This past Saturday morning, I put $150 of gas in the car (slight exaggeration) and headed to the far west regions of the diocese to speak at a deanery ACW meeting. The drive out took about 2.5 hrs, even with me driving, and I spent much of that time in prayer about what I was supposed to talk about. Last Monday, I got a phone call from the minister out there asking if I might be free since the speaker they booked bailed on them. (Clearly God was clearing the way for the right person to speak).
I arrived at the end of lunch, with about 20 minutes before I was to speak — did I know yet what I was going to speak about? Not really. After they introduced me, I stood before about 40 women (and 2 men — clergy) and quickly thought that I need some jokes to win them over now. I offered them 3 options for my topic:
- The forbidden "E" word in the church
- Youth ministry
- Mission in the church
After the vote, no one wanted me to speak about mission in the church and it was a close tie between 1 & 2. I decided to speak on all 3 and for the 70 minutes that followed, I tried to dispel some lies that I hear over and over:
- There are no youth/young families in our community. There was only one lady there who I’d believe if she told me that (she admitted there are 4 kids in her community). Yes, rural SK is dwindling, but none of the communities are dead yet. We need to seek out these families, and let them know that we, the church, care about them.
- Evangelism is the responsibility of those who are "called". Stop making excuses and get out there! When Jesus gave the great commission, he was clear about one thing — "GO", He did not limit who went, but sent all believers. Get over your fears and start being a reflection of Christ in your community. Allow people to see the light that should be burning within you. Again, who are we reflecting? If we are reflecting Christ and have jello salad smeared on the mirror, how clear is the reflection?
- We don’t have the money. Put the mission of Christ before the green paper and things will start to fall together.
- The Anglican Church is welcoming. We have those wonderful signs all across the country — "The Anglican Church Welcomes You" What many of them should say is "The Anglican Church welcomes you if you are quiet, don’t want to change and will leave money on the offering plate." (I admit, I was getting nervous at this stage of the talk, realizing I had to get by them to get to the door). The truth is, if we truly become a welcoming Christian community, people will see a difference in us and will want to know what the difference is — Jesus! It’s time we do a reverse from the ACC Decade of Evangelism (which resulted in the a decline in the church, rather than growth).
I was done, answered a few questions and quickly got back into the car and came back to PA to lead a visioning session at the Cathedral for the youth.