This blog is the combined effort of four senior pastors of different churches. Their desire is to point you toward living a God-centered, gospel-focused, Christian life.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

We Are Expecting – by Pastor Ritch Boerckel

It is that time again! Ten years ago, in 2003, Bethany Baptist Church believed that God was leading us to plant a church in Bartonville. We had not strategically planted another congregation in decades and yet the leadership of BBC became convinced that God would be most glorified as we trusted Him to plant another church through us. What joy to watch God Work! God gave us a little building and a small piece of land. Then God gave us a church-planting pastor in Art Georges.  Then God gave us a bigger piece of land and a school building in which to meet on Sundays. As we walked forward in faith, God kept confirming His pleasure in establishing a new church. Around 100 people from BBC believed that God was calling them to join this new church plant. Today, Living Hope Community Church has over 220 people worshipping Christ each Sunday, and many of those are new believers! BBC would never have been able to have a hand in encouraging or reaching those new people apart from active obedience to God in planting a new church. Five years later in 2008, Bethany again believed that God was directing us to plant a new church. Again, what fun it was to watch God work! This time the Lord directed our focus upon Washington, Illinois.  Though we were in the midst of plans to construct a new church building, we believed that God would not have us delay in planting a new church. God again gave us land. He also supplied two great servants in Daniel Bennett and Ben Davidson to help us plant this new church. God provided a meeting place for this new church in the beautiful and brand new Five Points Center. Again, God kept confirming His pleasure as we stepped forward in faith. Over 275 people from BBC joined hands in this new endeavor. Today, over 600 worship at Bethany Community Church. What sweet joy to see God bless His church.

Each of the first two church planting endeavors began in dependence upon God to guide and to bless the church-planting mission that He gave to us. Without God working, our best efforts will be failures. So I am writing this article to ask that you begin to pray regarding the Bethany Fellowship of Churches next church plant. We are excited to partner with Bethany Community Church and Living Hope Community Church in the Christ-exalting endeavor of planting a new church so that we might proclaim Jesus as Lord and prepare God‘s people for worship now and into eternity!

Currently, we believe that God is leading us to plant a church near the West Bluff neighborhood located close to Bradley University. This church plant would not likely be a ―college church per se, but rather a church that would have a healthy ministry to college students. This church would also position Bethany Fellowship closer to the issues that confront the inner city and allow us a hand in bringing God‘s grace to those issues. At this point, we do not know the answers to many detailed questions that could be asked:  Who will pastor this church? Exactly when would this church be launched? Where would this church meet? What would the worship services look like? We are trusting God to lead us in the discovery of all these important issues. We anticipate in faith that the LORD will lead us to answers to these questions over the next several months. Here is what we DO know:  God is glorified through the planting of healthy churches. God uses such churches to reach new communities in new ways and to transform individuals and whole families! The Great Commission demands we think not only about individual converts, but also about new church plants.

We are zealous to plant a church that is Gospel-driven, missions focused, doctrinally rooted, Christ-centered and Spirit-filled! One practical distinctive that we design for every church plant from the Bethany Fellowship of Churches is a commitment to the expositional preaching of God‘s Word. We believe that God uses the expositional preaching of His Word to mature a church in faith and ministry. His Word is our food! Won‘t you set aside some hours to pray with us about a new church plant? Pray that God will lead us. Pray that God will provide for us! Pray that God will increase our faith! And above all, pray that God will receive glory through us. God will do more than we can ask or think when we are energized to treasure His name and advance His kingdom!

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