The North American Division Ministerial Association has awarded a total of $120,000 to 15 pastors in a “Shark Tank for Evangelism” contest for innovative ideas that win souls at the Convention family of CALLED pastors of 2022.
The 15 finalists were chosen from more than 100 applicants to present their ideas on the main stage of Rupp Arena at the convention in Lexington, Kentucky on June 22. Each night from June 19-21, five pastors pitched their idea and each received funding. for their project, the amount depending on the placement in the evening’s competition.
“Someone asked me, ‘Why did you do the evangelism shark tank?’ “José Cortes Jr., associate director of the Ministerial Association for Evangelism, said. “Evangelism is not a question of methods. Evangelism is about people,” Cortes said. “So if a method isn’t working, you take that method out and bring in a method that helps you reach people.”
On Wednesday morning, June 22, Cortes presented each finalist with a giant ceremonial check: $20,000 for the top three, $10,000 for the second-place winners, and $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000 for the winners. third fourth. , and fifths, respectively.
On Sunday evening, June 19, Dustin Serns, pastor of LifeBridge Seventh-day Adventist Church in University Place, Washington, USA, won the top prize of $20,000 with an idea to plant new churches by hosting clinics. free health. Serns had already had some successes, and even baptisms with the first versions of the concept. “When our team started these free health clinics, we didn’t realize that was also a key to planting Adventist churches in secular areas,” Serns said during his presentation.
Nitza Salazar, Children’s Ministries Director for the Washington Conference, won the US$20,000 prize Monday night, June 20, with a pitch to expand her “Special Stars” Christmas program, a contest centered on children with disabilities. . “What I’m doing is not just putting together a Christmas program,” Salazar said during his speech. “I serve those our church has forgotten. I give voice to these children who had no voice, and now they have…a stage to shine.
The third and final prize of US$20,000 was awarded to Taurus Montgomery of Harbor of Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Montgomery plans to expand his church’s basketball ministry to include character development programs in public schools, youth compassion projects and a sports-themed evangelistic series. “When my house burned down and we were homeless, an Adventist family welcomed my family into their home and into their church,” Montgomery said during his address on Tuesday evening, June 21. “This church had a basketball ministry. They planted the seeds that led me to Christ.
Other ideas showcased at the three-night shark tank event included a plant-based pop-up restaurant that leads into an evangelistic event; a “Sabbath Experience” gift box that members can share with friends and neighbours; a ministry designed to equip Pacific Islanders to share the gospel; and a soccer field with tournaments for local children, among other creative innovations.
As the winners raised their checks for a photo, Cortes concluded with a word of encouragement to the pastors who were not standing on stage. “Your vision may be delayed, you may not have reached the shark tank this time around, but that doesn’t mean your vision won’t come true,” Cortes said. He encouraged every pastor to keep dreaming of “how God will use you and your church to reach the people who aren’t there yet.”