I have the privilege of not only leading Igniting Hope Ministries with my wife Wendy, but I am also on staff at Bethel Church in Redding, California. Bethel’s influence has exponentially grown in the last twenty years through its worship music, school of supernatural ministry, healings and miracles, and through exporting principles for healthy leadership. Many are moving to Redding to be a part of this church of 10,000 people. Many of my readers either attend Bethel or are influenced by Bethel.
I have noticed from my own experience (we came here in 2008), and through the experiences of others, that it can be challenging to thrive in a megachurch environment. I have had to work through my own issues (ha ha), and I have seen others needing to do so as well as they navigate Bethel life. I have learned a few things through the years that I would love to share with you.
I realize not everyone who is reading this attends Bethel or attends a megachurch. Even so, I believe these five keys will be helpful to you in many situations you find yourself in.
- Know You Are Called There – “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The quality of my life depends on identifying what God has told me. The more I believe He has directed me in promises and direction, then the more I will live. I can put up with a lot of negatives in my life if I have a word. I can overcome a lot of outward non-success if I have a word from the Lord. Regarding Bethel, the more convinced someone is they are to be there, then the more strength and confidence there will be to thrive there.
- Find Your Group of People and Your Assignment – I like to tell people, “Follow your favor. It is leading somewhere bigger than you know.” I have had seasons where I was blinded to the doors open to me because I was frustrated about the doors I wanted open but were not. We can experience Bethel in a healthy way if we note the ministries and people within Bethel where we experience purpose and connection. From that place, we usually will find our unique assignment in Bethel and outside of it.
- Overcome Disappointment That It is Not A Perfect Place – The pattern of most relationships is this: excitement, disappointment, and then either disengagement or growth. There is often a honeymoon period followed by the realization that there are things we wish were different (whether it is being too crowded, a speaker saying something you don’t agree with, a decision made you don’t like, having difficulty building meaningful relationships, etc.). You are not alone if you have feelings of disappointment at Bethel or any other place you feel God has assigned you. Everyone experiences this. There are no perfect churches or leaders. Again, the key is to believe God has called you to be at Bethel.
- Overcome Insecurity and Insignificance – Bethel has many “eagle leaders” in its environment. These different ones set a high standard in lifestyle, boldness, evangelism, excellence, power, joy, and influence. The culture shines a light on the areas of our lives that are non-eagle like. If we are not careful, we can easily give in to feelings of being a failure and being insignificant, which will cause us to walk in insecurity. Also, it is difficult to feel like a big fish in the Bethel “pond” of so many other fish (including some really big spiritual and leadership fish).
- Activate Bethel’s Impartation by Faith – In the mid-’90s, Wendy and I committed ourselves to Bill Johnson, Senior Leader at Bethel. We basically said, “We want to come under your leadership and help move your vision forward in any way we can.” At that time we were pastoring in rural Nevada. When we made this commitment, we experienced a supernatural upgrade in confidence, anointing, and influence. Just as the disciples were given an impartation from Jesus through their commitment to Him, we received something similar. This is the power of impartation resulting from honor and belonging. Whether you live in Redding or not, and you believe Bethel is your spiritual tribe, something powerful happens when you commit to move its vision forward and receive its impartation by faith.
God has many great movements around the world, of which Bethel is one. The Lord also has tremendous non-megachurch ministries in every nation. Bethel’s heart is to be a strength to every person and leader in the church sphere and the other spheres of society. We not only love our Redding Bethel family but we also love our non-Redding Bethel family around the globe (who I have the privilege to see many of because of my travel). Wherever you live, I trust this blog has been a strength to you.
For deeper insights on these five keys, please listen to my podcast here.
And, for insights on the culture at Bethel, we recommend Dann Farrely’s book Kingdom Culture.
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.