17 May 2017, Rīga, Latvia. BAUC team invited Adventist church leaders from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to come together for ‘Matrix on Evangelism’ to discuss the current situation of Adventist church in the Baltic countries. The purpose of such a meeting was to initiate an open discussion on challenges that we face and to start looking for the common strategic ideas that would be relevant and common for all three countries.
First part of the one-day meeting was devoted to understanding the recent membership trends in the local conferences and exploring possible reasons for the decline in baptisms and worship service attendance.
Second part of the day involved hearing positive ministry examples from the local conferences and also exploring major issues in relation to fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission for the church.
As an outcome of the meeting leaders crystallized challenging areas that need to be taken seriously:
- Leadership training. Pastors need to take more active role of the church members training.
- Church health. Healthy churches grow. There is a need for more committed implementation of the NCD (Natural Church Development) as church evaluation tool and also as a working paradigm of how we view and organize our churches.
- Church planting. There is a need to be more aware of how this biblical approach to ministry could be used.
- Spiritual revival. Revival starts in the person’s heart. Members need to grow closer to Jesus. Only then they will have something to offer to people in need.
- Leadership support system. Development of leadership support systems (on different levels of church’s organization) is important for successful ministry.
- Reconnection with the ‘lost’ members. Our churches have big number of members who at one point stopped attending local churches. Sometimes they need just friendly invitation.
These six major themes will provide platform for future discussions as Adventist Church in the Baltic countries tries to find its biblical expression in this ever–changing world.
In future ‘Matrix on Evangelism’ meetings we plan to pick up on the themes raised in our first meeting. Meanwhile, raised challenges will serve as the strategic background for our decisions and plans.
[Mindaugas Pikūnas, Evangelism and Youth department leader]