Free Rent and Frontline Mission

Three blocks from Bethlehem is a 22-unit apartment building newly remodeled but in disarray. It’s at the S.E. corner of 15th St. and 11th Ave., just south of the Dairy Queen and across from Augustana. An amazing opportunity for neighborhood improvement and outreach is developing. If God wills, this Star article will be a decisive step in finding the people appointed for this work.

Weeds and vandalism and low occupancy plague this building in spite of the remarkable efforts of the owner to make it attractive and pleasant. Tom Steller and I took the owner out to lunch last week and brainstormed how BBC might help. Our suggestion was that our people be given two or three apartments rent-free in exchange for reliable caretaking and good influence in the building and the neighborhood.

We were very up front that we saw this as great opportunity for reaching out to the spiritual needs of the community. The owner was very up front that he hoped this might result in the rest of his apartments being filled by people who would respect the building and the neighborhood.

There are three and two bedroom apartments and efficiencies. Nothing has been decided yet about which would be used in this venture. If God puts it in your heart to desire this kind of ministry the next step would be a meeting to discuss responsibilities and to look at the building. We are praying that the Lord will put it in the hearts of some of you to embrace this challenge as your ministry. If you sense that call, let Tom or me or the church office know and we will gather you for a meeting.

A New Thing & the “20:20 Vision”

Bethlehem’s ministry of small groups (the “20:20 Vision”) has grown every year since its beginning four years ago. Last year there were over 25 groups involving over 300 people.

The new thing this fall is that the Sunday morning messages are going to be coordinated with the discussion material in the 20:20 groups. The theme for the fall is “Battling Unbelief.” David and I are working together so that the proclamation on Sunday and the small group discussion and prayer every other week will have a double-barreled effect in the life of our church.

We were led to this coordination of effort by Hebrews 3:12-13. First it says, “Take care, brethren, lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief leading you to fall a way from the living God.” From that we took the idea of a series on battling unbelief. Then the next verse says, “But exhort one another every day ... that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” From that we took the necessity of small group interaction and mutual “exhortation.”

It is going to be an intensely personal and practical fall. I am increasingly expectant that God is going to stir among us in new and powerful ways. Would you pray with David and me for forty “20:20 groups” this fall? And would you pray (right now for 30 seconds!) if God might be calling you to lead a group? Training is essential. David will be leading the next (and last) training session Friday and Saturday August 26 and 27. Would you call him or the church office and signal your interest? He’ll be in touch with you. I look forward to being an even closer part of the 20:20 team this fall.

Praying for you,

Pastor John

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