Sunday, November 23, 2008

Touching Base! Part 15

Walk It Out

One of the challenges of teaching a large group every Sunday is that there are very few checks and balances in place to encourage people to “walk out” the message. The reality is that often people walk in and walk out after the service, and choose not to apply the message. At Bethel we are talking about how to better encourage people to “walk out” the message. Some of our small groups discuss the message the following week, but we realize that this represents a very small percentage of our church.

This week’s edition of Touching Base is designed to help you walk out what has been taught. I want to encourage you to work through this exercise. Scripture is pretty clear that the objective of God’s word, the reason for God’s truth, is not just information but transformation!

James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Walk It Out Exercise

Read the text below several times this week- keeping in mind the two images- Protégé (10,11) and Athlete(12-14). Reading the text in different versions can help you appreciate what Paul is saying.

Journal on these images as you reflect on the following.

  • What insights do these two images provide in passionately following God?
  • What questions do these images raise?
  • How would you rate your desire for knowing Christ?
  • What aspects of your walk of faith are not addressed in these images?
  • As you go through your week, what other images come to mind that illustrate the walk of faith? (look around you)
  • Pray these verses back to God each day of the week. Personalize them.
  • As you pray, ask God to show you what He wants you to do, and/or believe.
  • Who do you need to pray for regarding having a passionate heart for God?
  • Who inspires you in your walk of faith? If you know of someone, how could you spend more time with that person? Why not thank them for how they have inspired you.
  • Discuss your insights with at least one other person.

Philip. 3:10-17

[10] I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, [11] and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.[12] Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. [13] Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, [14] I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

[15] All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. [16] Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

[17] Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Touching Base! Part 14


No doubt: at Bethel there are enough ideas and vision to keep us busy for the next century. As I talk to people, it is very obvious that many hearts are bursting with what God might want to do at Bethel, and how He could use Bethel to touch the world of which we are a part. It is exciting to realize how many people love Bethel and desire to see the church step into all God has for her.

One of the issues we have struggled with in our past is execution. Many great ideas and lots of plans, but we have at times faltered in the area of carrying out those plans. I realize that not only is Bethel vulnerable in this area but so too are many churches. For some reason plans are made, decisions noted, but then little or nothing happens. We have lots of ideas, lots of motions but have struggled in executing on those ideas.

Why is that? Why have we struggled with carrying out on decisions made, motions passed? Let me share with you some ideas on this and encourage you to pray that we would be better in the area of executing initiatives on which God wants us to step out.

  • Getting sidetracked by problems. Bethel has come through some turbulent years. God has been good and faithful to bring a lot of good out of some of the darker days. I would suggest that at times in our history those turbulent waters drained the leadership and shelved many good plans. Instead of being able to execute on vision, leadership at times were dealing with day-to-day turbulence. I think at times that the leaders, and many in the congregation, were just hanging on, trying to work through a difficult season.
  • Moving on to many fronts. One great lesson I have learned (but not always implemented) is that less is more. I think that at times in our zeal for doing God’s work, we have tried to juggle far too many balls. I believe that we would be further ahead to go slower, do fewer things and do them well. Being busy with much is not always synonymous with being effective.
  • Not having a clearly defined purpose and strategy. Purpose channels energy. Purpose is also forgotten very quickly if not repeatedly preached, spoken, and illustrated. Do you know what the purpose of Bethel is? It is to Love God Passionately and To Serve Others Significantly. It is rooted in the great commission. As we keep our purpose clear and define our strategy this will help us see what is important.

I am sure you could add your insights into why we have sometimes struggled in the area of execution. Please pray for Bethel that we would be faithful to how God speaks into our lives as leaders and congregants. I sense much excitement at Bethel these days and am glad to be a part of it. However, I realize the need to prayerfully seek God’s mind on all matters and through His strength to execute with excellence, in the context of team and in a posture of humility and prayer.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Touching Base! Part 13

Corporate Manners

Every household has “the code”! You know, the way things are to be done, what is acceptable and what is not. Some of us growing up knew when we broke the code, not by what was said, but by what wasn’t said. The stare said “You’re out of line and if you don’t shape up, your life may end prematurely!” Regardless of your living context there is no doubt a code, a preferred way of conduct that aims to make life for everyone enjoyable. I am sure that in some living contexts the code is stated and posted for all to see:

  • Last one out turn out the lights
  • No loud music after 10pm
  • Flush
  • Use the garbage (novel idea for some)
  • Don’t eat my food in the fridge! (This also could result in premature death)

At Bethel we are like a family, hopefully minus the stares. There are certain kinds of behaviour that will encourage family health and there are certain kinds of behaviour that will make being together more of a challenge. I want to remind you of some of the needed behaviours and attitudes so that we can do life well together especially on Sunday mornings.

  • Make room for people. In case you haven’t noticed, on many Sundays our services are very full. You can help by moving to the front, so late comers do not have to walk all the way up to the front pew. Think of how difficult this is for a newcomer. Sitting in the front pew should not be someone’s penance for being late.
  • After the first service, make a point of greeting, including inviting. You can invite people to the gym for coffee and conversation. After the second service you can invite people over to your home or Tim’s.
  • Don’t be afraid of talking to people from other generations. We are an inter-generational church. We need to be crossing the unhealthy dividing lines that can exist in some churches.
  • See yourself as a contributor, not just a consumer. Find ways to contribute in creating an atmosphere of warmth on Sundays. How you treat people may determine whether they ever return to Bethel. More importantly, how you treat people may influence someone on what they think of God. Now that’s a heavy!
  • When you greet new people, introduce them to a few others. Breaking in can be difficult, and our efforts in this area can go a long way in opening up the friendship circles at Bethel.
  • If you see a newcomer with children or youth be sure to inform them of our youth and children’s ministries. Tell them how they can get in touch with Pam or Fred. Both their emails are in the bulletin.

Healthy church families do not just happen. They are the result of people like you and me choosing to embrace healthy attitudes and behaviours. Healthy churches result when God’s Spirit moves among His people in such a way as to make the community of faith- awesome! So be sure to do your part, minus the stares!