Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

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CASL
We have been working hard to try to figure out how this pertains to us as an organisation, and by extension, each of our churches. The only thing we can tell you for sure is that, well, we don’t know for sure. There are lots of organisations that are interpreting this in lots of different ways – in our estimation, from underplaying it to going overboard.

One things we do know is that non-profits are not the primary targets of this. This is designed to give the authorities teeth to go after the larger spam offenders. There will be due process and deliberation as cases are brought to authorities on these matters. However, the reality is that these laws are going into effect, and we are subject to them.

Implications
What we all need to be doing is keeping records which show that people have opted-in to our communication. The process where people sign up to Pulse records a date stamp for us, which demonstrates that a reader initiated contact. At this stage, these laws only affect commercial messages. But the definition of a commercial message is broad: it can include any information about an event, service or product that costs money (this is a grey zone).
Curiously, Messages with the express purpose of fundraising have been exempt from this law given that most non-profits would suffer heavily if restricted.

For people who have a relationship with us, we have implied consent to send them messages. This lasts for 2yrs, during which we need to work to migrate our people and our systems to express consent. It means that we need to build consent into the ways that we’re asking for e-mail addresses, whether on contact cards, or online e-mail sign-up pages.

To create effective e-mail protocols, we need:
• To go from implied consent to express consent.
• To quickly identify the sender of each message, and what its purpose is.
• Provide an unsubscribe mechanism for mailing-list type services.

If you’d like to dialogue about this, comments are open, and we can process it together there.

District Conference Summary: Time

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When I reflect on the district conferences (3) I attended in October, the word that pops into my mind is time.  In Ecclesiastes 3 we read, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”

This was the time to hear what God has been and is doing in and through the ministry of many of our Free Churches – and there are some very exciting things.  It was encouraging to hear and read reports of how churches are becoming more involved in their communities.  Some were actively ministering in ways that met practical needs – by handing out a cup of coffee or providing a food hamper.  Others were involved in outreach activities to young people through VBS events or soccer camps.  And some got involved in community events by putting a float into the local parade.

I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words when he wrote to the Corinthians:

“Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings” (1Cor 9:22-23).

I get the feeling the Free Churches in Canada have caught Paul’s vision for sharing the Good News.

Each conference was quite different.  How would I describe them in relation to the word “time”? Well, three conferences, but four “times”.  One was a bridging time, another was a brief time and the other a busy time, but all of them were blessed times.  And the blessings came in a variety of ways, including new and renewed relationships, too much very good food and great Bible teaching – spiritual food.

Wow!  Insightful, thought provoking, challenging, inspiring messages were a part of every conference. Allow me to share just one of the memorable insights that Dr. Lyndon Wall shared with us at the Alberta Parkland District conference.  His theme was “Jesus Sightings: Rediscovering the Living Christ.”  In John 20:1, Lyndon drew our attention to the fact that when Mary came to the tomb “the stone had been rolled away from the entrance”.  Something was out of place.  The stone was not where it should have been. Lyndon then challenged us to be on the lookout for “things” we see in our world that appear to be out of place because, just maybe, we are very close to a “Jesus sighting”.

I reflected back to last January, when Adele and I first met with the Director Team of the EFCCM.  We thought we were just meeting with them to have coffee.  That’s what was out of place.  They were busy, but took time to invite us over for a short “visit” to ask us to pray about the Church Partnership Director position. Since then we have witnessed numerous “Jesus sightings” which included the quick sale of our home this summer, finding a great place to live in Abbotsford and a wonderful new church family that have made us feel welcome.

Have you seen anything out of place lately?

Highlights from a District Conference

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Please join us in welcoming Wade to the blog. Wade has joined us this summer in a new role, Church Partnership Director, and in that capacity he also serves on the EFCCM’s Director Team. We’re pleased to benefit from his warm, welcoming personality, and his passion for international ministry.

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My first district conference representing the mission was a special joint conference. The Prairie District and ANACEFC (Association of North American Chinese Evangelical Free Churches) were wonderfully hosted by the South Calgary Chinese Evangelical Free Church (SCCEFC). There are a number of things that make a great conference experience.  They are the things you remember after you get home.

Let me share briefly 3 things that made this conference a memorable experience for me – and not in order of importance.

First, we ate great food. And for some reason good food seems to result in good fellowship. I don’t have room to tell you about the wonderful buffet with its delicious salads, curry chicken and prime rib or the great lunch meals, but the dish I remember was the traditional Cantonese village meal.

8 courses, which included beef, pork, chicken, duck, fish and a variety of vegetables had all been cooked separately and then piled one on top of the other in a large bowl and topped off with a ring of shrimp (see picture). And yes, our table failed to meet the challenge as we ate less than one half of the bowl. It was a great cross-cultural experience.

Second, the speakers shared relevant Gospel messages.  Long time EFC pastor, David Acree spoke of the “people hinges” in our lives. These are the people who have had a significant impact in our lives by what they have said to us, or shown us by how they have lived. And there are many people that have touched my life in this way, but 3 men came to mind immediately, a pastor and 2 missionaries. When I stopped to reflect on who I have become and where I am today, I realize how God used these men in significant ways to motivate and encourage me to live for and serve Him.

Finally, there were several encouraging church planting reports.  Stories of hard work, community involvement, faithful ministry and personal salvation all revealed the goodness of God and the expansion of His kingdom. I could not help but be reminded of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, (1Cor.9:19-23) where he writes, “….I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some”. And we heard that our Lord Jesus is still in the business of saving some and changing lives!

What a privilege it was to be one of the representatives from the EFCCM and to be able to spend time with these great folks. Daryl Porter, Mel Sayer and I all made short presentations to the conference floor.  In addition, we all had numerous opportunities to talk with Pastors and delegates about their mission – the EFCCM.

Missionary Interviews & Pre-Acceptance Orientation

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Please welcome Lisa to the blog — she’s the EFCCM’s Executive Assistant, and does a remarkable job, not only of coordinating a myriad of administrative details at any given time, but also of welcoming and caring for the people who visit our office. (If you think that’s me bragging about a colleague, you’re right!) — Brad (Communications Manager)

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It’s a privilege to hear missionary applicants share the testimony of their journey into overseas ministry. God’s calling on people’s lives is always moving, and yet it’s predictable in this way — so personal and intricate for the individual — a series of events, scriptures, experiences, people, prodding, peace.

We consider it a joy to know these stories God calls His people to!

This month, two couples joined us in the Home Office for a day of interviews with the International Mission Leadership Team (IMLT) and sessions reviewing personality inventories with our counsellor. The EFCCM schedules interviews for Career Missionary service 2-3 times per year. For the 3 days following the interview, applicants attend “Pre-Acceptance Orientation” which allows them to receive an orientation to the EFCC, the EFCCM, and several need-to-know subjects regarding cross-cultural life overseas.

Covered during the weekend are topics such as:

  • EFCC Doctrine
  • Becoming a Career Missionary
  • Communications Philosophy
  • Support Team Building
  • Raising Kids Cross-Culturally
  • and Cultural Transition Survival Training.

Seven couples attended this particular orientation weekend, including missionary applicants, returning missionaries and Area Directors’ spouses. Not only do participants gain an overwhelming amount of information (some refer to it as “sipping from a fire hose”), they are also able to build relationships with Home Office staff and other EFCCM missionaries on the same journey.

Once the orientation weekend is over, the group reconnects weekly for a series of “Distance Orientation” webinars led by our Personnel Director, Rich. And, just before they depart for the field, they return to the Home Office in July for a weekend of “Pre-Field Orientation”. It is our desire that EFCCM missionaries be well prepared for the ministry God is calling them to and we strive to help them arrive as ready as possible.

Are you interested in cross-cultural ministry overseas? Contact us today and tell us how God is placing a call on your life.

We Are Now a CCCC-Certified Member

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that this post’s title looks like we stuttered. CCCC (sometimes referred to as the 4C’s) stands for the Canadian Council of Christian Charities. They help charities (including churches) to develop strong financial practices. And as laws change, especially concerning taxes, CCCC ensures that churches and para-church organisations are informed of the changes, and what they mean.

We are pleased to announce that the EFCC has complied with the rigourous standards of certification, which allows us to use their Seal of Accountability.

This is how CCCC defines it:

“The Seal of Accountability indicates that a charity adheres to high standards, is operating with integrity and is certified by the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC).”

You will start to see this seal appearing on a lot of our materials. We’re proud of our capable finance team, headed by Cathy (Manager of Finance), for achieving this for us. This offers you confidence that donations to and through the EFCC and EFCCM are handled with the greatest responsibility, and that as an organisation, we are complying with all of our legal responsibilities.

The 4C’s is also available to help with your church (if you’re reading from within Canada, that is). They have a bunch of resources on their website which you can visit by clicking here, and you can follow the CEO’s insightful blog by clicking here.