Mark Finley and Robert Banks of the Living Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church sum up their God-given purposes by saying, “We are here to serve.” In their cases, what does that mean exactly?
It means that in addition to their own community outreach programs and rousing Sabbath services where one truly feels the presence of the Lord, Banks and Finley have been led to create an Evangelistic Training Center.
Most churches are now very aware of the need to have effective sowing and reaping cycles. While many churches are succeeding, others are still struggling. Even those who are succeeding could be looking to achieve more.
Finley and Banks have devised a variety of options to teach how to do just that.
One option is the 4-6 day Intensive. Groups get a ‘crash course’ in a topic or area of their choosing. For example, Basic principles of church growth or Reaching the community through a health ministry.
Another option is the Sunday seminar. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the group is immersed in a tailor-made program.
During the summer, the Center offers an academic program in cooperation with Southern Adventist University. Of the 36 hours needed for a Masters Degree, 9 are taught at the Center.
Over time, the options have widened. Groups can come for a three-day intensive (like a long weekend) if 4-6 days just doesn’t work. Also, Banks and Finley offer spiritual retreats where they basically ‘hang out’ with pastors and their groups.
All the options are open for pastors and lay people since discipleship is one of the principles that Finley and Banks believe in.
Banks and Finley take their own advice, too. For example, they don’t just teach about the church and media, they practice it. On their Facebook page, there is live-streaming. During one Bible class, there were 60-70 physical attendees at the church, 4000 who logged into Facebook, and 1000 who actually watched. Another example is the Sabbath morning sermon during which people are watching in 75-85 countries.
Through their programs, Finley and Banks are building bonds of relationships in their own community and in the greater Church community. Close to home, people on the golf course and in the dentist’s office, who recognize them and their church members, are choosing to share how the Living Hope Church is having a positive impact on their lives. Farther afield, pastors are reporting how the education they received at the Center is transforming their churches.
Everything done at Living Hope is based upon 7 guiding principles taken from the Book of Acts. To find out what these are (and learn more about this dynamic duo), have a listen.