On January 8 and 9, approximately 40 people gathered in a classroom at Greater Boston Academy in Stoneham, Mass., to learn how to share their faith in their day-to-day lives.
These 40 people were attendees at the Contagious Adventist Seminar, hosted by Compassion Boston. The seminar is typically a nine-session series presented over several weeks, but this condensed training was arranged to give Boston-area members a taste of what it means to be a contagious Adventist, and to expose attendees to the possibility of presenting the full seminar in their own churches.
“Participants will learn how to convert routine, everyday experiences into spiritual conversations that will attract others in winsome and friendly ways and create in them a desire to learn more about the message and mission of Jesus as they study the Bible,” says the seminar’s promotional material. Each session takes participants through a distinctive point of Adventist theology, then helps the participant craft their own testimony in relation to that point, helps them learn to recognize or create opportunities to share (“contagious Adventist” moments), and suggests questions to ask a non-Adventist that can help prompt decisions. Participants spent the weekend hearing true stories of contagious Adventist moments, watching vignettes of example conversations, writing and practicing their testimonies, and sharing their own experiences.
“The Contagious Adventist seminar is a practical, non-threatening, easy-to-adapt seminar that provides tools, skills and the opportunity for any excited, Holy Spirit-charged individual who would like to share her or his faith in their family, neighborhood, school or workplace,” said Southern New England Conference Ministerial/Evangelism Director John Amoah, one of the organizers of the seminar. “After taking the seminar, you will not rest until you begin to be contagiously engaged in your community through active sharing of your testimony.”
Though the seminar has been developed into a curriculum designed for any church member to be able to present, attendees were treated to experience the seminar as presented by Esther R. Knott, one of the seminar’s four co-authors.
Knott works as an Associate Director for NAD Ministerial. Her work is based out of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary on the campus of Andrews University, where she is the director of the MA in Pastoral Ministry Program, helping pastors continue their education while continuing to work. Knott served as a pastor herself for 28 years. Ten of those years were spent preparing this curriculum.
“I am always inspired when I see the participants pair off and begin to share their stories with one another about why they are a Seventh-day Adventist and what difference it has made in their lives,” said Knott, after the seminar. “Then to hear the soft murmur as they pray for one another—what a blessing. I especially enjoyed session two when we talked about establishing common ground and finding ways to affirm our Christian and non-Christian friends when see glimpses of God through their life and actions. I loved the surprise on the faces that revealed the participants' thoughts: ‘You mean, we can really say that?’
“Many of the participants decided that they would lead the seminar at their church so more people would be equipped and inspired to make this intentional journey of living every day as a contagious Adventist. Many said, ‘This is just what my church needs.’ A new member who was baptized less than two months ago said this was just what she needed to help her share her faith in the right way. A long time member said, it inspired him to keep his hand on the plow—no turning back. He wished he had heard some of this many years ago.”
Knott also passed on this word of advice: “I recommend that each participant develop a PIE meeting that meets once a month. (PIE—People Involved in Evangelism.) Serve pie, and come together to share stories and pray for one another.”
At the end of the seminar on Saturday evening, participants were asked to fill out a feedback survey. One of the questions asked if they had anything they’d like to share about the seminar.
“This seminar should be presented to all SDA congregations,” said one attendee, a nurse practitioner. (Surveys were anonymous, though participants were asked for profession and age, if people were willing to share.) “This seminar is a timely exercise that will awaken the children of God in these last days.”
A Bible worker in attendance said, “If you want to be awakened and share your faith with others but aren’t sure how to start conversations, attend this awesome seminar.”
“As a result of attending I have been able to formalize my testimony to make it more effective and winsome,” said another, “I am grateful for the thorough materials I can now use to perform a strong witness.”
A teacher said, “This seminar gives you practical, easy ways to share your faith with others. I love that it helps you share with non-SDA Christians.”
One of the most touching testimonies came from a 21-year-old: “I am still at the beginning part of my journey as a committed Seventh-day Adventist. Doors for me to come closer to God and to better be equipped to help to finish His work just keep opening.” To the speaker, they said, “You had my full attention the entire time and I greatly admire you and will love so much to see you in heaven (if not before)!”
Other professions represented included a systems analysis, a contractor/builder, an administrative assistant, and a leadership consultant, with ages ranging from 21 to 63. Other phrases seen in the responses were, “Great tool for witnessing!,” “It was awesome!,” “Recommend it!,” “So relevant!,” and “Time well invested!”
A teacher, identifying as “50+,” left this note in response to all they’d seen and heard that weekend: “Live intentionally as if you really believe Jesus is coming soon. Live as if you believe He is telling the truth!”
To purchase Contagious Adventist Seminar resources, visit Advent Source.
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