Church Planting Report Reveals Differences Between Canadian and American Plants

by James Watson

Studying church plants is a bit like the “whack-a-mole” game at the local carnival. While you are getting a good look at the one that has just popped up in front of you, two more have popped up in different places and one has suddenly disappeared.

The “Pray, Equip, Share Jesus: 2015 Canadian Church Planting Survey” report is ground breaking in that it has collected information from 141 leaders involved in planting across Canada between 2005 and 2015.

This new study of Canadian church plants offers fascinating insights.
This new study of Canadian church plants offers fascinating insights.

While there are a number of different factors they examine, of particular interest for those of us who have been reading, listening and contributing to the ongoing drama of planting in Canada are comparisons made with the U.S.

The Canadian analysis parallels a 2015 American study also conducted by LifeWay Research. As a Canadian church planting catalyzer, it is refreshing to read in print that U.S. plants grow more quickly, have more first-time confessions of faith in early development and reach self-sufficiency more quickly. Not necessarily encouraging, but refreshing. It affirms some of the angst I feel when reading stories of American plants that seem suspiciously successful compared to what I experience as I work alongside Canadian planters.
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Why Colouring Matters

By Ann-Margret Hovsepian

Scrolling through my Facebook news feed one day, I saw a cartoon with the caption: “Colouring page for lazy people.” It featured a zebra, a panda and a penguin sitting together on a snow bank. I didn’t laugh out loud, but I couldn’t help grinning as I thought of certain friends who have not joined the adult colouring craze of the last year or so.

Subscribe to Faith Today in July/August to receive a free copy of Restore My Soul.
Subscribe to Faith Today in July/August to receive a free copy of Restore My Soul.

The cartoon also reminded me that, without colour, this world would probably be a stark black and white or grayscale landscape. When you stop to think about it, colour plays a crucial role in our lives. It has both practical and esthetic purposes. We constantly distinguish between colours—when we get dressed or apply make-up, when we cook, in our gardens, while driving. Colour choices have great impact in fashion, décor and marketing because colour affects our mood.

The two rooms I spend the most time in at home—my studio and my bedroom—both feature wood furniture and a homey, cottage-y look, but they have completely different colour schemes. My studio is bright with mostly red accents and splashes of yellow and green. My bedroom walls are vintage blue and the décor accents are white or beige. The colours in my studio stimulate and inspire me, which is perfect for the creative work I do. My bedroom colours help me feel restful.

What we sometimes forget, when we get caught up in our colour choices, is that God created colour! He made it an intricate part of our lives, not only in the natural world around us—think of the brilliant foliage we enjoy every fall in Canada or a bowl of ripe fruit—but also in everything we touch. Our books, furniture, bedding, cars, shoes and toothbrushes all had colours chosen for them before they were manufactured.
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Please do scribble on the cover of this Faith Today

This is not an exaggeration: When we dreamed up the idea of a Faith Today cover that readers could colour, one of us leaped out of their chair in excitement. And one of us looked wary. Which is closer to your reaction?

Please color your Jul/Aug cover of Faith Today and submit a pic of your creation to us for our first, and likely only, coloring contest!
Please color your Jul/Aug cover of Faith Today and submit a pic of your creation to us for our first, and likely only, colouring contest!

Perhaps you’re not quite as excited as we both eventually became, but we hope you’ll take this opportunity to try your hand at adult colouring to see why so many Canadians have become so enthusiastic about it.

(Then, snap a pic of your creation and email it to editor@faithtoday.ca or post it on our Facebook page. You could win a colouring book!)

Whatever our opinions about colouring as a form of creativity, we all agree people are made in the image of our Creator God. God creates, and surely our desire to create comes from Him and can honour Him.

Admittedly, practising the creative arts is often low on our priority list, maybe in part because we feel intimidated by the thought of being artistic. So we invited Carolyn Arends to help us consider if art might be worth our time. See if you aren’t entirely convinced by her claim that we can be discipled through art!

Her essay suggests some simple ways to exercise our creativity this summer, and you’ll also find several other creativity-related articles throughout this issue.

Another highlight for us was interviewing the provocative Sarah Bessey. This Canadian writer, blogger and speaker is a fresh and emerging voice on the evangelical landscape. We thought it would be fun to speak to her, and it was. Here’s a peek. “I don’t know when in the history of the Church anyone would have cared what some happy-clappy mom from the Prairies would say.”

More and more people do care, actually, and that’s a good thing.

The ideas for these articles emerged from creative editorial brainstorming, but we also get many others pitched to us from trusted writers. That was the case with the profile of Marina Glogovac, CEO of CanadaHelps. We knew almost nothing about this Christian leader until writer Alex Newman heard her make a speech and saw the fit. Thanks for that, Alex.

Excellent writers who know how to write to the style and interests of Faith Today readers – and are available to do so – are rare. This spring we lost one of the best, Debra Fieguth of Kingston, Ont., who died suddenly from a stroke. Please join us in praying for her husband, parents and the many, many others who knew and loved her. We posted a tribute to her at www.faithtoday.ca/Debra.

May God bless all of us this summer with His creativity and His peace.

If you don’t subscribe to Faith Today, now is the perfect time. You will receive a free copy of Restore my Soul: A Coloring Book Devotional Journey by Ann-Margret Hovsepian.

Trinity Western University: “We know it will be messy”

“Some have asked, ‘Wouldn’t it be easier to just make the Covenant voluntary?’ Of course it would. But this question misses the point.”

by Amy Robertson

My boss is from the U.S. We see a few things a little differently—the name of a winter hat and the last letter of the alphabet, for example. (Just for the record, “toque” and “zed.”) A couple of weeks ago, he made a connection I never would have: the relevance of Canada’s national anthem to Trinity Western University’s law school journey.

Read the latest insights into the TWU case in the Jul/Aug Faith Today.
Read the latest insights into the TWU case in the Jul/Aug Faith Today. www.faithtoday.ca/subscription

God keep our land glorious and free—what an amazing line!” he said.

I’m not sure I’ve ever appreciated a fresh perspective so completely.

I’ve probably sung and heard “O Canada” thousands of times in my lifetime—yet I rarely think about the words. They’re powerful, aren’t they?

Freedom is what made Canada great from the very beginning. So much of what we’re privileged to enjoy as Canadians comes from freedom. It means we can expect our elected officials to represent our interests. It means we can speak our minds without fear of being arrested—and so can our neighbours, even if they see things differently. It means we can expect to shape our own future.
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How Christians Can Get out of Debt

By Michael Veenstra

Debt is a huge part of North American culture. 50% of Canadians say they worry about their finances (2013 CICA Financial Priorities Survey).

How can we get out of debt? Mar/Apr Faith Today took a hard look at the numbers.
How can we get out of debt? Mar/Apr Faith Today took a hard look at the numbers.

The average consumer debt load in Canada is over $27,000 (2013, TransUnion). We are obsessed with having a good credit score, with upward mobility, with climbing the ladder to ‘success’ – often using debt and credit as a rung on which to climb higher, trying to stay level with the Joneses.

It does not have to be this way.  Matthew 6 has plenty to say about how we should conduct ourselves, and what we should and shouldn’t worry about.

Debt brings with it stress and frustration. 27% of Canadians say financial stress has left a negative impact on their relationship (Feb 2013, Ipsos Reid).

Dealing with debt pro-actively and intentionally is a great decision on all fronts. It will benefit you financially, it will benefit your marriage, it will give you peace of mind, and the ability to be more generous. It will be difficult, but it will be worth it. Here are some steps you can take to address your debt situation:
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The Presence of Grace and the Bosmas’ Ordeal

by Darren Roorda

It’s time to say ‘Thank you.”

For the past few years our nation has watched the Bosma family and friends go through horrific events that in some way we identified with. The loss of a spouse after the simple act of placing a truck for sale; the search for a loved one whom we thought might be found; and the subsequent court proceedings against the two men responsible for Tim’s disappearance and death.

crxx_ChristRefChurch_logo_colorAnd what has been striking through all of it is the grace that Sharlene Bosma and the surrounding community has displayed.

Just after the trial ended last Friday, a CBC reporter commented with surprise on Sharlene’s “gratitude in light of all that she had been through.” Local media outlets have also spoken of the grace of the Bosma family throughout.

But I am not surprised. Built deep into the foundational makeup of Christians in the Christian Reformed Church [CRC] is a framework that helps us to understand life in a way that makes sense of it all.

First, we understand that the world is broken. It does not operate in the way that it was originally meant to. In this case, the brokenness took the form of two men with evil intent.
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New Canadian Film Series Makes Faith Sharing Easier

by Donna Lamothe

“How can we help you share your faith in Jesus?” Over the past year or so, I bombarded individuals and small groups of women from coast to Canadian coast with this specific question.

You can win this entire set of Canadian-made dvd resources.
You can win this entire set of Canadian-made dvd resources.

Our ministry is about stepping in at the grass roots level and empowering local women to be the change agents that our culture needs. Most people find it hard to share their faith in a culture where tolerance can be valued more highly than loving conviction. I do.

Of course there is no single answer to the question of how best to share our faith, but there were some clear themes expressed in the collective response. After meeting bright, beautiful, varied and talented followers of Jesus across the country, primarily known as Gen X’ers and Y’s, we have some conclusions you might relate to.
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Let’s do a better job of helping each other

By Jane Harris

Canadians are compassionate – we’ve seen that again and again, most recently with the wildfires in Fort McMurray and the refugees resettled from Syria. But what about when an individual suffers and is not good at getting media attention with her call for help? How can we, especially Christians, do better in that kind of situation?

Jane Harris encourages us all to do better by each other, even as we respond compassionately to disasters.
Jane Harris encourages us all to do better by each other, even as we respond compassionately to disasters.

It’s something I just lived through, so let me tell you about it.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal in 2014: “I focus on bottle picking, selling my household items, and preparing for homelessness. I have no hope at all of lifting myself out of the situation. I am utterly alone and isolated.”

I wrote those words about a year after my husband, high on a cocktail of vodka and prescription drugs, assaulted me, choking me repeatedly and pummelling the back of my bleeding skull with blunt objects.

I scribbled that note trying to understand why so few people in my family, church and community understood. No one seemed to care that I could not work, or pay my bills, or that I was selling off furniture and picking bottles out of ditches to buy bread and bus fare.

Bureaucrats at the Canada/Alberta Service centre didn’t seem to understand that I was a crime victim, or that I struggled with a head injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Helping agencies, including outreach workers at the women’s shelter, said there was nothing they could to do.
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Are youth still leaving the Church? Join us for our webinar on Hemorrhaging Faith

by Karen Stiller

Even now, years later in order to spell it correctly, I have to look up the the word hemorrhaging each and every time I write it.

It's been a few years since Hemorrhaging Faith was released. What has changed?
It’s been a few years since Hemorrhaging Faith was released. What has changed?

But that was the least of the worries around “Hemorrhaging Faith: Why and When Canadian Young Adults Are Leaving, Staying and Returning to Church,”  a report commissioned by The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry Roundtable and sponsored by the EFC, Great Commission Foundation, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada, Stronger Together 2011 and Youth for Christ Canada.

In September, 2012, I wrote the Faith Today cover story on the report that helped us understand youth in relationship to the Church as engagers, fence sitters, wanderers or rejecters.
Continue reading Are youth still leaving the Church? Join us for our webinar on Hemorrhaging Faith

Refugees need time to say goodbye and time to say hello

by Linda Moorcroft

My family is getting ready to say good-bye to a much loved family member. He is lingering longer than anticipated. The cancer has taken full hold of his body and days are now filled with pain, tears, frustration, anxiety and exhaustion. At times we pray for a speedy parting and yet we recognize the gift of being able to say good-bye.

Recently I came across this quote – it takes a minute to say hello and a life time to say goodbye. How true this is as we say good-bye to my dear uncle.

Christie House in Toronto welcomes refugees from around the world.
Christie House in Toronto welcomes refugees from around the world.

However, 20 years of working with the world’s displaced has taught me that the opposite is true for refugees.

Refugees have only minutes to say good-bye to their homes, family, countries, jobs – all that is familiar and all that they hold dear.

Snatched from their home countries with those instant farewells, families can spend months, if not years, in refugee camps, countries of asylum or even in countries of resettlement, learning to say hello.
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