page image
Seventh-day Adventist Church
share |

News

Faith Simple, the final report

18.12.2011:

 

On Sabbath, Dec 3rd, 2011 we concluded the live part of the evangelistic series “faith.simple”. It was the end of a series of 17 programs stretching from Oct 8th to Dec 3rd produced by the HOPE Channel production team at STIMME DER HOFFNUNG for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Together, Matthias Mueller, experienced evangelist and speaker-director of STIMME DER HOFFNUNG, the Euro-Africa-Division Media Center, and Klaus Popa, young evangelist and creative director of that media center, held the series which marked a new phase in reaching postmodern people in Western Europe and beyond.

Each night consisted of a film clip, a reflection (short sermon) and a panel discussion. The film clip was taken from a movie which told an ongoing story of two young people who meet accidentally in New York City but come from two different worlds – not only from Europe and the US but from an atheistic, materialistic world view and a Christian world view, at the same time. The conflicts from that encounter form a springboard for the reflections which lead from real life issues into matters of faith, meeting secular people where they are.
The reflections were – like the movie - recorded in New York City too, to bridge the gap between the film clip and the faith content and to attract the attention of secular minded people who are very familiar with the impressive New York City landmarks. The movie won several awards, including one recently at the Christian film festival in South Africa, for “taking Christian truth to the people without preaching”.
In the live panel discussion following the presentation of the reflection specialists and people with questions on their minds discussed the issues with the two speakers in a very practical way which many people in the live audience could identify with.
The live panel discussion was followed by discussions in discussion groups in the TV studio and in almost 500 locations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland at the same time.
Parallel to that, the speakers and talk show guests chatted for about an hour with people on the internet. And counselors answered requests on the phone hotline at the same time. In Germany alone, 129 (sometimes long) phone calls were answered. Some of the people requesting help enrolled for Bible study courses.
Many people answered surveys and questions on the interactive website (www.faith-simple.com or www.glauben-einfach.com) which was specially designed for that purpose, or shared their opinion on social networks.
Up to now, at least three more countries (France, Italy, Ukraine) have requested the program for their territories.
 
Many lives have been touched by the series. Those already members of the Adventist church were confronted with a new, very personal way of discussion because the speakers made themselves vulnerable by letting people in on their own quest for answers. People who stumbled on the series while zapping through their TV channels were touched by the (for them) surprising sincerity and openness of the presenters.
At the almost 500 locations (250 churches plus more than 200 groups and home Bible circles) each night between 4,500 and 8,200 people met, of whom between 600 and 1000 were non-Adventists and between 250 and 800 unbaptized Adventist youth. In addition to that, each night around 1000+ people watched the program via live stream. We do not know their background. Also, each night an unknown number of people – certainly thousands – watched the program on their TV sets by satellite or a publicly accessible special computer network service. We got mails from people in different countries like the US, New Zealand, the Marshall Islands, Ukraine, and Luxemburg who watched the program. It was translated live into English and a handful of international churches or groups in Germany followed the translation.
A totally new dimension is the series’ use of internet. Amazingly, 172,000 (October) and 151,000 (November) live streams of the program were watched, which is about a third more than the live stream of hopetv.org, the worldwide church’s most watched HOPE Channel (143,000 / 103,000).
Immediately after the live series, Klaus Popa started a Bible course on TV teaching people how to read the Bible in an existential way. And in addition to the 17 live programs there will be three more programs with Mueller and Popa of the same style broadcast once a month from January to March 2012 to keep contact with the audience.
Since Mueller and Popa belong to two different age groups they were able to bridge the gap between different generations and reached young and old.
 
There are numerous stories of people whose lives have been touched by the series – or will be touched - like those in this story:
There is the Lutheran teacher of a public school who teaches religion and came to watch one program but never came back. The student who had invited her was disappointed but later she found out that the teacher had not been attending the series in the church anymore because she had been staying at home to record the broadcast and will use the program as teaching material in her religion classes.

There is the young lady who for various reasons did not make it to more than two programs. But she attended the meeting on “making decisions” near the end of the series and decided to let God into her life again. She prayed for the first time after seven years of no contact with God and had an extraordinary experience.

There is the husband whose wife died too early and who never overcame the loss. But he was present during the presentation on the theme of death and how to cope with grief. He was deeply touched by the testimony of a pastor who was part of the panel discussion and who described his experience with his wife and mother of his children who died of cancer. The visiting man found new hope in the experience of that pastor and said, “If he can make it, I can make it too. How can I learn more about Seventh-day Adventists?”

There is a lady who came across the HOPE Channel for the first time in her life by accident precisely at the first broadcast of the series. She was stunned by the authenticity of the series and could not believe her eyes. She called her husband but he was skeptical. She watched all programs and kept inviting her husband. Near the end of the series the skeptical husband enrolled for Bible studies at the Bible Correspondence School and she even drove 1and a half hours one way to attend the studio production on site twice. When she came the second time she brought her two daughters.

There is the well-to-do family which was hesitant to attend the meetings but the husband said, “Well, if there is a film then I might be able to “endure” the program.” After four programs he stated, “I don’t need the film anymore. The program is so good – I always return home filled with valuable thoughts.” After the theme on the Sabbath he said that he and his wife are convinced now that the Sabbath is the right day to keep and is seeking ways to put his new insight into practice.

In a church non-Adventist parents bring their children regularly on Sabbath mornings to attend Sabbath School since they perceive this as a valuable tool for their children to learn values for life. But there was never any fitting church program those parents would be willing to attend. They always left church before worship service because they felt it was not for them. Now with “faith.simple” ultimately this local church got a program where they felt free to invite those parents. And: these parents came regularly and attended the meetings because they felt free to discuss all the issues which were brought up in the discussion during the program. It felt natural to them. Since the presenters were so authentic, they felt touched and willing to open up to others too.

A church administrator with years of experience revealed himself to be skeptical about satellite and TV evangelism. This time he confessed, “I am converted now. When I watched the visiting people at my church immersed deeply into the discussion after the reflection and panel talk I was perplexed and simply had to accept that this is a viable method of reaching out to people in postmodern times.”

Young Adventist pastors and youth repeated several times that they are proud of their church because of the professional quality of the program and that they hardly dared to hope that something like this would be possible. This is strengthening their allegiance with the church and encourages them to talk more freely of their faith to others.

By: EUD-CD, M. Müller - Pictures W. Schick