Update from July 26 All-Church Quarterly Strategy Meeting

Members voted to approve Bethlehem’s 20/20 Vision and make the transition to campus-specific preaching with related job description changes for Pastors Jason Meyer, Ken Currie, Steven Lee, and Dave Zuleger. Read more.

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20/20 Vision is all about shepherding oversight.

It is a prayerful aspiration to see our people more clearly, speak to them more specifically, and lead them more effectively.  

Intro With the Lead Pastors

Hear from Pastors Ken Currie, Jason Meyer, Dave Zuleger, and Steven Lee on these topics ...

  • [01:16] What is the 20/20 Vision?
  • [05:26] Why do Pastors Steven and Dave feel excited about the 20/20 Vision, specifically regular campus-specific preaching? How is it going to work to add the responsibility of preaching to an already-big job?
    [06:18] Pastor Dave responds
    [09:49] Pastor Steven responds
  • [14:33] Why would Pastor Jason step down from a role with greater responsibility to focus on one campus?
  • [17:16] How does Pastor Ken feel about moving into a facilitating role and away from Downtown Campus pastoral ministry?
  • [25:37] Why are the other three pastors excited about Pastor Ken’s new role?
  • [32:22] Pastor Jason summarizes and points to other 20/20 Vision resources.

Timeline & Next Steps

Bethlehem’s Council of Elders and congregation have been considering the 20/20 Vision since Fall 2019. See an overview of this timeline (PDF) with links to various communications and resources related to these discussions.

The elders invite the congregation to review the information on this webpage, pray with us, and share feedback. Members will meet at the July 26 All-Church Quarterly Strategy Meeting (with gatherings at all campuses on Sunday, July 26, at 5pm, for one digitally-connected meeting) to prayerfully discuss and vote on the job description changes for Pastors Ken, Jason, Steven, and Dave. 

On July 26, members will be presented with two motions and votes (appearing on separate ballots) concerning the 20/20 Vision so that they can vote on the structural changes as a whole and then on the individual job description changes.

The wording on the ballots will appear as follows:

  1. Approve 20/20 Vision Structure [Yes/No]
  2. Approve proposed job description changes associated with 20/20 Vision:
    • Ken Currie as Pastor for Strategic Implementation [Yes/No]
    • Steven Lee as Pastor for Preaching and Vision, North [Yes/No]
    • Jason Meyer as Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Downtown [Yes/No]
    • Dave Zuleger as Pastor for Preaching and Vision, South [Yes/No]

Overview

The Council of Elders compiled the “20/20 Vision” document  in December 2019 to share the context of the vision and to call the congregation to prayer and interaction.

See the overview of this document below or view the PDF. (Please note that the December 2019 document contains a few dated references to Pastor Jason’s sabbatical and the timeline for the 20/20 Vision implementation. These dates have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For updates, see the content in the Overview below and the FAQ on this webpage.)

Elders' Proposal

The following statement was shared with the congregation during the sermon on November 17, 2019, and represents the core changes proposed by the Bethlehem elders: 

In light of God’s many graces and our desire to strengthen the core at Bethlehem, the elders are asking the congregation to pray with us for the future structure and organization of Bethlehem. In particular, we are considering a transition to regular live campus specific preaching and campus specific QSMs. This means that the campus pastors would be mainly responsible for the preaching at each campus and that most strategy meetings would be decentralized from the downtown location and instead held at each specific campus location.

We recognize this would be a significant change for the church, and if made, there will be implications for our congregation, pastoral staff, and ministries. Therefore, we earnestly desire to hear the thoughts and reflections of the congregation in this process, inviting you to pray with us for God's direction.

We believe that campus-specific, live preaching that comes from campus leadership is the next step in “Strengthening the Core,” based on our biblical convictions (see page 2). Additionally, we believe that campus-specific strategy meetings will better facilitate congregational involvement at each campus. 

These potential transitions do not presume upon other future changes, but we do recognize that these changes raise questions about the future structure and organization of Bethlehem. The elders have commissioned a subcommittee comprised of the organizational elders to work together on examining the possible long-term structure of Bethlehem Baptist Church. 

Organizational elders include the Leadership team, the chair (Kurt Elting-Ballard) and vice-chair (Tim Johnson) of the Council of Elders, and several representative non-staff elders from each campus. The Leadership team includes Jason Meyer, Pastor for Preaching & Vision; Ken Currie, Lead Pastor for Downtown and Strategic Implementation; Steven Lee, Lead Pastor, North; Dave Zuleger, Lead Pastor, South; Kenny Stokes, Pastor for Church Planting; Jon Grano, Lead Pastor for Operations; Tom Steller, Pastor for Leadership Development; and Chuck Steddom, Pastor for Worship & Ministry Development, South

We believe that in our Fill These Cities: 25 x ’25 vision, this next step best addresses how to strengthen the core. We do not have foregone conclusions about the future in the next five or 10 years.

The elders are very thankful for all of the engagement, questions, ideas, and conversations from the membership. This engagement has shaped our thinking, clarified our thinking, and helped us understand how to shepherd more faithfully during these proposed changes. 

Because of this engagement, the elders want to get this document to you so that you can understand our biblical convictions and excitement to move in this direction. We believe you will continue to help us as we seek the Lord together. Please continue to engage with us on these matters. We are thankful for you and need you to walk through this process with us. We are eager to listen.

Biblical Convictions Guiding the Elders

Our vision for these changes is a shepherding vision. We’re referring to this as our “20/20 Vision” because we’re talking about these changes beginning to take place in 2020, and we believe that they are primarily related to sight, namely, shepherding oversight. We want to see our people more clearly, speak to them more specifically, and lead them more effectively.

The 20/20 Vision is part of our 10-year 25 x ’25 vision. The Lord gave us a renewed passion for church planting and unengaged people groups, but he also gave us a renewed passion for shepherding the flock. In a sense, strengthening the core has become a quest to become better shepherds. In other words, as the elders sought the Lord for how to strengthen the core, he has graciously shaped our vision with biblical texts about shepherding the flock. These texts excite us in a renewed way—not as things we have never done, but as things we can grow into more and more. We are talking about moving further in and further up into the realities of these texts.

Two of the most formative texts for us have been 1 Peter 5 and Hebrews 13. First Peter 5 calls us to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you” (1 Peter 5:2). And Hebrews 13 reminds us that the elders are “keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account” (Hebrews 13:17).

The last several years have given rise to a greater passion for shepherding and congregational care. One of the key truths that has fueled this passion is the fundamental truth that the flock belongs to God, not us. The flock is the “flock of God” (1 Peter 5:2). Undershepherds have a distinct calling. We are stewards, not owners. We are servants, not masters. The flock does not belong to undershepherds but to the chief Shepherd. Therefore, the chief Shepherd will be the judge of the undershepherds (1 Peter 5:4).

A greater passion for shepherding also flows from the specificity of shepherding. We have taken seriously the fact that the flock we are called to shepherd is the flock “that is among you” (1 Peter 5:2). Nearness to the flock and accessibility to the flock are crucial aspects of shepherding. A shepherd exercises oversight as an overseer—which means “keeping watch over your souls” (Hebrews 13:17). To keep watch over people is almost impossible without knowing them and being near them.

Hebrews 13:17 also adds the sobering and almost haunting truth that one day every undershepherd will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for the flock under his oversight. This verse forces us to take an eternal perspective on shepherding. Sometimes pastoral ministry feels defined by the daily pressures of running programs and keeping up with the tyranny of the urgent. But being a shepherd is not primarily about managing programs or events. The pressing needs of the present must always be put into the eternal perspective of the judgment to come.

We have already made great strides in these areas as we have focused on meaningful membership. We spend significant time in congregational elder meetings highlighting specific shepherding cases. We also devote a considerable amount of time to knowing the flock and praying for the flock by name. Why do we think that more regular campus-specific preaching will strengthen these shepherding gains? 

Preaching is part of shepherding. In fact, Hebrews 13:17 gets to the heart of the very design of preaching. One of the central aims of preaching is to prepare people for the Final Judgment. Therefore, preaching is part of shepherding in that it is a key part of the final account we will give for how we have shepherded the souls entrusted to us—live campus-specific preaching can really shine here. Preaching should be particular and specific in pointing out specific errors and dangers. Video preaching becomes challenging on this point because each campus has a campus identity with specific strengths and challenges/weaknesses/problems. Campuses face different struggles and thus need specific instruction and specific warnings. 

Preaching is also shepherding in terms of leading the flock. Preaching should not merely make an impact on the hearers in general, it should lead them somewhere. Shepherds want to guide the flock into particular pastures, and casting vision for these areas becomes challenging when the Welcome announcements are the primary means of encouraging people to attend a given teaching or training event. Therefore, the connection between the pulpit and the ministries of the campus can tend to feel disconnected. The congregational elders have a nuanced discipleship plan for the flock and sometimes will have a burden for specific initiatives. For example, the South Campus has focused recently on the gifts of the Spirit, while the North Campus has given time and attention to a Befriending initiative and a Counseling One Another initiative. Both campuses have experienced the benefits of using campus-specific preaching opportunities to cast vision for these initiatives.

Past: Where Have We Been?

The following is an excerpt from Pastor John’s sermon on “Bethlehem’s Antioch Moment,” preached on April 9, 2011.

Bethlehem will be 140 years old this summer. She started as an ethnic church plant out of First Baptist Church on the other side of downtown and became the First Swedish Baptist Church of Minneapolis in 1871. Ulysses Grant was President of the United States. The Civil War had been over for five years. Minnesota was a 13-year-old state.

There were 23 charter members, and they gathered in a circle and took hands on June 24, 1871, for their first prayer gathering as a church. Imagine how many Antioch moments a 140-year-old church has faced.

  • The Antioch moment when the church burned down in 1875. Would the infant church survive?
  • The Antioch moment of the1890s when we had to decide whether to be a church for the nations, or only the neighborhoods. The die was cast for a hundred years: We sent out Ola & Minnie Hanson as missionaries to Burma [Myanmar].
  • The Antioch moment in the 1930s when we had to decide whether to keep speaking Swedish only—for the immigrants—or to make the painful transition to speak English.
  • The Antioch moment of the 1960s when that idyllic neighborhood downtown was shattered by the construction of two massive freeways intersecting less than a hundred feet from the sanctuary. Do we stay or do we go to the suburbs?
  • The Antioch moment of the late 1980s with three morning services and one evening service for five years. Should we build a new sanctuary or not? We did. It's twenty years old this summer.
  • The Antioch moment of 1990. Shall we be governed by elders or remain a church with only paid pastors and deacons? And a new constitution came into being.
  • The Antioch moment of 2000. Will we remain a doctrinally loose and broad church or will the congregation vote to require her elders to embrace an Elder Affirmation of Faith with Reformed, biblical convictions? I thank God that you did.
  • The Antioch moment of 2004. Will we build a huge new sanctuary downtown or will we plant churches and multiply campuses—that is, will we embrace the Treasuring Christ Together vision of multiple campuses, church planting, and caring for the poorest of the poor through the Global Diaconate?

And we did. So that today there are three campuses, one downtown, one eight miles north in Mounds View, and one 16 miles south in Burnsville. And we have planted ten churches—five of them in the Twin Cities, and one in Charlotte, Raleigh, Memphis, San Diego, and Little Rock.

We have experienced many other Antioch moments in the life of Bethlehem, a number of them taking place in recent years. Consider some of the following:

  • The Antioch moment in 2009 when The Bethlehem Institute (our lay ministerial training center) became a fully fledged institution of higher learning: Bethlehem College & Seminary.
  • The Antioch moment on May 20, 2012, where Bethlehem’s members voted overwhelmingly to call Jason Meyer to serve as the Pastor for Preaching & Vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church.
  • The Antioch moment of our Fill These Cities: 25 x ’25 vision to build a 24/7 South Campus facility, plant 25 new churches, engage 25 unengaged people groups by the year 2025, and strengthen the core of Bethlehem. 
  • The Antioch moment on September 24, 2017, when we finally broke ground on the land for the South Campus, and nearly a year later, on September 28, 2018, when we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly completed South Campus building at 20700 Kenrick Avenue in Lakeville.
  • The Antioch moment when the congregation voted to call Steven Lee (April 20, 2017) and Dave Zuleger (July 29, 2018) to serve as Lead pastors of the North and South campuses, respectively.

God has been powerfully, lovingly, and sovereignly leading, guiding, and shepherding his people at Bethlehem for nearly 150 years. For that past grace we give all the praise, honor, and glory to God alone!

Present: Where Are We Now?

4.1 Growing Campus Identity and Ministry

Our mission statement reads as follows: “Bethlehem exists to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.” That mission statement has driven us to multiply and spread to three campuses along I-35 with a vision to make much of Jesus in each of the communities represented. 

Currently, we remain one church in three locations. We are united in vision, doctrine (i.e., the Bethlehem Elder Affirmation of Faith), priorities (DNA booklet), values, and our various all-church commitments (e.g., Global Outreach, Church Planting, Bethlehem College & Seminary, CityJoy [formerly Bethlehem Ministry Initiatives]). Yet, we recognize that the three campuses serve different communities, have developed their own campus identity, and express our shared values differently based on their context. 

The staff has also moved from a primarily department-led model of ministry to a campus team model of ministry, where each campus is able to contextualize its ministry, staffing, and programming to best address the various needs of the congregation and surrounding neighborhoods. This shift to campus teams has led to greater responsiveness, ownership, and ability for the campus elders to shepherd the congregants entrusted to their care. Most ministry and programming is localized and campus specific. 

Even the elders at Bethlehem have adopted this model for their care of the members of Bethlehem. Each set of campus congregational elders has a campus-specific way they know, love, teach, protect, and lead the members at their campuses as they seek to keep a close watch on the people entrusted to their care. 

Therefore, the day-to-day ministry, programming, and personal/systematic shepherding of the flock is all on an increasingly localized, campus-specific trajectory. 

Bringing Pastor Steven and Pastor Dave to the North Campus and South Campus, respectively, to focus on the role of Lead Pastor at their respective campus has only strengthened what we would refer to as the “campus identity.” This campus identity has grown as the pastors take steps to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you” (1 Peter 5:2). 

How will we live out the “one anothers” in the Bible? With those among us. How will we shepherd the people God has called us to as elders? With those among us. Who will we likely reach with the gospel? Those “among us” in our localized neighborhoods who are not yet trusting Jesus or who are not a part of the church. Increasingly, this localized vision of the New Testament is becoming a reality among us. 

4.2 Growing Conviction for Live Preaching

When we look at the New Testament, we find the idea of preaching as something that seems to be a subset of shepherding. In other words, shepherds are those who teach and herald the word of God to the people of God “among them” whom they are called to shepherd. 

We see local pluralities of elders in various places (Acts 14:23, 20:17; Titus 1:5; 1 Peter 5:2) that are set apart by the Spirit of God to care for the church of God that he purchased by his blood (cf. Acts 20).

Then we see the call to preach within this call to shepherd a people of God “that is among [them]” as Paul exhorts a specific elder in a specific location: 

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.—2 Timothy 4:2

Bethlehem has been well served for a long time by faithful preaching of God’s word. As Bethlehem has grown and the campus-specific identity has increased, the elders have a growing sense of the relationship between exegeting the text and exegeting the people who will receive the Word. As these campus identities and the desire for contextualized ministry and vision occur, the Lead pastors have found it more difficult for one preacher to 1) know the people and 2) cast vision that is contextualized at each campus. 

The absence of regular opportunities to cast this vision in a way that connects intimately with the shepherding of the people has led to a growing sense of the need to move to live, campus-specific preaching sometime in the near future. 

Near Future: Where Might We Go?

5.1 Live, Campus-Specific Preaching

Given these convictions, a fresh vision has emerged for a model of preaching that we believe will help us better shepherd the flock, which we believe aligns with the personal callings of Pastor Jason, Pastor Steven, and Pastor Dave.

Pastor Ken has sensed a call to move away from fulfilling the two pastoral roles of Lead Pastor for Downtown & Strategic Implementation. Both of these roles are weighty and distinct from one another. The elders are recommending that Pastor Ken focus full-time attention on all-church ministries.

Pastor Jason has sensed an increased desire to preach, lead, and shepherd a local congregation of people in partnership with a congregational elder team and staff team to implement contextualized ministry. He’s felt it difficult to contextualize his preaching (especially in application) in a personal way as the campuses have developed stronger identities.

Pastors Steven and Dave feel a sense of call to shepherd the North and South campus people respectively. They love these groups of people deeply. This leads them to embrace a vision for live, campus-specific preaching that is more directly connected to the unique identity, ministry, and discipleship strategies at each of the campuses. They are willing to bear the joyful burden of responsibility for the pulpit ministry at each of their campuses—whether that be preaching themselves or enlisting other leaders to create a preaching team. 

Because of the interrelated leaning toward the New Testament vision and the seemingly aligned personal call to ministry, the elders have a desire to move toward the reality of live, campus-specific preaching, with Jason as the lead pastor Downtown, Steven as the lead pastor North, and Dave as the lead pastor South. The elders feel that this transition may be most natural to make in conjunction with Pastor Jason’s sabbatical (May–July 2020). [Summer 2020 Update: Pastor Jasons sabbatical plans changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.]

In summary, what unites us is the mission we seek to fulfill, the DNA we share, the theology we have grown to love, the deep relationships between people and leaders—but not necessarily the need for one shared preaching voice. 

This proposed transition is not a step away from our vision of Fill These Cities: 25 x ’25, but rather a step toward a more local, contextualized model that will actually help us have a deeper and more clear identity to carry out our mission statement on each campus as parts of the whole. 

In other words, we have a sense that we can live more “on mission” with a clear vision for each of our contexts that will translate to more passion for church planting, continued joy for the unengaged to be reached, and a strengthened core because of a strengthened people. 

5.2 Campus-Specific Strategy Meetings

Along with live, campus-specific preaching, the elders are proposing the idea of campus-specific strategy meetings. This would not rule out having All-Church strategy meetings (and, in fact, we would still need to have the Annual Meeting together). However, it would allow campuses to do campus-specific business, such as appoint officers of the church, admit members, practice church discipline, and approve job descriptions for vocational elders. 

Why this change? Campus-specific strategy meetings ...

  1. Would allow the campus members to fulfill these duties of the church with those among them. Some members have felt an awkwardness when voting on elders or deacons whom they’ve never met or are not likely to meet in the ongoing ministry at another campus. Some have also felt a hesitation to vote on discipline cases concerning people with whom they’re completely uninvolved. It seems more natural and following the pattern of the New Testament to have the members of a local congregation vote on people they know, love, and are invested with. 
  2. Would allow campus leaders to be raised up, interviewed, and voted on by people who know them. 
  3. Would almost certainly lead to more congregational participation. Sunday night QSMs do not see a high attendance of our members. Consider: The average South member attendance at a QSM—on a Sunday night, 5–7pm before the week is getting started, in a location that is a good distance away—usually yields about 30–35 members. So far, the average South Campus “Family Meeting” on a Wednesday night has yielded closer to 160 in attendance. 

Campus-specific strategy meetings seem like another natural step in accord with the already- increasing contextualized ministry, elder care, and possibility of live preaching. 

5.3 Campus Contextualized Approaches to Ministry

While our ministry approach has been covered in other places in some regards, it is worth saying again that Bethlehem is united in its mission, DNA, theology, and deep relationships between the people and leaders. This really matters. However, the reality of these ideals exists in three different locations with three different campus identities. Not a bad thing. We have the opportunity to contextualize ministry in a way that makes sense to a certain people in the family of God at a certain time (e.g., consider Paul’s different ways of ministering to different groups of people in Acts) and different ways to reach unbelievers in the neighborhoods of these different contexts. (See 1 Corinthians 9.) 

Different parts of our theology or DNA may rise to the surface in more prominence in our three different contexts. That does not change the DNA or theology we share, it just might mean the Lord is working in different ways among different contexts. It is the job of the leaders of each campus to give themselves to “prayer and the word” (Acts 6:4) to stay faithful to the theology found in the Elder Affirmation of Faith and to keep all of the priorities active on the campus, while also leaning into the unique graces and opportunities that the Lord may provide in different seasons. 

Instead of seeing this as any kind of comparison or “sibling rivalry,” the campuses should seek to celebrate the shared DNA, theology, and mission, while also celebrating the unique graces God works among each unique context of a specific campus. The deep relationships of the leaders, particularly the lead pastors, must set the tone for a joyful celebration of shared values though unique expressions. 

Again, this is not a step away from our vision of Fill These Cities: 25 x ’25, but rather, we think that this local, contextualized model will actually help us have a deeper and more clear identity to carry out our vision on each campus as parts of the whole. 

Pastors’ Roles

Implementation of the 20/20 Vision calls for adjustments to the roles of our Pastor for Preaching & Vision and the three campus pastors. The changes would also adjust Bethlehem’s organizational structure.

Proposed New Job Descriptions

See the new pastoral job description details below ...

Jason Meyer – Downtown

New Job Title

Pastor for Preaching & Vision, Downtown

Job Highlights

  • Cast Vision for the Downtown Campus
  • Be the Downtown Congregational Care Buckstopper
  • Provide Leadership for the Downtown Pastors and Staff
  • Participate in All-Church Lead Team Responsibilities

Further Details

See the job summary (PDF) or the full job description (PDF).

Steven Lee – North

New Job Title

Pastor for Preaching & Vision, North

Job Highlights

  • Cast Vision for the North Campus
  • Be the North Congregational Care Buckstopper
  • Provide Leadership for the North Pastors and Staff
  • Participate in All-Church Lead Team Responsibilities

Further Details

See the job summary (PDF) or the full job description (PDF).

Dave Zuleger – South

New Job Title

Pastor for Preaching & Vision, South

Job Highlights

  • Cast Vision for the South Campus
  • Be the South Congregational Care Buckstopper
  • Provide Leadership for the South Pastors and Staff
  • Participate in All-Church Lead Team Responsibilities

Further Details

See the job summary (PDF) or the full job description (PDF).

Ken Currie – All-Church

New Job Title

Pastor for Strategic Implementation

Job Highlights

  • Ensure implementation of Bethlehem’s mission and vision as cast by the Council of Elders and expressed in our various documents.
  • Maintain and strengthen the bond that holds Bethlehem and her ministry partners together.
  • Coordinate Bethlehem’s representation to potential partners, churches, and other ministries, and encourage expressions of Bethlehem’s DNA in their vision and theology.
  • Oversee employees working in All-Church ministries.

Further Details

See the job summary (PDF) or the full job description (PDF).

Proposed New Organizational Structure

The proposed changes to these roles will affect the organizational structure of Bethlehem’s elders and staff. For details, see and compare the Proposed Leadership Org Chart (PDF) and the Current Leadership Org Chart (PDF).

Sermons

Introduction to the 20/20 Vision

November 17, 2019
God’s Workers in God’s Field
Jason Meyer

‘20/20 Vision —What Is the Church?’ Series

February 2, 2020
20/20 Vision and Acts 20
Jason Meyer

February 9, 2020
20/20 Vision and Hebrews 13
Jason Meyer

February 16, 2020
Shepherd the Flock of God Among You
Dave Zuleger

February 23, 2020
The Good Shepherd
Steven Lee

March 1, 2020
20/20 Vision and Revelation 2
Jason Meyer

March 8, 2020
20/20 Vision and Matthew 18
Jason Meyer

March 15, 2020
Church Is Not a Spectator Sport
Dave Zuleger

March 22, 2020
Christ, the Church & COVID-19
Steven Lee

March 29, 2020
COVID-19 and Loving your Neighbor
Jason Meyer

FAQ

Below are some of the most common questions that the elders have heard through the Family Meetings, Q&A events, feedback form, and conversations with congregants. 

This information first appeared in the “20/20 Vision” document (PDF) in December 2019. Please note that the original document contains a few dated references to Pastor Jason’s sabbatical and the timeline for the 20/20 Vision implementation. These dates have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For updates, see the content in the Overview and the FAQ (below) on this webpage.

1. Are we changing Bethlehem’s mission, vision, or values?
No. We remain committed to our mission, to our 10-year vision, and to our values as expressed in the DNA booklet. The DNA booklet states, “Our Biblical Essentials and Bethlehem Priorities are a vital part of preserving the unity of our one church on multiple locations.” In addition to our Biblical Essentials and Priorities, we are also united in a singular Elder Affirmation of Faith, one set of Constitution & Bylaws, one elder council, one membership covenant, one mission statement, and one budget (and debt). We are proposing to move away from one Pastor for Preaching & Vision in order to facilitate campus-specific preaching that comes from the localized leadership at the campus.

2. Are the elders proposing that the campuses become separate churches at this time as part of this initiative?
No. 

3. Are the elders considering the possibility of a different long-term structure, including three separate churches, in the future?

  • The council of elders has commissioned the organizational elders to examine the possible long-term structure of Bethlehem Baptist Church.
  • The elders are not starting with predetermined answers. We do not know all the answers right now. Rather, we are operating with two primary questions that we seek to answer:
    1. How can we become the healthiest and most biblical church possible?
    2. How can we most effectively carry out our mission?

Any potential structural changes in the future will flow specifically from our answers to how we become healthier and more biblical and effective in fulfilling our mission. We aim to cultivate greater health at the local church level and steward our many all-church graces at the corporate level (e.g., Global Outreach, Bethlehem College & Seminary, TCT church planting network, CityJoy).

4. If all-church preaching is no longer a main unifying factor for Bethlehem’s campuses, what unifies us?

The main unifying factors are theological, relational, and structural. 

At the theological level, we are unified in the following ways:

  • Common mission statement: “We exist to spread …”
  • Common vision: “Fill These Cities: 25 x ’25" 10-year vision
  • Common values, as expressed in our DNA booklet and enumerated as 10 Biblical Essentials and 14 Ministry Priorities
  • One Elder Affirmation of Faith
  • One Membership Covenant

At the relational level, Bethlehem leaders work together with a high degree of collaboration and camaraderie. For example, the Lead Team is a collaborative meeting that has the campus pastors and other lead pastors from all three campuses. We do not move forward on anything without a significant sense of cross-campus unity. There is a similar collaborative unity between the congregational elders, the organizational elders, and the all-elder council. We also share one common history in the founding of the church.

At the structural level, there are many factors that help unify Bethlehem as one church on three campuses:

  • One legal organizational structure, 501(c)(3) incorporation under Converge
  • One Council of Elders
  • One Annual Budget
  • Shared Financial Partnership (common assets and debt)
  • Shared Ministry Focuses: Bethlehem College & Seminary, Global Outreach, Church Planting, Campus Outreach, and City Joy
  • Shared Central Administrative Support / Operations Department: HR, Finances, Properties, IT, Media, and Communications

It also seems wise to continue shared preaching during various times of the year in order to highlight important all-church priorities as determined by the campus pastors. 

5. If Jason Meyer becomes the Downtown Campus Pastor, who will cast vision for Bethlehem as a whole?
Pastor Jason has operated as a vision caster or articulator, not the vision creator or vision receiver. In other words, he aims to cast vision that is in line with what the elders have already established and discussed. The Lord is the Vision Giver. The elders are called to keep the vision, and the campus elders are called to contextualize the vision on their particular campus. Therefore, Pastor Jason’s role has focused more on articulating this vision, not creating the vision. The proposed change would have Pastor Jason primarily articulating and contextualizing vision for the congregation at the Downtown Campus. Pastors Steven and Dave would be primarily articulating and contextualizing vision for the North Campus and the South Campus. The elders will continue to own and steward the vision and partner with the campus pastors as they cast it. 

6. What is the proposed timeline for making these changes? 

Summer 2020 Update: The elders are still considering the best timeline for these changes. The original timeline provided in the December 2019 document has shifted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More information to come.

7. Does this imply any change to our current debt associated with our South Campus and North Campus? (approximately $6.8M and $1.8M, respectively).
Bethlehem collectively “owns” all debt. There is no “South,” “North,” or “Downtown” debt—only “Bethlehem” debt. Only our partnership in the gospel and the mission of Christ can explain how over the last 17 years the people of Bethlehem have gladly shared in the expense of expansion in Minneapolis, Mounds View, and Lakeville.

8. How will each campus relate to our all-church outreach departments (Global Outreach, Church Planting, Campus Outreach)?
This topic will be addressed in greater detail as part of the planning process for the future of multisite at Bethlehem. As we pursue strengthening the core through regular campus-specific preaching, we believe it is also important to steward our many all-church graces that help to define Bethlehem as not just a church but a movement. We are trusting God that these graces will be strengthened as we move forward through intentional leadership, synergistic partnership, and campus engagement.  

9. Will strengthening each of the campuses decrease our missions/outreach commitment and finances?
The values of gospel outreach to our neighborhoods and the nations will not change, and each campus will seek to continue education, equipping, and engagement in these areas in partnership with the Global and Neighborhood Outreach departments. 

10. Will Bethlehem College & Seminary remain a “church-based” school?
Bethlehem College & Seminary celebrated 10 years of God’s faithfulness toward the school at a special Decennial Convocation on November 1, and it remains committed to being a church-based school. 

11. How will we carry out nuances in ministry philosophy and theological application at the campus level?

  • In 2014, we developed philosophy of ministry documents to define and cultivate standardization and freedom in contextualizing ministry at each campus.
  • Parts of our theology or DNA may rise to the surface in more prominence in our three different contexts. That does not change the DNA or theology we share, it just might mean the Lord is working in different ways among different contexts. It is the job of the leaders of that campus to give themselves to “prayer and the word” (Acts 6:4) to stay faithful to the theology found in the Elder Affirmation of Faith and to keep all of the priorities active on the campus, while also leaning into the unique graces and opportunities the Lord may provide in different seasons.
  • Instead of seeing this as any kind of comparison or “sibling rivalry,” the campuses should seek to celebrate the shared DNA, theology, and mission, while also celebrating the unique graces God works among each unique context of a specific campus.

12. Should any of our current all-church departments/staff be replicated onto each campus?
That is one of the topics that will be addressed as part of the planning process for the future of multisite at Bethlehem.

 

Downtown Campus

720 13th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55415
Sundays: 9am & 11am

North Campus

5151 Program Ave, Mounds View, Minnesota, 55112
Sundays: 7:30am, 9am & 11am

South Campus

20700 Kenrick Ave, Lakeville, Minnesota, 55044
Sundays: 9am