Dave Veldhorst is the pastor of Bethel OPC in Oostburg, WI. Dave grew up atBethel under the ministry of Don Stanton and Jim Bosgraf. He also has missionary experience with MTW in Japan for two years and Thailand for several years. Dave was called to pastor Bethel in 2013. He and his wife, Jan, have been married 32 years and have 5 children who are serving the Lord.
This week, we share the Dave’s answers to our first 3 questions in the interview….
Question: What is something that you believe and/or do in regards to outreach that has changed over your time in ministry?
Dave: I think when I first worked in a church, prior to seminary, and then even in the early years in Bangkok I viewed outreach primarily as inviting those who did not yet know the Lord to come to events. The longer I do pastoral work the more I have seen the value of building relationships over time with people that you have intentionally sought to interact with by being active in visiting regular places and developing a history together. Events are still important…especially for those who may not feel comfortable going out and interacting with others spontaneously. However, I have seen more freedom given to the church to not have to sustain heavy “event based” schedules and instead aim for developing a lifestyle that aims at interaction with those who today do not yet know the Lord.
Question: If the OPC and OPC churches want to continue to grow in our effectiveness in reaching the lost-what is the most important thing we need to work on and how or in what way(s) should we be working on it?
Dave: I think we need to constantly be hearing and working through the implications of the gospel which produces the humility that we need (so that we do not distance ourselves from others in pride or speak to others in a condescending manner) but also the courage we need so that we do not live in fear of this culture or develop a “circle the wagons mentality” in the church. I think many in the OPC believe the gospel is absolutely necessary for coming to faith the first time and growing in maturity….I am not sure we have always thought about and worked through the gospel implications for outreach and cultural engagement.
The gospel of God’s grace produces within us a robust theology of sin where sin is more than just discrete acts done or not done to break the rules God has given us. Sin is actually the desire to take any good thing and make it an ultimate treasure of our heart other than Jesus Christ. The gospel produces this robust theology of sin, which then enables us to have a humble yet critical engagement with the culture around us. Humble in that we routinely will be engaged with people who struggle with the same idols of the heart we do. Critical in that we are more courageous because of our union with Christ and our dying to the fear of man.
The gospel of God’s grace also produces within us a robust view of man created in the image of God. In the gospel, Jesus comes to live the obedient life and shed his blood not just to save us from eternal damnation but also to produce a people who are unashamed witnesses who live as salt and light within our culture. The gospel transformed Christian expects to see evidence of common grace in the lives of all he or she engages and can enter the culture both as one who critiques and one who learns.
Question: What is something that has surprised you about outreach and evangelism to the lost as you have done it?
Dave: I am often surprised at my reluctance and fear of man that can so limit my willingness to keep engaging in conversation with those that may be resistant. I am also often surprised at the willingness some have to actually talk about spiritual things. We certainly experienced a much greater willingness during our missionary years in Asia but have been pleasantly surprised at the willingness found here in our current context.
In particular, I am pleasantly surprised by the willingness people have to being prayed for and prayed over. One of the first things I would often ask a Buddhist unbeliever in Japan and Thailand was “Is it ok if I pray to God for you?” I can only think of one time when that offer was rejected. Praying with someone for their soul gave me an opportunity to cry out to the only One who can change a heart to act. It also gave me an opportunity to speak of Christ and pray the essential gospel message in my prayer.