God at work: Growing His Church in Rural America

Kathy Weckwerth

Pastor Bethel Church-Kerkhoven, MN & founder of Best Life Ministries

  • Church strengthening

2020 had challenges, discouragement, and change. But God works faithfully amidst the troubles and trials to bring us growth and to bring Himself glory.

When COVID-19 appeared last year, we followed other area churches and closed our doors for several weeks. But the needs of people did not subside just because the ministry did. Instead, we saw that people were facing significant loss and struggled without the stability of church life.

They battled the loss of jobs, sickness, fear, defeat, and even death. We regrouped and determined to open our doors to be the hands and feet of Christ. Above fear, above sickness…that became our vision.

In our area many other churches stayed closed. Yet, people sought God just the same. The reality is they flooded the doors of Bethel. Lost congregants, weary and hopeless, alongside people who hadn't been to church in years, showed up.

Pastors who wouldn't leave their homes remained absent, while sick, dying, depressed and lonely continued needing help.

We partnered with God and said, "Use us."

We made changes to keep people safe, gave them choices, opened our doors, and stepped out of God's way.

We sat with the dying who no one would visit. We prayed with people who lost a child. We cried with those who were sad and comforted the lonely. And because people needed Jesus more than ever…they just kept showing up.

Bethel didn't focus on rules and mandates. Instead, we focused on what Jesus told us…love Him - love others.

Broken people crying out for fellowship, comfort, and some sense of normalcy walked through our door’s week after week. Attendance more than tripled from when I arrived three years ago.

The more we met people with the love of Jesus, the more they showed up.

The more they showed up, the more they invited their friends and family.

The more people came - the more they found Jesus.

And just like that, just like He promised…

He became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.

Pastor Kathy Weckwerth Bethel Church Kerkhoven, MN 

Best Life Ministries

Kathy Weckwerth, Pastor Bethel Church-Kerkhoven, MN & founder of Best Life Ministries

Kathy Weckwerth is founder and executive director of Best Life Ministries and lead pastor at Bethel Church in Kerkhoven, Minnesota. She's also an author of 6 books, a newspaper columnist, and host of the radio show/podcast YOUR BEST with Kathy Weckwerth. Kathy has served in church leadership for 30 years, most of that time as a worship leader. Her passion is to encourage women so that they know with confidence that God meets them and loves them in their day-in-day-out world. She and her husband Dean have three kids, three grandkids, and a farm. They live next door to their headquarters: a 1900-vintage church they purchased for a dollar on Craigslist.

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