Bethlehem’s Nerve System
How It Works
Take the example of Carla Christenson and the Elliot Park Neighborhood Big Brother-Big Sister Project. It started with God. He sent an irresistible longing to Carla, a senior at Bethel College who is part of our Toshavim (pronounced Toshaveem). The longing was to organize some ministry to kids in the vicinity of our church.
So she came to me with the vision. I was excited and said, “Get all your information and ideas to me, and we’ll take it to the elder board.” Char Ransom put it on the agenda for March 16. Carla called all the neighboring churches, met with Elliot Park Neighborhood, Inc. people, conferred with school officials, and wrote a terrific proposal for how our church might minister to some of the 200 school-age kids in Elliot Park Neighborhood.
On Monday, March 16, the divine impulse through Carla reached the first nerve center: the elder board. The project was discussed and in the end a motion was sent to the trustee board that Carla be called as a summer intern to implement the project. On Wednesday, March 18, the divine impulse reached the second nerve center: the Trustees. The upshot there was to approve the elder board’s recommendation and to propose a compensation for Carla during the three summer months on a par with our other interns.
That decision was then sent to the third nerve center, the council of deacons, for approval. On Wednesday, March 25, the deacons put their seal to the project. Now the proposal comes to you for church action Wednesday, April 8 at 7:15. If you agree with the church boards, the whole process will have taken less than a month.
I want to praise the nerve system at Bethlehem for such terrific vigor and coordination! This is surely the way our governance structure (our nerve system in the body) is to work. But there was more than efficiency. There was grace. I’ll just mention one thing: The council of deacons met until 10:30 that night (15 of us present) and a large group of wives waited in the lounge. Neither during the meeting nor afterwards as we dismissed was there a harsh or resentful word. No one grumbled. No one seemed to begrudge the time. I praise God for such victories. The principalities and powers must be very put out at the way the deacons (and their wives!) acted. Thanks to all!
One more thing: If God gives any of you a vision for ministry, let’s pursue it. The nerve system needs the divine stimuli that comes through fingers and toes.