We are looking for churches within the Pacific Union Conference who are willing to become laboratories of compassion—meaning they are ready to go nuclear with kindness and love, and are ready to put this statement to the test:
“If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tender-hearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one.” –Testimonies to the Church, vol. 9 p. 189
This is not meant to be a “cute” program or some kind of staged operation. We are not encouraging churches to participate simply to get results, although Ellen White said there will be a marked increase in conversions when we treat people well. This is about making our churches places of nurture, and about truly being salt and light within the communities where we live.
Going Nuclear with Compassion
What does it mean to go nuclear with compassion? SpiritWERKS is the name of an initiative whereby we invite the Holy Spirit to empower us to love as Jesus loved! It is an intentional effort to make our churches more sticky with compassion. We say that a website is “sticky” when visitors linger there to take advantage of all its good content. A sticky church is one that passionately focuses on loving people without strings and helping them to experience God’s grace through positive interaction.
Churches who wish to participate are asked to develop a comprehensive plan to promote compassion within their church families as a means nurture and community outreach. If you don’t have a plan, the following suggestions may help you get started.
* Present the concept to your board. Talk about it during a scheduled church board meeting and vote to make compassion a top priority.
* Share the church board vote with your church family (email, letter, a Sabbath morning presentation). Explain the significance of doing this. This is about moving your church away from an info-centric focus (where doctrines and information take precedence over people and relationships), and putting more of your focus on what it means to love and live with other people. Doctrines are still important (they serve as the skeleton of the body), but our interaction with fellow church members and guests represents the flesh and blood of the gospel, which is where the nurturing takes place.
* Commit to incorporating the concepts of The Narrow Gate study material (or something similar) into one or more of the following venues – Elder’s meetings, small groups, mid-week service, sermon’s, etc.
* Develop ways to model compassion and kindness within your church family and community. Be willing to share what you’re doing with the other churches.
* Periodically feature stories about forgiveness and compassion in your worship services. Keep a list of these and share them whenever you can.
* Talk about it with your members. Within the 24 month period be willing to spend significant amounts of time talking and praying about God’s grace, particularly as it pertains to how we should treat people.
* At the end of the 24 month period, be willing to share your experience via video, article format, or a live presentation with your sister churches throughout the Pacific Union Conference. Let others know how your pronounced emphasis on compassion has affected your church and community.
It is important that whatever you do it should fit the personality and needs of your church family and community. If you’ve developed a plan and would be willing to share it with us so others could benefit from your experience, please let us know.
Our Changing World
Increasingly our world is becoming more divided along political, racial, religious and ethnic lines. Talk radio and hate TV has poisoned our culture to the point that it’s difficult to have a meaningful conversation with people without the discussion ending in irritation and sometimes even heated exchanges. Politicians stoke the “flames” by making inflammatory statements and challenging traditional values. Civility is slipping away.
What if your church had the reputation of being the one place people could go to in their community to find acceptance and compassion–regardless of their background or beliefs? Yes, with intentionality it is possible to treat people with grace even though they may not act or think like we do.
Adventists know a lot about “truth,” and have been known as the people of the “book” (the Bible). But Jesus said his people are to be primarily known by their love! Don’t you think it’s time for this to become a reality?
Rich DuBose is director of Pacific Union Conference Church Support Services.© 2017 - 2019 When People Are Kind. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.