Writing to you from the “bush” of Alaska (Bethel) is giving me a different perspective.
This place has a population of only about 6,000 people. It’s so isolated that one can not travel to it except by airplane or river, and river only half the year. The cost in transporting goods makes everything extremely expensive.
Ginger ale is $14- for a pack. Real estate is expensive, demands on the congregation are high, and church help is far away. Fellowship is scarce and expensive. All of these factors might make you think that doing church here would be difficult. Maybe it is, but it’s being done none the less, and it’s being done well.
Pastor Bradbury is known throughout the community, to villages hundreds of miles in every direction too. Perhaps that is the first opportunity in this isolation. Everyone knows you, and if you’re displaying Jesus in your life and living righteously they all know that too. Your witness is amplified.
Also, the isolation of the region makes every event a big deal. Pro sports and big concerts don’t come here. The biggest thing going right now is a local, amature basketball game today. Brother Bradbury uses that fact each quarter, with 2 week revivals. Many churches today say you can’t do that kind of church any more, but he does and does it successfully.
Lastly, he’s attached to the values of this place - family and education. Since Bethel acts as a hub to the villages in the region, servicing their health care needs and hosting all the agencies required, it’s is inordinately educated. Being a small town none the less, families are very closely associated. Understanding these facts, family Bible studies are used non-stop. It’s the outreach program, it’s the discipleship program, it’s the backbone of this church! He educates them on the Bible, it’s wisdom, and makes it a family night with the preacher.
I think that the Bradbury’s have seen Bethel as it is, without filters or preconceptions, and are ministering all the more effectively with that vision. Likewise we can each fit church to our area and culture to be effective. Isolation has become their strength, but I think that they would have succeeded anywhere they were called.