The first phase in the process of making disciples is to PREPARE the soil of the heart. When we come close to people in friendship and service, we show that we care and gain their confidence. Individual acts of loving kindness help to prepare hearts to receive the truth of the gospel:
“The sowers of the seed have a work to do in preparing hearts to receive the gospel. . . . In Christlike sympathy we should come close to men individually, and seek to awaken their interest in the great things of eternal life. Their hearts may be as hard as the beaten highway, and apparently it may be a useless effort to present the Saviour to them; but while logic may fail to move, and argument be powerless to convince, the love of Christ, revealed in personal ministry, may soften the stony heart, so that the seed of truth can take root” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 57).
Local Church Goal – Churchwide Community Ministries
To ensure that the soil is being actively prepared, local churches should be active in Churchwide Community Ministries to minister to the needs of the people in their territories. Churchwide means more than a few people running a community service center or a handful of people holding a cooking school. It means determining the needs of a community and engaging THE ENTIRE CHURCH in community outreach.
Here are 7 Keys to Churchwide Community Ministries:
- ELECT a community services leader and health ministries leader to direct the church’s need-based ministries.
- SCHEDULE regular health ministry events (health expos, cooking schools, monthly supper clubs, free clinics, etc.).
- DISCOVER other local community needs, which may involve contacting civic leaders (mayor, police chief, fire chief, etc.).
- CONDUCT projects to bless your community and build relationships for further ministry.
- INVOLVE every member in some way—health ministries, community service projects, humanitarian ministries, felt-need ministries, finance seminars, etc.
- PROVIDE leadership support—promotion, financial support, and participation.
- PRAY for laborers and for the salvation of souls through community need-based ministries.
“Jesus . . . went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). And so should we!
“When properly conducted, the health work is an entering wedge, making a way for other truths to reach the heart” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 327).
“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me’” (The Ministry of Healing, p. 143).
Adventist Community Services
This booklet presents the purpose God has designed for us to have in our communities.
Preparing the Soil of the Heart, Part 1
How do we awaken people’s interest in spiritual things?
Preparing the Soil of the Heart, Part 2
How can a local church awaken spiritual interest in its community?