Posts Tagged: Carlton Byrd

The Four Most Important Evangelists in The Adventist Church

If you follow the world of Adventist Evangelism you are familiar with ministries such as It Is Written, Amazing Facts, Breath of Life, & Voice of Prophecy. You’re also familiar with the great evangelists of Adventism, some of y’all have seen them so many times on 3ABN or The Hope Channel that you almost feel like they are your own personal friends, Doug Batchelor, Shawn Boonstra, Mark Finley, Alejandro Bullon, John Bradshaw, Carlton Byrd, and more. But of all the evangelists in our denomination, The Seventh-day Adventist Church, which ones are the most important, the most vital to the growth of our church?

I’m going to give you my top four. They are…

  1. Parking Lot
  2. Groundskeeper
  3. Janitor
  4. Greeter

These three individuals & one inanimate object are far more important to the growth of your church and thus the growth of Adventism at least here in North America than any of the names I mentioned above. Why do I say that? Because these three evangelists have a weekly impact on the growth of your church that the other three do not have (unless of course one of them is your Pastor:)).

Pastor Nelson Searcy and other church growth surveyors report that churches have roughly 7 minutes from the time a guest pulls into your church parking lot to make them feel welcome and give them a compelling reason to come back. Now a lot of folk may be skeptical about that statement, but if you’re a church goer then that disqualifies you from being able to speculate on the mind of the un-churched. The un-churched don’t think like church folk or act like church folk or talk like church folk, but they are the folk we need to reach, which is why these four evangelists, parking lot, groundskeeper, janitor, and greeter are so important to the life and growth of a local church!

Let me tell you about the value of each one:

Parking Lot

Church growth studies state that if a parking lot that is more than 80% it is a deterrent to guests. When I first read this in a book by Russell Burrill I was skeptical, but I’m a pastor which makes me even less qualified than the average member in the pew to analyze the thoughts of an individual searching for a church, so I took the study to the church Elders and there in our meeting one of our Elders raised his hand. He said, “Pastor 8 years ago when my wife and I first move to the area we came to this church; we pulled into the parking lot and didn’t see many openings. The place seemed too crowded so we drove to another church in town.” They weren’t even here 7 minutes and they left. Praise the Lord they gave us another chance, they have been a great asset to our church! But we could have lost them because the evangelism of our parking lot dropped the ball! How can we help with the evangelism of the parking lot? Well first off pastors we can actually pay attention to it. One thing we did prior to moving to two services in Visalia, as our church grew, we not only paid attention to how many people were sitting in the seats but we also sent a Deacon to count the empty spots in the parking lot. When we were getting to full we began to ask our members to park elsewhere. There was a parking lot next door and we got permission to use it, we also had members park out on the street at the curb. Our church having the evangelistic heart that they do complied and our parking lot was once again ready to be an evangelist to our guests.


Are your bushes trimmed, is your lawn mowed & green, do you have flowers blooming? The first thing that people see when they pull up to your church are these things and whether we pay attention to it or not, it is noticed by guests. If you don’t believe me think about the last time you pulled up to a persons house whose yard was falling apart. Did you notice? Of course you did! Especially if you were about to go inside. In fact you probably thought in your head, “If this is what the outside of their house looks like, I wonder what the inside looks like?” We’ve all thought it (if you haven’t you may be the one with the ultra shabby yard:)). Well do you think folk pulling into a church think any different? NO! And what is one of the most important rules of evangelism? Start by focusing on the positive. What do most our main stream evangelists start their meetings with? Daniel 2. Why? Because they want folk to see the credibility of the scriptures and honestly probably the credibility of us, in that we were so “smart” to show them the meaning of Daniel 2 (sorry mild sarcasm there:)). But this is a positive message for a positive start. It is no different each Sabbath morning, we want to start things off on the positive. And the positive is a green mowed lawn, trimmed bushes, and flowers blooming. Pastors are you paying attention to the evangelism provided by your groundskeeper?


Really this evangelist follows in the same line as the previous. If your church is unkempt and dirty you are communicating a message you don’t want to communicate. Bathrooms need to be clean! If they are like ours in Visalia (literally the worst church bathrooms ever) then you really have to go out of your way to make them as useable as possible! Papers should not be lying around, the walls should be clean, the tables at potluck should be clean. I was once speaking at a small church in the Southern parts of these here United States. I was the guest so I showed-up early that gave me the opportunity to stand in the foyer and look around while I waited for the Sabbath Schools to finish, what I noticed made me wonder how many guests came back. There was a coat rack that probably had half the coats hanging on the rack and the other half were lying in a heap on the floor. Sitting on top of the coat rack were stacks of what appeared to be old Adventist Review magazines along with other various papers. Everything just looked disheveled. We don’t get points if the outside is beautiful but the inside it is a filthy mess, either Spiritually or as a literal church structure. Your janitor evangelist is important!



This evangelist may be the most overlooked because most people consider their church friendly. But just because we as members think our church is friendly doesn’t mean that is what your guests experience. And unfortunately what has been discovered is that members almost always rate themselves higher on the “friendly” meter than guests do. All the other 6 1/2 minutes of a guests first encounter with your church are important but the first 30 seconds that a guest steps inside your church are the most vital and will leave an impression of your church that can be very hard to shake! I’ve found within Adventism that most greeting ministries are the same. Hand-out a bulletin and be done with it. In some churches that is even an overreach of expectation. One of my associates went to preach at another church in our area, when he walked into the church foyer there was no greeter. There was a table though with a stack of bulletins. My associate greeted the table and took a bulletin 🙂 To be a greeter is not to be a bulletin dispenser. A greeter is an evangelist! Every pastor should do training sessions with their greeters. Have a plan for how to greet and where to greet. Yes, where matters. Guests should not have to come to the greeters, I can not count how many times I have had to tap a greeter on a shoulder in a church I was visiting and ask for a bulletin. One pastor friend told me how at a church he was serving at the greeters refused to come out from behind the hospitality table, they said if the people wanted something it was clear where they needed to go. Sounds so hospitable! 🙂 I find the greeting ministry of our church to be one of the ministries I spend the most time thinking about and praying over!

So there are your four “most important” evangelists in Adventism! From personal experience and observation I believe if a pastor will take a little more time focusing on even just these four areas, he or she will see the retention of their guests increase.


You Need to Listen to Great Preachers!

What would happen if more of us listened to great preaching rather than the non-sense on the radio (for me sports talk radio)? Would we all be more edified? I’m pretty sure we would!

Thanks to modern technology most of us can take great preaching with us wherever we go through ipods, iphones, ipads, and I am sure all the other non-Apple gadgets I know nothing about (yes that was a plug for Apple:)).

Right now there is some great preaching going on and I would encourage y’all to download some and have a regular listen. Have church in your car every time you drive.

We’ll start with to me the living Dean of Preachers in Adventism:

Pastor Dwight Nelson: He brings a strong word week after week!

On the Lightbearers website you can get tons of free audio as well as lots of other great resources. Here you will hear great preachers like Pastors David Asscherick, Ty Gibson, James Rafferty, & Jeffery Rosario.

Pastor John Bradshaw will bless you through the weekly It Is Written Broadcast

You can hear a good word from Pastor Nathan Renner.

I’m sure there are many more–one I think of is Pastor Carlton Byrd (and hopefully he’ll read this and get his stuff online:))–but these are just a few I would recommend for this evening.

What about you, who would you suggest? Feel free to post the links in the comments.

March: Val Kilmer, Porn, Apple, & a Tiger

The following are the 10 most viewed posts on this blog for the month of March. Maybe you read them all and want to read again, maybe you missed a few & would like to catch-up, or maybe you’d just like to share one with a friend. And perhaps you want to leave the page now. I’m cool with any of those options 🙂

1. The Porn Pandemic–I woke-up earlier than I normally do one morning and felt impressed to write this blog. Wasn’t really something I planned on writing and the content wasn’t the direction I was thinking of going when I started writing it. But it turned out the way it turned out and several folk have said they appreciated the honesty. In many ways it was written as a Dad with two boys, whom prays for God’s protection over them and God to give me wisdom in how I & my wife can help Him in that endeavor.

2. Bittersweet Moving–Two of our dear church members are moving in late July and the thought of them moving and also the reflections on what I had learned from them compelled me to write this tribute to them & encouragement to pastors & young leaders to be mentored.

3. Val Kilmer & I — This was orginally a post simply for the purpose to encourage encouragement that I wrote in February. It turned into a hit in March on the internet because the web manager of the Official Facebook U.S. fan page of Val Kilmer got a hold of the post and reposted it, due to my uncanny resemblance to said actor. That ended up getting this post a lot of traffic:)

4. Childhood Friday Nights — I love music! I especially love older Christian music & it seems like many others do as well!

5. The Apple Store — I believe churches could learn a lot about “customer” service from secular businesses! This was just another example.

6. 1 For Every 10k — I love church planting, I believe it is the best avenue by which to have mass sustained evangelism! 

7. The Negativity Pandemic — I am sick of negativity!

8. Flee the Tiger — One of my members Kay Rizzo has recently published her first ebook. I was excited for her and wanted to help her get out the word.

9. Zechariah’s Beautiful Picture of the Gospel — I love Zechariah 3:1-5 and I wanted to share a couple thoughts in regards to this passage.

10. The Twitter Blessings! — I meant for this to be a compare & contrast of Facebook & Twitter with my views on why I prefer to Twitter. It turned into just a Twitter lovefest!

And those are the top 10 for the month of March & here just for good measure are the top for the first quarter of 2012:

  1. Val Kilmer & I
  2. The Porn Pandemic
  3. The One Project Analysis
  4. Bittersweet Moving
  5. Thoughts From Pastor Carlton Byrd…
  6. This Is Discipling
  7. Childhood Friday Nights
  8. The Apple Store
  9. 1 For Every 10k
  10. One of Many Goals for 2012

Hope y’all enjoy and would love your feedback!



Thoughts from Pastor Carlton Byrd on Worship, Church Growth, Evangelism, etc.

A few months ago I attended the Pacific Union Conference Ministerial Meetings in Ontario, CA.. While there I attended a seminar by Pastor Carlton Byrd has in the very near past become the speaker/director of Breath of Life Ministries and also just recently became the new Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Seventh-day Adventist Church in Hunstville, Alabama.

I attended the seminar because I wanted to learn from Pastor Byrd, not about preaching, which he is a great preacher, but about how wherever he has gone his churches has grown (yes I know part of that has to do with great preaching)? I believe it was last year at the church he is now transferring from Berean Church that they baptized 800 folk. Their membership is now 4077 people, they have three sevices, they have a closed circuit feed into their basement for the overflow of folk, and all of this without being attached to a Seventh-day Adventist school of higher education (in the United States our mega-churches have typically only existed next to our colleges).

So I was curious…people come to your church for great preaching, but 800 in one year don’t get baptized without first of all the Spirit of God, but secondly some intentionality.

The following are the notes I took. I didn’t edit them or pick and choose what I thought was great or not. I am simply sharing with you the thoughts I wrote down from him in this seminar.

“I’ve never had a vision for ministry I could afford; If I did, it wouldn’t be from God.”

“Do good (pardon my English) just to do good and God will bless you.”

“If worship is to contribute to the growth of your church, three things must be true:

  1. Members can’t wait to attend
  2. Members are proud to bring their friends
  3. Whoever attends is eager to attend again

“The greatest advertisement for your church is word of mouth.”

“Intentional careful selection of parking supervisors, greeters, ushers, and worship leaders must be done!”

“Don’t let people box you in!”

“Sabbath needs to be a celebration!”

“We can’t do music just to please older generation.”

“We’ve kept our hymnals but lost our children.”

“Should the church be held hostage over someone picking at the instruments? NO!”

“The Senior Pastor should be involved in decision of what songs we are going to do.”

“Singers sing, preachers preach. Don’t let your singers get up there and think they can preach a sermon or share something they think is just so wonderful. They are there to sing.”

“Don’t let your minister of music say, ‘I am running this (worship). LET’S BE CLEAR, there is ONE leader! If there were multiple leaders in Israel the children would still be slaves in Egypt. God gives the vision of the ministry to the leader and it is not a compromise of your idea and my idea.”

Evangelistic Outreach:

  1. Musical Programs & Concerts (have had major Gospel singers at their church)
  2. Block Parties (very much a city and Southern thing)
  3. Tract attack: Once a quarter each of the elders lead a group out to knock on doors and hand out literature. Seniors at the church call individuals and have prayer bands.
  4. Service oriented ministries: Health fairs, oil change ministry every Sunday
  5. Civic Initiatives: civic guests, honor community guests, clean-up of city
  6. Marketing: Television, Radio, Billboards, Internet
  7. Bible Workers

“An evangelistic cycle throughout the year with good worship, a friendly environment, and strong leadership will grow.”

“Build database from EVERYTHING done at or through your church. I have over 8,000 names in our database that are not members but have attended one of our events.”

“Send communication by Monday to every visitor within two days of their visit.”

A Bible Workers work six weeks before the evangelistic meetings:

  1. Week One: They gather one hundred names each day (2 or 3 Bible workers always). “Yes I said 100! They may not always get there, but they can get pretty close by simply knocking on doors to pray with people. And if they don’t try or I don’t see them trying, they don’t get paid. PERIOD!”
  2. Week Two: Follow-up w/ prayer interests. You’ve been praying for their requests, now you go back to check on those requests and to build further connection.
  3. Week Three: Follow-up w/ prayer interests & leave Bible Studies 1 & 2
  4. Week Four: You’ll begin to weed out folk that may not be yet ready to respond. Pick-up Bible lessons 1 & 2. Leave Bible studies 3 & 4
  5. Week Five: Pick-up studies 3 & 4 conduct some time visiting in the home w/ the Bible studies. Drop off lessons 5 & 6
  6. Week Six: Conduct home visit drop off studies 7 & 8. Invite to public evangelistic campaign.

“When folk come to our public campaigns and become interested or are baptized they are assigned a Spiritual Guardian. We don’t want to just baptize people, we also want to keep them. We don’t want people going out the back door where we wouldn’t notice, especially in our large church.”

“Singers sing & preachers preach” (seriously he said it again, must be a pet peeve)

Typical length of meetings 2 weeks 5 & 5

I always cover and usually go in this order:

  1. Salvation
  2. 2nd Coming
  3. 1000 Years
  4. State of the Dead
  5. Sabbath
  6. Sabbath Change
  7. Diet
  8. Baptism–“I make a baptism appeal and a come to Jesus appeal EVERY night!”
  9. True Church–Someone asked him about this one and whether or not he thought it was too early to cover some of these topics and this one in particular. “When I was younger I danced around it, I was a little more concerned. But look this stuff is in the Bible and this is who we are, we are the remnant and I don’t want anyone joining our church that doesn’t understand what we believe and why. And besides for a lot of these people it isn’t the first time they heard this message if they have been receiving the studies leading up to the meetings. Some of you might not like that, but that is fine. I’m old enough now (I think he is 38) to not mess around and try to be secretive about stuff.”

“I always then do some special midweek. Why? I don’t want someone that just was convicted of the Sabbath or true church or something like that to then go back to their church and be discouraged from our message. I don’t want them at their old church I want them at Berean!”

“I do two to three public campaigns a year.”


And those are my notes from Pastor Byrd. Some powerful stuff. He is a dynamic individual that beleives 100% in what he is doing and Whom he is serving!




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