BETHEL’S MINISTRIES LAUNCH!
Most of Bethel’s annual ministries have gotten began again in the last weeks. Here is some initial good news:
Dove Taekwondo is bursting at the seams. 63 children are enrolled. The Little Doves class, for the youngest children, has 20 in a class ideally suited for 15. Inquiries are still coming in from prospective participants.
The GEMS Girls’ club had 37 girls on their first night (Wednesday). They expected 26-28 to show up. God is entrusting us with more precious lives than we could have imagined, and the GEMS need about three more counselors. Viola Dueck, the GEMS head counselor says, “I know God has great things in store for us this year.” If you want to be part of this beautiful, burgeoning ministry please contact Viola.
45-50 kids showed up for the first Alpha Youth session—once again more than anyone had anticipated. Our Youth Director Melanie Wright says that several Bethel youth brought friends to the meeting. Small group discussions were lively. This great beginning promises good things for the youth program this year.
Our Oasis Women’s Bible study has met twice now. Many new Bethel members who joined Oasis last year returned, and many women from other churches also came. One new member was an Alpha participant from last year who is exploring the Christian Faith. Director Laurie Veenstra says that she is trusting God for His leading and blessing this year!
Several “not-yet” or new Christians have signed up for ALPHA, as well as a few Bethelites who just want a refresher.
Our ministry for children has launched with a new name, “Bethel Kids,” and a new format. This has come through the inspiration and effort of our Children’s Director Thelmè Van Heerden.
The Women’s Ministry is planning a retreat, called “Spiritual Boot camp” and we are anticipating a revitalized Men’s Ministry this church season.
ESL will have a newer, smaller more personal look—a creative adaptation of the ministry in light of a decline in the need for ESL services.
Food Bank has begun to alleviate the needs of those less financially privileged, once again.
Our Cadet’s boys’ club will get its start this week.
Several of our ministries never took a break for the summer, and they are still going strong. These include our Healing Prayer Ministry, our Intercessory Prayer Ministry, and our Monday and Wednesday morning prayer groups.
All of these signs of life are encouraging. I am deeply appreciative of the many, many volunteers who serve in these ministries. Our prayer is that God will bless these ministries and use them to help us ‘become like Christ and share Him with others”. –Pastor Tom
LET’S READ THE NEW TESTAMENT TOGETHER
This year we are issuing a special invitation and challenge to the congregation. Together we would like to read through the New Testament over the course of one year. A brochure explaining the process and laying out a Bible reading schedule has been placed in your mail slot.
The plan is straight forward: read five chapters of the Bible over the course of each week. For each chapter answer these three questions:
Adore: What did I learn about God that I should praise Him for?
Admit: What did I learn about myself that I should repent of?
Ask: What does this passage lead me to ask God for in regard to an action to take, an attitude to change, or a faith step to venture out on?
Then, spend some time in prayer and journal your experience. That’s it!
Why are we making this special effort? Because there is tremendous blessing in reading the Bible prayerfully, and we always find encouragement when we do something together.
God’s promises about meditating on His Word seem almost too good to be true. Through doing so, the Bible says, we gain happiness (Psalm 1:1-2), hope (Romans 15:4), insight (Psalm 119:130) and personal transformation (John 17:17). In short, God’s Word enables us to flourish (Psalm 1:3).
I hope you will join in on this journey of reading the Bible. Read over the brochure in your mail slot, and start this week. I would love to hear about the insights you gain over the course of the year.
IT’S ALL ABOUT GROWTH
Today (Sunday) we start a new church year with all its familiar patterns. From now on we will be meeting in two Sunday services, instead of one, and our various programs will find their customary places in our weekly calendar.
But there are some new things that will be joining the familiar things. We have a new logo, a new set of Core Commitments, and a new Growth Track.
Our new logo features three leaves coming from a single stem. Created by one of our own Bethel members, the logo captures the idea of growth and symbolizes the three areas for growth described by our Core Commitments. The Logo is now on our back wall, our stationery, and our written materials.
Our Core Commitments are: Communion (Walking with Christ), Community (Loving one another), and Calling (Impacting the world). These commitments are ways of expressing the “within,” “among,” and “outside” dimensions of a full-orbed Christian faith.
Our Growth Track is described in a brochure being distributed in the Sunday morning worship folder and on Bethel’s website (www.discoverbethel.com/grow). The Growth Track is a way for us to stay “on track” as followers of Christ. Three courses will be offered to new members--one for each Core Commitment--and all of our ministries will be categorized according to the Core Commitment they help to nurture. The Growth Track gives us a clear understanding of how we can challenge ourselves in all dimensions of the Christian life, so that we can become fully developed followers of Jesus.
Did you notice a pattern in what you have just read? All these things center on growth. As a church we want to be growth-focused, as the Bible says we should be. As a matter of fact, GROW is the title of the new series of messages that starts today.
Growth is what God wants for you and for me. It is God’s wonderful invitation and gift; so, this year, let us embrace the Apostle Paul’s words: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13). –Pastor Tom
Summer has arrived!
As I am writing this Pastor’s Corner it is 30 degrees outside, the sky is blue, and a slight breeze is coming through the window. My office is just wonderful right now. Last night was different. My house was so hot that I bought fan the size of a jet engine. Needless to say, we are a big fan of the fan.
Puns aside, this “Pastor’s Corner” entry is the last one for the year. Pastor Tom and I will continue to write these in the fall.
What’s happening around Bethel this summer? We are again ramping up programming for youth and children. Our summer interns Abbey and Carley will need all of our support and prayers to serve our community. What are the activities that are happening?
I would encourage you to prayerfully consider how you can support these ministries. Whether that is through prayer, helping at Kid’s camp, or providing a meal for youth during sports camps, everyone can get pitch-in somehow.
I want to wish everyone a very blessed and happy summer. May it be a time of refreshing and renewal. May it be a time of communion with God and your family. - Pastor Ryan
What Does the Summer Have in Store For Us?
This Sunday’s message will be the last I preach for a while. My sabbatical (one month of study leave, plus one month of vacation) will start this coming Saturday, June 23. On that day Janet and I will embark on a trip to Vancouver. I will start a course on the gospel’s passion narratives at Regent College on Monday the 25th.
Here is what you can look forward to in in the months ahead:
· Pastor Ryan will preach a two-part series on God and politics.
· Roy Berkenbosch, an ordained pastor and the Director of the Micah Centre at King’s University, will preach a three part series on justice and the Christian life.
· Then Pastor Ryan will preach four sermons in a series called Bon Voyage. It will feature four scenes from four ships in the Bible.
I leave you with a final word of encouragement. For many of us the summer months will mean a big change in our schedules. Our patterns will be upended because the kids are out of school, we will be traveling, or because we will be hosting guests in our home, or for all of these reasons combined.
I have found that these months, while exhilarating, can be spiritually challenging. The unsettled nature of this season can take a toll on our disciplined pursuit of spiritual practices. A vacation can easily become a vacation from God. As a result we can emerge from the summer physically refreshed but feeling disconnected from our Heavenly Father. This is a good time to take stock of how we will negotiate these weeks so the summer is one that leaves us both physically refreshed and stronger in our walk with Christ than ever.
Have a wonderful summer. –Pastor Tom
ARE YOU “ALL IN”?
Today we are launching a campaign called ALL IN. It is a campaign to raise the prayer, volunteer, and financial support necessary for our next big missional step: planting a new church while seeing Bethel Church continue to grow in health, vibrancy, and new disciples. We are calling the campaign ALL IN because we believe that, as we are all ALL IN, we will see God work powerfully. There are three ALL IN’s that are the special focus of this campaign:
Let me explain each one:
By the time you read this Pastor's Corner (barring unforeseen circumstances) Janet and I will be in Ottawa, Ontario, joining other family members for the funeral of Janet's brother, Ron. Ron died about a month ago, and the circumstances of his death are particularly tragic.
In the last several years, life had not treated Ron well, and it affected him deeply.Once an outspoken Christian, he became depressed and withdrew from family and friends. He started to drink alcohol excessively.
Family and friends had tried to engage with Ron and encourage him, but no one guessed how bad his situation had become. Isolated and alone, Ron had quit taking care of himself. While he died of natural causes, it is evident to everyone that he had given up on life.
His death has occasioned a lot of perplexity and soul searching on the part of family members. We've all asked ourselves: "Why didn't I see this coming? Could I have done something to prevent this?"
The experience has made me to think a lot about loneliness. It has made me want to reach out to people around me who feel isolated and alone. –Pastor Tom
A NEW JOURNEY HAS BEGUN
After two years of effort, Bethel’s Church Renewal Lab Team has completed its work. The only thing left to do is celebrate (which our team will do when we meet with the other CRL teams in June to share what God has accomplished in each of our churches). Though the team’s work is done, the journey toward health and growth has just begun.
Here are just some of the Church Renewal Lab outcomes that will continue to shape our church for years to come:
· Six people have been baptized at Bethel so far this church year, and we are expecting still more people to be received as members by evangelism. This is a greater number than any year in known memory. There is no doubt that these baptisms are directly related to what we learned at Church Renewal Lab meetings about connecting people with the Gospel and the church.
· We took the Reveal Survey, to assess our church’s health. It humbled us in many ways, but set us on a path of improvement—as sober self-reflection often will do. As a result of this survey we made at least 25 specific goals that have been guiding us in our church year.
· As pastors, elders and deacons we laid aside the devotional books that we often used to read from at the start of our meetings. Instead we spent the past year telling one another our personal stories of faith. (We shared many of these stories with the congregation in our Bethel Informed newsletter.) It has been a growing experience.
· Our week of 24-7 prayer came about because the “Lab” encouraged us to have quarterly prayer events. We did these events, but as we sought the Lord’s will, we began to dream a dream for prayer that was bigger than any of us could have imagined. The dream was a full week of uninterrupted prayer that turned out to be a wonderful blessing for Bethel church. We believe we will see much fruit flow into our church’s life from this outpouring of prayer.
· We adopted a “discipleship path.” In the new year we will introduce this pathway to the congregation. It involves three practices: Communion, Community, and Calling. Communion is about walking with Christ. Community is about serving in the church, and Calling is about loving God and neighbour in the world. We think the simple strategy of encouraging these three practices will help us all to see a clear direction for growth in Christ.
I believe the Church Renewal Lab has been a tool the Holy Spirit has used to move us along Christ’s path. I am looking forward to the continuing journey with you. –Pastor Tom
BETHEL’S WEEK OF PRAYER
This past week we did something unique in our life as a church. We spent a full week, taking turns, filling hour after hour with prayer, night and day. I thought I would share some initial observations and highlights:
Did you participate in the week of prayer?We would love to hear about your experience. You can talk to one of the Prayer Planning Team members or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
--Pastor Tom, for the Prayer Planning Team (Art Dubbeldam, Lorie Groth, Adrienne Kelsey, Melanie Reynders, and Joanne Rozendaal).
The Managing Elders have granted me four weeks of study leave, to add to four weeks of vacation time this summer, to create a mini-sabbatical. My time away will extend from Sunday, June 24 till Monday, August 20.
Believe it or not, by the end of this summer I will have been serving as pastor at Bethel for almost six years. Bethel normally allows pastors to take a three-month sabbatical after seven years. However, with Pastor Ryan set to leave for the church plant, we want to take advantage of his availability to preach while he is here; so I am taking a shorter sabbatical time, and taking it a little bit earlier than I normally would have.
A sabbatical has two main purposes: it should refresh the pastor and bring benefit to the church. My limited experience with sabbaticals has shown me that they have the potential to do both of these things. My breaks in the past have left me reinvigorated and full of new ideas that have made sermons more relevant and provided fresh directions for ministry.
Here is how I plan to spent my time:
That is a lot to fit into four weeks, but if I even get most of this done, it will be well worth the investment of time and energy. –Pastor Tom
Come here for news on what is happening in Bethel Church from our Pastors.