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 IV)

Posted by Jeff Byerly on Friday, September 27, 2013 @ 3:08 PM

I told you last week how some members of our team in India had trouble finding diet soda. I don’t drink diet soda, so I had no trouble finding my favorite sugary drinks. However, we couldn’t find most of the luxuries to which we were accustomed. I was able to find fresh pineapples and bananas a few steps from our hotel, but I never did find oranges or mangos. Nonetheless, we were limited to what we could obtain, yet the main street was truly a thoroughfare of products and services that would meet the needs of the many villagers of Churchandpur. But no Walmart! There wasn’t one store that had it all.

DISTORTION #4: CHURCH AS WALMART

I think I can almost remember a time in the US when there were plenty of mom-and-pop stores and a few large department stores. But no Walmart! The rise of Walmart and the other big box stores consisted of the ability to sell a variety of products together and provide better prices through wholesaling. If you ran a mom-and-pop store, you decried the arrival of Walmart. Shoppers would now rather travel to the large spacious parking lot on the edge of town than walk a few blocks to get to your centrally located specialty store. Your number of clientele has declined and now you must consider whether your store is viable anymore. Or does that sound more like the competition between our churches today?

THE ILLUSTRATION: In this distortion, the church is viewed by many as an all-in-one commodity of religious goods and services. Churches become markets for consumers who come shopping for spirituality—as many say who come to our church doors, “We’re church shopping!” It’s a cultural phenomenon. People will gather around a young attractive eloquent speaker with a state-of-the-art sound system, plenty of room for people to spectate, vibrant ministries for the kids, and the best musicians in the area. If you can gather all of these, you can fulfill the American dream of Churchianity (a term coined by Reggie McNeal).

The truth is that the consumer-driven church has been around for a while (we call them mega-churches), but it has never become as distasteful as it has become in the last several decades. I am not so much concerned with the idea of a large assembly, as I am about accountability and discipleship. These are issues those of us in smaller churches must evaluate as well. The problem that I see is that the comfort of the large church provides a place for the weak to hide out in droves. (If you belong to a mega-church and this is not an issue, then please share your intentional disciple-making model with other mega-churches please.)

The saddest part of the distortion is when people who remain faithful to their dwindling, local expression of church believe that they are doing something wrong, because the mega-church on their side of town keeps growing. Eugene Peterson (The Message) was interviewed recently about pastoring. Here is what he said, “The one thing I think is at the root of a lot of pastors’ restlessness and dissatisfaction is impatience. They think if they get the right system, the right programs, the right place, the right location, the right demographics, it’ll be a snap. And for some people it is: if you’re a good actor, if you have a big smile, if you are an extrovert. In some ways, a religious crowd is the easiest crowd to gather in the world. Our country’s full of examples of that. But for most, pastoring is a very ordinary way to live. And it is difficult in many ways because your time is not your own, for the most part, and the whole culture is against you. In this consumer culture, people grow up determining what they want to do by what they can consume. And the Christian gospel is just quite the opposite of that. And people don’t know that. And pastors don’t know that when they start out. We’ve got a whole culture that is programmed to please people, telling them what they want.  And if you do that, you might end up with a big church, but you won’t be a pastor.” To read the fuill article, please go here:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/09/27/eugene-peterson-on-pastoring/ (Thanks, Tim Seiger).

THE LESSON: When church focuses on “easy-access” Christianity then we may lose reality for the experience of a delivery system that adapts the Gospel for my tastes. One’s spirituality is nothing more than going to the best meal in town … that’s why so many complain when … wait for it … “they haven’t been fed.” To be a real church (and real pastor), your goal should be to wean babies off of your milky sermons, so that they would feed themselves. That doesn’t happen in the worship service. That happens best in the company of an intentional disciple-making community.

THE BIGGER PROBLEM: We do not understand disciple-making. We have raised a generation (actually a few generations now) of spectators. Church is an event … a one-hour event … an event designed for worshipping God. Yet we want to know what’s in it for me. Since when does worship meet my criteria?

We can idly check out at the door as we check in by punching the time clock of God’s check-off list. We then walk out to the mysteries of the world, the confusion of the media, and the endless search for meaning through it all. And then we wonder why the church looks like the world.

 THE BIGGER SOLUTION: We need to develop intentional disciple-making groups that can help people delve into God’s Word, develop their relationship with God through prayer, and find accountability to live as they say they want to. And then they can go and simply engage others with this beautiful loving lifestyle – an ordinary life, by the way.

Could it be that God does not provide it all for us so that we may find our true hope in him?

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