In today’s world, jobs, school, family and preferences indicate that, on average, a person will move 11.7 times during their life.
Or friends who move, but never transfer their membership. Or classmates who just never connected with the Seventh-day Adventist Church after graduating.
If a person who is not currently connected to the Seventh-day Adventist Church lives down the street, you may visit them and pray with them. The difficulty comes when a friend or family member lives in a different part of the state or even the country.
A new website ministry launched by Wisconsin Academy Church pastor, Jonathan Fetrick, is a solution to this problem. Shepherdsinitiative.com exists to connect people with God and His church.
The idea started while Fetrick was praying during his devotional time. “I became very convicted that we need a website that helps our churches connect with missing members who don’t live close to their church anymore,” he says. But how to make this conviction a reality? After a lot of prayer, he teamed up with Josue Peralta, a young adult from Milwaukee with a passion for God, to build the website, as well as a donor from a church he used to pastor in the Washington Conference. The Wisconsin Academy Church also believes in this personal ministry that God has laid on his heart and has been very supportive.
In today’s world, jobs, school, family and preferences indicate that, on average, a person will move 11.7 times during their life. An individual may be very connected to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but every time they move, they must re-engage with church. Fetrick notes that the gospel and connection with church is contextual. “A person may easily connect with people in one church, move to another place and not even know where to find the church. Because situations change, at one point in a person’s life they may connect to church primarily because of friends and family while at other points in their life it may be for other reasons.” Research indicates that a person needs five friends in church in order to feel like they are part of the group.
You are encouraged to check out the website and prayerfully consider three things:
First, consider partnering by entering names and information of people that you know. Once this information is received, a local pastor or elder at a Seventh-day Adventist Church close to where they have relocated will be contacted. “I will ask them to identify the person in their local church they think may be able to build a friendship with your friend or family member,” explains Fetrick. “I will keep the name and information of your friend or family member as confidential as possible while still building the connection. I will commit to praying at least weekly for your friend or family member.”
Second, consider telling others in your church about the website so they can enter names.
Third, pray for the ministry. “I have no way of knowing whether one name will be entered or thousands of names,” Fetrick says. “I am committed to treating each name entered as a valuable individual that God loves.”
Wisconsin Conference, with Herald staff