Category Archives: Church Growth

Living Outside the Bubble Pt. 1

Bubbles are fun.  I recently watched a video clip of a woman who entertains people all over the world with bubbles.  She does amazing things with various size tools that help form massive and then tiny bubbles, fill them with smoke, split them, build with them and utterly mesmerize her audience with her beautiful artistry set to compelling music.  Her finale ends with putting herself inside a bubble only to pop it from inside with an expressive gesture of freedom.  It really was mesmerizing and incredible.

It made me think of the church and something that I have found to be unhealthy and dangerous to the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Many good church going Christians live in what I and others call the Christian Bubble.  The bubble is the place where many Christians prefer to live surrounded by like-minded, caring people, consistent and predictable worship services, programs for the kids and some for the adults, outreach projects now and again and an all-around comfortableness.  Everyone by and large thinks the same, sends their kids to the same school, expect the same things, patronize one another’s’ places of business… you get the picture.  Everything is kept “in house” as close as possible. It feels safe and predictable.

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Ministry of Place Pt. 2: Living in “Place”

This is Part 2 of reflections on the Ministry of Place or more aptly, a Theology of Place. Starting a new church community is not an easy task. While some denominations and church planting organizations begin with a model they all ascent to, there is no fail safe method. We discovered that when we planted previously. As I alluded to in the last post on this topic, we can get so caught up in our methodology that we miss the mission of the church. We can so easily miss loving and serving the community we’re in and, in turn, arrogantly think ourselves superior expecting people from the neighbourhood and from hither and yon to come to our “programs”. I don’t know how often I’ve heard, “Well, they should just come to church.” To some people reading this, you’re thinking, what’s wrong with that?

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Ministry of Place Pt. 1

Before moving to Niagara Falls, Ontario my wife and I considered and pondered and prayed whether we were being called back into church planting. We were driven to go deep within ourselves, our passions and overall concern for the church.  Something unsettling, that had been lingering for quite some time, came to the surface.  Both my wife and I realized that we hurt that many many churches had lost a “sense of place” and some perhaps never had it to begin with.

What do I mean by a “Sense of Place”?

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Living the Kingdom

I think that Christians can fall into two ruts in their understanding of the kingdom of God.  First, it can become easy to take God’s kingdom goodness for granted and forget the integral  part we play in it. Second, I think we only understand bits and pieces of what it means to be part of God’s kingdom plan.  In both situations we will find ourselves less intentional or even aware of kingdom work.  It seems that in many Christian circles our part in the kingdom of God boils down to “saving souls” and our acts of service are only for the sake of that purpose.

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Why Plant New Churches?

church_plantingThe answer to this question is actually quite simple yet the discussion within our context makes it complex. I take my lead from Dr. Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York who has written a brilliant article on this very question. Following are excerpts from his article, Why Plant Churches? (2002).

There are numerous responses to the question worth considering.

  1. “We already have plenty of churches that have lots and lots of room for all the new people who have come to the area. Let’s get them filled before we start new ones.”
  2. “Every church in this community used to be more full than it is now. A new church will just take people from churches already hurting and will weaken everyone.”
  3. “Help the churches that are struggling first. A new church doesn’t help the existing ones that are just keeping their noses above water. We need better churches not more churches.”

These statements seem like common sense to many people, but they rest on several wrong assumptions. The error of this thinking will become clear if we ask, “Why is church planting so crucially important?”

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The Dual Life and the Mission of God

As a pastor in a long established church (109 years), I find a tension that makes me weary and drives me to question at times, why I’m here. Don’t get me wrong, my congregation are wonderful loving, warm, salt-of-the-earth people who sincerely desire to worship and serve God. We have gotten more involved in our community through a non-profit organization that works with the poor and homeless, we host a SERVE project and take on some big projects to help those in need. We are a church trying to partner in the mission of God.

I like that. That’s how I believe scripture teaches the Gospel is to be lived and realized, through devoted followers of Christ who represent Jesus in their communities and wherever they find themselves. But here’s the great tension of which I speak; The Dual Life.

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