Bayside Chapel: Pursuing A Simple Mission
Barnegat church seeks to impact community in a time of transition.
Bayside Chapel in Barnegat wants individuals and families to know the life-changing effect that a relationship with Jesus Christ can have, said Discipleship Pastor Joe Faraldi after its 11 a.m. service Sunday.
"The mission of the church is very simple. We want to facilitate people in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. The Bible is what we're all about. What's kind of interesting about Bayside is it is very conservative theologically and yet very relatable in its personality and its style," he said.
There are all kinds of stigmas about what a conservative Christian is, but some of them are deserved, Faraldi said, because of legalism and embracing things that are not consistent with the gospel.
"Bayside does not advocate political positions and social agendas and that sort of thing," he said. "In a culture where people increasingly look at the Bible and go, 'Really?' we want to look at people and say, 'Yeah.' "
The pre-Memorial Day worship service at the non-denominational church began with a color guard and a short video honoring veterans. Next there was a four-song contemporary worship set that included modern renditions of traditional hymns.
Dr. Earl Comfort has been filling in at the pulpit since his son, founding pastor Chris Comfort, left the church in March 2010.
The elder Comfort preached a three-point sermon on Mark 4: 35-41. The passage tells the story of Jesus calming a storm as he and the disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee in a boat.
"Faith is the antidote to fear," said Comfort.
"The moment you trust Jesus, he says you're going to the other side," he said.
Comfort asked a friend in the audience to stand and introduced her as a doctor.
"You're looking at a heroin addict, a woman who used to go to the dregs of Brooklyn to get her fix," he said, before asking rhetorically,"You want to talk about the power of God?"
Whether you're a Christian or not, you still have storms, said Comfort.
"If you think the storms are difficult now and you don't have Jesus Christ, do you realize what you're facing?" he asked, assuring the congregation that he wasn't trying to scare anyone.
Comfort concluded his sermon by asking everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes. Then he invited people to pray a silent prayer inviting Jesus into their lives. Two people raised their hands to indicate that they had prayed as asked.
"One of the things we want to be working on more is getting into the community. We have of necessity been kind of inward-focused over the last 18 months," said Faraldi, who was a music teacher for 16 years before joining the Bayside staff 11 years ago.
He and Connecting Pastor Scott Lynk have been doing the bulk of Bayside's teaching since Chris Comfort left, Faraldi said.
Lynk helps visitors and new congregants integrate into the church community and oversees small groups. Bayside is trying to "get more community minded" by partnering with local businesses and other congregations, said Lynk. One of the church's Bible studies is held at the Hawkin Deli in Manahawkin, for example, and the church partners with Wawa by giving visitors Wawa mugs that they can get filled for free at the nearby convenience store.
"These are all ministries to people who have experienced, in different ways," profound loss," said Faraldi.
After the service an emotionally upset man sat at one of Bayside's picnic tables perusing a DivorceCare book he had just picked up at the church. He said he and his wife had separated 10 months ago and members of Bayside, including Lynk, have been helping him navigate the loss.
Walt Pharo has been attending Bayside for eight years and volunteers in the audio-visual department.
"It's the most accepting, welcoming church I've ever attended," said Pharo. "I walked in very needy and they put their arms around me."
Bob "Wheels" Langworthy was fresh out of rehab for drug and alcohol addiction 10 years ago when his wife invited him to church.
"I realized how lost I was. I was separated from God because of the sin in my life," said Langworthy.
He now tries to share the hope he found at Bayside with kids by serving as a youth leader and driving Bayside's two buses. Every Sunday morning he picks up two dozen 6th to 12th graders and brings them to church to cut and serve bagels between services.
During the summer, Langworthy takes Mondays off from work and drives the youth bus for trips to the beach and service projects in the community.
"If I'm proud of anything ... it's that we have never had a strategy to get people to come to the church," said Faraldi.
"We are committed to the idea that you do not measure a church's success by the number of people that are coming. That is only an indication of our potential. I have an aversion to the way the American church seems to measure success with numbers. That's not what we're about," he said.
"What's been challenging lately, as it is for many people, is the economy. We do not have the financial resources to do everything we'd like to do," said Faraldi.
Even so, Bayside Chapel does not collect an offering at its services.
"The reason for that is the Bible says God loves a cheerful giver. ...We felt that passing a plate put a pressure on a person to do something that really is not consistent with what their heart feels and we did not want to contribute to an environment where that took place," said Faraldi.
"In spite of that, we take a benevolence offering once a month that is designed to help people in need," he said.
Bayside Chapel's 2011 budget is $956,040. According to the May 29 bulletin, the church has taken in $391,435 so far this year.
Bayside Chapel began meeting in someone's home 20 years ago, then met at Russell Brackman Middle School in Barnegat until the congregation moved into its building at 965 West Bay Ave. in 2006, said Faraldi.
The congregation voted last week to call Dr. David Ridder as its new senior pastor from a nationwide pool of about 150 people. Ridder is originally from the Chicago area, served in a Newtown, Pa. church for many years, and is currently serving at a ministry in Minnesota, Faraldi said.
Bayside Chapel meets for worship at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday and 6 p.m. Saturday. Childcare is available at all three services.
Upcoming events include:
- Men's breakfast, Saturday June 4 at 7:30 a.m.
- Can We Talk? course using The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman to examine "the vital role biblical communication plays in our most important relationships." This group meets Sundays June 5 to June 19 at 11 a.m. and Mondays June 6 to June 20 at 7 p.m.
- DivorceCare will host a Successful Singlehood potluck dinner on June 8 at 6:45 p.m.
- Tough Stuff examines what the Bible says about sex. Begins June 8 at 6:30 p.m.
- Niteflix is a free event on June 10 from 5:30-11:30 p.m. for youth in 6th through 12th grade. There will be a DJ, concessions, paintball, Kinect sports and dancing, a movie, ping pong, a mini skate park, foosball, basketball, and a rock performance.
- Family Movie Night on June 17 from 6-8:30 p.m. Showing: The Prince of Egypt.
For more information, call the church office at (609) 607-8323.