NSE changes lives at Portland Tab
by Jeff Martin, MAJOR –
MIKE McVICKER, Grace Rodriguera, Jasmin Brown and Major Jeff Martin of the Portland Tabernacle Corps.
Lives are changing at the Portland Tabernacle Corps, thanks to the training received by our corps’ delegates to the 2003 National Seminar on Evangelism (NSE).
While the venue in the Rocky Mountains is fantastic, and the conference is like no other, the real benefit lies in the deliberate efforts we began to put in place when we returned to our corps, equipped with the training and inspiration we received at Glen Eyrie.
After NSE 2003, the Portland Tabernacle delegates ( Mike McVicker, Grace Rodriguera, Jasmin Brown, and Major Jeff Martin) met to discuss some strategies for evangelism efforts for our corps. We did some brainstorming, and came up with many ideas that we could begin working on; we divided our ideas into efforts that could be implemented immediately, and those that would take more time and planning.
Some of the ideas that could be worked on immediately were a young adult fellowship, and a youth recruiting event. We scheduled two informal young adult events and had some success, and plan more work on that project soon.
We had an opportunity scheduled—our family service “Back to School Program.” We made this an outreach for elementary and middle school children, and scheduled families to come at a rate of six families or fewer in a fifteen-minute time slot. Every fifteen minutes a new group would come in to pick up their backpacks.
When a family arrived our intake worker, who took their paperwork, greeted them. Then, a soldier of the corps brought them through a series of informational booths manned by soldier volunteers, where the family was given verbal and written information about various corps programs. Here, they were invited to sign up for the programs that interested them. This gave us names and address information for follow-up, and at our first youth meeting we had about 50 in attendance. Prior to this effort, our youth group was about 10 children.
The increased numbers of children demanded more leaders, and our people began stepping forward to help, and we now have at least 10 leaders who help with these programs. This made it necessary to have some training for our leaders, so we have had one training event that included a spiritual gifts inventory, and Safe From Harm training.
One of our goals was to be more effective in reaching visitors who come to the corps. To accomplish this, we put together a plan to increase our number of greeters on Sunday morning, and to have greeters of various ages. We have improved in this area, but still have a ways to go. NSE was very helpful in pointing out this need, and helped us to respond to it.
Having new people in the corps makes it necessary to have ways of assimilating them, getting them involved, and helping them make friends. We decided this could be facilitated by the ALPHA course, so we sent four delegates, including Major Eloisa Martin, for training and are now nearing the completion of our first course, which included 12 people.
Our family service program is located in our corps building, and we have made efforts to provide tracts and other Christian reading materials for the clients, and have encouraged our staff to let people know that we are a church. A volunteer soldier/retired officer comes once a week, and often prays with clients; some of our staff have done the same. Food boxes are supplied with the War Cry, a schedule of corps events, and an invitation to come and worship with us. There are also signs in the waiting area that tell about our corps.
As a result of focusing our efforts on the family service program, we have had several individuals and families become involved in our worship meetings. Some of them are now in adherents or soldier preparation classes as well. We have also put together a personal evangelism class that meets in the home of one of our soldiers.