Tag Archives: church life

Off to Willow Creek

Willow Creek is a name known to all pastors….well most pastors.  It was described by a friend of mine as Disneyland for pastors!  We’ll see for ourselves shortly.  This is the Global Leadership Summit and is an international event.  We’ve been invited to attend as a guest of Willow Creek Canada.

Congregational ministry is still our great love and to see if there are tools that can be used to strengthen it is important.

I’ve also just picked up a copy of Os Guinness’ book “the last christian on earth” (2010) and while the title doesn’t give it the appeal of an encouraging book about ministry I am looking forward to the insights gained.

We’ve been using the “lifecycle of a church” with congregations to help them understand the normal life of a congregation and to address the reasons for decline.  It is always interesting to me to see the leadership of a congregation light up as they work through this exercise.

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Saluting the pastors of small churches

Gary Nelson told us during The Congress.ca that he attends a church of about 80 people in Toronto.  He shared about some of the people, some with very messy lives whose lives have been changed by the work of that church.  Yet he knows his pastor feels like a failure.  His pastor has been there about 10 years and yet feels that his ministry isn’t “successful”.

I know that feeling.  When we were in Erin Mills it seemed (even though it was an unrealistic expectation on my part) that I couldn’t get a win!  Every month, every week we seemed to go backwards.  Did I do everything right – hardly.  But we worked hard, prayed faithfully, stayed close to our leadership, looked for God’s leading.  When we left I walked away feeling like we had let God down.

What is especially discouraging is the guys at the mega churches that imply in their conversations and books that there are “10 easy ways” to grow the church.  They imply that there is a formula -man made I might add – that if simply followed will have people entering the church – signing up for membership – begging for the chance to tithe.  But it isn’t like that.  In fact it is far from that.

First and foremost it’s God’s Church and it’s God’s work and He’s been at work in that community long before any group or denomination arrived.  He’s been providing -giving grace – prompting hearts because He loves the people of the neighbourhood long before they were born.

So I want to salute the pastors of those small congregations.  I want to say how wonderful it is to have faithful servants who simply serve the people who live in their community.  These are the heroes of the faith.

Church for sale

The Anglican Journal, the Anglican Church of Canada’s paper, for June 2011 carries two significant headlines.  The first is that of the “Christian’s response to Osama bin Laden’s death”.  The second asks the question: “Will diocese of Moosonee disappear?”

The state of The Church in North America is of course at the heart of this last question, and even driving home today, we passed a church with a large FOR SALE sign on the front of the property.  I noted from the cornerstone which was clearly evident, that this was a United Church and the cornerstone date stood out 1956.  That’s the year of my birth.

In 1956 an excited group of leaders and congregants would have stood out on that corner, with excitement and anticipation.  No doubt the atmosphere would have been party-like as young and old observed the physical fruit of spiritual, emotional, financial and social efforts.  No doubt they envisioned a future bright with potential.

If you’ve been witness to a dying church you will know that the FOR SALE sign came long after the actual last breath was breathed.  Churches don’t die suddenly, they wither away.  The selling of the assets is simply dealing with the Last Will and Testament.

The Anglican Journal records: “Will the diocese of Moosonee be dissolved?  This is the question facing its synod this month in Timmins, Ont.  Confronted with financial distress, the 45th Synod (June 3-5) must decide whether the diocese can continue its operations or whether it should be dissolved so that other forms of ministry can be pursued.”

This is not an unfamiliar discussion among many denominations.  It is one that is happening with greater frequency too.  The Church in North America is facing some very difficult decisions.  Should we wish to know the future many scholars are pointing to Europe’s secular culture as the destination of our present journey.  Also in the news lately is the formerly unheard idea of the Crystal Catherderal selling it’s buildings and property to pay its debts.

It reminds of the somewhat simple yet profound declaration of Mrs. Commissioner Howe a few years ago… “change or die”.

I would add – change the methodology, keep the message.