“Communicate, communicate, communicate.” These were the words I remember from Pastor Chester Stanley when he was orienting me to the work of president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Western Australia. He went on to explain that people want to know what is happening and as a leader it is your job to tell them—your staff and colleagues, the church members and community. Tell them what God is doing—share the mission and the special purpose of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Keep getting the message out in as many ways as you can.
Since then I have read leadership books that say you can never over-communicate.
I thank Adventist Record for the ability to share experiences, stories, perspectives and end-time truth with God’s people. Because, without clear messages, people can lose their focus on our God-given purpose.
The first of the three angels’ messages makes it clear that the message must be communicated in significant ways. “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice . . .” (Revelation 14:6,7 ESV emphasis mine). This message is to have prominence—it is in the sky above and proclaimed with a loud voice! We can join the angel in his work of communicating.
People in the Western, secular, post-modern world have so many messages bombarding them that it takes at least 5.7 meaningful encounters with Jesus—Christians, the gospel message on TV, radio, social media, a church meeting—before they decide to be a follower of Jesus.1 So letterboxing your suburb once or giving out a GLOW tract or Signs magazine once, sharing a spiritual blog with your contacts once or posting a good biblical message once is a good thing to do and will have an impact on someone. However we need to be consistent in communicating. We cannot give up. We have to keep trying new and existing methods to reach people.
As a pastor I remember visiting certain people I had met in the towns and suburbs in which I ministered. I listened to them and prayed for them. I gave Bible studies to those who wanted them. I helped them, invited them to church and called for decisions for them to follow Jesus—but it seemed for no purpose. The number of such visits was great but the results were not so good from my perspective. There were times of real discouragement.
However, now I have been in ministry for more than 30 years, I have a new perspective. I have had people phone me and say, “Do you remember me?” Often I recognise the voice but cannot put a face or a name to it until I hear more. “You visited me when I was depressed and gave me practical spiritual information and support—I am now a Seventh-day Adventist and am involved in a service ministry.”
Or I go back to a church district where I pastored and see people I recognise but not from church. They tell me, “Since you left I couldn’t stop thinking about the truth of the message of Jesus you shared. I wandered a bit—but Faith FM and an Adventist I came across in my work reminded me and I am now a committed follower of Jesus and am a deacon here at the church.” These moments bring me incredible joy. I can almost imagine the joy of heaven when a person decides to follow Jesus!
"We need to be consistent in communicating. We cannot give up."
As humans we never know when and how the Holy Spirit could and will use the messages of Jesus we communicate. However, God calls us to be faithful and persistent in the communication of our witness to Him. I just read in Adventist Frontier magazine that, after 31 years of ministry in a difficult area for mission, a Seventh-day Adventist church has been established.
Persistent communication will be used by God to create a disciple-making movement. After all, this could be what it means to have the “patience of the saints” (Revelation 14:12).