A message from CBWC Executive Minister Rob Ogilvie
Pictures submitted by Rob from his trip to the sea of Galilee
There is a well-known story that we read in the gospel of John about one of the times that Jesus appears to His disciples after the resurrection. They have returned to a familiar place, along the Sea of Galilee, where Peter announces to his friends that he is going fishing. Several of them say they will join him.
They were out all night. Early in the morning, a man appears on the shore and calls out, asking if they’ve caught any fish, to which they reply they hadn’t. The man tells them to throw their net on the other side of the boat. When they did, they could hardly haul all 153 fish into the boat, let alone to the shore. John exclaimed, “It is the Lord!” and Peter immediately jumped into the water and headed for shore. Together, these fisherman and Jesus, shared a breakfast of broiled fish and bread.
This is one of those stories where some would argue there must have been a huge debate about whether the disciples really should listen to the man or not. After all, these are seasoned fisherman on their own lake—surely they tried all their tricks throughout the night to catch fish. Who is this guy on the shore? Obviously, they know more than Him. We don’t know for sure how it played out. But what we do know is that they put down their nets on the right side of the boat, as instructed by Jesus, and their net immediately filled with fish.
The world today, and some might argue our own denomination as well—partly due to Covid and partly due to other significant events—seems to be in a place where every suggestion made becomes a debate. Sides are taken, polarities are drawn. Fair enough, perhaps in some situations, that’s completely justifiable. But my hope, as I pause to remember this Easter season—the sacrifice that Jesus was willing to make on the cross, His defeat of the power of sin and death by rising again to new life—is that I will spend less time defending and debating my take on things, and more time listening for the voice of Jesus. I invite you to join me. You never know, we just might find our nets overflowing!
Carey Theological College: Reflections on 2020/2021 and Aspirations for 2021/2022
At the close of 2020, I am reminded of Joshua 1:9, one of the verses on Carey’s ‘prayer walk’ which has become a theme verse for me in this pandemic year: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you
wherever you go.” God’s care has been with Carey in many ways during this year. I have been especially encouraged by the faithfulness and professionalism of Carey’s Board, faculty and staff. Despite the challenges of 2020, our trust in the Lord has encouraged me to see the various challenges that we have faced as opportunities to prepare for the future. – Rev. Dr. Colin Godwin, President
UBC Student Residence
Carey’s Christian student residence program on the UBC campus has provided a home to hundreds of students from various faith backgrounds for over 60 years. 2020/2021 brought particular challenges with COVID-19. Our team, consisting of the Dean of Residence-Jon Fung, volunteer Resident Advisors including Anique Vadnais, Jake Letkemann and Amy Wickstrom, and staff, have done an amazing job creating the kind of community for which Carey is known.
We creatively provided online alternatives and when safe, group meetings, for social and faith growing events. Our student resident numbers decreased this year due to less need for UBC students to be on campus for their studies; however, it is encouraging to see that many students still chose to stay at Carey for the community we offer.
In April, we stepped into accepting applications for 2021/2022. We are encouraged to see many returning and new students who are eager to call Carey their home. With an already strong applicant pool that outnumber the rooms available, we are reminded of our opportunity to expand. We continue to look forward to the construction of the next phase of our campus, where we will more than double our current capacity.
Volunteer Resident Advisors Amy Wickstrom, Jake Letkemann and Anique Vadnais.
The recent events have challenged many schools to abruptly shift to online learning. As a completely online seminary for many years, Carey Theological College experienced less of an impact from COVID-19, which allowed us to make several updates to our programming to better serve our faithful students.
We welcome you to connect with our core faculty, Dr. Joyce Chan – Professor of Church History, Dr. Ken Radant – Associate Professor of Theology, and Assistant Professors of Biblical Studies, Dr. Amy Chase (Old Testament) and Dr. Wil Rogan (New Testament) who are dedicated to bringing the love of Christ to the courses they teach.
Carey has refreshed its curriculum and application process so students can progress through our degree offerings quickly and easily.
Our partnership with Prairie Bible College offers a dual Bachelor in Pastoral Ministry and Master of Divinity program that takes five years to complete. This new offering provides a solid foundation for those women and men called to pastoral ministry.
For the Fall 2021 term, we launched a first-ever initiative where new students can receive fully-waived tuition on up to three courses. We are thankful to Carey’s supporters who have laid the foundation for making this bold endeavour possible. We look forward to expanding our reach into the four corners of the world as we continue to reduce the barriers of financial cost and geography.
By Shannon Youell
“Meeting shoulder-to-shoulder in a building is only a model, not the mission. Marry the mission; date the model.” Andy Stanley
The church will be working through the changes that COVID-19 has accelerated for years to come, and if we keep God’s mission in view, then these can be good and fruitful changes. The idea that the only way we can be the church is to gather in a particular place or way puts the focus on a model of being the church. Not being ‘married’ to the model opens the mission to places and spaces where our traditional model is struggling to engage in.
One of the models that is currently giving the mission momentum has been around since the church was birthed. Ephesus had perhaps 200 house churches or, using the more current moniker, micro-churches; people in near proximity to one another through geography, culture or context, who gather to worship, share around the table, celebrate, gospel one another, and are missionaries where they live, work, play and pray.
There are some who feel threatened by this idea, yet believers have been meeting this way for centuries, both since Christ and before, within the Jewish communities of faith and practice. There is a misconception that it can only be a church if certain criteria are present—an element of truth, for sure—but often the criteria of what constitutes an official ‘church’ are around institutional structures, sustainability and membership rolls. Or, to put it in the more common language used, bricks, bucks and butts. And these criteria are more often than not lived out in a Sunday morning gathering. Coining Andy Stanley’s expression of these types of gatherings as ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’, they are but one model of joining God at work in His mission to redeem, reconcile and restore relationships between God and humans, human to human, and human to all of creation through the message, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
‘Shoulder-to-shoulder’ gatherings in various models of the traditional church meeting continue to find growth through people who would consider visiting a church at least once, according to much of the research. But what of those who would not ever consider visiting a church, or have been disaffected, hurt, marginalized or are just ‘done’ with church? Or those to whom church and a life of faith in God has never been on their radar?
In the last blog HERE, I wrote about the shift from content to connection and why this is crucial for the church to pay attention to. Our younger generations are not looking for content as much as connections, and they are also less likely to go to a church building to hear a lecturer teach about Jesus. They are more inclined to have seeking conversations in a small gathering of relationships to which they are a part, foremostly because relationship has already been established.
Micro-churches, of which house churches are one expression, are a model that facilitates that. And they are easily reproducible—they rely on trained lay leaders who recognize the call of Jesus followers to become missionaries in their own geography, culture and context.
There is a beautiful outflow when different models of church co-exist and work together on God’s mission in the world. Our traditional models, which include any congregations whose primary function builds and resources community around a Sunday-centric service, can well be in position to plant multiple micro-churches into the communities around them at the cost of intentional discipleship and training of their own congregants as local missionaries.
Micro-churches are primarily led by lay leaders who are accountable to one another and to the elders and pastors of the planting church or denomination. These become networks of house churches planted by a single, traditional congregation or denomination, yet can also have a level of autonomy in how they express being the church. Other models are similar to some multi-site models where there is still lay leadership, but they are more tied to the planting congregation or denomination in how they structure and worship.
The micro-church planting movement has many expressions, formed around geographical, contextual, or cultural demographics that determine gatherings in houses, coffee shops, pubs, and special-interest groups. Here is where we see people who may never cross the threshold of a Sunday morning church in a larger type gathering, finding safe places to explore and discover our God who yearns for all to come to Him.
In what ways might your congregation explore becoming multiplying, church-planting congregations, within a discerned context of micro-churches? Contact CBWC Church Planting. Talk to us, and let’s work ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ together in some exciting ways in the 21st century.
Creation Care – A Call to Act
By Jeremy Keay on behalf of The Justice and Mercy Network
Scripture celebrates the goodness of creation, the fruitfulness of the earth, and the wonder and splendour of the universe. These poetic texts frequently assure us that we are creatures made in God’s image, blessed and tasked as caretakers of creation. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, with the good earth under our feet and the sun and moon and stars overhead. With Psalm 104 we celebrate the whole of creation in all its strangeness and beauty:
How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom You made them all;
the earth is full of Your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.
There the ships go to and fro,
and Leviathan, which You formed to frolic there.
As 21st century people, we find ourselves consumers and citizens, enmeshed in global economies and systems. We wear clothing made on the other side of the globe, eat fruit and vegetables grown 2000 kilometers away, and drive vehicles made of steel and plastic from every corner of the globe. We enjoy the fruits of the earth in all their forms, and the abundant resources the planet has to offer. As God’s creatures who share this world and its resources, we are called to love and care for our planet, but the complex realities we face make this a difficult task.
As creatures of vanity and comfort, our ways of living are often out of step with fairness, stewardship, and care for creation. Our collected habits transform the landscapes around us, as another plastic cup joins the growing gyre of garbage in the ocean. As North Americans, it is too easy to forget the ways that our environmental excesses offload pain and suffering on the global poor. In many ways, it would be easier to live in absentminded ignorance, letting the cares of the world take care of themselves—but this is not our calling, and there are no quick and easy answers.
Creation care and environmental stewardship is a biblical theme, often distorted by controversy and disagreement. Moreover, our media cycle confronts us with an overwhelming tide of discouraging information. For generations, the church heavily leveraged Genesis 1:28, and a theology of dominion and exploitation, resulting in desecrated landscapes and devastated peoples. A theology of creation care pursues a better way of seeing ourselves as unique creatures, custodians and keepers of the planet.
The Justice and Mercy Network gathers and sorts a variety of resources to help us navigate these complicated global concerns—you can view these resources here by clicking on the Creation Care tab at the top. We aim to promote a hopeful and thoughtful Christian posture in a complex world. None of these resources are the final word on the matter, but we hope they lead to better questions and further conversation. Check back on this page as we update this it regularly. We welcome your interaction and feedback.
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Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.