Clarke - labour of love
ORACABESSA, St Mary:
Religious leaders from all denominations employ a wide variety of strategies and methods to try and increase their membership base, but a young, church singer from St Mary believes she has found a viable solution that could help resolve the problem.
According to Hyillea Clarke, who sings as part of the Youth Mass Choir at the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church in Oracabessa, St Mary, the best way to convert non-believers and attract new church members is to shower them with love and support.
Speaking to Family and Religion earlier this week, Clarke, who has been a Christian for 10 years and grew up with a SDA grandmother, said: "I really think more and closer involvement with the people in our communities is the key. In regards to not just going to their homes and saying 'Okay, we are here to witness to you, and tell you about God.'
"Yes, everything should be centred around God, but sometimes, what people really need is just for someone to give them a listening ear so they can share whatever issues or problems they may be facing at home or at work. Everybody needs advice at times, and people want to know that you are not just there to say: 'Listen to the word of God' and 'Come to church with us one Sabbath.'
"We need to be hearing about the personal issues that people are going through, and looking to see what best we can do as Christians to assist them because that is what we are here for. Also, I think this approach is a good idea because it will help us find out what peoples' lives are really about, and the types of things they are dealing with.
"Then, once you are in a position where you are trying to solve whatever problems they are having, it will be much easier to witness to them and help them get a better understanding of what God requires and what is expected of them as Christians."
Clarke, 27, is confident her church makes a positive impact in the local community, but insists the best way to guarantee new members for the future is to adopt a more personalised style when engaging in outreach wok.
She explained: "We are still doing a lot, but I think sometimes people aren't open to readily accepting what is brought forward to them because of the problems and personal issues they are facing.
"But I believe things will get better once people feel like they have someone to help them take a step forward so they can have an ultimatum and make a choice to decide on what they need to do and how best they can get their problems solved."
- O. M.