May 7, 2012

Tools of the Trade

When people are newly baptized into your local Seventh-day Adventist church, what do you do to help them feel at home and become solidly integrated into our movement? I often hear concerns about new members “not lasting,” but do we really give them a chance to make a success of the new relationships involved?
Two resources were published recently that were designed specifically for conducting a new members class in local churches. Both are excellent and should be available in every congregation.
2012 1513 page30The Journey Begins is an undated Adult Bible Study Guide (ABSG) published by the General Conference Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department. It includes 13 lessons in the standard format used in the ABSG and serves not only to provide a strong foundation for understanding church membership but also introduces the new member to the study guide’s important role. A teacher’s guide, which provides illustrations, discussion questions, and other materials to lead an interesting class session, is also available.
The idea behind this material is to encourage local churches to provide a new members class during the regular Sabbath school time in which new members can participate during the first quarter following their baptism. Once they complete this study guide they can move on to one of the regular classes. The new members class recycles the same curriculum each quarter. In smaller churches, it might be offered only one quarter a year.
The North American Division (NAD) has published a similar volume in its new iFollow series of discipleship resources. A Deeper Look at Your Church includes only six lessons, so it can be completed more quickly and might be offered as a midweek meeting series or a Sabbath afternoon class. It includes more practical and less general material than does the study guide. It also has a much richer collection of additional resources, including group activities, Bible study guides, discussion questions, and listings of many different kinds of electronic media, supplemental books, and so forth. In fact, there’s little duplication between the two, and they could very nicely be used together.
You can obtain The Journey Begins through your local Adventist Book Center, online at, or by calling 1-800-765-6955. A Deeper Look at Your Church is available from AdventSource, the NAD resource distributor, at or 1-800-328-0525.
Thirteen Weeks to Peace
Every congregation has people who are hurting emotionally or acting out in ways that demonstrate things are not entirely healthy with their minds. In fact, it’s part of God’s plan for people with emotional needs to come to Jesus and His people to find healing. Do we reach out to them, welcome them, and help them? Or do we try to walk by on the other side because we don’t know what to do or don’t want to take the time?
2012 1513 page30Pacific Press has recently published an excellent tool to help the “walking wounded” and those who need to find emotional maturity. Thirteen Weeks to Peace can be the basis for a small-group study or midweek meeting series, or given to individuals in the context of pastoral care and support. Each of the 13 chapters includes discussion questions that can be used in a group or one on one.
The last third of the book is a gold mine of practical helps, worksheets, charts, and quick references. Every pastor and local elder should have this book simply so they can dip into this material as needed.
The author, Jennifer Jill Schwirzer, is well known as a singer-songwriter and speaker for retreats and special events. She is a licensed professional counselor with a private practice in Philadelphia, as well as a wife and mother, and has worked with Adventist ministries in major cities for many years. This book shines with the compassion, character, and wisdom God has given to her. Thirteen Weeks to Peace is available from your Adventist Book Center.
Monte Sahlin is director of research and special projects for the Ohio Conference and a senior consultant at the Center for Creative Ministry. You can suggest ideas and tools to him by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 1-800-272-4664.