RENEWAL AT BETHEL
We have embarked on a journey of renewal. I anticipate that Bethel Church will see some wonderful and unexpected things happening in the next two years that will be a cause for celebration. The “journey” we have started is called The Church Renewal Lab. It is program offered locally by Calvin Seminary. Six churches in total are taking part in it.
For several days last week, I and the other pastors and key leaders met with Church Renewal Lab director, Keith Doornbos to discuss strategies for growing the vitality of our churches. Keith is an exceptionally qualified guide. He served two churches in his pastoral career. Both were struggling when he began his work, but that changed quickly. They began to grow in depth of discipleship, and many, many people came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Both churches had increased by multiple hundreds of members by the time he left.
The design of The Church Renewal Lab is simple: Nine members of our church, representing various key areas of ministry at Bethel, form our churches “dream” team. These team members will attend a Saturday seminar six times in the course of two years, after Keith has spent a few days with the pastors. (This past Saturday was the first such seminar.) Then we will meet together monthly to discuss how the Holy Spirit may be leading our church to apply the renewal principles in our context.
In November you will be invited to a “Fresh Wind” prayer service to pray for renewal, because, of course, true renewal always starts with prayer. After that, other opportunities will be given for you to connect with the renewal journey. The Council will be in constant contact with the Bethel Renewal Team, and will meet with the program’s director, Keith, at our next Leaders retreat in March.
God is already doing a work of renewal in Bethel, and I believe that He intends to use The Church Renewal Lab to further His work. He is amazing, and I believe He has amazing things in store for us. Let’s pray accordingly! --Pastor Tom
Welcoming the Student Among us
I sat down with a young woman this week, and I realized something: every stage of life has its unique challenges. For the twenty-something, life is filled with both possibility and pressure. Key questions have to be answered: What do I think about God? Who am I? What should I do with my life? With whom should I spend it?
Jesus loves young adults! He desires to be with them and guide them through this key stage of life. At Bethel it is our desire to be a welcoming community for young adults. A place where they can explore their thoughts about God, build life upon Jesus, and also enter into meaningful relationships with others on the same journey. I am pleased to say that I can see meaningful steps happening all around Bethel to become more and more that enfolding community.
Perhaps you have seen the many new twenty-something faces in the 11:00 service. Recently Bethel’s Young Adult team created care packages for new King’s students and offered a warm invitation to church. I was struck by the questions students had about Bethel: “Does Bethel value the Bible as the Word of God?” and “Is Bethel a church with people of all ages?” stand out to me. Indeed, twenty-somethings are hungry for vibrant Christian community.
It is encouraging to see volunteers transporting students from King’s to Bethel on Sundays and young adults, whether in school or working, joining new small groups. The Young Adult kick-off barbeque had its best attendance ever. Currently we are searching for families who will take in a student away from home for Thanksgiving dinners.
I want to encourage us all to continue to make Bethel a warm and welcoming community, not only for young adults but for everyone else too. All people, whether young or old, deserve to be noticed, listened to, and valued. When we invite the stranger into our hearts and homes, we entertain our Savior. - Pastor Ryan
I am so excited about our new series of messages, Conversations with God: An honest look at the Psalms. When I was younger, I didn’t see much use for the Psalms. I thought: Song lyrics without music to go with them—what’s with that?
Over time I discovered what a lot of Christians discover as they grow older. Life is complex, and we need words to talk to God about the different situations we face. The psalms provide those words. They show us how to pray when we feel like we are on top of the world, and they show us how to pray when we feel like the world is on top of us. They give us direction in prayer for every situation at any time. They give us words to pray when our own words fail us.
I want you urge you to do all you can to make the most of this series. Come to church regularly to take in the sermons in person, or take them in via podcast if you have to miss a church. Use the Companion Guide that is available in your mail slots (and on the Welcome Desk for those who don’t have a mail slot) to go deeper into each week’s psalm.
The Companion Guide is designed to fit your schedule. You can spend only 20 minutes in any given week to dig deeper into that week’s psalm, or you can spend 20 or more minutes every day exploring its depths if you choose.
If you are in a small group, you will benefit from talking together regularly about the psalms we are studying. Hearing the insights of others in the group as they live with these Psalms will encourage you and deepen your own walk with God.
What do you think God might do in your life as you take this journey of “handling life with prayer?” What do you think He might do in our church‘s life as we share this journey together? I believe it will be life changing.--Pastor Tom
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