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…

Joining God in our neighbourhoods


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


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)

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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)

Live, on location from Tidal Impact 2017 #TI2017

Today’s blog is a quick update from Tidal Impact 2017, where 73 churches and about 800 participants are impacting neighbourhoods with God’s love.

It is amazing watching a sea of blue T-shirts serving and caring all along the South Shore and in the Halifax region of Nova Scotia.

Tidal Impact 2017 seeks to make an impact in 3 ways – Impact self, impact church & impact neighbourhoods #1neighbourhood

Impact self – those of us at Tidal Impact are inviting God to work in us and through us.

Amazing to see this happening in a number of ways!

Teams spend time praying & doing devotions together.

Tuesday afternoon the entirety of Tidal Impact participated in Dive Deeper – workshops that helps students gain skills to read the Bible on their own, know a variety of ways to pray, know how to explain the Gospel to others and know how to worship God on their own and how to use arts to express their thoughts and capture Scripture. Amazing skills! I was so blessed to watch teenagers practice talking about Jesus and explaining what Jesus has done for us.

Most evenings of Tidal Impact we gather at Rock Church in Halifax and Bridgewater Baptist along the South Shore for rallies – to worship together, remember why we are doing what we are doing, and hear from a challenging speaker – so we’re ready to go back out and serve with God’s love again.

Tidal Impact impacts self.

Impact church – Tidal Impact only happens in partnership with a local church. Visiting teams come from a church from away – they’ve been preparing for months. Local host churches billet them and work with them to reach out to the community. We love that various denominations are involved! Thanks so much for joining us friends.

Local churches are impacted in a number of ways – one of the great things we see happening is churches waking up to God’s work among the younger generation.

I visited one church the first Sunday of Tidal Impact that was hosting a team of teenagers from away, but actually had no young people of their own. They were blown away by the faith, worship, leadership, and vibrancy of the team of teenagers that led their service that day.

Another church I visited – saw the leadership of this young man, a visiting youth pastor from away and started talking among themselves that they too need and could empower someone to lead their ministry towards the younger generations.

Tidal Impact impacts churches.

Impact neighbourhoods – It is amazing the variety of things Tidal Impact teams are doing this week to bless neighbours around this region. The list is long!

  • Sorting boots and clothes at a shelter
  • Baking cookies to thank workers in Seniors home, IWK nurses, construction workers, fire fighters...
  • Running sports camps
  • Running kids’ camps
  • Fixing up a senior’s home
  • Painting a youth centre
  • Putting floats in a parade
  • Cleaning out goat pens
  • Chopping and stacking wood
  • Painting buildings
  • Fixing up a camp
  • Sorting food at Feed NS
  • Picking up garbage and cleaning up the community
  • Fixing up a food bank
  • Yardwork
  • Building a shed for a BMX/Skate park
  • Doing a massive food drive for Feed NS and local area food banks
  • Visiting seniors
  • Praying for people in the park
  • Putting on a fair in the park
  • Buying people Tim’s cards
  • Handing out hugs & water
  • Washing cars to raise money for important causes
  • Washing windows
  • Planted a garden, to beautify a public space
  • Making lunch and serving it to those who could use a meal

I’m missing a lot, but you get the idea. The team of teenagers as asking – God how can we join you in this neighborhood? Then getting out the door and making it happen.

Tidal Impact impacts neighbourhoods.

Our prayer is this impact is noticed across Nova Scotia. In addition, we are praying that teenagers get in the habit of EVERY SINGLE DAY, even after Tidal Impact, asking the question – God, how do I join your work today? God, how do I join you in my neighbourhood today?

Check out #TI2017 on social media and you’ll see a lot more of what Tidal Impact has been up to.

We’ve still got two more days! More impact on self, church and community!

Anyone and everyone, from any walk of life & pocket of society, is invited to the public rally Friday 6pm at either Bridgewater Baptist (564 Glen Allan Dr, Bridgewater NS) or Rock Church Halifax (222 Sackville Dr, Lowerv Sackville NS). Come join us and check out Tidal Impact.

This is the best week ever!

Stories from the road... Dreaming of a playground

 The playpark as of July 19, 2017

The playpark as of July 19, 2017

Over the summer I’ll be sharing some stories from the road. In my role I have the privilege of travelling around Atlantic Canada and seeing what our churches are doing to join God in our neighbourhoods. It’s fantastic! I want to share some of those stories over the next few weeks. Our churches are doing some creative and amazing things to get out of their church walls and join God’s work in their neighbourhoods. Some small things, some big things, but all important things, connecting our churches with new people in their neighbourhoods and showing the Good News to the world. May these stories inspire you!

The first story from the road comes from Saint John, New Brunswick, only a few kilometers away from our CBAC office.

This story was a dream that was a LONG time in the making.

First, the neighbourhood - The North End of Saint John has a reputation of being a tough place to live and grow up. The statistics of poverty, teen pregnancy, drugs, violence and school completion rates tell a difficult story. However, there are always two sides to any story, isn’t there? The North End of Saint John is full of caring people, taking pride in their city and wanting to see the best for their neighbourhood and their families. RiverCross Church has been in the heart of the Old North End of Saint John for 175 years. What a perfect place to be.

Through the years RiverCross Church has intentionally built friendships with the various neighbourhood partners in the Old North End of Saint John, including a partner called ONE Change. (ONE stands for Old North End.) ONE Change and the church make it a core principle to listen and consult with folks in the neighbourhood, and to hear their priorities. Way back in 2004 the residents made it clear to ONE Change that a playpark was needed in the area. After all, it’s a neighbourhood full of young families with children, and yet there’s no safe place close by for children to play.

When the RiverCross congregation began constructing a new building on Forbes Drive that would house RiverCross Church while at the same time repurposing their Main Street location to serve as the hub of the RiverCross mission, there was a stronger commitment than ever to join God’s work in the Old North End. In fact, the move would allow the work of the mission to flourish even more – creating space for the foodbank to move in, expanding the clothing bank, creating an office for the community nurse, upgrading the kitchen used to serve meals… As the plans for construction of the new site and renovations of the old site got going it was realized that the parking lot in the North End would no longer really be needed. This parking lot was in the perfect location for a playpark, close to both the Community Centre and the RiverCross Mission location.

What an opportunity for the church to give back to folks who live in the Old North End - to tangibly show God's love in action to them! So, with the congregation's approval, RiverCross deeded the property to ONE Change for the express purpose of building a world-class playpark in the neighbourhood.

RiverCross not only provided the land to serve as the "foundation" for making this dream come to life, they continued to actively participate in all phases of the project.

John Knight, the RiverCross Community Outreach Pastor, helped with the initial planning.
Lots of folks from the church volunteered their time and gifts to join in on seeing the playground come to be.
Matt Holland volunteered his gifts of planning, purchasing and approaching corporations.
Mark Hughes, got involved with his construction knowledge, and even stored the play ground equipment in a warehouse for free while the team was waiting for when installation could begin.
Marc Cormier helped arranged for the survey of the land.
In addition, Neighbourhood residents and ONE Change gave lots of hours and volunteers to the project.

Together the whole team crafted a plan, figured out a design for the park and submitted funding applications.

Set back after set back came and the church, neighbourhood and ONE Change wondered if they’d ever see the playground installed!

After much delay and greater perseverance, funding started to come in to help this dream become reality – from Kiwanis, the Provincial Government, Federal Government and more.

And, finally, as of this July 2017 installation of the playpark has finally begun!

Let me hear you cheer!

 The playpark on July 18, 2017. You can see the steeple of the RiverCross Mission in the background.

The playpark on July 18, 2017. You can see the steeple of the RiverCross Mission in the background.

Does this story ever highlight some important things about joining God in our neighbourhoods?!

1.       Listen to your neighbours and their needs & priorities

2.       Build connections with other neighbourhood partners

3.       Persevere in seeing a neighbourhood dream become a reality

4.       Involve lots of different gifts and people in neighbourhood projects

5.       Tangibly show God’s love to your neighbours – it might be by building them a playpark, it might be some other way. Ask God – where are you at work here? How do we show Your love to our neighbours?

-Renée (with lots of help from John Knight)