September 24, 2015

Where’s A Good Church?- Canadians Respond from the Pulpit, Podium and Pew (Book review and ministry effectiveness map)

This book was published in Canada in 1993 and the co-author Don Posterski gave a one day Workshop at the Toronto School of Theology in the same year. The other author, Irwin Barker was Senior Research Director at Angus Reid, one of Canada’s most respected public polling companies. They used a combination of 26 focus groups and 761 survey returns asking the most basic questions facing a church that is serious about examining itself and trying to figure out what it has to do to grow and thrive. The first question of course is “are we desperate enough to honestly examine our ministry and consider changing what we do if this will help us grow and thrive?” For some churches the honest answer is sadly no. St. Mark and St. Phillips in Calgary made this choice and are now selling their church. My hope is that the following Canadian research on what people in Canada are looking for in a “good church” - and the ministry mapping exercise will help the leadership in other declining churches find a better approach to ministry and thrive.

 1. What are the characteristics of a good church in Canada?

September 18, 2015

Spiritual Wisdom Is Loyal, Pure and Self-less (Proper 25)

The Readings teach us the differences between human wisdom and spiritual wisdom. Human wisdom tends to be disloyal, adulterous and selfish. In contrast spiritual wisdom is loyal, pure and self-less. Jesus uses the example of a child. Children were not considered wise or important in that time. But children are closer to this ideal of loyalty, purity and selflessness than many adults. This is the kind of spiritual wisdom we are all to seek.

1. Spiritual wisdom comes from loyalty to God

We live in an adulterous and idol-worshiping culture that has largely abandoned it’s spiritual roots. About 10% of Canadians attend church and many are not even Baptized. I feel enormous failure because in spite of being wonderful men, none of my surviving children or grandchildren still attend a church. I blame irrelevant churches for this more than myself – as it is hard, even for an Anglican priest, to find a good church in our time. The consequence is that many – like me, have to discover spiritual wisdom on their own. My experience has been that we need to be in trouble before we turn to God and cry out for help

September 12, 2015

“Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Holy Cross Day, Sept 14, 2015)

We are living in a post-Christendom time of “Cross-less Christianity”. Over the years since the Third Century Christian leaders in many places have compromised with political and military leaders to avoid persecution and conflict with popular culture. We have developed a mushy, inoffensive and vague liberal theology of love that denies the power and need for the Cross and personal salvation. False prophets have convinced us that as long as we don’t offend anyone and are a ‘good person’ we are a Christian and assured of eternal spiritual life. The Readings for Holy Cross Sunday remind us that in spite of our good intentions and good behaviour we are still all guilty of rebellion against God in some way – and need a personal Saviour.

1. Hebrew story reminds us of the consequences of rebellion

September 5, 2015

We All Need To Have Our Eyes and Ears Opened (Proper 23)

The Readings for today focus on the difficulty of coming to faith in Jesus as the miracle worker of the
Bible. Jesus opened the eyes of people who were physically blind and the ears of people who were
physically deaf. These miraculous healings demonstrated His spiritual authority and authenticity as a
teacher, spiritual healer and exorcist. People in our time tend to dismiss these signs and wonders as
superstitions. The truth is that they are essential evidence to opening the eyes and ears of our faith. If we can not believe in the miraculous; then we have a faith that is weak and incomplete. We need to have our spiritual eyes and ears opened as the final step in our conversion to serious Christianity.

1. We have been blinded by our faith in Science as the way to discern truth