March 1st, 2017

Dear Members and Friends,

A few days ago the Equipping Team wrote to you about a visioning process we as a congregation will undertake this fall. That letter shared the history behind the decision to focus our vision along with a discipleship model the Team recommended we use. It's based on the book Shift: Three Big Moves for the 21st Century Church by pastor Mark Tidsworth. The Equipping Team also invited you to be in prayer as we begin this new phase in the life of BPC. My job is to share a few more specifics, but first some things need to be said.

Many of you may have taken part in discernment processes before—at work, in school, or in other churches. They may have involved gatherings where a lot was said but nothing of lasting value was accomplished. If so you may be thinking, "Great, another big waste of time. No thank you." Having gone through some of that myself, I understand that response. But a "been there/done that/no thanks" response is only valid if the following is true:

  • God has played no role in the life of BPC up to this point
  • God is not present or at work at BPC now
  • BPC has no calling to serve Christ in Blacksburg and beyond
  • Fellow church members and friends are not committed to BPC ministries

As far as I'm concerned, none of the above is true. Unlike many of our sister congregations today, BPC's pews are filled with people of all ages, and the nursery is busy.  The budget is stable and the level of commitment to ministry here is high. Why? Because BPC seeks to make disciples, not church members, Several years ago we committed to being a "sailboat" church, trusting God to fill our sails and set our course, no matter how surprising. The Shift process is another tool in trusting God to lead us.

What's involved?

  • During Lent I will preach about what it means for BPC to be a missional church, a hot button word that means partnering with God take on God's goals, not our own.
  • In the spring we plan to hold a Saturday retreat for all who want to attend, led by a Shift trainer who will share more about what it takes to be God's missional people in the 21st century.
  • Over the summer the Equipping Team will recruit and train small group leaders in the Shift pattern of discipleship
  • Small groups on Shift discipleship will meet this fall, some on Sunday mornings and others on Wednesday nights. Our future focus for ministry will arise from the work of these small groups.

I pray that you will begin now to think about taking part in Shift, trusting that God wants your voice to be heard as BPC defines its vision. More importantly, I hope you will decide to let God engage your heart in a process of deepening discipleship.


Peace, Catherine

Scripture Readings: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11.

The prayer list can be found here.