Every Adventist church is supposed to be involved and budget for a seminar to take place in their churches in the hopes of increased membership. The members begin to ask for a seminar almost as if we were programmed to say it! And when approved and the date is near our members begin to think twice about what they have asked for. Many times our members find themselves overwhelmed and tired even before the seminar begins. Excuses begin to accumulate such as work schedules, babysitters, out of town, too busy, personal problems and my personal favorite: “I am just too tired.”
Well, I have a complete opposite story for Hinckley SDA church and the seminar that just took place this past May. It started like any other seminar; elders got together, budgets started to be planned out and dates were set, only with one small difference. Pr. Rodriguez actually began to “train” people on how to be involved in a seminar and how to be in fellowship with visitors. He took his childhood history and experience and took the very best of all and applied it to this seminar.
He started with an interest list, member list and handbill list along with a mass mailing list that was started in order to attract those who were to learn more about God and the second coming. He trained individuals who were to usher people into the church ready with smiles and umbrellas in case it rained, the registration booth was run by his family (wife and daughter), invited the neighbor church to also be involved and fellowship with the visitors, Pr. Rodriguez was also ready to answer any questions as well as being involved in the fellowship with visitors and members, truthfully, there was a sense of family all around.
In the middle of the meetings, Mother’s Day came about and the church took advantage and invited all who were interested in coming for a dinner prepared for all those who would come and fellowship. It was made clear to all members and visitors that all we wanted to do is have a special dinner for everyone who was interested and “no strings attached.” All we wanted to do is for the visitors to get to know us all as a church family. The attendance was favorable as most members from both churches attended and a great number of visitors attended with their friends and family.
Pr. Rodriguez kept on emphasizing that we are here to spread the Word and that his job was to equip everyone with as much information as necessary for them to get closer to the Lord and the truth. He continued by explaining that he did not have all the answers, but that the Bible did and his job was to guide them to find it. Visitors were moved by his humbleness and honesty and they developed a sense of trust throughout the meetings. Our unconditional love and true interest towards these people’s salvation prevailed and so we had 7 baptisms to thank the Lord. All of these baptisms happened within a day towards the end of the Seminar meetings – 2 of them were a complete surprise and not planned. Truly, the Holy Spirit was in total control that Sabbath. Tears flowed, smiles and hugs were shared among members and newborns in Christ. There was so much love and happiness throughout the evenings that even though all of us were tired and exhausted, somehow God gave us strength to continue each day. The fear, the excuses and justifications somehow went away once we all saw the reaps of our labor. Hinckley was not another church programmed to say: “Yes, we want a seminar.” Hinckley was not another church who made excuses when it happened. Hinckley was not another church who budgeted for another seminar. Hinckley did not just have another seminar – Hinckley grew its membership by becoming a family.
Carlos & Elizabeth Rodriguez Pastor – Cambridge SDA Church & Hinckley SDA Church
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