delivered by, an dput any delivery notes. Example: “Sherry accepted two studies we’ll plan to revisit in one week.” Then you can add a follow-up as well. So this is going to make sure that nobody falls through the cracks. Again, this is a tool to help establish relationships, move towards a deeper relationship. We want to make sure that nobody is slipping through the cracks. To-do items can get assigned to anyone on your team, and they would get a notification of that task.

Sarah: Use this to communicate with your team. Make sure that any notes, if a lead mentions some struggles that they are having or some things that are going on in their life, feel free to put those in there. And then somebody else, if they need to make contact with them, or if they shows up to church some Sabbath, somebody on your team is going to have some more information there to be informed when they communicate with them. Once tasks are finished it will move it to an interaction and then you can set a new one.

Sarah: Again, if you have an existing interest list, import them in here and start using that to track your interactions, assign them to team members, set follow ups, all of that good stuff.

Sarah: In the to do list you can see if there was a delivery, any notifications and SMS messages. Now church admins are going to be able to see everybody’s tasks because they have access to other users. You can see completed follow ups as well for a quick glance of upcoming and completed tasks.

Sarah: I want to quickly touch on SMS messaging. Now, as Byron mentioned, we highly recommend going to the door, and trying to make a personal connection. When you do need to communicate, most of us know this from our own personal experience in how we interact with technology, text messages have a higher open rate. They have a higher response rate, of like 90% compared to email, which is much lower. You guys as part of your plan are going to have SMS messaging. This is something that you can do through the system here. One of the things that you can do with the SMS messaging through the system is you can do bulk messages, which is a great way if you send out like a Friday encouragement, something that you can send out inspirational messages from scripture. When you do, we always recommend having an opportunity to respond. So you might reference a Bible verse that lets them know that God is with them through the storm or God hears us when we pray. And then you can add something like “need prayer?” or “would you like to learn more?” to the end of your message and give an opportunity to respond. So you can either go through and click a couple of names, all of the names, or filter by tag. And then when you scroll down to the bottom, you’re going to see interest list management which is going to allow you to do a lot of different bulk tasks.

Sarah: You can send texts immediately or you can also check a box to send it for a future date and time. So if you want to sit down on a Monday morning and schedule out the next three Fridays inspirational text messages, or maybe you’re going to schedule it for Friday to invite everybody to a special service that you have on Sabbath or a special event that you have going on, you can do that in the sytem. One last thing, you’re going to be able to see the text message phone number that is assigned to your church, so you can hand that out. There will be one that’s unique to your church, and we’ll get that set up for you, but you’ll be able to hand that out as well. It’s a text messaging only, not a phone number. So if you do hand it out to somebody, make sure that they know is that they can’t call it.

Sarah: You can set up custom fields through interaction types. Under the interactions, we can select whether it’s a home visit, a phone call, email, whatever. There’s a whole list there. You can add custom interaction types, custom fields, all of those things. And then custom tags as well, if there’s any that aren’t covered.

Sarah: There are a whole lot of help articles to help you if you are not sure how to navigate something in InterestTracker. If you happen to run into anything that’s not working, our developers are always adding new features, you can send in a bug report, or if there’s a feature you’d like to see, or if there’s something that you love, you can send that in with Kudos. And then our team will know that that is a feature that’s getting some good use.

(Please watch the webinar recording to hear the Q&A with host churches.)

Byron: I’m excited about what God is going to do with the partnership that the churches, SermonView, and Texas Conference are embarking on with The Promise Prophecies. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to SermonView and they will pass any questions on to me. God bless you. I’m excited to be on this journey with you. We’ll communicate and help with whatever we can do to support your local churches in this program.

There will be more training opportunities and host resources available for your team.

As more host resources and training opportunities become available, they will be posted on online at Host resources will include downloadable files such as moderator and event coordinator guides, team checklists, sample scripts, bulletin inserts, training videos, and more.

At SermonView, we have a passion for ministry, and we’re nerds for marketing.

We believe that church exists for those who are not yet part of it, so our passion is helping churches like yours reach people in your community who are ready to connect with you. We do that by helping you market your evangelistic events, and by finding people in your community ready to study the Bible with you. And we can also help you turn your church website into an evangelism engine.

The SermonView crew would love to help you reach more people for Christ. Let us know if you have any questions about LeadGenerator or the upcoming evangelistic series by calling 800-525-5791.

Engaging Your Bible Study Leads – An Interview with Special Guest, Lavinia Collins

Lori Ball Evangelism Practices, Fall Evangelism, From the Field, Marketing Practices

“Congratulations! You have a new Bible study lead.”

These can be exciting words to read, but if you aren’t sure how to approach a new lead (or if you’ve had a rough experience in the past with a “bad lead”) you might feel a little uneasy when getting this message.

In this webinar, SermonView founder and president Larry Witzel dives head first into how to start the relationship-building process with your Bible study leads with special guest, Lavinia Collins.

Lavinia is the Bible Instructor & Leads Program Coordinator at Georgia-Cumberland Conference. She has trained volunteers from hundreds of churches all over the south, and over the years she has learned what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to building and maintaining momentum with Bible study leads. Now she will share with you key principles for connecting with leads that your team can start implementing today.

Here are excerpts from this conversation:

Larry: Alright Lavinia, let’s dive in. The first question: tell us about yourself and what you do there at the Georgia Cumberland Conference.

Lavinia: Sure, I’m a Bible instructor. I have been in ministry for about 20 years, primarily as a Bible worker or Bible instructor coordinator basically. So at the Georgia Cumberland Conference, I’m the Bible Instructor Coordinator and as of a couple of years ago, we also developed the Conference’s “Reach Your Neighbor Leads Program”, so I am the program coordinator for that as well. We have a team of ten regional Bible instructors that we try our best to cover as many churches in the conference and equip members to be doing the Bible studies.

Larry: Tell me more about the Bible work program and how your Lead program works.

Lavinia:  The Bible instructors primarily train people how to give Bible studies, how to do personal evangelism, and how to do friendship evangelism. Basically, how to minister to the people that God has placed in their life. And as people have been getting trained naturally they’re wondering “Who do I give Bible studies to, where do I start?” So the natural thing obviously is to reach out to their friends and their family members, which works out beautifully. All you have to do sometimes is just ask somebody, “Would you let me practice on you?” But outside of that, there’s always the need to be able to reach out to those we haven’t met. God did say “go”, so the Leads program was born and our focus is to find the people that are interested in Bible studies and connect them to the people in our churches that are willing to meet them and give Bible studies. A simple way to define the Reach Your Neighbor Leads program is basically to connect the local church member with searching souls in the community in order for them to start Bible studies and build relationships.

Larry: Nice. Can you tell us a couple of stories about the experiences that members have had working in this program?

Lavinia: There are always stories, we get so many coming in now. I’ve actually picked a couple of them that are more typical as opposed to these super “wow” stories, where people are like “oh wow, that happens only once in whatever”, but people could recognize how it could happen or have experienced something like that. One happened in North Georgia, where one of the Bible study leads had been receiving Bible studies through the mail from a church member that was sending them to her with personal notes and was faithfully sending her the lessons. The church member was not sure to what extent this lady, Gayla, was actually doing the lessons—receiving them, enjoying, and attributing them in her life—and apparently, Gayla had been getting all the way past the Sabbath study, did the other ones too, and had become increasingly convicted that she wanted to find a Sabbath-keeping church. So she actually did a search and found the only church in her area to which she bravely showed up on a Sabbath morning to a church not knowing what to expect.

When she was in the church lobby, a very friendly greeter came up to her and greeted her. When she said her name, her Bible study person (the member that had been sending her Bible studies) yells across the lobby. She hears Gayla’s name and she yells across the room, “That’s MY person!” and quickly approaches her, to which obviously Gayla was in shock. Like, okay, I don’t know you. What do you mean I’m “your person?” And they proceed to understand their connection. “I’m the one that’s been praying for you for months now. I’ve been sending you these lessons in the mail. I can’t believe you’re here today. That’s so awesome!” It was so neat to see that, even though she didn’t know to what extent these people were going through, it was during the pandemic, so there wasn’t a lot of in-person visitation. This lady was guided by God as a result of the things she was learning from the Bible studies, and she found an instant friend that had been deeply committed to her, without ever having met her in her life and praying for her. So fast forward, Gayla has been baptized already. She’s joined the church! Gayla feels like she has found the family she’s always been looking for. And the part that’s neat now is now Gayla follows up on leads, and starting to give Bible studies because she’s so excited that she can do that for someone else.

So that’s the power of that program, and I love that story, but that’s not the only one. It keeps happening to the people that are coming in and getting baptized. Then they become part of the group. We move their name from the “interest” part of InterestTracker to “users.” That’s the full cycle where they themselves reach out to other leads or to their friends and start giving Bible studies.

Another story is about a lady who was willing to take the lessons from the mail, but there was no response back. So earlier this year when we decided to just visit everybody, the church member decided to go out and visit all the people she’s mailed to and one of the people that she visited got really excited and said, “I would love to sit down and go over these studies with you.” So the church member obviously offered to be a personal coach. So they set the time for the Bible studies. She showed up the first time and the lady wasn’t home. And you would think that at this point the church member could easily feel like her lead wasn’t that interested and just give up, which sometimes we do. But after waiting for half an hour, and not being able to get a hold of her by phone, the church member was faithful enough to go again three different times until she found her home again and say, “All right, when can we schedule this?”

And they have been faithfully studying in spite of that first delay. She no longer misses the lessons. The church member says she writes her notes faithfully and she meets up with her. They have just covered the Sabbath studies, so that’s now going to hopefully transition and give an opportunity to introduce her to more of the people at the church when that time comes. But I love how this shows again that many times we think of giving up too soon and make assumptions that people are not interested, whereas there is a balance between pursuing and not pursuing too hard. We need to realize there’s a lot more to do on our part than we think initially.

There are so many other stories, I can’t go through them all. But, just a quick mention, there was a lady that was watching Hope Channel in the background when somebody showed up. Imagine the excitement this person was having because all this stuff is already in her heart. Or people that are attending community events that are not just doing Bible studies, but they’re attending community events. And we have a church that has a goal, and it’s almost close to it, of having 100 Bible studies in one year. And they’re getting there, slowly but surely. There are hundreds of church members giving hundreds of Bible studies all over our conference, and we’re hearing so many powerful stories of people getting to know God and getting to know us, his children, as a result.

Larry: That’s awesome! Let’s talk about some principles for interacting with interests. When you get a lead, what are some principles covering how you interact with people?

Lavinia: Yes, it’s very important. The main principle I always go to at the beginning is for us to realize the importance that God stresses on the fact that we need to “go” and we need to “seek.” There’s a verse in Romans 10:14-15, and we all know it when He basically says, “how can they call on Him that they have not believed? How can they believe if they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher? And then He says, how beautiful are the feet of those that go, that bring glad tidings.” So these feet don’t just stay at church, in the church lobby, or at home, and expect to see people come to them. Right? We’re bringing glad tidings. We’re “going” because how can they hear unless there’s a preacher, and a preacher gets sent? So it is very important for us to remember that although we can have a beautiful church program and a great greeting system out in the lobby, we need to “go and seek”, we need to be available to them.

There is another quote, Desire of Ages, on page 142. It says that “God could have reached His object of saving sinners without our aid.” He could have done it without our aid, He could have used the angels. And many times I wonder, why wouldn’t He? They could do a way better job than I can. No matter how many training seminars I go to there’s no way I could do it. God uses people, He doesn’t use the angels. He says, in order for us to develop a character like Christ, we must share in His work. So if we have this mindset and if we realize these principles of the Divine method, the Divine recipe, then everything else lines up well. Because if I know that God must use me, then I just know that all I have to do is depend on Him. It’s His method. He’s the one that came up with it, so I just have to trust it. These people are just needing someone to be sent, and He has sent me for it.

Which leads to the second principle. And that is many times we are thinking that if I just attend enough seminars, get enough training, could go to this school, if I was just a pastor, if I had a master’s in evangelism, then I could do it. And it’s not like that. That’s not what we should rely on. We’re supposed to rely on prayer because we’re only relying on God. Look at the Quote in Christ’s Object Lessons, page 146. It is so interesting. It says, “It is not the capabilities you now possess or ever will have.”

Whatever your fill in the blank, “If I get to this point of knowledge, then I can start giving Bible studies.” You will never have enough for what this work requires you. It’s not the capabilities you now possess or ever will have, that will give you success. It is that which the Lord can do for you and through you. And the one that comes right after that in Christ’s Object Lessons on page 333. It says, “As the will of man cooperates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent.” It just blows your mind, if we just could claim this and whatever is to be done at His command, may be accomplished in His strength, all His bidding and enabling.

If you get nothing else out of this webinar and you pause here, that’s sufficient. I keep saying, “If God can use a donkey, He can use me.” And may we be more like the donkey, so that He can actually get the glory.

And I’ve seen people that have had very little training, very faithfully trust in God, and get result after result after result. It blows my mind because of the methods they use sometimes, I wouldn’t use it, but they are trusting in God for it, and they are getting their strength from Him and the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is blessing their efforts.

Now, there is a place for training, don’t get me wrong. God says, “an army of youth, rightly trained.” So I’m not saying there isn’t a need for training, but our dependence is not on our training. Our dependence is on God and on prayer.

One principle, you’ll hear me mention it again later, is that we team everybody up with prayer partners. Everybody gets a prayer partner. And the people that they’re going to visit are being prayed for by them and their prayer partners. The “foot soldier”, as I would call it, is the one that goes in the field, their hands are being held up by the prayer partner when they go out. That’s not an option or a nice addition, that is imperative. Without that, it doesn’t work. Just like Joshua with the battle, when Moses’ hands were being held up, if Moses’ hands were not held up, no matter how good of a soldier Joshua was, the battle would not be won. There is no other way around it. It’s the only way it works. So that’s why I’m emphasizing these two at the beginning because they are the only ones that really are the foundation of everything.

I have three more principles. Think of it in the life of a plant: sow, cultivate, and reap. A lot of times we are looking to get to reap where we have not sown. It’s important for us to be able to sow, cultivate, and reap a harvest. There’s a story of the berry picking that comes from Ellen White. She talks about many times people tried to pull on green fruit and how the green fruit was not supposed to be pulled. We’re only supposed to be pulling on ripe berries. Understand the concept of what it means to come across a ripe berry. Understand that it takes time for something to grow. If it grows super fast, it may be on stony ground. There are so many principles in seed sowing, and in that Ellen White’s vision from berry picking. Many people would go to these bushes and would tell her, “We found nothing. How are you finding a bush of royal berries?” And she says, “They’re not all together. I pick one from here and one from there. They’re in places you don’t expect and they’re not on the outside. You have to dig through the leaves and find them one by one.”

There’s a lot in that parable that also goes into the principle of being organized. She goes to the wagon afterward with her bushel full of berries, ready to put them in some kind of container and go back and pick more. And she found out the wagon had absolutely no preparations for holding anything that was picked and brought back. And I think that’s because the process hadn’t been thought through. Many times we don’t think through the process of all the steps that it takes either. What if we get a lead and we don’t even have the supplies yet? Were the Bible studies ordered ahead of time so you are ready for when a lead comes? Maybe think through the steps of when they eventually come to church. Is there a Sabbath school class that’s friendly for them? Whatever the steps may be, we need to be prepared and go through all this process with them.

Another principle that I’m very convicted by, and this can be discouraging at times, is for us to persevere and to expect tears at times. And I know that sounds like a strange principle, but I have a verse I’m basing it on, it’s Psalm 126:5. It says, “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Does it say, those who sow in joy? You’re at the beginning with most of these people on their journey of learning about God and the Bible. If you’re sowing in the lives of these leads and there are no tears, then you’re not experiencing this verse. It may sound like a strange way to look at it, but at some point, there is going to be some kind of wrestling with God. You’ll probably experience heartbreak as you wrestle for their souls in prayer with God. Many times we forget this verse exists and we are shocked by the tears that come with evangelism and with sowing.

There is a Christian service quote on page 101. It’s one of my favorites. It says, “If you fail 99 times in 100, but succeed in saving the one soul from ruin, you have done a noble deed for the Master’s cause.” (If you fail 99 times in 100, God says, “Good job!”) Look at it from His perspective and realize it’s a little bit different than we tend to think, but this is the way that He views success. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not grow weary while doing good. For in due season we will weep if we do not lose heart.” So if you find yourself growing weary, you’re not the only one. I grow weary all the time. I think we all do. And then I go back on my knees and I ask God to fulfill this worst in my life and to help me not grow weary while doing good. The promise is in due season, we will reap if we don’t lose heart and persevere.

And just one last principle that I want to throw in here, just in case it’s not common knowledge: use normal social interaction principles. I’m assuming I’m talking to people who are Adventists, but it just seems that a lot of times in Adventism (or maybe it’s just true in Evangelism) we almost forget that “normal human interaction principles” are the way that we’re supposed to do it. How would you walk up to somebody and tell them about an exciting book you’ve been reading? How would you walk up and tell them about a new restaurant you found? How would you expect that interaction to be with a brand new person you met? Put yourself in their shoes, and try to think of things from their perspective. They filled out a Facebook ad, and you showed up at their door. Is that something that you think they might be excited about, or maybe they’re surprised? Assume that if you were in this situation, you would be surprised too. You can gauge your behavior accordingly just by trying to put yourself in their shoes.

Larry: That’s really good stuff. I love these five principles. Let’s talk about some tactics. Tell us some specific communication tactics that you use to coach your Bible study volunteers.


When it comes to communication, a lot of times the simple and obvious things need to be stated. So I’m going to go through some of the obvious ones. The first one is if possible, you need to reach your new leads within a few days to a couple of weeks. Especially if it’s a Facebook ad. They were probably in the middle of a Facebook page or looking at a friend’s account, then they saw the ad which they can fill out so fast (sometimes they may even do auto-fill) they click submit, and then they’re back to looking at another friend’s pictures. If it’s too many weeks past that, the memory of filling out the form has been lost. It wasn’t like they sat down and filled out a postcard, put a stamp on it, and walked it down to the mailbox. It happened so fast that it slips their mind, and we have to hit the iron when it’s hot. We cannot be waiting on these things. I recommend the church does not turn on the campaign until they’re ready to act right away so that when they actually come through, we jump on them quickly. And it just shows respect for this person’s request. Somebody requested something and they should get it when they expect it.

Another one is in-person is best. There is a huge, huge difference in the number of reactions we get from people when it happens in person, rather than trying to text, email, or do a phone call. I know it’s less convenient, but it’s harder. I know it’s a long drive sometimes to go to their home and you risk them not being there, but it makes such a big difference. And I know that when you get there, they’re not expecting you in person. So all of those shocks and all of those things keep members sometimes from actually going in person, and then they get the kind of results that happen by only text, which seems to be like only 1 out of 50 people that respond or something disappointing like that sometimes. It just seems to be so hard just by text. If you have no choice and no way of getting out to them in person and you only have that, then try that multiple times and make it very personalized.

We recommend people go in person with a gift bag. Why a gift bag? Because it causes a paradigm shift in the person that goes up to the door. It’s just as much for the church member as it is for the lead. Sometimes we feel like we’re selling them something or we think we’re asking them for a favor, and our body language starts reflecting that kind of thinking. When you show up with a gift, then everyone is excited. And your body language and smile relax them because they’ve never met you, but they see a gift bag. (It’s actually quite fun!) And in the gift bag we put the Bible study lessons one and two (not the whole set because we want to keep coming back) and a nice quality gift book like Steps to Christ. A book that looks valuable. You don’t have to pay a lot of money for some of these because we have them in nice quality in bulk at Adventist Book Center. And then put a letter in there. It should have your contact information and explain it to them in case you have to leave it on the doorstep. And then sometimes just one other little thing like a bookmark, so that it feels like you have a gift bag with several things.

We have scripts on our website that we use for in-person visits too. We cover tips and scripts for how to handle questions or shock when you first show up at the door, with easy ways of explaining to them.

For example, you can say, “Yes, we know. Everybody says they expect to get it through the mail, but there’s a lot of stuff in here, and the post office has been losing so many things, especially since COVID. I’m a local representative in your area and I just wanted to make sure you got this and that it didn’t get lost. Plus this way you can also have my contact information since I am your prayer partner, I’ve been assigned to pray for you.”

And then that’s when you can lead into, “Are there any specific things can I pray for you? I’ve been praying for you anyway. Can I pray for something more specific?” And you are in person and you are friendly, it’s just different than trying to do that by phone.

There are two goals that I also wanted to share here in your interactions. One goal is to try to get them into Bible studies, it can be either personal or correspondence. So it doesn’t have to be personal studies. Don’t allow yourself to add that kind of pressure. Work with where they’re at. Think of Jesus’s methods. He met everybody where they were and then moved them a little further on that line, so to speak. One is to get them to have Bible studies, but the second is to form lifetime relationships with them or church members. Those are the two goals, not just at the first time, but throughout your interactions with them. You want to look for opportunities for them to continue communication with you and contact points with you and with other church members besides just Bible studies. And if you try to aim at these goals, then it makes it easy for you to know what to do and what to say. How do I get them to engage in Bible studies? How do I get them to interact on a consistent basis with me and my friends?

And then number four I already kind of mentioned, which is becoming their prayer partner. You have already been putting their name on a card in your Bible, ideally, so you have it at your morning devotions. It’s their name. And the other five or ten names, however many names have been assigned, they’re in your card, and you’re praying for them daily. And then when you’re meeting them in person, you want to know what prayer request you can add under those names. And then you also would give those prayer requests to your prayer partner that has been praying for them along with you. And that becomes very important to let them know, I am praying for you, and I want to know how specifically to pray for you. And then it’s possible to pray with them really briefly before you leave that day when you’re at their door. Sometimes that can take a person from stone cold to even tears or warming up to you when they hear your caring prayer on their behalf specifically for what they said.

All right, so just a few more here, make sure you have their contact information. It is very important that you give them your contact information. Obviously, you’ve got some of theirs, so maybe you’re missing a phone number or an email or something that you want to confirm, but give them your contact information. And if you want to just put neutral contact information from the church, we recommend people to have a hotline so that they’re not calling and hearing you’ve reached ____ Seventh-day Adventist Church. That way when they’re calling they hear, “Hello! You’ve reached My FREE Bible Study. If you have questions or prayer requests, please leave a message. Someone will get back to you.” It’s nice to be able to have that and for a church to see themselves as a community center in which you have a community voicemail and a community hotline. And a lot of times, sometimes people ask, “Why can’t I just put my church’s Seventh-day Adventist contact info?” And my reasoning for that is the same reason why Jesus did not say, “I am the Messiah” to every single person He met. In fact, very few people did He ever reveal that to. And those who knew it He would tell them not to speak it because not everybody was ready to hear “I am the Messiah.” It was about a time and a place, and these people don’t know us yet. They need to know more about us. They need to know more about God. They need to see the bridges of so many things that we have in common prior to bringing in new information like that. The Holy Spirit can be completely different from that, so follow the Holy Spirit. But it’s nice to have something more neutral as you first meet them, because of the negative connotation sometimes a community can have with the name Seventh-day Adventist. And it depends if it’s a city or rural area. In rural areas there’s a lot more prejudice, so you have to be even more careful with that.

One more principle is to basically be respectful, and allow them to engage. Don’t pursue too hard, be available to guide them without being pushy. Keep in mind when you’re out the door, if they’re very stand-off-ish, if their stuff is on the stove, if a child is crying, any of those things, just make it short. Skip the prayer, give her the bag, and get out of there. Like, what is the most respectful thing? What communicates the most love? But at the same time realize that you have something greater to give them that they may not be aware of and make sure that you pursue them because they are not fully aware of what you’re giving them. So don’t be too passive. Balance those two together.

Another communication tactic is to start the Bible studies gradually. Sometimes people are ready to sit down and study the Bible with you and sometimes they are not. They may just be okay with reviewing a lesson for five to ten minutes on the phone after they completed it, and that’s it. Over time, that can increase to 15 or 20-minute calls, and eventually a full sit-down in-person study. So keep in mind that you can start gradually and then increase as the Holy Spirit leads it. And then like I mentioned earlier, keep looking for ways to connect them not just with you, but also with church members. And not necessarily at church because they may not be ready for a Sabbath until they learn about the Sabbath. One of our churches did a kayak trip in which they invited their Bible study leads to go kayaking with them. And they had quite a big group that went and they had a blast together. The Bible study students met each other and they met the other church members.

So keep finding ways for these connections to happen. Again, it’s Bible studies and relationships, so try to build both in a natural way.

Larry: You guys are using InterestTracker to distribute the leads there in Georgia Cumberland, as well as for recording follow-up notes, to-do tasks, and that type of thing. Let’s talk about the mechanics of how the Bible study lead information flows. Can you go through that for us?


Yes, for sure. InterestTracker has been a lifesaver for our conference! If we did not have InterestTracker we would be stuck right now. We have looked for other software to do what we want it to do, and they just don’t work like InterestTracker. So thank you! What you guys are developing makes it so easy. The part that I love about it is that it does the basics of what we need and it doesn’t have too many bells and whistles that just confuse the church members.

When the campaign gets turned on the leads come straight into the church’s InterestTracker account. But, I just want to make sure before the campaign gets turned on, churches need to make sure they have all their supplies ready. Sometimes it’s easy to forget. Make sure you have your gift bags with your Bible studies, books, and your labels to put your number inside of the books. Make sure that you have everything you need so your team is ready. Your team should each have their own copies of the Bible studies that they’re going to be teaching. They should have their prayer partner, and they should have reviewed the scripts of what to say at the door. And last, they should have those gift bags ready in their trunk. This last Saturday at church people just came in, they assembled them, and they put them in the trunk. What we love is when a lead comes into InterestTracker we get an email notification to the account admin letting them know that they have a new lead and that account’s church admin can log in and review it. (This person could be the leads leader, the head secretary of some churches, or a pastor.) They log in and assign them to one of their team members. We try to make sure that, if possible, choose a church member that is geographically close to the lead, so you aren’t sending a member on the other side of town.

When that church member gets a lead assigned to them, they get an email notification letting them know and they log into their InterestTracker account to review the lead’s information. Hopefully, by this point in your preparation process (prior to this being turned on) each one of your team members has watched the short training videos on Those training videos show them what to do so your team members are not calling you to figure out how to log in or where to go once they are in. They should already have gone through that so you can help them and fine-tune your process, but you’re not starting from scratch. And then so they log in, they get their lead, they put them on their prayer card in their Bible. Then they call their prayer partner and they give them the same name to pray for (or ideally many names, right?) because each person should be able to handle 5 to 10 names probably. And then after they pray for them, they deliver the offer. They bring them that gift bag with the Bible studies that they already built out.

And then, depending on that interaction, you would add notes to your InterestTracker account. You should also update your prayer partner as to what their new prayer requests are or whatever the case may be. And this is the next part that sometimes can also get dropped. It’s important that after you’ve made that initial interaction, you get in the habit of connecting with this person every week or every other week at the most. Either for giving them the next set of studies, praying with them, reviewing the study with them, or maybe inviting them to a community event so you’re always connecting. In this way, you are keeping a rhythm of connecting.

You can create this as a follow-up task in InterestTracker or you can put it in your calendar to remind you to keep staying in rhythm with these people regardless of their contact. Because as you guys remember from the testimonies at the beginning, things are happening, the Lord is working in their life. You just have to continue making yourself available through that and then you can bring them to these community events. As time goes on, it’s important to make sure that you also write notes in InterestTracker so that the leads leader can see them too because sometimes they need to connect with their church members, and their teammates.

Your team is going to get in a habit of getting together with the leads leader once a month at least, maybe a couple of times a month, for encouragement, support, and for questions. Notes become important both externally and internally because things happen in our lives and that’s why it’s nice to work with a whole team at church with InterestTracker. So that’s what we do with that and what we recommend that happens with the flow. And like I said before, I mean, I just love the fact that InterstTracker allows for all of that to happen. Including texting straight through the software if you’re wanting to send a reminder to your person and keep things organized well.

Larry: Well, interest tracker has been something that we put a lot of effort in just listening to Bible workers like yourself and pastors and church leaders. It’s something that we’re really glad to be able to offer. I’m glad to hear that it’s something that’s been a blessing for you guys there in Georgia Cumberland.

Lavinia: Yes, we appreciate it. What is it you guys call yourself? Geeks for Christ. We definitely need it.

Larry: We have a passion for ministry, and we’re nerds for marketing.

Lavinia: Nerds for marketing. That’s it. I love it.

Larry: Let’s talk about the expectations of your volunteers. You mentioned earlier that not every lead turns into a Bible study. So what do you do to set expectations, to then prepare them to have less discouragement as they’re going through the process?


When Bible workers are at this for a while, we kind of know what to expect and when to get excited. I had to come up with a percentage for sharing with our team. It seems to be about 10-40% of the leads turn into conversations or Bible studies—when you’re being consistent. And people are shocked when they see that. And they just started. They’re like, “What do you mean? I got ten people that have requested Bible studies! Like, they actually filled out a form that has their name, phone number, email, and their address. I mean, that’s a lot of commitment to give that much information to a stranger online, you know what I mean, in today’s generation. So if I have 10 of these, what do you mean only 10-40% of those will turn into conversational Bible studies?” It’s just how it works. We have to go through the process. Some people have experienced 50% or more. It just depends sometimes on the area, the approach, and the experience of your church members, but it is on average 10%-40%, and that has helped set expectations. People realize after being consistent and continuing to check in with them, and still only getting 3 out of 10 engaging, that it is completely normal and actually very exciting.

People have a spiritual interest. God is working in their life, you just need to find out how you can minister to them. It may be that you’re their prayer partner. It may be that you become their friend, that you become their correspondence Bible teacher, their actual sitdown Bible teacher and coach. Or just someone that occasionally invites them to events or helps them unload the groceries because they were unloading their trunk when you got there for the first visit. So you just have to find out where you can minister in their life and be happy with your part. Because our duty is not for that end result, whatever, we imagine that to be, our duty is very clear. It’s supposed to be consistently planning, praying, and being available to God and to them.

Be patient with the process. It can be a long journey, let God do the increase. There are a couple of quotes that I use for this on a regular basis to keep my expectations balanced. It is one from the Duke of Wellington, in Gospel Workers. It says the Duke of Wellington was present once at a party of Christians where men were discussing the possibility of success in a missionary effort among the heathen. They appealed to the Duke to see whether his judgment in such efforts was likely to prove successful. And the Duke answers, “Gentlemen, what are your marching orders? Success is not the question for you to discuss. If I read your orders right, they run thus: ‘Go. Go, ye in all the world, preach the gospel to every creature.’ Gentlemen, obey your marching orders.” I love the simplicity of this quote and of this man’s thinking. He is saying do not worry yourself about “the success.” You’re supposed to be faithful to your marching orders. You’re a soldier in the army of Christ. Don’t worry about how, and what works in what order. Trust that God will give the result.

And then Ecclesiastes 11:6 says, “In the morning, so your seed. In the evening do not withhold your hand, for you don’t know what will prosper. Either this or that or what are both alike will be good.” That’s our faithfulness. So in the morning send out your text messages, in the evening do your in-person visitation, and pray for them every day in your devotional time. You don’t know what will prosper, just be faithful, and don’t worry about it.

I’ve got a friend in the conference, she’s a Bible instructor, and she too, just like all of us, experience frustration and discouragement from something not happening the way or at the speed that we would like. And I love how God answered her prayer. She asked God to, show her that what she was doing is working. She’s sowing her seeds in the morning, she’s sowing her seed in the evening, and she’s being faithful. She has been sending these messages and these Bible studies to this gentleman in South Georgia, far away from her, so she had no ability to visit him. (It’s one of the “orphans” as we call them.) They’re in our mission areas basically, and she had no idea if anything was happening. But she still faithfully sent these lessons. And then that very next day, her mom calls her up and says, “You won’t believe what just happened at church today.” Now, her mom was her prayer partner who would pray for the leads that she would be following up with. And her mom lives a couple of hours away in Tennessee, and this person was from South Georgia. Her mom said, “so and so just walked into our church this morning.” (He has a unique name, I don’t remember what it is.) And she said, he walked in and I was a greeter at church on that Sabbath. She says, “I’m pretty sure he’s the guy on your list. You have got to go and look, I think it’s him”! My friend thinks, what are the odds? What would he be doing in an Adventist church? Her mom says, “He told me it was the first time he was ever in an Adventist church.” She goes, okay, let me go look in the database and she just prays, “Lord, if this is from You, I pray that you would help him to continue the lessons.” He randomly texts that evening for the first time in response to the numerous texts she had sent before.

“Please don’t give up on me. I’m in the process of moving. I have been very slow in responding to these Bible studies, but I depend on them. I’ve been enjoying them so much. Here’s my new address. Please continue to send them to me.”

So my friend, Karen, is just shocked. She can’t believe this. And then she tells him, “By the way, this might sound weird, but I think you met my mother this morning. Did you go to an Adventist church in the Collegedale area this morning?” (Obviously, I’m sure he’s shocked.) And he’s like, “Yes I did.” And she goes, “Well, you met my mother. She was the greeter. And by the way, she and I have been praying for you together.”

The amazing thing is that God showed her this one story in answer to her prayer for her to see that her faithfulness was paying off. God doesn’t always show us the results because he can’t always trust us with it. So many times we need to just be faithful, follow our marching orders, do our work faithfully, and trust that God is the one that’s in control. And it’s up to Him what happens with those results, not us. And just stay consistent because apparently, it’s working even if we don’t see it. And sometimes He may give us a glimpse like this story of what He’s really doing behind the scenes. I just thought that was phenomenal.

On the webinar recording, Lavinia mentions resources for your team.

Those resources can be found on the Georgia Cumberland website, which includes downloadable files such as checklists, scripts, letter templates, stickers, and more. She also answered audience questions about connecting with leads, which Bible studies they like to use, and how to keep your church’s volunteer team engaged and motivated. Watch the full webinar here to see her replies.

At SermonView, we have a passion for ministry, and we’re nerds for marketing.

We believe that church exists for those who are not yet part of it, so our passion is helping churches like yours reach people in your community who are ready to connect with you. We do that by helping you market your evangelistic events, and by finding people in your community ready to study the Bible with you. And we can also help you turn your church website into an evangelism engine.

The SermonView crew would love to help you reach more people for Christ through lead generation or marketing your next evangelistic event. Let us know if you have any questions about LeadGenerator or have an evangelistic series coming up, call 800-525-5791.

5 Tips for Creating Your Connection Plan

Lori Ball Evangelism Practices, From the Field

LeadGenerator meets people right where they are in their spiritual journey, and connects them with your church. But what happens next?

Once we’ve made the initial introduction, it’s up to your team to connect with each lead. This can feel overwhelming if you’ve never done this before, or if you have had a rough experience with a “bad lead” in the past. However, with a thoughtful communication plan created ahead of time, your team can be prepared to cultivate each connection and build relationships with your leads. 

Here are 5 easy ways to get started with your team’s communication plan:

1. Always start with prayer.

It might seem obvious, but it can often get overlooked when you first see the alert that you have a new lead assigned to you. Take a moment to pray for the person who has been assigned to you. Ask God to help guide the conversations and reveal ways to build connections with your leads.

Continue to pray before every interaction.

2. Review their info in InterestTracker.

This is another easy one, but it can be missed if you don’t know where to look. Besides gathering their contact information, you can see what type of social media ad they responded to in their InterestTracker profile. It will say something like “God Cares” or “Bible Prophecy” next to the offer to fulfill.

Review this information before you make your first contact. This will show you the type of Bible study that will most likely speak to them, and it will give you a better understanding of their interests or spiritual curiosity.

3. Make a good first impression.

We’ve introduced your church as a local “My Free Bible Study” team in their area. That’s because My Free Bible Study is the brand they saw with the ad they responded to. You should always introduce yourself as someone from the My Free Bible Study team. Once you’ve made your first contact then you can introduce them to your church by name.

You can start your conversation by telling them about the study you picked for them, or ask what type of study they are looking for, then set up a time to drop it off. Keep it lighthearted, and free of obligation.

4. Keep your contact about their needs.

Almost every lead will come through with a phone number, email address, and physical address. We recommend starting with a phone call or text. If you don’t get a response, follow up with an email and mail a card with a personal hand-written note inside letting them know you are praying for them.

Whether you hit it off right away or you are having a hard time connecting, keep your communication gentle and about meeting their needs. The Holy Spirit prompted them to respond to the ad, when their hearts are ready, they’ll respond to you too.

5. Don’t lose your momentum.

Check-in with your leads as they journey through their studies. If they have been studying alone, after a time, offer to meet with them in a neutral place like a café. Or, if they are open to it, meet with them in their home. Getting face-to-face time with your leads will help build trust, and prepare their hearts for going deeper with your church. 

If your church is hosting an event soon, send them an invitation and offer to go together. When they enter your church building they won’t be alone, they’ll have someone to sit with.

Additional training for your Bible study lead connection team.

Download your free digital Team Guide and get more information, connection tips, and sample scripts for training your team on different communication methods.

Visit and download your copy today!

Don’t have LeadGenerator yet?

Visit or call 800-525-5791 to start connecting with your community.

Connect with Real Bible Study Interests (Guaranteed!)

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Marketing Practices

Thirty years ago, I was a young idealist with a fresh theology degree, ready to change the world. After graduation, I took a position as an assistant pastor. During my very first meeting with the senior pastor, he opened the bottom drawer of his desk and showed me stacks and stacks of cards with names, addresses, and phone numbers. These were media ministry leads, people who had requested a free book or another offer from It Is Written, or Breath of Life, or Faith for Today. Every month, the media center would send these cards to each conference, which then distributed them to the local churches. We had a Bible worker at the church, but she wasn’t following up on those media interests, so my pastor asked me to.

Now, I should have recognized that if the professional, trained Bible worker didn’t find these leads valuable, then maybe they weren’t the best leads. But I dutifully started making contact with them—and got nowhere. The lead system was a great idea, but by the time the cards got to the church they were already weeks old, if not months. In fact, I didn’t have any leads less than 6 months old, and some of them were 5 years old. So of course it didn’t go well. To be clear, for a trained Bible worker an old lead is better than no lead, but I was not trained, so I crashed and burned.

During my time there I did give some Bible studies, but every one of the interests were introduced to me by church members. The media ministry leads were a bust.

Over the years, I have found that many Seventh-day Adventists ARE evangelistic-minded, and when given the opportunity they are happy to study the Bible with someone. But I’ve also found that most of these Adventists don’t have many relationships with non-Adventists. They are not actively engaged with people in the community outside their own Adventist bubble. So they don’t give Bible studies simply because they don’t have anyone to give them to.

Now historically, how did churches solve this? They used literature racks, and literature evangelism was also a point of contact. But for the last 50 or 60 years, the primary means of generating Bible study leads was using direct mail. Churches would mail out invitations for Bible study, with a tear-off response card that someone could mail back.

The Problem with Bible Study Cards

Bible study card mailings are still widely used, and they are one method of getting leads. But their effectiveness has been dropping, for several reasons:

  • Weeks-long turnaround. The turnaround time is weeks. When I was a kid, that kind of turnaround was expected. You look through the Sears Roebuck catalog, fill out an order form, mail it in with a check, and several weeks later you’d get your stuff in the mail. Today, if people don’t get their Amazon order delivered the next day, they get irritated. I’ve gotten packages from Amazon with no recollection of placing the order, because it took a week to arrive. The pace of life is just faster. People expect immediate response.
  • No one has postage stamps anymore. Most Bible study cards require a stamp. The problem is, most people don’t even have postage stamps at home anymore. People pay their bills online. They send texts, not letters. They don’t have postage stamps, so when they get a card they’re supposed to mail back it’s a huge pain to figure out how to send this card.
  • Deluge of leads. From the church’s perspective, another problem is scale. To get a better price per piece, you need to print a larger quantity. But if you send out just 20,000 cards, over the following few weeks you get deluged with 40 or 50 leads, which the church is usually not equipped to handle.
  • Rising cost per lead. The cost of mailings has also been increasing, especially recently. Paper costs are up almost 20% just in the last 10 months. There have been 3 postage rate increases in the last 15 months. And response rates are dropping. So now the best mailings are seeing a cost per lead anywhere from $60 per lead up to $200 per lead.
  • Expensive to split test. Another issue with direct mail, in terms of effectiveness, is the cost of testing different offers and messaging. To be cost effective, you need to print a whole bunch of the same thing, but that doesn’t give you any ability to split test and improve over time.

Effectiveness has been declining since the widespread adoption of the internet, but it has accelerated recently. I had a conference evangelism director come to me about 10 years ago and ask what we could do to solve these issues, and we spent considerable effort on the problem. But the issues with Bible study card mailing are inherent in the medium itself, so we started asking ourselves, is there a better solution to seed sowing?

Our Goal

Let’s pause for a moment and think about what it is we’re trying to do, and who we’re trying to reach. We know our seed-sowing efforts are not going to reach everyone. Jesus made that clear in the parable of the sower in Mark 4:

Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it.

Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 

Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain.

Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!

Mark 4:3-8 NLT

In this passage, I see 3 principles for evangelism.

  1. First, the farmer’s goal is to harvest. The farmer was throwing seed so he could get a crop to harvest. What is our goal for evangelism? Baptized members who are actively engaged in the life of a local Seventh-day Adventist church. So let’s keep that end in mind. We’re not sowing just to teach theology, though obviously, that’s part of it. We’re not even sowing to see baptisms, though that’s part of the process, too. We’re sowing because we want to reap a harvest of baptized members who are actively engaged in the ministry of a local church.
  2. Second, in this parable, most of the seed is wasted, but the farmer still distributes it widely. I once heard Mark Finley talk about “prevenient grace,” that God’s Spirit is moving over your city drawing people to Himself. At any given moment, there are some near you who God has prepared to hear the Adventist message of hope and wholeness. This is the fertile soil where the seeds can grow.

    So you’re not trying to reach everyone. You want to reach those whom God has prepared for this message. But to do that, you have to throw seed widely.
  3. The third principle is the farmer is working a field that he himself can harvest. He doesn’t throw the seed in town, or on other people’s fields. He doesn’t go up on a cliff and throw the seeds into the wind to get widely disbursed. He’s sowing seed where he can harvest. The application is that a local church should be sowing where that church can cultivate and reap a harvest for themselves. So if a local church invests in sowing activities, that investment should result in a crop that they themselves can harvest. That’s one reason I don’t like broadcast television or radio advertising. You’re scattering seeds over too wide an area that a single local church can’t cover.

So, the goal is to grow a crop to harvest. To get that, seeds are scattered widely, and much of that seed is wasted. But it’s not scattered so widely that the farmer can’t harvest it.

Bible Study Lead Generation in 2022

So we’ve talked about the problem with Bible study cards, and some principles from the parable of the sower. That leads to the question: what does an effective Bible study seed sowing program look like in 2022. What would be some of this program’s characteristics?

  • Immediacy. The first one is obvious: we need to be able to respond within hours, not weeks. So whatever the methodology might be for people to respond to your offer, you need the ability to get that response and act on it within hours.

    There are 2 reason for this. First, if someone responds to your offer there is something in their life that triggered the request. People who respond to your offer are not looking for information. They are looking for change. There is something going on in their life that they wish was different. Maybe they’re dealing with the consequences of poor choices, maybe they’re dealing with the fallout from someone else’s poor choices, maybe they’re just experiencing the pain that touches all of us in a fallen world. Whatever it is, they are looking for change. That moment of need is temporary, and you need to move swiftly to help that person in that moment. As my dad used to say, strike while the iron is hot.

    The second reason I alluded to earlier, when I said I’ve received Amazon packages that I couldn’t remember ordering. Attention spans in America have collapsed, and if you wait a week, many people won’t remember requesting the offer. More than that, if you show up in person unannounced a week or two later, and they have no recollection of requesting the offer, many are going to feel violated. That’s the culture today. So you need to be communicating with them within hours of their request, if for no other reason than to remind them of what they asked for.
  • Online. Another characteristic is that seeds need to be sown where people are. And today, they don’t have their nose in a newspaper, they’re staring at a screen. So that’s where you need to be.
  • Widespread. But not just online, it needs to be lots of places online. You need to be showing up in social media feeds, and on search engines, and in display ads on a variety of websites and mobile apps.
  • Consistent, sustainable pace. At the same time, this program should be generating leads at a consistent rate all year long. You don’t want a deluge of leads that overwhelm your volunteers. It should provide a nice consistent pace of leads that is sustainable over the long term.

So, this seed-sowing program should have immediacy, be online and widespread, and offer a consistent, sustainable pace of leads.


So let me tell you about LeadGenerator, which is the Bible study interest program from SermonView Evangelism Marketing. This is a yearlong program that delivers Bible study leads every month throughout the year.

Marketing coordinator

First, we assign you a dedicated marketing coordinator on our team focused on getting you the connections you requested. Your dedicated marketing coordinator manages your campaign, reviewing your campaign every week and adjusting the ads and your accounts as needed to ensure that you receive the number of quality Bible study leads your church can handle every month. We also constantly test ad effectiveness and make tweaks as needed.

If you were to go to a digital marketing agency focused on churches, they would charge you $250-$2,000 per month, not including the ad spend.

Facebook campaign

Your marketing coordinator will set up a Facebook advertising campaign that offers people a Bible study. We use a variety of advertising messages, but every one of them specifically states that they will be receiving Bible lessons. This ad campaign is geographically targeted to the area around your church, so you’re reaching people near you.

If you were to set up a similar campaign through another digital marketing agency, they would ask you to spend a minimum of $300 per month, all the way up to $1,200 per month.

Instagram campaign

Your marketing coordinator takes that Facebook campaign and makes tweaks to the artwork and copy, and runs an Instagram advertising campaign, too.

Google search campaign

Then we’ll set up a Google search advertising campaign, what we would call search engine marketing. We’ve researched the search terms most relevant to Bible studies, and when someone searches for one of those keywords or phrases we’ll ensure that your ad inviting people to study the Bible is displayed.

Again, a digital advertising agency would ask for a minimum ad spend of $300 per month, up to $1,200 per month, for this type of advertising.

Google display campaign

But we don’t just do search engine marketing. We’ll also set up display ads that will run across Google’s sponsored ad network. This is a completely separate campaign from Google search ads, and would cost $300 per month and up in ad spending if you asked a church-focused digital marketing agency to manage it.

Professional branding

We’ve also developed a brand, My Free Bible Study, with its own Facebook page and posting history, to add credibility to your advertisements. Through this page, your marketing coordinator manages any comments made on your ads and removes anything vulgar or abusive. Plus, by keeping these ads separate from your church profile you minimize the risk of the saints in your church picking an online fight with someone who posts something theologically incorrect.

If you were to develop this for yourself, it would cost you anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 for a social media agency to create it.

Custom landing page

We’ll also create a custom landing page for your campaign. A landing page is a simple webpage that people can visit to request a Bible study from you. You can use this to promote Bible study through your own advertising methods, with handout cards or advertisements in a swap sheet or local newspaper. 

With your church’s unique URL, members can invite others to request Bible studies in an easy, non-threatening way. This page is yours to share any way you wish. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Post on your church website
  • Share on your church’s social media pages
  • Share on member’s social media pages
  • Print on invitation cards to hand them out at community events. (Or after your own evangelistic series.)
  • Print on posters to hang on local public notice boards
  • Print on a banner and display it outside your church

Hiring an agency or freelancer to develop this type of website would run $1,500 to $5,000.

Leads flow into InterestTracker

SermonView has developed a free online CRM for Adventist evangelism, called InterestTracker. This is where you can track interactions with Bible study interest in one central place.

Our LeadGenerator advertising program automatically transfers each Bible study request into InterestTracker. SermonView automagically integrates your evangelistic efforts and Bible study leads with InterestTracker, so every marketing campaign seamlessly transfers pre-registrations and leads directly into your church’s free account.

If you developed your own advertising campaign, you would have to manually import your leads into InterestTracker, or whatever other interest-tracking software you might use. But LeadGenerator automatically transfers every lead into InterestTracker.

Monthly status report

Your marketing coordinator will provide personalized, up-to-date reports on how your campaign is doing. It includes details about how often your ads were seen by people in your community, conversion rates, cost per lead, click-thru rate, and more.

Marketing meetings

But we don’t just send you a report with a bunch of marketing metrics. Your marketing coordinator will explain it to you. You’ll have an opportunity to meet regularly, so you can get a personal update on how your efforts are progressing. You’ll also get opportunities to discuss communication methods to help equip your team following up with your leads.

Guaranteed leads

With LeadGenerator, we guarantee you’ll receive a minimum number of quality Bible study leads every month. And after years of lead generation experience and testing digital marketing strategies, we’re confident that we can find people in your community that want to study the Bible.

That’s why we back up this program with a money-back guarantee.

  • If we can’t find qualified leads in your community, we’ll work with you to either change your subscription level or extend the reach, depending on your area.
  • If we fail to meet the minimum number of monthly leads you signed up for, we’ll give you your money back, no questions asked. It’s as simple as that!
  • If any two full, consecutive months do not meet the terms of a Satisfactory Month, you can either reduce your services or cancel them altogether.

If you were to try to build this program yourself, it would cost you anywhere from $18,300 up to $87,200. Plus, it would require a lot of your own effort coordinating the different agencies handling the different aspects of your campaign.

With LeadGenerator, we’ll do all this for $4,140 for a yearlong program that guarantees you 180 Bible study leads over the year. That’s just $23 per lead. We handle the marketing, so you can focus on building relationships.


At this point, we’ve managed over 500 lead-generation campaigns, and the feedback we’re receiving from the field is very positive. A few months ago I got an email from a customer who said, “LeadGenerator does work. Our small church is still sending out 43 Bible studies from leads we got through the program. I’m glad we did this!”

Another customer said, “Within a few days of starting LeadGenerator we already have a Bible study, here in a town where we only had one other interest after three years of trying to connect with people.”

Another pastor emailed to say, “LeadGenerator has been very effective for us. The program fits very well with my outlook on how to reach the community. We have already received 25 leads in the first 2 weeks of our campaign!”


So with LeadGenerator, you’ll get Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Google search ads, Google display ads, a personalized landing page, and a dedicated marketing coordinator. Instead of spending $20,000, $30,000 or more on doing all these these, we’ll handle it all for just $4,140 for the year. Plus, we’ll guarantee 15 quality Bible study leads every month.

If your church isn’t ready for that many Bible studies, we do have lower levels. For $3,060 we’ll guarantee 10 leads per month, or for $1,650 we’ll guarantee 5 leads per month. These smaller programs don’t include the personalized landing page or the Google display advertising, and the smallest also doesn’t include Google search engine advertising. But no matter which level you choose, you’ll get a dedicated marketing coordinator, regular reports, and an opportunity to regularly meet with us to review how your campaign is doing. And every LeadGenerator campaign is backed by our exclusive Minimum Interest Guarantee.

So if you’d like to get introduced to people every month ready to study the Bible with you, our team is ready to connect with you. You can email us at, or call us at 1-800-525-5791. Or you can learn more on our website at

Church is Fundamentally a Social Experience

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Leadership, Marketing Practices

Seventh-day Adventists put a lot of emphasis on Bible truth in our evangelistic efforts.

That’s important, but that’s not everything. If our goal is active membership in a local Seventh-day Adventist Church, then it’s not just about belief. It’s also about relationships.

Something that Seventh-day Adventists often forget is that church is fundamentally a social experience. Yes, there’s theology and biblical knowledge. And yes, there’s a vertical component—a relationship with God himself, the creator of the universe—but if you have those two things, Bible knowledge and a relationship with God, but there’s nobody around you, that is not church. Jesus, Himself said:

“Where two or three are gathered together
in my name, I am there in the midst of them.”
Matthew 18:20 NKJV
Church exists when there are both vertical and horizontal relationships. Church is fundamentally a social experience.

God created humans with the innate need to belong to community and one fundamental reason people come to a church event, whether it is a worship service, or a Bible study, or a community event is because they are seeking to fulfill this fundamental need to belong. We are social creatures. We have this innate need to belong and at its best, church fulfills that need. Church is fundamentally a social experience.

If that’s true, then your evangelism strategy must address this. And that is part of what makes public Evangelistic meetings so powerful. It’s not just an effective way to teach people Bible truth. It’s also a really effective way to build relationships with guests.

It’s both Doctrine and relationship. To be effective in your evangelism you have to address both.

At SermonView, we have a passion for ministry, and we’re nerds for marketing. We believe that church exists for those who are not yet part of it, so our passion is helping churches like yours reach people in your community who are ready to connect with you. We do that by helping you market your evangelistic events, and by finding people in your community ready to study the Bible with you. And we can also help you turn your church website into an evangelism engine.

The SermonView crew would love to help you market your next evangelistic event. Let us know if you have an evangelistic series coming up, call us today at 800-525-5791.

10 Ways to Add Value as a Board Member

Larry Witzel From the Field, Leadership, Life Lessons

It was my third meeting as a new member of the Oregon Conference Executive Committee. A serious matter was brought to us, one that would have lasting consequences for a pastor’s career. After extended discussion, it was clear some committee members felt rushed to make a decision. Yet a vote was taken anyway. In the end, the right decision was probably made, but the process left a bitter taste, leading a member to resign.

I write this, not to be critical, but to share my journey as a board member. As I reflected on the experience of that meeting in the days following, I realized that by my silence I had failed the group. I myself was culpable. Frankly, this was not a matter requiring immediate decision. Waiting 2 months could have given this pastor’s congregation an opportunity to process the situation, and perhaps even begin to heal after his poor choices. I knew this in my heart, yet I didn’t speak until it was too late.

That’s when I realized I needed to do a better job in this new role. So I started jotting notes about specific ways to be more effective as a board member. I asked other members what I could do to improve. When I was reelected to a second term on Executive Committee, I asked three experienced members to mentor me. Most importantly, after every meeting I spent the drive home in silence, talking to God about it and reflecting on what I could have done better. I wanted to get better with every meeting.

I was on conference committee for 8 years, and I learned a lot. And now, as I retire from this board after two terms, I’d like to share some things I’ve learned.

Note, this is not a comprehensive article about the responsibilities of a board member. It doesn’t talk about a board member’s duty of care, or duty of loyalty. There are plenty of other comprehensive training resources out there for new board members, such as the free courses at Adventist Learning Community for new K-12 school board and church board members, or free courses for nonprofit board members at Dr. Byron Dulan at the North Pacific Union Conference recently recorded a webinar for Adventist Community Services called Ministry Boards 101, which is a great introduction to the responsibilities of board members. So if you’re new to boards, I encourage you to complete one of these courses to give you a foundation on boardmanship.

Here, then, are my 10 ways to add value to any board or committee:

1. Say yes—but not too often

If you have an opportunity to join a board, do it! You can’t add value to a board if you’re not on it.

On the other hand, you’ll do better work if you can focus. So if you’re already on a couple of boards or committees, say no to other opportunities so you can fully honor your current commitments.

Specifically, if you have an opportunity to be involved in Seventh-day Adventist Church governance, please take it. Whether it’s an audit review committee, lay advisory committee, session organizing committee, nominating committee, constitution and bylaws committee, constituency session, or executive committee itself, you can have a positive impact on shaping the mission and culture of our denomination in your territory. When you get the chance, please say yes.

2. Show up and pay attention

Turn off your phone. Don’t pull out your laptop to check your email. When you’re in the meeting, sit up, lean forward, and make eye contact with whomever is speaking. Make an effort to track the discussion. If you’re tired, get up and stand behind your chair. Do whatever it takes to pay attention.

To do that, of course, you have to be there. Attending meetings is the only way to participate in discussions. You can’t add value if you’re not there. In my eight years on Oregon Conference Executive Committee, I only missed one meeting due to family responsibilities.

You can’t contribute if you don’t show up. So show up, and pay attention.

3. Understand your role

As a board member, you have no authority outside a board in session. You cannot speak for the board unless you’ve been delegated that responsibility. You cannot speak for the organization, and you cannot act on behalf of the organization. Those are jobs for officers and staff, not you as a board member.

You also can’t talk about deliberations in a board meeting. This is generally true for every meeting, but anything that happens particularly when in an executive session must be kept strictly confidential.

So what is your role? You participate in dialogue about potential decisions brought to the group, vote on these decisions, and support the board decisions and the organization as a whole. You are an advocate for the organization, but without authority to speak or act on its behalf outside of board meetings in session.

You are also an ear for the organization. I can’t tell you how many emails, phone calls, and letters I’ve received from people with specific concerns about the conference. Each time I thanked the person for their perspective and said I would keep it in mind as the committee makes decisions. When appropriate, I would share these concerns with conference leaders or during board discussions.

So your role is to listen, dialogue, and vote. Outside of meetings, you are an advocate for the organization. That’s it.

4. Do your homework

Spend time outside the meetings researching the issues and gathering data to make better decisions.

A few weeks after my first conference committee meeting, I ran into the president at an event. I told him I had been attending the same church for 15 years and was thinking about doing a tour of some other churches in the conference to help get me up to speed on current ministry culture. He was ecstatic that one of his executive committee members would do this and gave me a list of some churches to check out.

Over the next year, I visited 30 churches across the conference: urban and rural, Spanish and regional, progressive and conservative, large and small. I went to Sabbath school and the worship service, then stayed late to pray with the pastor after the service. Sometimes I brought my kids, who gave me a scouting report on the children’s programs. It was a memorable experience that gave me a foundational understanding of the state of the conference. It was also a lot of fun.

Bottom line: the more you engage outside the meeting, with both people and issues, the more value you bring to each meeting.

5. Ask good questions

I learned it’s better to ask questions than to make statements. Questions engage the others in the room, and are more inclusive. Even if I already knew the answer, I found it gave more weight to visibly agree with someone else’s answer than to make a statement myself.

There are four general types of questions I ask while in a meeting:

  • Clarifying questions. Help me understand what’s being said. How long ago did this happen? What other steps did you take? What was the local church leadership’s response?
  • Probing questions. Get beyond the surface to understand the deeper implications. Why did you feel this was the right course of action? What has your experience been in similar situations? How will this impact the mission?
  • Policy questions. Help the committee understand the boundaries they must operate in. What is NAD Working Policy on severance pay? What are the continuing education requirements for teachers? What is the current conference policy on sabbaticals? Many of the decisions a board is asked to make will have policy boundaries you must work within, so asking questions about policy will help everyone understand where those fences are.
  • Procedure questions. Make sure everyone understands where you are in the meeting process. Is there a motion on the floor? What is the exact wording of the motion? Are we voting on the main motion or the proposed amendment? What does it mean if we vote yes? Roberts Rules of Order and GC Rules of Order require experience to fully understand, so asking questions will help less experienced members keep up with the proceedings.

6. Build relationships

Put some effort into building relationships with the other board members. Come early to connect with board members and staff. Stay after the meeting to process what happened with someone. Text with other members between meetings. Be open to viewpoints that are foreign to you. Embrace feedback, whether positive or negative.

I’ve been part of discussions where other board members have opinions I completely disagree with. Sometimes, I couldn’t understand how someone could hold that belief, and occasionally that disagreement was strong and passionate. But if we’re going to work together, good relationships are crucial.

I found having lunch with someone is a great way to build trust. Building that bridge is far more important than being right. There is more joy in relationships than in close-mindedness.

7. Create an inclusive space

When I started my second term on conference committee, I looked for ways to help new members engage. For many, it was a new environment, with new people. The culture of each board is a little bit different. Policies and processes were foreign. Procedures for motions and amendments can be confusing. It can all be overwhelming to newcomers, so I wanted to do my part to ensure everyone was keeping up with the discussion.

Specifically, when I saw signs of confusion in committee members I would ask questions, even when I already knew the answers. I would ask about policies and procedure to give people a chance to catch up and better understand what’s going on.

More than that, creating an inclusive space means giving others a chance to talk. It means pausing to let someone else make the motion, and the second. It means allowing a discussion to take shape, and if my viewpoint has already been expressed, keeping my mouth shut.

Side note: the less you speak, the more valuable each comment becomes. One of my mentors told me to look at the agenda, pick the one item I cared about the most, and save my words to speak to that issue. In a meeting, the total value of your words is inversely proportional to the quantity. Fewer words have more impact.

8. Make space for the underrepresented

I’m a middle-aged white man. Do you know what this denomination’s committees don’t need more of? Middle-aged white men. I know.

Still, I can bring value. So if I am on a board, I can passionately advocate for those who are underrepresented. For example, during this last term, I worked to formalize young adult representation on Oregon Conference Executive Committee through amendments to the bylaws. I have vocally supported the needs of both Spanish and African-American churches. I’m an advocate for church planting, for women in ministry, and for Adventist education.

More importantly, I worked to include representatives of these groups in the conversation. I’ve had numerous conversations with people from groups whose voices need to be heard, simply building their confidence to participate in the process. And once someone is present from one of these underrepresented groups, I do my part to encourage them to share their perspectives.

Sometimes that even means standing aside to create room for someone else whose voice needs to be heard. I’ve always wanted to be a delegate to General Conference Session, ever since I first attended as a kid. I’ve been to nearly every GC Session since I was a teenager, in numerous roles: TV crew member, musician, exhibitor. I would spend my breaks observing the business sessions, and have read the Adventist Review transcripts for nearly every meeting over the last 35 years. I’ve dreamed of someday wearing that delegate badge. But today I recognize this body needs other voices, and I am at peace with never being an official delegate. At this last Session, I cheered as Dan, Kara, Belinda, and Linda went as our representatives from Oregon. That’s a small sacrifice I can make to create space for someone else, and is a unique way to add value to the organization.

I cannot speak for underrepresented groups, but I can be an ally. And I can do my part to create space for their voice to be heard.

9. Make yourself a board contribution checklist

As I went on this journey, I found myself creating a personal performance checklist. I would look at it before each meeting, to remind myself of my goals, and then reflect afterward on how I did.

Here’s the current state of my checklist:

  • Safety. Did you do your part to create a safe space for people to share their thoughts and perspectives?
  •  Affirmation. Were you affirming with your words?
  •  Warmth. Did you keep a smile on your face? 
  •  Humor. Was your humor appropriate? Did you laugh with, not at?
  •  Gentleness. Were you gentle?
  •  Humility. Were you humble?
  •  Attention. Did you pay attention throughout the proceedings?
  •  Preparation. Did you do your homework?
  •  Value. Did you add value to the conversation?
    •  Clarifying questions
    •  Probing questions
    •  Procedure questions
    •  Policy questions
  •  Mentoring. Did you help other committee members to better understand the topic being discussed? Did you help them understand the process?

You’ll notice this list is tailored to my own strengths and weaknesses. For example, I am not a gentle person by nature, so I reminded myself to be gentle. Boldness is not a problem for me, so that’s not on my list. But someone else might need to remind themselves to be bold, not gentle. Both are important; one, in particular, needed my attention, so that’s what’s on my list.

10. Exude positivity

You help set the tone for the board. So put a smile on your face. Speak words of affirmation and appreciation. Give compliments. Point out things that are going well. Create a foundation of positivity. Then when you do need to speak a hard truth, people will know you’re saying it out of love, not with a critical spirit.

At every meeting, I tried to find a way to give words of affirmation: how honored I was to spend time with these people, how much I appreciated them, and how much fun I had together. I’m confident that if you asked them, people on that committee would say they felt affirmed in their contributions, and that I helped create a positive tone for the group. They would also say I spoke what was on my heart, even if it was discordant with prevailing opinion. You can be both positive and honest; it’s not either/or.

This positivity is so rare it can even be newsworthy. I recently publicly expressed my appreciation for the discussion taking place at the most recent Oregon Conference Constituency Session, and my comments were quoted in the news article about the session. So bringing a positive, affirming voice to a board or committee can add tremendous value to the organization.

While you’re at it, have fun! Once you’ve taken the effort to be at the meeting and understand the issues, enjoy yourself. If someone tees up a funny comment, make it. Laugh together. Change things up and make a simple procedural motion with a loquacious speech. Cheer for each other. Most of all, take pride in the work you’re doing together, having fun while you’re doing it. Be the positive influence God created you to be.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to serve on the Oregon Conference Executive Committee over these last 8 years. Having been in the room when some hard decisions were made, I have nothing but respect for our conference president, Dan Linrud, as I watched him wrestle with competing priorities in this spiritual war. This committee did some good work together, and I’ll always cherish the friendships I made with the other committee members. I’ll be cheering them on in each of their future ministry endeavors.

So what about you? Are you willing to step up and serve? There are organizations that need your help. No matter your experience or personality, you have something to offer. So say yes, and start adding value to the organizations you care about. Maybe you’ll even have fun in the process.

Larry Witzel is the founder and president of SermonView Evangelism Marketing. After serving on Oregon Conference Executive Committee for 8 years, he was elected to represent the conference on the North Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee.

AttendanceTracker Software Demonstration

Marketing Department Evangelism Practices, Fall Evangelism, From the Field, Marketing Practices

The essential tool for your team hosting evangelistic events.

The AttendanceTracker module seamlessly integrates into InterestTracker, building on the software’s most popular features like tags and interactions. Plus, it offers access to customizable reports, making it an essential tool for your team hosting events.

We understand new technology can feel uncomfortable, and this might sound like a lot. But we’re here to walk you through it. In this webinar, SermonView founder and president, Larry Witzel, covers the basics of the AttendanceTracker system and how your team can utilize the key features of this robust add-on module. You’ll see how pre-registrations automagically flow into your account, how session check-ins work for in-person meetings, and how to create your own precise, easy-to-access custom reports to track the engagement of your guests. Then find out how to use these reports to develop a follow-up strategy to connect with your guests and cultivate every relationship made during your event.

You can learn more about InterestTracker or AttendanceTracker by clicking here.

Why even track attendance?

Why use software like AttendanceTracker? Why do we even track attendance at evangelistic events? To answer that, we need to answer a much more fundamental question: What is the purpose of evangelism? More specifically, what is the purpose of Adventist evangelism?

Membership is really important to Seventh-day Adventists, and it has a very specific definition and process. It requires extensive Bible study leading to an understanding of the 28 fundamental beliefs. Traditionally, specific behavioral changes were also required prior to official membership, such as abstaining from tobacco and alcohol use. Once these prerequisites are met, an individual becomes a member when they are baptized or through profession of faith.

As you know, there are several of these fundamental beliefs that require a significant shift in belief. You can’t just walk up to someone on the street and say, hey, I’d like you to join my church. You just need to change the day you worship on, give 10% of your money to the church, and give up meat for textured vegetable protein. Oh, and by the way, your grandma is not actually in heaven. Right? It takes time to help someone work through these shifts in thinking.

So I’m not going to argue whether we should be making members as part of the discipleship process. We believe that as someone grows closer to Jesus, and better understands what He Himself taught about Scripture, that person will want to identify with this Remnant Church. In our denomination, at a practical level, active membership is our goal for evangelism.

Now, Seventh-day Adventists put an emphasis on Bible truth in our evangelistic efforts, but that’s not everything. If our goal is active membership in a local Seventh-day Adventist church, then it’s not just about belief. It’s also about relationships.

Something that we as Seventh-day Adventists often forget is that church is fundamentally a social experience. Yes, there’s theology and biblical knowledge, and there’s a vertical component, a relationship with God Himself. But if you have those 2 things, but nobody around you, that’s not church. Jesus said, “There two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Church exists when there are both vertical and horizontal relationships. Church is fundamentally a social experience.

God created humans with the innate need to belong to community, and one fundamental reason people come to a church event, whether it’s a worship service, a Bible study, or a community event, is because they are seeking to fulfill this fundamental need to belong. We are social creatures. We have this innate need to belong, and at its best, church fulfills that need. Church is fundamentally a social experience.

If that’s true, then your evangelism strategy must address this. And that’s part of what makes public evangelistic meetings so powerful. It’s not just an effective way to teach people Bible truth. It’s also a really effective way to build relationships with guests. It’s both doctrine AND relationship. To be effective in your evangelism, you have to address both.

And how are relationships built? Through communication. The conversations you have with people before and after each meeting are just as a important as the meeting itself. More than that, you’ll want to be communicating with your guests in a systematic manner based on where they are at in their spiritual journey.

I’ll address this more at the end of the webinar today, offering some tactics you can use to communicate systematically with guests. But for now, just understand that the purpose of InterestTracker, the fundamental purpose of AttendanceTracker, is to give you the information you need to be more effective in how you communicate with each interest. Your goal is to draw them into an authentic relationship with you and others at your church. That’s why you use AttendanceTracker.

We have received a lot of interest in registration cards with barcodes. The production team has been working on a solution and hopes to have a product ready for release in the spring of 2023. An announcement for that product will be made as soon as it is ready for churches.

At SermonView, we have a passion for ministry, and we’re nerds for marketing. We believe that church exists for those who are not yet part of it, so our passion is helping churches like yours reach people in your community who are ready to connect with you. We do that by helping you market your evangelistic events, and by finding people in your community ready to study the Bible with you. And we can also help you turn your church website into an evangelism engine.

The SermonView crew would love to help you market your next evangelistic event. Let us know if you have an evangelistic series coming up, call us today at 800-525-5791.

Evangelistic Preaching: Preaching for Decisions and Life Change – with Special Guest, David Klinedinst

Marketing Department Evangelism Practices, Fall Evangelism, From the Field, Marketing Practices

Some believe that evangelistic sermons are different from the preaching you do at your weekly worship service, because the purpose is different. But evangelist David Klinedinst believes that while the audience may be different, the purpose is the same: to point people to Jesus, connect with the heart, and call each person to take a step forward in faith.

In this webinar, SermonView founder and president Larry Witzel interviews David Klinedinst, the evangelism director for the Chesapeake Conference. As an evangelist with decades of experience as a pastor, personal ministries director, and itinerant evangelist, his unique perspective encourages you to take a step forward in your own evangelistic journey. In this conversation, David talks about how to prepare and deliver evangelistic sermons, how to create an environment conducive to a life-changing experience, and how to inspire your members to participate. He also talks about the importance of a year-long evangelism strategy that will add power to public evangelistic meetings.

Here are excerpts from this conversation:

Larry: David, I want to start by looking at the big picture, and talk a bit about your philosophy of evangelism. What’s the purpose? Why are we doing evangelism?

David: Well, for me, evangelism is not just presenting information or doctrinal information that’s only understood intellectually. The purpose is to speak to the heart and invite people to make decisions, and change, and surrender in their life, to actually choose to follow Jesus. It has to go far beyond just giving intellectual information.

Larry: The focus of the conversation today is on the evangelistic preaching itself. So let’s start with this question. What are the differences between Sabbath morning sermons and evangelistic preaching?

David: For me, there is no difference. Now, someone else may answer that differently. The audience may be different, but for me, whether I’m preaching on a Sabbath morning worship service or in an actual evangelistic series, to me it’s the same. I’m wanting to speak to people’s hearts and appeal to them to make life-changing decisions, whether they are big decisions or little decisions. I’m wanting to go beyond just memorizing texts with intellectual information. Obviously, knowing the right information is good. We need that. 

But it’s got to go far beyond that. I want to reach the heart, whether I’m preaching Sabbath morning or Tuesday night in an evangelistic series or doing a devotional at a school.

Larry: So while you’re preaching, then, what are you trying to do with evangelistic sermons?

David: When I stand up to preach, I know what I’ll be asking for. You’re not standing up there to just make sure that a topic is understood. Yes, you want the topic to be understood because people don’t make decisions if things aren’t clear to them. But I don’t want to just have an intellectually understood message. I want to know from the beginning what’s the purpose of this message or this topic, what am I going to be asking them to do throughout this message? What is my appeal at the end? Because if I know that from the beginning, that helps my sermon to flow in the right direction, because I know what my purpose is.

Larry: In the context of business presentations, I heard someone say that people don’t go to conventions because they want information. They’re there because they want change. That’s the fundamental motivation for them taking the effort to be there, not because they want to learn more, but because they want to change something in their life.

David: I believe that’s true, especially when it comes to an evangelistic series. Whether you’re doing something that’s short one, two weeks, or you’re doing a full-message series for four weeks, the majority of people that come are looking for something in their life. They are looking for change. Now, there will always be a handful of people, seminar junkies, who just come for information. And I mean, they’re welcome too. But when someone comes to the doors of an Adventist evangelistic meeting, there’s a reason for that because they could be doing 1,000 other things that night. They’re searching for something that goes beyond just an intellectual understanding.

Larry: So if the goal for evangelistic preaching is to see people making decisions to make a change in some aspect of their life, then how do you structure your evangelistic sermons? What’s the flow for an individual sermon? And what’s the flow for an entire full message series?

David: The structure is usually the same. You begin with a compelling story that gets people’s attention. It tells them why you should listen to this subject, or how is it relevant to you. Use some story, some statistics, something that grabs their attention right away, that tells them, I need to listen to the rest of this.

Then you have the body of the sermon where you’re giving the content, bible verses, et cetera. But in that content, after so many Bible verses, I’m wanting to intersperse that with relevant stories, testimonies, and illustrations that are going to engage the heart. The Bible text will obviously engage the mind, but I can illustrate that text with practical stories that will then engage the heart. Maybe the best way to do that is to share little bits of testimonies from your own life, so that people can relate to you.

And then of course, when you come to the end, you are making a very specific appeal for them to take an action, whatever that action is.

So number one, you have the introduction to get their attention. Number two, you have the content and Bible verses, and you’re interspersing stories, and illustrations in between some of these Bible verses. And number three, you are making an appeal for some type of action.

Larry: In marketing, we talk about having a “call to action.” Every marketing communication piece that goes out is asking the person to do something specific. And the most effective marketing pieces have a very clear call to action, a very clear step that we’re asking people to take. It’s one thing, and it’s really clear. That’s marketing, but are there similarities to the way that you’re asking for decisions in preaching?

David: It’s very similar because if I’m not asking for something, then I’m just giving information. That’s all, I’m just giving a lecture. And even politicians, when they give their spiel about why you should vote for them, at the end they make an appeal for you to take an action. Vote for me. So why would I not do that in evangelistic sermons or even Sabbath morning sermons? Otherwise, I’m given good information, but I’m not asking them to do anything with it, and I’m not engaging the heart.

Larry: Okay, then, what are some specific tips you have for delivering an evangelistic sermon?

David: Engaging your audience is probably the biggest thing. For me, I don’t like it when an audience is really quiet. Sometimes that might be because the subject is a difficult one that they’re processing, so quietness doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad. But I like to engage the audience. They don’t need to be quiet for 45 minutes.

So you can engage them in so many ways by throwing out questions and queueing for a response. Different church cultures have different ways of doing this. “Can you say Amen?”, or, “Can I get a witness here?” “Does anybody here understand what I’m talking about?” Or, “Raise your hand if this makes sense.” Things like that. It could be as simple as asking them to repeat the text. You know, “Why don’t we turn our Bibles to Matthew, chapter 23 and verse five. Now, friends, what book did I say? What chapter?” And they’re responding back. Even when you’re reading the verse, you can leave out a word and let them fill in the blank. Like John 3:16: “For God so what? What is it?” And then they’ll repeat it. “For God so loved.”

Little things like that, which may seem insignificant, keeps an audience engaged for a longer period of time.

Larry: Last month, we did a webinar talking about cognitive dissonance in proclamational evangelism. One of the ways to help overcome cognitive dissonance when somebody’s struggling with an idea is this idea of social support. And I think that is one of the most powerful aspects of evangelistic meetings is the social experience, where people are coming together. You’re interacting with them beforehand, you’re interacting with them after. And even during the sermon, when you’re asking for a response: “How many of you think this?” And when people raise their hands, the guests are seeing, oh, there’s a lot of social support for this.

This perceived social support gives weight to what it is that you’re saying, which helps them get them closer to that tipping point to overcome the cognitive dissonance. So I like what you’re saying when you’re engaging with people. When somebody sees that other people are engaged with it, that gives more weight to the message that you’re actually preaching.

David: Then it starts to become more than simply a monologue. When people respond or engage, you’re starting to have a little bit of dialogue.

You touched on something really important, yet often the most neglected part of public evangelism. That is the relational aspect. Sometimes we to do evangelism from a distance and preach it from the pulpit. But at some point, I have to come down from that pulpit, so to speak, and connect with people. When I’m engaging responses, sharing bits and pieces of my own experience, I am connecting with people and I am developing trust. That’s going to open the door for them to feel comfortable to talk with me before the meetings when they come early or stay afterwards. It opens the door for personal visitation.

Here’s the thing you will never win someone to Jesus who does not trust you first. You will never move someone to make a decision or some kind of action in their life if they don’t trust you. And trust is only developed through personal interaction and relationship and through having a personable style when you’re upfront speaking and connecting with people.

Larry: When we’re talking about Adventist evangelism, something that’s key to me is that it’s not just about belief. We’re not done if someone is persuaded of Adventist doctrine. Our job is not done until they’re actually connected with a local church and engaged in the life of that local church.

Church is fundamentally a social experience. Yes, there’s a vertical component. There’s the theology, there’s the relationship with God. But fundamentally, church is about believers coming together, and there’s that horizontal social component. So when you’re talking about the relationship, it’s crucial that you have people from the church that are actually there at meetings, getting to know guests, because ultimately the members are the ones to draw them into the life of that church. And that’s all done through relationships.

David: Yes. And there are two components there to what you’re saying. First of all, it’s best to have relationships before the meeting starts.

Some churches say, we want to do evangelism, and I’ve never really understood that phrase. What do you mean, “do evangelism?” That’s what we live every day. So this isn’t so much, what am I doing during the three or four weeks of an evangelistic series? It’s more about, what am I doing the other 48 weeks out of the year? Does my church have a 12-18 month evangelistic strategy that combines personal evangelism, creative evangelism and public proclamation evangelism?

All these other events, we call them bridge events, are just relationship-building events. These are events that aren’t necessarily meant to proselytize, but things that are just meant to get to know people, build relationships throughout the year. So as I am funneling them through, when we do some sort of reaping series, I already have some sort of relationship with them. And that is a big deal when it comes to decisions and soul winning. Churches that have a twelve to 18-month plan will be far more successful in public evangelism than a church that just says, let’s do something for three or four weeks, but they haven’t done anything the other ten months out of the year.

The second component, you mentioned member engagement. Ron Clouzet and I served as evangelists in St. Louis for a time. I remember him saying that he can always tell when a series was going to be good. Minimum, you want one member per guest. But he said, when you get to be having two members per guest and three members per guest, that is when he sees the Holy Spirit working powerfully.

Many times members will say, oh, I’ve been to dozens of evangelistic meetings. I’ve heard all this before. And I will tell a church where I’m doing a meeting, you need to be here. I’m not asking you to come because I don’t think you know the message. Of course, if I were to ask them to give the verses of why they believe what they believe, many of them couldn’t. But the reason I want you to come here is to build relationships with these individuals, because they’re not going to stick around without that.

They can’t just be building relationships with me. They need your friendship. And I will actually tell the church, look, if you’re not going to show up to the meeting, why in the world should you expect the Holy Spirit to do the same? I’ll ask the church board to make the commitment, and I want 75% of the board committed to coming to the meetings regularly. If they can’t commit to that, then I won’t do the meeting.

Larry: When someone says, well, I’ve heard all this before, my response is, Yeah, the meeting is not for you. The meeting is for those who haven’t heard it. To me, church is not for the members. Church exists for those that are not yet part of it. And if you’re part of it, you need to be there to draw those in who are not yet part of it.

David: When I’m doing a prophecy seminar, I want it to be Christ-centered, positive and relational. How does this prophecy or doctrine point me to Jesus. How does it make my life better? So many times we get stuck on the intellectual information, the timelines, the dates. But dates don’t save people. A relationship with Jesus does. And many times members have never heard prophecies in a Christ-centered way, and in some ways it revives them as well.

Larry: I recently saw something that was written where a pastor said, we really wanted this evangelistic series to be Christ-centered. And so we didn’t talk about Bible prophecy, we just talked about Jesus. And we sent out a mailer that had a picture of Jesus on it because it was all about Jesus. But the article didn’t talk about results at all because it didn’t actually lead to people engaging in the life of that church. To me it was a misunderstanding to say, well, it’s either prophecy or Jesus, because if you’re talking about prophecy and you’re marketing a prophecy meeting, all that is a shell for you to introduce them to Jesus.

David: Yes, we see it all the time. You don’t have to choose between those things. When you share Bible prophecy, you are sharing Jesus, because all of Bible prophecy points to Jesus. And if I share the prophecies of the Bible without explaining how it points to Jesus, then I’m not really preaching prophecy. I’m just giving a bunch of information.

We see it all the time. People wonder, what’s going on in the world today. Right? That’s why they come to a prophecy seminar. But I want them to know more than just the information the prophecy says. Let’s just take the 2300 days, for example. You know, when you preach on the 2300 days, that’s not really the topic of your sermon, right? The topic is Jesus. The 2300 days is just the avenue that leads me to be able to point people to Jesus. He’s my high priest in heaven. How do you talk to Jesus as a friend? How do you have a personal prayer life? How can I relate to this sympathizing Savior who loves me and understands what I’m going through? There are so many things in that prophecy to give a picture of a merciful Savior, and I need to make sure that’s the point of the sermon, not the dates.

Of course, I want the dates to be correct. I want my exegesis to be correct and all that stuff. But if people miss the dates, but they see Jesus, I’m okay with that. Now, I’m not saying I want people to misunderstand, but if they have a relationship with Jesus, and they hunger for God’s word, I know the other stuff will come into focus eventually.

Larry: So if you’re doing a series of meetings, how do you create an environment conducive to a life-changing experience for both guests and members?

David: Well, you find opportunities for relational activities. Simple things, like I go to the meetings at least 30 to 60 minutes before it starts, because you always have people who come early. Those are perfect opportunities for me to just walk around and introduce myself and say, “Hi John. I’m glad you’re here. So what brings you to this prophecy seminar?” My visit with him might be two minutes long, but you know those two minutes are gold, because I’ve just made a connection with him. When people stay by afterwards to mingle a little bit, I can say hi. Simple things like that.

We invite people to hand in prayer requests every night. We have a generic response card, and we encourage people that if there’s something on their heart, someone or some situation, they can hand that prayer request in. And our prayer team will pray over that. 

And then throughout the series, we can train members of the prayer team to call those people periodically and say, “Hey, Susie, I’m from the Prophecy Seminar. I’m on the prayer team. We got your prayer request, and we just wanted you to know that we’re praying.” We’re praying for your son as he’s serving in the Air Force. We’re praying for your uncle who’s in the hospital. Could I pray with you over the phone? There is nobody who’s going to say no to that, and they will be utterly shocked that someone’s praying with them over the phone.

Or you can even send little cards in the mail and letting them know, Hey, this is a prayer team at the seminar. We’re praying for whatever their request was. It seems like a simple thing, but it’s a step in building relationships with people. 

You could have a room where there’s special health checks going on. Medical personnel can be doing blood pressures or just offering different things, and that gives people a chance to bring friends to the meeting. You’re offering something practical, and to do something like that, you have to talk, you have to engage. It’s just building relationships. You need to engage with people.

Larry: So you’re talking about, outside the meetings themselves, doing these little pings where you’re making a little connection, whether it’s a phone call, or a card, or an email, or a text. What are some other things outside of the meetings that you can do to help guests in their spiritual growth and in their engagement?

David: Oh, you must visit people. It’s imperative. I have told pastors, if you’re not going to visit during evangelistic meetings, then you might as well not hold an evangelistic meeting, because that visitation is really what helps me to connect with people. 

You have to have a strategy, so you know the purpose when you’re visiting. Are you visiting after you covered the Second Coming? Or after someone has accepted Jesus as their savior? How do I visit someone who wants to know more about the Sabbath? You need to have a purpose for that visit.

I love the visitation part. Yeah, it makes me nervous sometimes. But if I know what my reason is, I get to hear their stories. Every time we ask, “So, Joe, how did you hear about the meetings?” Or, “Susan, what brought you to this seminar?” And whenever you ask that question, you’re going to hear a story. It might be a big story. It might be a small story. They may tell you a little because they’re not comfortable yet, or they may tell you more than you were ready for. And just by listening, you’re connecting with them. You’re showing, hey, I care.

Larry: We live in a society where the idea of somebody coming into your home is a really foreign concept. But as I was reflecting on this from previous conversations that I’ve had with you, David, it occurred to me that in our society today people are really good at compartmentalizing. They’ve got their work, and then they’ve got their home. And when they’re coming to these meetings, they’re compartmentalizing the meetings. But by visiting them in their home, you’re actually breaking down the boundaries where they’re compartmentalizing things. And it’s allowing the truth that they’re learning in the meetings to begin to seep into other parts of their life. I think that there’s something powerful about that. When you visit them, you’re breaking down those compartmentalized boundaries.

David: Visitation is so important, but I think that we sometimes assume things that we hear other people say, only to find out that they’re really not true. When I was an evangelist in a big city, people would say, well, you can’t visit people in their home anymore. I found that to be utterly false. Because 75% of the time, it was never a problem. 

This is why early in the meeting, you’re talking with people, connecting with them, building relationships. So when the time comes that you do have a visit at a home, or a coffee shop, or Dunkin’ Donuts, or wherever people are comfortable, they know you. They’ve been to the meeting for over a week. They probably talked to you there. That’s why you do this, because it opens the door to have that home visit.

I can tell you, those visits are awesome, because I get to hear their stories. They become more than just a face with a name. Now when I see Bob there, I know his story. I know what’s on his heart. I know what he might be struggling with. And that’s exciting for me, because now I feel I’m preaching to real people. And it allows me to maybe even adjust some of the things I’m saying, because now I know what’s going on in people’s hearts.

Larry: Let’s go back to the church members. What do you do with members to prepare them for an evangelistic series? And what are your Sabbath morning messages to them during the series?

David: Well, it goes back to the twelve to 18 months strategy. Every church at the end of the year should be sitting down and developing what’s their strategy for the next twelve months. What events, what activities are they doing, and getting their leaders and members on board from the beginning. This is what we’re doing this year, this is why, this is the purpose. 

Through that, you’re challenging them. You’re preaching messages on mission, soul-winning, and making a difference in the lives of people. Say to them, “This year, are you willing to ask God to lay on your heart the name of one person in your life that maybe doesn’t know Jesus or just is struggling, and they just need a genuine Christian as their friend? Would you be willing to ask God to let your life intersect with someone like that and to connect with them and be their friend?”

If we’re doing that throughout the year, God is going to use that powerfully. And then when we do a reaping series, we already have someone that’s ripe to come. Then leading up to the meetings, before we invite guests, we’re preaching soul-winning messages on Sabbath morning so the members can understand.

It’s exciting to be used by God to make a difference in the life of others. It’s really what helps us church members, and us speakers. Our life’s full of problems, too. We have weaknesses, we have things maybe we inherited from our families that we struggle with. But you know, when I’m involved in making a difference in the life of another person, that’s also how God grows me and my own weaknesses by being involved in service. So it’s as important for the members as it is for the guest.

Larry: You’ve mentioned this idea of a year-long or 18-month plan. Public evangelistic meetings are only one component of an effective evangelism strategy. So what are the other components? What have you seen to be an effective cycle of evangelism in a church?

David: The church that I attend is the Westminster Church in Maryland. I invite anyone to talk to the pastor there, Ignacio Goya, because he really understands what it means to have a cycle of evangelism. We did a ten-day series there in October, just ten days, and they’re still getting baptisms from that series. People continue to invite friends to church because they’ve been impacted by it.

We’re about to do a full series there starting September 30. But that church is at it all year long. They’ve got different health events, they’ve got Youth Sabbath, they’ve got things they’re doing with a community home school association, who they allow to use their buildings. They have things strategically planned all throughout the year that give members the chance to build relationships, invite guests, personal, creative evangelism. And that is really what has paved the way. With all these relationships built, it’s only natural when a reaping series comes, they already know you, they’ve already been to the church.  A lot of the barriers to going somewhere new are already wiped out because they’ve been there. They know some people there. That’s a big deal. 

Doing public evangelism is hard work. But you don’t just set up and do it. You need a plan all throughout the year that leads to that. When you do that, yes, public evangelistic meetings are a lot of work, but you’re more effective. And the fruit of it is filled with joy.

Larry: When you’re planning your evangelism calendar for the following year, I like the idea of putting a stake in the ground and saying, we’re going to have our public evangelistic meetings on this date. And now what do we need to do to prepare for that over the next nine, ten, twelve months? Set the date for the reaping series then work backward from there. Put that stake in the ground and say, we’re going to do this. So how do we make this as effective as possible?

David: Right! You’re not having just isolated events. Oh, Men’s ministry does their thing, health ministry does their thing, does their thing. No, it’s all working together because you’re all a team and all the connections you’re making with all these different ministries are moving together. We all want to invite them to experience life change and follow Jesus. So it connects, it funnels into a reaping series. These aren’t disconnected things. No, they’re all connected together. One doesn’t work without the other.

Larry: And why is it the public evangelistic meetings are so important? It’s because you’re asking for decisions. All these other things are relationship-building and you might be asking for certain types of decisions in a Men’s retreat or something like that, but everything’s leading up to the public evangelism series. We’re going to go through the complete message of the Adventist Church and ask you to take steps closer to Jesus through this experience. So everything’s pointing to that and then it really is a reaping series. You’re harvesting what you’ve planted.

David: Studies still show that growing churches have public evangelism as part of what they do. It is not the only thing that they do, but it is an important component of what they do. If I only do public evangelism and I forget about personal and leading relationships, building relationships, having a culture of evangelism in the church, I’m going to get few results.

And that’s where this false dichotomy comes from. The people say public evangelism doesn’t work anymore. Well, it’s probably because we focused on four weeks instead of 52 weeks. And then you have others say, I’m just going to do personal evangelism, but at some point, I need to invite them to follow Jesus. They all work together, right? There’s no dichotomy. It’s not either/or. As the Ohio conference president Buff Condif would say, it’s both/and.

Larry: I had an old Adventist friend I was spending time with a few weeks ago, and said, “Churches used to do these prophecy seminars, and that was really effective before. But are churches doing now? Because I’ve been really struggling trying to find something that’s effective today.”

He went on to me about an experience where he was doing personal evangelism with an individual, building a relationship, and actually doing Bible studies with them. But he was having a hard time finding a way to actually help them make decisions to, in the end, identify with the Remnant Church. And I said to him, you need the reaping series. The great thing about a Reaping series is that it’s a structured way of leading people through these decisions. And what makes it effective is when lots of people have done what you’re doing with lots of guests leading up to it, and now it really is just reaping.

David: Well, sure, there are people that make decisions in a personal Bible study. That’s wonderful. It’s like a mini evangelistic series. But when you invite them to come to a public series around other people, it’s hard to put in to words, but there is just an energy. Call it the Holy Spirit’s presence, it’s just a different kind of momentum. And then, if they’ve already been introduced to Bible studies, it gives them an opportunity to invite their own friends or family to something else that is going on. Putting these things together, it’s a different atmosphere than a one-on-one Bible study. Both are good and important. But there’s something special about when people come together.

I know not everyone is going to be reached by a public evangelistic series. You need all kinds of evangelism. But what I fear is the self-fulfilling prophecy, which I think happens a lot. People have already convinced themselves, public evangelism doesn’t work anymore. And I’ve gotten to the point where even when I hear speakers up front say that, I just smile to myself and I let it go. Because I’ve watched it work for 20 years when it’s done right.

But if I go into something believing that it’s not going to work, that is exactly what I’m going to get. I think it was Joe Kitter that interviewed pastors and churches that were successful in soul-winning. And one of the things that all of them had in common is the church believed they could win souls. The church believed there were people who were open and who were searching.

There are churches who believe that the world’s too secular. People aren’t interested. They don’t want the Bible anymore. Those were not growing churches because they have already convinced themselves that people aren’t interested.

Larry: I want to turn to a project you’ve been working on. SermonView has actually been helping out on this, developing a brand new preaching series that’s available for pastors and lay people to be able to use in their ministry environment. So I want to give you a chance to tell us about Forecasting Hope.

David: Well, Forecasting Hope is a new evangelism package that we’re developing here in Chesapeake. The Columbia Union has partnered with us, as well as SermonView, and we’ve invited Ministry Magazine, as well. It’s a whole package of 21 evangelistic sermons that are Christ-centered, positive, and relational. How does this prophecy or doctrine point me to Jesus and the cross?

There will be new graphics that are being designed right now. The guy that designed Voice of Prophecy’s graphics is designing the PowerPoints and the Keynote slides. They will be editable. And one of the things I think that will be different about this is there will also be instruction on how to visit. What do you do each night and why? And we’re even recording actual role plays on what a visit looks like in each part of the series.

Larry: Nice.

David: How do you visit someone at the meeting? How do you visit someone who wants to accept Jesus? How do you visit someone who’s interested in the Sabbath? Those visits are going to be role-played and recorded so people can actually see. Here’s the questions you ask. Here’s why you ask those questions, here’s the purpose of the visit. We’re excited about that.

Larry: One of the things I love about a package like this is there’s something intricate about the way that we put together an evangelistic series. And if you pull out just one aspect of it, you could break the whole thing and it becomes a lot less effective. Having a long-time, seasoned evangelist like David putting these scripts together, they’re intentional in their flow and the call each night, I’m really excited about this. As a tool for pastors and lay people, you’ll be able to just pull it out of the box.

David: A lot of illustrations in my sermons are my own personal ones, but we put different illustrations in because you have to have your own stories. And we even put signs in there, like, here’s the place where you can tell a little story about yourself, tell your testimony. All that will be in there. It’s personable, and we’ve asked the designer to make the slides editable as well.

Larry: Having this all put together, it makes it a lot easier to actually be able to do a full-message series. I’m really excited about this. And the designer who’s working on this, I worked with him at It Is Written many years ago. He was involved in the New Beginnings DVD Evangelism series and the Acts 2000 graphics. He’s done graphics for GC session. He’s amazing, and the graphics are going to be really great. You can get more information about the series at

David, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. I appreciate your heart for Jesus and your passion to reach a hurting world for Christ. Any final thoughts? You’re an evangelist, do you have a call for us today?

David: I guess the call would be to encourage our members and yourselves to understand that Jesus said, the harvest truly is great. And Jesus said that in a society that was ready to crucify him on a cross where he had only twelve followers, the entire religious system rejected him. And you wonder, how could Jesus say that the harvest is truly great in that context? The reason Jesus said that is because he was out with people, mingling with them personally. He saw the needs that were there. And when you’re out with people today in this world, young and old, you see that there are people very much interested in spiritual things. They may not be people who are going to church right now, they may not know their name is Jesus, but they’re wanting something better.

Are we willing to encourage our members to say, Lord, will you bring across my path one person that just needs to know Jesus, that I could be a friend with this year and intentionally connect with? If every member of a church were to do that at the beginning of every year, say, Lord, connect me with one person that I can really intentionally spend time with, our evangelism would change the world. That would definitely make our reaping series or any evangelism ten times better.

On the webinar recording, David also answered audience questions about visitation, online evangelistic meetings, and a widespread misunderstanding of Ellen White’s quote from Ministry of Healing, “Christ’s method alone brings true success.” Watch the full webinar to see his replies.

At SermonView, we have a passion for ministry, and we’re nerds for marketing. We believe that church exists for those who are not yet part of it, so our passion is helping churches like yours reach people in your community who are ready to connect with you. We do that by helping you market your evangelistic events, and by finding people in your community ready to study the Bible with you. And we can also help you turn your church website into an evangelism engine.

The SermonView crew would love to help you market your next evangelistic event. Let us know if you have an evangelistic series coming up, call us today at 800-525-5791.