Comments on Baptism From Portuguese Sources

A problem that confronts all progressive Seventh-day Adventist churches is to be­come acquainted with the stranger that is within our midst.

E. P. MANSELL, Pastor, Los Banos, California. Church

A problem that confronts all progressive Seventh-day Adventist churches is to be­come acquainted with the stranger that is within our midst. There are many earnest peo­ple who attend our Sabbath services with an in­ward longing for a better understanding of the Christian way of life and a yearning for fellow­ship with God's people. Often they come and go unnoticed.

It is true that this class of persons is not regu­lar in attendance. Most of them are sick spiritu­ally; but with a little encouragement from the minister, Bible instructor, or an understanding lay worker, much good can be accomplished. Then, too, there are the people who come from other Seventh-day Adventist churches. They will worship in our churches without introducing themselves, and thus remain anonymous. How are we to get the names and addresses of such people without embarrassment? In larger con­gregations it is almost impossible for the pastor to know all the church members by name, so he has to be rather careful in inquiring whether they are visitors.

In our work in the East Oakland church we use three methods to secure the names of our friends who may be attending services. They are: (1) our guest registration book that is in the narthex of the church; (2) the membership and guest request cards that are available in the pew racks with the tithe envelopes; (3) the attend­ance registration cards, which are distributed to our total congregation about once a month.

Most churches have a guest register of some type. Any good church supply house has them for sale, some very beautifully bound. Our church prefers a loose-leaf book. Each Sunday morning the page containing the names of our guests from the preceding Sabbath is placed upon the minister's desk. These names are care­fully studied and those that have local addresses are placed on cards, so that a personal visit may be made. It is a good plan to send a card or let­ter of recognition to those visiting, even to our friends from outside the city.

In our pews are kept 3 by 5 inch cards in the same rack with the tithe envelopes. On one side is printed:

"TO OUR VISITORS: We extend to you a cordial welcome and rejoice that you have been led to this place of worship. We invite you to come again, and would appreciate your name and address in the space below."

Below the space that is left for the name and address, three check statements are made. They are: ( ) Visitor, ( ) Newcomer, ( ) De­sires to Unite With Church.

On the reverse side of the blue card is printed: "TO OUR MEMBERS." Listed on this side are various bits of information that are helpful to the minister. Some of the informa­tion asked is:

( ) Has moved to address above.

( ) Needs spiritual help.

( ) Desires a call from the minister.

( ) Desires baptism.

( ) Newcomer among us.

( ) Is ill and should be visited.

( ) Wishes Bible studies.

On this side of the card is a place for the name of the person and a space for the name of the one supplying the information. Some church bulletins carry practically the same requests for information, but it has been our experience that few people like to tear up their church bulle­tins.

Once each month it is our practice to distrib­ute a special Attendance Registration card to each person in the congregation—both church members and non-Adventists. The card that serves us well states:

"We are happy to welcome you to our church service and we wish you God's blessing as you worship in this sanctuary. Will you please answer the following questions? Thank you!" Then four check statements are listed: " ( ) I am a member of this church.

( ) I am a member of the__________ church in

( ) I have no church affiliation.

( ) I would be interested in uniting with this church."

Then there is a place for the name, address, and telephone number. The card concludes with the question, "How long do you expect to be in our vicinity?"

This attendance registration has proved to be the best interest finder it has ever been our ex­perience to use. One Sabbath, twelve requested membership. Even people who have never been baptized have requested membership. These have been invited to join our instruction class. At first our church members did not cooperate very well; but when it was explained that if strangers did not see them fill out a card, it might influence them not to do so, practically all the members responded.

After the attendance registration the cards are separated into three groups—the members of the church, Seventh-day Adventists from other churches, and prospective interests. The response to our attendance registration has al­ways been most gratifying, for it makes it pos­sible to direct our ministry to those who may need spiritual help and guidance.


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E. P. MANSELL, Pastor, Los Banos, California. Church

January 1958

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