Category Archives: From the Print Magazine

The difference crokinole can make to everyone: Can churches do better with our seniors?

Our writer, Lisa Hall-Wilson, takes us behind the scenes of her article, “Can churches do better with our seniors?” including extra material and the background story behind the pivotal “Mr. Brown,” the senior who had such an impact on the spiritual life of the writer as a young woman. Read on…

By Lisa Hall-Wilson

As a writer, often when I write these types of articles I search for a way to put myself in the shoes of the people I’m writing about. My desire was to really give seniors a voice through this piece. One of the things that I struggle with is feeling like I belong in Church. I know I have a unique place within God’s Kingdom, but the local church…not so much always. Over the years, I’ve attended a few different churches and denominations and this feeling has followed me from city to city.

Read this full story on churches and seniors at www.faithtoday.ca Or better yet…subscribe and receive your own copy of Canada’s Christian magazine.

At the very beginning of the article, I mention an intergenerational crokinole tournament that took place when I was in youth group. That’s where I met my prayer partner Mr. Brown. I was saved at 17 and my family did not attend church, so the whole church culture was completely foreign to me. It was my first year in the youth group that I participated in the annual youth and seniors crokinole tournament.

Almost every Sunday, when he wasn’t out working in the fields, Mr. Brown would make sure to connect with me and ask how I was. He sent cards and small gifts all the way through university and attended my wedding. I don’t think he ever knew how much those small gestures meant to a kid who never quite seemed to fit in.

I thought it might be interesting, like the extra features on a DVD, to read some of the interviews I did with the people from Cannington Baptist (I’m not sure that church is even open still) for this piece. In researching any article, I talk to many more people than I am able to quote. Here’s what the pastor and some of the youth (now married with children) had to say about that annual crokinole tournament.

I tracked down Pastor Mark Lowrie in Owen Sound, Ont., just a few days before his retirement. I asked him and his wife Margaret about why the seniors and youth integrated so well.

How did that annual crokinole tournament between the seniors and youth get started?

Margaret and I were leading the young people and I think we just thought this would be a good idea. Probably Margaret’s idea more than mine. The seniors loved it. I’ve seen it done since then. Probably read about it somewhere.

Do you think there’s value in connecting the age groups in church ministry? Have we lost something by segregating the age groups?

I think it’s invaluable to connect the seniors with young people and vice versa. I think there’s way too much segregation in our churches. We slot everyone into their age group and there’s very little mixing except maybe in worship services, and then many divide that up…We do too much dividing up and not enough bringing together.

Our youth guy had cards made up with the teens [pictures] and he partnered each teen with a senior who prayed for them for that year. I was recently looking at the Bible of a senior, and in her Bible was still that teen’s card she had prayed for and the process had discontinued for at least five years.

Michelle Raynor and Megan Elford were two of the 20 or so youth who attended the youth group and the crokinole tournament at Cannington Baptist. I asked them if the tournament helped them get to know the seniors better?

Michelle: Yes! It was a highlight for sure! I think it built relationships within our church…I sincerely did enjoy those evenings. The friendly competition it made it fun to meet the others and help us relate on Sunday mornings.

Megan: Yes, I remember that too! I really believe in intergenerational ministry, but it’s something we don’t see happening as often anymore. It was always an encouragement to know that we had all of these “Grammas and Grampas” that cared about what we were doing and prayed year after year for us. My mom attributed many of the blessings we [my siblings] experienced to the prayers of those surrogate grandparents. I think it probably was a good thing for the seniors too, in that they had a chance to connect with each of the teenagers and with what was going on in our lives.

Lisa Hall-Wilson is an award-winning freelance writer for the Canadian faith-based market, who sometimes writes for Faith Today. Subscribe now to keep stories like these coming, and help ensure print Christian journalism stays alive and well in Canada. 

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.

Writing the difficult story of Gospel for Asia

by Karen Stiller

We first began to hear about the troubles facing Gospel for Asia through our readers.

We received several letters from Faith Today subscribers concerned that we were running advertisements from a charity facing serious questions about staff relations and financial issues.

A pile of Gospel for Asia research for the story "Tangled and Troubled Times at Gospel for Asia."
A pile of Gospel for Asia research for the story “Tangled and Troubled Times at Gospel for Asia.”

Of course, Faith Today has a clear “we don’t necessarily agree with all our advertisers” stance, but that answer only goes so far.

We started to dig and discovered that one of the world’s largest Christian charities was indeed coming under serious fire. We had a decision on our hands. Do we do this story? Or do we let it play out for even more time? Or do we ignore it altogether?

We chose to dig in.

We certainly weighed the seriousness of trudging into a story full of contradictory statements, unproved or not-yet-proven allegations, and named the potential risk and sadness of adding to the societal skepticism of Christians acting wrong with people and with money.

But of course, we aren’t given the task of making each other look good. It is our job to bring truth to light as best we can. Not to sensationalize or diminish. Not to make things bigger, nor to make things smaller than they really are.

So, I read, dug, listened, asked, confirmed, fact-checked, worried, asked more questions, worried some more. And then wrote.

Both sides checked in with me with concern at different times in the course of this story, wanting to make sure that I really got it, that I understood what was at stake. I think they wanted to know they were safe and that they were believed. The best answer I could give them, and I believe this to be sadly true, is that no one is going to like this story.

Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today. Sign up for a free trial subscription, and receive the May/Jun Faith Today featuring “Tangled and Troubled Times at Gospel for Asia.”

 

Transparency and Authenticity abound in March/April Faith Today

As we read through the March/April issue of Faith Today  one final time before sending it to our printer, authenticity was a theme that jumped out at us.

People here are not interested in pretending it’s easy to be a Christian in today’s world.

Check out the latest issue of Faith Today!
Check out the latest issue of Faith Today at www.faithtoday.ca/digital!

Here are a few of our favourite lines:

“I was shocked. How could my friend be teaching college kids to love language, ideas and themselves, and not think she was doing things for God?” From Carolyn Arends,  page 19.

“You do feel you are being competed with if . . . a new church moves into town. I think it’s important . . . to go the extra mile and give honour to the people who have been there all along, trying to serve and putting in decades of work.” From our interview with Patti Miller, page 24.

“Many of . . . us spend our lives avoiding the real questions of being, identity and essence, and fall prey to the seductive message of both the culture and our hearts that doing and having are all that matter.” From Rod Wilson’s essay, page 30.

And how’s this for transparency: “But the road is so pitted with frustration – with administration, courts and the criminal element – that many officers become cynical, jaded, burnt out, depressed and even suicidal.” From Alex Newman’s interviews with Christian police officers, page 42.

Continue reading Transparency and Authenticity abound in March/April Faith Today

Announcing a Faith Today Contest to Reward Your Pastor

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Give your pastor a break!

We all know pastors work very hard in often challenging circumstances. They may not always take the time they need to rest and replenish. Let’s change that for your pastor.

His Secret Place in St. Andrew's, Newfoundland is one of the retreat centres across Canada opening their doors for pastors who need a break.
His Secret Place in Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland is one of the retreat centres across Canada opening their doors for pastors who need a break.

Faith Today, in partnership with spiritual retreat centres from coast to coast, wants to send your pastor on a refreshing retreat. But we need your help.

In every province and territory, a spiritual retreat centre is opening its doors for one deserving pastor to come and take an expense-free break.

[EDITOR’S UPDATE: Contest is now closed. Winners have been announced!]

Here’s where we need your help, Canadian churches!

Please email us at contest@faithtoday.ca the name of your pastor and 75 words about why they deserve a break and what a great job they do.

Even if your pastor does not win their regional draw (to be held in early March), we will make sure we give them a social media salute to thank them for all they do.
Continue reading Announcing a Faith Today Contest to Reward Your Pastor

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

School is Weeks Away: How to Talk to Teachers Well

By Alex Newman

Ontario’s new sex education curriculum slated to take effect this coming September – and it’s not just an Ontario issue of course – has stirred up strong reactions in parents who are concerned about what their children would be exposed to.

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The subject has taken the blogosphere by storm as parents determine the best course of action. In the normal course of your child’s 12-plus years at school you’ll encounter many other issues and concerns – from policies on vaccinations, sex education or testing, to personal issues of bullying or bad behaviour.

We asked a number of parents and educators for suggestions on how to effectively communicate concerns to school authorities, regardless of the issue.

1. Identify first who you should talk to

“Best to speak with the person who’s in closest contact with your child,” says Laura Berends, who teaches elementary school in Toronto’s Flemingdon Park. “Going to the principal first doesn’t foster the close connection you want between parent and teacher. And if it’s something better handled by the principal, the teacher will direct you there.”

Even for curriculum matters, Berends finds it best to talk to the teacher. They can help you understand it better, and while they don’t have the authority to alter curriculum, she says they have some creative flexibility. “Teachers make decisions all the time around curriculum – what to cover, when, how. Conversations with parents help to inform a teacher about her students so she can make those right choices for her class.”

Sometimes, the first stop should be the principal, like when Stratford, Ont., parent Bruce Whittaker was registering his eight-year-old son who was not operating at his grade level. Although Ontario has a policy of not holding children back, Whittaker went to the principal, who placed him in one grade lower, then discussed it in-depth with the board. “In the end everything worked out,” Whittaker says.
Continue reading School is Weeks Away: How to Talk to Teachers Well

Is it True? Is it Beautiful? Questions to ask About our Art

by Carolyn Arends

Last year some Christian artist friends urged my husband and me to see a production at a local theatre. The play contained some of the most profanity-laden dialogue we had ever heard. And yet, as the story unfolded, we realized we were witnessing a profoundly redemptive story – one that pointed surprisingly and unmistakably to the gospel of Jesus.

Carolyn Arends is a musician and author in Surrey, B.C.
Carolyn Arends is a musician and author in Surrey, B.C.

We left the theatre moved and confused. Without the gritty language, would the play have been able to point so powerfully to grace in the midst of brokenness? Was it okay to expose ourselves to the language for the sake of the story?

Those of us who love stories (told in all the various art forms available to us) face a quandary. What if to tell a story honestly, unsavoury or downright evil behaviours must be portrayed? The Apostle Paul encouraged us to train our minds on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, [and] whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8).

Does that mean we are constrained – either as receivers or creators of art – to keep certain topics or words off limits?

In a class I was teaching on faith and the arts, I struggled through this question with a group of college students. We recognized that factors like maturity and personal history are important. Some things aren’t appropriate for children, and mature viewers might need to avoid any portrayals that are “stumbling blocks” in their particular context. And we could all agree on extreme cases of exploitative and gratuitous sex, violence and abusive language that are clearly outside the bounds of the Philippians 4:8 mandate.

But we were less sure what to do with greyer areas.
Continue reading Is it True? Is it Beautiful? Questions to ask About our Art

Why Religious Freedom is so Important: An Interview with Ambassador Andrew Bennett

As the next EFC webinar on June 11 rolls around (this time on religious freedom) we revisit some relevant blogs. What does Ambassador Andrew Bennett say about religious freedom?

Canada is talking about religious freedom. Last year, Faith Today explored that topic with Ambassador Andrew Bennett of Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom (ORF), an office that focusses on religious freedom in other countries (not Canada). His insights can help our discussion: “Religious freedom is a fundamental human right,” said Bennett. “It links in with freedom of expression, gender equality. It’s incumbent upon us, where we have that in Canada, to speak out.”

Read excerpts of the interview in this Faith Today blog post, and the full interview in the magazine by clicking here

Ambassador Andrew Bennett hosting a religious freedom roundtable.
Ambassador Andrew Bennett hosting a religious freedom roundtable.

FT: When you are visiting countries and the governments know you are there as a kind of watchdog for religious freedom, how do they receive you? Is it awkward?

AB: It’s awkward for them, not for me. At times they don’t necessarily receive Canada coming to talk to them about their own challenges and government restrictions on their own communities. That would be the same as when I meet with foreign diplomats in Canada. There might be a sense of Canada judging and meddling.

There is a difference between that and speaking what is true.
Continue reading Why Religious Freedom is so Important: An Interview with Ambassador Andrew Bennett