How I wish I could be there for this strategic decision! But I will still be in Manila at the Lausanne II Congress on World Evangelization. That’s appropriate though, because SPAN does stand for “Spreading Praise to All Nations.” I will be praying earnestly that God will give us a unified and expansive vision of his saving purposes for our church.
The thought of coasting as I enter my tenth year at Bethlehem is repugnant to me. I hope you feel that way. I hope none of you is asking, “How can we keep Bethlehem comfortable for us?” I hope you are asking, “How can we become more radically Christian?” and “How can we become more powerful in winning lost people in this city?” and “How can we stir up more of our members to leave home and comforts to take the gospel to the unreached peoples of the world?”
SPAN II is a commitment to maximize your joy. How? By maximizing ministry, because Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We want more people discovering their gifts and using them in ministry because that is what brings God-honoring satisfaction. The world is starving for something to do that makes the conscience free and stretches us beyond ourselves, and has significance for eternity. That’s what ministry means. And that is what SPAN II is all about.
Now what are you actually voting on when you vote on SPAN II?
Though all the parts of SPAN II do not require a congregational vote, we are eager for you to give a vote of affirmation to this total vision. A yes vote will mean the following things:
- I agree with the high priority of small groups and the need to increase and diversify them and give training and encouragement to leaders.
- I agree with the new staffing configuration in which we will call a full-time Minister for Children’s Discipleship, and in which Tom Steller will become Pastor for Missions and Leadership Development, and David Livingston will become Pastor for Evangelism and Special Needs, and David Michael will become Pastor for Urban and Neighborhood Ministries—each according to the outline of duties contained in the SPAN II document.
- I agree with the expansion of the Wednesday evening program to include the Bethlehem Institute and Training Center, the Prayer Force, ministries for children (choirs and “clubs”), and a simple meal; and periodic all church gatherings to supplement the Sunday Evening Family Gathering.
- I agree with the new conception for how to maximize ministry on Sunday Evening, with one Sunday Evening Family Gathering per month while the other Sunday evenings become the focus for small groups and neighborhood outreach efforts.
- I agree that the “Profile of a Member at Bethlehem Baptist Church” described on page 20 of the SPAN II document is a healthy way to define church membership and a good standard for accountability for able-bodied members of Bethlehem.
From Manila I send all my support for this vision. My prayer is that it will become new paths for God’s power among our people. Power is the answer, not programs. The question is this: Is the energy and vision that has produced SPAN II a foretaste of the power of God that he wills to pour on us in great measure in the years to come?