BALTIC STATES [ANR] – Ninety-seven new LIFEdevelopment (LD) groups have been established in the Baltic States. The LD groups were started as a result of the overwhelming interest in reaching unchurched postmodern people expressed by the members and pastors of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The week-long LIFEdevelopment conference began on 2 April, in Kaunas (Lithuania), Riga (Latvia), and Tartu (Estonia).
LIFEdevelopment is a strategic vision to involve Adventists in building lasting friendships with unchurched and mostly postmodern people, in the hope of supporting them in their search for Jesus Christ. “There are at least two reasons to choose this approach. Firstly, evangelism is a long–term process, not a single event. This concept of lifetime evangelism represents a paradigm shift away from short–term evangelism. Secondly, it enables every church member to be involved in the real evangelistic witnessing — making the phrase ‘every member a minister’ a reality,” explains Dr Miroslav Pujic, director for the ministry to postmoderns in the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the Trans-European region.
By the end of the conference in Kaunas, 24 new LD groups and two centres were established. “Our ministers and church members are committed to implement the LIFEdevelopment discipleship pathway in reaching unchurched people in Lithuania, who comprise more than 80% of the total population” said Pastor Bertold Hibner, president of the Lithuanian Mission and LD director. “We also believe that this concept will help many lay members to be more engaged in evangelism,” concluded Hibner.
Pastor Ivo Roderts, LD director in Latvia, reports that 34 LIFEdevelopment groups and three LD centres were organised at the end of their conference. “I am thrilled to see so many people involved in this discipleship strategy. We realised that we needed to do something different if we want to reach 90% of unchurched people in Latvia.” The workers in Latvia hope to establish a further two LD centres.
In the Estonian conference, 39 LD groups and another two centres were established. Pastor David Nōmmik, conference secretary and LD director, expresses confidence in this strategy: “The LIFEdevelopment concept fits in our society very well. In a short time I have got several calls that give me hope that God will do amazing work through people who committed themselves to this type of evangelism.”
The small groups ministries director for the Trans-European region, Pastor Janos Kovacs-Biro, explains that “LIFEdevelopment groups are a soft entrance into the Adventist Church and also a spiritual gifts-based outreach approach for our young people and members. Through these groups we open our hearts, our home and consequently our lives to other people. LD groups are biblical and supported by Ellen White’s writings. It is also essential that LD groups are following the outlined discipleship pathway. These groups could revitalise existing churches and help them focus on outreach and soul winning. Some of the growing LD groups who gather in LD centres will be the bases of the new church plants in the area in which they minister.”
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Baltic states has more than 6.600 adult church members in 90 local Adventist churches, spread throughout Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Baltic Union Conference Communication Director