Discovering God’s Vision for Bethel Part 2

Happy New Year Bethel! I’m praying 2023 will be a year filled with an abundance of blessings for you and your family and for our church. This is going to be an exciting year for us because we are going to focus on seeking God’s vision for Bethel. We have sat aside January 20-22 as our Vision Weekend.

In last month’s newsletter I introduced you to Ken Kessler who works for the Baptist General Association
of Virginia. Ken is going to lead us through this Vision process. The weekend will kick off on Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. There will be food! Dinner will be served! After dinner Ken will ask us to start dreaming about Bethel’s future. What is God leading us to do? What are your hopes and dreams for our church? How can we be a blessing to each other and our community as we go forward in faith? We’ll think through questions like these on Friday evening.

On Saturday we’d like to invite you to be a part of a Listening Group. Ken is going to meet with small groups of people throughout the day. I want to stress that everyone is invited to participate and you may participate in any group.
You’ll notice that we do have the groups broken down in various categories, but these are only suggestions. If you’re a long time Bethel member and cannot make the 9 a.m. group, then please pick any other time that suits you. It’s important to us that we hear from you. Here’s the schedule:

9—9:50 a.m.: Long time Bethel Members (More than 5 years)
10—10:50 a.m.: Newer Bethel Members (Less than 5 years)
11—11:50 a.m.: Individuals involved in Christian Education,
Small Groups, or Sunday School
1—1:50 p.m.: Young Adults and individuals with Children/
2—2:50 p.m.: Leaders and Officers Group

Please note we have two other groups that will meet. On Monday morning 1/23 Ken is going to meet with folks at 10 a.m. This would be a prefect group for anyone who attends the “Caring and Sharing” group. Then on Wednesday evening 1/25 Ken is going to meet with our Youth Group. We are going to limit this group to just our Youth Group. We want them to have a dedicated time with Ken.

I’ve asked Ken to share a “Success Story” of what going through a Vision Process can do for a church. Ken told me about Olivet Christian Church, which is located on the outskirts of Columbia, Missouri.

Ken says, “Olivet started over 50 years ago, but they had lost their energy and focus. Being in a college town, they had lost a connection to college students and young families. This journey of finding their vision created lots of excitement in the church. It started with a weekend where the church allowed me to learn about them and for them to learn about themselves. We spent Friday night talking about the good things God was doing in their midst and discussing where they were presently on the life cycle of a church and key issues about where they were headed. On Saturday, I listened to groups of people talk about their hopes and dreams. Then, on Sunday, I participated and listened to their
worship gathering and celebrated God’s movement among them as a people.

Three weeks later, I (Ken) gave them a report of what I heard and how I hoped it would lead them in their journey for God’s direction. They began a determined search for God’s direction through a “Prayer and Share process” where people gathered, talked, and prayed in groups of threes. The “Prayer and Share” triplets lasted several weeks and to this day, the church still talks about the new relationships that were formed through this process. Ken continues, “One of the things that came from this process was a desire to create better relationships with young families in the community. They decided to expand their prayer shawl ministry that had been developed in the church. Their ladies craft group wove hand-crafted shawls for new babies born in the local hospital. The shawls were delivered to the families in the hospital with a note of special blessing from the church for these families. This action created a new connection with young parents in their community. A celebrative spirit took hold in the church, and the church was so rejuvenated by the process that as they got to the end of the three-year process, they decided to do the process again to gain more perspective about the next several years. The pastor said this process brought a renewed energy to the church both times. People were excited about how God was leading them and were committed to each other to live into these ideas, even as difficult as some of them were.” Ken concludes, “These are difficult days for the church. Answers for programs and ministries are not easily found in the past. Not every church has a positive future because of unhealthy relationships and expectations. I have found those churches who are focused on the past or focused on trying to relive the past do not make it through a journey like this. Churches who are open to the movement of God create new opportunities through listening and asking each other questions that spark renewal and hope. What is positive is that we know who holds the future, and we know the strengths and gifts God has given us to move into that future.” I am excited to see what God has in store for Bethel. I hope you are as well. Please plan on joining us for our Vision Weekend. We want to hear from you.

If you haven’t already done so you can sign up for the Vision weekend by calling the church office. Until then, may God
bless you and your family, our Bethel Church family, and may you have a blessed, prosperous and happy new year! With love, peace and grace,