All posts by FT Staff

Give thanks continually … to the people you work with

by Rick Franklin

When was the last time someone went out of their way to thank you? Do you remember what they did? What they said? How you felt?

Check out the current issue of Faith Today for this story by Rick Franklin and more.

Last week I was in the Netherlands training ministry leaders. After the training finished, I caught up with some friends my wife and I have known for years. It was a wonderful reunion of deep friendship spent swapping stories of life and faith, growing older and seeing God’s faithfulness. A highlight of our visit was witnessing the 73rd commemoration of the Airborne landings on Ginkel Heath in Ede.

I doubt you’ve heard of it, but here we were with thousands of people young and old gathered in the Dutch countryside to commemorate and thank the hundreds of paratroopers, soldiers and resistance fighters from England, the United States, Poland and the Netherlands who fought and lost the Battle of Arnhem.

Yes, you read that correctly—the commemoration celebrated a lost battle, a military failure. But for the Dutch under German occupation, it signaled an important turning point and actually provided a reason for hope at a time when hope was in short supply. It indicated help was coming even if the first wave was unsuccessful. So the Dutch continue to celebrate and thank the soldiers today, 73 years after the doomed battle.

There’s an important leadership lesson for us here. In my article from the current edition of Faith Today, I highlight 5 critical skills church leaders should nurture—leading from a strong spiritual foundation, knowing where you’re headed, serving sacrificially, communicating clearly and thanking continually.

I’d like to expand on the point of thanking continually. First, we have a biblical example and mandate to thank. For example, Paul tells us to be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18; see also Eph. 5:20) and he expresses thanks to God often for his co-workers in ministry. In Philippians 1:3, Colossians 1:3-4, 1 Thessalonians 1:2 and other passages, Paul models explicitly and specifically thanking fellow believers for their part in ministry.

Second, on a practical level, expressing gratitude and thankfulness is powerful. We see this in the Dutch celebration of the Battle of Arnhem, as it continues to impact people today, 73 years later.

Showing appreciation motivates and enlivens. Thanking people empowers them and provides encouragement, which is often in short supply.

Think about when someone went out of their way to thank you for something you did. Maybe it was a kind word or leaving a note of thanks on your desk or giving you a small gift for going above and beyond what was expected. How’d you feel? In a word, it feels good.

But I bet it did more. My guess is it helped provide additional motivation to lean in, to step up, to go the extra mile.

That’s what gratitude does in the people we have the privilege of leading and serving. It breathes life into people to know they matter, hearing that their efforts and contributions are valued and appreciated.

So as a leader—an influencer—in your church (or in your home, workplace, neighbourhood, etc.), let me encourage you to frequently express gratitude by incorporating these few simple ideas to show your appreciation and thankfulness.

Simply say “thank you.” I’ve heard from many church volunteers, who shared they’ve never been thanked for serving. Thanks goes a long way especially for those who donate their time and talent at church. So say thanks often and see what happens!

Write a note to express appreciation. It can be a sticky note or in a beautiful card. What matters are the words of appreciation you choose and taking the time to personally express your gratitude.

Give a small gift. Often times it’s appropriate to give a gift to share appreciation and thanks. Think creatively and have fun. You can give flowers, food, something from your local Christian bookstore or anything that conveys gratitude.

Thank publicly. Take opportunities to recognize people’s efforts and contributions publicly. Even though some may shy away from the attention, folks deeply value being honoured and valued in a public way. It says, “I noticed what you did and greatly value you and what you’ve done.”

Thank in the midst of failure. One of the most powerful ways to express gratitude is in the midst of failure, as the Dutch did. It’s easy to recognize success. It’s more meaningful to find the good when someone fails.

In a word, be creative! There are thousands of different ways to say “thank you.” Just try to find ways of expressing your gratitude that are meaningful to the person you’re thanking. Not everyone is like you or likes to be thanked the same way you do. If you need some help, take a look at Gary Chapman and Paul White’s book, The Five Languages of Appreciation.

Thank often and you’ll breath life, encouragement and motivation into the people you lead and serve. Frequently express gratitude and appreciation and then watch the impact unfold! Who knows, maybe your influence will be far greater than you could imagine… influencing people 73 years later.

Dr. Rick Franklin is vice president, Arrow Leadership Ministries. For over 25 years, Arrow Leadership has developed thousands of Christian leaders around the world to be led more by Jesus, lead more Like Jesus and lead more people to Jesus. You can read the current issue of Faith Today online, but even better than that subscribe today to access one of our most popular subscription deals.

The awful legacy of Hugh Hefner

by Sheila Wray-Gregoire

Yesterday I was Skyping with Ashley Easter, who is doing great work helping survivors of abuse within the church, and promoting healing. And we were talking about how being married to someone with a porn addiction can give a wife PTSD, and can be abusive, in and of itself, especially if he’s dehumanizing her and asking her to act out things that he sees. He’s not treating her like a person; he’s treating her like an object. That’s what abuse does, too. They have that in common. They say: You are a body to use.

So I’d just like to write today about some of the thoughts that have been running through my head about the recently deceased Hugh Hefner’s influence on our society.

Sheila Wray-Gregoire is an author and speaker. In this blog she considers the awful legacy left by Hugh Hefner, and the impact of pornography use.

When I was about 8, my best friend Christine showed me a stack of Playboys in her shed that her dad had stashed there. I’m thankful that we didn’t look too hard at them, but I know she and her older brother looked at them a bunch.
Continue reading The awful legacy of Hugh Hefner

Every hour counts: a call to create beauty and other great things well

Prof. John G. Stackhouse, Jr. delivered the following message in the academic chapel of Crandall University this September. We thought Faith Today readers, who know Stackhouse from his books and our pages, would appreciate this encouragement to use our time right to create lasting beauty and recognize the “daily-ness” of life.

“The lif so short, the craft so long to lerne.” In his famous poem “The Parliament of Fowls,” Geoffrey Chaucer quotes the ancient Greek sage Hippocrates to tell us something not only about literature, but about life. Life is indeed short when one considers how long it takes to learn how to—

How to what?

Prof. John G. Stackhouse, Jr., a columnist in Faith Today, shares a vision for using our time very well.

How to do anything truly important and worthwhile. To compose a poem, yes, which is what Chaucer initially means. But also to do anything else in life that is of lasting significance.

To build a bridge that will stand strong and look beautiful for generations. To run a business—a business that provides useful and dignified work as it contributes something beneficial to the world. To form and maintain a marriage—a relationship of mutual care and perpetual stability within which children can grow up secure, confident, and wholesome.

Ryan Holiday in a recent book (Perennial Seller) provides some examples of what it takes to produce something special:

  • The Sistine Chapel took four years to paint. Four years. The planning and the building took even longer.

To be sure, that was back in the Renaissance. We move much faster nowadays, right?

Continue reading Every hour counts: a call to create beauty and other great things well

Be kind to those in your church living with mental illness and mental health challenges

by Chris Summerville

I write as a person with lived experience, as a former pastor who has struggled with dark periods of depression, suicidal ideation and the misuse of alcohol. Mental health problems are generational in the Summerville family. I grew up in rural Alabama with a father who also struggled with all three and more, before he took his life by suicide, even after he experienced a genuine and authentic spiritual salvation.

While accepting the forgiveness of God and his family, he could not forgive himself for the horrors he had created for his wife and seven children.

Chris Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada and a national leader across Canada within the mental health recovery movement.

As an evangelical pastor I addressed issues of social justice, environmental (creation) care, and mental health problems even back in the 80s and 90s. So after working the last 22 years in the mental health recovery movement, what wisdom would I share with pastors?

1) Christians, just as they are not immune to physical health problems, are not immune to mental illness and mental health problems in this fallen world. One in five Canadians presently live with a mental illness. Obviously, many of these Canadians are followers of Christ. Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors. Mental health problems can also be caused by adverse childhood experiences (trauma) which I experienced. All Christians have mental health concerns from time to time. Mental illnesses generally create a disorder in your life, and for that reason are called mental disorders by psychiatry. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They can be temporary, intermittent, or enduring. But they are treatable.
Continue reading Be kind to those in your church living with mental illness and mental health challenges

Is your daughter safer at a Christian college?

Here’s a sneak peek (with permission) at an article that will be published in our upcoming Nov/Dec issue. Subscribe now and you’ll still be in time to get the full issue.

Study finds difference in sexual assault statistics

By James R. Vanderwoerd

The back to school season often brings yet another disturbing story about a student sexually victimized on campus. Colleges and universities continue to struggle against violent hazing rituals, misogynist frosh chants, crude Facebook posts and drunken sexual assaults.

These are fearful news reports to read for any parent sending a child, especially a daughter, off to university. Or at least a public university.

New research on campus sexual violence suggests independent Christian colleges may provide greater safety, according to an academic article I just published with Harvard scholar Albert Cheng. Continue reading Is your daughter safer at a Christian college?

Ten things about sexual assault students should know

Here’s a sneak peek (with permission) at an article that will be published in our upcoming Nov/Dec issue. Subscribe now and you’ll still be in time to get the full issue.

By Vanessa Eisses

  1. Most sexual assaults are done by someone the survivor knows. They occur at any time of day, in any place.
  2. You didn’t cause it, so you can’t protect against it. This is scary, but it does mean no one can be blamed for being sexually assaulted (there’s no statistical evidence that anything a person does can cause them to be assaulted). It may be encouraging to note that women who go to university are less likely to be sexually assaulted in their lifetime than women who don’t. However, sexual assaults do occur more often in three situations – a female alone with a man or men, first two months of university/college, and situations involving alcohol.
  3. It’s a lie that we won’t get assaulted because we’re Christian/modest/studious. We tell ourselves such lies to distance ourselves from the reality that one in four women and one in six men in North America are sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

Continue reading Ten things about sexual assault students should know

Behind the scenes with our “Helping Children After Divorce” story

Alex Newman, the writer of the Sep/Oct Faith Today’s story on helping children after a divorce, takes us behind the scenes of her own story and her research.

by Alex Newman

I’m an eternal optimist. After the initial alarm over the bad stats on kids of divorce, I decided to look at the percentage of kids who did well. What happened to make them thrive and overcome the odds? It’s something I’ve discussed with my friend Esme Fuller Thompson, a social work professor whose research is precisely in this area. Although I’d done a ton of reading already, she was especially helpful in directing me to studies I would never have come across, like the Israeli one that shows when a mom and the paternal grandparents stay close, the kids do better.

Read “Stability is the Key” in the latest Faith Today.

It’s all that research that is so challenging in writing a story like this, because it becomes almost impossible to condense it all into one article. I did my best but I’m afraid it only scratched the surface. Below all those studies are real people and real people can react in different ways and require different handling. So while there are some fundamental and foundational guidelines for helping your kids, there’s a lot of latitude depending on the child, the parents, the siblings, and so on.
Continue reading Behind the scenes with our “Helping Children After Divorce” story

What we read this summer

Usually summer reading lists appear at the start of the season, but this year we asked EFC staff (The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is the publisher of Faith Today), what they have already read this summer. So far. In no particular order, here is what we’ve been reading these past six weeks or so.

The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan
Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America, Jeff Chu
Gender Roles and the People of God: Rethinking What We Were Taught About Men and Women in the Church, Alice Mathews
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series, Michael Scott
(re)union: The Good News of Jesus for Seekers, Saints and Sinners,  Bruxy Cavey
Jesus and Nonviolence: a Third Way,  Walter Wink
A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve,  by Mother Teresa, editor Brian Kolodiejchuck
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown
The Narnia Chronicles, by C.S. Lewis
Jubilee, by Margaret Walker
My Promised Land: the Triumph and Tragedy of Israel,  by Ari Shavit
Love Giving Well: the Pilgrimage of Philanthropy, by Mark Petersen
Planted, by Leah Kostomo
The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
War, by Sebastian Junger
The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett

And of course, we are all reading Faith Today. If you  haven’t subscribed yet, do it today so you won’t miss a single story. Do you know about our risk-free trial subscription offer?

 

A Canadian author tackles the life of David in upcoming novel: A FT mini-interview with Mark Buchanan

Readers of the Jul/Aug Faith Today were treated to a take on King David that we might not have read before. “You anoint my head with oil: What a Bronze Age warrior-king can teach us about friends and enemies,” is an inspiring essay that looks at the friendships in David’s life, and how they might help us with our own.

But Mark Buchanan (MB) is working on more than that angle of David’s life. Deeply immersed in the writing process for his upcoming novel based on the life of the warrior-King from the Bible, one of our fave Faith Today (FT) writers took a few minutes out of his writing schedule to tell us more about the book, and his creative process.

Mark Buchanan’s essay in the Jul/Aug issue of Faith Today examines the role of friendship in David’s life. Buchanan is working on a novel about the warrior-king’s life.

FT: Mark, tell us about the novel you’re working on about David. What do readers need to know?

MB: I explore David’s story and character from multiple perspectives of those who know him well – his wife Michal, his nephew and general Joab, his priest Abiathar, and so on. I weave these multiple viewpoints into an overarching narrative that traces David’s life from birth to death. And, of course, I salt the whole thing with snippets of Davidic psalms. I am hoping that the overall effect captures both the sweep and grandeur of the story and the depth and complexity of the man.

David’s central and lifelong quest revolves around his longing for the father’s love. That explains nearly everything about him – from his astonishing intimacy with God to his failures as a husband, to his aloofness and yet indulgence toward his own children, especially his sons. It explains his military feats and his domestic fiascos. So I’ve made that quest – to find the father’s love – the deep story of the novel.

FT: What have you learned about David and his story that surprised or moved you particularly?

MB: That David is no hero. He’s a flawed and conflicted man who keeps throwing himself on God. He’s a king who needs a King, a father who needs a Father.

FT: We tend to think of you as a non-fiction writer. What has writing fiction been like for you?

MB: Wonderful. Terrifying. Deeply satisfying. Tormentingly hard. And it is borderline insanity to try to tackle a story so loved and revered – there are so many ways to mess this up. So we’ll see…

FT: What is your hope for the book?

MB: That it invites those who know the story well to reimagine it and reengage it, and invites those who don’t know it at all to explore the source material.

FT: What is next? Or are you thinking of that yet?

MB: Another novel – about a pastor who is a kind of modern day David.

FT: Thanks Mark!

MB: And you as well. Thanks for indulging my obsession.

Mark Buchanan is associate professor of pastoral theology at Ambrose University in Calgary. He is author of several books including Your Church Is Too Safe: Why Following Christ Turns the World Upside-Down(Zondervan, 2012). Spiritual Rhythm: Being With Jesus Every Season of Your Soul (Zondervan, 2010) and the forthcoming David: A Novel (Watch for news of its release this Winter).

Faith Today loves to tell stories of the creative Christian arts in Canada today.  Subscribe now for a regular dose of inspiration. 

Resident theologian will pop up in Faith Today

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Faith Today‘s publisher, has just welcomed a new vice-president and  resident theologian to the leadership team.

David Guretzki will be deepening and extending the biblical and theological reflection the EFC already undertakes. Some of that reflection will show up in the pages of upcoming issues of Faith Today.

In fact, David will be reflecting on modern-day implications of the Reformation in the Sep/Oct issue. We thought you might enjoy hearing directly from him about what the role of resident theologian will entail. Here’s David:

Dr. David Guretzki is the new vice president and resident theologian of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

I’ve always been impressed by the way The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) has been able to bring biblical and theological perspectives to issues at hand.

Whether the EFC is intervening in a court case, facilitating a conversation on a ministry issue, doing research on the Canadian evangelical context, or developing a resource for leaders, Bruce Clemenger and his presidential predecessors have always sought to pay close attention to what the Bible says, to what our affiliate denominations and organizations are saying, and to what a range of evangelical (and other) biblical scholars, theologians, and other experts might be saying.

This attention has allowed the EFC to speak in such a way that it both represents, and at times, leads evangelicals on the issues facing us today.
Continue reading Resident theologian will pop up in Faith Today