Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Focus on Evangelism Transforms Pottsville Church, Prophecies of Hope, Winsome Witnessing, Dinner With the Doctor, Stop Smoking classes, Lisa Arosarena

Focus on Evangelism Transforms Pottsville Church

Story by Tamyra Horst

In 2018, the Pottsville church had 55 members with about 25 attending. Today, they have grown to 87 and have welcomed almost 40 new members through baptisms and profession of faith. That’s a 50.9 percent growth in membership!

What made the difference?

“Members got back to the basics,” explains Lillian Torres, a Pottsville leader. “This meant being committed to following Christ’s method and Total Member Involvement. Our mission statement reveals this focus: Preaching the everlasting gospel. Making disciples. Preparing people for the second coming.”

Their first goal was to become the safest, friendliest, most nurturing church. Welcoming people, caring about their needs and building relationships has become an intentional part of their culture. Discipleship has become a way of life for the church—not just discipling new members, but also growing members in a variety of ways like small groups, Sabbath School and sponsoring members to attend conference training events.

The Pottsville leadership team also committed to evangelism. In 2018, they hired Lisa Arosarena, a lay Bible worker. It was part of their strategic plan to move from a maintenance mindset to a missional focus. As Arosarena began giving Bible studies in the community, she invited members to go with her. So far, 30 people have accompanied her and are now leading Bible studies too. Eleven are currently giving Bible studies and five others are using the Prophecies of Hope video series to teach. More have committed to sharing the Bible since completing the Winsome Witnessing training. Arosarena shares, “As members heard how God is moving in their own community, at times I had more members offering to help than I had Bible students.”

They created structure to support their cycle of evangelism that includes an evangelistic series each fall and connecting events throughout the year, like Dinner With the Doctor, Stop Smoking classes, “A God to Know” Bible study, and a revival week each spring. They started a Sabbath School class just for new believers—announcing it as an 11 a.m. Bible study—and have had community visitors attend.

Before every event, members gather to pray for five to 10 days. As a result, they are seeing more guests and members at each event. They have more than 800 interests in their database and are committed to following up every lead consistently. At their evangelistic meeting in 2022, 48 percent of those who attended the meetings were from that database. This fall, Yves Monnier, the conference’s Ministerial and Evangelism director, will be the speaker for their evangelistic series, and members are already praying for those they are inviting.

Monnier says, “The Pottsville church is proof positive that if members roll up their sleeves and embrace the cycle of evangelism, the outcome will be amazing growth—spiritual and numerical.”

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