Adventist Community Church of Vancouver had no evangelist plans for the spring of 2021. Amid the pandemic, there was no one willing to come. Roger Walter, pastor, assumed they would go ahead with evangelism anyway. That's what the Vancouver church does because lost people matter to God. The members of the Vancouver church do whatever they can to reach them.
Walter and four others experienced a growing idea over the course of a week. Remarkably, each were thinking independently, and as it gathered steam in their hearts, it seemed that it might be an idea from the Holy Spirit.
The idea? Why not let the youth in the church do the evangelism? As they thought and prayed about it, it continued to feel like a great idea.
During the pandemic, the church youth program had grown a lot. Instead of stopping activities, as many churches were doing, Vancouver chose to create a safe space for teens to come together.
When it came to evangelism, Walter didn’t expect much response. Maybe five to seven kids would preach a sermon each. He anticipated preaching the rest, and he was okay with whatever the outcome might be.
Bill McClendon, NPUC evangelism director, teamed up with Pastor Walter to hold an evangelism training rally. They invited kids from near and far, and many came. They were taught how to preach, how to present calls and why Adventist churches do evangelism and how it works. At the end of the rally, they made a call for youth who wanted to preach. It was more than successful; there were not enough sermon slots in the schedule to accommodate all those who volunteered!
Walter went from expecting to preach the series himself to training these young preachers how to present the seminar series themselves. They gathered every week and practiced, trained, learned and grew. During the series, the teens did everything — greeting, registration table, visitation, data entry and, of course, preaching.
Gabe, one of the teen volunteers, was asked if he liked preaching. He responded, "Not really, but I love what it produces, so I will keep doing it!" The seminar resulted in four baptisms and four to five continuing to come to church.
Because of the seminar series, five teens made decisions to become pastors and evangelists. Two are considering full-time evangelism as a career.
Word soon spread about what the Vancouver church was doing with their teens. Six months later, they decided to do it again. This time, however, they split into two groups and preached two series at the same time. Each church had a team of seven teens with one pastor assigned to mentor. Again, the teens did all the preaching. By the time the second series was finished, three teens were ready and willing to try a whole seminar by themselves.
Ellen White, one of our Adventist founders, said that the work would be accomplished by an army of youth. The problem is, we have never believed this enough to release them to do significant work. Often, the most they’ve been given were Junior Deacon or Deaconess duties and, occasionally, we let them sing. What if they want to be on the front lines accomplishing good for the kingdom?
One of the teens now lives in Arkansas and is planning to do an entire series himself this spring. Walter continues to coach him. Another, now living in Tennessee, is planning to come back to Vancouver for the next series, happening soon. The group also continues to meet nearly every week to train the teens and pray together.
Walter has found this project has transformed his ministry. He’s finding himself serving as a youth pastor again. And the youth are now involved throughout church ministries doing music, announcements, the worship service and many areas of church leadership. The nominating committee is beginning to catch the vision too.
If you would like more information on training your church members and getting kids involved with leadership, visit EvangeLead.org.