On Beginning Lent

“Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” Matthew 4.17

Throughout the season of Lent we are taken on a journey of self-reflection. For some, this involves denial of things that we might prefer to enjoy, others commit to a more rigorous life of prayer and Scripture reading, and still some are torn by guilt to “give something up” and still fall prey to our homegrown coffee-shop who offers special incentives to keep us in their stores.

English: Infant Jesus and John the Baptist, Mu...

We might view John the Baptist as a personification of a Lenten journey. His lifestyle was one of denial and of drawing toward God. He kept very little to himself and invited people to prepare themselves for the coming of the Kingdom of God. This preparation requires the gift of repentance. Through this gift, we are invited to recognize where we have fallen short of God’s best, and wish to acknowledge the need for forgiveness.

The Kingdom of Heaven was the primary message of Jesus. In this message, Jesus was saying that God has reestablished his reign over his Kingdom. Time and time again, this was the message Jesus proclaimed and the one that the disciples were sent out to proclaim as well.

The difference between John’s message and Jesus’ was the “soon-to-be” and “it’s here”. We have that the same message to proclaim; God, who created you, wants to be in relationship with you. The freedom for our gift of repentance comes in the gift of Jesus’ death on the cross. This Kingdom, this restored relationship is for today.

Like the disciples, we have been given the opportunity to share this good news, today. Our communities are desperately in need of the knowledge that the Kingdom of Heaven is here. Broken lives are made whole, the oppressed are freed and the hungry are fed – this is Good News that we are invited to share.

As we continue in our Lenten journeys, let us look for opportunities to share this message and be active residents in the Kingdom today.

Happy Canada Day!

“He shall have dominion also from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” – Psalms 72:8

Today, many of us will gather together with friends and family – some around a BBQ, watching fireworks and other to start their camping season. It is a week of celebration, and rightly so. There is much that we have to celebrate – we live in country full of diversity and freedom. A country that was founded upon the principles that recognize the supremacy of God.

Some of us have seen a lot of change occur in our country over the last century. Before my grandfather passed in 2008, he would often share stories with me of his childhood, his years in military service and his adult life in Moncton NB. No matter what story I heard, he always finished with “It was a different time than you’re living in, Shawn; much different than mine.” I was never sure if that was positive or negative and in one of my last conversations with him, I asked him. Papa was always direct. He looked out the window of his porch for a few moments, and then turned back to me saying “Cherish what we’ve been through. And be smart with what you have now.”

Those words have echoed in my mind many times since that conversation. Some see the shrinking of churches as something to fear, but perhaps we should see it as an opportunity. An opportunity for us to stand confident in our relationship with Christ, which is much bigger than a church, and share that relationship with those around us. We should be smart with what we have now. We have a nation that is deperately searching for truth. Today, perhaps we could recommit ourselves to seeing God Kingdom furthered in Canada.

Lord of all power and mercy, we beseech thee to assist with thy favour the Prime Minister of this Dominion, and the Premiers of the Provinces. Cause them, we pray, thee, to walk before thee in truth and righteousness, and to fulfil their office to thy glory and the public good; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Happy Canada Day! Thank you for joining with us.

A new challenge

Dear Friends of Threshold Ministries –

The Board of Threshold Ministries meeting in Haliburton County on April 11-13, 2012, received the recommendation from Bruce Smith that that we appoint Shawn Branch as National Director to work out of the National Office in Saint John. He also recommended that following 16 years as National Director, he might best serve Threshold Ministries as “Ambassador at Large”, doing so from Toronto.

By resolution we have made Bruce Smith ‘Ambassador at Large’, with the assignment to cultivate support for the ministry and do the work of an Evangelist across Canada.

Shawn Branch is National Director Elect until October 1, 2012, when he will become National Director.

Threshold Ministries is an across Canada Ministry committed to seeing God’s Kingdom furthered through creating and partnering with local parishes, ministries and individuals.

Please remember to pray for Bruce and Shawn as they take on these responsibilities.

Sincerely in our Saviour’s Name,

John W. Irwin
Chair, Board of Directors

Click here to download a copy of the Press Release.

Press Release from Work

Same Mission, New Brand

Threshold  Ministries

March 24, 2010 (Saint John NB) – Thankful for its 81 year history in Canada, the Church Army in Canada will be operating as Threshold Ministries as of May 1, 2010.  This name change comes after many years of discernment and discussion with staff and supporters.  It became clear that in this new millennium the historic name ‘Church Army’ created more barriers than bridges. The mandate for Threshold Ministries will continue to be “helping bring people, from all walks of life, into a living relationship with Jesus Christ and with His people.” Threshold represents for us a place of new beginnings both for our community of evangelist but more importantly for those who put their trust in Jesus as a result of our ministry. Threshold is the place of entrance into the Kingdom of God and a place of exit into the world in mission.

We have discovered over the years that key to any genuine evangelism is relationship building. An authentic love for people is crucial, just as Jesus loved people.  In order to have such opportunities, there can be no unnecessary walls or obstacles to relationships and opportunities to share our faith with others.  This ministry is meant to be focused on inviting others to know they are welcome, wanted, needed and loved by Jesus.  We do not exist for ourselves.  This is not a club.  There can be no wall between the message of Jesus and the people.

Over the course of the last number of years, we have tried to examine any ways we may have constructed or accepted barriers that are preventing people from hearing the message we long to share. It is has been a challenging soul-searching exercise. But it is essential to listen if we are truly serious about being effective in sharing our faith in the 21st century.

Our new name, Threshold Ministries, celebrates this mission journey with our Lord!  Our passion for the Great Commission and the Great Commandment remains paramount. We believe that the renaming will actually build bridges of opportunity for mission and evangelism.  To position ourselves to reach this culture we have agreed that now is the time for a 21st century name.

Globally, Church Army dates back to 1882 and began as a response to minister to those living in the slums of London UK.  The official work in Canada began in 1929 based, initially, in Toronto. Today the Church Army has provided the church with trained evangelists, a God-given calling, founded on the Scriptures.

reflecting back on the last week

i’m enjoying some time with friends in northern saskatchewan…i remember enjoying living here. the flight out here gave me some time to think back on a week that had one kick after another.

for almost two years, i’ve been working on an equipping conference for the maritimes – essentially to bless, equip and encourage the leaders of the maritime churches (and at the same time, promote our ministry). we were finally able to book tony campolo to come as the keynote speaker, had a great planning team in place, workshop/conversation leaders…the whole works.

then the doors get shut. the joy (read: challenge/frustration) of working for a non-profit christian ministry is that we rely on donations from individuals who share the same passion and commitment we do. as the new calendar started to unfold and the current economic climate began to take notice, our support began to decrease. why? because the people supporting began to be more conservative in their giving.

when the time came where we’d need to start spending the money (room bookings, pr materials, etc…), it became a question of ‘do we invest in a conference and hope that people will come?’ or ‘do make sure that ministry costs can be covered for the next month or two?’. i began talking with some folks around who would be interested in coming…despite their excitement, they couldn’t justify the costs for them to come to such an event (travel, meals, accommodations, registration).

we prayed…and listened…prayed some more…i thought about bartering with God…listened more. every time i phoned or emailed one of the leaders it was like another kick to the gut. the conference is canceled.

i don’t doubt that we made the right decision. and i choose to believe that somehow God will use all the labours to his glory. i choose to believe that…and waiting expectingly.