At the end of a resource-filled conservation workshop on St. Maarten, the facilitator, Dr. Henry Peters shared: “We have to do a better job at keeping those whom we have worked so hard to bring into the church. Membership reductions [arise] from many ways … including deaths and relocation but we should do all we can to stem the apostasy rate in the church. We have to do all we can to stop the leak and restore those who have left us over the years.” The workshop spanned two weekends and participants were given many tools to assist congregations in their conservation efforts.
The Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church in St. Maarten is an active evangelistic body and embraces expansion and growth. The NCC Personal Ministries Director is intentional about the church’s effort to reduce the rate of membership reduction through apostasy and several members agreed. Sister Barbara Richardson said, “We have to look for them. I have been here and those who are brothers with me when I do not see them I will go and look for them.” Brother Jonathan Harry also indicated, “We need to make the sacrifice to keep them in the church.”
Dr. Peters believes that if the church becomes a center for discipleship we will not only keep members in the church but we will add members to the church: “God has given the church a Mission and in His wisdom has given us a conservation plan. I love to baptize them and it hurts me to see them outside the church. People will always leave the church – some will be drifting away. I [understand that] people leave the church but there is no excuse for members not to be nice to other members. Every member is called to be a disciple and in order to be a disciple-maker we must first be a disciple.”
Since the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria the North Caribbean Conference (NCC) Personal Ministries Department has been helping members to embrace the concept of churches as centers of evangelism and to adopt alternative methods of evangelism.