Daniel G. Ziegler

            `It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes....It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready...You also must be ready...' Luke 12:37,38,40 (NIV).

            The 1986-87 Conference Year has been designated the Year of Stewardship for the Bible Fellowship Church.

            A steward is a manager. He is an executive who is responsible to use his master's goods and resources carefully in a prudent and efficient manner to accomplish his master's purposes. Two nouns that are appropriate as synonyms for stewards might be facilitators and expediters.

            A facilitator is one who eases the way, makes it possible for right things to begin or proceed. He is one who has the discernment, energy, persistence, and concern to remove obstacles, to `clear the track' and to enable or encourage progress. He helps to propel the enterprise forward. He is a catalyst for wholesome happenings.

            An expediter is one who speeds things up. He is an accelerator; one who has the commitment, drive, vision and faith to `smooth the way', keep the fuel flowing, lubricate the wheels, sometimes put his shoulder against the back of the vehicle and push -- in short, he does all those necessary and helpful things that will get the work accomplished in the shortest possible time.

            For the Bible Fellowship Church, the Church Extension Department and the corps of people who comprise it are her facilitators and expediters of her growth and expansion. We know that we have a `bottom line' accountability to the Lord and the brotherhood. The criteria by which our success as facilitators and expediters may be evaluated are very clear in the Scriptures and are not hard to discern. The questions are: How many people have been made disciples of Jesus Christ? and, How many new churches have we planted? Have we eased the way and sped the processes of disciple-making and church planting?

            The Department is at an all-time high of 16 congregations. These are divided into six churches, five organized missions, two of which are expected to be recognized as churches by this Conference, and five unorganized missions, two of which have begun in 1986.

            The month of September, 1986, was one of the most productive and encouraging of all of the 218 that have elapsed since I was called on to assume to work of directing. The Lord has graciously allowed us to see and enjoy some of the fruit of our facilitating and expediting work.

            On the Lord's Day, September 7, the little flock in Eastern Union County, New Jersey met for the first time to worship together. They met at the home of Pastor Dennis Spinney, without fanfare and public announcement, eleven strong, representing four households. They agreed on a mutual commitment and their intention to continue to worship weekly, recognizing their need to reach others. Please pray for this young, fragile group that they will become strong and growing for the glory of Christ.

            That same day, September 7, 45 people gathered at the Beehive Community Center in Bangor, PA -- the first public Sunday Worship of Cornerstone Bible Fellowship Church in the Slate Belt. This first WIDER HORIZON congregation is a daughter congregation of Grace Church of Nazareth and is forming under care of the elders of Grace. It is not part of the Department, though I have had the privilege of advising and meeting with the group on several occasions. It is interesting that the start of this newest Bible Fellowship Church marked the return of the denomination to Bangor after an absence of 105 years. The original congregation of the Evangelical Mennonites, it antedated the formation of the denomination, perhaps by as much as a century. That church ceased soon after the death of its 75 year old pastor, David Henning, as a result of injuries sustained in a train accident.

            On Saturday, September 13th, five people from the Newark, NJ congregation began an open air ministry on the streets of New Jersey's largest city. Much planning and prayer preceded the meeting in a small park a few blocks from the church building on Randolph Place. Seven teens and older children indicated a desire to know Christ. They are being carefully followed-up with the intention of enrolling them in a series of Bible studies and enfolding them into the Sunday School. These meetings will continue every other Saturday as the weather permits, always in the Clinton Hill area around the church building.

            The church in Camden, DE celebrated its tenth anniversary on Sunday, September 14, with a well planned and beautifully executed day that included Sunday School, worship, dinner, an impressive concert and an afternoon meeting. The 114 year old building was spruced up for the occasion and looked lovely after many hours of `fellowship in labor'. Hundreds of photographs chronicling the church's history were mounted and displayed. Many guests from several other sister churches and from the community made the occasion a banner day.

            September saw the completion of assessments of the missions at Wappingers Falls, NY and Mt. Pocono, PA. Each congregation has ten or more committed families, has elected local elders and shows a vital and wholesome congregational life, clearly identified as conforming to the Faith and Order. Both are commended by the Board of Church Extension for recognition by this Annual Conference and reception into its membership.

            September 28 was the date of the first public worship service of the new Project Beachhead mission in Somers Point, NJ. Sixty two (62) persons gathered at the V.F.W. Building on Bethel Road, about 35 from the shore area. There were also 19 guests present from Bible Fellowship Churches in Mt. Carmel, Coopersburg, Philadelphia (Emmanuel), Finesville, and Newark, NJ. Part of the `game plan' of the Project Beachhead Team has been to hold off public worship till the organizing pastors, Roger L. Reitz, Somers Point and Harold C. Weaber, Mays Landing, believed they could reasonably expect at least 40-50 at that first meeting and nearly that many on a regular basis.

            We hope and pray for more such `banner months' in the near future.

            Permit me to give a few examples of our facilitating work. Through the use of our computer and our bulk mailing system we produced and/or sent out many hundreds of pieces of mailings for the missions in Irvington; Newark, NJ; Eastern Union County, NJ; Somers Point, NJ during the year.

            We keep church planters in touch with their prayer partners by producing and mailing many periodic prayer letters.

            We pave the way for new starts by gathering and analyzing demographic data. Understanding a community is essential to developing sound strategies for reaching it with the Gospel.

            We bring a strong body of experience and data from previous church plantings to our new ones. This helps us avoid errors and mistakes and replicate fruitful approaches and programs.

            A few examples of expediting: Again, by using our computer, we produce press releases and public service radio spots for the new mission. These are done in the preferred format out of earlier experience and they find acceptance by the media and save the church planters many hours of time.

            During the year we purchased a parsonage in Edison, NJ for occupancy by the Dennis Cahill family. The actual purchase was consummated by the Board of Directors, but was sped along by hours of spade work on our part -- shopping for a mortgage, filling in forms, arranging for various inspections, etc., etc. etc.

            I should like especially to recognize the loyalty, persistence and effective ministry of our five senior men, who have served in the Department for an aggregate total of 57 years.

            Tom Phillips is approaching the completion of 16 years with us at Neptune (2 years) and Finesville (14). Under his leadership the Finesville church has grown and solidified. It has fully supported itself now for two years and is nearing `graduation' from the Department.

            Bert Baker has been in Newark for nearly 12 years. During that time, probably over 150 persons have professed faith in Christ through this first predominantly black Bible Fellowship Church, most of whom continue on in the Christian life as credible disciples, many of them still in fellowship with our congregation. In recent weeks the church has taxed the capacity of the building at 30 Randolph Place. It may be time to begin to press the search for larger quarters.

            Jim Wickstead assumed pastoral leadership at Poughquag, NY just about 10 years ago. That work has solidified and grown wholesomely and has maintained a steady and effective outlook and outreach. The congregation is stable and warm and is progressing steadily toward full self support.

            Arthur Frisbie has been with us form some 10 years at Newark, DE. After founding the work, he has served as an active and fully supportive associate pastor, most recently to William Schlonecker. In July the Lord saw fit to take home Brother Frisbie's wife of many years, Florence. Many of us have prayed for God's strength and grace for our brother and he has shown that he has received that grace and strength through believing the great truths of the Gospel.

            The congregation at Newark, DE has continued to grow since its reception into Annual Conference membership last October. The Lord has led one of His own to give a plot of some three acres right at the heart of the south side Newark target area for the church to use as a site for its own building. Plans are in final stage and ready to go out for bids. A fall ground breaking is possible.

            James G. Koch is in his tenth year at Camden, DE. His competent and steady leadership has been a significant factor in the solid growth and development of a good church in the Capital area.

            We also have a quiet new man in the Department, Dennis M. Cahill, who assumed the pastorate of the Edison, NJ mission on July 1. Brother Cahill is a recent graduate of Biblical Theological Seminary and came to us from the pastoral staff of Calvary Bible Church, Phoenixville, PA.

            The Edison congregation has responded well to its first resident pastor. Attendances at both Sunday morning and evening meetings are up 40-50% over the same period a year ago. Brother Cahill is a generator of good ideas. He is also a trained and experienced leader in the Evangelism Explosion outreach program. We look for good things at Edison, where there are many people and great spiritual needs.

            Brother Cahill's wife, Patricia, came to New Jersey at the right time to fill a need in our office for a secretary and administrative assistant. She has already made herself an invaluable part of our staff.

            Attendances at Sunday School and morning worship at Whaley Lake, NY are running exactly 100% ahead of a year ago. Several adults have confessed Christ in baptism during the year. Pastor Robert S. Commerford reports a growing receptivity in the growing target area. The congregation recently voted a budget that will take on some $1,300 more toward the pastor's support and housing costs.

            A significant change of the make-up of the Irvington, NJ mission is the growing commitment on the part of adults, who comprise an increasing proportion of the attenders at worship.

            Under A.L. Seifert's leadership, the Mt. Pocono mission has made significant improvements on the Kirk-in-the-Woods, a truly beautiful and useful home for this lively, responsible congregation. On this past August 24 a record attendance of 100 at worship was realized without special program or promotion.

            The Kutztown church has continued its good life and growth. It has easily supported itself during the year, purchasing a parsonage, increasing its support for denominational ministries, including this one, and recently making a special gift to the Walnutport congregation of $600.00 toward the latter's fuel bill this winter.

            New Fairfield and Wappingers Falls both report recent increases in the number of new visitors. I believe both of these congregations will do well to press on to acquiring property in their communities and planning to construct buildings. This putting down of stakes will enhance credibility in the rather affluent areas in which the churches are forming and growing.

            Walnutport continues to appear a difficult field, though it is a manifestly needy one -- and it is growing. David W. Chappell is a dependable, steady, tireless laborer in the Gospel.

            As part of its response to WIDER HORIZONS, the Cedar Crest Church in Allentown has adopted Walnutport as a daughter congregation. Cedar Crest has offered significant help in programming, staffing the VBS, maintaining and repairing property, etc. This is a wholesome and exciting development.

            The development of Project Beachhead in Atlantic County, NJ has been a highlight of the year. Eight years of giving and prayer culminated in the formation of a team of veteran pastors -- Roger L. Reitz and Harold C. Weaber. These men formally began their ministry in the Shore area on January 1, 1986.

            The early months of the year were spent in demographic research and formulation of strategies and significant goals. Six potential target areas were selected and researched. The team recommended two to the Board, who concurred in the choice of Somers Point-Egg Harbor Township and Mays Landing-Hamilton Township. These mainland suburbs of Atlantic City are both sizable and growing rapidly. Many of the residents are employed in the resort city.

            The Somers Point area is closer to the city and more densely populated, though Egg Harbor has much room for growth. Hamilton Township projects to be one of the fastest growing municipalities in New Jersey between now and the year 2000.

            In the spring the brethren began in earnest to contact people in the target areas -- referral visits, door-to-door cold contacts and home Bible studies. These contacts showed the areas to be both very needy and warmly responsive. People are unusually willing to talk about spiritual matters and their needs.

            One of the finest and most unusual co-operative events in the history of the Bible Fellowship Church was held on Saturday, June 7, 1986 when some 175 persons from 18 of the churches converged on the Shore area to help on Launch Day for Project Beachhead. Fanning out through the two target areas, these workers saturated most of each with announcements and personal invitations to gatherings at public parks -- Kennedy in Somers Point in the afternoon and Gaskill at Mays Landing in early evening - called `Together in the Park'.

            After eating lunch together, the `invaders' became the core group for these gatherings. They were joined by 125-150 persons from each community to enjoy a concert, puppet show, balloon launch and exotic kite demonstration. `Together in the Park' is still eliciting response in the target areas.

            Since each of the target areas is unique and the gifts and personalities of Brothers Reitz and Weaber are different, we may expect that the two churches that form will also differ somewhat in style and make-up. The less populous Mays Landing area has so far been slower to develop. Two fruitful prospects are in view -- an extended family that is large and well known in Mays Landing seems to be responding to God's grace and the Oaks of Weymouth development where the Weabers live, a brand new adult community that projects to grow to some 1,500 people within 3 years, may yield significant strands of response for the new congregation.

            The Beachhead team have had opportunity to minister in a majority of the churches and have encountered strong interest in the Project. The $42,000 launching fund will run out sometime in December. There is a need for substantial designated support for the Project and/or the Weaber and Reitz families to enable them to continue to work at or near full time. Are there facilitators and expediters who will `do their thing' as good stewards to make their fruitful continuation of Project Beachhead a reality?

            We are now about 80% of the way through the first of our fifteen WIDER HORIZONS years. How are we doing? Will we meet our first year goal? Are we seriously, diligently, faithfully, and prayerfully working on our goals and applying ourselves to outreach? Are our new churches and members going to be facilitators and expediters of the WIDER HORIZONS opportunities -- to the glory of God?

            Some more objective assessment awaits the report of the Committee on Statistics. Our 1986 total membership goal is 6,200, which was set before the 1985 membership figure was compiled. We should have needed to have declined by 35 members this year to fall short of that goal. Let's bear in mind the final WIDER HORIZONS goal of 14,293 by the end of the year 2000 and work and pray fervently for it.

            The goal for daughter churches is one for 1986. That one, the Nazareth church's mission in the Slate Belt, is underway, so we are on target. Which church will launch our second WIDER HORIZONS daughter church before the end of 1987?

            The Church Extension Department's new church goal for 1986 is 2. So far neither of these is underway. But we believe that goal is still within reach.

            When I reported last year we thought the Boyertown area might be the target area for a new mission. We did a demographic study and met with representatives of several of the nearby churches to explore possibilities. But that group seemed to sense no clear leading nor evidence great enthusiasm for the prospect. We therefore concluded that the time is not now right for such a project, though it may come around in the future.

            Boyertown has a number of evangelical churches, some quite sizable. In contrast, we became aware of the spiritual needs of Beacon, NY, a city of comparable size (13,000) with little Gospel witness. The city is growing and would appear to be prospectively receptive. The Board of Church Extension has approved Beacon as a future mission site. We are seeking a man to be the organizing pastor of a Beacon mission. He will become part of our Mid-Hudson Team. We shall likely need to seek the Lord to provide at least 1/2 of his support before he can begin the work in Beacon. Are there facilitators and expediters who will be used of the Lord to provide the Gospel for needy Beacon, NY before the end of 1986?

            Ocean County, NJ,along the shore just north of Atlantic County has the largest proportion of senior adults in the Garden State. 22% of that county's residents are 65 and over. One municipality in the county has a senior population of 55%. A mild climate and affordable housing are drawing many more senior adults to the area. Many are moving to the senior adult housing developments. The Board has approved the start or a new mission to these folks in Ocean County. We are seeking a man for this significant work -- a pilot project for us. The position would start out as a part-time one (tent maker). John Vandegriff and the Howell church would provide fellowship support and a teammate. Is there a man who would like to reach older adults for Christ? Are there facilitators and expediters who will provide for his support?

            There are some 20,000 Cambodian refugees living in the city of Philadelphia -- many in great need and neglect. The Board is in process of seeking to form a new mission to reach this Cambodian community for Christ, make disciples among them and plant a Bible Fellowship Church there. We have a committee that is working toward that end as a task force with a young Asian theological student who is in the process of becoming a candidate under the Ministerial Candidate Committee. He is already working among the Cambodians in the Logan section of North Philadelphia. If this new and radically cross-cultural ministry develops into a new mission by the end of the year as we sincerely hope, will there be facilitators and expediters to provide the considerable prayer and financial support that such a project will need?

            During the year we have surveyed areas in Atlantic County and Ocean County, NJ. Philadelphia and Berks Counties, PA and Dutchess County, NY. We are considering a number of other potential target areas for new churches, including Luzerne County, PA. Our survey of Luzerne needs an update.

            A WIDER HORIZONS goal is to double our churches' giving for church extension to enable us to reach toward the goal of 39 new churches through the Department by the year 2000. We have not at all `closed in' on that goal since we last met. Indeed, church giving for church extension declined by some 9% in 1985-86.

            The revised 1986-87 Department budget is divided into two section -- Maintenance and a WIDER HORIZONS Development section.

You will note that we plan to maintain our existing ministries at a cost of $199,000, that is about $2,000 less than we expended in 1985-86. This part will, however, require an increase of $13,000 or 17.6% -- facilitators and expediters, please take note!

            The WIDER HORIZONS Development section of the budget anticipates $53,000 in new designated money, primarily to start three new congregations within the next year. We shall not be able to allocate money needed to maintain existing ministries for new church starts. We look to the great Facilitator and Expediter to provide what for us seems a large sum but is surely not great to the One who owns the earth and all its fullness.

            Robert W. Smock has accepted the invitation of the Board of Church Extension to serve as Associate Director and Co-ordinator for WIDER HORIZONS. He will serve part-time with the consent of the Royersford Church (a significant contribution on its part), primarily in WIDER HORIZONS matters, as a service to the churches. Brother Smock will not receive a salary for this service. But we have budgeted $5,000 for expenses of our WIDER HORIZONS office. We do not believe it would be right to divert money which has been given for church planting to this which will primarily serve the established churches. So we are looking for support designated for this ministry as part of our Development budget.

            Brother Smock is eager to assist and encourage the churches in their pursuit of their WIDER HORIZONS goals. Please call on him for counsel and help.

            Lyle Schaller, who is possibly the most knowledgeable observer of the church in North America today observes, `Today numerically growing churches come in disproportionately large numbers from those congregations that have not yet reached their fifteenth birthday and in disproportionately small number from the churches that have been in existence for several decades'. (Growing Pains, Nashville: Abington Press, 1983, page 19). Is this true of the Bible Fellowship Church?

            Clay Price and Philip Jones made a study of Southern Baptist churches in 1976. They compared churches of less than 100 resident members with those of more than 500 resident members, and among those they compared those which were less than 10 years of age with those which were over 40 years of age. They concluded that `smaller churches are more effective in evangelism than are larger churches'. More specifically, Price and Jones found that `Southern Baptist churches with less than 100 resident members baptized almost two more people per hundred resident members than those churches with more than 500 resident members'. When the age of the congregation is factored in, `the churches under ten years of age with less than 100 resident members are almost three times as effective evangelistically as the churches over forty years of age with more than 500 resident members' (c.f. Charles L. Chaney: Church Planting at the End of the Twentieth Century. Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1982, page 67). Is that true only of Southern Baptist churches? Might it also be true of Bible Fellowship Churches.

            In analyzing its accounts and preparing to do its accounting on computer the Board of Church Extension is working with Melvin R. Rieser, accountant. Mr. Rieser discovered that during the years 1983, 1984 and 1985 the churches and missions of the Church Extension Department (all but two of which are less than 15 years old) added 162 members to their totals. How much growth in total membership did the other forty churches produce in the same three years? Three (3)! In other words, the Church Extension Department is facilitating and expediting the growth of the Bible Fellowship Church. Without it, there would have been zero growth in those three years.

            In 1985 there were membership reports submitted for 13 congregations that did not exist in 1962. These 13 had a total membership of 720. Thus they comprised only 11.5% of the total Bible Fellowship Church membership a year ago. Yet these 13 (9 of which not only did not exist 25 years ago, but even 12 years ago and 3 of which had come into existence within the six preceding years) accounted for 44.7% of all the BFC membership growth in those 25 years. They produced new members for the denomination way out of proportion to their sizes. These young churches, most of them products of the Church Extension Department, are facilitating and expediting the growth of the Bible Fellowship Church admirably.

            Using the Price-Jones criterion for measuring evangelistic effectiveness, how did the young churches of the Church Extension Department do in making disciples? With 295 members, these churches baptized 36 disciples -- that is 1 new disciple per 8 members or 12.2 per 100 members. The rest, the `older' churches, with 5,940 members baptized 300 disciples -- that is 1 new disciple per 20 members or 5.1 per 100 members. According to the Price-Jones criterion, our youngest churches were 2.4 times more effective evangelistically as their older sister congregations. These new congregations are facilitators and expediters of the disciple making process.

            If all of our congregations had been as effective in baptizing and adding members in 1984-85 as were our youngest ones, we would have had 782 baptisms and added 871 members, which would have put us near to our 1990 WIDER HORIZONS membership goal of 7,011.

            This year we have the joy of presenting two new churches for recognition and Annual Conference membership. These two follow two others last year. The four took an average of 5 1/2 years from birth to full formation. Three of the four plan fully to support themselves in 1986-87 and the fourth will receive just $3,600 in designated assistance. The Church Extension Department is facilitating and expediting the formation of new churches and the growth of our denomination.

            And the Department and its young churches are facilitating and expediting the growth of the ministries and agencies of our denomination. Of the past three entering classes at Pinebrook Junior College, the percentage of Bible Fellowship Church students enrolling was:

                        1984                12.5%

                        1985                12.6%

                        1986                 8.6%

            Of that group, the proportion of freshman from congregations in the Church Extension Department, which together make up but 4.7% of the denomination's total membership, was:

                        1984                22%

                        1985                25%

                        1986                25%

            If all of the churches would have enrolled the same number of students per hundred members that these younger churches did, there would have been 147 Bible Fellowship students entering Pinebrook Junior College in those three years rather than the 29 who actually matriculated. What a difference that would have made for our college. The Church Extension Department and its congregations are facilitators and expediters of the ministry and growth of Pinebrook Junior College.

            The Bible Fellowship Weeks at Pinebrook Bible Conference have been one of the most popular and fruitful programs of our denomination in recent memory. Of this year's registrants, 18.7% came from the congregations that are under 25 years of age which comprise only 11.5% of the denomination's membership and 11.4% originated with the churches and missions of the Department which make up a mere 4.7% of the total membership of the B.F.C. The Department and its congregations are boosters and builders of the ministry and growth of Pinebrook in the Poconos.

            In the summer of 1986 the congregations in the Department (with 4.7% of the membership) provided 6.9% of the Bible Fellowship Church affiliated campers at Victory Valley. The `under 25' churches (11.5% of the membership) enrolled 18.1% of the B.F.C. campers. Another ministry of the denomination is being enhanced and abetted by our youngest churches.

            The Church Extension Department provides a `route of entry' into the ministry of the Bible Fellowship Church and thus increases the pool of men for service in the denomination and its churches. All 16 pastoral slots in present Department congregations are filled. When you add the other young churches, most of which started through the impetus of the Department, any church which is looking for a pastor has 23 more men whom it may consider for its pulpit, which certainly enhances its prospect of finding the man with the complex of gifts and abilities most suited to its needs. Fifteen (15) of those 23 young congregations are presently being served by men who were not part of the B.F.C. and probably knew little or nothing of us before entering college. During my 18 years of directing the Department we have recruited and placed 20 men who did not come to the Department from incumbent B.F.C. pastorates. All but three of these continue to be active in the ministry of the Bible Fellowship Church today -- another example of the effective facilitating and expediting work of the Church Extension Department. Were it not for the Department, surely most of these 17 men would not presently be ministering with our denomination.

            Of the last 18 families to become candidates with the Board of Missions, 8 or 44% have come from our young churches (with only 11.5% of the total membership).For us,the missionary recruits come in dispro-portionately large numbers from the younger-smaller congregations.

            The congregation at Wappingers Falls is a prime example of commitment to Bible Fellowship missions. This seven year old congregation just arriving at `churchhood' is in process of sending its second family abroad to the foreign mission field.

            The young Mid-Hudson congregations are making strong commitments for support for the Drapers and the Bullocks -- and they will do more. Those churches have a fine missions conference annually -- plus missionary speakers throughout the year.

            Many of the Department's churches and missions are seeing a great interest in missions on the part of their people. Some are developing the faith promise plan to stimulate missions giving. I predict that soon these vigorous new congregations will outstrip many of their older sister churches in giving to B.F.C. missions, as they are doing in so many areas of denominational life. Facilitators and expediters, they are for sure.

            It is not my motive here to claim or seek credit for our progress in disciple making and the planting of new churches. I do desire to motivate and persuade all within the Bible Fellowship Church to band together for maximum results. Let any and all glory be to God alone, without Whose work of grace nothing enduring will have been accomplished. Human recognition should go to the brave men who shoulder up the difficult church planting task and carry it out with faith and energy and to those dear brothers and sisters who sign on to be committed members of little, despised, `no account' churches and make them into something significant for God. As for us in our office, we just try to stay out of the way and free and help for those church planters and hearty pioneers to work for the Lord to win the lost, build them up in Christ and form vibrant and faithful churches. If we have any positive impact on that process, just hear us say, `We are unworthy servants (facilitators and expediters); we have only done our duty'.

            I suppose every group has some who will choose rather to be obstructers and hinderers than facilitators and expediters. From the vantage point of this reporter obstruction and hinderance are not compatible with faithful stewardship. I'd ask them, why don't you rethink your position and `git on board' for `there's room for many a more'.