I know what you’re asking. What is GSC? It stands for Gulf States Conference. It’s one of the smallest conferences in NAD.
Last weekend I had the privilege to be one the speakers at their Hispanic camp meeting on a sweltering upper 90’s humid Alabama countryside with no air conditioning in the main meeting space. This was no ordinary camp meeting. This was different from many of the others I attend. Here are three principles I observed:
In preparation for the camp meeting called “Sharing Hope” all the churches had evangelistic series. That resulted in over 60 new members to be baptized at camp meeting. That’s probably happened in other places, but I’ve never heard of it! As my good friend Richie Halversen likes to say: Evangelism works if you work it.”
Take away is this: when you plan events, what outcome are you after? I believe interesting programs are important, but they are not an end in themselves. Why have speakers that don’t call for people to follow the Jesus they are talking about?
You have to understand something. Only some short years ago, the GSC had around 200 Hispanic members. Today they have close to 3,000. The influx of new members can provide challenges. One of them is the lack of experience in implementation of programming. This was not the case. From the professionally designed color coded programs, the awesome (and I mean awesome) food, decoration, quality of speakers, and so many millions of details others usually miss, the organizers proved you don’t have to have a multimillion dollar budget to provide excellence. Sara Garcia was superb in this. Three cheers for spouses that love ministry.
Take away: Excellence honors God and inspires people. Don’t slack on the details, because details matter. (and nothing beats great food!)
The camp meeting was not the end. That only led to the next stage that lasts until December. One of our weak areas in the Adventist church is retention. GSC has learned that the greatest apostasy preventer is to provide the new members with an opportunity to work. They are planning Season of Service fueled by Compassion for the fall and will finish the year with another reaping event.
Take away: in what ways are you providing the new believers in your sphere of influence and opportunity to serve?
If you want more information about the plan, the process and the purpose please contact the Hispanic Ministries Director Pastor Nilton Garcia, a young up and coming leader in our denomination.