IS LAYMEN'S YEAR 1971 just another promotional contrivance? Here in the Takoma Park church we don't think so. With almost 1,300 members to care for, the pastoral staff manages to find plenty to do without attempting to develop a more complex machine. A favorite text of ours is "For our rejoicing is ... in simplicity" (2 Cor. 1:12).
We are not interested in hullabaloo. We are utterly opposed to anything that resembles "checklist religion." We are not "record" conscious. But we have an overwhelming sense of an unfinished task. We ought to be in heaven, and are not. We are deeply in earnest about letting Jesus use us so that the job will be done and He can come.
During the closing months of 1970 our staff gave prayerful study to developing an enlistment program and follow-up organization for lay contact evangelism. Our requirements were that it be simple and that it work. Already the enlistment program has been accomplished, and hundreds of church members are actively involved.
Because we have had an opportunity to field-test these methods with good success, we have been asked to outline briefly how our church is doing it. We are keenly aware that methods must be tailor-made for each congregation and that it is impossible to incorporate in toto any program, but while these ideas probably could not be adopted by another congregation, perhaps they could be adapted. We are therefore glad to share, and hope that some of these methods may be helpful to you as a pastor.
The Plan and Its Operation
A. At the last few church board meetings of 1970 details of the General Conference Laymen's Year outreach program were presented and approved.
B. On January 16 a recruitment sermon, "When Love Constrains," was presented by the pastor. (This sermon was recorded for the February Tape-of-the- Month Club.)
C. At the close of the sermon a commitment card was presented to each member. After an earnest prayer, members designated the areas in which they preferred to serve and the amount of time they would give to contact evangelism. As a result, about 250 families made commitments, and the amount of time specified totaled more than 600 hours a week.
D. All who checked were invited to meet Sabbath afternoon at two-thirty for instruction and immediate assignments, the first of which would be to take cards such as they had filled out and visit all the uncommitted church members, hopefully to obtain their commitments. Careful instructions were given on how to make the visits as follows:
E. Monday morning a letter was sent ask ing all uncommitted members to stay home the following Sabbath afternoon, at which time they would be visited by laymen. Following is a part of that letter: "EVERY - MEMBER VISITATION SCHEDULED. Those who have made per sonal commitments will try to visit every other family in the church between 1:00 and 6:00 P.M. on Sabbath afternoon, Janu ary 23. If convenient, please arrange your program to be home during these hours. There will be no appeal for finances, no pressure; just a friendly, spiritual visit. In one afternoon we wish to become acquainted with one another. Thanks!"
F. During the week, names of all those who had not made commitments were pulled from the membership files. These were divided into about one hundred groups of four families each. These cards were placed in numbered envelopes. During the week one hundred teams were put together. These teams picked up their en velopes Sabbath, January 23. Visits were made that afternoon, and call-backs were completed during the following week.
To date, about 1,200 hours a week, or an average of almost one hour a week per member, have been committed by the mem bership of this church. A check through the cards reveals a variety of responses.
G. The commitment cards were tabu- chart shows how these nine units tie tolated by laymen, and from this information gether. (A very limited segment of our were developed nine working units. This organizational structure is shown here.)
H. A director and secretary were chosen for each group. These met to work out details.
I. Each group meets once a month for training and receives a job description, of which the following is an example:
Already scores of thrilling experiences are being shared. The program is working! The membership of this church is rallying and experiencing the joy of becoming actively involved. We thank God for the privilege of being united in service.