Tuesday, July 8, 2014

3 Circles

Last week we had the privilege of helping to lead our Canadian National Baptist Convention annual conference.  It was two powerful days spent in the historic Jarvis Street Baptist Church during which we met together to share, learn, celebrate and give thanks for what God is doing across the nation.

We were very blessed to partner with the North American Mission Board who brought the Send North America Experience, including speaker David Platt and worship Leader Matt Papa, to close our convention with a powerful challenge about how we might live on mission with God.

Although I did miss some of the business portion of the convention as I was setting things up for the afternoon, I did manage to catch two portions.  

Firstly, I was there to see the vote to officially recognize The Hamilton Fellowships affiliation with the CNBC.

Secondly, I was able to catch Jeff Christopherson sharing a report about the North American Mission Board.  He finished that presentation by sharing a 3 Circles video.  If you are looking for ways to introduce the basic Christian message to people, perhaps you are just exploring that message yourself, or perhaps you want a refresher, this might be a helpful starting place.  I will leave you with the link below:

3 Circles

It was a great week to celebrate all that God is doing, and we look with anticipation to all that God will do in the days, weeks and months ahead. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Interrupted Prayer

I got up a little later than usual, and others in the house where up a little earlier.  After spending time reading in Luke 15, I recognized the living room was getting a bit too busy for a time of prayer and meditation, so I decided to move outside to the front porch.  It was only a little less distracting out there.  A few neighbours heading off to work and a few walking kids to school made it a bit difficult to concentrate.  I did, however, manage a few minutes of reflection on the theme of seeking the lost that is so pronounced in Luke 15.  As I meditated, one more distraction walked by.  My neighbour passed by, calling back to his father two doors down.  As I decided to end my attempt at a prayer time, it dawned on me that perhaps this distraction was not a distraction, but rather an answer to prayer, a reminder and a spurring on.

A few weeks ago, this same neighbour had approached me to return a broom that I had lent him.  After some small talk about the neighbourhood and how, as a child, he used to play in what is now my home with a friend, he began to ask spiritual questions.  He is in a time of seeking and investigating spiritual matters.  At the end of the conversation he said he would definitely be in touch with more questions later.  That was a few weeks ago and he had not mentioned it since, nor had I even seen him very much.  Seeing him that morning reminded me that perhaps I need to take the initiative.

The next day, when I saw him again, I intentionally went over to say hello.  I also took with me a book that addressed many of the things he had mentioned in our last conversation.  He was genuinely appreciative and expressed that it was exactly the sort of thing he was looking for as he continues his exploration.  

So, although it was interupted and did not feel particularly satisfying, perhaps it was a fruitful time of prayer after all.  My eyes and heart were opened, an application presented itself quite clearly and I recognized an opportunity for obedience.  Is there anything more we can ask for out of a time of prayer and meditation in scripture?  


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

4 I's for Mission

Last week I had the priviledge of doing some coaching with individuals and couples applying to be Apprentices or Church planters in the region.  Part of the opportunity was to look afresh at some of the ideas and areas we were asking the candidates to consider.  One of those areas of consideration was the Four I's.  More than just for church planters, however, I found it a helpful list for anyone who seeks to be living with mission intentionality.  With that in mind I offer it here for you consideration:

Identify- Where is it that God has you?  What are the needs in the community around you.  There are physical, emotional and, importantly, spiritual needs around us.  What are the pockets where Jesus is needed?

Invest- How is it that you can spend you time, energy and resources to love and serve those around you.  How can you invest your life to engage relationally with your neighbours?  How can you pour into people's lives with genuine, authentic relationships?

Invite- What can you do to recognize where people are at and intentionally invite them to consider the next step in a spiritual journey?  Perhaps it is questions to promt spiritual exploration.  Perhaps it is an invitation to make a decision for Jesus.  Perhaps it is an invitation into a discipling relationship.  Whatever the situation, how can you invite the next step?

Increase- The heart of the Great Commission is a call to make disciples, who in turn make disciples, thus creating multiplication.  What plan do you have to walk someone down a journey of maturation, to equip, encourage and empower them towards a life of bearing fruit?  

I found this to be a great check for my life, a good framework upon which to hang specific details that I can work through for my context.  Let me encourage you to think through it for yourself.  

A special thanks to my colleagues at NAMB, Send Toronto and Send Vancouver for the refresher and the opportunity to pour into others!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

10 Tips for Living on Mission

If everything worked out correctly, I am away for a short one day getaway with the love of my life.   So I thought it would be a great time to share this post that came across my twitter feed from @SendNetwork.  Below is a link to an article written by Bryan Barley that appeared at www.sendnetwork.com.  Some great, practical, simple and straight forward thoughts to get you started thinking about living missionally within your community.  Enjoy!

10 Tips for Living On Mission In Your Community

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

3 Books Every Canadian Church Palnter Should Read

If you are involved in church planting in any capacity, you probably have a list of books you have, or still have to read.   How to books, books of best practice, books of mission, discipleship or theology etc.  Let me take a moment, take a slightly different track, and make a plug for some fiction.  I admit, my reading of fiction is somewhat sporadic.  Between books on mission and theology, commentaries and sermons, I can go weeks or months without reading fiction.  Every time I do, however, I come away rewarded by such a rich experience.  There is something about fiction that helps us not just read about a people and culture, but somehow manages to submerge us within that culture, to see how it is lived out, and provides us with windows into different perspectives by means of thoughfully crafted characters living or experiencing a time, place, circumstance and culture.

So here is a short list of books with Canadian themes, books that will help provide insight into different aspects of Canadian culture and identity.  Three books every Canadian Church Planter should read:

1)  The Orenda by Joseph Boyden - an exploration of the time of first contact between the earliest French arrivals to Canada (specifically Jesuit missionaries) and the First Nations already inhabiting the land. 

2)  No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod - a powerful story of a proud Scottish clan who settled in Cape Breton.  This story beautifully weaves stories and recollections from generations of the clan from the 1700's up to the most recent family members who find themselves in different parts of Canada wrestling with their historic identity as Gaelic Highlander's and Cape Bretoners. 

3)  Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan - this book explores the tensions that have given rise to modern Quebec as it follows the Tallard family, a French Canadian man, his Irish wife and their son who struggles to reconcile his two different ethnic/linguistic identities.  A faciniating look at the French English tensions of Canada as well as the shift in Quebec culture, the place of the church and the rise of modern society.

Admittedly, I chose these books because I have read them more recently and they had an impact on me.  I fully recognize that it is a list that is limited in so many ways.  I would love to hear some thoughts about other great books helping to explore and understand Canadian culture.  What would you add to the list? 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Three P's of Partnership

This past weekend we had the priviledge of hosting a team of leaders from Murray Hill Baptist Church in Jacksonville Florida.  We had a great time as we served together, helped get them acquainted with the city and worshipped together.
This team were here not only to serve, as we did some Guerilla Gardening and community clean up, but to learn about the city and our ministry so that they may lead future teams.  

Perhaps the most exciting part of the their time with us was the opportunity to have them join one of our Fellowship groups for worship.  It was a great opportunity for our friends from Florida to meet people from literally around the globe, to hear so many different accents as they fellowshipped and to all come together in worship.  

For our people, it was a great example that although we may be small we are part of a much bigger family.  It also provides such a great example of minstry and mission that people would give of their time, energy and resourses to travel all the way here to come along side us to help us serve and minister in our community.  This is a powerful witness to a young group with seekers and many new and young believers.  

We took the time during our Fellowship meeting to not just celebrate, but to formalize this new partnership with the signing of a covenant.  In that covenant we specifically communicated and committed to the very things we exercised on this first trip:

1) Prayer-it is such an encouragement to a new church plant to know that they are being held up in prayer.  A prayer team is specifically praying for Hamilton.  Prayer is the foundation for any ministry and through it we see God work.

2) Provision- Financial provision is a very real and practical support to any church plant.  Beyond just the money, however, a financial commitment no matter the size, communicates something important about commitment.

3) People- beyond prayer and provision, having people come, whether a short term mission team or even longer term opportunities for individuals of families, is also important.  For the supporting church it helps to place names and faces, sights, sounds and smells to the prayers and support.  It becomes more personal and more important.  For the church plant, it is a shot in the arm of encouragement and importantly allows for a burst of ministry strength and energy as we try to reach a community.

We are very pleased and excited as we move forward with this new partnership.  
And for those who have partnered with us in the past, or continue to walk with us in different ways, a huge thank you for your continued support as well.  

This last photograph is of a quick caricature done of Pastor Doug Axtell of Murray Hill by Oliver Guevara of The Hamilton Fellowships at the end of our worship time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

An Answer To Prayer

I saw the red light flashing on the phone; I had voice mail.  I picked up the hand held receiver and began to scroll through the call display to see if I recognized who may have left a message, but I did not.  I asked Kim if she knew who had called and left the message, to which she replied, " Oh ya, I forgot to tell you. Have a listen, you will never guess who it was."  And she was right, I would have never guessed.    

When I checked my message it was from Tim, one of the guys from the Beer Store.  He had not been out for a few weeks so it was nice to hear from him.  As it turns out, he had not been out to Beer Store Church because he got a job at a local restaurant in the city.  

Getting a job had been Tim's prayer request since we first met him.  He had worked at getting a resume, worked to distribute it, and then waited.  It seemed that there was no one hiring for kitchen work and so he collected bottles each week, came for a sandwich and coffee and we prayed.  Finally, after months and months, someone called and he was hired.  

Tim had called and left a message to thank  us for the coffee and sandwiches which helped him get through many weeks, and to thank us for praying because "every little bit helped."