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A Year of Hope

When Dad Isn’t Stellar

Father’s Day is a great time to have your children tell you how amazing you are. I love my boys; it’s great to hear them recount stories that, thankfully, have been affected by their poor memories in a positive way.

However, some children grow up in homes where they didn’t have the best relationship in the world with their dad. For this occasion, Hallmark doesn’t make an honest Fathers Day card, even if we kids could muster up the courage to send it. 

Such was my story.

My father left my mother, sister, and me when I was young and was hardly ever in our lives. He struggled with alcohol and as a result, made a decision to leave rather than fulfill the responsibilities of being a husband and a dad.

My sister and I grew up with an understanding that this was just the way it was. Mom was the provider (she did an amazing job) and dad; well he wasn’t the topic of conversation often, even though he lived in the same small Ontario town as we did. 

All things considered, we had a good life. After college, I married the girl of my dreams and we had our first child. We came back home to share the birth of our son with my side of the family and had the chance to introduce our son to his grandfather. Thankfully we had a picture taken with them together because it was the only one we would have. Three days later, my father passed away from a brain aneurysm. 

Fast forward to a Father’s Day, not so long ago. While talking with my boys, I began to think about my own father. I remembered what he was like and how I have thought about him since he died. I began to wonder what I would say to him if he were still alive today.  

I felt a prompting from the Holy Spirit to take another look at Dad and me.  

I realized that as disappointed as I was with our relationship, deep down inside I loved my father. If he were alive today, I would take the time to tell him so, to be honest with him—whether it changed our relationship or not, and to let him know that I forgave him. I would make sure that his grandchildren knew him and I’d tell him about Jesus and how He can change our lives if we let Him.  

Thankfully, this isn’t everyone’s story as many have had simply amazing fathers. On the other hand, some have had relationships much worse than I could even begin to imagine. Mine would seem like heaven compared to theirs, but comparing stories isn’t the purpose of this note.  

I sensed the Spirit pointing me again to the amazing potential of Christ’s redemption in every situation. Jesus died to provide this hope for all of us and given the chance again, I would live as if this redemption was available for my dad. Because it was.  

Unfortunately, I won’t get that chance, but maybe someone who reads this will. It’s worth the risk. Happy Father’s Day!  

Larry Moore, married his best friend Sandra, and together they have four sons.

Larry serves as the Lead Pastor at the Regina Apostolic Church.

Larry is also Director Emeritus of United Youth Outreach—being passionate about youth and evangelism.

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From The President

Pentecost Sunday

June 5, 2022, is Pentecost Sunday!

It is the day that the universal church celebrates the birth of the church, but for Pentecostals, this is also the day that we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 1:8 just prior to the ascension, Jesus told his disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:39, on the day of Pentecost, Peter says that the empowerment of the Holy Spirit is for those present in Jerusalem, and their children and for all who are a far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call—that includes us in the 21st Century!

One of the distinctives of the Pentecostal movement is that we believe the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is an experience subsequent to Salvation. In other words, we receive the indwelling Holy Spirit when we come to faith in Christ—but we are empowered for service when we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Most churches go all out to celebrate Christmas and Easter, and well they should, but as Pentecostals, we should also celebrate the Day of Pentecost! What better way to celebrate than to welcome a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your church services this Sunday.

As an encouragement to you, I want to share part of an email that I received from an ACOP Pastor this week:

“The conference was a great blessing to us. It had been a long time since we were poured into.

I’ve been meaning to share what happened at our church the first Sunday back. It was our special “Kids Church Sunday” so the children stayed entirely in kids’ church. The Children’s ministry leader came in to tell me 2 children had been baptized in the Spirit in kids’ church. That was exciting!

At the end of the service, people were invited to the front to spend time with the Lord. During the altar time, I told everyone about the two kids. So we then invited anyone at the front who wanted to be baptized in the Spirit to receive prayer. We prayed for 3 who were all filled—one guy had only started coming at Easter. There was a fourth who came forward but sat in a seat at the front (she’s pregnant and too tired to stand) and she spoke in tongues for the first time without anyone facilitating it.”

I received a call this week, from another ACOP Pastor who was extremely encouraged by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their church services recently.

Could this be the effect of the Solemn Assembly at the ACOP 101 Conference?

If you or your church are experiencing a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit—I would love to hear from you!

Please feel free to send me an email, or give me a call 403.273.5777.

Categories
Encouragement

Grace & Hope Award 2022

Extending Grace and Igniting Hope—this is the vision of the Apostolic Church of Pentecost.

I would like to tell you a story of grace and hope being lived in dramatic ways under the guidance, inspiration, and tireless efforts of two ministry leaders in our church family.

When God stirs a passion in the human heart, there is no telling where it may take you or those who fall under their influence and leadership. We have been blessed to see what a vision can do to bless an entire city!

Scripture speaks to us about seeking the well-being of the city where we dwell. The setting of Babylon in the ancient world of the exiled Israelites has become a familiar context for God’s people today.

The leadership at Smythe Street Church has challenged us to seek God’s blessing on behalf of our city, and the people have engaged in this vision—sowing the seeds of compassion for our beloved city of Fredericton.

Pastor Verner—Lead Pastor—Smythe Street Church

Pastor Verner has consistently challenged our church to be a people of great compassion for those in need. He has consistently encouraged us to look beyond the context of our church family to see the needs of the impoverished and homeless.

For many years now, when the vision of our church is being carefully and prayerfully cast, one of the mountains that Pastor Verner has been consistently determined to tackle is the mountain of homelessness. This caught the attention and captured the hearts of our parishioners, and the results have been truly inspiring.

The Best Church For the City

At the urging of Pastor Verner, our leadership team and family of believers decided that they would not strive to be the best church in the city, but rather, the best church for the city.

Leadership Inspires Action

The casting of a passionate vision for the marginalized resulted in an outpouring of resources for the homeless and impoverished of Fredericton. In the year 2021 alone, Smythe Street Church invested in the people of our city who were struggling with the effects of homelessness, poverty, addiction, and poor mental health.

The church family at Smythe Street Church gave more to the ministry of Care in 2021 than at any other time in the history of our church.

Tangible Results that Touch the Needy and Glorify God

Each year we see these acts of compassion in growing numbers…

  • In the past year alone, 69 individuals, through the direct intervention of our church’s ministry of care, have been prevented from being homeless.
  • The number of housed families expands to 126 when we factor in the partnership we have established with some key agencies in our city.
  • 40 families were provided with an overflowing hamper of food at Christmas.
  • Dozens of families were provided with food assistance throughout the year.
  • Prescription costs were covered for over 15 individuals who could not pay for proper medication.
  • Over 30 families were provided with a home starter basket as they moved into safe and affordable housing, some of them coming directly out of tents into a warm bed they could call their own.
  • Advocacy with various social agencies and programs was provided for over 50 families and individuals.
  • On-site visits and care assessments were made weekly for those dwelling in tents at various spots throughout the city. This is a ministry of Care that was a product of the vision cast in our church. Bill, an SSC family member, faithfully and capably leads a ministry called “Under the Tent.”
  • Transportation costs were alleviated for 20+families.

This is only a very brief snapshot of the many facets of the Care Ministry at SSC.

Jill—Creative Arts Director—Smythe Street Church

At this point, I must introduce another key player in the advancement of Care in our church. Her name is Jill. The numbers you see above would not have been possible without her impassioned leadership on behalf of the impoverished.

It’s not so unusual that the connection would be made between the ministry of worship and ministry for those who suffer from poverty. Jill was moved by the truths of scripture many years ago, that state clearly, that our worship is not restricted to the faith gatherings of the body of Christ.

Our God-glorifying activity is also seen in how we care for the homeless and the marginalized.

Under Jill’s excellent leadership and passion for the hurting, the following has happened in our church and city…

Eviction Prevention and Stable Housing

The above-mentioned statistics defining the numbers for eviction prevention are a direct result of tireless efforts made to connect with and assess the needs of the homeless.

A Christ Honoring Reputation

The reputation of our church has grown to the point where various social agencies in our city have developed a deep and appreciated relationship with Smythe Street Church. Regular calls and collaboration have become the norm between Smythe Street Church and the people on the front lines of poverty alleviation in our city.

The result has not just been the direct relief provided for the homeless, but the establishing of a tremendous witness for Christ among those who work in social agencies in our city.

What God is doing through our church to show love and care for those in need has been amplified through mutually beneficial relationships and strategic partnerships with various agencies in our city who care about the same things we care about.

The ”By-Names” List

Smythe Street Church is seen as a vital partner with many agencies across our city, but…

One of these key agencies in our city is the “By Names” List. This is a working committee that identifies “by name” the people who are homeless—working to get them off the street and into a place of their own.

This working group was able to get 126 people off the street and into a safe dwelling during this past year!

It Gets Even Better

In conjunction with the United Way of Fredericton our church became the recipient of four newly constructed housing units, which will sit on a parcel of ground in our city (targeted completion is Summer 2022), and will house 4 people who will be rescued from homelessness and placed in a safe, beautiful, and functional apartment for as long as they are in need.

The properties were not only given to us free of charge (funded and built by local businesses) but there is a budget provided to fund the maintenance and upkeep of the properties. This was a result of the partnership that Jill has fostered with others in our city who care for the homeless.

Walking With Those in Need

A crucial element has been put in place when it comes to keeping the homeless housed. The need for friendship and companionship is key when it comes to the well-being of the hurting and marginalized.

Money is not enough.

In response to this three teams of six people were assigned one individual each for the period of one year with the goal of consistent, loving, supportive weekly connection. The result has been very encouraging. A marked change was seen in those who became a part of what is called a SUN Lite team.

Stability and well-being were strengthened where there had been consistent patterns of emotional, mental, and physical dysfunction. This was a direct result of the friendships that our church teams provided through SUN Lite.

A Growing Partnership

The ministry of Care has inspired other churches in our city. The SUN Lite ministry has expanded to include inter-church teams who are walking with our dear friends and enabling them to break the hurtful effects of poverty. This is a picture of a training event held at our church where key leaders from churches in our city were invited to learn how to be a part of a SUN Lite Team.

It is my belief that grace has been extended and hope has been ignited!


Wayne Flowers serves at Smythe Street Church in the Care, Connections, and Teaching Ministries.

In his free time, you will find him enjoying life with his wife, Brenda, and their family, playing music, or enjoying the outdoors.

Wayne loves hearing people’s stories of coming to know Jesus and inspiring them to use their gifts to serve Jesus.

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Easter

Spring Reflections

Spring is springing across the land. Robins have landed in my backyard and gophers are chasing each other in fields everywhere. There is open running water, and the geese are moving away from their flocks and are separating into pairs.

This is the time of year for rebirth. A time when everything is fresh and new, and the dull dreariness of winter slowly fades into distant memory. Leaves bud and plants gradually appear out of the earth and fill us with the reminder of life, yet again, with their bright colours and fragrances.

How fitting that our Saviour chose this season to pay the price. How fitting that He chose Spring to die and then be resurrected so that we could have new life. How marvelous is the God who planned the whole thing! Not only His redemptive plan, but the timing of it could not be more poetic.

Everyone that I know, saved and unsaved alike, views Spring as a time of birth and regeneration. You can not help but think about a Creator in the midst of the explosions of life that are happening all around us.

As we contemplate the season of Spring and come into a place of total awe at how wonderful it is to smell the first rain as it washes the winter wasteland clean, it is an easy transition to ponder the wonder of how our Saviour is like that first Spring rain. His blood washes away the wasteland of sin in our lives.

While the rest of the world celebrates with Easter eggs, chocolate, and bunnies; there is a depth to the Christian celebration that gets missed by those outside.

I have had conversations with people who think that it is the weirdest thing to celebrate so horribly gruesome a death. I celebrate not the death, but the life. Yes, He died, but that is not the end of the story. Because of His death so long ago, I have life everlasting! That is reason enough to celebrate!

“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:18

Miranda Himmelspeck is ACOP’s bookkeeper and has been for the last 17 years!

Around the office, Miranda can be seen drinking coffee in one of her fancy custom mugs (which she creates—*talent*).

Miranda and her husband Kevin live in Calgary with their pup named Max—whose crazy antics keep their walks interesting. (Featured on Facebook if you’re curious.)

She attends High River Full Gospel Church and is an active part of their community.

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A Year of Hope

From Sorrow to Hope

Last Sunday we returned to a full capacity worship service at our ACOP church in Dryden. The excitement was palpable. After many long months of adapted worship services, navigating mandates as a community, and dealing with the range of emotionally-charged and political issues related to the pandemic, it was wonderful to gather together in greater numbers for corporate worship of our Lord.

As Pentecostals, we are particularly adept at joyful praise. We welcome the moving of the Spirit, and pray for spiritual renewal and refreshing as we join together each Lord’s Day.

Yet the last two years can serve us well by reminding us that our Christian hope is grounded not in our circumstances nor the latest spiritual mountaintop experience.

Neither is our hope measured by our attendance, our livestream audience, or other marketing success metrics. Our hope, as it has always been, is founded in the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And that Easter hope–the hope of God breaking through with his healing love, resurrection power, and redemptive grace–is a hope that first arrived in the difficult dread and sorrow of Good Friday.

Our hope as Christians is not about ignoring suffering or difficulty, sadness or sorrow. Our hope is present and alive, even as we are honest about the tragedy of our lives (or the shared communal grief of the last two years).

Lamentations 3:20-24 (ESV) demonstrates that ‘movement of resurrection’ from sorrow to hope:

20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations describes a faithful believer in God who is also suffering with a mental health challenge, likely depression.

The text does not say to ignore, placate or ‘think positively’ out of depression or anxiety. Rather, Scripture calls us to bring our lament before God. We need to make space for healthy lamenting in our lives individually and in our worship services corporately.

Biblical spirituality is not a self-help strategy, but a summons to acknowledge our brokenness before God: to ‘preach to ourselves’ about the faithfulness of God. We recall God’s mercy, his steadfast, covenantal love toward us. But such hope resonates more deeply when we also acknowledge the depth of our need of God.

As we remember what is true, our soul shifts from being ‘bowed down’ in vs. 20 to gazing upward in worship once again in vs. 24. This sort of shift isn’t always easy. It requires hearing and remembering the goodness of God. It requires recalling and being remembered (put back together) by the true story of the Gospel: that night has passed and the day lies before us. That winter has ended and spring has come. That Aslan is on the move. That the death of Good Friday is finally over, and the joy and life of Easter Sunday has dawned.

We need the community of saints to speak and recall and sing and write and paint and dance and herald this hope to a weary and war-torn world. We need Christians in every sphere and sector of society–in the church, the academy, the marketplace, and the home–who can embody such a hope. Who can embody it even as they struggle. Who can say, “Yes, I’m suffering just like you. Yes, there are moments where I truly struggle. But listen: I also know that God is faithful. And my hope is not in vague optimism, but in the assurance of Christ’s resurrection, the Father’s faithful character, and the indwelling comforting presence of the Holy Spirit.”

And may this also be: that for the many of us who are weary with the mantle of church leadership, that we too would hear that resurrection summons. Like Mary, who finds herself weeping in the garden of God’s new creation, may we also hear the voice of the Gardener who knows and speaks our names: summoning us to new life–to the hope we have in the One who is making all things new and will wipe every tear from our eyes.


Nikolas Amodeo lives with his wife, Sarah, and their four boys in Dryden, Ontario. 

Nik has served as the lead pastor of Dryden Full Gospel Church since 2012.  He holds a bachelor of biblical studies from Eston College and a master of arts in theological studies from Regent College.

Nik is an ordained minister of the Apostolic Church of Pentecost of Canada and is passionate about teaching the Bible and spiritual formation.

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A Year of Hope

Cowboy Boots

I have noticed that these days many are putting their hope and trust in governments or those that would like to change the government. Also, some have placed their hope in their finances and suddenly the world markets are shaking.

I would suggest that unless your hope is in the unchanging, unshakable, King of Kings and Lord of Lords—Jesus Christ you will not have peace, and anxiety will reign in your life.

Many years ago, serving as a missionary in Latin America, I learned an invaluable lesson involving passports and visas, cowboy boots, and how to overcome anxiety and replace it with HOPE!

Let me tell you a little about how passports and visas affect your living in another country. I understood that you needed a passport to allow you to visit most other counties. Even though in the 1980’s we could still visit the United States without a passport.

Growing up in Canada I never realized that in just about all other countries—you must carry identification papers with you at all times.

So when we decided to live in Guatemala it was a whole different world. In the 1970’s we had already gone through a very long process to get “green cards” allowing us to live and work in the United States. The Latin American processes were something quite different.

Arriving in Guatemala in January 1980 we were given permission to be in the country for ninety days. Obtaining a visa to stay in the country for more time was not an easy task. The officials didn’t hand visas out freely. It seemed that the rules and regulations changed continually and always involved a mountain of paperwork.

The first thing that we had against us was that we were Canadians!

Let me explain, our rejection as Canadians had to do with Belize. Originally known as “British Honduras”—a British Crown colony claimed after negotiations with Guatemala. The Guatemalans felt that the British had not fulfilled their part of the bargain and they had stolen the land from Guatemala.

Our problem was the Guatemalans lumped the British and Canadians together as one. Someone from the United States would get a visa good for five years—Canadians were lucky to get one for six months.

For years as the time to renew our visas neared, I would struggle with fear and anxiety. “What if they don’t give me another visa?”

I remember the day that I got my first visa extension, I was so relieved and happy! As I walked back to my car, I saw a pair of cowboy boots in a shop window—to celebrate I went in and bought them. They were good boots and a symbol of God’s faithfulness!

I don’t know how many years I struggled with my visa anxiety until one day it all changed. I was standing in line at the immigration office, once again with my hands full of papers. I was ready to submit my request when the Lord spoke to me…

He planted these words deep in me, “Doug you will have a visa to live in this country as long as I want you here—not as long as they want you here!” Those words set me free, it all changed. I still had to do paperwork, but the anxiety was gone.

A while later due to a situation in the church, we began to receive threatening phone calls. The most interesting call was from someone who was supposedly on my side. He said that he worked high up in the government and was just calling to warn me…

He recounted that my name had come up before some immensely powerful government officials. Supposedly they had decided that when my visa became due—it wouldn’t be renewed.

Understanding that this was a spiritual battle—that all these threats were coming from the enemy—the only way we could win was by prayer and taking spiritual authority over the enemy.

Remembering that the Lord had told me: “You will have a visa to live in this country as long as I want you here—not as long as they want you here!” I just said, “Well Lord, you’re in charge of the visa department.”

Interestingly, the next time I went to renew our visas it was one of the easiest experiences and our visas were extended for a much longer time than usual. Once again, the enemy was revealed as a liar!

Time to slip on those cowboy boots.

I have discovered that as I place my hope in my Lord Jesus Christ the future is great, anxiety goes, and He gets all the glory!


In 1969 after graduating from the Full Gospel Bible Institute in Eston, Saskatchewan, Doug traveled as a Child Evangelist before becoming the Youth pastor at the Zion Apostolic Church in Winnipeg—where he met and married Donna Elmwood.

Doug was ordained as an ACOP minister of the Gospel in 1971. Doug and Donna then pastored in Melfort Saskatchewan and Pharr Texas.

In 1978 they were commissioned as missionaries to Latin America and after studying Spanish moved to Guatemala. They spent over 16 years in Central America before moving back to Canada.

Back in Canada, they served for ten years as the Senior Pastors of North Edmonton Christian Fellowship. Doug and Donna now reside in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The above article is an excerpt from Doug’s life story being published as “Adventures Experiencing God’s Faithfulness.”

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A Year of Hope

Five Opportunities

After the initial shock of the pandemic in 2020, and its disruption to church life, leadership generally pivoted to find the bright side in the new reality. We talked about things like ‘refining’, extending our reach to the lost in new ways, creating a hunger for community, etc.

We are closing in on two years of this reality and now the future is murkier than ever. Pastors and staff are tired, congregations are tired, and we find any momentum we build quickly being cut off at the knees again and again. There comes a point when we start to lose hope that any plan, program, or attempt on our part can truly make a difference. When we lose hope we also lose energy, vision, and purpose.

So what opportunities for our churches can we see in this pandemic that can reinvigorate our hope.

A DEEPENING OF FAITH

While it’s true, as Jesus predicted, that seasons of drought cause many to wither it is also true that the same drought causes others to press in and go deeper.

In a PEW poll taken a year into the pandemic, 13% of Canadian respondents said their faith had strengthened in the pandemic. This low number confirmed my observation. The pandemic has not necessarily brought about a spiritual awakening but is has propelled many of our believers into a stronger personal faith.

There has been, in this season, a remanent of believers who have revived the disciplines for going deep. Believers have learned the value of private worship, reflective prayer, seeking out the spoken word, and of personally pressing in. I think leaders will find a greater spiritual depth in many of the believers and a greater sense of connection to Christ.

This gives a lot of hope for your church.

A spiritually mature congregation gives lots of opportunity to identify new leaders for outreach, ministry opportunities, and governance.

This has been a crucial season for understanding and maturing the depth of faith that lies in our church members. You will have been surprised by some who did not pull through but, equally, encouraged by those who have flourished. Suddenly you see the potential of the congregation in a different light.

Pause: How have your members weathered the storm and strengthened their ‘walk with Christ’? How could you capitalize on the new potential leaders and spiritually mature believers who are appearing?

A STRENGTHENING OF FAMILY

This long season has exposed deep fractures in families and this has been heightened over this past year with families being divided over vaccines. In a poll, by Today.com 14% of respondents have cut off a friendship or family member over the vaccine. In another poll, by Leger (Canada) the divisions over the vaccine are on par with other social issues such as gay rights or gun control.

We have all heard, or personally experienced, some heartbreaking stories of families that have fractured over who is vaccinated or not, and the expectations around this. From a pastoral perspective, this is very discouraging as it even affects some of our core families and our church community.

The pandemic, due to the confined living, has also brought to the surface some big family issues. Many families have had to face and deal with core relational, mental health, and historical issues that have otherwise been buried beneath busyness or avoidance. Counsellors have never been busier.

Yet on the positive side, the pandemic has actually strengthened more families than it has broken!

In a pew research poll held during the pandemic 37% of Canadians said their family relationships were stronger while only 5% said it was weaker.

I am personally thankful, due to the pandemic, that I am closer with my children than ever before (partly because they can’t move out due to the pandemic). I know this is something many others have also experienced. Some of the best times in the pandemic were watching services together, playing games—staying connected.

There has been a reset in the thinking for many individuals regarding the importance and priority of family. This is a fantastic opportunity as family has historically been the building block of the church community.

Pause: How could your church leverage this rediscovery of the family unit in your present and future planning? i.e Does your church offer any kind of professional, semi-professional, group counselling, or inner healing program? How could online services be built towards family or cluster watching and participation?

A FRESH HUNGER FOR GOD TO INTERVENE

When we get frustrated and our human efforts produce limited results it births a hunger in us for God to intervene. Judges is a record of the cyclic pattern of the nation going through desperate times, then the righteous calling on God, and then His intervention with deliverance through some very dubious characters.

Desperate times create a longing within us for God that never happens in good times.

We are by nature apprehensive about God intervening because we know that we will lose a certain degree of control. Yet when our desperation with the present circumstances outweighs our apprehension about letting go, we are in the right place to genuinely ask God to move.

I have watched a lot of different church services over the last number of months (something I rarely did as a pastor) and I can unequivocally say that we are in desperate need of God’s intervention.

Our preaching is good but lacks a sharpness that pierces hearts, we sing well but often fail to experience the manifest presence of God that radically changes situations, and we are not seeing the lost come and follow Christ in any significant or meaningful way.

I fear that we expend too much of our frustration with these present circumstances on complaints, in-fighting, or commentary and not enough on converting the frustration into corporate prayer. If all the frustration of the believers was put into a desperate cry for a move of God then 2022 would turn out to be a remarkable year for the kingdom.

Pause: At this strategic time of the year how are you doing at mobilizing your congregation to seek God and call on the only one who can make a difference in the long term? A little ‘Tim Bit’… online prayer meetings, if done right, are surprisingly effective and enjoyable even for the less tech-inclined members.

AN ACCEPTANCE OF CHANGE

One commentator said that the pandemic is the biggest change the church has undergone in 500 years. They were comparing the pandemic to the Reformation.

To be honest, this statement is a bit of a stretch (ok… it’s a huge stretch). What we fail to realize, however, is that a seismic shift in the western church actually started at least 70 years ago. The more significant shift is not the pandemic but the undercurrent cultural changes that have been going on for a long time.

Just think about some of the changes that have happened in the last 70 years…the uncoupling of the church from state, the secularization of education, the growth of multiculturalism because of massive migration, democratization, industrial revolution to the science and mass production, revolution to the digital revolution…and the list goes on. Society has been in a massive flux for many years and it is only accelerating. For an interesting recent article on the state of the church in Canada click here.

Local churches historically, however, are institutions that change slowly. Even simple things like a change to the facility, a new hire, or changing the time of the services have often moved at a snail’s pace. The decision-making process was strangling us. We couldn’t react to the change happening around us let alone anticipate and prepare for it.

The pandemic has helped our congregants accept, more than ever before, that change is normative AND needed if we are going to flourish. Just think of how many service time changes you have made in the last two years and how few, if any, were bothered!

I find it is often the leaders (pastors, boards, etc) who are now more hesitant to introduce change. We are conditioned and comfortable with being cautious, avoiding risk, and particularly avoiding upsetting people. Too many leaders are trying to get things back to the way they were—rather than seeking to seize the opportunities in front.

Avoiding risk is now the most risky thing you can do! The new reality will be people leaving your church because you are not taking enough risk, and displaying enough leadership, to meet the new challenges.

Pause: What, as a leader, are your biggest fears regarding introducing change into your church? How ‘risk adverse’ is your church is and is it a healthy or unhealthy amount?

DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT: A LARGER REACH

I think the comment regarding the ‘500 year seismic shift’ was specifically about the digital world and its implications for communication and engagement between the church and the world in general.

For the last few months, I have been helping a business through the process of moving from a ‘brick and mortar’ store to a hybrid e-commerce + physical store model. It has been an eye-opener. The tools and methods that are available for an organization to grow itself digitally are remarkable.

The business world has recognized that the digital universe is core to the new reality and hopefully the pandemic has forced churches to start to think in the same way.

A digital church is way more than an online service. It is a way of rethinking church. It forces us to think through questions such as ‘who is an attendee?’, ‘what do we expect of our believers?’, ‘what staffing do we really need?’, and ‘what makes an effective sermon?’.

Honestly, the reality of engaging the congregation and world digitally makes you rethink everything (maybe that commentator was right after all—this is a ‘once in every 500 years’ type change).

I think it’s really important to state here that it is not a choice whether you will be a digital church or not. People already go on GOOGLE to look you up before visiting; they read others’ reviews about you; they look at your photos to work out your church’s demographic and culture, they listen to you preach and decide whether you are engaging enough in the first 3 minutes of your sermon. This is the brutal reality.

Like it or not your church has already gone digital…it is simply a question of whether you have a great digital presence and strategy or a poor one.

If we hope things will go back to being 90% orientated around the physical building and 10% digital then we are going to greatly limit the future of our ministry. If we embrace this new universal reality, invest in it and hire for it, and use it as a catalyst for change; then we will seize the day.


Guest Blogger—Paul Mahon

Bible smuggler, pastor, evangelist, and College president…

But, you’ll know Paul best as Lead Pastor at Cariboo Road Christian Fellowship. He and his family served the community of Burnaby for 16 years.

Currently, he is the president of Recalibrate Ministries—a ministry that helps churches committed to growing through conversions and making disciples. He believes that any local church can be a powerhouse that reaches the lost.

Paul enjoys people, seeing those around him reach their full potential. He possesses strong communication skills and a keen sense of humour. 

Join us at ACOP 101 Revive | Recalibrate | Recommission, where Paul will be one of our Guest Speakers!

Categories
From The President

A Year of Hope

HOPE!

“Hope is the most evil of evils, because it prolongs man’s torment.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

“A mission shaped church has a hope shaped mission.”

N.T. Wright

I began the year by reading N.T. Wrights book – Surprised by Hope. This is a paradigm-shifting book that explorers the relationship between, heaven, the resurrection, and the mission of the church. Wright sets out to answer two questions:

  • What is Christian Hope?
  • What impact does that hope have on the mission of the church?

This book is both academic and practical as well as biblical and insightful. I would highly recommend it to you—you too might be surprised by hope!

Early in January, the Calgary Herald’s editorial comic intimated that optimism was awaiting burial in 2022!

So, I have also been reflecting on the difference between hope and optimism. Optimism is a good trait, especially when it is contrasted with its morose cousin pessimism.

But, hope and optimism are not the same. Optimism is generally based on positive trends or indicators that things are moving in a positive direction. Whereas hope is the “confident expectation of something desired”

The writer to the Hebrews says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” [1] Our hope—that is, our confident expectation—is not based on trends or indicators but in Jesus who is faithful. A drastic contrast to the cynical quote by Nietzsche at the beginning of this article.

As we look ahead to 2022, there may be some reasons to be optimistic, but our faith in Jesus gives us every reason to be hopeful. I want to conclude this article, with the words of an old hymn :

My hope is built on nothing less 
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus' name
Chorus
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand
When darkness veils His lovely face
I'll rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy day
My anchor holds within the veil
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay
When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh, may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the throne [2]

[1] Hebrews 10:23 NIV

[2] On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand by Edward Mote

Categories
From The President

Facing 2022 With Confidence & Anticipation

We stand on the cusp of a brand new year and in 2022, like all new years, there is a great deal of uncertainty about what it will bring.

Will the pandemic become endemic? Will the inflation rate decline? Will the housing bubble pop? Will racism continue to foment in our culture? Will cultural divisiveness give way to greater cooperation?

The reality is—no one knows with accuracy what 2022 will hold.

There is a verse in I Chronicles that has recently captured my attention.

Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong. Have strength of heart, and do it. Do not be afraid or troubled, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not stop helping you. He will not leave you until all the work of the house of the Lord is finished.

1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT

David is giving a charge to his son Solomon who will, in the near future, succeed his father as the King of Israel. I believe that there are 4 principles from this verse that we can apply as we enter 2022…

Be strong!

When the pandemic began in 2020, we weren’t sure if it would be a sprint or a marathon. Twenty-one months into the pandemic, I would like to suggest that it has turned into an Ironman competition! The prophet Nehemiah said, “The Joy of the Lord is our strength,” and in Philippians 4:13: Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Being strong isn’t about us pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit in our inner being.

In the same way that an athlete strengthens themself by training, so we strengthen our spirit by reading the scriptures and spending time in the presence of the Lord.

As we enter into 2022, I want to encourage you to take some time every day to “strengthen yourself in the Lord.”

Do not be afraid!

In 1989, a new brand of clothing appeared called “No Fear.” This line of clothing featured all sorts of slogans inspired by their love of extreme sports.

It has been said that the most often repeated command in scriptures is “fear not” or “don’t be afraid” or some variation of this command. I am not sure if it is the most repeated command, but it is found over 100 times in the King James Version of the Bible.

In 2021 with the Covid-19 pandemic raging, surveys indicated people’s top two fears were a loved one dying, or a loved one becoming seriously ill. Other things that people are fearful of include violence, terrorism, racism, being alone, civil unrest, and not having enough money for retirement.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

1 John 4:18

Perfect love is God’s love—and God loves us unconditionally—it drives out fear!

As we enter 2022, we need to remember that we have a good good Father who loves us unconditionally, and in the security of His love, we have nothing to fear.

The Lord is with you!

During the Christmas season, we are often reminded that one of the titles of Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us! He isn’t just Emmanuel at Christmas time—He is with us every moment of the year.

The reason that we can be strong is because He is with us. The reason that we can live without fear is because He is with us.

In Psalm 16:11 the psalmist says, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

The presence of the Lord brings joy, meaning, and anticipation to our lives!

As we enter 2022, it is with the joy and the confidence that comes from knowing He is with you.

He will enable you to complete the task!

David reminded Solomon that he had a task to complete—the building of the Temple. It was a place for the habitation of God. Peter reminds us that we “are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.”

Jesus has commissioned us to make disciples. If we make disciples, Jesus will take those “living stones” and place them in His spiritual temple that He is building.

As we enter 2022, we have a task to complete, and that task is to make disciples. But we don’t do it on our own—he has promised to empower us by His Spirit in the task.

In spite of the uncertainty that a new year brings, we can be strong and we can live without fear—because the Lord is with us, and He has promised to enable and empower us in the task of making disciples!