Trailers, and muffins, chairs stacking and speaker wire being unrolled, and carts stuffed with children’s ministry materials shuffling down the halls. These are the sights of Bethany North’s new location at Spartan Gym at the Shoreline Center every Sunday morning. Creating a church service out of a public use gymnasium takes a lot of volunteers who put in a ton of elbow grease. Preparations start every Sunday at 7:30am to get ready for the 9:30 am service time. At 9:30 every Sunday, between 75 and 150 adults gather with up to 70 children. The entire facility is teeming with vibrant life.
In the first 6 months of Bethany North, the core team of Plank Owners (those that set sail with us in September and who work so hard to create this new church) has created an active church in the Shoreline area. Our vision is to connect people as the body of Christ in order to truly serve the needs of North King and South Snohomish Counties as we live out the call to be the aroma of Christ. Every week, new people come in and are welcomed by the strong, rich coffee and a fresh-baked muffin from the Edmonds Bakery as the hospitality team greets them. Inside the gym, Bethany North worship director Ben Koole strums out the first guitar chords and the congregation sings. During the teaching time, Pastor Richard delivers his message via video that is taped-delayed 1 week from his delivery at the Green Lake campus. It is a great church service. But what we’ve learned at Bethany North is that the church service alone isn’t the church. The church is the body of Christ gathering to worship and then heading into the world to display Christ. Every Sunday after the volunteers pray we have a saying that we repeat: “go and be the church.”
In Ephesians Paul writes, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:18-23.
Do you love this? The eyes of our heart enlightened? So that we may know the hope that God has called each of us too? The power for those that believe? Man…its powerful stuff. The fullness of our faith is found in the true life of Jesus Christ, and it is through the church, Christ’s body, that we understand how it all fits together. This is counter-cultural to a fast food spiritual nation that has been dosed a heavy serving in recent decades of a “me and Jesus” attitude that honors self sufficiency above community. The problem with self sufficiency is that at the end of the day, if we rely on ourselves to understand God, we’ll never have a very full understanding. There are no Lone Rangers in the Christian faith. We are all called to connect together as the body of Christ. This inter-dependence and community at the heart of the Christian faith is embodied in the 3 in 1 character of the doctrine of the trinity. At our core, Christians believe that God, made up of Jesus, the Spirit, and Father God, is really just 1 entity. How does this work? 3 things becoming 1? Its a holy mystery for sure, but a mystery that exists within a framework of community. This is what it means to be a follower of Christ- to be connected to others on the same journey.
Through the last 6 months, a beautiful church is emerging at Bethany North. Deep friendships are emerging as people serve together. This is what it means to be the church, living life together in a common goal of making Christ visible in our local communities. If you haven’t had the chance to experience Bethany North, come and “be the church” with us some Sunday. We’d love to have you.