Saturday, March 26, 2011

Elders' Update

Church Family:

One of our desires is to keep everyone in the loop as to what is unfolding at Bethel. One of the ways this happens is through writing regular updates about what the elders and other leadership teams are working on. This update will hopefully serve to help you stay informed and connected. As always, all feedback is welcome. Dialogue makes us all sharper!

  • City
We introduced the vision to the congregation on Sunday, February 6th: “Responding to the heart of God; transforming the heart of the city, the nation and the world.” It is essential that people know this vision and understand how what we are doing ties into the unfolding vision for Bethel Church.

The elders are engaged in the process of identifying key initiatives that will help us flesh out the vision regarding the city focus. We have met with Fred (Youth Director) and Jamie (Family Director) (March 22) to discuss what God is doing in their ministries and hearts regarding this vision. This process of discernment involves prayer and much dialogue with various leaders and attendees of Bethel. There is a lot we could do, but a few things we must do!

Not only are we looking at new initiatives to flesh out the city vision, but we are also examining what we are currently doing with respect to our city focus, which would need to be taken deeper. One example of this is our Bethel House Ministries. Sandy Sheahan and her team will be working on key issues related to expanding this significant ministry. The board is planning on meeting with Sandy and some of her team to discuss vision for the Bethel Houses in May.

Adam Davies and I are currently involved in assessing the role Bethel plays with the ministries located on the Queen’s campus. As a city church, students are part of our focus, and we are currently evaluating how we can more effectively support ministry to students.

Jamie Stinson will be running a drama camp this summer partly as an outreach for kids living downtown. We realize that one of the key ways we will impact the downtown core is serving the growing needs of families.
  • Nation
Fred and Amy have just returned from Detroit where they attended the DayStar conference in preparation for Constance Lake this summer. They took three other team members with them, and continue to do an excellent job in leading and developing this ministry.
  • World
We have raised the bar in attempting to integrate the Bethel Bear Your Brothers’ Burden Banquet into the bigger picture. We have tried to build around BBY by naming March 20-27 International Missions Week. On Sunday March 20th, various people shared regarding missions, youth participated in a 30-hour fast starting on March 25th, raising money for our world focus – Onzole, Ecuador. The week culminated in the banquet on March 26th and the speaker from BBY spoke on Sunday March 27th.

We are looking to do our very own missions trip next May (2012) to Honduras with the Vissers’ ministry. Nothing confirmed yet. We’re just talking and thinking.

REGARDING OUR VALUES... Team, Excellence, Authenticity, Relevance and Solidarity.
Let me update you on two of the values.
  • Team
On Sunday April 3rd we will be having a service entitled Ovation. The purpose of this service is to say thank you to all the volunteers who contribute to the church gathered. Ministry matters, and people need to realize that their efforts are appreciated and tie into a bigger strategy. We will also be talking about the fall and various ministry needs and slots that need filling.

The staff team continue to meet weekly with breakfast together about every 6-8 weeks. We did a day-long retreat back in January and have another one scheduled for May. We have finished reading Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. We are going to start reading One.Life by Scot McKnight, a book which focuses in on living out the Kingdom.

We are always looking for people to join our small group leadership team. We wish to birth more groups to accommodate the demand and growth of this ministry.
  • Excellence
The staff team has also had an initial branding discussion regarding the vision. “Branding” refers to how we promote the vision through media – the bulletin, banners, the website, signage etc. We are not yet particularly excellent in this area.

  • Growing in Intimacy with God
Our primary focus on Sunday mornings (sanctuary) is GG. I will be continuing to teach through Galatians, and we continue to develop our prayer ministry “No Talk Zone”.

Our teaching team continues to develop. Carmen (we all know Carmen) and Meredith Mackenzie are a great help in discussing texts and occasionally assisting in the teaching ministry. As well, Eric Prost and Fred Grendel will be teaching in the month of May.

The Touching Base articles continue to be popular. Some small groups use this tool to launch their discussion around the sermon topic. Others use it as a personal means of reviewing the message.

With respect to a third service, we continue to be faced with the need to create more space. We have not set in motion any plans as of yet for the overflow, although Fred has been a big help in getting us set up. To move ahead some new cameras etc. will need to be purchased. This will require further discussion by the elders as we look at budget issues with the deacons.
  • Growing in intimacy with others
We continue to see a growing interest in small groups. Somewhere between 130 and 150 adults attend small groups. Youth and children have their own small groups. College and University students tend to participate in campus groups. However, there seems to be a growing interest in students participating in Bethel-run groups.

We will be partnering in June with Café Church to run a one-month training course for anyone interested in leading a group at Bethel this fall. Current leaders will be encouraged to attend just to brush up on their facilitation skills. David Skillicorn and I provide leadership in our small group ministry. There is much more we could be doing in our small group ministry. We could establish niche groups for the community that address - parenting, marriage, addictions, finance, etc. We also could do a much better job at leadership development. Future staff hiring would possibly include oversight of community groups.

Bill Duffy continues to do his ministry of visitation enthusiastically. I meet with Bill about every 6-8 weeks to review who he has seen and whether he has any concerns regarding what he is hearing. He continues to relieve me of some of the pastoral work such as taking funerals, visiting shut-ins, hospital visits and touching base with newcomers. He has agreed to stay on for another year. As long as he is healthy he desires to keep at it.

We had a great Newcomers’ lunch back on Feb 27th. We used the Upper Room and had about 10 new families/singles present. Also, the staff and some spouses were present, along with Steve and Donna Dickey, and David and June Skillicorn. This continues to prove to be a great way of integrating new people into Bethel.
  • Growing in Acts of Service
The board has met with Kent and Karen Bandy from Ellel Ministries for discussions regarding their work. Rhonda Kotchapaw has agreed to head up a Prayer Counselling Team that will use Ellel in some of the training of our workers. People serve best on teams when they minister out of a healthy core, and it is our desire to see God bring emotional and spiritual health to the Body.

We will be resurrecting our Ministry Coordination Team. This had been put on hold, but we are once again ready to move ahead with this all-important ministry. MCT brings key leaders together on a quarterly basis for communication, alignment with the vision, prayer and training. It is a key team that helps us implement the vision.

I hope all this ink helps in filling out the picture of what is going on at Bethel. Feel free to contact me to talk.

On behalf of the Elders,

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Touching Base! Part 118

Gentleness – When You Need to Listen to “Hard Things”
Guest posting by Fred Grendel

(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

On Sunday, my Big Idea was “We need to go vertical with God, before going horizontal with each other.” The key verse was Galatians 6:1, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

Now in this Touching Base I’d like to expand on something I didn’t really have time to cover much on Sunday.

Many of us have been there - we sense there is tension between us and a friend, or us and another team member… and then they ask us to go for coffee. We show up at the Starbucks or Tim Horton’s of their choice, nervously order something to drink, and then it happens… before you get a chance to enjoy your cup of coffee, you realize that the person with you is about to say hard things to you: you are going to get rebuked.

In this case the person talking to you thinks that you need to be restored. In the moment, you can pray silently but you really don’t have an opportunity to get totally vertical with God in prayer, so what do you do? Personally, I can be very stubborn, hard-headed and driven as a leader, so this has happened to me several times and this is what the Lord has taught me to do when confronted by another believer:

  • Understand that gentleness has everything to do with humility. In the moment when you are being confronted, silently submit your will to God’s and ask him for strength (Ps. 25:19)
  • Actively listen. Don’t think about your response yet, just sit and listen (Prov. 5:7)
  • Ask clarifying questions, like, “What did you mean by that?” or “Can you give me an example of when this happened?”
  • Test what the person is saying with scripture. Don’t be afraid of silence during the conversation and when there is silence take time to see if what they are rebuking you for lines up with God’s word (1 John 1:4)

It’s okay to tell the person you need to get back to them on the matter. Give them a time or a place in which you will meet again (now you have a chance to get vertical in prayer with your Heavenly Father! (Ps. 86:6))

However, if you’re ready to respond to the rebuke and need to defend yourself, be careful of your tones and do so in gentleness as well (Gal 6:1).

If the person is right, confess your sin to them and admit that you have been wrong, asking for their forgiveness. If you need their help in battling the sin, ask. (James 5:16)

When it appears that the conversation is drawing to a close:

  • Ask the person if there is more. Now the last thing you will want to hear at this moment is “more” rebuke! Remember, however, that it took courage for your brother or sister in Christ to pull you aside, and they may have gotten through the “meat of the matter” and are losing strength to get into more minor details of your behavior which may be important.
  • If you’re thankful for the conversation tell them so (1 Thess. 5:18)
  • Ask the person if you can follow up with them even if all issues have been resolved. Sometimes we need accountability.

But what if things head south? One time when I was being confronted, I was clearly in the wrong. I had hurt the person so badly, and they were so unprepared for the conversation that part-way through it as I began to defend myself on a few matters, they got increasingly upset, and I actually felt threatened. In fact, I feared they were going to punch me in the face! In these situations:

  • Tell the person you feel uncomfortable and you need to leave
  • Do just that! Remove yourself from the place and situation before it gets worse!
  • Take the situation to what I call “stage 2” of Matthew 18. The next time you meet, bring some witnesses with you. Even though you may need to hear what they have to say, the other person clearly needs more help and you need the protection of some other Christ-followers. (Matt 18:15-17)

Have a great week, and if you find yourself in a situation where someone is saying “hard things” to you, remember that you are not alone. Thousands of Christ-followers including myself have been rebuked and restored.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, March 4, 2011

Touching Base! Part 117

K.I.S.S - Galatians 2:1-9

(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

I think we would all agree that most of us have a tendency to take the simple and, at times, make it complicated. On Sunday, I used a clean desk vs. a messy desk and a clean garage vs. a messy garage to help visualize this issue. Think about your own life and how you may have this tendency? Where does it show up? If married, is this one area that makes you and your spouse very different or very much the same?

Our text this past Sunday was Galatians 2:1-9. The issue in Galatians was not garages and desks but the Gospel. There were those Judaizers - messy garage people who were taking the simplicity of the Gospel and making it very complex - messy! Then there was another group - lets call them the clean garage people - who wanted to keep the Gospel simple. The issue at hand was whether Gentiles needed to become Jewish in order to be acceptable to God and essentially follow Christ. The big idea on Sunday that we camped out on was – Keeping The Gospel Simple Is Not So Simple!

Textual Observations - vs. 1-2
On thing I really admire about Paul is that he knows he has a potentially explosive issue on his hands. There is the potential for the church to split into two denominations - Jewish nationalistic (messy garage people) vs. universalistic Christianity (clean garage people). Therefore, Paul handles this potentially explosive issue in a very wise manner. He first goes to the pillars (v.9) of the church privately. He goes to present the simplicity of the Gospel to these pillars. Sometimes how we handle certain situations whether at work, home, church can exacerbate the problem. The bigger problem can become how someone mishandled dealing with the problem. We unfortunately are all too familiar with how tough issues were made tougher because someone did not handle the situation wisely. Notice that in v.1,2 Paul handles this situation privately in a group of 4 or 5. However in v.11 he dealt with Peter face-to-face on a very personal issue - how we handle a problem is as important as the problem itself. Ever had to handle the terrible fall-out of how people mishandled dealing with a complex issue?

Vs. 3-4
Notice that what motivated Paul was keeping the Gospel simple. Essentially, he was guarding the truth of the Gospel (Gal. 1:3) and coming to the defence of the “Tituses” of the world. You see, Barnabas was Jewish but Titus was a Gentile. So guess what? The spies (messy garage guys) wanted to make it a lot harder for the “Titus” converts to follow Jesus. On Sunday I developed the character of Titus. As a group, make some observations about the tension between the spies and Titus.
How was their message different than Paul’s? How could this make Titus feel, potentially?
To help you answer this question- imagine how Titus would feel around these spies who told him that he did not fit in because he ate non-kosher foods, and didn’t respect their ceremonial washing rituals, and did not understand their “Jewishese” (like “Christianese” - referencing lingo that Christians may understand but the outsider may find difficult to grasp).
How might he have felt when they pulled out a scalpel and said - “Oh, and there is one more thing we need to tell you…!” (Check out the new movie- Blade Runner- starring Titus and three masked spies with a very sharp blade!)

Now let’s bring this scenario up to date – 2011:
Do you think there are any “Tituses” today?
Has any new believer ever felt intimidated because they didn’t know the lingo?
Anybody confused regarding what it means to be a Christian because the church has sent out confusing messages?
Anyone outside the church who can barely see the Gospel because there is all this stuff - messy garage?

As a group, talk about some of the stuff that can hinder a person’s sightline to seeing the simplicity of the Gospel. If you were there on Sunday you saw my Dentyne illustration.
On Sunday I talked about-
  • Language - “I’m a Baptist or an Anglican.”
  • Personality Cult - where the name of a leader becomes more prominent than Christ. Note that Paul refused to baptize many people because he wanted to make sure people saw Jesus, not Paul - 1 Cor. 1:12-16, 31
  • Traditions - Regarding world missions - We export our culture and all of our western practices (like Meredith did on Sunday) and it can confuse, distort, i.e. complicate. Some would think Jesus is white, wears a tie and speaks KJV.
  • Wrong Doctrine - we tell people that they have to clean themselves up (or at least we give them that impression) before they can come to God. However, the reason we need the Gospel is because we cannot “clean ourselves up” without God!
  • Offensive Personalities - people who shovel the Gospel vs. live out the Gospel with gentleness and respect. How many have been turned off and confused about the Gospel because of such a personality?
  • ???
Note - I am not saying all these things are wrong but they can become tremendous hindrances to keeping the gospel simple. The world looks on and has a skewed sightline to the Gospel.

What is some other fall-out? The Gospel gets buried, becomes unattractive, Christians get preoccupied with preserving or guarding the wrong things, … ?

Vs. 5-9
What does Paul do? I love v.5 - He guards Titus and the truth of the Gospel. Paul is determined to keep it simple!
Not only does Paul come to the defence of Titus, but the pillars of the church do likewise, and not only for Titus but for everyone who will come to Christ in the years ahead. Note v.9 - they “high five” each other on the K.I.S.S principle.

Here are some takeaways you can discuss and add to.
  1. Be aware of your own tendency to clutter the Gospel. How can I keep it simple? How do I make it complicated? How can we (corporate) keep it simple? How do we (corporate) make it complicated?
  2. Be aware of the “Titus” in your life who may need you to clarify, simplify, and protect from the messy garage people.
  3. Be aware that when you talk to some people about faith issues, what they may be rejecting is not Christ but all the clutter- Try and discern that.
  4. Be aware of presenting a condescending spirit towards those that need the Gospel but may be very different than you are. The spirit of judgment could represent some of the clutter that hinders someone from seeing Jesus. Remember we all need the Gospel because we cannot “clean” up on our own.
  5. What might you add?
Remember to pray for Onzole, our international focus. We want them to embrace the purity of the Gospel.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact