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Archive for October, 2014

Biblical and Theological Rationale for Pioneer Ministry

This is one of my assignments but it explains much of my thinking around pioneer ministries. I thought I’d share it as it gives people in my life a little understanding of what I’m up to and why. The more I learn and involve myself in pioneer ministries, the more I realize that this is who I am. The other day, I mentioned to one of my professors that throughout my entire life I’ve been told that I am great at starting things, but not so good with finishing them. Her response was that that is common with church planters. We get bored easily and need to do new things. That is how we work. I feel like my entire life has been redeemed!

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Introduction

The Christian church is no longer the centre of society. Formerly churched people seem only tangentially connected with the Christian tradition if at all. People increasingly describe themselves as ‘spiritual, but not religious.’ Toronto boasts of multiculturalism which allows its inhabitants to keep their culture and religions and so there are increasing groups of people for whom the Christian story has never been a part of their lives. Many people would not consider walking into the doors of a church, let alone see a need for salvation and following Christ. Consequently, churches of all denominations face potential closure if they continue to be church in the way they always have been. Churches need to ask what God is doing in their neighbourhoods and cultural context and how He might be calling them to participate in what He is doing. They will need to ask themselves if God is calling them to do something different, or to do church in a new way. These are not new questions. Christians in every culture throughout history have discerned what it means to follow God in their lives and to be His representatives in the world.

Still, these questions tend to make many people nervous that we are diluting or changing the message of the Gospel by appealing to consumeristic whims instead preserving costly faithfulness. We do not need to look far to provide examples of where this has occurred. However, costly faithfulness might require the church to consider how they can live the Gospel in the world. Moreover, we may need to step outside of our comfort zone to follow a God who is constantly meeting people where they are at to love, heal and redeem them.

In this paper, I will provide a biblical and theological justification for pioneer ministries which seek to partner with God in the work that He is already doing in our midst. Pioneer ministries are an extension of the work of the Triune God throughout Scripture, the history of the Christian church and what God seems to be doing today.

What are Pioneer Ministries?

Pioneer ministries take seriously the call to spread the Gospel with people who do not know God’s love or their own need for God. As the name suggests, they often carry the risks and uncertainty that accompanies the journey to a new land, with new people, climates, and situations. Yet, these ministries recognize that the foreign lands are in our own backyards, starting with our neighbours. They require listening to the needs and culture of the people around us and to what God is already doing. They take seriously the understanding that many of these people will not attend the church as we know it. Moreover, they take seriously the importance of building relationships in which the love of Christ can be modelled and shared.

Pioneer ministries are often experiments that enable us to meet our neighbours and get to know them. As church attendance dwindles, this step becomes even more important in sharing the Gospel. We need to “come alongside our neighbours – we pay attention, we work, we eat, we converse, we cry, we laugh, we hope.” Pioneer ministries will strive to meet in and/or create ‘third spaces’ – spaces in which people gather that are not where they work/study and, in many cases, are not people’s homes. Therefore, these ministries may meet in cafes, or host a youth or family event. Vipperman writes:

Christ-centered community for the unchurched is built on genuine love and care for one another. Our prayer and faithful hope is that the friendships that are forged are intentional and we learn what care might mean for each individual who visit […] We won’t have the opportunity to care for our neighbours unless we know them.

Pioneer ministries provide the context in which the love of God can be experienced and discussed, thus distinguishing them from secular social clubs.Moreover, they seek to provide for emotional, physical, social, and spiritual needs in the neighbourhood, thus providing a more holistic and distinctly Christian approach to social justice.

Pioneer Ministries are Rooted in the Triune God

Pioneer ministries must be  rooted in the Triune God throughout Scripture and the history of the Christian Church. Branson writes, “If God is living and active, then church life, including church planting, should attend to discerning God’s initiatives and context […]it requires that we engage the living Trinity now, on the ground, in the mission that is around us and ahead of us.” It is therefore important to begin with the character of this triune God.

Triune God as Love

The Triune God is a God of Love. This love is unconditional, all-encompassing and eternal. This love is embodied in Christ’s life, death and resurrection. God’s love is present throughout the whole Biblical story. Some examples include: He carefully designs and delights in His creation; God leads His people out of Egypt, comforts the downtrodden and cares for the vulnerable; and continuously interacts with humanity despite our waywardness.

Bowen claims that God’s Kingdom is “the state of affairs where the Creator’s love is expressed in everything, overcoming evil and creating wholeness.” Pioneer ministries are an extension of God’s love as they seek to care and love for the people whom God has placed around us. They seek to be the arms and feet of God’s love in the world by finding opportunities to meet and bless others who do not already know God’s.  Again, Bowen writes, “God has a heart for those who do not know the Gospel in the cities across our land. God longs for us to have the same heart.” If we are to be messengers of God’s love, we must strive to demonstrate God’s love in all that we say and do.

Triune God as Missionary

The Triune God is the Great Missionary whose heart is moved and directed by His great love to save His people and to heal their brokenness and waywardness. Throughout Scripture, we see God making the first move to meet people where they are at and draw them back to Him. God is very much concerned with redeeming all the nations from the time of Abraham to the present. Bowen draws on this aspect of God to root pioneer ministries: “in one sense, the job of the church is always the same: to follow the lead of our missionary God and to put our energies into the things that God cares about,”

Pioneer ministries are tasked with discerning God’s missionary heart for the people in our midst. Bowen writes, “God does not send us into areas where he is not already present and at work. our task is simply to recognize God’s presence and to join with him in that work.” This might lead us to care for populations whom we wouldn’t otherwise encounter. We need to ask ourselves who are in the margins of society and learn to care for the people whom Christ cares about.

Triune God as Innovator

Some people are uncomfortable with ‘newness’ and doing church in a ‘new way.’ Pioneer ministry are inherently risky as we venture to meet people who are different from us and who may not think, act or believe as we do. Yet, God has begun new and risky ventures throughout history. Bowen is worth quoting at length:

The God of Christian tradition is the God of new things: a new covenant, a new birth, a new commandment, new wine in new wineskins, and ultimately a new creation. Of course, this is not newness for the sake of novelty: this is newness in the supreme cause of God’s mission in Jesus Christ to renew “All things”. Undoing the effects of sin and evil inevitably means change and newness. The mission of God is never static, always moving forward.

While God is the great innovator who seeks to bring each person throughout cultures and history into His Kingdom, His new actions will be “recognizable as the authentic work of God because it resonates with what God has done in the past.” The call to follow Christ was radically different than the pharisaic preservation of holiness could even begin to imagine; Christ ate and drank with sinners while claiming to have the authority and identity of God Almighty. Yet, Christ’s coming was foretold by the prophets and was consistent with God’s character.

Triune God as Commissioner

Quite amazingly, God continues to use humanity – and in particular, His people – to be the vehicle in which the Gospel is spread. Branson writes, “biblical narratives repeatedly tell of the risk God takes in not shaping humans like robots, and even though we are often wayward, God refuses to reduce us to commodities or targets.” He is the great Commissioner who sends His people into the lands to embody and share the reconciling love of God. Christ prepares and teaches His disciples for carrying out His mission after His death and resurrection. The Spirit equips people with gifts that are needed for the building up of the Kingdom.

Following God’s Call

Pioneer ministries are one way in which the church can follow this Triune God in the world today. The church looks for new opportunities to partner with God to love and share the Gospel with a broken and hurting world. Moynagh summarizes this call:

The church is called through the Spirit to live the story of Jesus, at the centre of which is his death and resurrection. It does this whenever it takes up the cross in evangelism, sacrificial service and in its corporate life. The church is to be a sign, foretaste and instrument of the kingdom in its Jesus-centred life […] As a foretaste, the church mediates the future to the world.

Evangelism in pioneer ministries is as simple as sharing what is important to us. We share our encounters with God with friends, just as we might share what we did on the weekend.

Yes – But are pioneer ministries ‘church’?

Very few dedicated Christians would venture to claim that pioneer ministries are not good in and of themselves. That is, Christians should care for their neighbours, provide for their needs and be witnesses of God’s love in the world. The question that seems to be on people’s minds, however, is whether we can call these ministries ‘church.’ This is an important question and needs to be a part of visioning throughout the birth and life of a new ministry. In this section, I will argue that pioneer ministries are infact ‘church’ if they seek to foster relationship in the following way: relationship with God, with the world around us, with each other, and with the whole Church of God. Bowen rightly claims: “The church itself is people, the congregation, the community – people who are committed to the Gospel of who God is, and to the mission of God’s love in the world.”

Relationship with the Triune God

Pioneer ministries must be primarily concerned with their relationship with the Triune God. As members are rooted in the character of God, they will respond to God’s love through prayer, reading Scripture and surrendering their lives to this Triune God. At the beginning stages of pioneer ministries, this will likely be seen in the lives of the core members who have already committed themselves to God. As the ministries enfold, others will be drawn to the love of God and will begin to seek how they too can love God and live according to His ways in the context of their own lives and their commitment to the ministry of the Church.

Relationship with the World

Pioneer ministries will embody God’s love for the world through meeting social, emotional, physical and spiritual needs of those around them. Bowen claims, “unless the church is the servant of God’s work, it has little reason to exist.” As our culture moves further away from Christianity, we will need to start with the social, emotional and physical needs. This might take the form of a community meal that shows radical hospitality to people who cannot afford good healthy food, or it might provide a conversational drop-in for people who are new to the English language. The focus will be on building relationships out of which the opportunity might arise to speak of God’s love. Moynagh writes, “being a fellowship of love, the church commends the purpose for which it exists.”

Relationship with other Christians

Pioneer ministries will provide opportunities for regular gathering of Christians to be fed by God’s word, to pray together and to be encouraged by one another. Pioneer ministries have the potential to build deeper relationships because they begin out of a desire to have close enough relationships in which God’s love can be transformative and healing. As the ministry matures, it will need to balance the opportunities to connect with discipleship.

Relationship with the Whole Church

Pioneer ministries will be connected to the “one holy, catholic and apostolic church” throughout the world and history. Its practices will be consistent with and shaped by those which Christians have carried out throughout time. This is key as it provides accountability that independent communities lack. Moreover, these practices will be reminders that this new and risky venture is surrounded and supported by the communion of saints, both present and past.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Church must continually discern what God is already doing in our midst and partner with Him. This might require us to start a pioneer ministry which seeks to meet our neighbours and build relationships through which Christ’s love can be experienced. Pioneer ministries are rooted in the character of the Triune God who is a loving missionary who meets them where they are at and commissions His people to do the same. Pioneer ministries are churches in themselves as they embody relationships with God, the world, other Christians and to the Church proper.

A city without a church (reflection on Drummond’s book

Reflection: A City without a Church (by Henry Drummond)

Drawing on the Revelation to St. John, Drummond claims that Heaven should be conceptualized as a city in which its inhabitants work towards the goodness of the city in the here and now (pg. 8-9). Churches provide connection and fellowship. However, the Christian faith extends far beyond the church itself. True faith is a daily devotion to Christ who brings abundant life. In this reflection, I will focus on the implications of Drummond’s address for missional church planting today.

Implications for Missional Church Planting

First, we need to remember that Christ came to give us abundant life – meaning, hope, reconciliation and healing – and came to give it to the full in this life (pg. 13). Evangelism has often focused on the future heavenly realm beyond the mire of this world. Yet, the beauty of the Gospel is that Christ meets us where we are today. Missional church planting then should be focused on building relationships and fostering time spent with each other. The ordinary aspects of our lives (e.g. work, building  family, eating together) are opportunities for extraordinary Grace to meet us.

Second, we need to remember that our lives (and not programs or sermons) bear the strongest witness to Christ. Building relationships will provide opportunities to share Christ as a joyful “discovery” (pg. 25) instead of doctrine to which one should ascribe. Programs can provide the vehicle through which relationships are built. For example, an ESL cafe provides an opportunity for newcomers and visitors to practice English while also providing opportunities for the church to learn and attend to their needs. As we gather with others, we can share what God is doing in our lives just as one might share about their weekend. Our lives then become opportunities for the Gospel to be modeled and shared in a way that is inviting and nonthreatening.

Third, Drummond encourages us to begin with the gaze of Christ into the city we find ourselves in, to lament over its waywardness and to offer our lives for it (pg. 34). In doing so, we attend to the ordinariness of life and discover needs in our midst. Christ’s love is demonstrated as we work towards the wholeness of the city. This will require time and energy as we come alongside those who are hurting, lonely, sick or afraid. In doing so, we love citizens of our city as Christ loves them.

Conclusion

In conclusion, missional church planting works towards the goodness of the city by focusing on the ordinary aspects of our lives, building relationships and serving the needs among us. In doing so, Christ’s love is light that shines throughout the whole city and not just within the walls of a building.

Tarragon Millet and Pear Stuffed Squash

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Every once in awhile, I cook something that is otherworldly – beyond all expectations and incredibly yummy. THIS is one of those times. The recipe is taken from The Vibrant Table (by Anya Kassoff) – which is a cookbook that I am thoroughly enjoying!!!! Everything that I have made from the cookbook has been amazing, the pictures are tantalizing and they are not difficult. I HIGHLY recommend this book! If I wasn’t restricted by copyright rules, I would post every recipe I have made from it so far! Alas, it must suffice that I give you this recipe and my strong recommendation to actually by the book. Whether you are vegan or not, you will enjoy these recipes. Guaranteed (and no! I don’t receive any commission!!!)

It’s a good recipe to get kids to eat too as they will think it’s pretty cool that they can eat their bowl!

Ingredients

  • 4 TBSP Grapeseed oil, ghee or other oil of choice, divided (I used peanut oil which also has a high smoking point)
  • 2 medium red kuri (or 2 small butternut or 2 medium acorn – I used acorn) squashes, cut in half, seeds removed
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp pink peppercorns (I didn’t have these)
  • 1 TBSP fresh thyme leaves, divided (totally worth buying fresh!!!)
  • 1 leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 large fennel bulb shaved with a vegetable peeler (I’m not a huge fan of fennel and forgot to pick it up anyways. I think it would have a strong impact on the taste and I was content without it)
  • 3 medium parsnips, diced
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 bunch fresh tarragon, stems removed and leaves chopped (I searched high and low for this and ended up settling for dried)
  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 cups of water
  • 3 ripe but firm pears, such as Bosc, cored (1 sliced and 2 cubed)
  • 1 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon

instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F
  2. Rub 2 TBSP oil over the squashes and sprinkle the flesh with salt and pepper. Pierce the skin a few times with a fork and bake for 20 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the squash halves over and bake for another 10 minutes or more, depending on the size of the squash, until the flesh is soft and yields when pierced with a fork. Lower the oven temperature to 375F
  3. While the squash is roasting, crush and coarsely grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and pink/black peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. In a large saucepan, warm the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the freshly ground spices with half of the thyme and sauté for 2 minutes, until fragrant.
  4. Add the leek and shallot to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the fennel, parsnips, paprika, and one-third of the tarragon, then sauté for 2 minutes. Add the millet, followed by the hot water, and salt. Stir together to incorporate and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the millet is cooked.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the pear cubes and lemon juice and the rest of the thyme, tarragon and lemon zest, reserving just enough for garnish. Fill the cavities of the squashes with the stuffing, building a small mound on top. Slip the pear slices into the stuffing on top of each squash half. Place the stuffed squashes on the baking sheet and return them to the oven for 5-7 minutes.
  6. Remove the stuffed squash from the oven. Garnish with the remaining thyme, tarragon, peppercorns, and lemon zest, and let cool slightly before serving.

ENJOY!!!!

Reflection on Slow Church

Reflection on Slow Church: Cultivating Cumminty in the Patient Way of Jesus (C. Christopher Smith & John Pattison)

Slow Church is a countercultural approach to being church in a society in which speed and efficiency are prized beyond the patient life that true community in Christ demands. Churches fall prey to the ‘cult of speed’ as they prioritize programs over relationships, numbers over spiritual growth and conversion over discipleship. In this reflection, I will focus on the patient character of God in which Slow Church is rooted and its implications for missional church planting.

Smith & Pattison argue that our churches should be rooted “in the deep, still waters of a remarkably patient yet radically immanent God” (p. 24). God’s patient character is demonstrated in at least three ways. First, Scripture provides a witness to a God who cannot be rushed. For example, this God can wander with a rebellious and grumbling community in the desert for forty years while the Israelites relearn to depend on and trust God alone. Second, God is working to restore all creation to Him – a long and slow process due in part to our own rebellion against God’s ways. Expedience is in conflict with our free will and waywardness. Third, God could employ more efficient methods of turning hearts towards Him. However, His patient commitment to humanity is demonstrated in His desire to work with a broken humanity to spread the Gospel.

Missional Church Planting should reflect this patient character of God. Churches need to commit themselves to prayerful discernment of what God is already doing and what He is calling us to do in our particular contexts. There are no shortcuts to this process nor will there be quick answers. While Slow Church does not offer a one-size-fits-all blueprint, several implications for missional church planting can be gleaned.

First, we need to intentionally create spaces in which relationships can develop and strengthen. This will require time spent playing and working together, as well as making room for our stories to be told and held together. Second, we need to focus on faithfulness and not attractiveness. Attractional church feeds into our consumeristic mindset and breeds individualism and personal preference. Instead, we need to encourage faithfulness to the God who redeems the world through the unattractive cross and suffering. Third, we cannot truly show God’s compassion to the world without cultivating patience. Patience will enable us to resist the urges to fix people’s problems or to give up when change takes longer than we expect.

Slow Church offers us an alternative approach to being church that resists our culture of speed. As we plant churches, we must join God’s patience as we walk alongside those to with which we have been called to be in community and to serve.

Thou Shall Not Go Alone

 

 

A 'nesting tree' is one that has fallen, died and is rotting away. Seeds fall into the rotting tree and begin to take root, replenishing the forest. This picture was taken in Cathedral Grove, B.C.

A ‘nesting tree’ is one that has fallen, died and is rotting away. Seeds fall into the rotting tree and begin to take root, replenishing the forest. This picture was taken in Cathedral Grove, B.C.

Reflections on Green Shoots out of Dry Ground (ed. John P. Bowen)

Introduction

I write this reflection as someone who has ventured to areas where people do not know the love of God and wandered into the church to find a loving community to journey with them. I also write from the perspective of one who has often felt like a ‘lone ranger’ once on the mission field. Green Shoots offers a wealth of wisdom and challenges to consider in church planting. For me, the most powerful message is that church planting is not about being a lone ranger: we join in the mission that God has already begun connected with the community of saints who have gone before and with us and along the way build networks of support that help sustain us and the fledgling ministries we have planted.

New territories come with new challenges

Pioneer ministry is inherently difficult. We exist in a society where many people would never walk into a church building or see a need for God. Many people do not understand or agree with doing church in ways that stray from the way things have always been done. There are frequently few financial resources and people to do the work.

In addition, the Church is increasingly recognizing the need for pioneer ministry and fresh ways of being church in the world and yet, we do not have a clear blueprint for the Church God is calling us to be. Alan Roxburgh claims that pioneers enter the “space-between” which is both uncomfortable and uncertain.[1] In doing so, we join those whom God has called from the beginning of time. For example, the journey from Egypt to the promise land was a liminal space in which the Israelites relearned how to trust God and forget Egypt by falling a giant cloud and pillar of fire, and relying on the daily provision of manna.

 

God goes before us

God goes before us in mission and we are invited to join him in the work that He is doing. This seems like such a basic tenet of ministry. However, I was struck by the number of times the authors referred to it and my own tendency to forget. There are so many days when I set out to fix the world with my unending to-do list. I too frequently function by asking God to bless (or fix!) the project I have started. Yet, my starting point needs to be communing with God: “We begin by discovering the heart of God.”[2] I find this refreshing because it gives weight and value in a task-oriented society to simply being in the presence of God and learning about who He is.

In addition, I take comfort in knowing that it is God’s mission and that He will finish a good work that He has started. I begin to feel like a lone ranger when I believe that success in ministry depends on me. Cam Roxburgh helps me to redefine my task and responsibility: “God does not send us into areas where he is not already present and at work. Our task is simply to recognize God’s presence and to join with him in that work.”[3]

As the challenges of pioneer ministry increase, I am prone to feeling abandoned by God. Bowen’s description of the gospel is especially helpful for me to remember in those times. The Gospel is “the announcement of the good news that this is so – that God still loves us, that God has not given up or forgotten us, that God in Jesus Christ – his life, death, and resurrection – is going to make all things new.”[4] The fact that God is a missionary God who cares more about His creation than I ever could is proof that I am not alone.

Spiritual disciplines root us in God and community

Gefvert writes that the spiritual disciplines of the Christian faith root us in our relationship with God and with all those who have gone before us.[5] She writes:

These are the intentional ways we choose to cultivate our life in relationship with God through various forms of prayer and disciplines of living: teaching and learning, fellowship, breaking bread, prayerful reading and study of scripture, fasting, and sharing resources.[6]

These practices keep us rooted in God but also connect us with the community of saints that God has provided for us. I have found that pioneer work can take all of my energy and focus. I have often felt too tired to invest in the faith communities that support and feed me. I need to remember how life giving and reenergizing fellowship, breaking the bread or praying with other Christians are even when I consider myself too tired and busy to include them.

I belong to a dispersed, new monastic Celtic community that is held together by a rhythm of prayer. As I pray the morning liturgy of this community, I am reminded that there are hundreds of Christians around the world praying with me. In addition, there have been countless Christians who have also prayed the various prayers in the liturgy over the years. As I pray, I join with the saints and the whole church and am reminded that I do not go alone.

Building Networks

Pioneers need to build networks with other pioneers to support one another through prayer, encouragement and sharing the lessons learned. During one youth mentorship program that I launched, I witnessed the whole Church of God coming together in a way I had not previously. People across denominations and throughout Canada supported a hobbling ministry in one block of a large city through their prayers, financial support, encouragement and coaching. Without this support, the program simply would not have happened. Since this experience, I have been realizing the importance of connecting with others and building support networks that will help uphold a new ministry. Moreover, these networks will help dispel the myth that I am a lone ranger.

In addition, I am greatly encouraged by Jenny Andison’s chapter[7] about the growing number of practical resources within the Diocese of Toronto and beyond. Moreover, it encourages me that the Church is realizing that many pioneers feel like lone rangers and are striving to improve and increase the amount of support and training to help sustain not only pioneer leaders, but the young seedlings of ministry that have been planted.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we join God in the work that he has already started. We share this work with others who join in God’s mission through community. And we build networks to help sustain each other and the ministry to which God has called. We need to hold onto the truth the following truth:

The church, no matter how many members it has, is an icon of hope, simply through its continuing existence – a statement that no matter what happens, God is planted in this community and has not abandoned it.[8]

In other words, we are not alone.

References:

[1] Roxburgh, Cam. “Discovering God’s Heart for the City.” In: John P. Bowen (ed.) Green Shoots Out of Dry Ground: Growing a New Future for the Church of Canada. (Eugene: Wipf & Stock Pub., 2013), pg. 192

[2] ibid., pg. 68

[3] ibid., pg. 76

[4] Bowen, John P. “Why Mission? Why Now? Why Here?” In: John P. Bowen (ed.) Green Shoots Out of Dry Ground: Growing a New Future for the Church of Canada. (Eugene: Wipf & Stock Pub., 2013), pg. 7

[5] Gefvert, Constance Joanna. “The Ancient Paths: Spirituality for Mission.” In: John P. Bowen (ed.) Green Shoots Out of Dry Ground: Growing a New Future for the Church of Canada. (Eugene: Wipf & Stock Pub., 2013), pg. 201

[6] ibid., pg. 202

[7] Andison, Jenny. “Help! Where Do I Go from Here? Resources for the Journey.” In: John P. Bowen (ed.) Green Shoots Out of Dry Ground: Growing a New Future for the Church of Canada. (Eugene: Wipf & Stock Pub., 2013), pgs. 263-279.

[8] Harder, Cam. “New Shoots from Old Roots: The Challenge and Potential of Mission in Rural Canada.” In: John P. Bowen (ed.) Green Shoots Out of Dry Ground: Growing a New Future for the Church of Canada. (Eugene: Wipf & Stock Pub., 2013), pg. 56

Toronto needs a LEADER!

Toronto’s mayoral election polls scare me.

Let’s set aside politics – I lean left, others lean right. I respect the diversity in our city. Transit, buses, LRT. Taxes. The poor, the rich. Private. Public.

At this point, I don’t care.

I want a mayor who is a LEADER

Maybe I am too idealistic – but when I interview people for youth/children work, I look for leaders:

  1. People who can instil in others a confidence that they can handle the task before us
  2. People who lead with honesty even when it means they have to own up to their mistakes
  3. People whom I trust when they go out in the neighbourhood and officially represent whatever  organization I am working for.
  4. People that children and youth can look up to – without me worrying!
  5. People who will put their own needs aside when necessary for the betterment of our community.
  6. People who have at least some self-awareness; an awareness of what they need to strive as well as when they need to care for themselves
  7. People who will work well in a leadership team, sharing responsibility and respecting each other regardless of whether they like the others
  8. People who respect people for being people – a respect that sexual orientation, race, socio-economic class, and religion do not change even if one has personal convictions that are different from the other person
  9. People who can handle tough times with integrity – as tough times do come when you are in leadership
  10. People who can keep their anger at an appropriate level – even when falsely accused or slandered.
  11. People who have the courage and wisdom to remain silent – this is pretty important to my understanding of leadership. Leaders need to be comfortable with silence.
  12. People who are empowering and not controlling
  13. People who interact appropriately with each person under their authority.
  14. People who refuse to let bullies win the day
  15. And People who refrain from being a bully

These fifteen things make for a good leader in a youth program of say 20 kids or youth in one tiny part of Toronto. Toronto’s Mayor will have jurisdiction over my small group along with every other small group in the city and with the larger business and the framework itself. Surely we need a mayor that at the very least matches this list.

Dear Torontonians – Doug Ford is not a leader.

He is about control, bullying, getting his way, playing the ‘victim card’ and refuses to play nice, fair or honest.

I don’t care whether his politics are left or right at this moment. He’s not leadership material.

Doug Ford cares about one thing and one thing only. He doesn’t care about the city – or the people in it. He constantly claims to say taxpayer’s dollars – but the veracity and the consequences of this saving are debated.

He does not care about being a fine leader marked with integrity, vision and compassion.

He is does not care about making the vulnerable people’s voices heard and their needs and rights protected

He does not care about having relationships that are right and good and restoring those that are not right. He is not interested being the first person to take a step in reconciliation

he does not care about playing fairly or by the rules

He does not care about leading with integrity and wisdom

He cares about one thing: getting elected.

If we elect Doug Ford as mayor – we place someone incapable of being a leader in charge of Canada’s largest city.

As election day draws near, lets look for a mayor who can actually lead.

Resounding Chorus of my Life

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Today’s been one of those days.

I awoke way too early to call it a good night’s sleep thanks to the blaring sound of my alarm clock. My head has been hurting almost constantly for a few days now and this morning, my head was rather noisy in letting me know that it exists. I’ve been trying to pretend that everything is fine though and I was prepared to go to class. Until I stood up and realized how dizzy I was. I also was experiencing new symptoms – numbness and tingling, both very strange experiences to have. The combination led me to opt into staying home for self care rather than go to my class about self care. Problem is – I’ve missed a few too many of this class and I’m faced with the reality that I might have to drop it as it’s not the type of class I can complete in the comfort of my home.

I visited my GP even though I felt like a total hypochondriac – I think I’ve been in her office more over the past month than in the whole time I’ve known her! She was wonderful though and there isn’t really much I can do until I see the specialists in a few weeks. Thankfully, there are no huge warning signs that the hydrocephalus is getting worse or causing further complications. As for the tingling – it could be neurological, it could be nothing  – or anxiety is enough to throw things off kilter.

“You have a lot going on.”

I left the office relieved about nothing urgent going on. Yet, I am frustrated at what I have called the resounding chorus of my life: “You have a lot going on.” I think chaos is merely a part of my life and I almost welcome it at times as it is a known entity. But it is frustrating to hear those six words –  especially in a time when I have intentionally pulled back from commitments in order to simplify and de-stress so that I can focus on studies.

This evening I found everything possible to avoid the paper that I am supposed to be writing. Went walking with a friend, went grocery shopping, played the guitar, cooked dinner, hung out with my housemates. I have tried to pick up the guitar a few times in my life, but for the past couple of weeks I have been regularly practicing and can now play and sing songs with some ease. I sang evening prayer and some praise and worship songs.

As I was playing, I was reminded of how much I am enjoying learning to play the guitar. It is still so new to me that it requires all of my concentration. For a moment, all the noise and pain in my head seems to quiet down long enough for me to make a beautiful sound from six strings. I reflected on the martyrdom of Perpetua (topic of my paper) and how God reminded her of her presence in multiple ways – through visions, prayer and deep physical sensations. As I played the guitar, I began to wonder if there is another ‘chorus’ in my life on repeat beyond “You have a lot going on”

Yes…

… I am loved.

… God is before, behind, beside and inside me

… God will provide for my needs

… God has and will continue to use me, my story, my gifts for his glory

Perhaps, I will be able to let these statements drown out and replace the noise of having a chaotic life.