Coming today! Imaginative Hope

Over the next few weeks, we'll be doing something a little different on our oneneighbourhood blog.   

Today, with our Canadian Baptist Youth and Family partners across this country, we are launching imaginativehope.ca

Imaginative Hope is a report from key leaders across our country that are engaged in reaching the next generation with the Gospel. The report identifies seven major obstacles and five major opportunities in reaching younger generations with the Gospel. In conclusion, the report challenges YOU and YOUR CHURCH with three bold action steps so you can be a part of reaching and engaging the next generation. 

Over the next few weeks, we are allowing the imaginative hope blogs to take over this blog because it is so key to joining God in our neighbourhoods. We MUST show, tell and engage the next generation with the Gospel in our neighbourhoods! It is our responsibility, privilege and future. We (Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada) are contributors to these blogs along with our friends at Canadian Baptist Ministries, Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec, Canadian Baptists of Western Canada and the Union d’Églises Baptistes Francophones du Canada.

If you subscribe to receive our oneneighbourhood blog via email, you'll still be receiving Imaginative Hope blogs automatically over the next number of weeks.

The imaginative hope blogs can be found at: https://www.imaginativehope.ca/blog/ 
We'll be posting new blogs every Thursday as we dig deeper into the obstacles, opportunities and action steps in reaching the next generation. Join us!

Here's the sneak peek of the topics

7 Major Obstacles:
1. We, as Canadian Baptists, have neglected our own spiritual health and wellness.
2. We have created church structures that hinder needed change.
3. We have not engaged well in the significant issues of our time.
4. We have not effectively fostered intergenerational relationships.
5. We have embraced a discipleship that is failing our young people.
6. We have underestimated the transformative power of God.
7. We have embraced a culture of consumerism in our churches.
Each of these can be overcome! Join the conversation on the coming blogs.

5 Major Opportunities:
1. This generation values Kingdom thinking rather than empire building.
2. This generation longs for caring adults in their lives.
3. This generation is capable of leading.
4. This generation is open to spirituality.
5. This generation is globally connected.

3 Actions Steps for the Church:
1. Let them lead
2. Engage culture
3. Give intentional focus to children and youth now

You can download the full Imaginative Hope report at https://www.imaginativehope.ca/  
The blogs will dig in even deeper to the report.

I am looking forward to the conversations we'll have together on the blog! Join us and add your comments.

-Renée
@r_embree
@cbacyf
#1neighbourhood 

Using your passions and hobbies for God’s Kingdom

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Here is another story from the road. I’m collecting stories of new things churches are doing to join God in their neighbourhood. #1neighbourhood
This story challenges us to think about the passions and gifts that we have and how to use those gifts in significant ways to bless our community.

It is amazing to see how God can use our passions in ministry and mission.
This story follows the passions of a leader and friend of mine, Jen Smith.
While my passion is running hers is definitely dance. I don’t have a dancing bone in my body, but don’t underestimate Jen’s powers, she has even got me dancing. Baptists can dance!

Jen has held Performing Arts Camps at Windsor Baptist and Middleton Baptist each summer and this year Wolfville Baptist hosted a camp for the first time. These camps are for kids ages five to twelve and teach singing, dancing, acting, costume design and set design.  The kids perform a musical at the end of the week-long camp during the Sunday morning worship service. The camper’s families are invited to come to the service and stay after for a "cast party" (fellowship time).   The musicals are Scripture based and put in a fun, catchy way which makes learning a positive experience for unchurched kids who are the primary focus of the camps. Kids and parents from all over the community have greatly enjoyed these camps!

Jen also uses her passion to lead Ministry in Motion. Ministry in Motion is a dance group that has taken part in services throughout the Nova Scotia Valley and beyond (all the way to Newfoundland!) They use contemporary and classical dance techniques to teach Scripture and theological principles. They also dance Scripture in competitions (secular competitions) and at local community events such as the Broken Leg Productions in Wolfville. These dancers learn Scripture in a unique way and share Scripture in a unique way. Dancers do not need to be followers of Jesus to join the dance group. They have visited churches to lead workshops on how to start dance ministries in your own neighbourhoods. Jen’s passion for dance has been an amazing tool God has used to help her, and the churches she has been a part of, join God’s work in their neighbourhoods. What will happen when you offer your passions to God? How will God use it to connect you to others and join their journey towards God?

While I was serving in a church I took my passion for running and we started a “Learn to Run” group, where the goal was to have everyone walk/running 5 kilometres or 10 kilometres by the end of the program. We spread the word and let people know this program was designed for people who had never run a step before in their life. We invited anyone to come that was interested in improving their physical health. I’ll always remember that first night – we planned for about 15 people and got over 50! After our walk/run each night, we’d have a short informational session while we stretched. These info sessions helped people with various areas of their health and acknowledged every part of us – physical, emotional, spiritual and mental - is important and needs to be an integrated whole. The Learn to Run group made more connections in the community and more friendships across our city than any Small Group, Bible Study, or Sunday Service did. It helped change the stigma some people had of “church” and “Christians.” God came up in conversation in more than one walk/run as we encouraged each other in our physical health and allowed space for honest conversations about life, our whole selves, and God.

I’ve seen God use passions for knitting, bugs, painting, board games, hockey, photography, cooking… and use them as ways to connect us with others and join their journey towards God.

As we join God in our neighbourhoods – what passions do you have?
How can you offer your passions and hobbies to God to connect with more people in your area?

As you do this, watch for where God is at work – bringing Himself up in those conversations and shared passions. Watch for where God wants you to show His love in tangible ways to those around you. Watch for why God has you there for such a time as this. Watch for opportunities to talk about God’s amazing grace. Watch for God and be ready to join His work.

I can’t wait to see what you do!

Joining God in our neighbourhoods.
-Renée  (with help from Jen Smith)
@r_embree   @cbacyf   #1neighbourhood 

Blessing your neighbours in tangible ways

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Here is another story from the road. I’m collecting stories of new things churches are doing to join God in their neighbourhood. #1neighbourhood

The Grand Bay Baptist Church youth discipleship group, that meets on Sunday nights, was challenged to come up with ways that they could bless their neighbourhood. Throughout the school year they had spent a lot of time talking about God’s big story, particularly about God creating a people to bring blessing into the world. We are each blessed to be a blessing. As the students were challenged to come up with ways they could bless their neighbourhood they complied a long list on the whiteboard! One of the ideas was baking something to give to those who serve their community to say thank you.

This group of teenagers met on a Sunday and baked up some delicious cookies. Then a few of them met up again on a Monday evening to deliver the cookies to the Fire Department, who they know met every Monday evening. They told the Fire Department how thankful they are for their service and presence in their community.

The Fire Department appreciated the cookies and even more appreciated being thought of and thanked.

A few days later one the leaders in the church had a technician in their house for their internet/cable and it turned out the technician was also a firefighter in the town and had received the cookies. It led to a positive connection and great conversation!

There are so many ways we can bless others and show God’s goodness.

As people taste and experience God’s goodness through us it shows them a glimpse of God’s grace and Kingdom. It is part of what I have seen God uses to open people’s hearts to journeying towards God and being ready to hear more about God.

Blessings our neighbours does not need to be big and complicated in can be:

  • baking some cookies to say thank you
  • taking extra time to talk to our neighbours
  • paying for someone behind you in line
  • inviting someone new out for coffee
  • taking the time to make a treat and thank you for those who provide services in the community
  • giving a school a needed boost of supplies
  • volunteering at a breakfast club or community shelter
  • cooking meals for someone going through a difficult time
  • mowing someone's lawn that finds it a major chore
  • carrying someone's groceries up to their apartment/house for them
  • having someone new to the area in for a meal
  • taking someone who is sick some soup or orange juice
  • buying double your child's school supply list to provide for another kid
  • buying sports equipment for the kid that can’t afford it…

In short, it’s allowing God to use you to give someone else a taste of His love and care for them.
It means being a great neighbour to those around you where you live, work, study and play.

Love overcomes all kinds of barriers, as people in our neighbourhoods begin to see we, the church, care for them.

Bless your neighbours, without any thought of return.

Do regular things that allow others to get a taste, a glimpse, of God’s deep welcome and embrace He is extending to them.

We are blessed to be a blessing.

I’ve been wrestling with a different word to use than “blessing.” It seems so Christian sub-culture-ish….and yet I can’t come up with a better word yet, that has the same meaning of wanting good for another, giving someone a gift with no thought of return, making their world a little better and allowing God to show His heart of being “for” others….
If you have another word, please let me know.
BUT the more important part? Go and do it – go and show God’s kindness to others, with no thought of return.

How will you join God’s work in your neighbourhood & networks TODAY? Then ask the same question tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day…

-Renée
Joining God in our neighbourhoods
#1neighbourhood
@cbacyf
@r_embree

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What space & rooms do you have? How might God use those to bless your community?

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Here is another story from the road. I’m collecting stories of new things churches are doing to join God in their neighbourhood. #1neighbourhood
Here is a story that forces us to take a fresh look at our facilities and ask how God might want to use our facilities to bless our community?

In the small community of St. Martins, in 2015, their fitness centre closed.
Someone from the centre called the church to see if they would be interested in the equipment.
It’d be easy to blow that off and say – “No way! No thanks.” That sounds messy.
But St. Martins Baptist had a few people that were already gathering together a couple times a week for fitness and they wondered if God had more in mind for them and their church.

As leaders in the church began talking about it they recognized they had quite a bit of underutilized space in their church, and so together decided “let’s bring the equipment here and build our own Fitness Centre”.  WOW!

What an amazing example of the way God can bring things together – a great deal on equipment at the right time, people already interested in fitness in the church, a need in the community for a gym, and a church willing to try something different and new.

So St. Martin Baptist got to work. They:

  • Negotiated a deal on some key pieces of equipment from the defunct Fitness Centre
  • Church carpenters worked to join a couple of old Sunday school classrooms - to create both a new nursery and the space for the new Fitness Centre
  • Installed power plugs put in what would be the cardio wall
  • Painted the room – thanks to more volunteers!
  • Purchased some additional pieces of equipment that were required
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Then on May 20, 2015 they opened to the public, with the model they still use today:

  • Operated by volunteers
  • Open 6 days per week (reduced hours in the summer) at the hours volunteers are able to commit to be there
  • There are no membership fees
  • Users are asked to register (and agree to their policies)
  • There is a place to make a donation, if users wish
  • Users log in when they arrive
  • A weekly schedule is posted on Facebook each Sunday
  • The donations are used to augment/replace equipment

The St. Martin’s Baptist church has seen groups start to workout together at dedicated times, people come in to walk in the gymnasium especially during the colder winter months, a floor hockey group began and connections with their neighbours started. During the 2016 calendar year they had over 1800 visits to the Fitness Centre that included over 130 unique individuals. You can check them out more on their website: SMBC-CFC or join their SMBC CFC group on Facebook.

The fitness centre in the church has proven a great way to both serve and connect with the community.
Now that’s thinking out of the box!
I know, from personal experience, how many connections I’ve built and enjoyed through my gym. I think my gym is the thing I miss the most when I’m on the road!

How might you use your church facilities in a fresh way to BLESS your community?

Notice, this wasn’t designed to be a money making endeavor, but to be a way to meet a need in the community, bless the community and start connecting with new people in the community.

It doesn’t need to be a gym, but WHAT could it be?
How can you join God in your neighbourhood?

-Renée (with help from Steve Grant – a leader at SMBC and the manager of the Gym Ministry)
@r_embree
@cbacyf
#1neighbourhood 

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Stories from the road: School's Out Party

We’re continuing the summer series on the blog about “Stories from the road.” Stories of how you and our CBAC churches are joining God in our neighbourhoods. At CBACyf we are loving hearing the stories of how you are connecting in new ways with neighbours and neighbourhoods, particularly neighbours from the younger generations. Here is another story to inspire you…

A number of years ago, as Grace Memorial Baptist Church in Fredericton New Brunswick looked around their neighbourhood, it was obvious that a school was smack dab across the street from them. Yet, how much of a connection did they really have with each other?

The church recognized, and were thankful, for the connections they did have. Every Christmas the school used the church to host their Christmas concert. For many years some retired teachers in the Grace Memorial congregation hosted a drop-in on the first day of school for parents and children. These were great connections, but the congregation also knew most schools will not allow churches to advertise their church programs in a school. How could they build a connection with the school? How could they bless the school even more and be a great neighbour?

Grace Memorial knew they could do more, it is no accident a school is right in their neighbourhood.

They started to dream.

They decided they could throw the students and teachers an awesome last day of school party. A School’s Out Party!

Each year now the church has a BBQ for students, their parents & sibling, and teachers as soon as the final school bell rings in June.
They have used many different activities for the School's Out party: water slides, carnival games, pony rides, go-carts, balloon sculpting, face painting, and of course food. Green Hill Lake Camp has helped them with supplies and games.

Through this party Grace Memorial has seen their connection with the school grow.

Two years ago it was a particularly difficult time for the school because a boy who attended the school was killed in an accident just a few days before the end of school. It was an extremely sad time for the whole community. The family of this young boy asked to used the church for the funeral, because it was close by, they’d been to the end of year party and they knew the church was a good place. This allowed the church to show some kindness to the family during such a difficult time. Also that year, there was some question as to whether the “School’s Out Party” should be cancelled. However, just two days before the end of school, the school administration asked the church to go ahead and do the party as the families needed a lift. It was great for the church to hear how much the administration appreciated the party.

Grace Memorial is continuing to ask God how they can join His work in this school, in their neighbourhood. They’ve started hosting giant Easter eggs hunts at Easter, and the school allows them to use the school playground for this event.
They are praying their friendship and trust with the school continues to grow and is a blessing both ways.

How can you join God’s work in your local schools?

I know some of our churches are finding creative ways to bless school and building partnerships with schools. Here some of the great things our churches are doing in schools: running breakfast programs, providing volunteer coaches, providing volunteer for reading programs, raising money for gym equipment, giving teachers an appreciation/thank you treat or meal, arranging or volunteering for field trips and having clean-up days for the school grounds.

  • What other ideas do you have?
  • How can you bless a local school?
  • How can you start a connection between the people of your church and a local school? (Not to advertise your church programs and get kids to your programs, but to bless the school and start building relationships.)
  • How can you build on the connections God has given you with neighbourhood schools?

Thank you for the inspiration Grace Memorial! And thanks for joining God in your neighbourhood! #1neighbourhood

-Renée (with lots of help from Marilyn McCormick at Grace Memorial Baptist Church)
@r_embree
@cbacyf
#1neighbourhoord