Here’s a summary of the future I sketched last Sunday.
Holding the Course
We have a theology and a philosophy of ministry. We will try to hold to this as a steady course.
Some of the hallmarks of this course are: The centrality of God; and therefore the centrality of worship. Faith as a well grounded, whole-hearted dependence on our divine physician; and therefore the cruciality of nurture that applies God’s medicinal word to the heart through the mind. Christian hedonism—the conviction that the pursuit of our joy in God is the only way to glorify him as the all satisfying one; and therefore the indispensability of evangelism and missions, because our joy in God goes sour if it is bottled up and doubles if it is shared.
This is our course: The focus on God in worship, the edification of the saints in nurture, the salvation of the lost in evangelism—all to the glory of our sovereign God.
Expand the Troops
The future will mean continued growth in five ways. 1) Conversions of the lost. 2) Reawakening of marginal saints. 3) Attracting people who move to the area. 4) Receiving people who feel led of God to come to us from other local churches (but we do not encourage this without much prayer and thought). 5) The birth of children to our members. We regard growth, especially through conversions, as a biblical mandate.
Train the Soldiers
To hold the course (theology and philosophy of ministry) while expanding the troops means a continual process of training the soldiers. Key elements in this process will be: 1) The children’s ministries, to build a great vision of God and the church and the cause of Christ into these young minds and hearts. 2) The adult Sunday School. 3) An institute for biblical and leadership training—a curriculum of courses on the theological foundations of our ministry and the application of it in various areas of leadership.
My sense is that the greatest impact Bethlehem will have for the cause of Christ in the last 16 years of this century will be through the leaders and the inspiration which go out from us to people, churches, missions and para-church ministries. This means that we need to develop a mindset of service not only to each other but to the Body of Christ worldwide.
Now: What is the optimal congregational size to accomplish these things, and what kind of headquarters building do we need? That’s what we must keep praying and talking about. If you didn’t get and turn in a questionnaire last Sunday, please pick one up outside the office and fill it out. The long-range planning committee will be looking carefully at these.
In the Shadow of the Almighty with you,
P.S. The architectural drawings shown last Sunday night may be viewed in book form in the church library.