Things Happening in February
- Join us on Zoom Feb 5 for Kurios Gratitude Gala on Sunday, February 5, 2023
- Theology for the Ordinary Book Club meets March 1st, 6pm PST on Zoom. Email Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org for details and signup.
- Registration is now open for Assembly 2023, June 1-3 in Calgary. https://cbwc.ca/assembly-2023/
- Calling all youth! SERVE 2023 is taking place July 2-8 in Kelowna, BC. If your church is considering sending a group to SERVE this summer, the best first step is to have one person register as a group coordinator. This is 100% free and will guarantee that your group always receives the most up-to-date information. Sign up with your youth group by April 30th for Early bird rates. cbwc.ca/serve. Make sure you check out the info sheet HERE for all the details!
Kurios Gratitude Gala LIVE from Guatemala!
Join us on Zoom February 5th for Kurios Gratitude Gala. Can you believe that KURIOS is already completing its third year? There is so much to be grateful for! On Sunday, Feb. 5th, 2023 you are invited to a ONE-HOUR celebration of all that God has done through KURIOS and an exciting look at the new initiatives coming soon:
- Participant Q&A – LIVE from Guatemala
- Kurios’ New Home in Jasper
- Becoming Canada’s only Christian Gap Year in a National Park
- “KURIOS Crew… Who Knew?” Gameshow
- Special Live Musical Performance(s)
- KURIOS in Guatemala Highlight Video
- Week-Long Giving Campaign Launch
- Prize Draw for KURIOS Merch
Curious what Kurios has been up to in Guatemala? Kurios Director, Steven Simala Grant, shared a story with us of a moment when he was able to share about the Bible and sin with his Spanish Teacher!
This morning, Darson’s long hair opened a door for me to share the Gospel with my Spanish teacher, Griselda! My lessons have been very conversational, which has been fantastic. She started the conversation after our break by noticing Darson and asking me if the religious schools in Canada are strict like they are in Guatemala—where Evangelical schools don’t allow students to have long hair or wear make-up or ripped jeans or to dance. She asked me why that would be a sin (‘pecado’ in Spanish). Great question! I tried to figure out how to ask her in Spanish what she believes “sin” is, and she had a great answer—which was half (or so!) of the truth: she believes sin is something we do that damages other people. I agreed, and was able to add that I believe sin is also the things that damage our relationship with God, and that the reason Jesus came to earth was so that our relationship with God could be restored. Thankfully, I brought a Bible that had Spanish and English. I looked up Romans 6:23, and we read it together. It was one of those beautiful moments when I felt God speaking to me (in English thankfully!) and felt the presence of the Spirit as the words of Scripture were spoken, even in my broken Spanish. Pray with me that God’s Word bears fruit here in Guatemala, through all the beautiful people here and the conversations we are so privileged to enjoy.
For more stories and pictures make sure you follow Kurios on social media! https://www.kurios.ca/#contact
Partner Spotlight: CBWC Foundation
Trust. A simple word with profound implications.
In the office, in late December, a legal sized envelope arrived at the CBWC Foundation. Inside was a letter from a lawyer and a cheque for an amount larger than I have ever held in my hands. Through an estate, a donor (who wishes to remain anonymous) asked the Foundation to manage this extravagant gift on behalf of a CBWC ministry. This act of trust is significant. Seeing the Foundation as a “trustee” of someone’s final wishes is the highest honor.
Early in January, the Foundation acted as a lender for an extensive building project. This, too, was a transaction of trust. The borrower trusted us to set a fair interest rate and favourable payment terms to help them achieve their goals.
Many CBWC constituents have entered similar relationships with us over the years either as investors, borrowers, or donors. In reflection, I have come to understand that the most precious resource we have at the CBWC Foundation is not our financial resources, but rather the trust that people place in us.
In my short tenure as President, I can say with complete confidence that everything I have learned about the Foundation, and the people involved over the years, whether board members or staff, is that it operates with the utmost integrity and is worthy of the trust of the CBWC, our churches, and our members. That is a legacy that we intend to uphold and continue always.
CBWC Foundation President
The Youth Mental Health Crisis
Upcoming Resource to Equip Leaders and Young People
By Jenna Hanger
This article is not graphic, but it does include references to suicide.
If you are experiencing suicidal ideation, or if you are concerned for the safety of someone you know, it is important to seek help immediately. Crisis phone numbers for several countries are listed below. If you are looking for local mental health services or information in another location or language, we encourage you to search online or reach out to your local churches and health care providers.
Australia: 000 | Canada: 1-833-456-4566 or 911 | European Union: 112 | New Zealand: 111 | United States: 988 or 911 | United Kingdom: 999
The latest stats Youth Mental Health Canada reported in 2019 paints an alarming picture. They state that after accidents, suicide is the highest leading cause of death for young people between 15-24 years old. They also say that Canada’s youth suicide numbers are the third highest in the industrialized world. By age 25, 20 percent of Canadians will have developed a mental illness.
One of the people at the forefront of this crisis is our youth leaders. With access to resources and counsellors limited, youth leaders often find themselves in the position of being one of young people’s major supports.
Hannah Juras has been working with youth for a decade. The last two have been spent at White Rock Baptist. Throughout her time working closely with teenagers, Hannah reports that focus on mental health has been growing.
“I would say it is so much more of an issue and a concern than it was five to ten years ago. And the language around mental health, in good ways and bad ways, has only been on the rise,” Hannah said. “It is a very big deal at the moment with our young people.”
An effective way of supporting youth with their mental health journey, Hannah feels, is the church getting more comfortable with the language of mental health, and if members are open and honest about their own journeys.
“One of my co-workers is very comfortable sharing about her journey with depression. It deeply resonates with members of the church, but also with a lot of my students. As we talk about these stories of mental health in everyday life, it creates a camaraderie within it. Like, ‘Oh you can be both. You can love Jesus and be depressed at the same time.’”
For Hannah, the conversation about mental health with her youth group students is personal and of vital importance. In her fourth year working as a Youth Pastor, she lost a student to suicide.
“He was one of the best kids. He was engaged, faithfully showed up… He had hinted at some things––I think in my Canadian politeness I didn’t [feel comfortable to] go further or deeper with those subtle invitations, but also I didn’t know at the time they were invitations to talk about what was going on.”
“Obviously, something traumatic like that changes your perspective. I learned a lot about suicide and mental health stuff. It dramatically changed my perspective. It’s given me almost permission to ask questions, and I’m a lot more aware of what to look for.”
For a lot of youth leaders, it’s challenging to know where to start the conversation, how to handle deep discussions or bring up certain topics. This is where the new youth mental health resource that Sanctuary Mental Health is developing will come into play.
Amy Deutscher, Sanctuary’s Youth Resource Developer, said that the mental heath conversation may be happening more than ever, but there is still a lot of stigma—both spiritual and secular.
“One way we can help reduce stigma, is by talking about mental health in our churches and youth groups. As we know from the shame research by Brené Brown, when we don’t talk about certain topics the automatic assumption is ‘Oh, it must be shameful. It must be something we don’t talk about.’ We want young people to know it’s something we can talk about in faith communities, and it is okay to experience a mental health challenge as a Christian. One way this is conveyed in the resource is by listening to other young Christians who have lived experience of mental illness.”
The resource is designed to be facilitated by a youth leader with their students. There will be seven key questions the resource will address. An example of topics that will be discussed are:
– How can I help my friend?
– What can I do to take care of my mental health?
– What does the Bible say about mental health?
There will also be a comprehensive guide for leaders to equip them to lead the sessions and prepare them for the hard conversations that will come up. Amy says that the main point is to acknowledge that young people are asking important questions about faith and mental health and to assure them that it will be discussed, even if there aren’t simple answers.
“This isn’t a resource that will answer all your questions and that will be the end of it. It’s starting the conversation and helping to reduce that stigma so the conversation can continue.”
Not only will the youth resource be an effective way to tackle the topic of mental health and faith, it is also a way to bring people together and create a feeling of community, which many young people are craving.
“Research suggests that many young people feel lonely, even though they are very connected digitally. I think the church can play an important role. Churches can be really great at creating community and helping people feel seen and known,” Amy said.
“One of the benefits that happens naturally from doing something like this youth resource is that it can help deepen relationships and friendships. Participants may think, ‘Oh, they see who I really am, and they still love me. That is really important.”
The youth mental health and faith resource is free—like all of Sanctuary’s resources. It will be available in 2024. On their website, sign up for their newsletter to be kept up to date about its release. In the meantime, we encourage you to check out the other useful resources they already have and engage in the mental health discussion in your church.
Heart Smart HR with Louanne Haugan
What is it about the new year that compels me to open my pantry door and start pulling items off the shelf, weeding out all the stale-dated items? Or go through my closet and re-evaluate which garments I love to (and actually) wear, and what items are just taking up space? It is a metaphor for letting go of what is no longer relevant, so I have room to embrace what I am called to and what brings me joy. This type of practice is healthy, both personally and in the workplace. The church is no exception. The new year is a great time for churches to re-evaluate their HR practices and policies.
One practice that helps promote healthy relationship between the church and its ministry staff is to develop an Annual Review Process. I love how one ministry leader describes this, saying that, “Evaluation is one of God’s ways of bringing the history of the past into dialogue with the hope for the future.” Evaluations and reviews demonstrate accountability for both parties by measuring how well objectives are being met and how well values are being lived out.
While there is no perfect evaluation technique, it is important to remember that annual reviews are the staff person’s meeting—the purpose of the review is for their benefit. One approach is to have the staff member prepare an agenda of what they’d like to discuss so as to better prepare themselves psychologically for the meeting. There will still be time for the supervisor to ask questions of their own. Here’s a recommended outline adopted from the Canadian Baptists of Ontario & Quebec of what a one-hour meeting might look like:
- 10 minutes: Informal Catch-up. This helps alleviate any nervousness coming into the meeting. Questions like, “How are your kids?” or “I heard you were training for a marathon—how is that going?” show that you care about them as a whole person.
- 20 minutes: Employee’s Agenda Items. This time should be set aside to let the staff person get anything off their chest that might be bothering them. They should feel safe and free to share. This may also be a time of gratitude acknowledging goals achieved.
- 20 minutes: Supervisor’s Notes. Once the staff member has shared everything and you’ve addressed any concerns properly, it is now your turn to ask the employee questions and give them feedback about their work.
- 10 minutes: Action Plan and Next Steps. This is likely the most important part of the review because it demonstrates accountability and commitment to one another. The meeting should end by asking these two questions: “What can I hold you accountable for the next time we meet?” and “What can I be accountable to you for the next time we meet?” A one-on-one meeting is pointless if there is no follow-up.
Some Do’s and Don’ts for Giving Feedback are:
- Do acknowledge that giving and receiving feedback can be difficult.
- Do give feedback with the intent to help the staff person grow and improve.
- Remain calm; prepare for feedback by writing down talking points.
- Practice active listening by asking questions like “What I hear you saying is…Is this correct?”
- Don’t talk too much or become argumentative.
- Don’t give only positive or only negative feedback.
- Don’t have expectations that the staff person cannot meet.
- Do encourage dialogue about progress.
- Focus on the future: “What does this look like moving forward?”
It is our practice with CBWC Staff to always close the review time in prayer.
No matter whether the church board or a particular member is identified as the lead person or supervisor on matters related to personnel, as image-bearers of Christ, all our dealings, including how ministry staff is treated, should reflect the Lordship of Christ lived out in grace, generosity, fairness, forgiveness, and Christ-like love.
For more information on this and other HR-related matters, contact Louanne Haugan at email@example.com
Combatting Loneliness with Authentic Connections
By Jenna Hanger
When I was in my early twenties, I was living in a city of 100,000 people, newly married and working full time. For four months of the year, my husband worked away, and it was just me rattling around in our little condo.
Those four months were challenging. I was lonely.
Not because I was alone. I joined many groups, which kept me as busy as I wanted to be. I was in a writing group I loved, soccer team, drama club, and did my best to plug into the large church community we enjoyed being a part of. Still, with all my extracurricular activities, with all the people I interacted with, I was undeniably lonely.
I had connections, but none were deep. I found myself awkwardly trying to make friends, and it felt reminiscent to dating. Waiting for someone to text back, hoping they were willing to hang out. Wanting them to like me and see me again… It occurred to me then that forming genuine friendships can be just as hard as forming a romantic relationship.
Every February we try to have a Valentine’s Day themed article. Sometimes we feature a long-lasting marriage or advice from pastors on dating and marriage. As I pondered what this year’s relationship article should be, a recurring question continued to pop up: how do we connect meaningfully with people? How do we create authentic relationships?
Valentine’s Day is a bit of a funny one. It highlights both love and loneliness. A day that celebrates couples points out singlehood. Some turn it into a day to celebrate friendships, but for many of us, genuine friendships can be just as hard to find as true love.
We live in a strange age where connecting with people has never been easier (thanks to social media)—and at the same time, it’s never been harder. There are many lonely people who sit in church pews every week, who can pull off small talk but walk away feeling isolated.
Apparently, social isolation and loneliness are estimated to shorten a person’s life by as much as 15 years. Having healthy, deep relationships is vital to thriving as a human being. Whether it’s romantic or platonic, we are created to need one another––to need to be seen by others. So how do we, as believers, as the church, as humans, help foster meaningful connections?
Jeremy Keay—Outreach, Young Adults and Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church Edmonton—had a discussion with me about this topic, amongst others. Below are three points that we came up with that may help to develop healthy, deep relationships:
- Be authentically yourself. Being willing to open up and be vulnerable about your own shortcomings is vital if you want to truly connect with another person.
- Learn how to be comfortable in your own skin. If you look for someone else to fulfill you, whether a romantic partner or friendships, you will be disappointed.
- Be willing to welcome others without judgement. Accepting people where they are at is key to creating a space where people feel comfortable. To be a place of trust where people can turn to, knowing they will receive love, not condemnation, is a foundation for having a deep, meaningful connection.
I would also add from my experience––don’t be afraid to be the first to reach out. Chances are, people are just as lonely as you, people are craving friendships just as much. Look around and ask someone for coffee and set an actual date (not a “yes, let’s do that sometime”). I know this simple gesture would have meant so much to me when I was at a low point. The best way to show love to someone is simply being there for them.
Copyright © 2022 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.
Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.