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About Us

 Our Beliefs  Who Is Jesus? 


At Bethlehem, we want everything about us to declare that Jesus Christ is more desirable than all the pleasures of this world.

We urge one another to engage in weekly worship services, connect through small groups, and find places in which to serve one another, our community, and our world. 

Our Mission

We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.


Our desire is your happiness in God, for God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.


Five Discipleship Priorities

Our strategy is that we aim to make disciples whose lives are devoted to five key aspects of obedience to Jesus Christ that can be summed up in these five words: Worship, Belong, Grow, Serve, and Go.

Since God, by his grace, has given us new life to see his glory and know him through faith in Christ, let us devote ourselves to joyfully worship him in all of life, individually and corporately.

Since God has chosen us and united us by faith into one body in Christ, let us devote ourselves to love one another in covenant community.

Since God has given us his Spirit to understand the Scriptures, let us devote ourselves to grow in the grace and knowledge of God, that we might mature in Christlikeness.

Since Christ came to serve and lay down his life for us in love, let us, enabled by his grace, devote ourselves to serving one another in sacrificial love.

Since the Lord Jesus Christ has commissioned us to make disciples, let us, in confident reliance on his enabling presence, devote ourselves as a church to go in compassion to the peoples in our neighborhoods and the nations.

Church Covenant

  1. Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive Jesus Christ as the Lord, Savior, and, supreme Treasure of our lives, and, on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, in the presence of God, angels and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as one body in Christ.
  2. We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love, to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and peace; to promote its spirituality and fruitfulness; to sustain its worship, ordinances, and discipline; to welcome, and test biblically, instruction from the Scriptures by the elders of the church which accords with the Elder Affirmation of Faith, seeking to grow toward biblical unity in the truth; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel through all nations.
  3. We also engage to maintain family and personal devotions; to educate our children in the Christian faith; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment, to avoid all tattling, backbiting and excessive anger; to seek God’s help in abstaining from all drugs, food, drink, and practices which bring unwarranted harm to the body or jeopardize our own or another’s faith.
  4. We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember one another in prayer; to aid one another in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation and mindful of the rules of our Savior to secure it without delay.
  5. We moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will, if possible, unite with a like-minded church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant.
  6. We acknowledge that implicit within this covenant is the consent to be governed by the Relational Commitments* that have been officially adopted by the church and that address peacemaking and reconciliation, accountability and church discipline, marriage and divorce, counseling and confidentiality, and the protection of our children.

—Amended December 14, 2008

Relational Commitments

As of our Annual Meeting on December 14, 2008, the Bethlehem Relational Commitments are now part of our membership expectations and in the constitution and church covenant by reference. (Read John Piper's January 14, 2009, article on the Relational Commitments.)

These commitments are intended to help us define and mutually accept the way that we will relate to one another, especially concerning …

  • peacemaking and reconciliation
  • marriage and divorce
  • protecting children from abuse
  • counseling and confidentiality
  • mutual accountability

Our History

God’s Sustaining Grace Since 1871

Bethlehem Baptist Church was organized in 1871 as the First Swedish Baptist Church of Minneapolis with 22 charter members. During the 1880s, First Swedish Baptist Church bought a building at 8th Street & 13th Avenue, where we’ve been for more than a century. In 1893, bi-monthly services in English were added. It wasn’t until the mid-1930s that the Swedish services were discontinued. By the 1940s, our membership had filled the building.


We expanded our education space in 1955 and built a new sanctuary in 1991. In 2003, the Education for Exultation campaign funded the further expansion of education space.

Multiple Campuses

In September 2002, more than 900 of our members and regular attendees began to worship on Sunday mornings at Northwestern College. Believing that multiple campuses will yield more long-term effectiveness than the centralized enlargement of one Downtown Campus, we eventually embraced the vision of a multi-site church. Then in 2022, the elders, desiring to strengthen the core of Bethlehem, felt led by the Holy Spirit to pursue a transition from one multicampus church to three independent churches, believing this transition would lead to stronger churches, more focused ministry, and greater gospel spreading for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.

Treasuring Christ Together

In 2004, we formalized the Treasuring Christ Together vision. TCT was a multiplying movement of campuses, new churches, and a Global Diaconate (funds and teams to relieve suffering around the world).

By Fall 2005, we opened a permanent North Campus in Mounds View. In September 2006, we also began to hold worship services at a South Site, meeting for five years at Burnsville High School and then moving to Lakeville South High School as more space was needed. In the Fall 2018, we opened a permanent South Campus in Lakeville. On October 16, 2022, the congregation voted to become three separate churches. On December 1, 2022, the South Campus became South Cities Church.

The TCT vision also resulted in 14 church plants (2003–2014).

Missions and Outreach

Over the last century, we’ve been involved in various stages of starting other churches (see a comprehensive list) of Bethlehem’s church plant work since our beginning in 1871. Striving to be a seedbed for missions and outreach, Bethlehem continues to develop and encourage new churches in the United States and in other countries.

Historical Records

The Minnesota Historical Society has a large inventory of our historical documents. View their collection.


We believe God calls us to ...

  • Engage in the local church by coming together to worship him and grow in our understanding and application of his word.
  • Invest in one another’s lives through relationships, care, and support.
  • Serve with the gifts and resources God has provided to strengthen the church, meet needs in our community, and to reach out with gospel hope both near and far.

Our worship services express that we are ...

  • Reformed in our theology. We trust wholly in the sovereign grace of God in and over all things. Learn more about our understanding of the doctrines of grace.
  • Baptistic in our church polity. Under Christ and his word, the congregation is the final authority in church governance with a Council of Elders who oversee and teach the people. We practice and teach believers baptism (by immersion). Denominationally, we are affiliated with Converge, formerly the Baptist General Conference.
  • Charismatic in our affections. We are committed to pursue all the fullness of God with use of his spiritual gifts in the life of the church.

We affirm shared beliefs ...

Who Is Jesus?

One generation after another says good things about Jesus. People seem to want him on their side. It’s been 2,000 years since he walked the earth, but Jesus is still talked about as much as ever.

Cross necklaces and Jesus tattoos abound. Some wear Jesus t-shirts. He’s even admired by people who don’t call themselves Christians.

The Most Famous Person in History

By any sober evaluation, Jesus is the most famous person in history. No one has been more frequently painted, written about, or sung to. No person has affected human history as much as Jesus.

But who is Jesus really? It’s only fair to let him speak for himself. Jesus never wrote his own book, but he taught day after day in public, and several of his friends wrote down much of what he taught. What they recorded is our most reliable account of what Jesus really had to say about himself.

More Than a Teacher

Jesus was a great teacher, no doubt. Everyone seems to agree on that. He’s likely the best teacher who’s ever lived, and many of his sayings are recognized and familiar: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” “Do not judge others, so that you will not be judged.” “Our Father, who art in heaven ...” And the list goes on.

But Jesus didn’t think about himself as just a teacher, and it’s significant that his friends each record him saying these things just once. There is only one thing that Jesus’ friends Matthew, Mark, and Luke record three times each: Jesus’ teaching that he was going to die and then rise again.

So His Death Was Planned?

Matthew’s 16th chapter is the first place we encounter Jesus explicitly talking about his death: “Jesus began to show his disciples that he must . . . be killed, and on the third day be raised” (vv. 21–23).

Then again in the next chapter, Jesus says that he “is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day” (Matthew 17:22–23).

Then a third time—this one in Matthew, chapter 20: Jesus said to his disciples, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem [the city where he was going to be killed]. And the Son of Man [talking about himself] will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over the Gentiles [the non-Jewish Romans] to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day’” (vv. 17-19).

And again, both Mark and Luke also record Jesus clearly teaching about his death and resurrection at least three times each before he died—notably more than he teaches on any other subject! (See Mark 8:31; 9:9, 31; 10:33–34; Luke 9:22, 44, 51–53; 18:31–32.)

Why Did He Die?

The political leaders couldn’t find any real fault in Jesus, so why did they kill him? The ultimate answer is that God wanted it this way and orchestrated the details to bring it about. That’s why Jesus knew it was going to happen.

But why in the world would God want that—and why did Jesus willingly comply? The reason is this: Because humanity as a whole—and every individual human being—has rebelled against God by not living how God, as our Maker, intended. Because of this, we all deserve to be punished forever—that’s the appropriate punishment for belittling a God who deserves infinite respect.

But in his perfect love, God found a way to save rebellious humans—without compromising his perfect standard of justice—by sending Jesus, who was his eternal divine Son, to …

  • share in our humanity
  • live flawlessly in step with God’s intentions
  • die to pay for our rebellion
  • and finally rise again in victory over our damnable failures.

This is what Christians call “the good news” or the gospel. The good news is that there is a way out of the punishment we deserve. And this way out is through both the most famous and also most spiritually attractive person who has ever lived: Jesus—the same Jesus who said that he came to earth “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

So why again did Jesus die? He died so that humans don’t have to spend eternity apart from their Maker but can be brought into a real relationship with him by trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice—and by enjoying him forever.

Getting Connected

Getting connected with Jesus isn’t something you can earn. You can’t do anything to gain his favor and get yourself right with God. The only thing you can do is something that really isn’t doing: Trusting that Jesus and his sacrifice are enough to take care of you.

Would You Like to Hear More?

If you’d like more info on Jesus—and there’s much more to say than can fit on this web page—we’d love for you to check out our church, not because we have all the answers, but because we believe what Jesus’ friends wrote in the Bible is true. And the Bible is where the reliable info comes from.

You could read the Bible for yourself, too. Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John would all be good places to start. Read the Bible online, or we’d love to give you a Bible. Pick one up at the Information Booth at any one of the Bethlehem campuses:

Downtown Campus  Downtown Campus (Minneapolis)
North Campus  North Campus (Mounds View)
South Campus  South Campus (Lakeville/Burnsville – offices)