The Lord’s Table: A Sacrament of Missional Reorientation

By Cailey Morgan

In just a few weeks, many of us will gather in Banff for CBWC’s Pastors, Chaplains and Spouses Conference. Every year this event is a fruitful retreat and celebration of God’s work in us together, but the Church Planting Team is especially thrilled this year to be hosting David Fitch as our keynote speaker. He will be sharing about several practices God’s people have been called to engage in as we seek to live in the way of Jesus.

Between now and then, we will post some of our comments regarding Fitch’s reasoning and approach to these practices in order to prime our minds and hearts for what David will bring to Banff in November.

In his book Faithful Presence, Fitch uses the framework of three circles to explain how our identity as God’s people is to be lived not only within the core church community (close circle), but in our homes and neighbourhoods (dotted circles) and in the public sphere, especially among the marginalized (half circle). Today, I’m going to share a few Faithful Presence quotes and thoughts about communion in those circles.

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The Lord’s Table has become rote in some of our congregations, and forgotten in others. However, this sacrament is central to Fitch’s idea of what shared Christian life should look like–and for good reason. As Paul reminds us, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

A Kingdom Act

The close circle represents the first space of the Lord’s Table…there is the closest of fellowship and unity with one another. No one can miss this closeness around the table on the night when Jesus was betrayed. Here, at the celebration of the Passover, Jesus is seated as the host.

Communion is a Kingdom of God act–it tells us the Kingdom of God is near. It reorients us to God’s ways as we have all been twisted up and spun around to focus on things that don’t really matter.

When we sit around this table and tend to his presence…each of us must come to grips again with the reality that Christ is present at the table in a real, sacramental way. We must tend to his special presence because his presence always brings the reordering of our lives together into his kingdom.

Communion reminds us that we are God’s subjects and His kids–our identity is secure in His right-side-right Kingdom. Therefore, as we begin to live out our calling on this earth as ministers of reconciliation, we can do so with submission to each other and humility to all, following the example of our King who humbled Himself by coming to earth and becoming submissive to even death on a cross (Philippians 2).

There is no kingdom without subjects….our submission to Jesus spreads out into mutual submission to one another, and a new social order is birthed out of this, which is nothing less than his kingdom.

We don’t need to stand up for our rights, or fret over our reputations. We are His and can submit to His ways knowing they are good. What an intimate and empowering reminder we are invited into at the Lord’s Table!

A Table of Welcome

This invitation to become children and co-workers with Christ doesn’t end with us around the table of the faithful.

The Lord’s Table happens every time we share a meal together with people and tend to the presence of Christ among us. Granted the formal Lord’s Table only happens at the close table. But that table extends from there…

If we can recognize his presence at work around the table, we will be able to recognize his work in the rest of our lives as well. If we can be trained into its logic of forgiveness, reconciliation, and renewal on Sunday, we can recognize that same logic of his presence in the world…Like Jesus, we go, not as hosts inviting people to our table, but as guests, submitting ourselves to the hospitality of others…we give up control, risking humiliation and even scandal…The question is not whether Jesus will be present, but will he be recognized?

I have to admit that most of the time I don’t recognize Christ’s presence around me, but I long for the day where His Kingdom logic is so ingrained that I can recognize His presence at work and maybe even be an arrow drawing others’ attention towards His goodness and grace. And I believe fostering a robust understanding and practice of the Lord’s Table is the next step in this growth process for me.

Some questions to ponder:

  • How does your congregation practice the Lord’s Table? How could practicalities like frequency and atmosphere deepen your understanding of this invitation into Christ’s presence and mission?
  • Do you see yourself as a host of Christ’s presence? How? What fruit has that reality borne in the life of your faith community or neighbourhood?
  • Are you willing to undergo regular reorientation of your identity and purpose?
  • Where are some tables in your community where Jesus is present but not yet recognized? How could humility and submission on your part bring light and hope around those tables?

I look forward to hearing your responses at #CBWCbanff2017!

All quotes from David E. Fitch, Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines That Shape the Church for Mission (InterVarsity Press): Kindle Edition.

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Gone Fishing

By Shannon Youell

I like my space.

My comfortable space. The place where I feel sure that everything is as it should be and where it should be. It’s safe. It’s predictable. I don’t have to do contortions to fit into it. I know what to wear and how to act; I know the best place to sit and that the food in the fridge is something I like.

My space is just…there. It doesn’t do much; not really. But I easily fall into it when I’m tired or challenged; bored or unimaginative; scared or unsure. It’s black and white familiarity without the uncertainties of those grey areas.

Problem is, God’s good world isn’t primarily black or white or even grey. God’s good world is full of colour, wonder, adventure and challenges. Yes, it’s also a fallen place, with a despiser of all that is good, true, pure and lovely; where there are traps and snares and enticements. But when life is spent avoiding anything that might disturb us, it is at the expense of the colour, wonders and adventure. I find in those moments that I have also avoided joining God in the goodness of His redemptive, restorative, reconciliatory work. And I miss the joy and beauty of witnessing God’s good gospel alive and at work. These, in retrospect are my deepest moments of grief. When I recognize that my fear of stepping out of my comfort zone also caused me to avoid stepping into what God was doing around me.

Out of the Zone
So I made a decision some time ago not to be haphazard or frivolous, but to be prayerful and attentive. And when fear wells up from some long-rooted source, to examine the benefits of plunging instead of being sidelined. So choosing not to be sidelined yet again by fear and past experiences, I went fishing.

A few weeks ago, staff gathered at Gull Lake in Alberta for meetings, prayers and reflections.

During a few hours off for recreation, I was invited to go fishing. Now I’m not a fishing person. Never really held much interest for me. And even more so, I am not a boat person—at least not when that boat is floating in deep water, and especially when it is smaller than a BC Ferry. So initially I gave all my pat reasons for not going, including the two goliaths: one, that the boat is quite small and two, Dennis Stone folds it up flat like a surfboard when he’s transporting it. It has bendable seams and a super soaker to suck up the water that leaks into those seams! But, sensing God was doing something here with me I plunged ahead.

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Dennis’ boat FOLDED UP ON A TRUCK!

I swallowed my fear and allowed God’s good creation to woo me. And there I saw God at work all around us. And I reeled in a wall-eyed pike. And I held it. And I kissed it…well I posed that I kissed it. It was amazing and fun and I wasn’t afraid or nervous because I was too in awe of how God had a hold on all my fears and excuses, while He unfolded His wonders around us.

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My new friend Pike.

So what has all this to do with church planting and being missionaries in our neighbourhoods?

Staying in our comfort zones causes us to miss out on what God is already doing. We have all sorts of excuses for why something that doesn’t look like it always has won’t work, couldn’t work and surely isn’t what God might have in mind.

Yet, in our purpose as God’s missionaries in the places we live, work, play, and pray in, we will be faced over and over again with our own uncomfortableness. Because stepping into our uncomfortableness demonstrates our willingness to live among and amidst the brokenness and bruising of our shared human experiences. We begin to see the big scary things as lovely things that God has waiting for us to unwrap and discover, hold and kiss.

I believe our biggest challenge to sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, of seeing God’s redemptive work all around us is our retreat to our comfort zones. The zone may look different for each us and for each of our collective selves gathered on any given Sunday, but those comfort zones can be barriers that make our faith sure of what we’ve already determined and certain of what we see rather than a faith where we are sure of what we hope for (the reality of God’s in-breaking Kingdom on earth), and a certainty in what we do not yet see.

We are praying this year for breaking out of our comfort zones, of looking at God’s goodness in the world and joining there. Will you pray that too? Can we step out and discover, that indeed we are the missionaries, the harvesters, the fishers, in our everyday spaces and places and there is nothing more wondrous and beautiful and exhilarating than seeing God transform hearts—ours included.

Help and Hope at a Neighbourhood Market

By Shannon Youell

“Our culture decides that if something is imperfect, unpopular, or on the edge of expiry it is worthless and therefore discarded. Fortunately for us all, Jesus does not take this view. He chooses the weak and imperfect people, cleans them up, and shows their true value.”

I have to admit, this is the most unique pick-up line I have ever heard. And it comes from one of our pastors! It came from Aaron Dyck, lead pastor of Gateway Baptist Church (GBC) in Victoria, BC, when I asked him what he says to the people who come to Gateway’s neighbourhood market when they ask why the church is giving away bags and bags of fresh produce and groceries every week….with no strings attached!

Gateway’s Neighbourhood Market is a partnered initiative with Living Edge Ministries (the other ministry job held by our own First Baptist Victoria Pastor, Neil van Heerden). Partners also include several local grocers, the Mustard Seed and other organizations. At this weekly market, Living Edge Ministries provides Gateway with fresh food that is imperfect, not selling well, or near their “best before” date. Single moms, seniors, or anyone who has a need is welcome to come to the Tuesday evening market and pick up these groceries for free, including fresh produce, staple food items and occasionally treats depending on what the sponsors have provided.

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When I first heard that GBC had decided to hold a neighbourhood market, I was a bit confused. GBC is situated in what appears to be a middle to upper economic area of Victoria. Aaron explained that as their team was praying to see where God was at work, they exegeted the area they were in and realized that just across the highway from them, the economic community shifted. It was to this community that God seemed to be urging Gateway to get to know.

Here is the danger when we are serious about asking God where He is already at work….He will show us! A visiting Nigerian pastor once told me that when we pray and listen, God gives us a key. If we take that key and just open the door in front of us, we will see God working and inviting us to join Him.

This is what Gateway is doing.

Giving out groceries offers help, but what of hope? Volunteers and staff are on hand to chat over coffee, ask questions, offer Bibles to adults and children and talk about the Gateway community and ways to connect. And this is where the pick-up line comes in. We live in a world where people are discarded, broken, forgotten or ignored based on various criteria, where we struggle for worth and value; and when, as one young woman demonstrated, the kindness of a stranger offers hope straight to the heart, tears well up and barriers come down, opening up opportunities for relationships to develop.

Here the neighbourhood becomes introduced to people of faith, who have genuine care and concern for the people they dwell among. Here we find a community of faith learning what being invested and embedded in that community can look like.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray and then to go into communities bringing God’s Shalom. To discover the felt needs, see where God is at work, become relationally engaged and reveal the Kingdom of God among them. (Luke 10:1-9).

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27).

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak (Isaiah 40:29).

PS: Just today I learned that Emmanuel Baptist Church in Victoria has also partnered with Living Edge Ministries in offering a Neighbourhood Market where they are situated, across from the University of Victoria. Praise God!

I’m Increasingly Bothered. Are You?

By Shannon Youell

Missional Prayer is intercession arising from the fact that God’s  Kingdom has not yet come fully in this world and his will is not yet fully done. As  Kingdom people this should bother us. But do we pray as though we are bothered? Missional Prayer, Urbana

The disciples of Jesus, noting that Jesus prayed…a lot…and that things seemed to happen when He prayed, asked Him to teach them how to pray. As far as we can tell, most of these guys were raised with the Torah and understood prayers: morning and evening prayers, prayers of repentance, prayers of mourning and supplication, prayers of thanksgiving and joy. Yet, they wanted to see God act in response to their prayers the way that Jesus’ prayers were answered. They saw Jesus pray and  Kingdom happened!

Jesus then instructs them to pray for this: “Our Father….Your  Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” He prayed for God’s  Kingdom to break into the places on earth where darkness and evil continued to oppress and break humanity’s spirit, where humans are drowning in judgement, rejection, marginalization and their own broken places.

And yes, just as the quoted blogger states, it should bother us that those places and people are all around us: work with us, shop with us, live with us, are us.

Really Bothered?
The question I’m forced to ask myself is if I am indeed bothered when I am aware of the struggles in my community, neighborhood, city, nation, and world. Most of us, being asked that, would say, “of course!” But the deeper question is how much does it bother us? Am I, are we, bothered enough to compel us to pray? To pray continually? To pray until we see God’s acting on behalf of and in response to those prayers? As the prophet Isaiah writes, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait (hope) for him” (Isaiah 64:4).

From the perspective of sharing Jesus, am I bothered enough that most of the people around me in my everyday life do not experience the life-giving grace, forgiveness, justice, mercy, hope and love of Our Father who is in heaven? Enough to pray for them everyday? Enough to allow those prayers to change me and give me Spirit boldness to invite them to consider Jesus and his redemptive restoration into their lives and circumstances?

Sadly, I’m not always quite that bothered, and perhaps not even often enough. And, indeed, that is reflected in how I pray or not.

10:02
This past May I was inspired by an international movement to pray Luke 10:02. Luke 10:2 instructs, by Jesus words, to pray, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

The movement has us setting an alarm on our watches or phones for everyday at 10:02 a.m. And then to simply pray what Jesus said to pray for. Easy…right?

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So we at CBWC Church Planting created a little magnet to affix to your fridge, or car, or filing cabinet to also remind you. And of course, we set our phone alarms. Everyday when the alarm went off, I would pray for a few minutes. It was exhilarating! Though I did find that the little alarm (which I programmed to have its own ring tone) went off at completely inconvenient times, like in line at the bank, or in a meeting and so I’d just hit “stop,” thinking I’d come back to it, which rarely occurred. So I talked to God about that because I really did want to take those moments everyday, joining with others, to pray for God to send workers to those who don’t yet know the presence of Jesus and the  Kingdom in their lives.

Here’s where I should make a slight clarification, just in case you didn’t realize this….Jesus is sneaky in Luke 10:2. He’s getting us to pray for ourselves! To pray that we will be the workers in the harvest, that we would be the ones bothered enough to pray, to engage, to invite, to share, to live among.

During my hit and miss time of praying the Luke 10:02 prayer, I have found that as I prayed for God’s  Kingdom to come into the lives and circumstances of folk around me, God has been doing some deep work in my heart. I feel, well, bothered. Bothered that there is so much pain in people’s own histories; bothered that inequity is rampant in a wealthy nation that has access to God’s provision for the whole world; bothered that humanity polarizes and shifts values and allegiances based on fear and scarcity in their own hearts. And bothered that I have not been bothered enough in my life about folk and situations that don’t in some way affect or trespass on my life.

In that bothered-ness, I have found myself weeping for others, even strangers as the Holy Spirit has made me more attentive and aware of people I barely have interaction with. Just so you know, I do not like weeping. It makes me feel weak and vulnerable, but the result is I am growing in compassion. It’s a by-product of the Luke 10:2 prayer.

It’s a dangerous prayer to pray for, because we get bothered. Jesus called us to love strangers, enemies, the unlovable in our eyes. No wonder. When we pray for them we begin to feel compassion towards them, empathy for them. We begin to see our own brokenness in theirs, or perhaps, acknowledge for the first time that we too, are broken, damaged, hurting people in need of the continual healing grace and mercy of Our Father. Of seeing God’s  Kingdom realized in our own spheres of earth as it is in heaven.

Perhaps the 10:02 prayer will inspire people to become missionaries at home and abroad, but I wonder if Jesus’ plan all along was to make us bothered. What do you think? Are you feeling a little bothered right now?

Then pray.

Summer Video Series 6: God’s Mission and the Places We Live, Work and Play

by Cailey Morgan

Shannon, Joell and I are thankful for so many resources that are available for us as we seek to evoke and resources CBWC churches and members towards our shared mission of making disciples who make disciples.

Today’s video is another from Forge America. Brad Brisco: God’s Mission and the Places We Live, Work and Play is the longest of the resources we’ve made available here, because it actually includes a story of a group of people who’ve been contextually living out the stuff we’ve been talking about here on the blog.

God's Mission & The Places We Live, Work, & Play – Brad Brisco from Forge America on Vimeo.

We saw one example of how to live and work missionally. But what are some other ways we can be a light in the places we live, work, play, in our Canadian context?

Summer Video Series 5: Incarnational Evangelism

by Cailey Morgan

Shannon, Joell and I are thankful for so many resources that are available for us as we seek to evoke and resources CBWC churches and members towards our shared mission of making disciples who make disciples.

Forge America’s resources include several videos available online, one of which is Hugh Halter in our video for today, Incarnational Evangelism.

Incarnational Evangelism – Hugh Halter from Forge America on Vimeo.

Have you ever been in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation but knew that it was the place God wanted you to be to share His good news? Share your thoughts here or by emailing me: cmorgan@cbwc.ca

Summer Video Series 4: What is a Missional Church?

by Cailey Morgan

At CBWC’s 2017 Gathering in Calgary, we were able to share several short videos we thought were particularly helpful for our context. Over the summer, we will be sharing those videos here on the blog in hopes of continuing the conversation, and hearing from you about these important topics.

In today’s video, Alan Hirsch: What is a Missional Church?, we consider the Sending God and His call for us as a Missionary People. What could missional look like in your context?

Summer Video Series 3: Living as Ekklesia

by Cailey Morgan

At CBWC’s 2017 Gathering in Calgary, we were able to share several short videos we thought were particularly helpful for our context. Over the summer, we will be sharing those videos here on the blog in hopes of continuing the conversation, and hearing from you about these important topics.

In today’s video, our very on Shannon Youell shares Living as Ekklesia, a call to consider the history of our language around the church and the ways in which we have exchanged Kingdom values for earthly values without even noticing.

Living as Ekklesia – Being the Church from Online Discipleship on Vimeo.

What do you have to add to the discussion on Ekklesia? In what ways do we as the church today need to change our perceptions and language?

Summer Video Series 2: Living With Intentionality

by Cailey Morgan

At CBWC’s 2017 Gathering in Calgary, we were able to share several short videos we thought were particularly helpful for our context. Over the summer, we will be sharing those videos here on the blog in hopes of continuing the conversation, and hearing from you about these important topics.

Today’s video, Jayne Vanderstelt: Living With Intentionality, speaks to the reality that mission is not something that we add on to what we are already doing in our compartmentalized lives. Rather, mission happens when we respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit, intentionally loving and serving those whom God puts in our path as we live lives that are visible and consistent.

Do you think the lifestyle Jayne presents is feasible? Why or why not?

Summer Video Series 1: The Church for Whom?

by Cailey Morgan

Shannon, Joell and I are thankful for so many resources that are available online for us as we seek to evoke and resources CBWC churches and members towards our shared mission of making disciples who make disciples.

At CBWC’s 2017 Gathering in Calgary, we were able to share several short videos we thought were particularly helpful for our context. Over the summer, we will be sharing those videos here on the blog in hopes of continuing the conversation, and hearing from you about these important topics.

Today’s video, Michael Frost: “The Church For Whom,” helps us consider who it is our churches are actually trying to reach. What sticks out to you? What do you need to do differently? What bugs you about Mike’s assessment of the church?