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?

Book Review: Family Ministry Field Guide

Book Title: Family Ministry Field Guide: How your church can equip parents to make disciples
Author: Timothy Paul Jones
Publishing Info: Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, Indiana, 2011

Reviewed by: Eric West, Pastor to Families at Gateway Baptist Church on Vancouver Island

Quick Blurb of Overall Thoughts: Timothy Paul Jones’s book Family Ministry Field Guide is a text that stays true to its’ aim to help churches equip parents to disciple their children. Jones makes it clear that this is not a “how-to” book but desires to lay a set of foundations that any church can apply to their context. The details and expressions of the presented foundations can therefore be as diverse as the church in North America is today. For any church wanting to equip the families in their congregation to make disciples of their children this book is a “must-read.” Family Ministy Field Guide

The author: is a best-selling and award-winning author of books, magazine articles, and reference materials. He is senior editor of The Journal of Family Ministry and professor of leadership and church ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Overview of Content: Jones organizes his text in five basic foundations to establish in the local church.

Foundation 1: Map the Gap

  • What Families In Your Church Are Doing—And Not Doing—When You’re Not Looking
    “When it comes to the process of discipling their progeny, most Christian parents—especially fathers—have abandoned the field. If you as a parent are personally engaged in a process to transform the contours of your child’s soul, you are a minority.” pg. 25
  • What Family Ministry Is And Why It’s Worth It
    “Here’s what I mean by family ministry: The process of intentionally and persistently coordinating a ministry’s proclamation and practices so that parents are acknowledged, trained, and held accountable as primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives.” pg. 33

Foundation 2: Rethink Your Goal

  • Why Not To Do Family Ministry
    Jones takes on the validity of the infamous “drop out rate” for youth transitioning out of High School to College. He writes, “Retention rates aren’t the launching pad or the end point of God’s plan; Jesus is (Rev. 22:13).” pg. 52
  • How To Find The Right Motivation
    “Yes, growth is part of God’s good design for his cosmos and for his church. And yes, the proclamation of God’s Word does result in growth and the fulfillment of God’s purposes…Godly growth is sometimes slow, often hidden, and frequently frustrates our dreams and designs. But it is always centered on Jesus and the gospel.” pg. 57

Foundation 3: Frame Your Ministry in God’s Story Line

  • Discover Who Your Children Really Are
    “When the whole story of God frames every part of a family’s existence, parents don’t just see their children as son and daughters. They also see their children as potential or actual brothers and sisters in Christ. When parents see their children not only as their children but also as their brothers and sisters, it changes everything.” pg. 71
  • The Split In God’s Story Line
    “The unspoken message has been that the task of discipleship is best left to trained professionals. Churches have presented moms and dads with the impression that active participation in the discipleship of children is optional for parents.” pg. 83

Foundation 4: Give Parents the Guidance They Need

  • Give Parents The Guidance They Need
    “So what are these two top factors in parents’ failure to disciple their children? The primary point of resistance was that churches weren’t training the parents. The secondary reason was that parents weren’t making the time. It was a matter of training and a matter of time.” pg. 100
  • A Matter Of Training And A Matter of Time
    “…the issue seems to be not so much that parents have resigned their role as primary disciple-makers. It isn’t even that parents don’t desire to disciple their children. In most cases, the problem is that churches are neither expecting nor equipping parents to disciple their children.” pg. 108
  • Providing What Parents Really Need
    “What parents really need: telling, training, and time.” pg. 111

Foundation 5: Transition to Family-Equipping

  • Killing The One-Eared Mickey Mouse
    “Conceived the late nineteenth century and professionalized at the height of the baby boom, the one-eared Mickey Mouse turned out to be an attractive option for churches in the twentieth century. By segmenting the generations, churches didn’t have to directly deal with the emerging generation gap. Youth had their own activities for themselves and their peers, separate from other generations.” pg. 125
  • Family Equipping Transition 1: Be
  • Family Equipping Transition 2a: Equip Families for Faith Talks
  • Family Equipping Transition 2a: Equip Families for Faith Walks and Faith Processes
  • Family Equipping Transition 3: Acknowledge
  • Family Equipping Transition 4: Synchronize

Audience: For leaders in the trenches who see parents disengaging from their children’s spiritual development, see too many students leave for college and drop out of church, or are frustrated with programmed ministries that fail to produce results.

Strengths: This author is experienced in articulating his findings and proving his theories in the trenches of ministry. His biblical usage is academically solid while his conclusions are practically accessible and hands on. Jones presents the material in a format that makes it easy to learn and to re-teach to volunteers, parents and to the whole church.

Overall Assessment/recommendation: I highly recommend reading this book if you are a church desiring to do family ministry. I would recommend reading this book as a team of ministry leaders. It was written to be done in this context and will require dialogue to fully flesh out in the local church context.

Share your thoughts on Jones’ book or this review by commenting on the blog or emailing Cailey at cmorgan@cbwc.ca. For more resources and inspiration about children and families ministry, contact Sherry Bennett, CBWC’s Director of Children and Families, at sbennett@cbwc.ca.

Doubly Loved

What are the markings of a biological son? He looks like his dad. Without even realizing it, he mirrors the personality of his father. His natural defaults, his funny little quirks–they’re little pieces of proof that he has his dad’s DNA. He belongs to his father right down to the molecules that make up his body. His father is overjoyed to see himself reflected in his son. What beautiful love.

How about the markings of an adopted daughter? She oozes love for the man who scooped her out of loneliness and gave her his name. She follows him around the house, studying and copying his every move. When he comes to pick her up from school, she points him out to her friends. “That’s my dad!” What beautiful love.

father daughterIf you think that’s beautiful, consider this: you are twice-born. You are doubly loved.

In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves (Ephesians 1:5).

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:14-17).

God, as the Creator of the universe, fathered humanity into existence. He is your physical Dad–He created you. He cannot help but love you because He bore you, and you are His.

God, as the Father of His people the Church, drew you back to Himself and adopted you into His family. He chose, knowing your faults and all the ways you are going to hurt Him and reject Him and embarrass the family through your selfishness, to welcome you. He chose to love you.

And now you are His biological and adopted child. You get to bear His name. You get to rely on Him for your identity, for your value.

You are in His family, and He’s asked you to show your love for Him by loving your brothers and sisters, those He bought back from slavery with His own blood, just like He did for you.

You were an orphan, but not any longer. Will you now go, and tell everyone around you that they don’t have to be orphans either? Will you share even a bit of the love, the inheritance that the Father has so abundantly–so hilariously over-abundantly–poured out on you?

Cailey Morgan
CBWC Church Planting

What ARE we planting? Part III – KINGDOM EXPRESSIONS

By Shannon Youell

When I think of expressions, I think about what characteristics, qualities, nuances I see in faces, in architecture, and in gardens; sounds, notes and layers I hear in music; interpretations in how a theatre production is staged, costumed, acted.  We have all heard different artists express themselves uniquely, though singing the same song. Their own personality–their own emphasis–comes through and speaks to some vividly, while others prefer another artist’s expression of that piece.

Kingdom expressions, I think, are similar.  How one group worships on a Sunday gathering can be completely different than how another group worships and yet they both connect with the Father, sense the moving of the Spirit, experience the liberty of Christ.

One group amongst us holds worship services outdoors when they can.  When the weather doesn’t permit, they gather in homes, not just on Sunday, but during the week. They pray together, perhaps sing, tell the stories of the Gospel together.  This is their expression of being gathered church.

Another group gathers around a common struggle.  They hear scripture, pray, cry, repent, are encouraged, embraced and loved while they work together towards healing and wholeness.  The delivering justice of God brings the presence of the kingdom right where they are broken and open.

For both of these groups, an expression of church that we might consider traditional would not work, so why try to peg them into it?  Each of these are expressions of the Kingdom of God that is marked with peace, hope, love, joy, freedom from oppression, compassion, mercy, justice, salvation— belonging, believing, becoming.

Both of these gatherings grew out of the particular community itself. Faith engagers entered in and discovered where the community lacked hope, mercy, justice, healing, and began to develop an expression of the Kingdom of God there that was relevant and effective to that place.

Is it an area of economic disparity?  High crime? Wealth but isolation?  An area high in single parents? Marginalized? What is that community already doing together, if anything?

In every one of these situations, there are tangible ways to bring an expression of God’s kingdom.  One group I know is going into schools and asking them what they need.  And then figuring out how to help meet that need.  In one case it’s a breakfast program whilst getting to know the kids; in another it’s someone to model positive values and morals to fatherless teen boys, the school staff so broken by the pain they see in these kids, that even those who don’t know Christ see there is something attractive in the Christ disciples who come to serve.

 greggavedon.comI read an article of a group of Christ disciples in the southern states who moved into a particular community and discovered there was no local grocery store.  The community was poor and most did not have transportation to take them to an area with a full store, so they mostly shopped at the local convenience store, feeding their families overpriced, under-nutritious junk.  So the group decided to open up a green grocer, even though business people told them it would flop, it wasn’t a viable plan.  But they did it anyways.

As Jesus community, they pooled their resources and rented space, bought good food, volunteered to staff it and became a beacon in that community by providing, teaching and giving food when the situation arose, to families who only want to provide for their kids.  Salt and light: expressions of the Kingdom being developed in a neighborhood.

When Jesus was looking to develop a faith community, He used stories that suited that community. He used language and situations familiar to His listeners.  He brought expressions of the Kingdom right into their context and culture.

Expressions of the kingdom of God look like something.  They are beautiful, tangible, generous and other-serving, and they are relevant to those to whom the Kingdom has yet to be made known.

In the context of church planting, thus far, we have suggested that if we are thinking like faith engagers, who also think like developers (see part II), we first see what a community needs developed within itself. Then we discover, by relationally becoming acquainted, how the Kingdom of God can be engaged and expressed there.

Next time, How do we know what community to develop?

Shannon Youell
syouell@cbwc.ca
CBWC Church Planting

Keeping People in the Bull’s-Eye

By Larry Osborne.

I remember the first time I stood in the ruins of an ancient Jewish synagogue. I was shocked at how small it was. As a modern-day suburbanite, I had always imagined that the synagogues of Jesus’s day were about the size of a mid-sized church. I hadn’t factored in that Jesus ministered in an era without easy mobility or that everyone who attended had to live within walking distance.

I also used to wonder why the New Testament never said anything about small groups or the importance of building and maintaining community. I failed to consider that the early church met in homes and that most people lived in well-defined neighborhoods they seldom left. A house church is a small group. It doesn’t need to focus on building community. And the anonymity and superficiality that ail our modern-day churches are hardly problems in a small and stable neighborhood where everyone knows everyone—and has since birth.

But as we all know, that’s no longer the world we live in. The neighborhoods of the past no longer exist. They’ve been killed off by our mobility and replaced by new connection points: the workplace, special interest groups, and our station-in-life.

The change in our relational patterns has been so profound that we now value anonymity more than interconnectedness. So much so that the right to privacy has been deemed a constitutional right.

Big is the new normal.

Now I’m not bemoaning the loss of small. There are some good things that come with economy of scale. I like having choices. But big does have some downsides.

The Downsides of Big

The first downside of larger cities, stores, and churches is found in increasingly shallow relationships. When everything grows huge, everyone becomes a stranger. Even in our churches, the quality and depth of relationships that the New Testament considers to be normal have become increasingly rare.

The New Testament lists more than 30 “one anothers” that describe the type of relationships and behaviors that is supposed to be normative in a local church. They include things like loving one another, bearing with one another, confessing our sins to one another, praying for one another, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and songs, and a host of other things that can’t take place as long as our meetings and groupings are too large.

The second downside is lost perspective. We think of historically large churches as being small. In the past, any church over 200 was considered large. A congregation of 400 would put you on the map. It took just 800 members in 1920 to be included in Elmer Towns’s classic church growth book, The 10 Largest Sunday School Churches in the World.

Now here’s the problem with thinking you’re small when you’re not. It’s easy for numerical growth to become priority No. 1. That’s because when a church thinks of itself as small, it tends to assume that the community and relationships are already among its greatest strengths. And when that happens, adding more people quickly becomes more important than finishing the discipleship task.

The truth is that any church over 150 is not the close-knit family it thinks it is.

More often than not, it’s a core of worker bees at the center that know and love each other deeply while everyone else circles around trying to connect.

That’s why when the church I pastor reached 180 in attendance (kids and adults), we cut back on our large group meetings to focus on relationships and small groups. We realized that most of our relationships were casual and superficial. Not because there was something wrong with our people, but because we had too many people.

When People Become Numbers

Now I’m not saying that large churches are bad. I pastor a massive church with well over 10,000 people showing up each weekend. I’m simply saying that the moment our primary focus shifts from developing biblical community and iron-sharpening-iron relationships to growing the church larger, genuine discipleship becomes nearly impossible.

And the first sign that biblical community, life-on-on life relationships, and the discipleship that flows out of it are no longer a priority is when we stop keeping track of individuals. People become numbers. Somewhere around 125 to 150, we start to ask, “Have you seen Jason and Amy?” And no one can remember.

Churches at this size often try to institute some sort of system to track individuals. But I’ve found that somewhere around 300 to 400 most churches throw up their hands and decide that tracking individuals is too complex and difficult to do.

So they quit trying. Total attendance replaces individual attendance as the key metric. And when that happens, there’s no longer any way to know if they’re fulfilling the Great Commission or simply cycling an ever-changing crowd through a revolving door.

If we don’t know who’s coming, it’s impossible to know who’s growing.

Numbers Lie

Consider how misleading total attendance figures can be.

If all I track is total attendance instead of individual attendance and my church grows from 400 to 500, I’ll see it as a great year. But if what really happened was a loss of 100 people and a gain of 200 new ones? That’s a lousy year.

One calls for, “Hallelujah! We grew by 25 percent!”
The other calls for, “Oh No! We lost 25 percent!”

This subtle shift from tracking individuals to counting numbers leads many churches to think they are healthy and growing when in reality they are simply a revolving door with a bigger front door than back door.

Staying Focused on People

I’ve never been willing to accept the inevitability of shifting from tracking people to tracking numbers. That’s why back when North Coast Church was less than 200 in attendance, we made a decision to do whatever it took to carefully track our small group and weekend attendance.

Frankly, it wasn’t long until it became clear that it was impossible for us to accurately track individual worship service attendance. Even with a strong push each weekend, the best we can get is a 50 to 60 percent response. Nonetheless, 50 to 60 percent is better than 0 percent. So we take what we can get and carefully record and track all the cards that are turned in. It’s a laborious task. But it’s well worth it if we really believe that people who come are more important than the money they give.

As for our small groups, it’s much easier. Since we treat them as the hub of our ministry, we have high participation. This year it’s equal to 94 percent of our average weekend attendance. And I can tell you in real time who was in a group last week.

How do we do it? It starts with the conviction that tracking individuals is more important than money. If we didn’t really believe that, we wouldn’t go to all the trouble to chase down those who forget to turn in their attendance.

Keeping People in the Bull’s-Eye

Admittedly, it’s no easy thing to accurately track individual attendance and involvement. In light of the difficulty and complexity, it’s understandable why so many churches make the shift to counting numbers instead of people.

But we can’t settle for numbers if we want to fulfill the Great Commission. Numbers can’t be discipled. Only people can be discipled.

Fortunately, along with the huge increase in churches with more than 200 attendees, there has also been an explosion of church management software and programs that can make what once would have been a gargantuan task, manageable.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how we do it. We can use old-school pen and paper. We can use the latest and greatest software solution. We can intentionally plant smaller churches that multiply. Or we can grow massive megachurches with complex tracking systems. But one way or the other, we have to ensure that our people don’t become mere numbers. Because when they do, it won’t be long until discipleship is something we talk about but have no earthly idea if it’s actually happening.

This article is originally published on expontential.org. Larry Osborne is one of the senior and teaching pastors at North Coast Church in Vista, California. Under his leadership, weekend attendance has grown from 128 to over 10,000. Recognized nationally as one of the Ten Most Influential Churches in America and one of the most innovative, North Coast Church pioneered the use of video worship venues and is one of the leaders in the multisite movement with over 31 local worship options each weekend – each one targeted at a different missional demographic. Over 90% of North Coast’s average weekend attendance participates in weekly sermon-based small groups, a concept that is spreading across the nation as an alternative to traditional small group methodologies. Larry’s books include, Innovation’s Dirty Little SecretAccidental PhariseesSticky TeamsSticky ChurchThe Unity FactorA Contrarian’s Guide to Spirituality and 10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe.

Disciples or Church-Goers?

by Shannon Youell

A few weeks ago I wrote a bit about re-engaging intentional development of apprentices  nee: disciples) of Jesus who grow into “church”. In the basic understanding of 1st C.E. Greek culture which understood ekklesia as an assembly/gathering of people who are free citizens, with the power to vote and thus have an impact on the communities in which they live, work and play, we find our traditional elements of how we define church:

Through the message and mission of Christ, we are free from the bondage of sin, having been delivered by God’s restorative love, and mercy and justice from the oppressions of the way of this fallen world in which we reside and have the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and authority of Christ to likewise be deliverers of God’s mercy, love, justice, joy, hope, salvation and thus shalom  into all our spaces and places.

Likewise: in like manner; in the same way. In the manner and way of Christ. And we see Paul and others who did the same. I think Paul was very intentionally focused on walking alongside others and living this “way of life” so that they to would do the same: “

You know how we lived among you for your sake.  You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.  And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.  The Lord’s message rang out from you….your faith in God has become known everywhere. (1 Thess 1:5b-8a)

Paul took to heart what he had been given to do: to go and make disciples who became imitators of the Lord, of which Paul and company claim to also have been. And as imitators of the Lord, people living and being like Jesus, they had impact in their neighbourhoods, communities and beyond. They were ekklesia.

I titled this piece Disciples or Church-goers. I kind of did it on purpose as often we see them as one and the same. And they should be, but sadly, because we have unfortunately relegated the discipleship part of making disciples to optional, sometimes we make church-goers who aren’t disciples. Sincere, lovely, but not necessarily likewise. And isn’t it interesting to note that though sometimes church-goers aren’t always active disciples, disciples are usually active church-goers?

All this to pose the thought:  how should we go about what we usually call church planting?

It’s a good question and believe me there is no pat answer, but wouldn’t it be great to explore this deeper together?

The “How” of Kids and Missional Communities

This article was originally posted on the Verge Family Channel. Thanks to author John Murchison for allowing us to share it here. 

 

Being a family that is part of a Missional Community is not only possible, but in many ways helps both your internal mission to your kids and your external mission to others. In other words, being a part of a Missional Community is a great way to be on mission to and with your kids.

Garage Sale Fundraiser

In a Missional Community, you are on mission TO your kids by involving them in a Christian community where they can see the gospel on display by the way that you love each other in Christ. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35 ESV

A Missional Community also gives you the opportunity to be on mission WITH your kids. Your children have the ability to open doors to talk to people that might normally be closed. In addition, the activities you do with your children often put you in close and regular contact with other parents that might not yet have heard and believed the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some families are reluctant to even try to have a Missional Community because their lives are so busy with their kids. Others, however, are eager to be a part of a small group of people on mission, but don’t know what that would look like. For these families, they don’t have a “want to” problem, they have a “how to” problem.

To support and equip these families, I am starting a short series on what it might look like to include your kids in a Missional Community.

No “One Size Fits All”

I say “what it might look like” because there is no “one size fits all” model for how to do Missional Community in general, much less how to do Missional Community with kids. However, I hope that offering some thoughts on different types of group gatherings will be helpful, and that each family can take some ideas from this series and apply them to their specific community.

At The Austin Stone, we encourage our Missional Communities to pursue three main practices:

  • To gather as a community in a Family Meal
  • To gather as disciples in Life Transformation Groups, or LTGs
  • To gather as missionaries in a Third Place

If you’d like to read more about what these practices are, check out this series by Todd Engstrom. Todd is the Executive Pastor of Campuses and Communities at The Austin Stone and has written extensively on these practices and how to apply them in your group. When you get to his resources page, scroll down to the section titled “Practices of Healthy Missional Communities.”

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting on each of these practices, sharing how I have seen families be successful at being a part of each of these types of meetings.

Hold Your Expectations Loosely

Before I close the introduction to this upcoming series, I want to encourage you to keep an open hand on your expectations of kids and Missional Community. Many times, we get in our heads that a successful church meeting consists of a very calm meeting where everyone sits in a circle, takes turns speaking, shares what they are learning, and prays very solemnly before everyone goes home. If you’re hoping that your kids will fit into a meeting like that, you’re most likely going to be disappointed. I suppose God could perform a miracle and have your children sit quietly for the duration of that type of meeting – He has parted a sea and raised people from the dead, after all. However, I’ve never seen it happen.

But that may be okay. Because real life community doesn’t usually consist of people sitting in a circle and taking turns talking. For me, real life with my friends looks like a conversation that gets interrupted every five minutes by one of our children. Real life looks like taking a break from the party to change a dirty diaper. Real life looks like finding places to meet friends where our kids can play off to the side while we catch up on life. And it is in real life, not in some alternate reality, where we must live our Christian lives – in community, on mission, together.

So it’s okay if it gets a little crazy. It’s okay if it doesn’t go as expected. It’s okay because God can and will still use your community for your sanctification, for your discipleship of your children, and for your mission to others.

In the coming weeks, we’ll share John’s insights into the practices of family meals, Life Transformation Groups, and meeting in a third space. In the mean time, what are your thoughts? Share your opinions or experiences with the community by emailing Cailey Morgan or posting a comment on this blog.

If you’d like some help getting kids involved in missional life—or getting your church on board with the idea—Sherry Bennett would love to chat with you. Sherry’s the coordinator of the CBWC’s Children and Families Missional Network (CFam).

 

John Murchison

John Murchison

John Murchison is the Director of Children’s Ministry at The Austin Stone. He is husband to Sarah and father to Waverly and Lucy. He is passionate about making disciples of children rather than “mini-Pharisees,” and about teaching children the gospel over morality. He desires to help parents see themselves as missionaries on mission to and through their children. He’s also a fan of Pixar movies, all things Disney, comic books, and video games, and uses his job as an excuse to do “research” in these areas.

Unity

Here’s a great article we’re reposting from CBWC Church Planter Jodi Spargur’s blog. Talk to us to find out about supporting God’s House of Many Faces.

The drum beat reverberated off of the ceiling and walls, it echoed through my body. This sound I have come to associate with our church gathered and it directs my attention to God’s presence among us. This afternoon though we are in a very atypical space for us and my heart is praying that this familiar sound is putting some at ease in what is otherwise an uneasy space.church-eagle

Usually we gather outside on the grass and the drum echoes off the buildings around. Other times we gather in a small hall and the drum dominates because of the small space no other conversation is possible. Today we are gathered united in worship though diverse in our expressions, our ethnicities, our styles and our communities of faith. Today we are gathered with our neighbours, both friends and strangers to worship together and to look around the room, reminded of what the body of Christ looks like in our neighbourhood, at least somewhat.

One friend in the midst of conversation with me exclaims, “oh, I had no idea they were follower of Jesus” as a family from another congregation walks through the door. “We walk to school with them every day. My son will be so encouraged to know that he is not alone in his class.”

We are gathered in what is now known as Strathcona Church (funny since that is the name we chose for this blog 5 years ago). Up until a year ago it had been a Korean Foursquare Church with a mostly commuter congregation. Then, last spring it was purchased by a private family with a vision of stewarding this space for the use of various churches in a shared way. While conversation is still ongoing about who all will use the space on a regular basis this joint service was the first event held in the space. For almost a year pastors of incarnational churches in the neighbourhood have been gathering to pray and ask God if there are ways we could work together more intentionally.

God’s House has had a practice of inviting other churches to join us for Good Friday, Easter Sunrise and Christmas services. The Salvation Army had also been spearheading a month of prayer that we would all participate in, but we felt it was also time to gather collaboratively for worship and fellowship. Strathcona Church was a good venue for that and allowed us to all come into the space afresh. The service was organized by Strathcona Vineyard, Mosaic (Alliance), God’s House (Baptist) and we invited The Salvation Army 614, friends who live in the neighbourhood but are attending church outside of it. We also invited churches that are newly planted and anticipated or had just launched; Coastal (non-denominational) and Vancouver Foursquare Church.

On Good Friday we look forward to accepting the invitation from the Chinese churches in the neighbourhood (Mennonite and Church of Christ China) to expand our fellowship further, gathering again in the Strathcona Church space. Jesus prayed that we would be one.

While we all have distinctive contributions it is encouraging to move toward greater unity in these gatherings. In fact it was a goal when we set out at God’s House as a metric of health that we would see greater unity in the whole body of Christ. As with any sign of health, this is God’s doing as we try and lean in to his heart.