IT’S TIME TO PRAY
I feel impressed to pass along a word of encouragement to you. It is the encouragement offered by the apostle Paul who writes: “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18).
We so easily forget that we are in the midst of a spiritual battle every day of our lives. Paul dedicates most of the sixth chapter of Ephesians to assuring us that this battle is very real, and that we must not lose our focus on it. And yet we do.
We get caught up in temptations or meaningless distractions and never suspect that our spiritual enemy is the source of these problems. We go through discouragements, yet neglect to turn to God to find his support and protection. When we are in this spiritual haze we become quite convinced that it doesn’t matter that we lack urgency in prayer.
I know this is true, because I have been there many times. The Holy Spirit moves in us again and again to wake us from our spiritual slumber.
“Be alert,” says Paul. “Always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Pray for yourself, your family, and your fellow believers. This is a crucial time in your life whether you realize it or not. It is a crucial time in our church’s life.
“Always keep on praying,” because your prayers make a big difference. God uses our prayers to shape the future. –Pastor Tom
“Tag me in” is what one wrestler says to another when he wants to step into the arena to join the fight. “Tag me in,” is the theme of this year’s Leadership Retreat scheduled to take place Friday evening and Saturday, October 25 and 26. “Tag me in” describes how we believe God wants to use our church in the next five years.
If we listen carefully to the voices of our neighbours, of people from diverse cultures, of our own church members, and of people living far from God, we can hear them saying “tag me in.” They want “in” - a place that helps them find life’s meaning; a place to belong. We believe God wants Bethel to be that place. He wants us to be a church that tags people in.
To discern what this looks like, our elders, deacons, staff, and ministry leaders will all be together for a night and day of interaction, learning, and discussion. On the Friday evening, we will have fun and build relationships by having a meal followed by some participant-generated entertainment. On Saturday, we will roll up our sleeves and get to work, learning and discussing all that “tag me in” implies. Our ultimate goal is to create an updated Dream for Bethel which will give expression to all that we discern.
The retreat is perfectly timed. Years ago we adopted the first A Dream for Bethel. It was a ten-year vision. We are now at its midway point, marked by the planting of Bridge Church. How much of the original Dream is still on target? What new ventures is God leading us to undertake? How specifically does he want us to tag people in as we go into the future?
I look forward to eventually updating you on the progress of this visioning exercise and getting your input into it. - Pastor Tom
THE SEARCH CONTINUES
It was just over a year ago that Pastor Ryan reduced his work hours to half-time at Bethel so he could invest in planting Bridge Church. We started looking for his replacement long before that, so, where are we at in our search for a new pastor?
We have some talented applicants, and we will continue to have conversations with them in the next weeks. In the meantime the Governing Elders have commissioned a study on staffing at Bethel. We believe that our staff could be better aligned to our vision. In other words, we believe our staffing structure and staff job descriptions could be adjusted so that we are working more efficiently and fruitfully.
Pastor Tom, and Governing Elders Ed Dubbeldam and Joanne Rozendaal will be working with Keith Doornbos of the Center for Church Renewal to create a staffing proposal for the Governing Elders. We hope to pursue this task aggressively so that there is no unnecessary downtime in our pastor search.
While I dearly wish that we already had a second pastor in place, I see God’s wisdom in the delay. I believe we needed this past year and the search process, to discover our real needs. I think we are going to be in a stronger position to receive a second pastor after our work is finished.
I remain as hopeful as ever. Honestly, I am feeling more hopeful than ever. I have a deep confidence that God is in charge. God will bring us His person in His time, and it will be good. –Pastor Tom
ALL IN Is All in (Almost)
The pledge deadline has come and gone, and the ALL IN Campaign funds have been counted. How much did we finally receive? I have some good news, some more good news, and some really great news.
The good news is that Bethel’s generosity exceeded our dreams. We set a goal of $250,000 for the campaign and received over thirty thousand dollars in cash and pledges over that amount. When the campaign was done, we knew we would be able to pay off our mortgage, support the Bridge Church plant, have money to relocate our new pastor when he/she arrives, and have excess funds to invest in our church’s immediate neighbourhood.
The “more good news” is that we have received nearly all of that money now- -$285,372 to be exact—with 97.16% of pledges being collected. While we could wish for 100% of pledges to be paid, this is still an astounding amount and something to be celebrated.
The “great news” arises from what the money is actually doing. Bridge Church is off to a successful start. We are financially supporting the Bannerman Afterschool program, and we are making it possible for Bethel member Carley Clarke to run a Ladies Tea at the Clareview II housing units. (Made up mostly of new Canadians, this group learns English together and shares information that helps them better their lives. It advances Bethel’s mission of sharing the love and Good News of Jesus in the community).
Thank you, again, Bethel. I hope you feel a deep satisfaction in the work God has done through you to advance His Kingdom in our area.—Pastor Tom
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