Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
R. Clifford Jones
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the United States Virgin Islands experienced an average membership growth of 1.7 percent per annum during the period 2000-2009, which represents 49.7 percent of the projected baptismal goal. While public evangelism has been the most productive method of soul winning in the territory, the majority of churches, in spite of that approach, failed to achieve their annual baptismal goals, thus resulting in a moderate membership growth. However, when one considers the organizational structure of the local church as recommended by the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, which encourages multiple evangelistic modalities, it is evident that major components of the existing structure, especially the Sabbath School, are not being used effectively in leading souls to Christ and achieving targeted growth potential.
The process adopted in this research involved the collection of data from the secretariat of the North Caribbean Conference and district pastors within the territory for comparison and analysis of baptismal goals and achievements; evangelistic methods and results; and church growth trends during the period 2000-2009. An examination of the data also served as a basis for developing a strategy for church growth through the Sabbath School Action Units. The theological reflection focused on the following biblical theses: The Church as a congregation in both the Old and New Testament where God met with His people and empowered them for service; the command given to the church by Jesus to evangelize the world; soul-winning as a natural outgrowth of discipleship; the philosophy that a healthy church is characterized by active small groups such as the Sabbath School Action Units; and the role of the laity as a channel through which the church can experience growth. Current professional literature was also examined, which included books and publications on Sabbath School Action Units, small group evangelism, and church growth principles as they relate to the organizational structure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The quantitative data revealed that, during the period 2000-2009, 49.7 percent of the projected baptismal goal was realized; 58.2 percent of baptisms came as a result of public campaigns; 53 percent of the accession to church membership was dropped, and the Church experienced an average annual growth of 1.7 percent. The use of current professional literature on the subject of Sabbath School evangelism, small group evangelism, and church growth principles relating to the organizational structure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church attested to the positive impact of the Sabbath School in the area of church growth. In addition, the data provided by the secretariat of the Conference showed a need for an intentional approach to soul winning that must incorporate the inherent structure of the Church and its membership.
An evaluation of church growth trends among the churches in the territory showed the need for a strategic approach to soul winning by the various congregations. This approach will require the re-visioning of the Sabbath School. This can be enhanced through leadership training and implementation of initiatives such as Sabbath School Action Units, Branch Sabbath School, and quarterly baptisms. When this approach is taken, the churches in the United States Virgin Islands will be positioned to experience a growth comparative to that of the Apostolic Church.
Sabbath schools; Seventh-day Adventists--Virgin Islands; Church growth--Virgin Islands--Seventh-day Adventists
Peters, Henry, "Re-visioning the Sabbath School for Soul-winning in the Virgin Islands: A Strategy for Church Growth through Sabbath School Action Units" (2011). Project Documents. 533.
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