Service Schedule

Sundays 

Traditional Service 8:00 am

Sunday School 9:15 am (adult and children's options available)

Contemporary Blend 10:30 am (child care available)

Junior Church (K-5th Grade) 10:30 am

BYM Sr (8th thru 12th grade) - 6:00 pm

 

Wednesdays

Choir Practice 6:30 pm

Prayer Meeting 7:30 pm

Kidz Klub (age 4 thru 4th grade) - 6:30 pm

BYM Jr (5th thru 8th grade) - 6:30 pm

Men's and Ladies' Bible Studies - 6:30 pm

Directions

We are located at 155 Reedsville Road, Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972

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If you need to contact us, please call our office at (570) 739-2241. For office hours, click here.

Wet Cement Theology

 A blog from Jeff Byerly at Bethesda EC Church

The world doesn't need another know-it-all theologian. My goal is simply to search the Scriptures, analyze current theological dicussions, respond to the events of the global, national, and local communities in which I live, and share my life incarnationally in order to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. As I do this please realize that I am wrong from time-to-time and more often than I think. :-) I am also naturally skeptical and often doubt convictions that are held tightly by many others. I invite you to dialogue with me in this same spirit--to explore how Jesus intersects with our world and to keep our sanity as we view this world from his kingdom perspective. 

WHY ARE WE ATTRACTED TO BIGGER?

Posted by Jeff Byerly on Friday, July 5, 2013 @ 3:24 PM

I read a post this week from David Fitch’s blog spot at Reclaiming the Mission that caught my attention. His thoughts resonate with my thoughts about the consumeristic mentality of American Christianity. In his article Why Do American Christians Prefer Big? He describes three bad cultural habits that lead to the thinking that bigger is better. Here is the entire post: http://www.reclaimingthemission.com/?p=3828.

I must confess that I once believed that God wanted me (as a pastor) to grow the church, and that if I was worth my salt as a pastor, my church would consistently increase and I would be regarded as successful only in terms of that growth. Sadly, many people have bought this definition as well, and measure their personal faith and worth in ministry on such factors. Honestly, it’s hard not too (especially as a pastor). Anytime pastors get together in new settings, one will typically ask the other, “So how big is your church?” To which we’ve all learned to grab the highest attendance or membership that we’ve recently seen and throw it out there. Or perhaps, we cushion that number a bit higher. Or we wittingly answer, “Somewhere between 3 and 4,000.” Logically that covers anything from the number 3 and the number 4,000. It sounds impressive, but really 12, 50, 100, 200, 700, or 1,534 are all between “3” and “4,000.”

So, why is that the question that we ask each other? I think it covertly, but intentionally places us in a pecking order. We get measured by our answer. Over the past 22 years, I’ve learned these lessons much too slowly. So here are some things that I’ve learned that are guiding me lately.

Size is not what matters: I think that “buildings, bodies, and bucks” are not the measure of faithful ministry. Nor is it souls saved for heaven. Nor is it anything else other than faithful obedience to God’s leading. In fact, as I’ve been thinking about this, and reading the Gospels, I see Jesus once in a while thinned the herd. In John 6, Jesus presents a difficulty for the Jews that were following him, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” This difficult saying caused many to desert Jesus. What about those lost souls? Wasn’t Jesus trying to build an enormous following and bring everyone in? Apparently not. He even turned to his disciples and asked them, “ Will you desert me too?”

I don’t purposely thin the herd, but after some time I realize that certain followers are not finding what they came to Bethesda to find. They are not “being fed,” or they are asked to do too much, or we aren’t friendly enough, or we are too pushy, or some other thing that doesn’t agree with them. They move on to greener pastures. Or they sit at home. It’s what they are seeking. That’s okay. I’ve stopped asking myself what we’ve done wrong. I’ve stopped wondering what we could have done differently. I’ve stopped trying to adapt to unrealistic expectations or attempts to be all things to all people. In a culture where we can have Cheerios®, Honey Nut Cheerios, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Whole Grain Cheerios, Oat Cluster Crunch Cheerios, and several more variations of this popular cereal, I realize that people are trying to find an option of faith that matches their particular tastes. God is not interested in our attempts to simply accommodate that.

God is working here: Honestly, if I didn’t see God at work in our midst, then I would probably throw in the towel. As our leadership continues to discern the kind of ministry that God desires in our community, we must commit ourselves to follow what God is already doing. Some will come and some will come and go. We have to decide whether we will trust God in a given direction or whether we will dilute God’s objectives for an attempt at gaining control over our outcomes. I think that the latter is where the American Church lives and thrives. It’s competitive out there and we can’t let that up to mere circumstances. We must feed the consumer, and therefore, use the right bait, and keep them on the line.

I love the stories I hear from people in our church body. I see God’s involvement at least weekly. Much of it goes unreported, or it circulates in smaller circles, or it is kept confidential due to levels of spiritual maturity within the body. But God is working – I have no doubts! Sometimes we grow as a result of these situations. However, other times, it doesn’t create numerical growth, but boy is God ever exciting parts of the body.

Accountability must flourish: I wonder if much of mega-church growth is not resistance to higher levels of accountability. I am not saying everyone in mega-churches is unaccountable. I am wondering if it isn’t an easier place to hide out – to check in with God, but not with people. This of course happens in churches of every size; I just think it might be easier to get lost within the larger herds. And that is counter-productive to the kingdom.

The fact is accountability is messy, because life is messy. Relationships are messy. And church should be messy. Again, I wonder if large herd gatherings don’t create an efficient, pristine environment that covers an unaddressed, ugly, soupy mess brewing underneath. Without accountability, many people’s life issues go undetected, are superficially addressed, and even the professionals are not held to appropriate standards (see the Fitch article above).

So what is the answer? I honestly don’t have a simple solution. I am not opposed to the larger gatherings. Nor do I want to deter people from moving on to greener pastures. I just want people to think about these decisions, and understand them for what they may be. I honestly doubt whether we will get past the “pecking order” mentality, or how people measure their own church body. It’s just too much a part of our American culture.

Jeff said...

Posted on Saturday, July 6, 2013 @ 8:53 AM -
Those are my comments. I love Cheerios ... the plain kind :-)

said...

Posted on Saturday, July 6, 2013 @ 12:01 AM -
wait, you didn't compose it.... I still like the fifth paragraph and the insight. :)

said...

Posted on Friday, July 5, 2013 @ 11:44 PM -
I like the fifth paragraph. Thanks for the insight. and the time taken to compose this info.

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