The Appearing, It Is Written's latest satellite evangelism event, finished this Tuesday night, and for the Grande Prairie Seventh-day Adventist Church it was a success. The Appearing is an innovative 'seed sowing' event where participants were invited to spend five nights learning about the Bible prophecies of the Second Coming and then join a prophecy study class. Shawn Boonstra, formerly of It Is Written Canada (and a fellow Friesian), presented the series.
The Appearing was great for my church three reasons. First, it hit a hot topic. This is the first evangelistic project I've been involved in where the door-to-door work actually brought people through the doors in of the church. Why? Because people are interested in the second coming, and were happy for an invitation to learn more about it.
Two, The Appearing was short. People didn't feel threatened by the length of it, and my church was able to take the project up on a month's notice because it wasn't lengthy (though more warning would have been nice). Also, church members felt more comfortable inviting their friends to this event rather than a thirty night series. We had fifteen total non-Adventists who attended, and five consistent attendees whom we hope to see in the follow-up class--all on roughly two weeks of pre-work.
Three, The Appearing was postmodern friendly; I don't know any other way to put it. The format was set up around a 35 minute presentation by Boonstra followed by a study through a lesson guide on the evening's topic by a local moderator (myself and my senior pastor). This encouraged dialogue and removed the all-knowing, authority-figure evangelist image from the presentations. Pastor Shawn added further credibility with his self-deprecating humor and his constant exhortions to study the Bible for ones self and not just take his word for what it says.
Boonstra's presentations were based on some of the best exegesis I've seen in Adventist evangelism (from my limited perspective) and were structured in a way that people's thoughts toward their relationship with God. I think I made a hand raising appeal almost every night I moderated; the 'so-what' factor was definitely there.
I only had a few minor quibbles with The Appearing. (1) The guy who introduced Boonstra stumbled over his words every night. (2) The music was suited to a very narrow range of tastes (i.e. church goin' folk). (3) And, as do most Adventist evangelists, Boonstra used Isaiah 28:10 to support the proper method of Biblical interpretation. However the context of the passage indicates that it is talking about the babble of drunken priests (see this for a brief explanation).
For any church looking to get their feet wet with evangelism The Appearing is the way to go. Just order the DVDs and some advertising materials and away you go. Very little outlay but potentially huge dividends. Just be prepared to start a prophecy study group and watch God bring people into the truth. I'm excited about what God is going to do in my church because of this simple outreach program.