February 23 -
March 1

SDA Sabbath School Lessons

#9 Outreach Gifts

Read for this  
week's study:

Matt 28:16-20; 24:14; Acts 1:8; 8:1-40.

Memory Text: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8, NKJV).

Key Thought: Outreach is the primary job of the church. The gifts that fall into this category are those that facilitate winning souls.

The Lessons:

The Discussion: We invite youi to join the  SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning, January 18, (usually 9:30 AM) with your SSNETlocal Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.

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Sabbath -
 February 22 


The word evangelism comes from the Greek word euaggelizein, which is a combination of two words, eu, meaning "good," and aggellein, meaning "to carry news," or "to proclaim something." The word gospel, a direct derivative of these Greek words, means "the good news." "Good news" is used 132 times in the New Testament.

Some form of the word euaggelizein, meaning "to evangelize," is used 55 times in the New Testament, mostly by Luke and Paul. Luke uses it as a synonym for the proclamation of the good news, and Paul uses it to explain the mission of Jesus.

The word for an evangelist, euaggelistes, means "a preacher of good news"; it occurs only three times. In the three instances of its use, Philip (Acts 21:8) and Timothy (2 Tim. 4:5) are called euaggelistes, and it is mentioned as a specific spiritual gift in Ephesians 4:11.

The outreach gifts of the Spirit empower evangelism.

Sunday -
 February 23


"The very life of the church depends upon her faithfulness in fulfilling the Lord's commission." - The Desire of Ages, p. 825.

Look up the four versions of the great commission in your Bible.  What do these versions communicate to you?  Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:14-20; Luke 24:44-49; John 20:19-23.

Evangelism is a term that takes in the entire procedure of presenting the good news to nonbelievers and integrating them into the church.  Evangelism is an application of the great commission.

Read again Matthew 24:14, 28:16-20, and Acts 1:8.  How is the subject of these verses related to evangelism?

"The church is God's appointed agency for the salvation of men.  It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world." - The Acts of the Apostles, p. 9.

To evangelize is to (1) receive the Holy Spirit; (2) go into all the world; (3) witness about Jesus; (4) proclaim the good news; (5) make disciples; (6) baptize new converts; (7) train people to win converts.

It is suggested that churches with an adequate evangelism program will have the following ratios in place:

Ratio Explanation
Nonmember-guests-in-the- congregation ratio=5/100 At least 5 of every 100 persons attending on Sabbath morning should be guests from the church's ministry area.
Members'-soul-winning- network ratio = 1/2 One of every 2 active members should identify their network of nonmember friends, relatives, work associates.
First-time-visitor-retentionratio = 1/4

Second/third-time-visitorratio = 3/4

One of 4 first-time visitors from the church's ministry area should become active members within a year.

Three of 4 second-, third-, and fourth-time visitors should be active within a year.

Monday -
 February 24


These are two of the most controversial gifts, mostly because of the way they are used in Pentecostal circles and the Charismatic movement.  They are considered outreach gifts in this series of lessons, based on Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 14:22:  "Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers" (NIV).

Fill in the following chart on the gift of tongues.

Text What does it say about tongues?
Mark 16:17   
Acts 2:4-11   
Acts 10:46   
1 Cor. 12:10, 28   
1 Corinthians 14   
1 Cor. 12:10; 14:5, 39   

No one knows exactly what situation Paul was facing in 1 Corinthians 14.  In general, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has assumed that the gift of tongues refers to the ability to learn and use a language or languages not one's own, often in a miraculous way as on the Day of Pentecost.  Most illustrations of speaking in tongues in Adventist mission literature underline this belief.

Ellen White makes it clear that this is the meaning in Acts 2:  "[The Holy Spirit] was an emblem of the gift then bestowed on the disciples, which enabled them to speak with fluency languages with which they had heretofore been unacquainted.  The appearance of fire signified the fervent zeal with which the apostles would labor and the power that would attend their work." - The Acts of the Apostles, p. 39.

On the other hand:  "Fanaticism, false excitement, false talking in tongues, and noisy exercises have been considered gifts which God has placed in the church.   Some have been deceived here." - Last Day Events, p. 159.

Reversing the Tower of Babel.  At the Tower of Babel, God confused people's language so that sin would be confined to small pockets of people.  At Pentecost, He reversed the process and caused large numbers of people to hear the gospel.  That is why tongues can be classified as an outreach gift.

The gift of interpretation of tongues is more than translation from one language to another.   In many ways, it is the functional equivalent of the gift of prophecy.  It is the ability to pass on a divinely inspired message in the vernacular so that people can understand.

Tuesday -
 February 25


The gift of evangelism is unique.  People with this gift can lead people to decisions for the faith in ways that are almost impossible for others.  The Lord gives them words to speak and places them in situations where they find receptive people.

Definition:  The gift of evangelism is the special ability that God gives to some members of the body of Christ to a greater degree than to others of sharing the gospel with unbelievers in such a way that men and women become Jesus' disciples and responsible members of the body of Christ.

Study carefully the following examples of people with the gift of evangelism.  How does this gift work?  2 Tim. 4:5; Acts 8:26-40.

People with this gift are out on the front lines looking for converts.  They are the people who like to knock on doors, engage people in conversations on buses and airplanes, visit people in their homes to give them Bible studies, and ask direct questions about people's willingness to accept the Lord.

Do all Christians have the special gift of evangelism?  1 Cor. 12:14-20.

The obvious answer is No.  There are two issues involved here. Worldwide studies show that usually no more than 5-10 percent of a church's active membership will have the spiritual gift of evangelism.  Why is this the case?  First of all, because the gift of evangelism is a specialized gift.  Evangelism in this sense does not mean only public meetings.  It involves many outreach methods like those mentioned above.  Second, not having the gift of evangelism does not mean sitting back and doing no outreach at all.  A basic principle of Christian life is this:  Not all Christians are evangelists, but all Christians are witnesses.  All Christians are responsible for witnessing, telling friends, relatives, and work associates the gospel story and presenting a personal testimony.  But those having the gift develop skills in opening conversations, encouraging decisions, doing "the work of an evangelist" (2 Tim. 4:5) with finesse and dexterity.

Do you have the gift of evangelism?  Ask yourself whether you have the specialized abilities of an evangelist.

Wednesday -
  February 26


The gift of discernment is classified as an outreach gift because it is part of the process of telling right from wrong in the presentation of the gospel.  This gift is also called "the ability to distinguish between spirits" (1 Cor. 12:10, NIV).  Others call it the gift of insight.

Definition:  The gift of discerning of spirits is the special ability God gives to some members of the body of Christ more than to others of knowing with assurance whether certain behaviors or ideas purported to be of God are in reality divine, human, or satanic.

How did Peter use this gift in his ministry?

Experience The gift in action
Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1-10   
Simon the Sorcerer, Acts 8:14-25   

1 John 4:1 clearly indicates that "spirits" have to be tested.  In some ways, this could be classified as a sign or power gift; the "spirits" discerned are often satanic.

How does Hebrews 5:11-14 clarify the use of this gift?

This is not a common gift. It must be used judiciously and with courage.   Many people who have it are fearful of using it, because the consequences can be turbulent. In 1 Corinthians 14:29, discussing the issue of orderliness in worship services, Paul counsels:  "Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said" (NIV).  The words "weigh carefully," or "let the other judge" (KJV), translate Greek word that means "make a distinction," "differentiate," "judge correctly."  The exercise of discernment is needed.

Some characteristics of those who have this gift are (1) a keen ability to recognize inconsistencies; (2) the tendency to spot what is wrong with an idea or teaching and to suggest how to fix it; (3) a deep conviction not easily put to rest when they know people are being given half-truths, misapplied truths, or false teachings.

Assume that someone introduces into your church what purports to be new or advanced biblical understanding.  How might your congregation use the gift of discernment in its midst to ascertain the validity of the person’s teaching?

Thursday -
 February 27


The gift of missionary refers to the ability to work cross-culturally.  Not everyone can do this, nor are all called to do so.

Definition: The gift of missionary is the special ability that God gives to some members of the body of Christ to exercise whatever other spiritual gifts they have in a second culture.

There are different types of evangelism and outreach, usually classified according to the target group the evangelizers wish to reach.  Their aim may be (1) the internal spiritual and numerical growth of the existing congregation; (2) bringing new converts from the community into the existing congregation; (3) planting new churches; (4) reaching out to different ethnic, language, or cultural groups.

People with the gift of missionary may work in any of these ways, though most often they function at point 4.  Often they serve outside their country of origin.

How did Paul outline his combination of gifts, including the gift of missionary?  Rom. 1:5; 15:16; Gal. 2:7,8; 1 Tim. 2:7.

Study carefully Peter's experience with Cornelius in Acts 10 and 11:1-18.  Notice his reaction when he arrived at Cornelius' house (Acts 10:27-29).  What did he have to explain to the other disciples?  Did Peter have the gift of missionary?  Gal. 2:7-14.

"This vision conveyed to Peter both reproof and instruction.  It revealed to him the purpose of God-that by the death of Christ the Gentiles should be made fellow heirs with the Jews to the blessings of salvation.  As yet none of the disciples had preached the gospel to the Gentiles.  In their minds the middle wall of partition, broken down by the death of Christ, still existed, and their labors had been confined to the Jews, for they had looked upon the Gentiles as excluded from the blessings of the gospel.  Now the Lord was seeking to teach Peter the world-wide extent of the divine plan." - The Acts of the Apostles, p. 135.

What circumstances have or have not lead your congregation to take an interest in cross-cultural ministry?  How would you go about starting this kind of ministry?

Friday -
  February 28


For additional information on the church's outreach, study Luke 24:45-49. See The Acts of the Apostles, chapters 1, 2, 3, and The Desire of Ages, chapter 86.   Two books will help you learn how to use your gift of evangelism in witnessing for Christ:  Mark Finley, Persuasion: How to Help People Decide for Jesus (Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1994) and Philip G. Samaan, Christ's Way of Reaching People (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald, 1990).  For an interesting record of evangelism in the time of the apostles, see Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1970).

  1. Ellen White makes the statement: "Every true disciple is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary.' - The Desire of Ages, p. 195. How does this statement correlate with, the gift of missionary?
  2. Does "evangelism" mean only public meetings, or are there other methods that those with the gift of evangelism can utilize?
  3. In many parts of the world it is common to resort to legal action to solve problems. Under what circumstances would it be appropriate to have someone with the gift of discernment attempt to resolve a difference between church members? What might be the dangers in using this procedure?

SUMMARY:   Outreach gifts are the lifeblood of the church.  No church can long survive if it is not winning new converts.   Soul winning is the Lord's mandate for the church.  Utilizing the outreach gifts in a congregation makes soul winning efficient and productive.

Inside Story

Prayers Answered in Mongolia, Part 1

Scott Christiansen

"Oh, yes, we know ADRA," the important Mongolian government official nodded and frowned. "They bring criminals into our country!"  My mouth fell open in shock and amazement.

In 1993 a storm of charges and suspicion broke over ADRA and the tiny Adventist congregation in Mongolia.  A young man from the United States had attended the Adventist church and even volunteered on a church program to help the street children in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital city.  Later we learned that the man was wanted by police in the United States on a variety of charges; and Mongolia was cooperating with the U.S. in arresting him.  The event was big news in Mongolia, and the story became exaggerated and twisted with each retelling.  Unfortunately, ADRA and the Adventist believers were caught up in the negative publicity.

Adventist Christians in Mongolia and around the world prayed fervently that God would overrule in the crisis, and bring honor to His name.  And He did.

The president of Mongolia called a meeting to consider the situation of children in Mongolia.  I had been invited to the meeting, but my name had been dropped from the guest list.  Only quick action by friends got me into the president's meeting.  Throughout the meeting I prayed for an opportunity to introduce ADRA and to give an accurate description of the good work we were doing.

As the meeting was coming to a close, the president said, "Before we close, are there any comments?"  Then, pointing at me, he said, "How about you, young man.  Stand up and introduce yourself."

After the meeting, in answer to prayer, the tide began to turn.  When the ADRA team went to the country's only retirement home to distribute food, warm blankets, and clothing to the 130 elderly men and women there, we found a television news team covering the event.  They produced a ten-minute report of ADRA that aired immediately before a speech by the Mongolian president on the occasion of the Mongolian New Year, which, in that country, is traditionally the time to honor the elderly.

Our hearts rejoiced that God was working out our public-relations problems.  But it was a comment made some time later that showed us how completely God was answering our prayers.

(continued next week)

Scott Christiansen has been the director of ADRA/Mongolia since 1994.

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