What happens when you ask youth at a Manitoba Bible college some pointed questions about the future of the Church?

By Terry G. Hiebert

An EFC panel on the future of the Church in Canada recently provided an opportunity for Evangelicals in various spots across the country to reflect on the Church today. The EFC asked questions like ‘what in our experience gives us the most cause for concern and the greatest sense of hopefulness related to the future of the Church in Canada?’

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I took the opportunity to ask these questions of students at my college, Steinbach Bible College in Manitoba, and discovered their passion for the Church as they expressed concerns and hopes for the future. While students identified concerns about Biblical authority, evangelism, holiness, divisions, and individualism in today’s church, they expressed hope for the future Church as well. Students identified mentoring relationships as one of the hopeful practices in Church of the future.

Their response should not surprise us. Thom Rainer’s research in The Millennials (2010) stated that 60 per cent of millennials welcomed parental involvement and advice. This Father’s Day, one of our students preached in his church on the value of parental advice. His father had passed away just before he entered college two years ago. Now missing his father’s involvement and advice was one of his greatest regrets. I read the sermon and wondered how many aspiring preachers in my generation would have given this much respect to the advice of our parents.
Continue reading What happens when you ask youth at a Manitoba Bible college some pointed questions about the future of the Church?

Don’t read your Bible the way you’ve been taught: Scripture Union offers guidance this summer

It is Scripture Union’s 150th birthday, a milestone we cover in the Jul/Aug issue of Faith Today. We thought it would be fun to ask them to do what they do best for blog readers, help us read the Bible this summer. We asked Lawson Murray, Scripture Union president, to give us a nudge in the right direction.

By Lawson Murray

The key to reading your Bible is not to read it … at least not to read it the way you’ve been taught to read.

To help mark its 150th birthday, Scripture Union has published this book, full of Bible reading tips.

The way we normally read is based on three ingrained assumptions:

  • We’re the masters of what we read
  • Texts/content are subordinate to our intellect
  • We have the right to choose what to do or not do with what we learn.

When it comes to Bible reading these assumptions create tremendous obstacles because they place us in control when God should be in control (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9).

God must direct our reading. This happens when we learn to read the Bible on its own terms. We cannot, and should not, be the masters of what we read. Nor can we stand to one side exercising our cognition and intellect to evaluate or control the text in the light of our own best interests. Rather, the Bible must read us!
Continue reading Don’t read your Bible the way you’ve been taught: Scripture Union offers guidance this summer

Theological education is especially important here: An interview with Glen Taylor in The Gambia

Jul/Aug Faith Today profiles the work of Wycliffe College professor Glen Taylor, and the four year degree in Christian Studies he helped create in The Gambia, West Africa. We interviewed Taylor (GT) via email, while he is in The Gambia this summer to find out more.

Professor Glen Taylor and his class this summer in The Gambia.

FT: Glen, what have you learned from the Church in The Gambia?

GT: Probably the biggest lesson concerns the depth and vitality of faith in Jesus. More church folk here seem unquestionably faith-full than at home. It is almost like they have extra powers of perception to see the living God in everyday life. One reason for this is that many Christians (and others) make so little money that making ends meet is often a miracle in itself.

FT: What is the greatest need of the Church there?

GT: Probably resources and a greater sense of cooperation across denominations. Regarding resources, the Anglican bishop lamented to me that if capital was available the diocese could, for example, construct an office building to house its diocesan office, rent out space to others and be able to generate revenue. In other words, it takes money to make money. The lack of the former is exasperating to those who can imagine a different economic scenario. As it stands, money is short and church buildings and such seem only to get more dilapidated.
Continue reading Theological education is especially important here: An interview with Glen Taylor in The Gambia

Celebrate with us! Awards for Faith Today

Hooray for the Faith Today writers and staff who were publicly recognized this week!

Faith Today contributors won nine awards June 22 from the Canadian Church Press, an association of about 60 magazines and newspapers. Two of the awards were for first place:

  • layout and design of a single issue. Take a minute to admire the complete winning issue by designer Janice Van Eck
  • personal experience article. Have you read Mark A. Buchanan’s For the Love of the Church?

 

Then on June 23 came more awards from The Word Guild, a national association of several hundred Christians in publishing and communications.

  • for Allison Barron’s Faith Today article on Trinity Western University and the legal battles around its proposed law school
  • The founder of Faith Today, Brian Stiller, received the Leslie K. Tarr career award, as well as an award for his book An Insider’s Guide to Praying for the World (Bethany House/Baker Publishing).
  • Although we can’t take credit for it, Faith Today’s senior writer Patricia Paddey also won an award for her book with Dr. Jean Chamberlain called The Game Changers: True Stories About Saving Mothers and Babies in East Africa (Save the Mothers).

 

And those awards are just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll post links to the second and third place winners below, but first we need to thank all our subscribers and supporters.

Your help make Faith Today‘s ministry possible. You encourage us to aim for excellence in our service to Christ and His church in Canada.

We welcome your continued support through prayer and email. You can help ensure our financial health by buying a subscription for yourself or someone you love or by making a charitable donation.

Please join the broader Canadian Christian publishing community in expressing well deserved appreciation to all the writers, editors, designers and publishers who work (often in the background) to build the Kingdom in these ways.

Complete lists are now available online of this year’s CCP awards and TWG awards, all for materials published in 2016.

My morning on Ottawa’s streets. The start of a Faith Today story

When we first moved to Ottawa in January, a brand new city for us,  we didn’t know much of anything about living in the area. A fun group of parishioners from our new church who live in the same neighbourhood as we do had a get-together to welcome us and answer questions. They filled scrapbook pages with tips on things like where to get the best thai food and cupcakes (those ‘must-know’ bits of information).

Later, on the “Day Trip” page, I  noticed one woman had written, “Shadow me on the sidewalks of downtown Ottawa and minister to the poor.” And she doodled a smiley face in blue marker beside her invitation.

Last Thursday, I took her up on it. We met at our downtown church at 7:30am and fuelled ourselves with coffee and breakfast at a nearby diner, where I heard her heart for this ministry of presence on the streets of the nation’s capital. Then we wandered the sidewalks to reach out to the homeless we came upon. My friend Jill is executive director with  Urban Christian Outreach Ottawa. She spends usually two days a week doing what we did last week, prayerfully walking down the sidewalks of downtown Ottawa, trying to be salt and light to those who need her.

We ducked into a courtroom to see if any of Jill’s friends were there. We wandered through a mall where many of them used to hang out to see if anyone needed her there. We stopped and spoke to men (because it was just men on that day), who were panhandling and offered to get them water or coffee. In one case, Jill bought breakfast for a veteran who was sitting in a wheelchair, cup out for donations.

We sat in McDonald’s, while Jill tried to help one of the men we met that day.

The story he told us was sad and complicated, and hinted at the maze like process veterans have to navigate, sometimes alone, to get the help they may need. In the end, our friend wheeled away from us in frustration, assuming we were just another dead end. Undaunted, Jill pulled out her phone to make calls to see if she could still find out anything that would help the man find a home.
Continue reading My morning on Ottawa’s streets. The start of a Faith Today story

I went to the National Prayer Breakfast. And this is what I saw

By Lorianne Dueck

The morning sunlight blazed through Confederation Park. The tulip petals glowed.  We were on our way to pray.  

Over 400 men and women met in the Westin Hotel in downtown Ottawa for the 52nd National Prayer Breakfast in late May. I was able to join in for the purpose of collectively honouring and continuing to hold to our Christian heritage.

Lorianne Dueck just might have been one of the youngest people at the National Prayer Breakfast this year. In this blog she shares what she saw.

Amidst the conventional networking and table chit chat,  a deeper conversation took place.  The true point of discourse (not discord) at the National Prayer Breakfast is faith.

Some of the words that affected me deeply were spoken by Health Minister, Hon. Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P.. She talked about the stress of question period. She said that MPs only  have about 35 seconds to respond, which is enough time for about three sentences. “How can I use those three sentences? What do I want people to see? What do I want them to remember?” Those are the questions Philpott asks herself. She tries to make her three sentences count:  I want to have a sentence of grace, a sentence of wisdom, and a sentence of courage. 

She asked us to pray to that end. Being a person of many words (often too many), I found Philpott’s questions profound. If the world heard me for 35 seconds, would they see grace, wisdom, and courage? I would be honoured if they did – and hopefully God would be glorified.

The main address of the morning came from His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. As representative of Queen Elizabeth II, he structured his speech around faith, service, and love, drawing examples from her life (and his own) to illustrate each value. He quoted a speech by the Queen given on her 21st Birthday, published on April of 1947:

There is a motto which has been borne by many of my ancestors – a noble motto, “I serve”. […] I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong. […] God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.

With my 21st birthday less than seven months away, I can honestly say that Queen Elizabeth’s words are awe-inspiring, and daunting. This is a motto I long to say with the same conviction.

The morning ended with an a capella rendition of Amazing Grace, by Canadian band Hawk Nelson. Then, as the bagpipes played, we stood, watching our political leaders leave the room and return to their offices. We left soon after.

The sun was now higher in the sky, the flowers had lost their ethereal glow, and it was time to start the work day. I had to ask myself, did that breakfast really matter? Would the prayers have an impact?

Yes.

Because when the speeches are over, the applause subsided, the food  eaten, and the dishes cleared away, three things still do remain: Faith, hope, and love – and we all know that the greatest of these is love. God continues to build His Kingdom here in Canada.

Lorianne Dueck is an EFC research assistant and an international business student at Carleton University in Ottawa. 

Off you go to the printers! See you soon.

Today we hit ‘send’ on the latest issue of Faith Today, shooting it out of our computers directly to the printers’, almost right on schedule. The last few days of a magazine’s production cycle involve poring over pages and pdfs, tweaking design (although our designer is so good we rarely do any tweaking) and trying to pick up any last stray errors or omissions. And then finally saying, “Done!”

Here it is! A sneak peek at our Jul/Aug issue. We’d love it to be your first issue as a Faith Today subscriber.

In about two weeks we will have the glossy, deliciously real magazine in our hands, ready for distributing, reading, flipping, sharing with friends, and fanning out on coffee tables (or this time of year, maybe straight to the cottage?).

We know you will enjoy this “birthday issue” of Faith Today. Not our birthday of course, but Canada’s. When we began to sketch out the issue we knew we wanted a kind-of aerial view piece on the evangelical Church in Canada. Where have we come from? What are our milestones, even as our country celebrates a biggie? And, perhaps most intriguingly, where are we headed? This one story, by veteran writer and intrepid-challenger-of-the-status-quo, John G. Stackhouse Jr., takes the lion’s share of space in this issue, as it should. But it is balanced beautifully with an essay by Mark Buchanan, a writer whom we think is one of Canada’s best. He’s been thinking about King David a lot lately, and what David can teach us about friendship.

We met up with Christine MacMillan at a conference recently in Ottawa. She is a leader in the Church in Canada who is now on the global stage with the World Evangelical Alliance. She’s been in the pages of Faith Today before, but not as the lead interview. We’re so glad she sat down with us and opened up about what she is seeing going on in the evangelical Church worldwide, but also about her own recent journey with cancer, something she refers to as the “cross of the unexpected.”
Continue reading Off you go to the printers! See you soon.

Reconciliation involves listening. Blanket Exercise makes that easy.

I participated in my first Blanket Exercise recently on Parliament Hill.

The largest Blanket Exercise in Canada was held recently on Parliament Hill

I had heard of it only once before, when the earnest son of a friend, newly sensitized to Aboriginal issues, tried to walk his extended family through it at a barbecue, to mixed results. I knew it involved blankets and a history lesson, and in my friend’s case, an annoyed grandpa.

But it was much more than that.

Kairos Canada, who helps facilitate the exercise, describes it as a “participatory popular education methodology” with the goal of  building “understanding about our shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada by walking through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance.” If you show up, you can be involved. The colourful blankets, in my case spread out beneath the stairs that lead up to the front doors of Parliament, represent pre-colonized Canada.

You’re invited to take your place on the blankets, and there it begins, a moving and enlightening walk-through of Canada’s history with our First Nations.

What struck me most, besides of course the realization of how much I don’t actually know  (or have forgotten) about my country’s own history, was the kindness of the facilitators. Volunteers strolled through the crowd offering kleenex to those moved to tears by the experience. Then, in a move that reminded me of Psalm 56:8 (God gathering our tears in a bottle), they collected the tissues back up again, because the tears were so important and not to be carelessly tossed aside.

Participants were warned they might find the exercise upsetting, learning in more detail than perhaps ever before about the harsh and sometimes fatal treatment of Indigenous peoples by the hand of government, Church, and history in general. But we were very kindly and gently asked to not feel shame or guilt, but to enter and exit the exercise with a healthy sense of hope and love for each other. It was about reconciliation. That beautiful spirit touched me as much as the actual shifting and sorting and bunching up of blankets that told this part of our history that we’d probably rather forget. But true reconciliation means remembering.

Next week, on Wednesday June 21, it is Aboriginal Day. If you can find some event in your community — maybe even a Blanket Exercise — to show your commitment to reconciliation and hope and love, try to attend.

Here at Faith Today, our Jul/Aug issue features an interview with Christine MacMillan, World Evangelical Alliance’s associate secretary general for public engagement. Here’s part of what she said about reconciliation in that soon to be published interview: “It’s being patient. It’s listening to the point where listening even of itself be- comes peace and reconciliation. It’s exploring “what will it take to bring peace?” – and as you explore in that way reconciliation starts to happen. The process is as important as the outcome. [Reconciliation doesn’t begin] until you get people feeling the trust in the room that allows them to tell the layers of their story. The Church must be that safe place, as well as that public place.”

Thanks for reading our blog! If you’d like to try out the magazine, let us know.

 

 

Confessions of a kid who didn’t rebel

An interview with Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach, author of Faith Today‘s May/Jun cover story, “Help your kids embrace the faith: trading in picture-perfect faith for authentic experience.”

FT: Rebecca, you have a book coming out in the fall with Thomas Nelson called “Why I didn’t rebel.” How did this all come about?

RL: I wrote a blog post for my mom [writer Sheila Wray Gregoire] on the same topic. We had about a quarter of a million people in the first three weeks read it, and we had over a million people see it on Facebook. It was shared on pinterest. I was getting people sending me screenshots asking it if was me. When it blew up, I did all my interviews and made it into a book.

Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach is the writer of “Help your kids embrace the faith,” Faith Today’s May/Jun cover story.

FT: Why do you think your blog and ideas touched such a nerve?

RL: It’s a topic that touches everyone, right. Everyone knows a teenager or has a kid or has a family member like a grandchild or niece, just that kid at church that you take under your wing.

We’re also just really curious, and we’re all busybodies, that’s how humans are. So, when you hear “why I didn’t rebel,” you want to know. I did think about how I could word it in a way that made people interested.
Continue reading Confessions of a kid who didn’t rebel

Talk about pornography with your kids, you might be surprised what you hear

A few of us have taken home a copy of the EFC’s latest resource, “Battling Pornography: A Guide for Canadians.” The booklet is a collection of resources about the prevalence of online pornography, how it harms, and how we can help.

This is by no means a comprehensive survey, but so far 100% of our sons — when gently approached with the topic, booklet in hand, by their slightly embarrassed mothers — have immediately acknowledged that online pornography is an open and shameless secret among their peers. It’s almost a given. Another story from the trenches involves a husband, whose co-workers refuse to believe he doesn’t view pornography.

Here’s another way you can use these booklets. Scatter them on a table at your church. These particular ones were spotted at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Anglican church in downtown Ottawa.

Forty-nine percent of Canadians think pornography is “morally acceptable,” according to one of the stats in the booklet. Our chat over coffee at the EFC Ottawa office would suggest that number is probably a lot higher, or certainly will be in a few years when all these teenage boys reach adulthood. And they won’t reach adulthood unscarred by their exposure to online porn. Another colourful spread in the booklet graphically depicts “The brain on pornography.” It’s certainly colourful, but not a pretty picture. Pornography use is addictive and will distort how viewers understand sex, gender equality and change forever their own threshold for pleasure.

“Battling Pornography: A Guide for Canadians” is not meant to scare you (although it might). It’s meant to get the conversation going, in your homes and churches, just like it’s doing in ours. So, have us send you one or a few. Then make a cup of tea and sit down with your family.

Download a free copy of this resource, or if you’d like copies for your home and church, call us. 1-866-302-3362.

Canada's Christian Magazine