Category Archives: Feature Story

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.

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

How is God at work in Vancouver?

By Jonathan Bird

[Editor’s note: this is an advance peek at an important article we’ll be formally publishing in our Nov/Dec issue.]

Vancouver is rightly celebrated for being one of the most liveable urban regions in the world. Yet Vancouver’s very success has contributed to profound spiritual confusion and social dysfunction among its residents.ray-bakke-jonathan-bird

The gospel has always fallen on rocky ground here in “Lotus Land,” where religion is a four letter word and spirituality is merely an optional accessory for a self-fashioned life in the cultural convergence zone between West and East.

But fashioning a life here is immensely difficult. In this city of immigrants, where elementary schools have ESL rates as high as 65 per cent and the majority of residents move every five years, civic leaders consider loneliness and the lack of social cohesion to be more devastating than the fast-rising cost of housing.

Or at least they did until recently. The century-old joke that land speculation is the favourite blood sport of Vancouverites isn’t funny anymore. With offshore investors driving the composite benchmark price of all housing types in the metro area to $845,000 in April ($1.4 million for a detached house), even secular newspaper columnists are openly wondering if the “resort municipality” of Vancouver is “losing its soul” as it empties of families and young people.
Continue reading How is God at work in Vancouver?

Why we did a story on Christians who swear

I felt a little bit like a little old lady (sorry little old ladies!). I sat in the front row of a Christian writers conference in the States, beside my friend Patricia Paddey. One of the speakers swore a bit of a blue streak from the podium. To make her point. To make us laugh. To shock us.

Get the latest issue to get the latest on Christian swearing. Does it matter?
Get the latest issue to get the latest on Christian swearing. Does it matter?

It did all of those things, of course, as  a well-placed cuss word can.

But it got us talking later about the looseness of language we hear more and more amongst our brothers and sisters in Christ. It seems to be more okay today than before to swear. We may have actually “tut tutted” a bit as we chatted about it.

When I became serious about my faith in university, I set about to clean up my language. I’m a good Maritimer and we are good at swearing and come up with new ways to do it all the time (sorry Maritimers!).
Continue reading Why we did a story on Christians who swear

Evangelical Churches Stepping up to Refugee Crisis

by Debra Fieguth

The biggest refugee crisis since the end of World War Two has led to a huge outpouring of compassion. Canadian church organizations continue to be inundated with queries and offers to help Syrian refugees.

A Syrian Refugee Village in Lebanon
A Syrian Refugee Village in Lebanon

“It’s been non-stop,” says Serena Richardson, justice and compassion coordinator for the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. “It’s been really amazing.”

The C&MA was already active in refugee work. The denomination began in 2014 to encourage some of its 450 churches to sponsor those fleeing the Syrian conflict.

Like many evangelical denominations, the C&MA is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH), meaning it has an agreement with the federal government allowing it, primarily through local churches, to sponsor refugees.

Mennonite Central Committee and its five regional offices also have their hands full responding to requests from their affiliated churches. National migration and resettlement program coordinator Brian Dyck says the offices are accustomed to getting only occasional queries about sponsoring refugees. Now they get up to 10 a day. “And that’s the case in all the provincial offices.”

Continue reading Evangelical Churches Stepping up to Refugee Crisis

How Your Church can Sponsor Refugees

by Debra Fieguth

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Canadian churches are galvanizing to help bring Syrian refugees to Canada.

Since that day in early September when the image of a tiny boy’s body washed up on a Turkish shore began circulating in the media, thousands of compassionate Canadians have been wondering what they can do to rescue families fleeing conflict.

Refugee sponsorship is a serious undertaking with many challenges and demands, but it can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.

Here are some points to consider for church groups thinking about sponsorship.

First, educate yourself about the crisis. The situation in Syria is complex and frightening. It has been going on for almost five years, since the Arab Spring of 2011, and has been compounded by the presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). There are now some 4 million Syrians outside their own country, and another 8 million who are internally displaced. They are both Christians and Muslims. Half of them are children.
Continue reading How Your Church can Sponsor Refugees

In search of … adequacy

Meeting the challenges of our time with intellectual rigour

Much prayer, hard work, costly co-operation and considerable money – all are required of Christians to address the challenges of contemporary society. It has always been so – for those fighting world wars, enduring depression and dust bowl, facing epidemic or environmental disaster, immigrating to a new country.

Yet our present challenges have something in common – a complexity that means we can’t just pray and work and co-operate and spend our way out of our troubles, the way Canadians have solved problems since Confederation. We are going to have to think our way out of them too.

Canadian Evangelicals might seem poised for the serious and sustained analysis and reflection our moment requires. As a whole Canadians are among the best-educated people on earth, with a higher proportion of our population receiving postsecondary education than in any other country.

Continue reading In search of … adequacy