We are loving our time here studying at Bethel Church. We are learning lots and God is moving in powerful ways. Restoring relationships, healing cancer, equipping believers and revealing his fathers heart. People are travelling here from all over the world, church leaders, worship leaders, politicians, musicians and actors all hoping to experience something of the Kingdom and take it home.
The second most common question I have been asked, after what is unique about Bethel (addressed in 3 parts starting here), is can we transfer it to our situation.
So is it transferable?
The simple answer is yes, everything is transferable. The more complex answer is it depends! The core values at Bethel are all from the same bible we all have and God is the same the world over! The teaching here is nothing new. There is some revelation and emphasis that is fairly fresh making it feel like a new movement. In reality the team here at Bethel are pulling on a wealth of christian heritage and revival history.
It is also important to realise that the environment Bethel has developed has been built up over the course of 15 years or more, through much experimentation and learning. While I believe it currently presents a really strong example of how to sustain and steward a supernatural environment, the staff themselves will be the first to admit they still have lots to learn. For this reason, I wish there was a better name to describe the environment other than “Bethel culture”. The important thing in all this is to apply truth from the bible to our lives and not simply replicate another churches setup. There is no cookie cutter approach to church or relationship with God, no magic steps or simple 3 step plan. God cannot be boiled down to a formulae.
The culture, teaching and transformation seen here are definitely transferable but the real question is how can we transfer it and should we even want to?
Firstly it is my belief that there is a lot of good happening here. The values here are producing a great fruit. Healthy relationships and a body of people growing in faith and connection with God.
A culture is defined by a core set of values, beliefs and rules. Every region of influence presents its own unique culture. So when it comes to applying core kingdom values to any culture you will face unique challenges depending on how the values and beliefs clash with what is already accepted. Every church is influenced by the world around it to varying degrees. It can be tricky to spot. The bible is pretty clear that the principles of the Kingdom are in many ways completely different to the values of our society. Bringing cultural change always causes friction! Also let it be no secret that sustaining a supernatural environment where priority is given to what God wants to do comes at a great cost. It requires an unswerving resolve to remain heaven minded (Col 3:1-2) and the substitution of fear of man with fear of God.
In terms of the cultural challenges between America and the UK, the only real difference I have encountered is some of the language used. The values and structure can be boiled down to biblical principles that apply universally. Bethel is already exporting its values and strategies globally through a network of connections and having much success (www.igloballegacy.org).
The principles can be applied anywhere but the process will almost definitely bring challenge, require much risk, perserverance and the renewing our minds.
Whether you want to apply Bethel’s model for ministry really depends on whether you think the values Bethel stands for hold importance to you. Personally I think they are of huge importance, but then I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t think that!