April Canik of the Cross Connection of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church writes:
Paula Behrens will tell you she was an entrepreneur initially, then a pastor, then a pastor/entrepreneur. Now pastoring Eylau UMC, Texarkana, she says, “It’s amazing how God allows us to use the skills we love most in our service for Him. It’s like he brings a person’s secular skills into the Church and then sanctifies them for His work in the world today.”
Before God’s call on her life, Paula was the owner and operator of a retail business called, The Knitting Machine, in Houston, Texas. “It seems that God created me as a natural entrepreneur, but evidently He wanted me to use my entrepreneurial skills for His glory instead of my own. So, I felt His urging to sell all my knitting machines and go to seminary — and what a blessing serving God and His people has been.”
She firmly believes, “God created us to be creative as He is creative. And when I found that I needed a creative and prayerful outlet for my Sabbath days of rest, God supplied a wonderful hobby, that of designing pulpit stoles. Sewing brings me a wonderful peace, while at the same time it gives me the opportunity to pray for the pastor who will receive the stole.”The Practice of Prayer
When Paula was in seminary, one of her assignments was to visit a congregation that was different from the one she was appointed to, so she chose Windsor Village UMC in Houston. She recalls asking one of the pastors how Windsor Village grew from just a small group of people to thousands in membership. She learned of several faithful church members who prayed together weekly that God would prepare the hearts of the folks who were left in the congregation, as well as, the hearts of those in the surrounding community. That testimony to prayer has inspired her to pray with a small group of women at Eylau UMC on Monday mornings — for the congregation as a whole, as well as, for the surrounding community. “We pray that God will do awesome work through Eylau UMC, for His glory, and I do believe that we are beginning to see the fruits of our efforts, as the church members are more enthusiastic about inviting friends and neighbors to church activities,” she shares.
Creativity Meets Evangelism
Paula says, “I am convinced that in each church setting there are unique opportunities for outreach.” To keep her focus outward, Paula has prayerfully been a part of an innovative breakfast ministry, evangelistic curriculum development and maintaining a personal blog.
- While at Chappell Hill UMC she noticed cars gathering in the front of the church on Monday mornings for the weekly “Bread Partners” food ministry. “I thought, you know, God is bringing 50-75 people to our front lawn every week which is sometimes more than we have in Sunday morning worship. As I prayed about this opportunity, God laid a similar concern on the heart of one of our members and we created a type of tailgate breakfast for these folks and called it our Bible and Breakfast Ministry –rain or shine.” About seven members took breakfast tacos, orange juice and coffee to each car, then Rev. Behrens would follow behind to visit and pray for the concerns of the folks in each automobile. A few of them thanked us for providing them a personal worship service on Monday mornings. While these never made it on our annual report, I am sure that God took notice. We just have to be open and attuned to God’s plan for our particular setting.”
Eylau UMC is preparing to offer a community-wide Bible study using the DVD Bible Study, Thinking of Him, which Rev. Behrens recently completed. “I was pleased to see the congregation took 20 preview DVDs to hand out to friends. We will also have a DVD available for all future first-time guests in our Sunday morning worship services.” See Sermon Video
As a next step, she is seeking input from a few pastors/church leaders who would like to review the materials and send feedback. . .
The DVD contains eight units:
1- Introduction (Faith Story, Theology)
2- God (Creator, Trinity)
3 – Creation (Providence, Human Condition)
4 – Jesus Christ (Redeemer)
5 – The Holy Spirit (Sustainer)
6- The Church (Purpose, Mission, Ministry, Word and Sacrament)
7 – Salvation (Justification, Sanctification, Prevenient Grace)
8 – Eschatology (Parousia, Everlasting Life, Kingdom of God)
Her prayer is that this Bible study could be used in many settings outside the walls of the church, such as prison ministry or in assisted living communities or possibly to hospice workers, first responders, teachers, or other groups that need to know that God is with them on a daily basis. Adds Paula, “I am also praying that some of the Texarkana area congregations will decide to work together using our facilities if needed.”
Paula’s leadership style is one of enthusiasm. “If the pastor is enthusiastic and passionate about where God is leading, then it normally follows that someone else will catch the vision, as well. A leader is not a leader unless folks decide to follow. “I also feel very strongly that a pastor must be a role model – and not ask church members to do something that they are not willing to do themselves, whether that be praying daily or sharing a personal faith story.”
Being a lifetime learner is important to her and she stays afresh through devotional and discussion time called Wesley Wednesdays and Sundays at church. Personal devotions are enriched as she completes her twenty-fifth reading of the Bible. Notes Paula, “I plan to continue reading through the Bible, one more time each year, as the Lord allows.” Writing books and curriculum proves to be spiritually enriching for her, as well. “I am turning my attention to a new book and DVD Bible study curriculum called: A New Heaven and New Earth: The Book of Revelation Revisited. I must say that writing is something I do in inspirational spurts,” she shares.
Her writing began a creative idea moment as well. She wrote a collection of 10 devotional books, inspired by wanting to leave a legacy for her children. The message collection in book form is called Spirit Talk. “Then once I understood the publishing process, the blogging and writing of Bible Study DVD curriculum just naturally followed,” she adds.
Whether it relates to a new ministry, new writing project or newly inspired hobby, her personal and public motto is “Pray and Go.”
See Related Video and Blog at http://spirittalkbooks.net/