Resilient Ministry

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resilientministry
Al Thiessen (pastor at Journey Church in Winnipeg and Professor at Providence Theological Seminary) recently recommended two books to me: one of them was Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us about Surviving and Thriving. Bob Burns, Tasha Chapman and Donald Guthrie share what they have learned as they have led “Pastors Summits” over the years. The five themes they uncover are good reminders for all of us who follow Christ, especially those of us who serve His church. Please allow me to share them with you!

The first theme is spiritual formation. Am I so busy doing life and ministry that I am no longer abiding in Christ? The authors remind us that long term fruitfulness in ministry results from a life overflowing with thanksgiving – from a vibrant life in God. When we serve out of our spiritual dryness, we are apt to lose perspective like Elijah did in I Kings 20. Cynicism, bitterness, hopelessness and a host of other issues leading to “burnout” then set in!

The second theme is self-care. We are beings with physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual needs. Statistics indicate that we do not take care of ourselves in ministry. In fact, a higher proportion of pastors are overweight than the general populace. We also engage in less exercise, do not take as much time to enjoy hobbies, etc. Why? Well, we are busy! And being busy is synonymous with being faithful, right? Wrong. It may be more akin to “ministry idolatry”. We run flat out to serve the church – but you can only run flat out so long before you collapse. An even darker side to this idolatry is highlighted in one pastor’s confession. He was watching an episode of Oprah and the woman being interviewed stated “I want to be an actress”. Oprah replied, “No you don’t. You want to be a star. Being an actress is only a means to becoming a star”. When this pastor heard this he realized that he didn’t really like being a pastor – he was being a pastor mostly as a means to becoming a star. Finding identity and activities outside the church are critical for those of us who want to serve the church well.

The third theme is Emotional and Cultural Intelligence. Do we really understand our own emotions and the emotions of others? Do we think our own perception of issues is the only “right one”? And do I really understand the differing cultures in my church, community and country? We are faced with generational, ethnic, and regional realities that ought to remind us that much of what we assume to be “true” is more culturally determined than it is based on the Bible.

The fourth theme is marriage and family. Not surprisingly, the authors found that many “ministry marriages” were characterized by emotional distance between spouses, a sense of abandonment and a lack of any sort of intimacy. Ministry demands can push us to give our family the “cold leftovers” of our lives. However, doesn’t God desire that my spouse (and family) is my ministry partner and the primary part of the flock that I am called to love and serve? Perhaps this is why Paul seems to indicate that what my spouse and family think of me (and whether they are following Him) is an important factor in choosing elders.

The fifth and final theme is leadership and management. Yes, I know, the Bible doesn’t talk about being a “leader”, it talks about being a “follower” or “disciple”. However, the Bible also doesn’t expressly use the term “trinity”, but that doesn’t mean we don’t believe that the “Trinity” not only exists, but acts and relates to each member of the godhead and world in very real ways! We are all followers, but we also end up leading, and the authors highlight two helpful areas: leadership poetry and leadership plumbing. The poetry part is all the “soft skills” stuff – relating to other leaders, building core values and vision consensus, building team environments where everyone can be heard and I get over my desire to always “get my way” and be the “hero”. The plumbing part is the administration and shepherding side of things that some of us grudgingly do, but resent! Yes, others should organize ministry and shepherd people, but like it or not, we pastors are called to shepherd, encourage, counsel, and speak truth into lives – and we can’t do it all from behind the pulpit. Leadership plumbing is sometimes messy and inconvenient, but if we don’t do it, even bigger messes result!

These five themes are areas that we as followers of Christ, His ministers, need to attend to. If we don’t, our ability to be resilient – to survive and thrive in ministry is severely endangered. And none of us wants to be one of those negative statistics we hear about: ministers leaving the ministry, crumbling ministry marriages, pastors “run out of town” because of conflict… Well, you know the statistics. I highly recommend this book. Right now I am taking my Cold FX religiously – so I don’t get the nasty flu that is going around. The medicine works after you get the flu, too – but why not avoid the pain? I commend this book to you as good medicine to your soul!

Serving with you,

Bill  

Earthquake in the Philippines

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Mel

We received this news from Mel, the EFCCM’s Asia Area Director from a pastor in the Philippines. At this time we have reached out to Jason and Andrea, who are serving with us in the country, but have not heard back from them personally. Initial reports are that they have not been directly affected by this earthquake, but of course the whole nation will feel its impact.

At this time we are requesting that you take this as a request to pray. We will provide more tangible ways to help through the EFCCM when those become available.

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Dear Friends of the EFCP,

This is an update of the earthquake that struck the provinces of Cebu and Bohol last week.

It was really a very strong earthquake and lasted a very long period – about 30 seconds. We thought that the EFCP building in Cebu City would collapse at that moment. My wife Lina and I are staying at the 3rd floor of the EFCP building; and we were under the table upstairs during the earthquake, anticipating a collapse of the building.

But we are safe and there is no major damage on the building so far. Yet, there are so many aftershocks occurring everyday until now. The other day, I heard something like 1,800 aftershocks since Tuesday. We have no normal activity yet and no normal sleep. We are staying now at the ground floor for easy way out during aftershocks.

There are a lot of damages and casualties in several parts of Cebu City; and much more in Bohol, which is heavily affected. So far, the EFCP constituents in Cebu are generally safe. But our churches and outreaches in Bohol are also affected, according to initial report. There is no detailed information yet from Bohol due to damaged communication lines.

Tomorrow, October 21st, I am going to Bohol to bring relief assistance and to see the extent of damage. We have churches and outreaches in the towns of Maribojoc, Antiquera, Calape, Dagohoy, Luay, Pilar, and in Tagbilaran City.

We will keep you updated. Thank you very much for your prayers.

In Christ,
Pastor Prisco

CPD Conference Connection

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CPDSThis piece is provided by Martin Perren, the EFCC’s Canadian Pacific District Superintendent. His district is probably the most geographically spread out. You can see more details about it here.

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The Canadian Pacific district of the EFCC held its 2013 annual conference in the community of Valemount October 3-6. We were hosted by our newest church plant, Valemount Community Church. The focus of our time together was built around our theme, Anchored-Christ at the Center.

Our weekend began with the pre-conference Pastors Huddle on Thursday. This is often the favorite part of conference for our clergy couples and this year was no exception. Just under 50 individuals descended upon Dr. Ray Markham’s acreage for a wonderful time of food and fellowship. The following morning we spent time in God’s word, mining from 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 the character traits of effective biblical leadership.

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The meetings were held at the Best Western Hotel. Their conference facilities, comfortable rooms and friendly staff made for an excellent setting for the 70 registered delegates and guests. Able Baker, pastor from the Fort St. James EFC, led us into meaningful times of worship. Our keynote speaker, Terry Kaufman from Emanuel EFC, blessed us with solid biblical teaching.

It was wonderful to have representation from the EFCC national office. Dave and Wendy Penner felt very at home as this district was where they ministered for many years before Dave’s appointment as the EFCCM Director. We also appreciated having Dwight Johnson and Wade Hammond in attendance with their spouses. Our executive director Bill Taylor spoke to our delegates as we worshiped together with the Valemount Community Church in their storefront Sunday morning. Even with Deb in attendance, Bill still managed to give us a reason to laugh.

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The business of the district was handled by our outgoing chairman Dan Smith. While leaving this position he will not be leaving the board as he will now become our church planting catalyst. Rob Cave from the Kamloops EFC will be our new chairman. Dan Rogers will be the new Caribou Rep. We officially recognized Bill VanBergyk as our new treasurer and Myron Crown has the new Okanagan/Shuswap Rep. Shaun Wick has stepped down from the CPD board. We appreciate his years of faithful service. Dan Carlaw is the incoming vice chair. Dave and Jane Sager were re-elected to their positions as Northern Rep. and district secretary respectively.

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We very much appreciated having Neil Bassingthwaighte from the MSC explain the credentialing proposal that they have been working on. He did an excellent job of illustrating what it does and does not mean.

It was our intent to have our district churches experience the ministry of the church plant in Valemount. The response I’ve heard has been excellent and delegates have returned to their churches encouraged and refreshed and hopefully challenged as to how they can be involved in planting a similar work in a community near them. We are grateful to God’s blessing on this district we continue to look to Him as we do our part in establishing His kingdom.

World of Hope Announcement!

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We are really excited to announce the launch of the EFCCM’s World of Hope!

This is a collection of most of the EFCCM’s international projects from around the world, and this year for the first time there are a few mission projects within Canada as well. World of Hope provides a great way that you can support ministry that is being conducted through the EFCCM in many countries around the world.

If you, your family, your small group or your whole church would like to get on board with World of Hope, drop us a line and ask for copies of our booklet. We have some left, but they’re going fast!

It is also available in downloadable format here (right click to save):
2013WorldOfHopeCatalogue

Last year’s giving to World of Hope totalled just over $138,000 — a jump that more than doubled the previous record! We’re hoping for great things again this year as God leads us to share his love in word and action.

Finally, if you have a story of how contributing to the World of Hope has blessed you, we’d love to hear it, and share it with the whole movement. Could be a deepened relationship with a missionary. Or improved perspective on the need for and impact of a given ministry. Or even how it drew your church community together to accomplish a meaningful fundraising effort. Drop me a line at bradj@efccm.ca, and let’s chat!

The Pulse in Chinese

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It’s our pleasure to release the Pulse in Chinese.

Click on the link below to view it:
2013 Spring Edition of the Pulse in Chinese

Please share this with anyone you think will be interested!