When Resurrection church and Lighthouse church merged in 2014, Kalēo church was born and, with it, an idea. How could the church minister specifically to former members as well as those in the community who know nothing about Adventism?
Many members at least knew someone who has left the church; that seemed like a good place to start. “Our primary objective is to reach the dechurched, and they will allow us to reach the unchurched,” said Senior Pastor Manny Arteaga.
Kalēo’s three-fold strategy is to be a home for all, with a Savior for all and a purpose in all. “The idea is that a disciple of Jesus is assimilated into the community like a home, is baptized and finds their God-given purpose in the kingdom,” explained Pastor Manny. But they don’t measure growth based on Sabbath morning attendance or even the number of baptisms. “A baptism without discipleship is incomplete,” he added. The goal, instead, is to close the gap between the total number of members and those who are actively involved in small groups and leadership.
“My preaching and rhetoric has to do with allowing people to rediscover the gospel,” Pastor Manny noted. “Most people who left the church did not leave rejecting the gospel but because of a misrepresentation of it.” There have been multiple baptisms of people who had left the church but were personally invited to Kalēo and gave it one last try. “Many people have been guests who visited the church and stuck around,” Pastor Manny pointed out.
Still, it goes beyond inviting friends to Sabbath morning service. One avenue for discipleship and evangelism is small group ministry. “I always say to our leaders at the start of every season that our LifeGroups ministry really is the heartbeat of our church,” said Allison Dubon, LifeGroups director.
There are four seasons for LifeGroups at Kalēo each year, starting with a “Page One” Sabbath when the topic is introduced, with time for discussion and an opportunity to sign up. “Page One” Sabbath is followed by a six-week sermon series, and each sermon is the foundation for the weekly LifeGroup discussion guide. The discussion guide is always available through the Kalēo SDA mobile app. The biggest advertisement has been word of mouth — and members aren’t the only ones extending invitations. When guests find they enjoy the experience, they invite friends and family, too.
Kalēo offers eight different LifeGroups throughout Southern California, from Santa Monica to Lancaster. “LifeGroups removes the spectator nature of church,” said Jackson Boren, Head Elder. “It gives the church family an opportunity to interact with the gospel message from week to week and see how it affected us differently.” The small group meetings offer guests and members the opportunity to stay connected throughout the week.
“It’s an ongoing, intimate evangelistic effort,” Boren continued. LifeGroups offer a safe space for open, vulnerable dialogue. “Society doesn’t provide that,” Dubon added.
Visit kaleosda.church to learn more, or follow Kalēo SDA on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.