The BEM Area: Evaluation
One of our tasks at the Belgian Evangelical Mission is representing it in churches, Christian organizations, Convention or Open Doors Days. After four years and several regular events, we have analyzed our different publics. While it is quite easy to get interest abroad, the Belgian evangelical world is one of the hardest to win. The BEM has been at work in our country for more than 90 years and is so to speak part of the Evangelical landscape. Many believe they know it, but they are wrong. The past is often brought up, but few know that ministries still arise today and continue to fulfill the vision of the BEM: Giving an opportunity to everyone in Belgium to personally meet Jesus-Christ as Lord and Savior.
Each year, Yann and I represent the BEM at Convention Day on November, 11 (a BEM/free churches partnership) along with other Christian organizations and we are generally deceived of the lack of interest. Of course, not everybody is called to become an evangelist or a church planter, but the people we meet, even though they receive the BEM newsletter every two months, know very little of it. In the past months we had then thought of how we could improve the image of the BEM towards its historical public (if I am not mistaken, every church of this denomination is a former BEM church plant). This is how the concept of a BEM Area was born.
We put all BEM ministries together. They are generally scattered in the building, if not absent at all. We wanted to offer our colleagues the opportunity to present their work “as a family” and this allowed us (Yann and I) to lead the people to “experts”. The BEM Area was counting on:
– Le Bon Livre, our Christian bookstores. The bookstore in itself (20 meters long) was in the main room, but we had the 2013-2014 catalog for the LBL Publications and a roll-up to remind people that LBL is related to the BEM. One of Convention Day’s must-have is the selling of Christians books and articles, so we could not steal a member of the bookseller team. In the future, we could maybe have something more concrete, that reflects the vision of evangelism and building up of Christians, by offering free resources.
– La Courte Echelle, our department for children ministry. Its specialty is developing programs for evangelism among children, on various themes and for different duration. They are sold in our bookstores as resources for the local church. Eric and Anne played the game and besides having nicely decorated their table, they had organized a little game for people passing by. A colorful and lively stand.
– L’Expo Bible, our multimedia Bible exhibition. We took advantage of the return of the Expo last May in France, after nearly 10 years without any activity. Alain is no BEM missionary but has always been the one coordinating the exhibition. He had soberly arranged the space he had and broadcasted on his computer video excerpts. I noticed some young people sitting on the chair to have a look at it and Alain told me he had very good contacts and even the opportunity to organize the Expo in Brussels in 2014. This is a good thing the Expo was present this day!
– Camp Limauges was represented, but very little: only the November newsletter. Gerald and Bernadette, BEM missionaries and managers of the Camp, as well as the other members of the Camp Committee were involved in the organization of the Convention Day and we knew in advance that we had to do the job. We sold mugs for the Camp’s benefit, but there again we knew it would not be a success – we were not mistaken with only one mug gone. The Camp people had printed a great deal of newsletters and I took the liberty of placing one on each chair in the main room. It seems it has had the effect they expected. It was a first experience, I believe the Camp has all its chance next year (especially because the Belgian evangelical community loves this ministry).
– The BEM “in general”, meaning us. When we went to Brussels to pick up the stand the day before, we had a bad surprise: Because of a miscommunication with our Flemish colleagues, the material we generally use for big events was due to be used in Flanders the same day. We had then to manage on our own, with the little we had: Our personal beamer, an old projection screen, a roll-up… and our new flyers! What a joy to give people passing by a real professional printing work. We had also placed an advertisement in the general program that everybody had and we were on the front page!
The image of the BEM cannot be change in one day and we had the disadvantage of not having the material we needed. But the BEM missionaries greatly appreciated this new concept and I believe it is something we ought to do again and again while improving it. We have already thought of ways to mark the BEM Area out, present our ministries each according to its specificities and invite people to sit and chat. Anyway it gives me the opportunity to gove vent to my creativity and it is also why I love my job!