A group of 60 lay-members gathered in Sofia, Bulgaria, this past Sabbath to discuss and share best practices in reaching their communities through social media. In a way, it was a foretaste of the European GAiN Conference, which will be held next month.
A total of 17 Facebook pages were presented by the people who run them. One by one, administrators of the pages were coming on the stage to share their experiences and inspiring stories.
The dream was laid out several years ago by Pastor Trifon Trifonov, Personal Ministries and Sabbath School director for the Adventist Church in Bulgaria. He started with a Facebook page where he presented real-life stories of Bulgarian Adventist members. As a result, two books were published, with two more waiting to be printed. Then he added Facebook pages on our Fundamental Beliefs, Daniel, Revelation, Sanctuary in the Old and the New Testaments, Prayer in action, and many more.
Seeing the impossibility to run everything by himself, Trifonov contacted lay members asking them to get involved. First he was joined by Doctor Veska Voycheva who undertook the administration of “Health and Wellbeing” and “For the Beginning of Your Day” pages. She was shocked to learn her friends were forwarding her postings to their friends and they, in turn, to others.
Karolina Koleva, still in high-school, runs “Creation or Evolution” page. She shared how mad she was that in schools nobody talks about Creation and how Evolution is being taught, not as a theory, but as a proven fact. She is now talking with a friend of hers from the Church to start a Facebook page on archeology and the Bible.
Realizing the growing interest of the general public in psychology, a Facebook page was developed under the title “Psychology for Every Day.” It is run by Yordanka Deycheva, a professional psychologist.
Another project was presented by Katya Kupenova – her “Day By Day” Facebook page has daily inspirational thoughts. It has become so popular that even secular web-portals quote and promote it. Out of that, grew her mission initiative “Meet & Speak.” For more than a year people, who were attracted by her webpage, meet and speak in English on different topics. The group even formed a club and she invited them to church!
We should not bypass the “official channels” of the Union – Bible Correspondence Course, Adventist World Radio (AWR) Bulgaria, New Life Publishing House and Hope Channel Bulgaria. Each group was also presented at the Conference.
And then came really inspiring part: Statistics! A team of people is trying to process all the information disclosed by Facebook contacts. Currently 81,488 people follow our pages. Taking into consideration they are run in Bulgarian language only, this is a vast evangelistic opportunity! Out of the small amount of processed profiles, the results are really amazing: The majority of the contacts are Bulgarians – and this is understandable. One third are Roma and – again, only from the small amount of the profiles processed – 147 are Turkish! Talk about reaching 10/40 Window! Trifonov shared that, for the past two month, 10,000 new people started to follow our pages.
The bottom line: Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bulgaria has 7,118 members. There are 81,488 people actively following our pages so far. There is a “hidden church” out there, more than 10 times bigger than the official one. Exciting times are ahead of us!