Community Engagement

I love stories! I love to tell them (and I always seem to have one, much to the eye-rolling of some who graciously wait for the point of a discussion while I tell it); but I equally love to hear them. I love to hear the ways God is working through people and communities and neighbourhoods all through the CBWC. Stories inspire me, bring me to raucous laughter and tears of compassion, empathy and delight. I remember stories because I’ve connected with them. This month we are featuring some of the stories we’ve been hearing that have inspired us and others. Hopefully they will inspire you as well and cause you to celebrate along with us how God uses ordinary people in ordinary places in extraordinary ways as we join Him on His mission.

Our first story comes from Victoria, BC, and we highlight it as it demonstrates what can happen when we take the time to invest in what is important to those who live, work and play in the communities beyond our church spaces and join them. Our modernist approach has mainly concentrated on inviting people to come see what is important to us, yet—as the story shows—when we engage in what is important to others, relational trust is established and doors are opened for engaging together. ~ Shannon Youell

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David Dawson & fire Chaplain Ken Gill

Community Engagement
by Pastor David Dawson, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Victoria BC

Often, church members do not live in the immediate neighbourhood of their church building. At Emmanuel Baptist in Victoria, people travel from many locations to attend church services and events. Yet when a church is grounded to a particular location through a building, it is important for the church to be connected to the more immediate community. This responsibility often falls upon church staff and the volunteers.

At Emmanuel we have a long history of reaching out to students because we are located near the University of Victoria. More recently, we have been making more of an effort to connect with our neighbourhood and municipality. In the last few years a couple of doors opened for us through the use of our building.

In connection with the Oak Bay fire chaplain ,who attends the Peninsula Mission Church, we have been able to host a couple of appreciation dinners for local police and fire personnel. We have used our building and hospitality skills to bless our emergency personnel with a first-class banquet. This has also allowed us to connect with our mayor and council, who attend these banquets as well.

Another door was opened for us as local neighbourhood groups have asked to host events at our church building. These town hall meetings on such things as urban development and emergency planning have been ways in which I, as lead pastor, have been able to meet people in our community.

On one such occasion, we were planning to host an event which had to be cancelled on short notice because of a power outage. A few people from the immediate neighbourhood still came out to the event and hung around for conversation. Out of this conversation, a local neighbourhood association was born and Emmanuel was able to support this group through printing their newsletter and offering free space to hold meetings and luncheons. Through these connections some of our neighbours have even begun to volunteer time gardening and helping with our student dinners.

It is been a pleasure to build relationships with those in the church’s immediate neighbourhood. We have been able to create positive connections through providing rooms, a few pots of soup and the use of our photocopier.

In an age where community members are not making it a strong priority to attend church, we have found a way to make connections through simple involvement in community activities. We hope that God will use our physical assets to build friendships and help us to create a good reputation in our community.

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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!

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?

The Unexpected Guest Part 2

By Shannon Youell

Several weeks ago, I challenged us to look through our Sunday spaces and gatherings through the lens of the unexpected, unchurched or marginally churched person to observe and recognize what barriers we may have that keep folk from feeling they are in a safe place to explore their spiritual curiosity.

In our church, we have a long way to go in this, but here are a few of the practices we have been doing and are leaning into doing more.

  • From the start, we explain everything. From what’s going to happen, to the room layout, to our “amenities”—which include fresh bread to take, coffee bar, children’s activities—to facilitated and explained open communion and prayer throughout the service, we walk people through our gathering every time.
  • We offer connect cards for folk to put name, prayer requests, and if they would like to be contacted.
  • We’ve scheduled a ten minute coffee break mid-point to move and meet people around you,  Our folk are strongly encouraged to connect with guests and begin to move them from stranger to friend.
  • We facilitate a question/thought-sharing time after the sermon, where we encourage people to ask us to explain something they didn’t understand or always wondered about, followed up with a mid-week Dialogue Circle where anything is open for discussion, though we start off around what was talked about the past Sunday.
  • We strongly encourage folk to invite someone to have lunch with them after church.  This summer we are taking it one step further and have several people hosting planned after church picnics at their homes or parks.  These events are easy on the hosts, because everyone brings their picnic lunch with a little extra for unexpected guests (or those who just forgot to pack a lunch!).

These are but a few things and I hope you will all post here things you do to honor and welcome and include the unexpected guest.

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We have had several lately. One new couple came because they were invited by their waiter in a downtown restaurant, only to show up and the waiter had been unexpectedly called into work that morning and wasn’t even there! I can imagine how uncomfortable it must have been to show up and their host was not there! But they stayed and then came back the next week.  Why?  They knew it was okay to ask questions of the pastor if you didn’t understand what was being said.  They were greeted and spoken to by several people and felt very welcomed and  included, and most revealing, the fellow’s brother is a pastor and they have never been invited to church by him and when they had questions he would just tell them how they should believe but didn’t give them the space to discover why.

Friends, these are the people God has called you and I to welcome with radical hospitality, to wash their feet, to honour.  The alien, the stranger, the left-out-of-the-secret handshake folk.  We should be places of refuge, of shalom where folk are welcomed because they are there.  Not because of how they look, or believe or even don’t believe, but because they are seeking to see Jesus revealed around them in ways that are demonstrated by welcome, by grace, by mercy, by healing and by acceptance.

The hospitality Jesus demonstrated was pre-dominantly other focused.  Is ours?

 

Canada Day Update

by Cailey Morgan

I just have to briefly share about Canada Day at our house.

Last year, my husband, his aunt, and I bought a home together, in hopes of having a place for the neighbourhood to gather and cross-pollinate with those from our church. You may remember our sadness in not being able to host community events last summer because of our endless renovations, and our first chance to really meet some folks coming at Halloween when we put on hot chocolate and 180 people showed up in our carport for treats. Halloween was fun, and a good first “Hello,” but we really didn’t get a chance to talk to people because there were just so many of us!

So we decided this year to throw a Canada Day Neighbourhood BBQ. I’m excited to share this with you because we were incredibly nervous about what would happen, but once again when we stepped out in obedience, God showed up!

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A couple of weeks ago we printed flyers about the shindig and put them in the mailboxes of our 24 nearest neighbours. We also sent out an email to our church friends and coworkers. When Canada Day arrived, so did our neighbours and friends! Over the course of the day we had over 75 people through–15 of whom we’d never met before. Here are a few pics: The YardFullSizeRenderIMG_1580 If meeting new people is hard for you, like it is for me, try these tricks I learned.

  • Pray a lot. Eventually you’ll be convinced that God actually is in control.
  • Deliver flyers. That way, you can be confident that the people who arrive in your yard are genuinely interested in talking to you! and it’s much less scary than knocking on doors.
  • Gather backup. Invite some friends to come early to help set up. And, if you’re terrible at small talk, like I am, invite your life-of-the-party friends to help host the thing.
  • Find the givers and let them help. I have one neighbour who dropped off a bunch of patio chairs and brought over a gallon of homemade pasta salad! When I walked over to return her chairs and dishes, she showed me her garden, and now she’s going to come help me with mine.

Building new relationships doesn’t have to be hard. Just make sure to have fun and listen, and the friendships will grow out of that. I’d love to hear how others spent their Canada Day. Email me at cmorgan@cbwc.ca or leave a comment here on this blog.