Gwydyr Rd, Crieff, UK, PH7 4BS

Dear Friends

Some seven or eight years ago there were less than 200 members of the Adventist Church in Scotland. At the commencement of this year we passed the 400 mark doubling our membership and surpassing the goal set by the last session for membership growth.

That is a reason for celebration and an outpouring of praise to God and for the ministry of the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit and the work of that same membership. But it is also a reason to pause and ask how did that happen? The easy answer is – the transfer of members from other lands to ours – and we could leave it there except that we should recognise that those transferring their membership need not have chosen to have done so and the good rise in baptisms over the same period tells us that we are doing something right.

The difficult questions now are – what are we doing right and can we do it better? Let me venture some answers.

I read some results of a recent survey of non-SDA churches in America. The survey covered a wide spectrum of churches – from conservative to liberal. One of the conclusions that struck me was the observation that the main reason why people join churches is the quality of the people already there. Let me describe them as ‘great’ people.

“What!” one might ask, “Wasn’t it the programmes they ran – the preaching, the outreach, the fellowship, the doctrines?” Well, yes and no. Apparently where the wonderful programmes took place, they did not all translate into membership growth unless they first translated into creating great members. These were members who are serious in their walk with Christ [their Bible study, their prayer life], enthusiastic about their church fellowship, and committed to sharing Christ with others outside their church. Programmes that simply resulted in entertained members or ego-stroked pastoral leadership went no-where no matter how good they apparently were.

It all sounds too simple but isn’t it that quality of faith in Christ that God is pleased with and honours – Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. It’s the kind of faith that personally stretches beyond our comfort zones and discovers the reality of a living God. It’s the faith that brought amazement and response from Jesus – Matthew 8:10 ‘When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” That centurion was a great person – because he had great faith’.

I believe that growing great people is what we are doing right. Can we do it better? – absolutely! So much so that I believe the next goal we should set is a membership of 1000. But to do it we will need to have pastors, elders, and individual members all striving through great churches to be great members. This will require much heart searching prayer, preparation of programmes and the courage to step out beyond our comfortable walk with Christ – to prove the power of the gospel and the reality of our supporting God.

May we all be open to the God who can take our 400 and make it a 1000.

Llewellyn Edwards