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Welcome Home
By Nancy Canwell

(Although this article was written for the 2014 NAD Welcome Home Sabbath, the idea of developing a Reconnecting Ministries Team for your church is timeless.)

What makes November 22, 2014 a special day? If you check an online holiday calendar, you’ll notice that it’s Humane Society Anniversary Day and National Adoption Day. But for Adventist churches across the North American Division, November 22 is Welcome Home Sabbath! Many people turn their thoughts and hearts toward home during the holidays. And that’s why the last Sabbath before Thanksgiving in the US has been chosen as our annual “reconnecting” day.

Maybe you know someone who hasn’t been attending church. How do you go about inviting them to your special service? And what should your church do to prepare for a Welcome Home Sabbath? The Center for Creative Ministry has made it easy for you! If you’ll visit our website (see link below) we have a suggested sermon manuscript, a Sabbath school special feature, resources for adults, young adults, and youth, as well as ideas on what your church can do leading up to November 22. We’ve also shared ideas on how to make the day special, and what to do afterward.

One of the Center’s suggestions is to develop a Reconnecting Ministries Team at your church, and have that team study Paul Richardson’s book, an Indescribable Welcome Home. The book shares six stories from the Bible that teach us how to reach out to our missing members. Here are some gems from each chapter:

Chapter One: Prodigal Son - “When 80% of inactive members say, ‘No one has contacted me since I left,’ that is a very, very, sad commentary.”

Chapter Two: Older Brother - “At church we need to create a safety zone not only for the marginalized, but also for the older brothers and sisters who genuinely need our assistance with breaking the cycle of inferiority, criticism, judgment, anger, superiority, smugness, and pride.”

Chapter Three: Loving Father - “Is your church lawn littered with people intentionally or inadvertently pushed out? Don’t delay! Go to them today and establish a friendship.”

Chapter Four: Lost Sheep – “It doesn’t take much investigation to find out that a full-grown sheep can weigh in the neighborhood of 100 pounds. Now that brings new insight to this text! Are you willing to put that much energy and effort into your ministry of reconciliation?”

Chapter Five: Short Man – “It’s amazing what happens when God touches someone’s life. You don’t need to convict or convert him or her—that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. You just need to be a faithful friend.”

Chapter Six: Second Chances – “So are you in? Are you ready to join me in the reconciliation revolution? There are former and inactive members out there who are homesick. They need compassionate, forgiving, loving members who will act like the father and run out to meet them.”

Prayer Focus: Pray that every congregation will form a small group and use the new book, An Indescribable Welcome Home—that they will read, discuss, and apply the reconnecting concepts presented there.

Recommended Resource: creativeministry.org