Our Beliefs

The First Church of God in New Bethlehem is a global movement of people seeking to fulfill God’s mission in the world.  We’re committed to studying the Word of God and faithfully living it out.  We’re committed to the mission that Jesus Christ gave every believer:  to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:18–20).  The Church of God movement appeared in the 1880s in the midst of the broader American Holiness Revival.   The pioneers of the Church of God hoped to restore a more biblical understanding and practice of what it means to be the church.  One of our early church songs says:  “The Bible is our rule of faith and Christ alone is Lord.”  This lyric still summarizes the core belief of Church of God people.  We have not issued any official belief statement, and we have no formal creed.  Yet, the following statements reflect the heart of the Church of God:

  • Salvation makes us members of God’s church.  We believe that the church is composed of every person who has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior.  We enter into the life of the church, not by joining a denomination or a human organization, but by committing our lives to Christ (John 3:1–7).
  • Christians are called to be one.  We believe that God calls all followers of Christ to live in unity and peace, regardless of who they are or the church they attend (Gal 3:28).  While we may not agree on everything, we can rally around our subject, Jesus.
  • We must be holy.  We believe that followers of Christ have been called to live a life of love, purity, and godliness.  We are called to live like Christ, taking on a new nature (2 Cor 5:17).

We also embrace these biblical principles:

  • The Lordship of Jesus.  There is one Lord, who is God’s Son Jesus Christ, over the church.  Christ is the church’s ultimate authority on all matters (Acts 2:36).
  • Making Disciples.  Each of us is called to fulfill Matthew 28:18–20, making fully devoted followers of Christ—disciples—who will then teach others to follow Christ.
  • Loving God and Neighbor.  We are called to fulfill Matthew 22:37–39, not only loving God with our entire being, but also loving all that he loves.
  • The Work of the Holy Spirit.  God’s Spirit equips believers with unique gifts that enable us to carry out the mission of Christ in the world.  At the same time, the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in every believer (Galatians 5:22–23), which demonstrate the Spirit’s presence within us.
  • Stewardship.  Since God is the source of life, all of life is to be used for the honor, glory, and service of God (Psalm 24:1).

You will find a great diversity of convictions and practices within the Church of God.  Though we have differences, we share a common story of faith, growing together into the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).  We worship and serve as citizens of God’s kingdom.  We celebrate our life in Christ and accept our call to be the body of Christ in our world—all to the glory of God.  The First Church of God of New Bethlehem, PA is affiliated with the Church of God in Anderson, Indiana.

Our Purpose

The primary purpose is to glorify God by making disciples.  This will be done by fulfilling the following purposes:

    1. Evangelism and Mission Outreach

“We exist to share the good news of new life in Christ with those in our community, surrounding area, and throughout the worlds.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

    1. Education and Discipleship

“We exist to enable members to move toward Christian maturity and to equip them for effective ministry.”  (Ephesians 4:11-13)

    1. Worship and Prayer

“We exist to worship God publicly and to cultivate personal daily devotions.”  (Romans 12:1, John 4:24)

    1. Fellowship and Congregational Life

“We exist to support, encourage, and share with each other as members of the family of God.”  (Acts 2:42, I John 1:7)

    1. Ministry and Service

“We exist to serve others in the name of Jesus and to minister to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those in our church, our community, surrounding areas, and our world.”  (I Peter 4:8-11, Galatians 5:13)

Statement of Faith

  We accept the Bible as the inspired and inerrant Word of God and as the ultimate and absolute authority in matters of faith, doctrine and Christian living.




Senior Pastor: Zachary Lays

God has been creatively guiding Pastor Zachary Lays’ life to this end: to proclaim Him and share the gospel. Zach believes that his mission is to live a life devoted and pleasing to God, and to make Him known to others. Pastor Zach is humbled and grateful to New Bethlehem Church of God for giving his family and him the ability to serve God in this capacity.

“My journey leading into ministry has been lifelong. My parents raised me to know Christ, and I believed in Him at a young age. Surrendering, however, took a protracted period with many difficult experiences and trials. After graduating from Mid-America Christian University, I pursued many of my own plans, despite knowing that God had a specific direction for my life. I recognized the weight of responsibility one bares in living a life of ministry, and it intimidated me. And so, I sought out plans I had dreamed about fulfilling. In November of 2012 I joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, where I was commissioned as a Field Artillery Officer. During my time of resisting my ministry calling I continued my own career paths chasing various opportunities in the oil field, carpentry and a few other things. But, ultimately, I came to the realization that I needed to submit myself to God and devote my life to proclaiming the Gospel. This happened in July of 2017 at Whitehall Camp Meeting, and I have been following God towards a life in ministry ever since.”

In 2012, Zach met his wife, Josie, at Brookville Church of God, where she served as the youth pastor. They were married in September of 2018. Zach and Josie both share a love for God and a passion for ministry together. They plan on sharing life together pursuing God and His work. They also share a love for the outdoors- taking walks and camping. Zach and Josie have a beautiful little girl named Eliana, and a crazy fluffy Bernese Mountain Dog named Samson.

“I am incredibly humbled and excited by this opportunity God has blessed me with. I look forward to ministering to, with, and through the First Church Congregation very much. God Bless! “ - Pastor Zach