“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones—holy and beloved—compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience; bearing with one another, and…forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you….” Paul writes these words to the Colossians but he repeats similar instructions to each of the churches to which he writes. Caring for one another with compassion and kindness and patiently bearing with one another are “marks” of the Christian church and community. Bethlehem’s mission statement emphasizes the “family of God” as our basic self-definition.
This year, we have four focus statements we are using to follow the Spirit, implementing our mission statement. We are thanking God for our preschool ministry and seeking to strengthen this ministry and our mutual connections. We are looking for ways to send our members out into the community and world. We are seeking opportunities to invite members of our community into our building and our midst. We are looking to strengthen our congregation’s “infrastructure” of small groups and Bible studies.
Bethlehem’s mission statement emphasizes the “family of God”
This last focus especially hears these words of Paul. While we will look at re-establishing our network of “Heart to Heart” groups later this year, we are presently forming an Evangelism Team and an Empathy Team. The Evangelism Team is a very informal group of members that have gathered to simply follow up with those who have visited our worship services, and help connect them with our community.
The Empathy Team will, I hope, be a bit more formal. I see this group gathering volunteers around three goals: visiting members in the hospital or care centers; coming alongside members at difficult times as a listening friend (with less training than a Stephen Minister has); and, providing meals for members at a time of loss (death, job, health, etc.). I am still building the list of volunteers—please look for a sign-up sheet on the “What’s Happening?” board.
I look forward to seeing how the Lord will bless these efforts. Walking alongside one another and sharing with one another’s joys and sorrow can be ways that He builds the family of God here at Bethlehem.
It will increase our…joy in the journey,
Pastor Jeff Shearier