Update from Shaun and Söndi in Hungary

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Shaun and Söndi moved to a small town west of Budapest called Tapolca, for the purpose of beginning an evangelical church where there is none. They use English classes and camps as a means to reach the community.   “We hadn’t been able to find accomodation for Ron and Lynn Gamache who were arriving on a short-term mission to lead weekly Bible Studies,” Söndi recalled. Ron and Lynn would assist in helping connect students to English clubs. Two days before their arrival God provided a beautiful apartment for rent!

“When the owner heard we were going to hold English clubs, she asked us if we wanted to see the empty pub in front of the house on the street front. We checked it out, painted inside and used this area and the apartment to hold English clubs each week! God blessed us with a wonderful answer to prayer”.

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We were blessed to have Ron and Lynn here for three months holding two small English Bible studies each week.  They did a fantastic job connecting students and helping the English club grow. In the fall semester 35 kids, 12 teens and 30+ adults were enrolled in the clubs.

There are five students coming with different levels of openness. One of the students attending enjoys the English but tells us the Bible is a book of fairy tales. We’re praying for all of them and we’re very happy they are open to reading and talking about God’s Word.

You can read about the Gamache’s time here and see pictures on their blog:     www.lynngamache.blogspot.com

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With the help of some members from Kelenfold EFC, we were able to host an Advent wreath craft time on December 1st.  We held it at the Hegyesd village hall. We invited people from the village and also from the English clubs. We were pleased to have 50 + come make wreaths and to hear the Christmas message. On Dec. 13th, we had quite a few students come for the English Club Christmas party. They enjoyed the program and we shared about the amazing events of Christ’s birth and the hope He brings.

We’re very thankful to have Hannah Lawson, a university student from St. Peters, MI coming to help us with English clubs from January 10 – 25th.  We also thank God for leading David and Virginia Fairbrother from Vernon, BC to serve in Tapolca with the clubs from February 1 to March 15th.

We praise the Lord for two youth teams coming to serve in the Kids and Teen English Camps in July. Please pray for Pastor Daron from Salmon Arm and for Pastor Kevin from White Rock as they form and prepare their teams.

Short-term needs in Tapolca for 2013

We have need of an individual or a couple who’d be able to come teach in the Tapolca English clubs from March 16 – April 30, 2013. We’re also looking for short-termers who’d be able to help with the English clubs in the 2013-14 school year starting from mid September. If you know of anyone who might be interested in a short-term ministry opportunity like this, please let us know and we’ll be happy to send more information.

Prayer Requests

  • Praise the Lord for the growing number of English students we have contact with. Pray for the Lord to be at work in hearts of the students.
  • Praise the Lord for those coming to serve short-term in Tapolca this year. Pray that the Lord will lead others to join us in the work short-term and longer term.
  • Pray for the small number of believers in the Tapolca area that we are meeting with. Pray that God will make us a bright light! Thank you for praying!

with Christ’s love, Shaun, Söndi, and family.

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If you would like to support Shaun and Söndi, you can use our donation page, and add in their account code:
2-2070

You can also get in touch with them directly by using their e-mail address:
shaunsondi@yahoo.com

Excellence at What Cost?

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IMGP9030This is Brad’s first blog post in his new job title, Communications Catalyst.

In this role, he’d like to spark broad discussion about communication, especially within the church, so you’re invited to engage with this post in the comments below.

(If you haven’t read it yet, we encourage you to read our Website Comments Policy.)

If you have an idea for a blog post, or perhaps even a series of posts, please take a look at our Contributions page, and then drop us a line with your idea!

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taping

The game has changed (again). At Conference 2012, Larry Osborne pointed out that the culture of the North American church has changed over the past few years. There used to be a strong push toward heightened production values which was called “excellence”. Now there is a much stronger push toward relational authenticity under the banner of being “missional”. In this post I would like to point out that “excellence” and “missional” have been falsely pitted against each other.

Excellence abounds in authenticity, and authenticity abounds in excellence.

Its seems like higher production values are simply expected now. They are such a given, they seldom even get much of a mention. I believe the push toward excellence was to nudge the church beyond the cringe factor. (Not that I don’t see cringing-inducing stuff within the contemporary church, but I’m not getting into that right now!) When the church’s media are so out of step with the broader culture’s — when, for example, we make a design-aware population wince — then it is likely that our efforts will distract people from the gospel. Or worship. Or whatever our chosen message is.

Because we are ambassadors for Christ, I think this stuff is seriously high stakes!

I recognise that enhanced graphic design, more technological sophistication, and pyrotechnics(!) by themselves cannot effectively contend for the faith. At some point, often far quicker than I’d like to admit, the wow-factor may become its own idol. Graphic designers, writers and video editors are susceptible to taking themselves too seriously. (Well, every one of them but me, that is! Ahem.) The goal of my communication can never be to get people to pay attention to the window, but rather to enjoy the view.

True excellence never draws attention to itself.

I worked in construction as a taper’s apprentice for a while. That’s a guy whose job it is to slop mud, fling dust, curse incompetent framers and drywall installers, and make the painters who follow him look like heroes! One of my least favourite things to do was closets. With the tools’ long poles combined with my long limbs, closets were unbelievably awkward, and it took me forever to get everything ironed out properly. And who has ever invited guests into their home so that they can admire the smoothness of their closets? It makes no sense to invest so much time or energy into them! In his subtly gruff way, my supervisor would ask “Brad, did you get lost in there again?”

I still hear his voice if I catch myself looking at individual pixels in a picture, or a single frame in a video.

I love to do good work that I am proud of. The problem is contained right in that sentence: “I am proud”. My pride should not be my motivator (though I will shrivel up and die if I’m forced to make stuff that I’m ashamed of!). The reason why the phrase “good enough is good enough” is a cliché is because it’s true. I believe that God wants to be honoured in effectiveness and submission, not perfectionism. It is important to recognise that the drive toward perfectionism, whether self-motivated or imposed by leaders, can swiftly, deeply and sweepingly burn people out.

If “excellence” is damaging people, clearly it isn’t excellence.

Some have asked, “How long will ‘missional’ be relevant?” Several missional advocates have answered “Forever!”. But that reveals social naivety, because no buzzword stays current indefinitely. The real answer is that it will be replaced by something that feels more important, more true, and it will highlight something that missional hid.

So then, my definition of excellence will certainly shift again. But even as God steers me in new directions, toward new convictions and reveals new things to repent for, my commitment to excellence will be unwavering.

How has excellence steered you? Has your definition changed in recent years?

Is There a Good Side to Church Hopping?

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One of our church planters highlighted a post on Christianity Today that addresses the phenomenon of “church hopping”. This often gets a bad rap from people who assume that church hopping implies a lack of commitment, or a consumeristic “me-first” attitude. But are those assumptions fair?

In Defense of Church Hoppers

If we change our stance on church hopping, and start to see it as an expression of longing for community rather than an attempt to avoid it, how would that change our churches and ministries?

We Can Do Better Than Mere Outrage, Right?

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This post has shown up a few places on the radar recently. Moral outrage may not be as much of a divisive problem in Canada as it is in the US right now, and it may not be as prevalent within the EFCC as other movements, but let’s not kid ourselves. We’re no strangers to reactionary anger.

Moving Past Moral Outrage

One of the most humbling questions this article asks is “Is my outrage alienating me from people who disagree?”.

The issue addressed in this article is timely, topical and so important.

Latest from Gary and Eva

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garyandevaEva and Gary are currently in language school in Texas, preparing to serve in Bolivia.

I hope you’ll appreciate the honesty and humility in their latest blog post:

Discernment