Prayer is Not Optional

By Shannon Youell

At Banff Pastors & Spouses Conference, Church Planting (which includes missional innovations) always has something to help stimulate your imagination in sharing Jesus with those who have not yet experienced His presence in their lives. This year we put together a few simple resources to share with your congregation on a crucial place to begin engaging neighbours in proximity to where you live, work and play.

I want to assure you that we provide you with ideas that most often we have done or are doing ourselves and/or are currently challenging our thinking around evangelism, discipleship and being faithfully present to God and neighbour. We want to populate our thinking that inviting Jesus with us into all the places and spaces we find ourselves in should be the norm for His followers, not the exception.

It seems that 2017 has been the year of prayer.  By that I mean that across our nation, in our churches and in our spirits, God has been tugging us to that place of making space, praying, listening, and responding.

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We’ve been joining in praying for ourselves with the Luke 10:02 movement. Just to say it again…when we pray that prayer Jesus instructed us to pray we are praying for ourselves, as we are the workers Jesus is calling out for.

We’ve been praying for our churches and denomination during this season of 77 Days of Prayer.  And, I certainly hope, we have been praying for our neighborhoods and neighbors and folk who live and work and play around us.

That’s a lot of praying for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven, in our homes, neighborhoods, churches, towns, cities and nations!

Paul wrote to the Galatians about sowing to please the Spirit and not our own selfish natures.  He encourages them, and us, to “…not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal 6:9). There’s that reaping a harvest analogy again and we find that we are the reapers (again)!  “Don’t become weary”, don’t quit because it is hard, unrewarding, boring, silly, uncomfortable and isn’t filling the seats of your Sunday service. The call is to pray “unceasingly” and with boldness, faith and until you see God moving and hearts shift (usually I’ve found it is first my heart that needs shifting; my mountain that needs to fall into the sea!) and suddenly God’s presence fills the spaces between our praying and the harvesting.

If, in the sincerity of our hearts, loving those God loves, desiring to witness and be a part of seeing the light of shalom come into places where darkness still prevails, then praying is always the foundation.  Can we pray? Can we give up some of our precious “me” and “us” time to seek the kingdom in the way Jesus instructed.

In our give-away super packet at Banff, we included some ideas about prayer walking your neighbourhoods in your town. You can get it by clicking here.

Print it out.  Give it to every person in your congregation.  Model it first yourself.  This is where I began, though not with a guide or even an idea of what I was doing.  God challenged me to stop praying only for my home, my safety, my family and to begin to pray for the neighbourhood too. Then He challenged me to walk my neighbourhood weekly and stop, listen and pray at each house.  For you, we give this guided thirty-day challenge.  Will you accept it?  Will you join God who is at work already–He grows the harvest after all–and take the time to discover where He wants you to begin reaping?

 

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Live From Montreal

By Shannon Youell

Journey to the Cross
There are 500 stairs to journey to the top of Mount Royal which rises behind McGill University in downtown Montreal. Cailey and I are in Montreal for the 2017 Church Planting Canada Congress. The morning prior to the conference I decided to take the 2 km journey up those stairs to the lookout point to view the city and river, and then a little further to the cross that is visible from all around the city, especially at night when it is lit up.

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It was a LOT of stairs.

It is not an easy climb and there is an easier way to the top–along more gentle inclines with no stairs–but I was up to the challenge so off I went! As my legs began to burn and my breathing became more labored, I wondered what was it in me that chose the harder way up as opposed to the more leisurely route. At one point where the stair path intercepted the roadway path I almost defaulted to the path easier taken. My journey to the cross that day reminds me of our journey as people desiring to see God’s Kingdom continue to break into our nation, which finds foundation at this historical city.

A Collection of Losers
The Congress began with a daylong preconference, The Nones and Dones: The Evolving Story of Secularity in Canada, that engaged church planters and catalysts from across the nation in the conversation around the changing religious landscape in Canada.

James Tyler Robertson, Adjunct Professor, Tyndale Seminary, Canadian Religious Historian and Pastor, helped us frame our roots as people who were apolitical, fiercely independent and determined to break free of both imperialism and the control of the organized church. Our DNA as a nation is that we are a collection of “losers” (losers of the various battles that defined the settlement boundaries of North America and those whose loyalties changed due these conflicts) “who survived by hard work and partnerships.” The only way they survived was humble hard work. Partnerships with faith groups were necessary to survive.

Jamie’s description of our history has gone round and round in my head. As we in the church express great alarm at the secularization of Canada, what does this revelation say to us when the percentage of those who self-identify on census information as No Religious Affiliation (or “nones”) continues to rise?

The Spiritual Landscape
One of the main reasons for this shift in self-identifying as “nones,” and relatedly “dones” (those who have church experience but are “done” with it), is that it is now socially acceptable to say in public that you have no religious affiliation. In the history of our country, many of the social services and pillars of society centered on the church and the services that they offered. Everyone needed some kind of affiliation with the Church. Once government began to offer its citizens healthcare and education, and began to solemnize marriages, for example, people were no longer bound to the church for their regular function of their daily lives.

Sociologist Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme (Associate Professor of Sociology at Waterloo University) has been studying the secularization of Canada. Based on those studies, using Census figures, Statistics Canada and other research, she found that in our area of Western Canada, the average of 28% people have self-identified as nones.

Of our western region, BC ranks the highest at 39% of the population saying they have no religious affiliation—but among those under age 35, the percentage jumps to 47%. This is based on census and other research between 2010 and 2014.

We can’t expect to have a common history and language anymore—many of these “nones” have never had an experience of Christian Church. Almost half–47%–of teenagers in Canada have never attended a religious service (Bibby Research, 2008). Sociologists say that number now, ten years later, is higher—closer to 52%—and continuing to rise.

Now What?
Joel Theissen, Professor of Sociology at Ambrose University and Director of Flourishing Congregations Institute said that the #1 reason people join any group is because they have relationship with someone inside the group.

So what does that mean for those of us who are longing to see God’s Kingdom realized in our schools and neighbourhoods and communities?

We’ve written often about how different methods and approaches have worked in different eras in the last 100 years and why these methodologies are working or not today. Missiologist Hugh Halter, in his explorations of intentional neighbouring said recently in an interview that they realized every friend and neighbour who “eventually found Jesus first found themselves drawn to the festivities in a home” (Hugh Halter, Happy Hour).

Karen Wilk is part of the Capacity Building and Innovation Team of the new mission agency of CRCNA as well as a National Team Member of Forge Canada. As part of the preconference, she shared her experience of innovating and shaping faith in community in her own Edmonton neighborhood where people are finding Jesus and faith, not because they were invited to church but rather they were first invited to community in their community (we’ve featured one of Karen’s books before, titled Don’t Invite Them to Church). She spoke of shifting our conversations from how to make church grow and how to get people in them to what is God up to in our neighborhoods and how can we participate.

Overall, the church in Canada is facing 500 stairs. There are easier paths being promoted, but the true journey needs to humbly begin climbing each stair with perseverance, prayer, and partnerships, remembering the grit required of us to continue the climb to make Jesus visible and the cross a light on the hill.

Perseverance, prayer and partnerships. This is the Canadian way after all…eh.

We’re going to have some Tool Kits for you at Banff to help start these conversations with your church leadership team and congregations. Come chat with us.

We are deeply appreciative of all our Canadian pioneers both in the past and current. Thank you New Leaf Network and Jared Siebert for your brilliant reveal of the Canadian Landscape. Thank you Forge Canada and Cam Roxburgh for your pioneering work for the past decades of re-imaging mission in our nation and in our neighbourhoods. Thank you Church Planting Canada for pressing in to gather Jesus lovers together to wrestle, share and encourage one another in this journey of sharing faith through our churches and networks.

And thank you to each of you who read this blog because you too desire to see where God is at work and join Him there in your cities, communities and churches.

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Cailey and I taking in the CPC Congress.

Joell, Cailey and I would love to talk to you about participating in a one day conference with New Leaf Network around the topic of the Nones and Dones as we all wrestle with grasping hold of the challenges of sharing Jesus in an increasing secular environment. Drop us a note to begin!

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!

Book the Everyday Tour in Your Community

By Joell Haugan

The Everyday Tour Concert is available for booking.

Shalom Christian Outreach is hitting the road! Starting at the end of July in Clive, Alberta, the Everyday Tour is available to your CBWC church through to the end of October 30th. Enjoy a presentation featuring Gentil Mis (Mis is short for Misigaro Mutabazi) and the Legacy Family Singers.

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Also included in the event will be Shadrack Mutabazi sharing his story of being a refugee to Canada and being the pastor of our Heartland Area church plant in Winnipeg. His amazing and powerful message of reconciliation will be a blessing and a challenge to your church. Here’s what Shadrack says about the event:

The goal in this tour is to reach out to different churches including young Canadian generation, newcomers, and families. Furthermore, is to strengthen our relationship with CBWC, introducing and learn from each other new ways of worship. In addition, it is to develop and learn from personal healing journey and connecting with other Christians’ experiences through sharing and exchanging some life experience stories, which respond to the following message: “The power of forgiveness, reconciliation, praise, hope and joy of serving the Lord.”

We are a big musical family, but this time only 3 of my children will be going on this tour. Before becoming Canadian citizens, we lived in different war-torn countries such as DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda. The learning experience has made us realise that we have 10000 reasons to praise God.

We are bringing 2 Albums; 1 is an African Album and the other is an English Album. Performed by the Legacy Family Band and produced by Gentil Misigaro Mutabazi. Gentil has earned many awards and is a Juno-recognized artist who happens to be the eldest son in our family. Gentil will be leading this tour with his two sisters: Console Mutabazi and Dusabe Mutabazi.

The Everyday Tour Concert is also available to do an entire Sunday service if so desired.

The team is available July 30 through October 30. They would greatly benefit from having multiple events in a region or area to mitigate travel times and cost. Concert length is 90 minutes. Fees are not required. Love offerings are welcome but also not required. Opportunities for churches to partner with Shalom and other CBWC church plants will be made available.

Also, we are pleased to partner with Majd AlAjji (majd@cbwc.ca), Refugee Sponsorship Coordinator for the CBWC for those interested in furthering the work of refugee sponsorship in the CBWC.

Joell Haugan (1-306-773-1568)

CBWC Heartland Church Planting, jhaugan@cbwc.ca
Shadrack Mutabazi (1-204-619-6553)

Shalom Christian Outreach, muschadrac@yahoo.fr

Potential Impact Report

By Shannon Youell

Do we approach God and His calling on our lives with fisted hands, holding tightly to things we have already determined or with open hands, willing to allow God to inform and shape our futures? Do we allow God to fill our empty cups and then are we able to drink the cup he has given us?

This was the opening focus to more than twenty young adults from Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan, gathered at Gull Lake Camp April 27-30 to challenge the next generation to focus on spiritual direction, an openness to ministry potential, and general calling and leadership in their life. Facilitated by CBWC ministry leaders and pastors, the Potential Impact conference metaphor quickly formed around the charging rhinoceros, who can see only twenty feet in front of itself yet knows that to see the next twenty feet requires stepping into the unseen-ness of the future.

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Using a three-fold framework of Spiritual Direction, Deeper Personal Understanding, and Openness and Exposure to Ministry Potential, we went on a journey of self-discovery of Who Am I, Where Do I Fit, How am I Unique, What am I to do and Where have I been/where am I going. Facilitated by Chris Maclure, Tammy Klassen, Dennis Stone, Mark Archibald, Steve Roadhouse, Debi Burt and myself, these topics were engaged through sessional teachings and activities, faith stories, small group coaching, worship, prayer, reflection and–of course–by rambunctious times of basketball, floor hockey, arrow tag, ping pong tournaments, campfires, star-gazing, sharing meals, to name just a few of the things we did together.

The call to join God where He is at work no matter where life leads was dominant in both the presentations and in the small group coaching. In these peer sessions, participants could wrestle with the presented material and “engage in the topics of identity and call” with speakers and coaches who “were awesome, encouraging, helpful and practical.”

The conference organizers are keenly aware that engaging and empowering young people for ministry potential is crucial to continue in the work of the kingdom of God generationally. This is, after all, a component of making disciples who make disciples. Developing and raising/releasing leaders into whatever their sphere of influence as “ministers of reconciliation” will be, is our responsibility as the generations before them. And it will be their responsibility to the generations who come after them.

[Mis]managing Risk

By Dr. Scott Hagley

I didn’t recognize the risk when I first strolled out of Home Depot with several eight-foot cedar boards and posts over my shoulder. I neglected to consider the possibility of failure when I started digging up my front yard. But when the cedar boards had been cut and built into an 8’x4’ box, and made into a raised garden bed in my front yard, my wife and I suddenly realized the public nature of our experiment in gardening. A neighbor watched us work all morning. After the box was put together and the front lawn dug up, he strolled across the street to wonder out loud why we would put a garden where everyone can see it, from which children can steal produce, and perfect strangers can pass judgment.

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Gardening with an Audience

To be honest, we had not considered these possibilities when we began. We previously lived in a condo on the West coast, where yards were the luxury of the wealthy. The narrow strip of sun-bathed lawn out our front door looked like an ideal place for a garden. But our neighbor was right. The plants could be damaged by neighborhood kids looking for trouble. We might, in the end, only display our dismal gardening skills for the entire neighborhood. Perhaps we could have started smaller, in pots on our back porch. But we tried that for years living in a condo in Vancouver. And, living in a temperate rain forest, we managed to kill everything we ever planted. Our enthusiasm carried the day. We plunged ahead, our first foray in urban gardening.

As we filled the raised bed with soil, other neighbors and several strangers – on their way to grab coffee or walk their dogs in the park – stopped to reflect with us on our new venture. Several people offered advice; a few neighbors and strangers gave us seeds and starter plants. Over the course of the summer, a number of elderly folks made weekly trips to our front yard to offer advice, critique, and dispense decades of hard-earned gardening wisdom. We listened, asked questions, sometimes nodded without understanding what people said to us . . . but we continued to work the soil expectantly. Some crops were failures and some seeds didn’t take. But others grew so abundantly that we gave away produce for weeks: collard greens and kale, anyone? Seriously. Anyone?

Planting Safely

It seems to me that participation in God’s mission in post-Christendom North America looks a lot like our garden experiment. While many in our congregations recognize the need to engage new initiatives—participate in church planting or discover new ways to build community in their neighborhood—we tend to minimize risk, protect our reputation, and plant little safe experiments in our back yard. We tweak an existing program. We get crazy and serve coffee before Sunday worship. And, like gardening on our condo balcony in Vancouver, we tend to reap minimal benefits from playing it safe and saving our reputations.

Encountering God

I think the reason these safe experiments fail is because they keep our knowledge in-house, they simply work with what we already know and what we already believe to be true. They are an attempt to participate in God’s mission without the risk and disruption that comes from unexpected learning. But what if we decided to make our ignorance and uncertainty about mission in post-Christendom public? What if we decided to cultivate intentional spaces within our neighborhoods where we —the congregation or the church planter or the missional community leader—invite our neighbors to instruct us, to dispense wisdom, to share their gifts with us? Is it possible that God might lead and shape us through the gifts, wisdom, and concerns of our neighbors? Is it possible that we might be surprised where we encounter God?

In the book of Acts, the Spirit puts strangers together for the sake of mutual discovery. Cornelius discovers God’s grace in Jesus Christ, and Peter discovers God’s acceptance of Gentiles. An Ethiopian official discovers new depths to Isaiah’s prophecies and Philip discovers the boundary-breaking grace of God. Perhaps it is time we dig up the dirt in our front yards without a full consideration of the risks it entails. Seriously . . . collards . . . anyone?

“[Mis]managing Risk,” written by Dr. Scott Hagley, assistant professor of missiology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, first appeared on the Seminary’s blog March 16, 2017. The Seminary offers multiple programs for those interesting in church planting including the Graduate Certificate in Church Planting and Revitalization, Master of Divinity with Church Planting Emphasis, and the Church Planting Initiative. Learn more about these programs online.

Seven-Day Missional Living

By Cid Latty, Congregational Development Associate for the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec

Everyone seems to be telling us to be more mission minded but few give us practical ways to do it in the midst of our busy lives. This week, why not try the Missional Challenge? We have based it on a monastic weekly schedule that includes prayer, scripture, manual labour, service and hospitality. Our prayer this week is that together we might “live up to what we have attained” in Christ (Philippians 3:16).

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Day 1—Start the week with God

To spend time with God is not a waste of time but the fuel for our missional activity. Spend time with God in a way that may be new to you today. You could search for a scripture, poem, hymn or sacred song to give focus. Take a walk and pray as you worship God.

Day 2—Live simply

Give away something that is valuable to you. Other ideas: pay for someone’s cup of coffee, get the next person’s food, gas, etc.

Day 3—Service

Recall what inspired you to become a Christian. Give the people who come to mind a call or send an email to say thank you. Look to serve someone today in what we might call the mundane things of life. Who do you know who needs Jesus? Spend time with them today. Pray for an opportunity to share faith with them.

Day 4—Believe

We have been taught to say ‘In Christ’ but rarely have we been taught to say ‘I can,’ Let us memorize the whole verse today: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ Philippians 4:13.

Day 5—Hospitality

Send a friend or family member a word of encouragement today. Make or buy cakes to leave in the kitchen at work for people to take for free. Find a way to offer your skill set today. Take someone for lunch or find a way to use your home to host someone you know. Intentionally speak words of encouragement today.

Day 6—Love

Ask God to show you someone you can be a person of peace towards. Find a food bank that you can serve in some way.

Day 7—Pray for the world

Take one issue from the news today and pray about it. Remember to pray for those who are being persecuted. For more details about praying for the persecuted church see www.idop.ca.

See also CBM prayer line:

http://www.cbmin.org/prayerline

If you take Cid up on his Missional Challenge, let us know how it goes! What did God teach you? What did you see?

Re-Lent

By Joell Haugan

Again we find ourselves immersed in the Lent season where we set aside something (often time, or fasting of various types) and replace it with some directed meditation in preparation of Good Friday and Easter. It is a powerful yearly spiritual exercise that is often lost on evangelicals—myself included.

Then I thought about the word “relent” and wondered if there was a connection of some kind. Turns out the root word is different, but that doesn’t prevent me from making a connection anyway!

Relent, of course, means to give in and become less aggressive while conceding the point. So, in an argument, the person who relents is the one who finally says “OK, you are right, I give up.” In a March storm (which all of Canada seems to be getting) the wind finally relents, stops and is replaced by placid (and often beautiful) calm.

Obviously, Christians often need to relent with God and concede to Him the point (whatever it may be). We often need to drop our defensive, aggressive stance of stubbornness and let God be in charge of life….again and again.

I often wonder if churches need to relent too. I wonder if the Holy Spirit is actually prompting churches, attempting to get us to see the harvest right in our own neighbourhoods instead of ignoring those very people that God has plopped us in the middle of. Prompting us to become churches that participate in Kingdom tasks beyond our own siloed (only our little group) jobs. Prompting churches to express God’s love in concrete ways in our cities/towns/areas instead of just assuming they will “get it.” And perhaps He’s prompting our churches to multiplying our ministries to new towns and new neighbourhoods instead of us trying get more people to drive further to our one location.

What is God trying to say to you? To your particular gathering of the saints which we call Church?

Maybe this Lent we can relent to God’s prompting in our personal and our corporate church lives.

Joell.