Here is an exciting update written by Dr. Barry Dailey, Pastor of the SE Atlanta SDB Church (SEA), providing a picture of how God is at work in and through one of our local SDB churches participating in the SDB Church Revitalization Grant program.
The year started as usual with an installation service for new officers and leaders. A charge was given to encourage all to radically minister under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Our 2020 theme is based on Luke 9:23 and Isaiah 6:8, “Following Hard After Jesus: Here Am I, Send Me!” We had expectations to minister under normal conditions. However, little did we know, God would allow the Covid-19 pandemic to rearrange our world and provoke us to change. As we learned about the corona virus, we made minor ministry adjustments to facilitate safety protocols. Over time, it became apparent that a major paradigm shift would be needed to operate in this unprecedented season.
SEA leadership focused on 2 basic questions: 1. What is God saying to us at this time? 2. What changes must we make in this “new normal?” The thought came to me, does God want SEA to curtail ministry in this season? The answer came back, “hell no!” Before you frown on the response, let me explain. In this season, there are many who are perishing without Christ. Now, more than ever, we must shout, hell? No! Heaven? Yes! We sense God telling us to “re-missionize;” draw closer to Him, focus on spreading the gospel and meet needs of the destitute. As the church, we must be the hands, feet and voice of Jesus Christ to our hurting world.
We are making changes in each pillar of ministry:
- PRAYER — A prayer line has been set up for nightly prayer Sunday – Friday @ 7pm. We are seeing a rich anointing of the Holy Spirit and spiritual growth as we spend more time in prayer. We also have visitors joining us on the prayer line.
- WORSHIP / TEACHING — A small team continues to live-stream Sabbath services on multiple platforms – Facebook, YouTube & Zoom. We also placed a loud speaker outside the church building to broadcast services to the local community. We have visitors coming into our parking lot as they hear services. Many have shared that they are blessed. We are now using a virtual sound mixing board without a dedicated sound person as instruments can be adjusted by musicians using a phone, tablet or laptop.
- EVANGELISM / SERVICE — We have set up a drive-thru pantry. Boxes are loaded directly into client’s trunks. We are now safely distributing 2000 to 2500 lbs. of food weekly. A team feeds the homeless in downtown Atlanta on a weekly basis. The Word is shared as food is distributed. The Evangelism team delivered care packages to past VBS attendees. Children and parents were greatly blessed. Drive-thru prayer is also being planned.
- FELLOWSHIP / DISCIPLESHIP — Leadership and members are now calling each other and visitors more frequently. Various groups (Women/Men/ Young Adults, etc.) are meeting virtually with zoom. Zoom is now being employed for on-line counseling sessions.
The SDB executive leadership team scheduled pastor forums to communicate and share ideas. This has been a blessing to SEA as we hear what other SDB churches are doing to effectively minister in the new normal. SEA has received a Church Revitalization Grant of $1000. Funds are being used to expand our pantry capacity and improve our live stream video quality. We truly appreciate the support of the SDB General Conference and the SDB Memorial Fund.
We pray that God will comfort and protect us during this season. When we evaluate our spiritual growth, increased member engagement and passion for the cause of Christ, many of us have felt a need to repent. Why did it take a pandemic to provoke us to step up? One thing is clear – pandemic or no pandemic, we will not go back to the old ways of ministry. We have been provoked to change, and change we will for God’s glory!