The Season of Lent
The season of Lent 2020 began on Ash Wednesday, February 26 and extends the length of 40 days ending on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday.
The season of Lent is patterned after the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert. It is an opportunity to deeply reflect on where our lives may be misaligned with, or distracted from, the life and mission of God. The invitation in this season is towards confession, shaped by an understanding of the grace of God shown to us in the renewal of life on Easter Sunday. In order to appreciate the gravity and wonder of Easter we must first journey the darkened path of our human condition. In order to do this reflective work and diminish the distraction people try to give something up or take something on for the next forty days—sometimes this can establish a new pattern of behaviour that helps us align once again with God’s heart and His resurrected life within us. For example, some people will fast, or give up social media or TV for the duration of Lent. Others might intentionally set aside time to read the Bible daily for the forty days or begin a new devotion book. The point is, whatever you decide to do, the end goal should be to spend time with the Lord and focus on what He wants to teach you, as you prepare for Easter.
This year we are suggesting Scot McKnight’s book, 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed, which is a devotional book based on his book titled, The Jesus Creed. Scot McKnight,Ph.D is an award-winning author and a Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. He is also going to be the guest speaker at this year’s Banff Pastor and Spouses conference. He uses his book to help people to reflect on, pray about and practice loving God and loving others.
“We tend to think of Lent as a time of sorrow and repentance and grief, and that is one of its core ideas.” McKnight wrote on the patheos.com website. “But we don’t grieve in order to heighten our capacity to grieve, or repent so we can focus on our ability to repent. If Lent has its proper impact, it will form us spiritually—and to be formed spiritually is to grow in love of God and love of others.”
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed is a short 40-Day devotional that will challenge you and help guide you this Lenten season.
Enabling Others to Preach
By Jenna Hanger
Not all people gifted with teaching and public speaking are pastors. A lot of people have these gifts but don’t necessarily have the opportunity to use them in a ministry setting.
Pastor Jeff Gullacher, from Trinity Baptist Church in Sherwood Park, has come up with a program for this exact purpose; to help others develop their gifts and abilities and provide opportunities for them to step out of their comfort zones.
This is the second year the Preaching Lab has been operating, and so far, it has been met with great success.
“The heart behind it is three-fold,” says Pastor Gullacher. “First off, it is basically celebrating that lay people can do everything a pastor does. The difference is I am going to preach more often but other people can [preach as well], and God can use their preaching just as much as He can use mine.”
The second reason, Pastor Gullacher goes on to explain, is that at a functional level it is helpful to be able to share the workload of preaching. Many churches will bring in special guest speakers or do a pulpit switch, but by helping develop the skills of congregates through the Preaching Lab, the church is able to get someone local who knows the members quite well to share a message.
And thirdly, if Pastor Gullacher takes a sabbatical in the future then there will be a strong line-up of people who could fill in on Sunday mornings.
It’s all about enabling people. The program itself runs very efficiently; it starts off in September and runs till June. Participates meet around seven or eight times throughout. The first half is all about how to do in-depth Bible studies. The goal is to give people a good template for how to get the most out of the text. They are given exegetical homework, and a lot of what they come up with Pastor Gullacher actually uses in his sermons.
“It’s kind of fun, because I announce before my sermon that if you hear any new ideas or deep thoughts, a lot of the background work came from the Preaching Lab participants,” Pastor Gullacher said.
As the year goes on, they switch more to outlining sermons and delivery tips. By February, the group is ready to start putting their skills into practice. First, they deliver their sermons in front of each other, and any friends or family they want to invite.
Then they are challenged to find a medium-sized gathering to deliver their sermon to. For example; they might share at a men’s breakfast, or small group or a retreat. It is their prerogative to seek out that opportunity.
As the program begins to wind-down, they have the opportunity to speak in front of the church. This usually happens sometime after Easter. Pastor Gullacher is there behind the scenes, giving tips and reviewing drafts of their sermons before they deliver it Sunday morning.
In order for the program to run smoothly, Pastor Gullacher suggests capping the amount of people at around half a dozen.
“I would cap it, logistically, because you want to have a realistic chance for people to preach and preach multiple times. You get better at it by doing it, so you want the ability for people to do it a lot,” said Pastor Gullacher. “Half a dozen is really important, so you can help each person enough. They send draft copies of studies or sermon manuscripts; some don’t require a lot of feedback but some do, and if group is too big it would require a lot of work.”
The Preaching Lab is a practical and exciting way to cultivate leadership in your church. If you would like more information on how the program works you can contact Pastor Gullacher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coldest Day of the Year
Winters in Canada can be brutal. Especially this year when we have experienced record-breaking cold spells. Imagine trying to survive in this weather without the safety and warmth of your home. That is what the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser is all about; bringing awareness to the struggles that people who live on the streets face every day, and raising funds for organizations who, according to the Mustard Seed website, serve the “hungry, homeless and hurting in over 100 communities across Canada.”
There were many people involved in this year’s event who represent the CBWC. The Forge Church in Victoria BC, as well as the Southwest Community Church in Kamloops were two such groups who entered teams into the fundraiser event and walked the 2, 5 or 10km distance. Pastor Shannon Youell and Pastor Andrea Tisher shared their team’s experience.
Pastor Shannon – Forge Church:
At the Forge church, Victoria BC, we are a community endeavouring to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Gathering in our community on a Sunday, we have people from many different walks of life, including those suffering hunger, homelessness and hurt.
We long to demonstrate and tell stories of God’s love for all the world that does not exclude but invites. Thus, joining the Canada-wide event The Coldest Night is an outflow of who we are becoming as missional disciples of Jesus and one way to literally put our feet to the ground and walk the streets where many end up calling ‘home.’
Our team of walkers ranged in age from 4 months to 80+ years as we walked the 5km route (one of our team chose the 10km route). Donning our Coldest Night toques along with hundreds of other walkers, we took to the streets with smiles on our faces to all we encountered along the way. Surpassing our team fundraising goal was awesome, but most poignant was the time spent back at the Mustard Seed sharing the regular Saturday night meal with those who consider the Seed their safety and comfort zone and perhaps, for some of us, seeing these folks as our neighbours to love for the very first time.
Pastor Andrea- Southwest Community Church:
The event went great! The national goal was to raise $6 million and they almost made it! As of right now, they’re at 97% of their goal and donations are still coming in.
Meanwhile, for the Kamloops walk, we are at about the same as the national levels, almost making our goal of raising $26,000 for Mustard Seed Kamloops. Out of 22 teams, the Southwest Striders came first out of 22 teams for fundraising! We had a team of 21 walkers signed up and a few more registered on the spot and joined in, so I think we had about 25 in total.
Our goal had been to raise $1000 for Mustard Seed Kamloops- one of our ‘mission partners’, which means we commit to giving about $5000 to them annually. But we far surpassed our goal and managed to raise a little over $3000! With donations ranging from $10-$200, every little bit counts. It seems that raising money for helping people experiencing homelessness is something that our friends and family can get behind regardless of their faith background. One participant sent her fundraising page link to everyone in her office and discovered a whole bunch of people who were really happy to help.
As a pastor, I’m delighted by the way the walk gave us an opportunity to connect with one another, with a local organization, and with the wider Kamloops community. Sometimes it can seem like we’re all off doing our own thing—this church working for this, that church focusing on something else, and then non-faith-based groups doing yet other things. This was a great way to join together for the sake of a common cause.
Upcoming BLTS Alumni Reunion
This year we are excited to launch the new CBWC Gap Year Experience, Kurios. Beginning this fall, students will have the opportunity to be part of a 28-week program that will challenge and help them grow in their relationship with the Lord Jesus.
This program is built on the foundations of CBWC’s previous gap year programs, BLTS and ASCENT. These programs greatly affected many people over the years and on May 22-24, 2020, these memories will be resurfacing at the BLTS and ASCENT Reunion. The weekend will include sharing stories and experiences, reconnecting and learning about the new Kurios program.
Marcel Leffelaar, Mary Martin and Fay Puddicombe are three such alumni whose experience with BLTS shaped their lives. Below is a snapshot of their stories.
Marcel Leffelaar- Former BLTS Choir/Music Teacher:
BLTS was perhaps the most significant place I could have been involved in ministry during the early years of raising our high energy family. Involved in the spiritual formation of gifted, intelligent and dedicated young people was both challenging and inspiring for me. Our four sons (Daniel, Philip, Joshua, Jordan) had the privilege of fulfilling ‘mascot-like’ roles when they interacted with these school students, coming to believe that all teenagers were amazing human beings – strong, witty & fun-loving, and that they wanted to be just like them when they grew up; a kind of Greek god and goddess status. Their welcoming influence helped shape each of our boy’s own spiritual development, later going on to complete the LTD program at Gull Lake Camp and as well as the new ASCENT and OUTTA TOWN Programs.
BLTS was a magical place for me also as I took on the responsibility of trying to corral all voices in the student body each year to achieve a simultaneous unity of heart in sound in the presentation of all the songs we had set out to learn. Simply put, it was nothing short of a miraculous transformation between September and April when we set out for choir tour, with cassette recordings in hand, to share with churches over the next few weeks what we’d worked so hard to learn together. This was tremendously rewarding work for me and though at times I felt like I was in over my head with my choral and ensemble aspirations, I was always loved, affirmed and encouraged by my students. I am deeply indebted to, and grateful for, all the students that helped shape and love my family and I during my years of ministry there.
Mary Martin (Davies)- 7th BLTS Class 1955-1956:
When BLTS opened in the early 1950s, information was sent to churches in Western Canada – a six-month program with courses developed to help young people grow in their Christian lives and become effective workers in their local churches. My older brother decided to attend BLTS for the 1954-55 school year. He found it very helpful and had made many good friends before he continued his post-secondary education, so I decided to follow his example.
When I graduated from high school in 1955, I knew I wanted to become a nurse, but did not have a lot of self-confidence. I thought that time away from home in a place where I could learn more about my faith, the Bible, and be with like-minded people would be worthwhile. Living for several months in close quarters with 30 young people from various backgrounds and churches was a challenge at first, but as the year progressed we became a family. I found the courses and practical work helped as I continued my education. I think one of the most important points I learned was that you need to be a full-time, even if imperfect, Christian regardless of where you are and what you’re doing: at home, at school, at work or at leisure. Although it’s many years since I left BLTS, I often think of experiences I shared with my classmates, and remember the faculty, staff, and the old building we were in! Although I’ve moved several times, I still have my yearbook!
I was sorry to hear BLTS had closed a number of years ago. However, I have recently heard about the Kurios “gap” program being set up by CBWC, with a similar philosophy to BLTS, but geared to the youth of the 2020s. I hope and pray that it will continue the BLTS legacy of combining Biblical content with practical experience.
Fay Puddicombe- Former Dean of Residence:
My BLTS experience was unique in that not only did I have my own wonderful years’ experience (72-73), but my husband and I were Deans of Residence for four years (80-84). We had the joy of walking with four groups of young people in their amazing time at BL. Living in a Christian community is a great experience. Not only do you learn and grow through the teaching you receive, but also from experiencing the year with others walking with you. And I have life-long friends from those years!
The Kurios experience that has been developed looks amazing- wish I was 20 again! Young adults will be richly blessed to be part of this adventure.
The schedule for the Reunion is as follows:
DATES: Friday – Sunday, May 22-24, 2020
LOCATION: Altadore Baptist Church, 4304 – 16 Street SW, Calgary AB, T2T 4H9
WORKING SCHEDULE (Subject to Change):
Friday, May 22
7:00pm – 9:00pm – Dessert Reception at Altadore Baptist
Saturday, May 23
9:30am – 11:00am – Class Connect Brunch
1:00pm – 4:00pm – Free time
Optional Activities Include
– Tour the BLTS Facility
– Prepare an impromptu hand bell, choral, drama or puppet show performance
– Take a stroll to “My Favorite Ice Cream Shoppe”
– More options to come
5:00pm – 8:00pm – Reunion Banquet
– Alumni Performances, Sharing of Stories, Slideshow, Kurios Preview and more
Sunday, May 24
– There is no official program on Sunday. You are encouraged to worship at the church you attended while at BLTS or ASCENT.
Includes all programs, meals and receptions listed above. Does not include transportation to/from the reunion or accommodation.
To register, click the link below:
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Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC.