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. 

OFF THE GRID … THE AMERICAN CHURCH (PART II)

Posted by Jeff Byerly on Friday, September 6, 2013 @ 2:58 PM

As I said last week, I have been discovering some significant issues with our American cultural expectations about how we do church. My recent trip to India continued to reveal some distasteful elements about simple American cultural expectations.

For instance, as I would arrive at each church service, a hollow sounding drum would steadily beat as ten or so people would begin to sing. A song leader would steadily shout out the next line—nothing glorious and no fanfare. Eventually over the next thirty minutes the church would fill up. I mean standing room only. Where did everyone come from? The villages didn’t look that large. But in each case, I bet nearly everyone in each town was packed into those buildings. The first church I sat in had unfinished walls, no windows, and it looked like it was ready for demolition. Yet the people poured in to worship. Something bigger was there than their simple lives—something bigger than the speaker, the music, and the building.

DISTORTION #2: CHURCH AS MOVIE THEATRE

THE ILLUSTRATION: In this distortion, the church is viewed by many as a place to be entertained. People become spectators and do not see church as something beyond the event of music and message combined together in order to speak to one’s own soul. People buy tickets for the matinee and they applaud (or critique) the platform players—the better the skills, the bigger the draw. The more people, the more the leadership applauds the event. More money is focused on the event and the event becomes the entire central focus of the church.

THE LESSON: When the focus of church becomes the “event,” then everything resembling New Testament Christianity fades behind the skills of a great orator and the high-tech effects for sight and sound. We as Americans can become so fixated upon the exaltation of feelings or the depths of thought that are experienced within a compacted segment of one or two hours within our weekly lives. Each weekly event can be critiqued similar to sharing thoughts about the latest movie release at the theatre. The success of a movie is ultimately graded upon the number of butts in the seats, and bucks deposited in the cash drawers of local theaters. We can be guilty of doing the same with the weekly worship service.

I do not decry the abilities of people who can preach, play an instrument, or sing well. We, as speakers, should do our best to be developing our skills. However, when the talk about how good a church is focuses upon the performances of these individuals, it reveals a serious problem. This is not “take up your cross and follow me”, sacrificial, Christ-centered worship that serves the world in Christ’s name. It basically serves only our own creature comforts and passions.

THE BIGGER PROBLEM: We have allowed our spiritual lives to become superficial. Growth in the church is seen as a numerical product of putting butts in the seats and keeping them captivated. The measure of people’s spiritual growth is overshadowed by the larger focus on how many people attended the worship service or the concert, or how many came to Christ through the evangelistic campaign. For some, spirituality is measured by attraction to an event—nothing more. In this model of church, leaders become skilled at “rat race” Christianity. They create the best events to draw the largest crowds. Their places are packed, but they may have simply gathered a crowd—nothing more.

I remember listening to comments from someone about a church that sponsored a rodeo. The church’s name was everywhere. As the story was told, it seemed that the purpose of the rodeo was designed to make sure that people were going to heaven when they die, and then to scoop them up and place them into their church programs. The event was deemed a success because hundreds (or maybe even over a thousand) had come to Christ through the event and the church was working hard to filter these folks into their programs. I don’t know the conclusion to the story, but I doubt the level of kingdom impact was nothing more than the soreness of a few cowboys the following day. Okay, I jest here, but I don't think the impact of this event was that huge.

THE BIGGER SOLUTION: We need to stop the fixation on event-based figures. We need to examine what is underneath the euphoria of following the herd, having our ears tickled, and achieving spiritual highs week in and week out. That’s all a lot of time and effort around something that has little lasting kingdom value. I’m not that impressed when people change their life course at a rodeo event … because I’m pretty sure they know little more about God or the people with whom they now worship. I believe that the key to lasting kingdom value in the church is strongly rooted through relationship-based discipleship. We must attempt to move people from being spectators at an event to becoming participants in the community of faith.

Church should not be viewed as an entertaining event at a church building, but rather a connective relationship between God and his people. Church permeates the real events of life. For instance, I just spent some time with a couple at the hospital as we celebrated the birth of their first son. It was one of the biggest days of their lives EVER, and I had the privilege to join with them in their connection with God and pray his blessing upon their family life. Don’t try to tell me that the preaching and music at any church was better than that event this week. That was an encounter with the Divine, and it was celebrated as such. You just can’t beat how God reveals himself in our lives week in and week out.

Next week, I will examine “The Church As Pharmacy.”

Al Giles said...

Posted on Friday, September 6, 2013 @ 5:46 PM -
Really, really appreciate these thoughts Jeff! I am so steeped in this cultural understanding of church, and am just now beginning to disentangle from it. It's hard!! Thanks for the challenge!!

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