A publication of Canadian Baptist Ministries
Out of the Mold: Reflections on the Good News
Mosaic is published three times a year by Canadian Baptist Ministries. Copies are distributed free of charge. Bulk quantities available by request.
c o n ta c t 7185 Millcreek Drive Mississauga, ON l5n 5r4 Tel: 905.821.3533 email@example.com www.cbmin.org
What is it about Jell-O and our evangelical fervour? Are we stuck in a mold? Are we too inclined to be conformists? Maybe it’s because we like the prescriptive, the pre-set.
Managing Editor Jennifer Lau Art Direction Gordon Brew
Connect with us.
www.cbmin.org facebook.com/cbmin.org @canadianbaptist @canadianbaptistministries vimeo.com/cbmin.org
As partners in the Canadian Baptist family we exist to serve the local church in its grassroots mission. Together we impact our communities and beyond through the love of Christ.
Terry Talks Jell- O was probably the most bizarre commodit y of my church upbringing. Jellied salads with strange vegetables afloat at potluck dinners, food fights with Jell-O in youth group, hidden treasures in colourful Jell-O at Sunday School picnics. Dad would say about a church leader’s indecisiveness, “Getting a clear answer from him is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.” What is it about Jell-O and our evangelical fervour? Are we stuck in a mold? Are we too inclined to be conformists? Maybe it’s because we like the prescriptive, the pre-set. I wonder if the way we share the gospel has become just a wee bit too wobbly? We rely on old ways of doing things. The tried and true methods can become tired and old. Are we sufficiently embracing our creative and passionate gifts in adaptive and contextual ways of sharing the gospel, or, as Michael J. Gorman puts it, in ‘becoming the gospel’? Recently, I went for a long walk along the river valley in Edmonton and then sat to read a book. Another walker asked what I was reading, and from there, our conversation hurdled itself into dozens of directions: science, politics, art, leadership, human rights, epistemology, the 2019 Stanley Cup Final between the Oilers and the Maple Leafs ... You get the picture. I nudged the conversation towards the gospel. My interlocutor was decidedly resistant. “I categorically reject the absolute claims of any religion,” he rebutted. After the conversation ended, I wondered how the good news of Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, our Saviour and Redeemer could possibly reach him, or any of the hundreds of people walking along the North Saskatchewan River. And later that day, I read Romans 10:14-15 (NRSV): “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” Too often, we equate ‘the beautiful feet’ bringing the good news with missionaries who work cross-culturally. And indeed, they bring the good news. Here in Canada, we hear each year of hundreds of people coming to faith in Christ as a result of the witness of Canadian Baptists. Summer camps where children and youth have heard and accepted the good news, VBS and other church initiatives. Meaningful regional gatherings like Tidal Impact and SERVE. These are all viable means to bring the good news.
4 Out of the Mold: A Conversation on Evangelism in Canada 10 Reaching Gen Z: How to Engage the Next Generation in Community 14 A Taste of Home: Bringing Food, Faith and Family to Chinese Students in Germany 16 How the Poor Evangelize Me: Faith Lessons From the Field 18 The Good News in Bolivia: A Photo Essay
Many of our churches have shown faith-filled hospitality to Syrian and Iraqi refugees in their communities, some of whom have become Christ followers. These are beautiful feet, open hands, warm hearts … good news. There are so many opportunities, so many open doors, when we become the gospel to our neighbours, or as Lesslie Newbigin wrote: “How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? I am suggesting that the only answer, the only hermeneutic of the gospel, is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it. I am, of course, not denying the importance of the many activities by which we seek to challenge public life with the gospel – evangelistic campaigns, distribution of Bibles and Christian literature, conferences, and even books such as this one. But I am saying that these are all secondary, and that they have power to accomplish their purpose only as they are rooted in and lead back to a believing community.”
22 The Canadian Baptist: Reimagining the Church 500 Years After the Reformation 23 Grassroots Heroes: Focused on Bolivia
The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989)
Does this ring true for you and your church community today? As Canadian Baptists, we are a people of the good news. This edition of Mosaic explores the rich and diverse topic of evangelism through a wide prism. Local church pastors and a seminary president, a national youth leader, a seasoned missionary and younger Field Staff, and our former Executive Director all embark on an in-depth analysis of the current state of affairs. So let’s continue to break out of the mold. Shake it up. And together, by the power of God’s spirit in us, let’s bring Jesus into our neighbourhoods and into our world.
Terry Smith CBM Executive Director
Mosaic is a community forum of local and global voices united by a shared mission. Mosaic will serve as a catalyst to stimulate and encourage passionate discipleship among Canadian Baptists and their partners.
CBM Executive Director Terry Smith recently sat down with a group of Canadian Baptist leaders for an open and honest conversation on contextual evangelism. It is a topic close to Terry’s heart. Prior to joining the CBM Canadian staff team, Terry and his wife Heather served in France as Global Field Staff, focused on evangelism, church planting and training leaders.
Leanne Friesen is Lead Pastor at Mount Hamilton Baptist Church in Hamilton, Ont. She grew up in Newfoundland but found a home in Hamilton while attending McMaster Divinity College. She has been pastoring at the church for 12 years.
Colin Godwin is President of Carey Theological College in Vancouver, B.C., and former CBM staff who served overseas for 17 years – church planting in francophone Belgium, training leaders in Rwanda, and providing regional leadership as the CBM Africa Team Leader based in Kenya.
Franky Narcisse comes from Haiti and is pastor at a new church in Gatineau, Que., after leading a church in Ottawa for 26 years. Franky is also on the executive staff of the French Baptist Union, a community of Baptist churches in Frenchspeaking Canada.
Joel Russell-MacLean is Lead Pastor at First Baptist Church in downtown Regina, Sask. He lives just a few blocks from the church. Over the last 10 years, he has held different positions within the church. Before becoming a pastor, he worked as a hospital orderly.
Kevin Matthews is Lead Pastor at The Point Church in Miramichi, N.B. Kevin served in camping ministry and as pastor at Moncton Wesleyan for 15 years prior to coming to The Point Church, which meets in three locations.
TERRY: WE KNOW THAT YOU ARE ALL COMMITTED TO WHAT GOD IS DOING THROUGH OUR COUNTRY AND OUR CHURCHES AND THAT EVANGELISM HAS A HUGE PART IN RENEWAL OF OUR BAPTIST FAMILY. I HOPE THAT WITH OUR CONVERSATION TODAY YOU SAY WHATEVER IS ON YOUR HEART, ON YOUR MIND, ON THIS TOPIC. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT CANADIAN BAPTISTS HAVE LOST THE PASSION FOR EVANGELISM?
JOE L: I want to begin by talking about the guilt and shame and hurt that I feel. It’s not just me, but it’s in the hearts of many people in the congregation, and people I have grown up with in church, around this question. Why aren’t we converting people and what does that say about us? Why aren’t baptisms really common? … When we think of the lost, this isn’t a nebulous group, these are our parents, brothers and sisters, close friends … so I don’t think that there’s a lack of passion or love for these people – there are just things beyond our control in our culture. LE AN N E : I don’t know if people have lost the passion, but many believers I know have developed an apprehension. I see a lot of apprehension towards evangelism and there’s a lot of reasons … I think there are many people who feel that they don’t know how to do that or that maybe the pastor should do it. They don’t feel skilled, or think that they have the answers. I also think in my generation, and those before and after, that there’s just a lot of negativity around forcing our views on other people, around the ways we’ve sometimes been treated when we feel that people were evangelizing us. I think sometimes the way we get lumped together as Christians and we see certain types of evangelism that we don’t appreciate, don’t really see as reflecting our faith, and we want to be separate from that, there’s a fear of looking like those people … I remember talking to a neighbour who said, “Man, the Jehovah’s Witnesses came to our door at 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Why do you guys do that?” It was so frustrating for me and I said, “We’re not the same. We’re not them.” It’s a good example of why I have apprehension sometimes. KEVIN: I believe that many have lost their passion for evangelism, as evidenced in declining church attendance, baptisms and involvement. However, I see others emerging who have both an increased passion, and a new creativity in their methods, while staying true to the message. FR AN K Y: In the francophone community, I can say that we've lost a passion for evangelism, especially in some churches where there was not a strong biblical understanding of the gospel and it became less important, or not urgent, to expose people to the gospel and bring them to a place where they have a decision to make to the call of Jesus. And I think of how with plurality
I believe that many have lost their passion for evangelism, as evidenced in declining church attendance, baptisms and involvement. However, I see others emerging who have both an increased passion, and a new creativity in their methods, while staying true to the message. many are less convinced that Jesus is the only way; that nice people and good people are lost; that spiritual death is a real condition, is a reality; that Jesus chose to use us as his own agent to communicate the good news of his grace. Without these things we will continue to lack passion for evangelism, and I’m very concerned about it. It’s a real challenge for me, and for our French Union churches and leaders, to tackle this problem. COLIN : I don’t think there’s a lack of passion for evangelism, but there’s an inability to translate that passion into appropriate and contextual responses on a local congregation level. A quick story: I spoke in one church awhile back, I was invited to speak as a representative of Carey … and in my messages I often have an opportunity for people to respond to the gospel in their lives, but as I got to the end of teaching there was that moment when I was not sure what to do in that setting. After the service, I was approached by an elderly man who leaned in and said, “Son, you should have done an altar call.” In another context, I was talking with a pastor about being the visiting speaker and I asked, “How do you normally have the congregation respond?” And the pastor said, “Well, we don’t do altar calls here.” And so my question was, “Then what do you do?” and there was no answer. We don’t seem to have mechanisms besides what we don’t do. We lack models and examples of how it can be done.
TERRY: WE HEAR A LOT OF PEOPLE BEING MORE RECEPTIVE TO DISCUSSING FAITH IN GOD. WHAT ARE THE SIGNS IN OUR CULTURE THAT SHOW AN OPENNESS TO SPIRITUAL THINGS?
JOE L: “Evangelism” itself is problematic, even “passion.” These are awkward words if we’re not seeing success. How do we measure success? Maybe it’s time to push that back on God … instead, where are we not being faithful, let’s look into those things, whether it’s prayer, or whether it’s resisting evil, overcoming my own spiritual deficiencies. Yes, there is an openness to spiritual things in our culture, but there’s also a resistance, and I’m not separate from my culture, I’m a part of it. I have the same resistance. I’m so attracted to seeing God’s presence in my life, so attracted to that sense of an intimate relationship with God, but I’d really like it to be on my own terms, to not interfere with my other passions … so yes and no, people are more receptive but on their own terms. KE VIN : It’s obvious in popular media that our current culture is as hungry as ever for spiritual things, but they are turning to places other than the church to have their needs met. Every small town in Canada has travelling mediums coming through like the travelling evangelists of days gone by. The spiritual content of our movies, video games, and discussions along with the acceptance of “anything but” Christianity in our schools is certainly proof of our spiritual hunger. FR AN K Y: There’s a lot of presence of spiritual things in the air, in our culture; a number of new movies with a background of Judeo-Christian beliefs, in general, such as good and evil. But when we want to become specific, people become uncomfortable. When we want to be more personal, people consider that we are being too narrow. We can use bridges like movies, literature, that offer us an opportunity to walk beside people with wise questions to better understand what they really think and believe. I continue to believe that God is in the business to prepare hearts (like the account in Acts of the encounter of the eunuch and Philip, and also that of Peter and Cornelius). My prayer is that God puts in my way people with prepared hearts.
When you listen to the music and the poets of today you hear that people are very much looking for meaning. Whether or not they’re interested or recognize that that can be found in God may be a different question, but I think there’s a lot of desire for meaning.
TERRY: FRANKY IS RAISING AN IMPORTANT ISSUE
LE AN N E : I agree with Franky. When you listen to the music and the poets of today you hear that people are very much looking for meaning. Whether or not they’re interested or recognize that that can be found in God may be a different question, but I think there’s a lot of desire for meaning.
HERE ABOUT CULTURAL BRIDGES TO DISCUSSING OUR FAITH WITH PEOPLE.
COLIN : I think there is very much interest in the spiritual in Canada and that it is growing … we have more people now who are “nones.” They know nothing about faith whatsoever and can be curious; they don’t have any experiences of church when they were kids; don’t know what Sunday School is. They’re looking for existential answers to life’s questions, practical answers, such as how to have a happy life, how to keep your marriage together, take care of your aging parents, raise kids … so we are seeing interest, but I think the challenge is now an increasing polarity in Canadian culture, where there can be outright opposition to Christian faith as well as people who are very interested. As Canadians, I think it’s very uncomfortable for us to come out and say this is where I take my stand. We don’t like to blow our own horns, and we live in the shadow of a big neighbour down south. What we understand is what we’re not, as opposed to who we are.
TERRY: THIS QUESTION REALLY HAUNTS ME AND I THINK WE NEED TO TALK
What I certainly see is a huge passion for service and for helping others and for stepping in and really doing what I would call ‘God’s work’.
ABOUT IT. IT IS AROUND YOUNG PEOPLE. DO THEY STRUGGLE WITH STRONG, DOGMATIC AFFIRMATIONS OF OUR FAITH OR ARE THEY POTENTIALLY MORE CONSERVATIVE THAN YOUR GENERATION WAS?
TERRY: COLIN, YOU HAVE YOUNG ADULTS IN YOUR HOUSE, AND IN YOUR SCHOOL. WHAT ARE YOU PICKING UP?
LE AN N E : Well, I can’t speak to all young people, but the ones I know, I do think that they are more hesitant and I think there’s a lot of cultural influence … but I think there’s other wonderful opportunities and potential there. What I certainly see is a huge passion for service and for helping others and for stepping in and really doing what I would call ‘God’s work’. At our church, we have two sisters, one is 15 and the other 22, and they actually formed an organization called Sisters for Sisters. Every year, they do a fundraiser for an organization in the city. One year, it was a breakfast to raise money for the native women’s health centre. Another year, they were doing a dinner for a different group. What’s interesting is that they don’t necessarily feel insistent that they have to get up, like I would have at some point, and say, “By the way, we are all here so I can tell you about Jesus.” I was taught to do this … yet there’s such a longing in their hearts for social justice, so there’s a lot of great starting points with our next generation that may look a little different than my generation. Looking back in my early 20s, there are stories that I would be embarrassed to now tell about my own methods of evangelism. I was known to hold megaphones on street corners. I spent many nights knocking on doors, part of many travelling mission teams around the country. We’d get in at the end of the night and say we didn’t pray with anyone, but we knocked on 100 doors today and we told them about Jesus, whether they wanted to know or not [laughs] ... maybe I’ve lost some of that desire that I probably do need to reclaim. I don’t know if that starting point would work for my young adults now, as it did for me then, but I absolutely sense that if we say we’re going to plant gardens, we’re going to go downtown and hand out sandwiches, they’ll be there. So I think it’s different starting places.
COLIN : I think in the greater Vancouver area there’s actually a real dynamic movement of young people engaging with greater zeal in Christian faith than I’ve seen in a long time, and as Leanne pointed out, they’re very socially engaged, socially conscious … some of it is young people looking for answers. I think for young people the issue of gender orientation is a major issue they’re struggling with, if not themselves then for how it impacts their friends. Christian camping is thriving, a lot of youth groups are booming, there’s dramatic interest. I think there’s something going on, I really do. But one of my fears is that older generations – my generation and boomers and so forth – would not have the resources to engage young people in faith through ways that are relevant to them. Maybe it’s because we’re too reactionary – you know, we were so insensitive when we handed out tracts on street corners, or knocked on doors, we turned some people off. We forget about the wonderful times when we shared our faith with a random person on an airplane and that person made a decision or came closer to God, and the joy that comes with that when we did take some risks. So either we don’t have the tools or we haven’t thought through some of the major life issues youth are facing, and we can’t welcome their faith in ways that are significant for them. But something is going on and there are opportunities for churches to grab hold of it.
But one of my fears is that older generations – my generation and boomers and so forth – would not have the resources to engage young people in faith through ways that are relevant to them.
TERRY: SO I’M PICKING UP A SUBLIMINAL THEME HERE IN THIS CONVERSATION THAT HAS A LOT TO DO WITH THE INTEGRITY OF OUR APPROACH WITH THE PEOPLE WE ARE DEALING WITH, AND I THINK THERE’S A LITTLE BIT OF MEA CULPA GOING ON ABOUT THE WAY WE MIGHT HAVE DONE SOME THINGS IN THE PAST. HAVE YOU RECENTLY COME ACROSS SOMEONE WHO IS A NEW BELIEVER AND WHAT DO YOU THINK LED THAT PERSON TO FOLLOW JESUS?
FR AN K Y: A woman who was divorced many years ago has a good friend who is a member of our church and very interested in the spiritual and emotional well-being of her friend. She put me in contact with her friend, and many other young ladies with a lot of struggles in their lives. We began to have Bible study together, and just last Thursday she committed her life to Jesus Christ. She made this journey with us for many months before making a decision and I think the relationship – the good relationship of the member of our church with her – was a very key factor of this spiritual journey. Two of her other friends have also opened their lives to Jesus Christ and I’m in the process of having discipleship meetings with them every two weeks, as well as the daughter of this lady who also made a commitment to Jesus Christ. She’s 17 years old. So I think relationship is fundamental – a good relationship. I can also say that there are lots of people who have suffering in the heart, a broken heart, because of some circumstances in their life. I think meeting those people in their need can be a good start. The difficult circumstances in the lives of these young women prepared their hearts. JOEL: I appreciate Franky talking about relationships … it was a process he was talking about. It isn’t so much about getting people to the point of decision as much as about discipleship, which I think is actually our explicit calling in scripture – the call is really to create disciples. This last week I had this young fellow come up and say, “I'm new to Canada, I’m a Muslim, but I really want to think about my faith and I’m just intrigued by Jesus. Can you tell me? Can you answer some questions?” ... And I think about this young lady who was in a serious car accident and in the middle of that heard God speak to her, and in response to that, searched us up on the Internet. She eventually was baptized here. Those are just God doing things. The relationships that I’ve been involved in have been much more painful and difficult. I think of sitting on my steps with neighbours who are drunk, and a woman who has been beat up, and she tells me she wants to change, wants to follow God. I trust that years of those conversations are going to amount to something. I pray that all of that discipleship amounts to a lifelong faith in Christ – and that it does spread like ripples into other people’s lives as well. KEVIN: We’ve recently had a man contact the church through our website, ready to end his life just as his father ended his. He was addicted, his relationship was in a mess, had lost his kids, had no job … his world was falling apart. We met, and we gave him hope. A year later, his whole family comes to church, his addictions are behind him, he has a job and was recently baptized. Another lady started coming to the church because of a special Tim Horton’s Sunday that we held where we invited and honoured your favourite Tim Horton’s employee … she came, won a prize, and kept coming. Soon she went through a very dark period, her husband left, and her world began to fall apart. A year later, she has accepted Christ, her husband is back and not only attends with her regularly, but has also accepted Christ and comes by himself when she is working.
TERRY: LASTLY, WHAT WOULD YOU OFFER TO OUR CANADIAN BAPTIST CHURCHES THAT ARE ASKING HOW THEY CAN ENGAGE, OR RENEW THEIR ENGAGEMENT, IN
COLIN : I would encourage churches and their leaders to engage in a season of prayer, to ask God to give discernment to see what he is doing in their community, in their families. The big lesson that I have learned in evangelism, the hard way, is that it’s not all up to you. God cares about people, God’s spirit is working in people’s lives all around us. God is a missionary and drawing people, so we need to figure out what God is doing in people’s lives and align up with that. You look at the Acts of the Apostles, the whole book is about God’s spirit going ahead of the church and the church struggling to figure out how to cope with that. And then to enter into that, they needed to change some things, change mindsets. They needed to have programs that involved sending out people, they needed to be ready to give an answer to the faith that they had and call people to respond to the redemptive message of Jesus.
OUTREACH MINISTRIES AND EVANGELISM; TO FIND THIS PASSION AGAIN. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THEM?
FR AN K Y: I think about when someone falls in love, we don’t have to tell him or her to express it, to demonstrate it. I think one of our problems, I include myself, of our churches, is that with time we lost the excitement that we are in a love covenantal relationship and we become old married people who are no longer excited about the relationship, nor demonstrate the relationship. My prayer for myself, and for my brothers and sisters, and our churches, is that we can fall again in love with Christ; there will be a refreshment in our lives and we can become more excited. We can know we have to share the gospel, and not because of constraints or guilt but because of love – love for our Lord, love for people and love for church. TERRY: THAT’S BEAUTIFUL, FRANKY. WOW, THANK YOU! THAT’S A LOVELY THOUGHT.
LE AN N E : I would suggest churches consider how you are creating a church base that sends the message to your congregants and to people who are part of your church that this a place where new people can always belong; that also then echoes that message to new people, so when they come there is really a sense for them that this is a place where they can belong. I think God is often looking for places to lead people towards where they will feel that safety and where they will feel they can connect. In our congregation this is an important thing for us, that we have this environment … we should always be aware that God may be bringing new people among us and be open to being hospitable to them. JOE L: I would summarize two things that are on my heart. One, that we don’t separate evangelism from discipleship. That’s always in view and if that’s the old married couple, that we just continue to blow on the fire, continue to fall deeper in love with Jesus, as Franky said. At the same time, pastorally, my hearts goes out to people who’ve grown up in this culture and measure their love by the affect they are having on the world around them. That’s just often out of our control and I would hate to see people suspect or doubt their love of Christ because they don’t see crowds of people coming … we really can’t measure the impact we are having on friends and family who don’t outwardly demonstrate a faith in God, or in Jesus. We need to trust that it is having an effect. KE VIN : If you want to reach the next generation, your community, and the people closest to you, you need to set your personal preferences aside. Too many people choose their favourite music and preaching styles over the salvation of their children and grandchildren. If you know you are going to heaven because of a relationship with Christ, it’s time to set your preferences aside and do whatever it takes short of sin to reach others. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, not to listen to his favourite hymns. Our purpose must be his purpose – to seek and to save the lost.
My prayer for myself, and for my brothers and sisters, and our churches, is that we can fall again in love with Christ; there will be a refreshment in our lives and we can become more excited. We can know we have to share the gospel, and not because of constraints or guilt but because of love – love for our Lord, love for people and love for church.
HOW TO ENGAGE THE NEXT GENERATION IN COMMUNITY by Renée Embree
IMAGINATIVE HOPE Evangelism is a long -term journey, especially with today’s youth. It is a marathon. We have to allow youth to belong in our community – and join with us in God’s mission in our world – even while they are still unsure about their own faith. Youth are more communal and concerned about making a difference in the world than they were even a decade ago. They are looking to see if faith in Jesus makes any difference to the people around them, their neighbourhoods and world. Our youngest generation, Generation Z (born post-2000), most often has no religious upbringing at all. When it comes to faith, they are usually not starting from ground zero; they are often starting from a negative view of faith. Through relational connections and involving this generation in our community and mission, they become open to conversations about faith.
We have to allow youth to belong in our community – join with us in God’s mission in our world – even while they are still unsure about their own faith. Evangelism happens alongside youth, as God knits our everyday lives together. It is not a big event, an altar call, or a few conversations. God may use these things at some point in a young person’s journey, but they cannot be our evangelism plan for today’s youth. Evangelism is an on-going investment in each other’s lives, as God reveals himself and his in-breaking Kingdom to this younger generation. It tends to be slow and steady: people slowly open up to ask their spiritual questions, slowly get to see the difference Christ makes in lives and communities, and slowly have their hearts softened to the gospel. This is a real change, right? A decade ago many of our churches would never involve a youth in a mission trip, service project, the heart of our church community or in leadership, without that youth having first shown genuine faith in Jesus. Now, we know that in order to reach this generation we have to involve them in the heart of community, and even in appropriate leadership spots (e.g., designing service projects, creating videos or sharing their skills) while they are still exploring Jesus. Let’s not shy away from talking about Jesus and his Kingdom, but also we cannot put up walls that keep people from experiencing a taste, a preview of God’s Kingdom by joining with your community, and in your mission, before they believe. This means we are seeking to create churches and leaders that equip Christians of all ages to join God in their everyday neighbourhoods and networks. We are challenging Christ-followers of all ages to open their hearts, eyes and ears to see where God is at work around them, in their ordinary lives, and to join this work. We’re reaching an emerging generation by raising up Christians who recognize that they are missionaries in the places where they live, work, study and play.
REACHING AND ENGAGING THE NEXT GENERATION WITH THE GOSPEL A Report from the 2016 Canadian Baptist Youth & Family Forum
IMAGINATIVE HOPE Reaching and Engaging the Next Generation with the Gospel A Report from the 2016 Canadian Baptist Youth & Family Forum
Beloved Church, Imagine:
• • • • • • • • •
Children bringing their families closer to God. Youth leading our churches into their neighbourhoods with the gospel. Students introducing their friends to Christ through a vibrant faith. Young adults integrating the values of God’s Kingdom in all they do. Families caring for the hurt, lonely and broken together. The next generation being equipped to share their faith and seek biblical justice. Communities valuing, loving and supporting each other. Churches fulfilling the call to be God’s missional people. All generations deeply in love with God, his Church and his mission.
This is what we desire for Canadian Baptist churches. But it’s not just a dream. We can make it happen. Right here and now. In our neighbourhoods, across our provinces, and throughout our country. We do not have ten or even five years to figure this out. We need to reach the next generation now and we need to do it together. This is possible as our young people experience the genuine love of Jesus, the transformative work of the Holy Spirit, and are empowered to live out their faith. You, the Church, are an important part of this work. We need you to join us in taking up the challenge. Are You Ready? Download Imaginative Hope today! Go to imaginativehope.ca
When we empower and focus youth towards making a difference to some of the brokenness in our world, they are ready and willing to give their heart, time and energy. It is inspiring to see them leading the way, out of our churches and back into our neighbourhoods, schools, community centres, workplaces and world.
In the Youth and Family Department of the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada, we encourage using programs like the 31-day Neighbouring Challenge, which provides daily challenges to invite you to see and join God in your daily life. We also do events like Tidal Impact, which is a mission tour right in our own backyard, where teens work together to impact a local neighbourhood – doing food drives, building playgrounds, visiting seniors, fixing up shelters, serving food and providing fun for kids. Tidal Impact allows people to see a glimpse of what happens when people join together to transform lives and communities. As youth have joined in God’s mission and have seen glimpses of God’s Kingdom breaking into their world, we have seen them recognize they need Jesus in their own life, to heal their own brokenness, to heal their own relationship with God and to give them on-going purpose in the world. There is tremendous hope in Generation Z. I have seen youth from this generation showing and telling the gospel to their own peers, and even to their elders. I’ve seen them leading in significant ways: hosting Alpha in schools, bringing their parents to faith, wrestling with the tough questions in our world and in faith, creating videos that invite deeper conversations about life, responding to causes in our world in order to make a difference, raising awareness and money for kids affected by HIV and AIDS at Kamp Tumaini in Kenya, and fighting for girls to have equal access to education across our world. These things reveal that there are those in the younger generation desperately longing for an alternative to a self-focused, entitled and consumer-driven society. When we empower and focus youth towards making a difference to some of the brokenness in our world, they are ready and willing to give their heart, time and energy. It is inspiring to see them leading the way – out of our churches and back into our neighbourhoods, schools, community centres, workplaces and world. You can follow Renée Embree on: facebook.com /renee.embree @r_embree @renee.embree cbacyf.ca/oneneighbourhood
Rev. Renée Embree encountered God’s grace as a young adult and continues to be changed by it every day. She is the Director of Youth and Family Ministries for the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada and Director of the Youth & Young Adult Ministry Program at Acadia Divinity College. Renée lives in Saint John, N.B., and can often be found running along an ocean path or enjoying a good book and a cup of coffee on her sun-porch.
HERE ARE A FEW THINGS TO CONSIDER AS YOU NURTURE YOUR DESIRE TO REACH YOUNGER GENERATIONS:
Consider how you can create a greater sense of belonging for the younger generation in your church. How can you show them they are valued, even while they are still just checking out the faith? Are there new spots around the table you can give them? Or changes you need to make?
AC T ION
Give youth real authority and leadership now. Some teaching and leadership positions need to be reserved for those who have displayed a genuine and strong faith. However, there are lots of other opportunities for youth to use their gifts, not just to serve your church, but to serve your greater mission in our neighbourhoods and world. Consider how you could empower and release youth to be a significant part of righting a wrong today in your neighbourhood. Start with the connections you have. Who do you know that has a connection with the younger generation? Who do you know from the younger generations? How can you build on these connections?
These really are exciting days for the Church in our world. Our children and youth calling us to remember our mission to show and tell the gospel: to get out of the walls of our church, to get out of our holy huddles, to get out of our homes and engage with what God is up to outside our door. It’s really exciting to engage with a generation that isn’t satisfied with only a private, personal faith, but longs to see God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. May you experience the thrill of joining God in what he is doing in this generation of youth and in our neighbourhoods.
As youth have joined in God’s mission and have seen glimpses of God’s Kingdom breaking into their world, we have seen them recognize they need Jesus in their own life, to heal their own brokenness, to heal their own relationship with God and to give them on-going purpose in the world.
With backpacks and books in hand, a group of
a taste of
BRINGING FOOD, FAITH AND FAMILY TO CHINESE STUDENTS IN GERMANY
by Nicolette Beharie
Chinese university students head to the basement of a small church in Göttingen, Germany. They gather around a buffet table outside the kitchen, lined with ornate rice bowls and authentic wooden chopsticks. But the familiar scents of steamed rice and savoury stews are what really grab their attention. It’s time to eat. Pastor John Chan says grace for the meal in Mandarin. His wife, Ruth, gingerly skirts the table one last time. Satisfied with the spread, she then encourages the students to fill their bowls before Bible study begins. “John always says I sound like a mom,” says Ruth. For more than eight years, the couple lived in Germany serving as Team Leaders of Chinese Ministries for CBM, meeting the needs of newcomer students from China. While John and Ruth don’t have children of their own, the students would affectionately call them their “parents in Germany”. In 2009, the Chans partnered with CBM and a German mission organization to establish an outreach for Chinese university students arriving in Germany. The Chans approached CBM with the idea after participating in a short-term mission trip to the Czech Republic. “At the end of the trip, I felt a sense that Europe was going to be my ministry ground,” says John. “But I didn’t know why.” Shortly after the mission trip, when the Chans went to visit a friend in Germany, the picture became clearer. They noticed a high population of Chinese students living in various cities. “It’s very simple,” explains John. “In Germany, the university education is free.” Every year, thousands of students leave China to study abroad. In 2015, more than 523,000 students travelled to foreign countries to obtain an education, according to the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. During the first few years of their ministry, the Chans went from holding services in one city to four. “It was a little bit crazy,” John remembers. Today, a robust team now serves the needs of the burgeoning Chinese student population in Germany.
While chopping carrots and stirring meat in large stainless steel pots, Ruth would build strong relationships with many of the students gathering in the kitchen. This foundation of trust would often serve as a bridge to sharing the gospel. Many of the students who arrive in Germany come from poor families in China. Although their education is free, they often struggle to pay for their living expenses. Through flyers and online ads, the Chans offered Chinese students free cookware, counselling, and support with medical and legal services. They also invited students to attend their weekly Bible studies and church services. “In China, it’s a communist state. So everybody grew up, including myself, being instilled with atheist thinking. We don’t believe there is a God; we have no religion,” explains John, who came to faith in Christ after immigrating to Canada in 1982. “So for most Chinese students, they come in contact with Christianity once they come to Germany.” Xiaohua*, then a 19-year-old from mainland China, was one of the first students to attend Bible studies with the Chans. Like many of the new students arriving in Germany, he was lonely and needed a sense of community. Xiaohua also knew he could count on getting a free meal at every meeting. “In Germany, it’s very difficult to get an authentic Chinese dish,” says Ruth, who would organize the weekly meal preparation, typically for 30 to 50 students. “Some students say that they come to Bible study because of the meal and that’s the best meal that they have for the week. It’s simple, but it’s authentic – just like you’re having dinner at home.” Ruth found the best time to get students to open up would be in the kitchen. “Food is more neutral, especially for those students who haven’t had any connection to Christianity or church,” says Ruth. While chopping carrots and stirring meat in large stainless steel pots, Ruth would build strong relationships with many of the students gathering in the kitchen. This foundation of trust would often serve as a bridge to sharing the gospel. “People don’t care what you say until they know how much you care,” says John. Although China announced an end to its one-child policy last year, there is still a generation of students that come from single-child households. As a result, many students feel a sense of responsibility to succeed, especially if they come from poor families. These students are often the only hope of lifting their family out of poverty. “Foreign-educated young professionals are always in huge demand in China,” says John. This pressure – coupled with the challenge of learning a new language and living miles away from home – makes the first year in Germany the most challenging. Some students suffer
with depression and turn to substance abuse or casual romantic relationships for comfort. “Our vision has always been to reach out to a new generation of these young intellectuals from China – to let them know what it means that God loves them,” says John. In Xiaohua’s first year in Germany, he got drunk one night and found himself in trouble with the law. He turned to the Chans for help. After walking him through the legal process, Xiaohua was able to get his life back on track. A few months later, he expressed a desire to become a Christian. “We don’t do ‘hard-sell evangelism’,” explains John. “But we do evangelism.” In the last eight years, more than 130 Chinese students came to faith in Christ and 88 of them were baptized in Germany. “I believe what the Bible teaches about community and love,” says John. “That is something that people long for.” While some students choose to stay in Germany after graduation, many of them return to China to secure lucrative jobs. In fact, the gap between the number of Chinese students studying abroad and that of those coming back has narrowed in recent years, says information from the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. “Whether the students stay in Germany or go back to China, we hope that they will share their faith journey with their family and friends,” says John, who recently joined CBM’s Canadian office as the new Director of International Partnerships. Although the Chans have returned to Canada, they are confident that the work they started in Germany will continue to thrive. With a full team of staff remaining, students receive follow-up calls and visits when they return home to China. In his new role, John is also in a better position to make strategic plans for the work in Germany. Now 27 years old, Xiaohua is scheduled to graduate this year with a master’s degree in economics. He plans to get married and wants to become a pastor. Although he is uncertain whether he will stay in Germany or return to China, he is determined to share his Christian witness wherever he goes. During their time in Germany, the Chans have watched Chinese students like Xiaohua succeed in their studies, grow in their Christian faith, and even start families of their own. “Now I have grandchildren, too,” Ruth says with a smile. *The name of this student has been changed.
FAITH LESSONS FROM THE FIELD
by Rupen Das
Evangelism has to be more than a verbal presentation of the gospel. It also involves providing space for people to encounter Christ. A 2009 study by Tomas Rees on the relationship between poverty and religiousness found that
Rupen Das is CBM Global Field Staff based in Amsterdam, where he serves alongside CBM partners, the European Baptist Federation and the International Baptist Theological Seminary. Rupen is the author of several books, including his most recent (with Brent Hamoud), Strangers in the Kingdom: Ministering to Refugees, Migrants, and the Stateless. (Langham Global Library)
personal insecurity (due to stressful situations, such as poverty) was an important determinant of religiosity.1 The poor tend to be more religious. I find the faith of the poor both intriguing and challenging: intriguing – because I wonder why the poor would turn to God and Christ; challenging – because they want to know the reality of God made possible in Christ – not a message or a theological proposition. I would have imagined that they would be angry at God, and blame him for their circumstances – for their poverty and the injustices they face. Why would they ask God (or anyone for that matter) for forgiveness, when it would seem that they have been the ones who have been sinned against? From my perspective, it seemed that God has betrayed and failed them. In a recent project, we asked the poor why they chose to follow Christ. We interviewed 41 individuals who are either slum dwellers in Bangalore, India or destitute Syrian refugees in Lebanon. All of them had been clearly identified as followers of Christ by Christian workers in the area, attested by the changes in their lives, their hunger for the Word of God and prayer, their turning away from the god(s) and idols they had worshipped, and their desire and passion to only worship Christ. Some had even been baptized. When asked how they became followers of Christ and why they chose to worship only him, most (more than 80%) spoke about a supernatural encounter with the living God who had answered prayer, healed them, provided for their daily needs, done miracles in their lives, or spoken to them in a dream or vision. They had cried out to God in the name of Jesus and he heard them. This is not the prosperity gospel, as none of those interviewed spoke about wanting to become rich through their access to God. What they were seeking was a God who cared for them in their desperation and destitution. This is what enabled them to live their daily lives with some semblance of dignity. Their understanding and awareness of sin and the need for forgiveness came later as they grew in their faith. Strangely, none of them spoke about liberation, revolution, or trying to change the unjust social and political systems that trapped them in poverty.
Why was I surprised by this? Ed Rommen, who had been a missionary in Europe, and then became an Orthodox priest upon his return home to the U.S., writes that too often we have focused on getting the content of the gospel right – contextualizing it so that people can understand. Evangelism is too focused on information – ensuring the relevance of the message of the gospel in different cultures, and very little on the reality and accessibility of the person of Christ. “So, whatever it is, contextualization involves mediation, not only of information about God, but the facilitation of a personal encounter with the saving, forgiving, all present, Lord of life, Jesus Christ.” For Rommen, the gospel is not merely a message, but a person. Evangelism has to be more than a verbal presentation of the gospel. It also involves providing space for people to encounter Christ. An incident in the life of Jesus brings this into focus. As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. “When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by’. He called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Luke 18: 36-38, NIV) What the blind beggar was asking for was not mercy and forgiveness from sin, but mercy from the all-powerful God to deliver him from the crushing bondage of blindness and the resulting curse of poverty. It is not that the poor don’t need forgiveness. It is only as they encounter and experience the living God, that they begin to understand grace and the need for forgiveness. I am realizing that the poor seek a God who is real to them, who would hear them, and care for them. Encountering such a God is good news to them.
Recently, the pastor of our church shared that when the curtain in the Temple separating the Holy of Holies was torn in half, it opened the way for us to approach God. It also unleashed God, who had been hidden in the Holy of Holies, into the world. His life-giving presence raised many faithful believers from the dead. The incredible power of his presence shook the very foundations of the earth through an earthquake. God was now present in the world in a way he hadn’t been since the Fall. The reality of God – who is present, who is with us – is absolutely foundational in the biblical narrative. He was there in the Garden of Eden. When the relationship was broken, he re-establishes his presence in the Temple. And at the end of time “the dwelling place of God is with man” (Rev. 21:3). In the in-between season of the Kingdom being “now but not yet”, God’s presence in this broken world continues through Christ and the Holy Spirit. It is this accessible and compassionate God – Immanuel – that the poor seek. As I listened to the poor, and read and re-read the interviews, I found my spirit soaring, realizing how real God is. They reminded me of what Solomon wrote about – what an earthly king should do, and what our heavenly King does. For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help, The afflicted also, and him who has no helper. He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy he will save. Psalm 72:12-13 (NASB)
Tomas James Rees, “Is Personal Insecurity a Cause of Cross-National Differences in the Intensity of Religious Belief?” Journal of Religion and Society, Vol. 11 (2009). Also see Steve Crabtree, “Religiosity Highest in World’s Poorest Nations,” Gallup Global Reports, 2012. 1
The Good News
Time and time again, we see people come near to Christ and be transformed when the church reaches out to them with a holistic gospel. As people are transformed, they begin to allow the love of Christ to radiate out of every part of their lives. Here are some snapshots of the living gospel in Bolivia.
by Kallie Hutton, CBM Field Staff in Bolivia
Th e E l d e r ly
In a small, isolated community of llama farmers, the local church recognized a marginalized group of people who were suffering: the elderly. Over time, many young people have left the small community to look for better work opportunities and, in the process, left their aging parents behind. Many of these seniors become increasingly isolated as they progressively lose their abilities to cook, clean, care for themselves or socialize. The local church, filled with the love of the gospel, has invited these seniors out of their seclusion and welcomed them into their building. They come to get breakfast, lunch and supper. They come to use the bathroom and have a warm shower. They come to be
with friends, to feel loved and cared for, and to be in community. For Zacharias, one of the seniors, having the opportunity to serve his friends has been very empowering. “I came to know Jesus later in my life, but I understood right away that I needed to love God and love my neighbour,” he says. “I am still young and have more strength than others; some of my friends can barely lift their cups up to their mouths, but I can pour them their tea. I can help with whatever strength I have.” As this small church lives out the gospel, they ease the physical, emotional and spiritual poverty of vulnerable and forgotten people and introduce them to the loving community of Christ.
THE LEGACY OF THE GOOD NEWS in Bolivia
Canadian Baptists have held a special place in their hearts for the country of Bolivia since Archibald Reekie was first appointed to serve there in 1898. Early missionaries like Reekie helped to build a strong foundation by establishing churches, schools and medical clinics. Canadian Baptists have also influenced important constitutional amendments for land reform, religious freedom, supported Aboriginal rights, and established the first Baptist theological seminary in Bolivia. This legacy of hope continues today. CBM partners with the Bolivian Baptist Union to promote integral mission â€“ empowering local churches to serve their communities in word and deed. Together, we support leadership training, evangelism, church planting and community development projects that change individual lives and whole communities.
Use this envelope to ensure the gospel will continue to be shared in Bolivia and other countries around the world â€“ now and into the future.
We need your help to carry on the work of hope and transformation in Bolivia and to other countries. Your gift will help ensure the gospel continues to be shared through word and deed. 1. Go to cbmin.org to give online or call us at 905.821.3533. OR 2. Fill in your personal information below. Tear off this section and place it in the envelope on the previous page, along with your cheque or credit card information, and then mail it to us. Your prayers and generosity are deeply appreciated. CODE: #CW
YES! I Want to Help Share the Good News of the Gospel. METHOD OF PAYM E NT:
Name: ______________________________________________ Address: ____________________________________________ City: _____________________________ Province: __________ Postal Code: __________________________________________ Cheque or money order payable to Canadian Baptist Ministries Visa
Card Number: __________________________ Expiry Date: _____ /______ Signature:
I do not need a gift acknowledgement. In the event that a particular project or program is oversubscribed, or where local conditions prevent implementation, CBM will redirect your donation to where it is needed most. Tax receipts will be issued for donations of $10 or more. Annual tax receipt sent at year-end. Charitable Registration Number: 10684 3436 RR001
After engaging a community for more than a year through the CBM Chagas project, which helps protect families against this deadly disease, local church members witnessed the impact: when they asked if anyone wanted to accept Christ, an entire family stood up. Over time, they had developed a friendship with project staff who frame their training around a biblical worldview. Alongside a Canadian short-term mission team, they also participated in the transformation of their homes â€“ to safeguard them from the virus-carrying insect that thrives in adobe walls and thatched roofs. The family experienced the love of Christ, they saw it impact their lives and they wanted in. The gospel lived out has the power to transform, restore and save.
Th e Fa m i ly
Th e C h i l d r e n Living in the middle of a red-light district, Goretty Jora, a member of First Baptist Church in Cochabamba, saw the children of sex workers being neglected, locked in their homes, abused and exposed to things no child should have to see. Her eyes and heart were opened by a gospel that did not allow her to be idle. Over time, she has transformed her home into a centre for these vulnerable children called Emmanuel Foundation. Every time she sits down to help them with their homework, she expresses that Jesus has given them potential. When she teaches them responsibility, she shows them that they are a valuable part of Christ’s community. As she provides them shelter when it’s not safe for them to go home, she teaches them that they deserve to be secure and loved. Goretty’s actions and words demonstrate God’s overflowing love and the lives of the children in her project are being transformed by a living gospel.
CANADIAN BAPTIST REIMAGINING THE CHURCH 500 YEARS AFTER THE REFORMATION by Sam Chaise
It is not only the Canadian landscape that has been re-shaped: the church landscape has also morphed.
Rev. Sam Chaise is the former Executive Director of CBM. He is currently the Executive Director of Christie Refugee Welcome Centre in Toronto.
Canada is 150 years old! Hooray! How do we tell the story of God’s good news of the gospel in today’s Canada – a Canada that is so different compared to 1867 … or even 1967? Most Canadians are open to spirituality but not to anything that looks like “religion.”1 Not that long ago the question people asked of Christianity was “is it true?”, but in today’s post-truth, post-modern era, the truth-question has been eclipsed by the question “is it good?” In other words, is Christianity even good for me and for Canada, or is it bad for us? It is not only the Canadian landscape that has been re-shaped: the church landscape has also morphed. The old pan-evangelical coalition held together by iconic figures such as Billy Graham and John Stott has fragmented into many groups, each arguing with the other in cyberspace. Many are saying that it is time for a radical re-thinking of the church and theology, while some say we need to return to our roots. Maybe both are true: we need a re-thinking and a return. The Protestant Reformation began 500 years ago. Baptists, technically, were not Reformers, because our ancestors did not look at the existing church and try to tweak it. Instead, they started with a blank piece of paper and re-imagined the Church from the ground up. They re-thought the Church by returning to what they saw as its roots in the New Testament. I believe that there are some distinctive things that Baptists have in our historic DNA that can help us navigate the new Canadian landscape. If we can re-connect with these things, and find fresh ways to articulate and live into them, Baptist DNA might be especially suited “for such a time as this.”2
Our ancestors believed that the human soul was so precious that no government or church had the right to coerce belief of any sort. They believed in the free interchange of ideas so that people could choose for themselves.
BAPTISTS BELIEVE IN FREEDOM OF RELIGION.
Our ancestors believed that the human soul was so precious that no government or church had the right to coerce belief of any sort. They believed in the free interchange of ideas so that people could choose for themselves. Baptists – at our best – are passionate about evangelism while holding to a person’s right to say no. Religious freedom does not mean that all roads are the same or that they all lead to the same place; it is just about believing that humans are made in the image of God with responsibility for their soul, and so should be free to navigate their path. Baptists were birthed without expectation that they would have privilege in their society: they just wanted a level playing field. This is “mature pluralism.”3 Can we learn how to have conversations about faith that are embedded within warm trusting relationships, and have a winsome and attractive tone rather than an “I’m right and you’re wrong” tone? Can we be enthusiastic about finding new ways to articulate and embody the gospel that connect with our culture, while recognizing that others have the right to reject what we are offering? And if we did that, would that sort of a church play an important role in a Canada that is open to “spiritual exploration” but not to religion?
BAPTISTS BELIEVE IN A GOSPEL THAT IS SPOKEN AND ENACTED.
Jesus both proclaimed and embodied the good news of the Kingdom. When we invite people into peace with God, we are also inviting them into peace with one another and with the earth. In today’s post-truth Canada, words by themselves do not signify any objective or transcendent truth for people. Actions, however, are an embodied truth that can create the opportunity for trusting relationship to develop so that non-coercive words can be shared in the context of conversation. Even Jesus had to use words to give context and content to his actions, so we dare not assume that actions in themselves are enough. Baptists believe in the “good news of the Kingdom,” and a Kingdom assumes both a King and a reign. This means that we invite people to enter the Kingdom by knowing the King of that Kingdom. Historically, for example, Baptists have worked against the slave trade and slavery, produced publications that communicated the gospel and discipled people, were at the forefront of public education and health care, and supported evangelistic efforts such as Billy Graham crusades. We believe in an embodied Kingdom and in the King of that Kingdom. Might that combination of beliefs be especially suited for today’s Canada?
BAPTISTS ARE (POTENTIALLY) LOCAL EXPERTS ON HOW GOD’S KINGDOM BECOMES PRESENT IN OUR CONTEXT, BECAUSE OF OUR BELIEF IN CONGREGATIONAL GOVERNANCE.
A colleague of mine once wryly said that Baptists believe in “congregational governance” on an episodic basis! He was, of course, referring to how our way of organizing ourselves may at times not bless entrepreneurial leadership, or may allow bullies and loud voices to dominate a situation, and thus hinder needed change. Our ancestors, however, did not come up with this form of governance because they believed in democracy: Baptist governance is not a Christian version of democracy. Rather, they believed that a group of Christ-followers could gather together, and with prayer, discern the mind of Christ for mission in their neighbourhood or town. In other words, they did not need a bishop or overseer to tell them what to do. At its best, Baptist congregational government can make us experts in local knowledge. It also allows us to see how God is at work around us, and how we can come alongside that. If our culture is indeed post-truth, it is moving past any trust in large institutions and movements, and it may be that the future is about millions of mini-contexts, where “truth” is discovered in actions and words in the context of a web of local relationships. Might it be that our belief in congregational governance is especially suited to today’s Canada?
Rather than clinging to the past or abandoning the past, might the way forward be to re-connect with our historic DNA and re-imagine how to give expression to that in these times? Five hundred years into the Reformation, and 150 years into the Canadian journey, might this be the time for Baptists to be like the Tribe of Issachar, who knew the times and what to do with them?4 Rather than clinging to the past or abandoning the past, might the way forward be to re-connect with our historic DNA and re-imagine how to give expression to that in these times? We need to acknowledge, however, that our historic strengths have shadowsides. A belief in religious freedom can devolve into individualistic self-created beliefs. An integration of words and actions can collapse into either just talking (a dis-incarnated evangelism) or just doing (a Kingdom with no King). Local expertise can collapse into radical independence where we stop learning because we are isolated. However, if we avoid our shadow-sides and build on our strengths, imagine who we could be! We could be people who are passionate about Jesus, but also passionate about freedom of religion; people who love the Kingdom and the King; and people who become experts on how that Kingdom is expressed in their local context. Happy 150th Birthday, Canada! The best gift we can give our country is for us to return to our roots and re-imagine how to express them in today’s Canada. God keep our land glorious and free. Amen. 1 2
Angus Reid Poll, published March 26, 2015. http://angusreid.org/faith-in-canada/ Esther 4:14. 3 Donald C. Posterski. True to You. Wood Lake Publishing, 1995. 4 1 Chronicles 12:32
The start of the Protestant Reformation is credited to Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic monk who saw things in Catholicism that he believed needed to change. He famously nailed his 95 Theses to the cathedral door in Wittenberg, Germany, for public consumption and discussion. This reforming impulse spawned other movements, including ones categorized as “the Radical Reformation” – radical in the sense that, rather than reforming what was, these movements sought to start over, with a blank slate. Some of them linked baptism to an individual’s profession of faith in Christ (“believers’ baptism”). Once they began re-baptizing people who had been baptized as infants, they were then called “rebaptizers”, or Anabaptists (the roots of today’s Mennonites, among others). The early Baptists had similar impulses to the Anabaptists but emerged in England and Amsterdam.
Jell-O was probably the most bizarre commodity of my church upbringing. Jellied salads with strange vegetables afloat at potluck dinners, fo...
Published on Oct 3, 2017
Jell-O was probably the most bizarre commodity of my church upbringing. Jellied salads with strange vegetables afloat at potluck dinners, fo...