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More Planting, More Harvesting
June 04, 2019

 According to Peter Wagner, the guru of church growth, “the single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.” McDonald’s, an American fast food company, doesn’t build a bigger building to accommodate more customers in a certain place. Instead, they build additional small McDonald’s to attract different groups of people in different places. Churches should take their business philosophy as a lesson..

Merging two churches in a city into one is not productive at all in terms of mission. Rather than having people flock to a luxurious and cozy building and entertaining them, churches should fan out with a view of spreading the truth of the Three Angels’ Messages. Ellen G. White states, “Let there be the wisest planning for the success of the work. Decided efforts should be made to open new fields in the north, the south, the east, and the west…. The fact that the presentation of the truth has been so long neglected should appeal to our ministers and workers to enter these fields and not give up the work until they have clearly given the message” (Manuscript Releases, vol.11, 1908).

The Adventist Mission office of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD) held a Division-wide church planting and community service seminar with the title, “More Planting, More Harvesting,” from March 11 to 13, 2019, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It aimed to stimulate church leaders who are working for mission to the cities at the Union and Conference levels to have a paradigm shift in their ideas and thoughts about church planting. All Sabbath School and Personal Ministries directors and Global Mission coordinators of Unions and Conferences in the NSD territories were invited to attend the seminar.

During the seminar, Pastor Douglas Venn, director of the Global Mission Urban Center Department of the General Conference, introduced Jesus’ model related to urban mission as well as the New York model which may be adopted for different cities in different continents. In Jericho, Jesus met two people: Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus, representing two different classes of people in cities. Jesus met the needs of Bartimaeus, representing the poor and afflicted. People who surrounded Jesus prevented Bartimaeus from meeting with Jesus. Nonetheless, Jesus met him in person and ministered to his needs. Bartimaeus recovered from the loss of sight and became a follower of Jesus.

The other person, Zacchaeus, represents the elite and entrepreneurial class. Jesus spotted him on the sycamore tree and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” That day, Zacchaeus decided to give half of his possessions to the poor. He became a follower of Jesus and used his wealth for charity for the destitute. Pastor Douglas Venn put much emphasis on reaching out to marginalized people, including not only the poor, but also the political and economic elite.

Pastor Venn also talked about the mission advancement in New York City from 1894 to 1904. Under the leadership of Stephen Haskel, an Adventist evangelist, they launched into various types of urban mission: school canvassing, Bible training school, public evangelism, vegetarian restaurants, harbor mission work, cooking classes, free massages, visiting hospitals, health seminars, health food stores, ethnic ministry for immigrants, tent meetings, and organizing a Christian Help Band. In a decade, to meet the various needs of the community, they set up 13 urban centers of influence despite all the odds and 20 congregations in the densely populated area to reach the unreached in New York City.

Dr. Jeffrey McAuliffe, a seasoned church planter and the author of Ephesus Model: A Biblical Framework for Urban Mission, stressed that the center of influence is an integral part of church planting. Based on his rich experience and study, he presented the Paul and Ephesus model: sending the advance placement team, forming the leadership team, discipleship and mentoring, urban centers of influence, and starting a new church.

At the basement of his dental office building, he planted a new church by inviting his clients and acquaintances. On Sabbaths, 25 people regularly gather for worship. According to him, only three or four of them are Adventists. His office is used as a center of influence. Dr. McAuliffe also talked about the triple structures of urban mission: the gospel work, medical ministries, and literature ministries.

Dr. Jeffrey McAuliffe shares his experiences and ideas with the participants

Pastor Bledi Leno, who is in charge of Life Hope Center of New York City, was also present at the seminar and explained how the Life Hope Center is helping New Yorkers find Jesus. The Life Hope Center provides free lunches and massages for busy New Yorkers. Recipients of these services have been brought into contact with the Seventh-day Adventist Church when they were touched by volunteer services, and as a result, some have shown a keen interest in the Bible. In the three-story building of the Life Hope Center, three different worships are held on each floor. Recently, they undertook a mobile center of influence by using a truck and providing free massages on the streets.

During the seminar, each Union and Conference reported on how TMI Evangelism 2019 is being prepared in each territory, and they shared ideas on how to make TMI evangelism more effective. At the end of the seminar, Dr. Joo MinHo, Adventist Mission director of the NSD, appealed to the participants for more church planting by putting up more centers of influence to fulfill Jesus’ great commission.

The climax of the seminar was visiting a center of influence run by a tent-maker missionary, Tim Maddocks. In 1992, Tim Maddocks entered Siem Reap, Cambodia, and purchased a large piece of land for a cheap price. He donated this land to the Cambodia Mission and built a school and an orphanage on this compound. According to him, he has run the school and orphanage only by prayer. He has never asked anyone to donate. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, people have given money for his ministries.

Recently he opened “Butterfly Paradise” as a source of income. He planted tropical plants and flowers like a well-designed botanical garden. He also bred many different species of butterflies. He hopes and prays that this Butterfly Paradise contributes to teaching people about God, the Creator, and financially supporting the school, orphanage, and recent projects of media publication.

A church planting and community service seminar was held at Seoul Language Institute church, Korea, on March 16 and 17, 2019. Approximately 60 people, including pastors from the East Central Korean Conference and the West Central Korean Conference, attended this seminar. They were determined to be involved in urban mission by serving the community in various ways.

Joo MinHo, NSD Adventist Mission Coordinator