How a Canadian church can easily stay in the good books of the CRA

Faith Today dove into the question of “what if?” a church loses their charitable status in the Jan/Feb issue of the magazine. John Pellowe is chief executive officer of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities, and is interviewed in that story. We asked him to go even deeper on this subject, and share what churches most commonly do wrong, and how they can get it right.

By John Pellowe

It is always an unfortunate and disruptive event when a charity has its registered status revoked by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Fortunately, the situations which result in revocation are virtually always avoidable.

Faith Today asks why churches might lose their charitable status, and what they can do about it in our latest issue.

Some stats

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) statistics show that in any given year about 500 to 700 charities will have their registered status revoked for “failure to file” their T3010. Most commonly, this is caused when charities don’t file, even when reminded by CRA reminders to do so. Less commonly, revocation is due to an incomplete filing that is not fixed as requested by CRA. A much smaller number of revocations, several hundred in number, happen for other reasons, including failing a CRA audit. Preventing these situations requires a bit of diligence on a charity’s leadership’s part, but staying compliant isn’t hard.

#1 prevention tip

To avoid the main revocation issue, boards should set a standard item on the agenda of a board meeting about four months after fiscal year end to approve the T3010 for submission to CRA. Board approval is not required, but this is one way to ensure that the T3010 is not overlooked. If it isn’t ready, there will still be enough time to complete and submit it. It must be in CRA’s hands by six months after the charity’s year end.
Continue reading How a Canadian church can easily stay in the good books of the CRA

When people leave a church to go to another. And you are left behind.

Here at the Faith Today blog, we wanted to draw your attention to The circulation of the saints story in our Jan/Feb issue. The subtitle to that story is “When people leave a church and you are left behind.”  This is likely a scenario that has impacted most Faith Today readers.

Rod Wilson, the writer of that story, shares the experiences of three Canadians in this blog post: a lay leader, a senior pastor and a church member. Read on to hear more personal responses to saints circulating between churches….

by Rod Wilson

I had the opportunity recently to receive written communiques from three different people. One was a lay leader in a church where people had left in significant numbers:

Among the many things I’ve been told is that ‘The church is not really doing it for us anymore and we already have enough friends.’ So I wonder about the consumer mindset, seemingly so rampant, that seems to be set on finding ‘what’s right for me’ rather than living out a covenant commitment to a church community as it seeks to live out Christian discipleship in the good times and the hard times.

Read Rod Wilson’s article on the circulation of the saints in the Jan/Feb Faith Today, available now.

Another was a senior pastor in a church that was experiencing a slow bleed where people left over a period of time:
Continue reading When people leave a church to go to another. And you are left behind.

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

Tom Harpur’s life demonstrates how religion in Canada has changed

By Stephen J. Bedard

Tom Harpur was one of the most popular Canadian religion writers over the last half-century. He died recently at the age of 87, after many decades of writing about religion in Canada.

Not many Canadians have had such a major public platform to speak to religious issues: Harpur was the religion editor for the Toronto Star for 12 years, wrote a column on ethics and spirituality for over 30 years, and perhaps had his greatest influence through the 22 books he published.

Tom Harpur was a Canadian Christian author whose views were often controversial with Evangelicals.

In many ways he was a reflection of Canada’s changing religious culture.

Harpur was born in 1929 to an evangelical family. He described his father as a “fundamentalist street preacher.” Harpur’s family of origin instilled an interest in religion, but there was also a reaction to the conservative nature of his family.

Harpur studied at both Oxford University in England and Wycliffe College in Toronto. After graduating he served as an Anglican priest at St. Margaret’s-in-the-Pines, West Hill, Ont. (1957-1964). After concluding his pastoral ministry, he taught New Testament at Wycliffe College in Toronto (1964-1971). Wycliffe is an evangelical seminary within the Anglican Church of Canada.
Continue reading Tom Harpur’s life demonstrates how religion in Canada has changed

An Interview with the authors of “Theology Matters” study

The recent study “Theology Matters: Comparing the Traits of Growing and Declining Mainline Protestant Church Attendees and Clergy” grabbed the attention of mainline media in Canada. The study showed that mainline churches that grow in Canada tend to be theologically  more conservative, led by pastors who engage more regularly in personal religious practices, and attended by Canadians who also engage more regularly in such practices.

Subscribe to Faith Today and stay connected and informed about the Church and trends in Canada.

The Jan/Feb issue of Faith Today digs into the study and asks questions we haven’t seen asked anywhere else — such as how mainline denominational leaders are responding to a study that shows church growth is found in the opposite direction theologically in which their denominations tend to be moving. We felt like readers might want even more than is in the article, so our FT team went back to two of the study’s authors (David Haskell and Kevin Flatt) and asked more questions. Here is our interview…
Continue reading An Interview with the authors of “Theology Matters” study

The Top Faith Today Blogs of 2016

Blog readers, we salute you. Thank you for paying attention and interacting with the Faith Today blog. Our intention with the blog is to provide you with even more excellent Christian journalism and thinking, to build on and expand on what you find in the pages of the print magazine. As we begin a new year of blogging, here’s a look back on the Top 10 Faith Today blog posts of 2016. 

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  1. Announcing a Faith Today contest to reward your pastor. This blog post invited Canadian congregations to nominate their pastors for a well-deserved break. Canadians loved this idea, because they love their pastors.
  2. Pornography most common sexual sin of men. We invited Kirk Giles, head of Promise Keepers Canada, to write for us after he appeared in the magazine as our featured Question and Answer subject. His topic was provocative and timely.
  3. Goodbye beautiful writer, our lovely friend. We said goodbye to Debra Fieguth, a beloved and highly experienced Canadian Christian journalist this year. The Christian writing and reading community celebrated her achievements while mourning her loss.
  4. Memories of the Christian Brethren. Faith Today readers enjoy John Stackhouse’s great writing and challenging insights. He offered us some warm memories in this more personal piece than we usually see from him.
  5. What I learned visiting churches in Moncton. Sometimes our ideas for blogs come from outside of our writing circles, and we love that. This one hit a nerve.
  6. The 17 year old girl forced to go to church shares her thoughts. Wow! This one really caused some waves. This blog from 2015 still made our 2016 Top Ten list. A 17-year-old daughter of one our editors tells it like it is.
  7. We know it will be messy: Trinity Western. Readers responded well to this behind the scenes look at the motivation behind Trinity Western University’s long, long struggle to have their law school students recognized across Canada.
  8. Writing the difficult story of Gospel for Asia. In this blog we explained more about our reasons for writing an investigative piece into one of the world’s largest Christian charities. Some of our readers had wondered if we were in the muck a bit with this one — we think not, and here we explained why.
  9. Faith Today writer shares what it’s like to have a sister in the Olympics. Sometimes a blog is just fun, light, wonderful reading, like this one.
  10. Dear Fundraiser, a letter from Christians who give. Our cover story writer on “Being, Doing, Having” (all about Christians and money) does a spin-off blog on fundraising, and readers enjoyed it.

Thanks again for reading the Faith Today blog. Subscribe to the print issue today and keep Christian print journalism alive and well in Canada.

Resources on Ministry With Seniors

If we can give our readers something extra, we love to! Here is an extended list of recommended books and videos related to “Can Churches Do Better With Our Seniors?” a Jan/Feb feature story by Lisa Hall-Wilson

By Bill Fledderus

The United Methodist Church, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., has an Office on Aging and Older Adult Ministries headed by Dr. Will Randolph. It offers a free quarterly newsletter and good blog posts about recommended resources, caregiving, worship and other related topics at www.aging-umc.org. Don’t miss the blog posts “What Shall I Read First?” and “What Shall I Read Second?

Amy Hanson of Council Bluffs, Iowa, is author of Baby Boomers and Beyond: Tapping the Ministry Talents and Passions of Adults Over 50 (Jossey-Bass, 2010). See her list of recommended resources and more at www.amyhanson.org. Don’t miss her free 16-page PDF from 2007 “Churches Responding to the Age Wave: Top Innovations in Older Adult Ministry.”

A Vision for the Aging Church: Renewing Ministry for and by Seniors (IVP Academic, 2011) is a book by James M. Houston and Michael Parker that challenges the church to embrace and honour the contributions that can be made by its older members while more effectively ministering to their needs. Dr. Houston is an emeritus professor of spiritual theology at Regent College in Vancouver. Continue reading Resources on Ministry With Seniors

What’s up with Jan/Feb Faith Today?

The Jan/Feb issue of Faith Today didn’t start out to be a church-themed issue, but that is where we ended up.

And why should that surprise us?

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For most Canadian Christians, church is a vital part of our lives. It’s where we find community with other believers. It’s where we teach and are taught, love and are loved, forgive and are forgiven, among many other beautiful and challenging things. It’s where we worship God and where we are restored.

Church is also under no small pressure these days, as our cover story written by Canadian scholar and author  Lee Beach says. “If it were true that at one time the Church occupied a place near the centre of Canadian culture, this is no longer the case,” he writes.

Yet, being “Church in exile” or on the margins also gives us a chance to reform, and do things differently and better than ever.

“Exile is forcing the Church to re-engage with its biblical identity as a missional people called by God to go into the world to bring a message of hope, and embody that hope,” says Beach.

What do you think of that?
Continue reading What’s up with Jan/Feb Faith Today?

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. 

 

Our favourite Faith Today stories in 2016

As a fun end-of-year exercise, we editors put our heads together and chose some of our favourite Faith Today stories from 2016. “Favourite” meaning they resonated with readers for some reason. Or favourite could mean that we just simply loved the end results of the writer’s hard work, or thought an interview subject said some really important things we all need to hear.

We started out the year with a love letter to the Church. See you in 2017!

So, here’s our list (in no particular order, and just for fun).

Artful Discipleship: how the arts can help in spiritual formation. We love this Carolyn Arends piece with the honour it gives to the arts, and of course, with its connection to our first ever, wildly popular colour it yourself Faith Today cover. This was so much fun to pull together and it was awesome to see readers respond and send in coloured covers from all across Canada.
Continue reading Our favourite Faith Today stories in 2016

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