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Best Practices March 23, 2012

Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;
Death is strong, but Life is stronger;
Stronger than the dark, the light;
Stronger than the wrong, the right.
Faith and Hope triumphant say,
Christ will rise on Easter-Day.
 - Phillips Brooks, "An Easter Carol" 

tim garrisonEaster Sunday... Just Another Day?
by Tim Garrison pastor, Southern California

This year I return to Union College for my 40th Class Reunion. I am looking forward to seeing old classmates, eating some famous Valentino's pizza and pretending to be twenty-something again.


The sad part is I will be doing this over the most sacred Christian holy weekends of the year - Easter. When I called the Alumni Director, she told me the Alumni Board had decided to stay with the traditional first weekend of April and that they would incorporate some Easter related events. I wondered: which is worse, ignoring Easter altogether or seeing it as a "background" event?


Later I opened the Pacific Union Recorder and noticed a display ad for the upcoming Westpoint of Evangelism, starting (you guessed it) on Easter Sunday. Pastors from all over the Pacific Union will be traveling on the most sacred Christian holiday of the year to get to a pre-planned event that could have been scheduled to start on a different day.


Perhaps these are isolated events, not typical of our general attitude. But I wonder. Adventism is a strongly doctrinal-based religious belief system. Our belief in the seventh-day Sabbath is in the first part of our name, and it's one of our reasons for existence. The Sunday resurrection of Christ, on the other hand, is sometimes used to argue for worship on Sunday. 


What should we do with this most holy day for most of Christianity? Many of our churches have Good Friday evening services and plan special music or messages for "Easter Sabbath," all neatly within the confines of our day of worship.  


But perhaps we should be more conscious of Easter Sunday, and what we do that day? What do you think?


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Raj DixitGetting Easter Ready
Preparing Your Congregation for Seekers
by Rajkumar Dixit

I was filled with pride when the Easter banners were erected on the front lawn of our church.  We were the first congregation in the community to have signage up displaying our Easter weekend plans. In a 2008 Gallup poll, 62% of respondents said they were planning on attending an Easter service.  We hope to attract these seekers to our church doors. 

Traditionally, Adventists have not celebrated Easter. This is a lost opportunity in reaching the people in your community who are searching for God. Studies have shown that the two times a year people are more likely to attend church are on Christmas and Easter. This is a compelling reason for Seventh-day Adventist Churches to take this evangelistic opportunity seriously. 

One group of seekers are former Catholics. In a 2008 survey, the Pew Foundation found that one in 10 Americans now considers themselves an ex-Catholic. These individuals have been jaded by their childhood religion, and are seeking something else that can fill the spiritual gap. How will Adventists reach out to the unchurched in their community?  Here are a few tried and tested ideas on gaining the attention of seekers during the Easter season.   
  • Create web-friendly domains: Create a web domain that is easy to remember for a motorist who may be driving past your church. This year, New Hope Adventist Church will use four different domains during the Easter season, based on the audiences we are trying to attract.  All of your domains can be pointed to the same website. Here are some of the examples we are using:
    • Lookingforachurch.org
    • NewHopeLovesFamilies.com
    • LiveBeyondtheEgg.com
    • EasteratNewHope.com
  • Order Church banners for your front lawn:  This is especially important  if your church is located along a busy road or residential area.  Be certain to order banners that are a minimum of six feet in length.  Also, make sure the banner highlights your church web address prominently. Here are more tips for ordering a church banner.
  • Facebook Ads may be the most successful option in reaching your targeted audience: It is relatively inexpensive in comparison to print or radio ads.  You have the ability to target those you are trying to connect with based on their demographic profile.  In addition you can narrow your audience by choosing words that your potential publics are using in their own Facebook posts.  For example, if somebody within a five mile radius of your church has used the following words in their Facebook post, "God, Easter, church, kids, family,"  our ad can zero in on that particular person through your advertising campaign.   
  • Plan a Sunday bridge event for the community:  You may want to consider planning a huge pancake breakfast, or Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday morning.  Many people are looking for something to do on Easter Sunday.  By opening your doors (or front lawn) to the community, they will learn more about your church and have the opportunity to be invited to church the following Sabbath.  
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Rajkumar Dixit is the author of
Branded Faith: Contextualizing the Gospel in a Post-Christian World. He pastors at New Hope Adventist Church.  You can read more at rajkumardixit.com 
Best Ideas for Ministry
Streaming a Live Internet Show for Teens  

Pastor Stephen and Pastor Kevin have teamed up for "two guys in the word" where they take teen questions on a live show on Sunday night. Teens text their questions and the hosts give them live answers from God's word on the spot. They come to teens live via streaming on the internet. This team is available to stream to youth groups everywhere. Click here to see them share their idea on the NAD Ministerial Best Ideas VOD site.

Pray for Five People for Thirty Days
One of the problems pastors face is trying to get the saints involved in ministry. Pastor Fresse had his members write out a simple prayer list of about five names of their neighbors and co-workers. They prayed for those five people for thirty days. Then they contact the person they have been praying for and ask if there is anything else they can prayer for them. Then they continue to pray for them for another thirty days and then another thirty days. This has fired up the church members and they are not excited about ministry. Click here to see Juan share his idea on the NAD Ministerial Best Ideas VOD site.

Word on the Street: Public College Ministry
If your congregation is near a university campus you have a wonderful ministry opportunity to reach the students nearby. A great resource to set you up is entitled "The Word on Campus" that gives instructions on how to do Public College Ministry. This resource is available at AdventSourceClick here to see Bill share his idea on the NAD Ministerial Best Ideas VOD site.


Sermon Contest
Wanted: Your Best Sermon
Ministers and graduate ministerial students in North America are invited to submit their best stewardship sermons. Up to ten outstanding sermons will be selected and awarded $1,000.00 each.
"We know there are many exceptional stewardship sermons and we would like to share them with other ministers and leaders throughout North America," states John Mathews, Stewardship director for the North America Division (NAD).  Stewardship is a central Biblical theme and faithful stewardship by members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church makes it possible for the church to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ.
Ministers (active or retired) from the North American Division or graduate ministerial students (such as M.Div. or similar) studying in North American schools may participate. For additional information about this contest visit www.iGiveSDA.org/contest or contact Lori Bryan at 301-680-6432, lori.bryan@nad.adventist.org.      
Reading for Pastors 
What people talk about before they die: hospice chaplain Kerry Egan reflects on the last moments of life.

We're always talking about youth who leave the church. What do we know about those who don't?

Pop culture: Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz becomes a movie -
but expect it to be controversial in some circles.

What makes a great team? John Maxwell's nine qualities of an effective team. Quote: "The right team will embrace uncomfortable conversations and will not drift towards making everyone in the room happy but rather making the right decision."

Mark Driscoll's new book on marriage has gotten lots of press. But some say he's gone too far, and is creating a sex-obsessed religion.

Do you want people listening to your message, or live-tweeting it? Quote: "It is more important to listen, than to be immediately telling others what you think. But live-tweeting during a sermon seems to encourage the potential for many people to be speaking before the first speaker, i.e. the preacher, has even finished."

The five types of work that fill our days. Quote: "Thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices, Reactionary Work seeps into every opening of your time - walks between buildings or a free hour that results from a canceled meeting. The biggest mistake we make is prioritizing Reactionary Work over everything else."

The Stay-Home generation: American mobility is at an all-time low.

What's the secret of successful organizations? It's not just intelligence, strategy or speed, argues Patrick Lencioni in his new book The Advantage, but a healthy wholeness.
To the Point

Let every man and woman count himself immortal.  Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection.  Let him say not merely, "Christ is risen," but "I shall rise."
  ~Phillips Brooks

God expects from men something more than at such times, and that it were much to be wished for the credit of their religion as well as the satisfaction of their conscience that their Easter devotions would in some measure come up to their Easter dress.
  ~Robert South

In the bonds of Death He lay
Who for our offence was slain;
But the Lord is risen to-day,
Christ hath brought us life again,
Wherefore let us all rejoice,
Singing loud, with cheerful voice,

  ~Martin Luther

But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
My God shall raise me up, I trust.
  ~Walter Raleigh

He takes men out of time and makes them feel eternity.
  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Thou art the Sun of other days.
They shine by giving back the rays.
  ~John Keble

We live and die; Christ died and lived!
  ~John Stott

And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here.
  ~St. Augustine

The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world. Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice. But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice.
  ~Henry Knox Sherrill

Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there.
 ~Clarence W. Hall 
News, Ideas & Reminders
Humor: Old guys rule!

A reminder that we have a Best Practices Facebook page that we'd love for you to join.

From Walt Williams: InMinistry Spring Intensives now posted and open to interested pastors.  Check in and check them out.  One might be just what your ministry needs right now.
Got a tool, resource, site, article, idea or seminar that you like a lot? Share it with us at BestPractices@ameritech.net.  
Upcoming NAD Events
Do you have an event you'd like to invite NAD pastors to? Send details to BestPractices@Ameritech.net.

Youth Week of Prayer. Mar 17, 2012 - Mar 24, 2012, North American Division. Special materials are available online. For more information, email: dunchiem@gc.adventist.org


Great Controversy Tour . Mar 30, 2012 - Apr 12, 2012, Italy, Switzerland, France and Germany. Join Gerard Damsteegt, associate professor of church history at Andrews University to see prophecies of Daniel and Revelation come alive! Visit Rome, Italy and Reformation sites in the Waldensian Valleys, Switzerland, Germany and France. A most exciting experience! To reserve your spot, call or fax 269-471-5172. For more information, email: gctours@mac.com


SEEDS Atlantic Union. Mar 30, 2012 - Apr 1, 2011, Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa, 243 Tresser Blvd, Stamford, CT 06901. The Festival of the Laity SEEDS Conference is for Church Members, Leaders, and Pastors Who Equip Them. You will find inspiring worship services, heartwarming music, exciting witnessing stories, challenging preaching, and 65 different seminars that will encourage and equip you for reaching people for God. Phone: 800-255-7568. For more information, email: ContactSEEDS@nadei.org


Worldwide Day for Prayer and Fasting. Apr 7, 2012, Worldwide. First Sabbath of each quarter has been designated as days of prayer and fasting for the world church. Families and individuals are encouraged to establish the first day of each month and one day a week as normal or partial fast days. Support information and helps are being developed by the Prayer and Fasting Subcommittee. 


Religion Communicators Council. Apr 12, 2012 - Apr 14, 2012, Philadelphia Airport Marriott Hotel, 1 Arrivals Road (Terminal B), Philadelphia, PA 19153. Plan now to attend the annual convention for the Religion Communicators Council (RCC) "In(ter)dependence: Religion Communication Today". You will experience interactive workshops, and attend two award banquets. Featured Speaker: Debra L Mason, Executive Director, Religion Newswriters. For more information, email: rccprc@rcn.com; nmonn@pensions.org


ASI - Mid-America Union. Apr 19, 2012 - Apr 22, 2012, Ramada Plaza Denver North, 10 E 120th Avenue, Northglenn, CO 80233. "Practical Evangelism". Featured speakers: Shawn Boonstra, Associate Director NAD Ministerial, and Don Mackintosh, Director NEWSTART Global Weimar Health Evangelism. Visit ASImidamerica.org for details.  


The ACS Outreach Leadership Conference is sponsored by the Adventist Community Services - Washington, the North Pacific Union Conference and NAD Adventist Community Services.  It will be held at the Washington Conference Office in Federal Way, Washington on March 2-4, 2012.  Participants will hear challenging speakers and choose from 30 training seminars.  For registration and more information: www.washingtonconference.org/ACS

Nonprofit Leadership Certification Program


  • - Southeastern Conference: 1701 Robie Ave, Mt. Dora, Florida 32712,
    • Session I, June 3-7, 2012
    • Session II, September 23-27, 201
  •   - ACS Outreach Leadership Conference, Washington Conference Office
    • March 2-4, 2012  
Best Practices is a publication of the NAD Ministerial Department.  Editor: Loren Seibold. Publisher: Ivan Williams. You are free to republish pieces from Best Practices in your own newsletter or blog, with attribution to the Best Practices newsletter and the author of the piece.