The Mission Continues

At the July 1 Voters’ Meeting, I had the opportunity to share the directions for ministry developed by the Long Range Planning team.  This team was authorized by the Administrative Council a year or two ago to talk about Bethlehem’s mission.  I would like to thank all of  those who served these many months:  Joe Bernard, Douglas Bernhardt, Dena Bindewald, Jim Cullen, Jon Harwood, Jeff Hoffman, Harvard Isaak and Cindy Schmick.

The process involved re-examining our mission statement; gathering community information; gathering ministry ideas from Bethlehem members through the meeting with Dr. Brandt and the cottage meetings and then, discerning directions for ministry that fit our mission statement.  We listened to those past mission statements.  We asked questions:  why was the Community Center built? Why is Bethlehem here?  What is happening in our community around us and how might we connect?

We decided that our current mission was not yet completed.  We let our current mission statement continue to direct our work and planning.

“Building the Family of God…”

Through our Preschool.  The Preschool is our primary interface with our community.  In terms of “connecting people to Jesus,” we get the most “return” on our “investment” through our Preschool.  We can build relationships between our members and the preschool families/students; we can invest in the physical plant; we can work with the staff to “stabilize” the ministry (attract enrollment; guarantee classes, etc.).

Through ministry opportunities that bring community members into our faith community.  While this would include activities sponsored by our Service Team, like Comforts of Home, the Red Cross Blood Drives or the Clothing Give-Away, it could also engage the Discipleship Team to offer “informational classes” on matters of faith and ethics or other appropriate topics.  We could also host events such as concerts, car shows, community meetings that would make Bethlehem known in our community.

Through ministry opportunities that take Bethlehem members out into our community. Again, our Service Team has already begun to take the lead here, offering opportunities like the Backpack Program in conjunction with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish that aids schoolchildren in our area or volunteering at the Oregon Food Bank.  There is a need for some sort of “Outreach Team” or “Evangelism Team” to plan ways we can meet those moving into our area—especially South Hillsboro, but Aloha is seeing a great number of apartments and townhouses being built.  There may be ways to partner with or support the teachers at an area school, for example.

Through ministry opportunities that build our faith community at Bethlehem.  The Discipleship and Relationship Teams would probably carry much of the ideas for ministry forward in this direction.  Our Youth and Children’s Teams would also play a part. Rebuilding the Heart to Heart network of home-based Bible study groups, supporting our seniors (especially) with fellowship opportunities; Rally Day/Church Picnic and Refortoberfest, would be examples of ways to build our spiritual “infrastructure.”

“…through relationship with Jesus Christ.”

This will always be the beginning point as well as the goal of all that we do at Bethlehem.  Our Worship Vision Team, Disicipleship Team, our Elders, our Trustees and our Administrative Council—all our groups and members—are focused on what God through His Word and sacraments is doing for us and through us as the Spirit continues to work and keep us in relationship with Jesus Christ.

These Four Directions will be handed off to the various teams (Worship Vision, Relationship, Discipleship, and, Service as well as Youth) and our boards (Preschool, Trustees and Elders) and the Administrative Council to serve as tools to describe existing ministry activities; and, create, plan and implement new activities.  The implementation of these directions may well be primarily staff-driven, but eventually, with some mentoring, will be member-driven.  Accountability for the implementation of these directions will again be a partnership between staff and leaders within Bethlehem’s community.  Leaders will hold staff accountable and members will hold our leaders accountable through input, volunteering, elections and budget support. Assessment of what’s accomplished will also come through this partnership, discovering what the Lord blesses, discerning the reasons for any failures and the ways to improve existing programs—initially, this will probably be staff-led.

In a way, these directions aren’t new.  There’s something good in that.  There is still work to be done and our Lord continues to call us into the field.  What will make these directions fresh will be the new people the Lord brings into our “family” to work with us; the new tasks He shows us as we walk together; and, the new places He takes us as we follow His lead.

There’s joy in the journey,

Pastor Jeff Shearier


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