Pastor's Pastor

Experiencing the blessed hope now!

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is entering a new and exciting ministry of rekindling the hope that Jesus brings.

James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is entering a new and exciting ministry of rekindling the hope that Jesus brings. Ray Dabrowski, director of communication for our world church, says, "In 1996 Seventh-day Adventists will embark upon a new phase of our journey. This will be a time of confession, renewal, and an open-mindedness to learn again the ways of Christ, the hope of the world."

In fact, the Communication Strategy Task Force of our church has issued a strategic statement that will become the theme of this emphasis: Seventh-day Adventists will communicate hope by focusing on the quality of life that is complete in Christ.

Hope in Christ includes experiencing abundant life today. Hope that is limited to the future tends toward a "pie in the sky by and by" mentality that divorces the impact of the gospel from present reality. Of course, every believer can hope for the imminent return of our Lord, but we must also experience the reality of His abundant life now and here. The power of God makes us complete in Christ now and offers a place in God's glorious future. Now, that is the blessed hope!

Hope becomes real when it is shared with others. Every believer---minister or layperson---in every church can become part of the excitement of bringing hope in Christ to our churches and to the world. As Dabrowski says: "If we do this, we will be communicating what Christ wants us to communicate before He returns!"

The first focus of this overall strategy is appropriately aimed at the local congregation where hope and whole-person development are best provided to the community of believers as well as to the world. Members who are experiencing the abundance of Christ's life in their own are the most effective communicators of hope to those they influence.

Hope-based evangelism builds the kingdom. A felt-needs approach should govern our evangelism. When people find answers to their need in Jesus' way and Jesus' words, then the message that we communicate fulfills His mission of meeting people's needs through a personal and growing relationship between sinner and Saviour. As trained ministers and members communicate the gospel with consideration of felt needs, they will create hope in Jesus Christ.

As a communication strategy, such a process creates cohesion of image perception. The church becomes known in a positive way and is better accepted in the public. Beyond just a public relations activity, however, this improved image of the church enables it to fulfill its mission more effectively.

Your congregation can spread hope to your community. You can provide your church family with a basis for starting a hope-filled ministry. Begin with a dynamic video presentation and study guide (see box). This resource is economically priced and attractively produced to guide your church through discussion points that will help launch an effective strategy for communicating hope.

This program is designed to lead your audience through the transition. It begins by reminding Christians that we too, like our neighbors, are beset with the foibles of a human, mistake-ridden shell. Unlike our neighbors who may not have been touched by the power of the gospel, we have hope, or more pointedly, we should have hope! Through the use of parody and storytelling, the video demonstrates how, without hope in Jesus as our core motivator, we make foolish mistakes, misjudge, miscommunicate, and mislead each other and our neighbors. The powerful conclusion leads viewers to see the potential of connecting with others on the basis of a common hope! I encourage you to try this visionary strategy in your congregation!

To order your copy of the Hope Video and Study Guide send US$5 to: GC Communication Department 12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring, MD 20904.

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James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

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