Monthly Archives: August 2014

What Do You See?

One of our Leadership Council members made a great observation in a meeting the other day as we talked about Bethany Church’s upcoming annual business meeting. We were weighing the difference between reporting what has happened in the past year versus reporting on what we anticipate for the coming year. He said,

Well, when I drive, I do better looking out the windshield with just an occasional glance in the rear-view mirror, rather than the other way around.”

I think we’d all agree!

Looking forward. We call it vision. It’s what we see, and if we’re going to get anywhere we do better focusing on the road ahead rather than the road behind. But what does this have to do with church? And how can we “see” something that isn’t physically visible?


A vision for our church means we agree upon a picture of what we believe the church can and should look like in the future. But most leaders agree that vision isn’t birthed in committee, it’s a gift of God given to a leader, and shared as a people. At Bethany, we’re stating our vision as follows:

OUR VISION: An international and intergenerational, life-giving body of Christ-followers, worshiping in unity, growing in grace, and loving our neighborhoods in ways that clearly proclaim the good news. Go ahead and read that statement again, and then close your eyes, imagining what that would look like.

Could you see it? Could you see older and younger together, joyfully singing praises? Did you hear the blend of Chinese, English and Spanish, spoken together, out in the neighborhood serving the community in practical ways? Did you see children acting in dramas, and young adults giving testimonies? Did you see what was in the parking lot? Did you see men and women relating to each other in Christian love?

We could spend a lot of time looking back at where we’ve been, some of which has been absolutely amazing! We could spend our time gazing at where we are right now, which is crucial to make sure we don’t miss what God is doing right under our noses.

But if we’re to get any momentum into the future God has for us we need to look straight into God’s future for us. What do you think…can you see it? Are you along for the ride?

Brian Wiebe-Lead Pastor

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Santa Clara, California, boasts California’s Great America theme park and the brand new Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49’ers football team. On the last weekend of July, it also hosted the US Mennonite Brethren convention, Momentum 2014.  1-65-28-C2014 department page slide

At the convention, I heard many great stories about the good work that our God is doing through our churches, mission agencies, and schools. We also voted on an historic change to our confession of faith as a revised Article 13 on Love, Peacemaking and Reconciliation was presented. (See the Christian Leader online for details).

It would seem from the school initiatives, missions work and church planting that our larger MB family has lots of momentum. Yet we were reminded that there is plenty to do. Our speaker, Ed Stetzer, reminded us that our momentum is fine as long we are on God’s mission and not just doing our own thing. God has provided us a mission and He calls us to join Him in what He is doing. He compared being on mission to traveling together on a superhighway, picking up people as we go and inviting them to join us. Unfortunately, some congregations slow down or stop and form little cul-de-sacs just off the highway, never again getting back on the road anddoing God’s mission. This picture frames a most memorable quote from Ed Stetzer:

        “Don’t let your church become a cul-de-sac on the Great Commission Superhighway.”

Ed’s warning was clear to me. God has sent us out on His mission and we cannot slow down or rest as long as there are people who have not yet connected with God. The good news is that this is an imperative we can work at without fear of failure. It is God’s mission we are working at and God’s mission will not fail. It is God who sends us with his message to all people empowered by the Holy Spirit (another Stetzerism). We have a mission to share the same good news that has changed and shaped our lives and there are people who do want to know this news and our God.

Since Bethany is a unique expression of God’s church, we will speak of fulfilling the mission in a unique way. Our mission is no different than any of the churches in our neighborhood or larger MB family. We may find ways of fulfilling the mission that are unique to who we are. Where we are in danger of becoming a cul-de-sac is when we sloganize the purpose and forget to move out and do it.

Brothers and sisters, let us be listening to the Spirit of God and our leaders as they help move us along the Great Commission Superhighway. Let’s pray with confidence that none of Christ’s people or His churches want anything to do with cul-de-sac life where no one turns in or stops by. We are on a mission – God’s mission. It’s good to be on the highway and picking up people who are seeking God along the way.

Mike Spinelli-Guest Writer

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