Category Archives: Interview Extra

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. 

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

Making peace with creation: the story behind the new film out of Regent College

In “Making Peace with Creation” poet and theologian Loren Wilkinson presents a compelling and compassionate vision for life in the 21st century.

by Iwan Russell-Jones

I knew that I had to make this film after my wife, Amanda, and I took part in the ‘Boat Course’, a remarkable educational experience that Loren and Mary Ruth Wilkinson devised and have been offering at Regent College for many years.

From the Wilkinson’s home on Galiano students and teachers set off together in two rowing boats on an 8-day voyage around the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, to think, study, discuss and meditate on the meaning of life on this our beautiful and fragile planet – to ponder Technology, Wilderness and Creation (to give the course its correct title).

It was an unforgettable trip – shipping our oars while a pod of Orcas crossed the channel just metres in front of us, standing in wonder on the beach in the dead of night as the sea was lit up by millions of plankton working their miracle of bioluminescence, reading the Scriptures and praying together using the rhythms of Celtic daily prayer in the stunning setting of the Pacific Northwest, contemplating the devastating long-term impact of the acidification of the oceans …  And weaving it all together with insight, poetry and passion was Loren himself, who has spent decades of his life thinking and teaching about the human experience and its relationship to a biblical understanding of creation.

Continue reading Making peace with creation: the story behind the new film out of Regent College

Christians and mental health: we should be good at helping others

By Beth Hiemstra

When I had a routine 18-week ultrasound for my second child, I was not prepared to hear that she had a serious genetic anomaly, and that her life expectancy would be short, if she survived birth.  One of the things that sustained me through the grief and stress that followed was the love of God shown through His people.

Ann Voskamp’s interview is in the Jan/Feb Faith Today.

Friends and our church family were there for us. The comfort of knowing that I was not alone and that I was loved, helped me cope during those difficult weeks and months. Some of the hardest times were the “words of comfort” by those who told me this was all for the best or that God told them my child would live.

From what I experienced, I learned how to show love through being present, by receiving love and support from God’s people. When I’m with friends who are experiencing anxiety or depression, I try to remember these lessons. At times, I slip into problem-solving mode, and that’s almost never helpful.

January 25  is Bell Let’s Talk day, a day to raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues.
Continue reading Christians and mental health: we should be good at helping others

A new kind of bucket list for a new year

Do you have a bucket list for 2017? Author Ann Voskamp (our Jan/Feb Faith Today Interview) in her latest book The Broken Way: a daring path into the abundant life, suggests we think bigger than that. “What if,” she writes, “living the abundant life isn’t about having better stories to share but about living a story that lets others live better?”

Author Ann Voskamp, our Jan/Feb in-depth interview in Faith Today, offers a new and refreshing take on the bucket list idea.

I thought of Voskamp’s take on the popular bucket list idea — where you plot out and list off the adventures and accomplishments you want to achieve before you “kick the bucket” — when I read a Globe and Mail article called “Kicking the Bucket List” on Dec. 30.

The article shares the history of “bucket lists,” and how that name entered the lexicon of popular culture about a decade ago. It also names one of the big weaknesses of the bucket list: “When however it comes to those things we value not for themselves but as markers of success and status, one thing can easily substitute for another. You finally get the specific job — the new title of junior assistant associate undersecretary — that you have been coveting. Two months later, it means nothing to you…”

Anyone who has ever crossed an accomplishment or the obtaining of some desired object off their list knows that feeling all too well. We always want more. We are rarely satisfied.

With Voskamp’s rewriting of the bucket list to a kind of “give it” list however, satisfaction is almost always guaranteed. “More than any bucket list of merely exploring the world, you could live an empty bucket list of expending all for the world.” She asks, “Where are the people ready to do the hard and holy things?”

I spoke more with Voskamp about this in the upcoming Faith Today interview for Jan/Feb. You won’t want to miss it. Meanwhile, why not spend a few moments creating a “give-it” list? What gifts and resources can you share with your community, and the world, in 2017? What might be hard and holy — and I’m guessing ultimately very fulfilling — for you this year?  What do you have to give? I’m sure that list is longer than you can imagine.

Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today. Subscribe today to not miss the Voskamp interview, and have access to some of the best Christian print journalism in Canada. 


The risky, messy, life-changing world of urban ministry

by Patti Miller

“I’ve been in urban ministry for over twenty years.”

It’s odd to hear a statement like that come out of my own mouth. I startle myself and wonder when I became that person, simultaneously aware that I’ve barely scratched the surface of understanding what urban ministry is.

Patti Miller is our FT Interview for March/April.
Patti Miller is our FT Interview for March/April.

What I do know is this:

Urban ministry is different

Urban ministry is not just different as a single category, it is different within as well. Each city, each neighbourhood in each city, is different. The labels don’t work. You have to figure out the community in which God has placed you. And once you do, it will change.
Continue reading The risky, messy, life-changing world of urban ministry

Entrevue FT : Patti Miller

English version anglaise

Patti Miller. Photo by Will Lew for Faith Today.
Patti Miller. Photo par Will Lew pour Faith Today.

Patti Miller est pasteure principale récemment nommée à l’église Evangel Pentecostal Church de Montréal (, la plus importante congrégation de langue anglaise au Québec. La signature de l’église est : Inside Out Church: Do good. Love each other. Reveal Jesus. [Une église entière : Faites le bien. Aimez-vous les uns les autres. Révélez Jésus.] C’est le thème principal de Patti depuis plusieurs années, elle qui a fait du ministère dans le secteur Jane-Finch du centre-ville de Toronto, ainsi qu’à Hamilton et maintenant, à Montréal. Elle a accordé une entrevue au magazine Faith Today sur les erreurs courantes commises dans le ministère urbain, les différences qu’elle voit à Montréal et les raisons pour lesquelles l’Église canadienne doit trouver « la plénitude de son cœur ».

Faith Today : Vous avez fait du ministère au centre-ville de Toronto, à Hamilton et depuis peu, vous êtes installée à Montréal. Dites-nous ce que vous avez appris au sujet du ministère urbain au Canada aujourd’hui.

Patti Miller : Je dirais que c’est désordonné. Les églises élaborent des programmes qui ne fonctionnent pas pour tout le monde. Beaucoup de gens qui vivent en ville et qui fréquentent une église urbaine sont en marge de la société, pour toutes sortes de raisons. Les programmes réguliers ne leur conviennent pas. Ils tombent un peu dans l’oubli et cela demande plus d’engagement. Vous devez quand même vous occuper des personnes, même si elles se trouvent dans des foules.

FT : Hamilton s’est acquise une certaine réputation pour ses églises qui travaillent ensemble. Comment voyez-vous cela opérer dans différents contextes ?

PM : On peut faire mieux. Oui, oui, oui. Je crois que nous devons vraiment passer des églises qui se font concurrence à des églises qui collaborent entre elles. Mais je dirais que cette collaboration doit reposer davantage sur les relations et être moins formelle. Ce n’est pas ce que j’ai vécu à Hamilton, car les églises savaient comment se réunir seulement pour faire une croisade ou tenir un événement ensemble. Ça tournait autour de la planification. Il y avait moins d’amitié, moins de « honorons-nous les uns les autres » et moins de pasteurs partageant des repas.

Continue reading Entrevue FT : Patti Miller

In a World of Danger, are Short Term Missions Worth the Risk?

By Steve Colby

In an increasingly dangerous world, are short term missions worth the risk?

Danger and confusion were rampant for the early disciples. The Apostle Peter took refuge in Joppa away from the madding crowd in Jerusalem, only to have the Holy Spirit invade his prayers with a strange vision of an unholy banquet of snakes, reptiles and other unappetizing fare.

Steve Colby will be at Urbana this year. Have you seen Faith Today's coverage of this huge student missions conference?
Steve Colby will be at Urbana this year. Have you seen Faith Today’s coverage of this huge student missions conference? Find links below, at the end of this post.

St. Peter’s decision to go on a short term mission to Cornelius’ house was a response to the Holy Spirit’s invitation. He was compelled to “go without hesitation,” and go he did, even though he didn’t understand exactly why.

Sound like a short term mission to you? Compelled to go, but you don’t know exactly why, nor do you feel prepared, and you feel a queasiness about what you will find there, what the people eat, will there be any danger?

Certainly Peter’s visit made a big difference to Cornelius and his household. Cornelius and his family finally understood who Jesus was, received His life and were transformed.
Continue reading In a World of Danger, are Short Term Missions Worth the Risk?

Why do evangelical churches do better in today’s Canada?

by Michael Wilkinson

With the first national study of its kind, Sam Reimer and I published our book, A Culture of Faith, on evangelical congregations in Canada.

Micheal Wilkinson and Sam Reimer explore evangelical congregations in Canada in their book, and in the latest Faith Today.
Micheal Wilkinson and Sam Reimer explore evangelical congregations in Canada in their book, and in the latest Faith Today.

The study asked pastors a series of questions about congregational vitality including those on priorities and purposes, programs, finances, health and well being of staff, among many others.

Here are some of the findings that we think will be important discussion points.

We discovered that religious participation continues to decline all across Canada with one exception: evangelical Protestants.

There are approximately 30,000 congregations in Canada and clearly 1/3 of them are affiliated with Evangelicals. And yet, only 10% of Canadians identify with Evangelicals. What we wanted to know is why are congregations so important to Evangelicals that they would invest so much time and money in them? What we learned is that Evangelicals have higher levels of participation than all other groups with congregational life focussed on worship and teaching. Many congregations are young, urban, and increasingly multicultural. Youth and children are very important and programs reflect this priority.

However, we also discovered that rural congregations are facing some difficult issues with lack of growth and demands on staff.

Clergy across the country are aging and it’s not clear how denominations will deal with the impending demand for staff. Coupled with declining enrolments in theological schools (seminaries and Bible colleges), this will be a very real challenge.

We also listened to youth pastors and children’s pastors express less satisfaction than lead pastors in ministry. Many appear to be frustrated working in areas that are out of their gifting or calling. Finally, since the economic downturn in 2008, many congregations reported lower levels of giving which places added pressure on them.

Our research offers pastors and church leaders an organizational analysis of Canadian evangelical congregations.

We hope it will be the basis for further discussion and perhaps theological reflection on the role of congregations in Canada.

In our study a large number of pastors indicated they are once again reflecting on their priorities and purposes and rethinking what it means to be missional in a changing Canada.

We are aware that congregations went through lengthy processes a couple of decades ago when vision and mission statement activities were much talked about. However, with ongoing social change especially in the past decade it may be time to review those statements again. We hope our research will facilitate the discussion.

Michael Wilkinson is Professor of Sociology at Trinity Western University,  Director, Religion in Canada Institute and Co-ordinator, Canadian Pentecostal Research Network. Read Faith Today’s interview about A Culture of Faith here. 

Bob Kuhn of TWU: “We’ve defined discrimination in terms so broad, it becomes a mantra.”

Trinity Western University is back in the news in its continuing battle to establish a law school — with graduates recognized by law societies across the country.

Bob Kuhn: “I’ve received personal threats and the like. I would characterize it as hate mail.”

Bob Kuhn, president of Trinity Western University (TWU) in Langley, B.C., spoke to Faith Today about freedom of religion, what TWU’s students think about the controversy rocking their school and the personal nature of the attacks and where he believes Canada is heading.

TWU’s proposal for a school of law, although approved by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, has ignited debate in Canada over topics like discrimination, a school’s right to have students sign a community covenant, and of course, religious freedom. The Council of Canadian Law Deans has spoken out against TWU’s plans for a law school. 

FT: Were you surprised at the outcry from the law deans?

BK: The answer is yes and no. I’m surprised it’s become the issue it has. My surprise is really the degree to which the opposition is grounding its positions on an ideology, as opposed to taking into account some of the legal and logical perspectives.
Continue reading Bob Kuhn of TWU: “We’ve defined discrimination in terms so broad, it becomes a mantra.”