Promo Video for Agua Yaku

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This video was created by an intern with Agua Yaku, the EFCCM ministry committed to providing safe, clean drinking water in Bolivia.

If you’d like to support this ministry, head over to our donation page, scroll down to Designation and select ‘other’, then input this code: #2-5035

Mission and Ministry after Losing the Culture Wars

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corevalues series plug

Bill Taylor is our EFCC Executive Director. In this post, he takes a break from his series on the EFCC’s Core Values, instead sharing what he presented at the recent EFCA conference. (Scroll all the way down for a video of the panel discussion he was on.)

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We hear much about the “culture wars”. While they still rage with much fury in the US today, Christians in Canada lost the wars here many years ago. We may be tempted to lament the demise of Judeo- Christian values. Please allow me to share why I do not, and to suggest some ABCs regarding life after losing the culture wars.

“A” stands for Attitude.

Paul tells us to have the same attitude as our Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2). What is that attitude? In a word, humility. I once heard the noted apologist Paul Chamberlain preach on Philippians 2. The title of his message? “Humility, the Ultimate Apologetic”. It seems to me that as Western Christians, we suffer from a bad case of entitlement. We feel entitled to have our morals enshrined in law, to being the dominant religion of our culture, to having power to set the nation’s agenda. After all, we all live in “Christian nations”, don’t we? I don’t want to debate whether Canada or the US were built on deist or Christian principles, but I do want to remind us that our God blesses the “poor in spirit”, not the proud.

The first century church had little power in the culture, yet it did quite well. Historical examples abound; the church doesn’t need to possess political clout in order to exhibit spiritual power. In fact, political influence is often quite detrimental to spiritual vitality. So, yes, in Canada (and increasingly in the US) we live in a multicultural country, in a pluralistic land of many religions. We are not the only game in town anymore. We can be angry that our place in the sun has been eclipsed, that our religious hegemony has been undermined. We can become paranoid that “everyone” is out to get us (all those militant atheists!). I believe, however, that we do well to model our attitude on the Saviour who, in humility, gave His life away.

We now have to earn a hearing. But let’s not despair!

In fact, “they” aren’t all atheists out there! In Canada, we have an entire generation that hasn’t had a bad experience in church! What a great opportunity to make sure their first experience is a good one! Let’s not assume that the academic elite’s hostility to evangelicals is shared by the general populace. Many average folks are curious about the church, the gospel, Christians, and this humble man we believe to be the Son of God. If we share our lives with them, they will often ask us “to give an account for the hope that is in” us. This we have great opportunity to do – with the correct attitude of “gentleness and respect” (I Peter 3:15).

“B” stands for Beliefs.

We need to re-evaluate what we believe regarding a number of key issues. First, what do we believe about our citizenship? As a child of God, I belong to a different kingdom. I am Canadian — but I am not a Canadian first. This is not my home — I am a “stranger and alien”. This means that I need to expect to feel uncomfortable here. When folks change the rules so that I feel less cozy here – that is not a bad thing at all. Instead of being angry about it, perhaps I should be… thankful? Second, do I really believe that my call as a Christ-follower is to impose moral conformity on the masses?

I am not saying moral truth isn’t important, but if (when?) I lose the debate and my country legislates a new morality that I don’t agree with, is that the end of the world? It wasn’t for first century Christians. Rodney Stark’s The Rise of Christianity chronicles how early Christians lived out their faith in stark contrast to the morality of the day (I will highlight this in the last point). While external legislation and laws are important, are we not a people who really believe it is only the inward change brought about by the power of the gospel that really transforms lives and culture for eternity?

Many outside the church view us as modern day Puritans – social control-freaks who want to impose our morality on them and to oppress people by running roughshod over human rights. This is not a fair caricature, but what would happen if we really believed that the gospel (not the government, a political party, or a social agenda) was the source of our hope? Related to this is a third belief: what do we believe about Jesus? Do we really believe that Jesus is unique? John Ortberg’s book Who is this Man? is a great reminder that Jesus is the central point of all history: He is the only hope for this world because He is the only one so uniquely qualified to save it! I have no hesitation sharing with my friends that Hyundai can meet their automotive needs – do I have the same passion to share the merits of Jesus?

“C” stands for Centre.

Rodney Stark reminds us that the early church led with what they were for, not with what they were against. They took in abandoned children and raised them as their own; they treated women and slaves better than anyone else; they cared for the sick during plagues when no one else would. They lived out the heart of their Lord, so it is no wonder that many joined them. Perhaps we need to act more like a persecuted minority and adopt a subversive leavening strategy in the culture, rather than taking the demanding stance of the moral majority. Why not lead with what we are for rather than being known mostly for what we lobby, march and rail against?

A number of years ago, we in the EFCC changed our credentialing procedures to allow pastors to write something positive regarding social issues rather than just writing against an issue. So, we asked pastors to write something on the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality and the sanctity of life. The result? Very few pastors took us up on the offer. They continued to write against things. I’m sorry, but I think God is for sex. He designed it. He left us some great biblical passages to tell us how to enjoy it according to His plan (Proverbs, Song of Solomon, I Corinthians 7 anyone?). It seems that we are so used to writing against things that we cannot articulate well to the culture what God loves and what He has lovingly designed for our good! What if we modelled the marriages, the families, the care for the poor, and the treatment of the immigrant and the oppressed in a manner that demonstrates the heart of God as early Christians did?

Friends, it is show-and-tell time!

In a pluralistic culture we must first show others that we are Great Commandment people before we will be invited to tell them anything. And when we do tell them something, it needs to be centred on the gospel – on the person of Jesus Christ. We do not act like the gospel is the power of God very often. It seems to me that we tend to centre our ministry on things like buildings, budgets, programs, personalities, politicians, Christian athletes or… a million things other than the gospel. The early church was disenfranchised – they had no Christian bookstores full of Christian books written by Christian celebrities – yet Jesus somehow still built His Church.

Since we at EFCC began to act more like first-century Christians in Canada, we have planted more churches and shared the gospel with more regularity. We have a long way to go, but maybe, just maybe, our new disenfranchised status will move us to focus on what is most important, and to rely on the Spirit’s power for life and ministry. When we do, He will help us learn to speak the truth in love. May we embrace our weakness, may we ask our God for His strength, may our attitude, beliefs and centre lead us to share good news once again with people who desperately need to hear it.

Serving with you,

Bill

MEMO Can Do That!

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The MEMO team recently spent 4 days visiting our new ministry partners in El Salvador. The Shalom primary care community clinic run by Harvesting in Spanish Mission, is waiting to be furnished and medically equiped to get its license to operate. MEMO can do that!

This clinic will provide free care to poor people in the community for Paediatrics, Ophthalmology, Gynecology, Emergency room, general medicine, day surgery, diagnostics (lab and X-ray), nutritional counselling and spiritual counselling and social work . There will be health fairs held regularly in the community for preventative medicine. Staffing will come from the El Salvador Evangelical University Medical school as part of their training

This Christian Medical School has 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students! They are planning a large community clinic in the capital city, San Salvador, to be followed by a 50 bed hospital for medical training. MEMO can help to provide that!

The 250 student Amilat Christian School also run by Harvesting in Spanish is needing computers for training, and some new desks and chairs. MEMO can do that!

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The large empty home across the road donated to the Shalom children’s home for use as a residence for 18 year old graduates of the children’s home going on to College and University needs furnishing (beds, couches, chairs, tables, etc.). MEMO can do that!

When told about the Mammography machine and the mobile breast screening clinic sitting in our warehouse, both the Shalom Clinic and Christian Medical School eagerly said they will collaborate in running the program. Teri Benner the director of the medical clinic has already selected the room for the fixed mammography machine and adjacent dark room. MEMO will send that that!

The computer teacher in the Christian School, when he heard of all the computer equipment we can supply, said “I am going to faint!!” The school doctor from the medical school said something we have often heard in Cuba “We have enough doctors and nurses but not enough equipment.”

The needs of these folks in El Salvador fits perfectly with what God has called MEMO to do.

There is a huge amount of work ahead of us!

  • We have to continue collecting medical equipment and inventoring it for customs.
  • We have to collect money for shipping.
  • We will have many days of packing ocean containers for El Salvador.
  • In El Salvador we do not need government permission for shipping things. We only need our partners to tell us what they need. That is such a blessing.
  • Please pray that the equipment and supplies can be put to good use without complications.

Leadership Questions

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 Dave is the EFCC’s Leadership Development Catalyst. He is opening a very intriguing line of dialogue here. We welcome your feedback in the comments!

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Recently in London in the UK my wife and I visited the Churchill War Rooms and Museum found underground in the Westminster area. Becoming reacquainted with Winston Churchill was a remarkable learning experience for both of us. Quotes attributed to him abound. Here’s one I’ve been mulling over:

“Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.”

As someone who has probably spent too many years “being taught” yet always open to and desirous of learning, I’ve been thinking about the ways in which I learn best. I find the asking of questions topping my list. The more questions I ask the more learning I’m involved in.

Being the EFCC Leadership Development Catalyst I spend a good bit of time thinking and learning about leadership. So I’ve been asking some questions. Following is a sampling of a few of them.

1. Is leadership really that important?
We in Canada (as do our cousins to the South) seem to think so. When I first started my ministry training little was said about it. Now it’s everywhere. There appears to be something like a “cult of leadership” in our North American culture. My ministry track has been that of a pastor. I was trained to be a shepherd but now what is just one part of shepherding (leadership) has overtaken the whole. If you aren’t a leader don’t pastor. What do you think? Do we make too much or too little of leadership?

2. Are leadership and discipleship compatible?
One’s about following while the other is about, well, leading. Are they at odds or do they complement each other? Is discipleship the larger umbrella under which leadership is a subset or visa versa? Does either cancel out the need for the other? In your ministry setting, is your emphasis on leadership or discipleship or both? Are you satisfied with that emphasis?

3. What is leadership, anyway?
I have an abundance of leadership books on my shelf containing numerous definitions, and that doesn’t take into account the many styles of leadership available to us. Is there one definition that says it all? Does there need to be? How do you define leadership for your ministry setting?

4. Who can be a leader?
That of course goes back to definition. If talking about informal leadership, everybody in some way is a leader; but in a formal leadership setting that’s not always true. What should the selection process for leaders look like? What training is needed? Who are the leaders in your setting? Why are they identified as leaders? How did they become leaders? Should they be leaders?

How would you answer the questions? Share some of your ideas with us. Are these even the questions to be asking? What other leadership questions would you add to the list?

Why Network?

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Charlie is the EFCC’s Church Planting Catalyst. If you would like to get in touch with him, you can either contact Home Office, or you can message him in the comments below.

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The EFCC National Ministries is organizing its church planting and leadership development around the concept of networks. Let me explain.

One of the definitions of a network offered by thefreedictionary.com is “an extended group of people with similar interests or concerns who interact and remain in informal contact for mutual assistance or support.” Another definition for a network from the same source is “an association of individuals having a common interest and often providing mutual assistance, information, etc.”

Go to whatissocialnetworking.com and you will discover that a kind of networking, commonly known as social networking, is “…the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small rural communities or a neighbourhood subdivision, if you will.”

For example, when you join the two definitions in the paragraphs above, you can begin to see that our EFCC Church Planting Network will be the intentional but voluntary grouping and connecting of church planters and those who are interested in multiplying churches and congregations across Canada. The participants in our Free Church Planting Network will have a primary interest in and share conversation with each other around church and congregational multiplication.

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Connection within the Church Planting Network will happen through the efcc.ca web site, blogs, resource links such as CoachNet, organized network meetings and training events, and other social and communication media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Our new Church Planting Network (CPN) will also divide into smaller connections or sub-networks. Examples include ethnic CPNs, metro, urban, suburban or town and country CPNs, church planting model specific CPNs such as multi-site or video-venue campus varieties, church planting coach network or church planting leader network. District specific CPNs can also be developed by participants.

With a little help from the EFCC Church Planting Catalyst, the Church Planting Network and sub-networks will develop, form and organize in an informal, voluntary structure but with the intention to communicate, encourage, research, recruit, equip, develop and attempt new ways to reach new people through the common ministry and many models of church planting and multiplication.

Work on creating and developing the EFCC Church Planting Network is underway as an advisory team is being formed, the church planting presence on the web site is being enlarged and developed, and an initial CPN launching event is being planned. Watch the EFCC web site church planting pages for developing information. But, in the meantime, here are some Church Planting Network events to consider.

On October 7-10, a number of EFCC church planters and leaders will head to Southern California to the campus of Saddleback Church where Rick Warren is Pastor. Saddleback is offering the Exponential LA Conference for church planters. The theme is “Discipleshift” and the Exponential LA Conference will include 5 pre-conference intensives, over 60 national speakers, 20 tracks and nearly 100 workshops, all about the discipleship and church planting conversations. A special Monday afternoon EFCC fellowship and training session will be offered followed by a celebration dinner.

Check out this post on our site for more information.

This will be an EFCC Church Planting Network launching event.

After 4 years of successful EFCC sponsored Church Planting Boot Camps at ACTS seminary, we will expand the training offered for church planters to include pastors and leaders of existing churches. This remake of the Boot Camp will be renamed #E4H for “Equip for Harvest” and will take place beginning in 2014 in the Vancouver area and in Winnipeg. Watch for details to come.

The connections in the developing Church Planting Network will only happen as we connect with the Lord of the harvest in prayer together. This is the most important connection for us.