It is a new year and a time of great expectations at Bethesda Church in Hinesville. As they transition from 2010 to 2011, Pastor Tim Byler and the Bethesda Church family anticipate great things.
Byler comes from a long line of preachers. He succeeded his father, Apostle Phillip Byler, as pastor of Bethesda, and said he has seen tremendous growth in the church.
“Our vision for 2011 is transformation. There are times and seasons when people experience great change, from one mindset — or even a way of life — into another. Unlike other life changes, these are drastic enough to “cocoon” people as a caterpillar before it gets its wings,” Byler said.
“The economy, the changes in governmental policies and the very mindset of people have served to be sort of a cocoon, keeping people bound or tied up. There is great stress through the cocoon process and more when it is time to break free of the cocoon,” he said. “People are at the place where it is time to break out, but when they do, they will discover that their perspective is different, their values are different and their priorities are different.
“Our vision is to help people define those perspectives, values and priorities in their own lives in a way that will move them further toward fulfilling the purpose God has for their life,” Byler said.
In 2011, the pastor said he wants to lead others to greater relationships with Christ and to success in the lives that God has given them.
“We will challenge people to evaluate their lifestyles, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We will encourage them to prioritize their lives in a way that is not simply pleasing to God, but productive,” he said. “We will continue to labor to strengthen our community. We believe that one of our mandates is to encourage and strengthen our community at large — its citizens, its government, its schools, its businesses, everything.”
Byler said too many people speak negatively about our community.
“At best, they see the glass as half-full. When you view life that way, you become part of the problem rather than the solution. One of our goals is to teach people how to recognize the blessing of the community they are in — to learn to love their field, for there is great treasure in it. When you love and respect your field (your community), you take greater care and effort to promote its growth and success.”
As part of Bethesda’s continuing outreach and spiritual growth, the church implemented Celebrate Recovery last year. This nationally acclaimed recovery program deals with everything from substance abuse to emotional and physical trauma.
“It also has touched a number of people who realized that they were fighting bitterness, anger, depression and other negative emotions,” Byler said. “Another ministry we offer is Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey. In the last year, we ran two 13-week sessions. Within the timeframe of those sessions, we helped 38 families eliminate a combined total of more than $120,000 in debt.
“The economy has challenged everyone — physically, emotionally and spiritually. I think every church has felt the financial challenge in their own operating budget, but worse, the families in those churches have been faced with economic hardship,” he said.
Bethesda Church is on the move.
“Our numbers are up. People are coming out and they are excited. There are a number of really good things that are happening here and people are participating. The consistent feedback we are receiving is that when people come here, they discover a sense of family and belonging,” the pastor said.
According to Byler, in 2011 the church will conduct annual leadership training.
“There are some events scheduled, including a leadership conference with a speaker who plays a major role not only in church leadership, but also in the marketplace. Additionally, we will be training people for missions work and taking a team of about 40 to the Dominican Republic later this year,” he said.
“If anyone is looking for a place to break out of their past and discover their purpose, Bethesda is a place where you can find that,” Byler said.
Byler’s wife, Dr. Cindy Byler, serves as director of counseling at Bethesda. They have four children.