Good Afternoon Church,
I pray this email finds you well and walking in the light of God’s undeserved grace. What joy fills my heart to be sending you this message as I seek to better inform and encourage you about the upcoming changes to our ministry structure. I hope these letters throughout the next few weeks from your pastor’s heart will further equip you to pray for us and serve with us as we seek to transition through these ministry modifications as smoothly as possible. Therefore, every week I will be seeking to further explain and highlight specifics about a certain aspect of our ministry that is being elevated through these changes. This will no doubt answer some of your questions and provide the needed clarity for dealing with the seeming confusion that is part of any ministry change. So, this week it will be most helpful for me to reiterate the big picture by explaining the biblical perspective along with some specific reasons that are driving these ministry transitions. I hope to accomplish this by clarifying what these changes are not saying, why these changes are needed, how these changes will help us, and when these changes will take place.
The Evaluation and Elevation of Ministry
The Scriptures display and declare the perpetual necessity for the ongoing personal critique and correction of both our lives as Christians and our ministries as a Church. One can see this reality clearly in the ongoing nature of confessing sin where a transgression is recognized and repented of bringing the life back in line with God’s Word. This ongoing reality of perpetual reformation is also a major part of the life and ministry of a healthy Church as she tests all things and only holds to that which is true in order that she might do all things both decently and in order to the glory of God. Therefore, it is normal and necessary that all ministries including the preaching of the Wordand the leadership of the Church be regularly critiqued according to the perfect standards set in the Scriptures and then rightfully corrected where they prove to be clearly deficient. This reality is further heightened as you honestly consider how complacency is one of the greatest dangers both personally for individual believers and corporately as a Church. This happens as we grow comfortable with where we are and blind to where God wants us to be because we cease to biblically critique and humbly correct! May God through His Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit always protect us from the slippery slope of being content with the status quo!
Thus, the elders have been biblically assessing every area of Belcroft Bible Church for almost two years and fully agree that we are actively involved in the revitalization process where we are evaluating all that we do so that we might elevate those areas that are Scripturally deficient. Therefore, the elders are making decisive decisions to follow the clear direction set by God’s Word that will enable us to create a healthy environment within our Church where spiritual growth, generational discipleship, and gospel advance are the sustained results of these changes. I pray the level of our consideration in these matters will be encouraging to you as you grow in your understanding of how long and how deep the elders have been both accessing and praying for our Church in these matters. It is with great humility and eager anticipation that the elders are seeking to shepherd our Church through this process in order that we might grow from being a hurting church to being a healthy Church as we saturate our lives and submit our ministry to the Scriptures.
What These Changes are not Saying!
Now that I have explained the biblical nature and necessity for regular evaluation and elevation of our lives personally and our ministry corporately, it will be most helpful for me to clarify what these changes are not saying. Belcroft Bible Church has been through some difficult times in her history, especially most recently when she was without a pastor for about 4 years. Yet, even during those times, God in His sovereign kindness graciously provided for this Church as He purified this Body for His glory. One of the reasons I was drawn to this Church was this undeniable fact that God was preserving this precious gathering of believers. How did God do that? The answers are as multifaceted as is His providential protection, but one thing for sure it was given in large part through the sacrificial, loving, and personal leadership of the many former elders, deacons, and ministry leaders during those years without a pastor. Therefore, let me be very clear, these changes are not a commentary on the past leadership in any way as Belcroft Bible Church was a totally different Church in that she was actively seeking to be faithful while surviving during that time without senior pastoral leadership. Many aspects of ministry, including ministry mindset, must shift to a minimized focus when you are 4 years actively searching for a shepherding pastor. Thus, I rightfully honor all of those men who faithfully served this Church during that time and praise the Lord for them. However, by God’s undeserved grace we are now at time of revitalization where we are growing once again in every way which demands honest assessment and humble correction according to the standards set in Scripture. May God continue to bless us as we build upon the past while seeking to deepen in biblical faithfulness and broaden our ministry impact through the Word both here in Bowie and beyond!
Why These Changes are Needed?
Apart from the overall ministry mindset and evaluation previously stated, it will be helpful for me to articulate a few specific areas that display the undeniable necessity for ministry changes within our Church. The reality of the nature of this revitalization will demand many changes across our church for many years to come, but these upcoming changes will focus heavily, but not entirely, upon the Children’s Ministry. While the elders recognize there are many reasons for the problems we are addressing through these changes, we are simply expressing the issues as we see them for clarity sake and offering no defenses or excuses at this time. However, let me be very clear, this in no way speaks negatively upon the many faithful leaders and servants who have been sacrificially caring for and passionately ministering to our precious little ones. There have been many faithful nursery workers, Sunday school teachers, and Children’s Church workers over these past years, and the elders recognize that and fully acknowledge and thank them for their faithful service. Yet, the current elders also see and know that it has been due in large part to their lack of understanding and leadership that we find our Church in this place of needed change. Therefore…
- It has become clear to us that Belcroft Bible Church has had inadequate leadership from the elders in providing the Children’s Ministry with the oversight, support, and vision it deserves.
- It has become clear to us that Belcroft Bible Church has had ongoing inconsistency in our Children’s Ministry to provide an excellent environment where the evangelism of our children, the edification of our servants, and the encouragement of our families is at the core of our ministry.
- It has become clear to us that Belcroft Bible Church has had an insufficient amount of regular servants to meet the ongoing demands of Children’s Ministry as it was previously structured. Thus, a number of faithful leaders and servants were regularly unable to attend worship services in light of Children’s Ministry responsibilities and were not being fed or shepherded as required by Scripture.
As elders who have a clear calling from Scripture to shepherd the flock of God, we cannot and will not allow these conditions to continue. Thus, a number of the upcoming changes and the ongoing reforms within our Children’s Ministry will specifically seek to address these problems.
How Will These Changes Help?
While the elders have been proactively evaluating our whole ministry we have also been growing in our commitment to trust, follow, and honor the Word of God above all else. We believe our greatest need as a Church is to be Word centered in all that we say and do both as individual believers and as a family of God. It would be most helpful for all of us to listen to the sermon recently preached entitled The Word Centered Church pt.2 where I declared many of these things from Scripture already and it is good to be reminded of them regularly.
Therefore, all of the changes we are ultimately making both now and in the future are being driven by the Word in order that we might be more faithful in following and proclaiming the Scriptures.
So, the elders want to be clear that any adjustments to our current ministry structure and schedule during this time of Church revitalization have been driven by the elder’s assessment and their subsequent desire (1) to increase access to and exalt the worship service & foundational Biblical preaching, (2) to more intentionally train disciples for service within the Body and further equip them for ministry outside the Church, (3) and to more effectively meet the current needs of our Church families. How will we accomplish these things or how will these changes better enable us to achieve these Scriptural necessities for life and ministry? Here are a few ways…
- We will move closer to accomplishing these things through our hearts and lives being changed by the ministry of the Word as more people consistently hear and follow the Scriptures.
- We will move closer to accomplishing these things through specific, personal, and proactive shepherding by the elders to lead, guide, direct, and disciple both ministry leaders and servants so that they are biblically and rightfully equipped to fulfill the ministry tasks set before them.
- We will move closer to accomplishing these things through purposefully structuring our overall ministry format and our Children’s ministry direction so that children are regularly evangelized, servants are personally encouraged, and families are whole heartedly supported.
What are Some of the Changes and When Will They Begin?
I will spend the next few weeks detailing the specifics surrounding each of these upcoming ministry changes so that we are all on the same page. Moreover, in the next few emails I will be giving you many different ways these upcoming changes have already strengthened and will continue to greatly aide us in our endeavor for Biblical faithfulness. Also, I will be highlighting the many specific opportunities that now stand before you to grow in your walk with Christ through joyfully serving in this Church. However, today I wanted to give you some of the important dates for when these transitions will officially take place along with a cursory explanation.
1. October 4th at 6:30 p.m. we will begin our Wednesday Night Family Ministry: This will be a specific hour each week geared for the whole family where age appropriate and gospel driven evangelism, discipleship, and fellowship come together in multiple ways through this mid-week gathering. The time frame for this weekly ministry will be from 6:30-7:30 p.m. and will periodically involve a fellowship meal for the whole family, further providing ongoing times of sweet interaction as we grow, serve, and love one another together for the sake of the gospel.
2. October 8th will begin the 10:00 a.m. starting time for our Sunday worship service: This is a specific change that will immediately allow us to elevate the Lord’s Day worship service on multiple levels as a primary focal point in our lives and ministry. The elders are very excited about how this change is going to greatly expand the opportunities we have to personally shepherd our Body along with the many ways this will increase times of edification, fellowship, encouragement, and body life assimilation. The overall time frame of our structured Sunday worship service which includes the Children’s Church will remain an hour and half going from 10:00-11:30. However, we also have some wonderful plans already lined out for that “extra free time” we will now have from 11:30-12:00. Be listening for the exciting details that will come with this change and know that Sunday, October 8th will be a very special service so mark your calendars because you will not want to miss it!
3. October 8th will also begin our regular adult Sunday School classes for the fall quarter. The combined Church History Sunday school class will continue until October 8th. I will give more details on the times and the adult classes that will be offered during this fall quarter in weeks to come so be anticipating that.
4. Effective immediately we are pausing our Children’s Ministry and Youth Sunday School programs due to some of the reasons previously stated. We are still offering nursery and Children’s Church during the Worship service time, and the opportunities you have to periodically serve our Belcroft families during that service are great, so I hope you sign up and get involved. Yet, at this time we will no longer be offering nursery through youth Sunday School during that Sunday School hour. We hope and pray as we grow in our ministry leadership, structure, and your ministry involvement that we will be able to restart these wonderful programs for our children and families in the future. However, while that ministry has paused, we are greatly anticipating the start of our new Wednesday Night Family Ministry where we are specifically structuring that night so that we proactively support and serve the whole family, especially the younger ones. I hope you take advantage of this amazing opportunity to serve one another and be encouraged as we grow together as a family of God!
I know this has been a long “Pastor’s Heart” but I felt it was right and good for me to express in written form the mindset along with some specific reasons why these changes are necessary at this time. Starting next week, I will begin highlighting specific aspects of these changes and explaining in greater detail what is coming and how you can sign up to serve so that you can be involved in more specific ways. As always, if you have any questions or desire further explanation please do not hesitate to talk with me or any of the elders. I also hope that the length, content, and tone of this letter further demonstrates the care and love your leadership has for you as we seek to personally encourage you through these exciting times of transition and growth in our Church. God is doing some amazing and wonderful work among the hearts and lives of our people, and I pray that you will not allow some of these changes to distract you from your ultimate purpose of worshipping Him for who He is, what He has said, and what He has done through the gospel. We have much to be thankful for, and may His praise be continually on our lips for He is always worthy of our worship.
For His Glory and Future Generations,