At the December annual meeting the church approved a new arrangement of responsibilities among the church staff. Many of you were not able to be in on that discussion and did not get a copy of the proposal when it was handed out on Sunday, December 12. So I hope this brief description of the changes will help you see what has happened.
Pastor Glenn’s responsibilities have been redefined to embrace the total ministry of pastoral care. Formerly he was also responsible for visitation of newcomers and evangelism. Now he is no longer responsible for leading our outreach efforts, but is responsible for leading us in the caring, nurturing ministries within the church body. This includes ministry to our elderly members who cannot get out to worship.
Some of you expressed concern that the termination of David Carlson’s position as part-time minister of visitation for the elderly could be a retreat from our commitment to faithful members who are “shut-in.” Please be assured our aim is exactly the opposite of retreat. It is advance. By putting the ministry to the elderly directly under the responsibility of a full-time pastoral staff member we anticipate that all the benefits which David Carlson brought to the shut-ins will be preserved. Not only will Pastor Glenn be visiting the elderly himself on a regular basis, but eventually he will also develop a team to assist him, which will provide other kinds of help to the seniors as well. If any of you have suggestions for the ministry to our senior members, feel free to contact Pastor Glenn.
Now where does this leave our outreach leadership? The proposal approved on December 16 was that the Deacon Council bring nominations to the church for the formation of a search committee which would undertake to find in 1983 a full-time minister of evangelism and discipleship. A detailed (tentative) job description for such a person was presented and can be seen in the church office. The financial feasibility of such an addition is based on one fact and one assumption. The fact is that by including ministry to the elderly in Pastor Glenn’s responsibilities we save about $9,000 annually which Dana Olson and David Carlson were receiving for work in that area. The assumption is that an effective leader in evangelism would mobilize and inspire and train us as a people such that we would grow and give enough to cover his salary. In the meantime, Dana Olson has been appointed as a temporary intern for evangelism and discipleship.
I hope you all can sense the optimism and hope in the air at BBC which I do. Our worship times are becoming more and more authentic as we really “center down” on God himself. Last Sunday morning we had 685 people in two services and 206 in the evening. The spirit was wonderful. We are hard pressed for Sunday School space and people are dreaming of lots of different ways to adjust. Plans are emerging for a church-wide assessment of our goals in preparation for long-range planning. The house at 1212 Eighth Street will be moved in four weeks and the city has approved all our landscaping and parking lot improvements. Best of all, individuals are coming alive to God at Bethlehem: lukewarmness is heating up, bad habits are being broken, many visitors are sensing “God is here!” and are coming back, and we are growing in boldness of witness.
So please join the chorus of prayer. Only God can build a church for his glory. Our first job then is to sing “We need thee every hour.”