A DREAM FOR GIRLS
I love talking with our GEMS Girls’ Club director, Viola Dueck. She is so enthusiastic about her ministry. This week she stopped in to tell me about some of the exciting things happening with our grade-two through grade-six girls. Allow me to share them with you.
The club has a record high number of girls this year—45. Of these, most are from the broader community. A whopping 25 of them are from an unchurched background. This is truly astounding.
I asked Viola what motivates her to do this ministry. She answered, without hesitation, that she wants every girl in her club to know the goodness of God. “He loves me and gave Jesus to die for me so I would not have to pay for my sins—and He did that before I was even born!”
Viola recently had an encounter that deeply affected her. It was with a girl from the broader community who graduated from the program the previous year. Viola asked the girl: “Do you miss GEMS?” The girl’s face turned sad, and she said, “Yes. But the program isn’t for girls my age. That’s just the way it is.”
This encounter birthed a dream in Viola. Her dream is to extend the GEMS program (come fall) past the grade-six level to include grade-seven and grade-eight girls, and also to make a place in the program for even older girls to be Counsellors in Training.
GEMS is just one of the amazing ministries Bethel offers. Other leaders are reporting similar, startling, God activity in their ministries. God is blessing our efforts to serve Him and is entrusting us with many lives. Let’s keep GEMS and all of our ministries in our ongoing prayers. —Pastor Tom
BETHEL’S COMMUNICATIONS GET A FACE LIFT
You will notice that our newsletter and worship folder have a new look this week. We have combined the two documents into one. The new bulletin will be distributed on Sundays, and will also be sent out electronically to those who request it. Why have we made the change? Here are some of our reasons:
Many people were not reading either the worship folder or the newsletter. This is because the worship folder was repetitive from week to week, and the newsletter contained a lot of information that people found irrelevant.
Many items that we have been placing in newsletter can be delivered in more effective ways. For instance, the teens look to the Bethel Youth webpage for their information and prefer to receive notifications by text. The schedules we put in the newsletter to inform us of our church responsibilities can easily be replaced by electronic reminders.
Our guests, and those just starting to attend Bethel, do not received the newsletter electronically and they do not have a mail slot to get their newsletter that way; consequently, they are missing out on important information. Now it will be placed in their hands each Sunday.
If you have been receiving the newsletter by email, you will now receive the bulletin by email. The newsletter will no longer be placed into mail slots, rather a bulletin will be handed to each person who attends worship on a Sunday morning.
You might say our new approach is the “new, old way” of doing things, because we used to deliver our Bethel information in precisely this format. We hope it can be useful again.
Try it out for a few weeks, and then let us know what you think. Give feedback to any staff member and they will relay it back to the church office. In two months we will evaluate our new approach.
THE ALL-IMPORTANT INTANGIBLE
For the last two weeks we have been celebrating our church’s overwhelming response to the ALL IN Campaign. To date, over $247,000 in cash and pledges has been raised. This means we can move ahead with The Bridge Church plant, and we will pay off our church’s mortgage within a month. What an outstanding result!
But there is another important facet of this campaign that we need to keep in mind. The first line on the ALL IN giving envelope invited us to pledge something less tangible than money but every bit as important. It said: “I will pray for The Bridge Church Plant.”
There is no doubt in my mind that the amazing momentum behind this church plant is only explainable in terms of God’s power. We decided to plant a church because we prayerfully discerned that God was leading us to do so. We then bathed the project in prayer culminating with our 24/7 week of prayer last spring. Now we are seeing God’s power on display.
It is not only the campaign result that demonstrates God’s power at work. Pastor Ryan cites new answers to prayer almost daily in connection with the work in Fort Saskatchewan. God is clearly blessing the efforts of our launch team.
So let’s not forget the all-important intangible of prayer. We will need to continue to rely on God’s power in order to see the church plant fully established and many coming to faith in Jesus, and also for Bethel to find the right person to be our second pastor. –Pastor Tom
THE SHAPE OF THE FUTURE
November is going to give us a chance to taste the future. This is because of an assignment given to The Bridge Church members.
The members of The Bridge launch team have been asked to unplug from Bethel for the month of November in order to visit other churches. Their goal is to experience what it is like to be a first-time visitor on a Sunday morning. They are to learn, first hand, what makes them feel welcome, and what makes them feel left out. And to make it a completely authentic experience, they are not to go with friends or other Bridge families.
This exercise is going to give The Bridge members a taste of the future in an obvious way. They will learn what their guests will be experiencing when they visit The Bridge for the first time. They will also know the kind of warm welcome they want to extend to them.
It will give Bethel a taste of the future, as well. For one thing, we will experience what it will be like to not have the nine families who departing for The Bridge in our midst from week to week. But positively, and more importantly, this group’s intentionality will inspire us to be more welcoming in the future.
This last item shows us the biggest way this exercise is giving us a taste of things to come. We are starting to experience one of the great benefits of planting a church. The fresh, experimental way this new church is pursuing ministry is helping us to learn and grow. I am confident that there are many, many more things we will learn in years to come. –Pastor Tom
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