In 2017, the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists [SECC] with the full support of their administration and under the leadership of Dr. Jonathan Park, SECC Executive Secretary, embarked on an innovative evangelism project. Funded by SECC in partnership with Evangelism Endowment funds from the Pacific Union, the project allowed SECC churches to get creative in their approaches to outreach and ministry.
The Sanctified Shark Tank Initiative involved churches submitting project proposals to receive funding for projects that were designed to actively engage young people in carrying out the projects and mentoring them to take ownership of the church and also impacted outreach.
For the Sanctified Shark Tank Initiative, churches incorporated the six strategies outlined in the Fuller Youth Institute’s book Growing Young into their project proposals.
The Sanctified Shark Tank Initiative [SSTI] was a “spin off” of ABC’s reality show Shark Tank, where entrepreneurs get the chance to present their ideas to a panel of investors in the hopes of obtaining funding for their projects. For SSTI, churches were given the opportunity to present proposals to engage young people with the local church.
From 2017 to as recently as 2019, many of the churches created and carried out projects and started meaningful intergenerational dialog and collaboration within the church. Community outreach events, service to people in need, equipment purchases, and other crucial elements were made possible that would not have been possible otherwise.
SECC is sharing a complete overview of all the projects their churches engaged in, both to share their successes as well as the lessons learned along the way, in hopes that other churches will be inspired and encouraged to engage in creative outreach and collaborative ministry within the church. Click the icon to the left to download the interactive PDF.
The SSTI Report is a remarkable document in that it affords candid summaries from a diverse constellation of Adventist local churches sharing accomplishments and challenges. This diversity extends beyond ethnicity, to also size, congregation median age, worship preferences, metropolitan setting, and religion-political bent.
Here’s the conclusion drawn by the SECC leadership: As conference administrators, when we reflect on the Sanctified Shark Tank Initiative, we are happy how it impacted our churches. There were churches that did not participate in the SSTI but decided to engage with the principles of Growing Together. We have witnessed cultural changes in our congregations. Church members of all generations have come together to engage in ministry and service to each other and the local community. This catalyst has moved many churches to be more intentional in engaging young people. We strongly recommend that churches as well as other conferences review what was accomplished and learn from both our failures and our successes. It is our desire that throughout the North American Division we see a change from an aging Church to one that over the years will have grown young and together.