How do we attract young leaders to ministry?

We need young leaders joining in being world changers! We need young leaders to lead the way right here - leading us to join God in our neighbourhoods & leading our churches in Atlantic Canada!

How do we help young leaders join the adventure of leading in the Church?
These 7 people have some ideas! What are your ideas? Please comment.

Please add your thoughts in the comments!




Asking for help - When’s the last time you ask someone besides Siri or Google for help?

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When is the last time you asked for help?
Let me put it this way, when’s the last time you graciously, genuinely and humbly asked for help?
And I don’t mean from Siri or Google.

If you’re a leader type, I’m guessing this is extra hard for you.
Did you know, the greatest leaders ask for help? The greatest leaders know asking for help, especially outside your normal circle, opens up new connections and opportunity. Asking for help invites more people into the process. Asking for help means you don’t have to be the expert, but still get expert advice helping you and your Kingdom cause.

One of the details I’ve been dwelling on lately comes from Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well in John 4. Jesus is resting at a well in what Jews considered the sketchy area of Samaria, and a woman comes up to the well and Jesus says to her “Will you give me a drink?” This whole encounter begins by Jesus saying to someone outside the nice Jewish religious, moral circle “Hey, will you help me out and share your water bottle with me?”

I love this detail. Here Jesus is, the sent one from God, the One sent to help us and save us, asking for help. Jesus, the missionary in this situation, first connects with this woman not by giving her water to drink, not by providing for her needs but by asking her to give him a drink. Now, that’s humility. That’s dumping out any self-righteousness (which Jesus had a right to have, he IS the only righteous one.) No pre-judging. No “holier than thou” attitude. No, you better listen to what I have to say. No “have I got life figured out.” No invitation to the synagogue or to a Bible study. No asking why she’s hanging out at the well at mid-day.
Jesus smiling and asking “Could I have some water, please?”.

I think this is a clue we need to pay attention to as Christians today. Sometimes the best way to connect with our neighbours is to ASK for help rather than offering help as the bigger brother or sister, rather than coming in as the church and thinking we’ve got it all figured out and have the solution for you.

To ask your neighbour, who does NOT know about all this “Jesus stuff” yet:

  • Can you help me get healthier?
  • Where do you take your kids for activities in winter? Can we do that together?
  • Can you show me how you get your garden to grow so well in our neighbourhood?
  • Can you help our church respond to the refugee crisis?
  • Can you come alongside our family and help us with some rides and some meals during this season of hardship we’re going through?
  • You are amazing at baking. Can you help our kids make some cupcakes that they want to take to thank the education assistance in their school?
  • Can you give us a ride to the airport?
  • You really are a social media expert. Can you help us understand that world?
  • You’re a teenager who understands our culture. Can you help us understand the pressures on teenagers today?
  • Can you help us host a BBQ for the people on our street?
  • You’re an urban planner. Can you help us understand our city?
  • Where do people go in this town for the best ______?
  • You know grants. Can you help us figure out this whole grant application?
  • Can you help us understand what it is like to be a newcomer to our area?

Dump out our self-righteousness bucket and ask people for help. Jesus asks HER for a drink.
God often uses these experts outside our usual circles to teach us, help us and to reveal where He is at work in the lives of people outside the church family. You can ask for this kind of help both as an individual or as a ministry team. Then take Jesus with you (you are in Christ everywhere you go, on mission everywhere you go) as you receive the help.

God often uses the outsider and our connections with the outsider for greater Kingdom purposes.

We are NOT the expert in all things. We do NOT have all the tools.
Jesus did not have a bucket, he asked for a drink.
What don’t you have? Where do you need help? Where does your church need help?
Where can you ask for help in your community?
God may want to use that VERY connection to reveal His Living Water to your community.

It won’t work if you stay in your holy huddle.
It won’t work if you keep the “We’ve got everything we need within this little circle” mentality.
It won’t work if you think God can’t use someone else, who doesn’t know Jesus yet, to help you.
It won’t work if you’re too afraid to ask for water.
It won’t work if you’re too prideful or self-righteous and can’t admit you need help.

Join God in the neighbourhood, by asking for help!
Quick - right now list 3 people outside your normal Christian circles you could ask for help.

Hope this helps you recognize and join God’s work in your neighbourhoods.


How to respond when the divide widens between government and churches (e.g. changes to Canadian Summer Students Jobs)

I’ve been taking a break from this blog recently so that you and I can engage with the Imaginative Hope blogs as they are released. However, today I’m back on this blog to speak to a relevant issue that I know many of you are concerned about too.


In recent days we had heard that the Canadian Summer Student Job Program will require groups seeking to hire these students to sign a document stating their mandate as well as the duties of the job respect human rights in Canada. That is not concerning. However, news articles indicated more specifically organizations advocating against abortion rights or the equality of LGBTQ Canadian would be refused funding. One article clarified “that an organization affiliated with a religion does not itself constitute ineligibility.” Here is one news article about this: https://globalnews.ca/news/3914528/canada-summer-jobs-anti-abortion-anti-gay-groups/

I called my local Member of Parliament office on Friday December 15 to clarify if and how it applies to churches and faith-based camps. I heard back from the office on Monday December 18 and was assured that “there is no truth to it.” Nothing new will have to be signed and nothing stating that the organization is pro-abortion or believes certain things about LGBTQ will have to be signed.

For the sake of our students and summer ministries that is good news.

UPDATE: (italicized added to this blog the evening of December 19) However today (Dec 19) I see the government has changed the Summer Student Job website and application. It explains at length:

"CSJ applicants will be required to attest that both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

The employer attestation for CSJ 2018 is consistent with individual human rights in Canada, Charter rights and case law, and the Government of Canada’s commitment to human rights, which include women’s rights and women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of gender-diverse and transgender Canadians.

The government recognizes that women’s rights are human rights. This includes sexual and reproductive rights — and the right to access safe and legal abortions. These rights are at the core of the Government of Canada’s foreign and domestic policies.

The government recognizes that everyone should have the right to live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose, free from discrimination. The government is committed to protecting the dignity, security, and rights of gender-diverse and transgender Canadians."  See https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/canada-summer-jobs.html

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is also aware and figuring out next steps. Here is a link to the EFCs page on this specific issue. We will be following the EFCs lead on this, so follow their recommendations: https://www.evangelicalfellowship.ca/Topics/Religious-Freedom-in-Canada/Canada-Summer-Jobs-Grants-Policy-Change

We will be posting next steps and updates from the EFC. Watch our CBACyf Facebook page. 

I want to ask if something can be proven as a Bona Fide Occupational Requirement (BFOR) of a job (e.g. you need to follow the same religion as the organization you'll be working for if it's a religous organization) will that be ok?

The rest of this blog was written before I knew that update:

However, this has stirred my thinking. How should we as followers of Jesus respond if/when government makes decisions that appear to be moving in the direction of excluding Christians, churches or faith-based camps?

The purpose of this blog is not to debate abortion or LGBTQ. The purpose of today’s blog is to think through how to respond as Christians, as a church, when the government changes policies and even laws we used to enjoy as Christians.

1.       Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world.

Christianity has been most authentic when it has been counter-cultural and grass-roots.

As followers of Jesus we should not expect the government or the culture of the day to believe or act as we think they should. Christianity from the very beginning was counter-cultural.

The early Christians did not have the support of Rome, far from it. They were often persecuted by the government. They spent more time in trouble with the government than in agreement with the government. Following Christ often put them in direct conflict with living under the rule of Rome. The early Christians in the Roman Empire were seen as defiant, even accused of committing treason, for declaring and following a King other than Caesar.

Jesus, Paul, and Peter did not try to change the government or to try to get them to change their laws. They never expected the government to do such a thing! They knew that wasn’t their job. They did however, even in the presence of government, invite people to recognize for themselves who Jesus was, the Saviour, the King of the world. 

Even when Jesus was asked to do so He did not take over the government of His day. He continued to work with His Heavenly Father for a different Kingdom that was and is often subtly but significantly breaking into this world. We must do the same. The Church is meant to be counter-cultural. Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world.

Take a fresh look at the Gospels and early Christianity, Christians were in the minority and in places with diverse views politically, culturally and religiously.

2.       Canada is touted to be a nation that celebrates diversity, a cultural mosaic, not a melting pot.

This is where I would challenge our government, as a concerned citizen, to remember its values. Celebrating a cultural mosaic means finding ways to listen to, include and even value divergent views. A government that says it is for diversity but then slowly brings changes so that only those that believe what they believe are listened to or supported will end up driving us to be a homogeneous society, and becoming the very thing they fear. A government has to be careful what it labels as hate-speech and discrimination; if that becomes “You don’t believe what the government believes” they’ll definitely become the very thing they hate. For example, if a person or organization argues for not only the rights of a mother but also the rights of an unborn child should this exclude them from receiving grants to hire summer students because the government sees it as against human rights? This does not mean we should fund or support terrorists or extremists. It does mean if we truly value diversity we’ll listen and give a voice to all, even those we disagree with. Christians are not off the hook here - we too have to be willing to listen, respect and value the diversity within our communities. We can hold fast to Jesus while learning from all others. As a Canadian who values diversity and freedom of religion (all religions, not just mine) I will continue to remind the government of these values as a nation.

3.       Post-Christian or pre-Christian Nation?

We live in a post-Christian era if we ever were a Christian nation or there even was a Christian era to begin with. If or when government makes such decisions for exclusion of churches/religious leaders I would not label it as persecution. The fact is we, as Christians, have been privileged for a long time, and we have not done well with it.

This era, post-Christian, presents a great opportunity.

I have heard others argue we could consider it instead to be a pre-Christian era. Christianity is not about governments, nations, societal support; it is about people surrendering their lives to Jesus and seeking to follow Him and His ways daily. We have this great opportunity to figure out how to be Christian without the trappings of the favour of society (or even with the hostility of society), without the favour of government, perhaps even without buildings, titles and other privileges. Christianity has been at its worst when it has been politicized, nationalized and in a place of power.

For example, I actually don’t want forced prayer back at the beginning of the public school day. That just leads to nominalism and perceived privilege. What I do want is our students who are followers of Jesus talking to God regularly throughout their school day (praying) and living with such care for others around them and such an openness about God’s love, that they have spontaneous opportunities to authentically explain their faith within their schools.

We are not going back to a Christian nation (if we ever were one) and we shouldn’t expect to or want it. This should drive followers of Jesus to be carriers of the Good News, bearers of God’s light wherever they go, shining brightly and acting differently than the culture of the day. This should call followers of Jesus to costly obedience, being willing to live differently, give up privileges, and to take up our cross and follow Jesus daily.

4.       We cannot hold non-Christians to a Christian standard

We have no right to hold someone that is not claiming to follow Jesus to the ways of Jesus. If Jesus isn’t their Lord, then really, they can do whatever they want with their life. The same goes for our government - they are not claiming to try to follow Jesus’ ways and we shouldn’t expect them to. We (as Christians, as any concerned citizen) can argue our point of view, we can argue what we think is best for a just society including rights for all, but we can’t expect or hold non-Christians to Christian standards.

However, I also expect the same respect in return, in that I do not want our government telling us what to believe. This is the classic separation of church and state.

I believe God has given everyone freedom, a mind, a heart and a will. I believe in freedom of conscience and freedom of belief for everyone. I listen and respect others beliefs, and give them freedom to examine both their and my beliefs. I even give them freedom to choose and act differently than I do, especially if they are not claiming to follow the Jesus I follow. I also have the freedom to argue my beliefs, hopefully graciously, passionately and winsomely. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms also states we have freedom of conscience and religion. 

5.       Plan ahead, for the sake of the students and our mission as churches

In this particular scenario, should it ever come to the place that churches and faith-based camps are denied funding, the biggest victim is the students. Students would not get the opportunity to experience these engaging jobs and opportunities for leadership development. Our churches and camps do a really great job of giving students meaningful work experiences - programming for children, neighbourhood projects, youth programs, maintenance, visiting seniors and more. We have been very thankful that churches have been able to give students these opportunities. Furthermore, people, churches and communities would miss the significant work these students do. Our churches do significant work for the betterment of our communities - caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, welcoming the refugee, supporting single parents, providing children and youth programs and more. 

If we can benefit students and our communities by using government funding and programming, without compromising our beliefs, we should. Keep applying for provincial and federal grants.

However, we shouldn't expect the ongoing support of our government forever - so if/when it disappears be prepared to continue on. If it comes to the place where you’d have to sign something you can’t agree with, don’t sign it, but find a way to carry on. Find creative ways to still give these amazing opportunities to students - who are doing such amazing work to bless people and communities.

It is not only this benefit that could disappear from our government - churches get ready to go without these benefits and continue to be on mission. The church is at its best when it is on mission in the world, revealing the Gospel in word and deed. The church is at its best when it isn’t at a place of privilege in the government or society of the day but focused on joining God in His redeeming work in peoples’ lives and communities, revealing a different Kingdom, another way of living, that is different than the culture.

Hope this helps.
What are your thoughts?



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.


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