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. 

MEASURING SUCCESS: WHAT STATS CAN’T TELL YOU

Posted by Jeff Byerly on Friday, October 18, 2013 @ 3:03 PM

I was recently in a conversation with some friends that referenced a blog from one of my favorite places to visit – the site of David Fitch, Reclaiming the Mission. As my friend, Brian read from a comment section under the post here: http://www.reclaimingthemission.com/?p=4090, I was reminded of the mistake that many in our churches make, and, I think, that we all find difficult to discern – that of measuring success.

Here are the comments from JR Rozko that sparked these thoughts: “Not at all the same as mega-church (read: communities guided by Christendom-shaped, American Protestant sensibilities). Here, the guiding metrics, by and large, are sheer numerical growth, hands raised/decisions counted, and territorial expansion. I would venture to say that “success” under the ecclesiological paradigm Dave is advocating here can never be quantified – it can only be narrated. This is the logical implication of abandoning a pragmatic framework (what “works”) in favor of a theological one (what is faithful). Faithfulness can’t be counted, it has to be discerned and this requires the presence of a community that is close enough to understand the narrative being told.”

Quite a mouthful, but I love how Rozko simply states that “‘success’ under [this] paradigm … can never be quantified – it can only be narrated.” This tension has become the sore point of many conversations that lead to questions like, “When are we going to see the numbers?” Or, “When are we going to see people in our church?” As if that is the end result.

I would contend that we in the American Church of the last century (probably much longer—I’m not that old) have continually shifted the biblical focus from narrative to statistics. Let’s make no mistake about it. Statistical analysis was probably there when all of us entered the church. It’s the result of a modernistic culture steeped in figures and accounting in order to measure our increasing productivity during the industrial revolution. It was just subtly transferred into the church. And it’s become our primary way to measure how we’re doing!

In his book, The Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church, Reggie McNeal encourages his readers to change the measures for our faithfulness and vitality from attendance, budgets, and programs, and instead to focus our attention on changed lives, community service, and spiritual impact, moving from measuring how we are “doing church” to how we are blessing our communities.

I will tell you that some people cannot see the difference. They will actually say, “Yes, we want to bless our communities so that we can fill our churches, and then we won’t have money shortfalls, and we can increase the budget, and count more heads inside our building.” This subtle shift lands us into the old paradigm – making the end result about butts in the pews and bucks in the plate again. The end result should be that our church is a blessing to the community. Let’s simply measure how well we do that, without any expectation in return. I know; that’s just not the American way.

Another friend of mine (yes, I have many friends) continually reminds me that we must correctly frame the church within God’s mission. Missiologist Michael Frost says, “God does not have a mission for his church, as much as he has a church for his mission.” This simple understanding properly frames the previous discussion about what we truly believe about the church.

In other words: Does the church exist to participate in God’s kingdom mission, or is the end of our missionary endeavors so that we can populate the church? Just like a telescope, it makes a big difference from which end of the argument you look. One end reduces God’s kingdom to what happens to produce more numbers inside our church buildings/contexts. The other expands God’s kingdom to endeavors that are not typically counted as church activities outside and beyond the church.

The latter model helps our people to realize that they are “sent” into the world, to be light in their communities—at their kids’ soccer games, at the restaurants they frequent, at work, at school, at the local supermarket, and with the cashier at their local coffee shop. Being sent can take on the simple context of coaching your daughter’s soccer team, checking in on an elderly neighbor, or praying for a colleague’s terminally ill family member. It just adds the realization that you represent God’s light in this context. No tracts are needed; no special skills in making invitations—just exposure to God’s grace in their lives, and a readiness to share your story when you are asked to explain your faithfulness to God’s kingdom.

Some of those things I just can’t quantify with numbers, I can only narrate with stories. These kinds of stories become expressions that tell a bigger story of what’s actually happening in the setting of our local churches—that’s light. I’d rather have 12 people living on mission than 3,000 doing the good “church” thing. Stats just don’t always tell the true story.

Chelly M said...

Posted on Saturday, October 19, 2013 @ 6:17 PM -
love this statement: Missiologist Michael Frost says, “God does not have a mission for his church, as much as he has a church for his mission.” I also like Steve's comparison using an apple grove. Thanks for posting/sharing

Steve Svenson said...

Posted on Saturday, October 19, 2013 @ 9:18 AM -
I believe that my mission, our mission is no great mystery. It is to do our Father's will and to glorify God. We are either doing our job or we are not. The outcomes of each are both obvious and unavoidable. Jesus used many parables to help people understand stuff and something just occurred to me. If I am told to plant some apple trees, to water, to fertilize, to protect them. And I'm told that if I do this I will get loads of apples from just a few trees, but instead I choose to plant 100 trees, (you know, figuring I'll get way more apples right?) which now limits my ability and resources to water, feed, protect any more than a few of my trees, and not doing a great job with them either. So now I have an orchard full of trees. Passing by you might say "wow, look at that big old apple orchard" But if you look closer you would see that half of the trees are sick or dying. Some of the trees have fruit on them, but not many are worth eating. So much for MY ideas. Is it really that hard to just follow directions? Is it really that so far-fetched an idea to just do as we are told and to stand back and watch as God does what he has promised he would do? And then to give HIM the glory instead of patting ourselves on the back!

Tim Seiger said...

Posted on Friday, October 18, 2013 @ 4:25 PM -
Amen and Amen. The push back continues to be that faithfulness vs. numbers is simply an excuse for "failed" or "failing" ministry. But this blog expands a bit on what you are saying here and why that analysis of numbers being a reflection of success is inadequate http://karinakreminski.blogspot.com.au/?m=1. Thanks Jeff.

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