I am sure there are other churches, besides Bethel, where the church’s leadership spends a day and a night together each year at a prayer-and-planning retreat, but I honestly do not know of any (and I think it is fair to say that that the practice is rare). However, this is the habit of Bethel’s leaders, and I think it speaks highly of their love for Bethel Church and their dedication to the church’s ministry.
So what happened at this gathering of over thirty Bethel Council members and ministry leaders that took place last Friday and Saturday? The short and honest answer is: more than I possibly can say; however, I will pass on a few highlights:
This year’s leadership retreat was called “Chasing the Dream.” I believe our time together was another small, but important step forward in seeing God’s dream for Bethel Church come true.--Pastor Tom
The Food Bank has been a staple Bethel ministry for nearly 20 years now. Corrie Vanderzee has led the ministry almost from the day of its inception in 1994. (She ran the ministry for 17 years, turned it over to Laura Hutchinson for two, and is now at the helm again.) In a ministry like this, you don’t often get to see how your efforts pay off long-term in the lives of those you serve, but recently we got a happy surprise.
We received a call at the church from a woman saying that she would like to make a donation to the food bank. It was an unusual request since we don’t normally take donations—the food is all provided from a central distributer. The woman explained: she once used the food bank at a time in her life when she was down and out. Now she is back on her feet, and she was eager to give back. Later, when she stopped by the church to make her donation, she briefly described her current work life. She is indeed doing very well for herself. What a success story!
Perhaps you are working as a volunteer in the church. There are probably times when you wonder if your hard work is making any difference. Be encouraged. This story is evidence of how God uses our efforts to touch the lives of people even when we don't know it.--Pastor Tom
Did you know that each year your church Council and key ministry leaders go on a leadership retreat to discuss and plan for the year ahead? This year’s retreat will take place this Friday and Saturday (January 17-18) at the Providence Renewal Center. The Managing Elders will be there along with the Shepherding Elders, the Deacons, the staff, and several other volunteer leaders to make up a group of well over 30 people.
There are three goals for this year’s retreat:
· Build strong relationships among leaders
· Assess the health of our church’s ministries
· Discern our progress in pursuing God’s Dream for Bethel and plot the course for the future.
Prayer will play an important part in this year’s retreat because no godly vision can be accomplished without prayer. We are so committed to prayer, as a matter of fact, that a prayer partner has been identified for every person who will be coming to the event. These prayer partners have been praying for a designated person for a few weeks now and will continue to do so throughout duration of the retreat.
Would you keep this special event in your prayers? I believe that God has great plans for Bethel Church but we need to follow the example of the early church. After Jesus had told His followers that they would take His Gospel to the ends of the earth, they returned to Jerusalem and began to pray fervently, unitedly, and continually to see it accomplished (Acts 1:8-14).
This week we embark on a new series called “Generations.” This series is the bubbling up of some exciting values that are growing in our congregation.
At Bethel Church over the last year we have begun to talk about being a church that is “inter-generational.” We have even begun pairing young people and adults together in mentoring relationships for “doing life together.” Currently there are approximately a dozen such mentoring relationships, in which a teen or young adult will connect with an older adult at least once a month to talk about life together. So far this has been a pilot project but now we hope to find many more mentors for the large group of teenagers and young adults who still need them
But what does being “inter-generational” as a church that actually mean?
It means that we are committed to valuing the unique experiences, giftings and ideas of each age segment in our church family. We acknowledge that children have something to offer to seniors, and the middle-aged folks to our youth. We acknowledge that the teenagers are not just “the church of the future” but ought to be an integral part of our church today. When we view church on Sunday as a gathering of “God’s family” - like a family we live, learn and grow together. We get to see God, perhaps in a new way, through witnessing Him work in each of us at different stages in life.
During this series of messages, we will seek to let God's Word speak uniquely to each generation, and we hope to create opportunities for the generations speak to one another. It is our prayer that this series of messages will lead to conversations and ideas among us all of how we can better care for, learn from, and value one another at each stage in our lives.
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