Gord's E-book

Encouraging Outreach and Church Leadership

Fear is a factor for every Christian leader. I am no exception. I want to be the person Jesus calls me to be. I want to do what he calls me to do. I would do it if I did not feel so afraid or inadequate. I have had to learn to “Do it Afraid”.

Knowledge and training help. But they do not remove the fear instilled in many by Jesus’ words, “go and make disciples of all the nations…I will be with you…” Matthew 28:19-20

 

He provides strength “in the going”, not beforehand.

This is a series of stories and of lessons learned. May they encourage you to “do it afraid”.

 

Join the ‘Doing It Afraid Conversation’ Facebook group to

participate in a community on the topic of my e-book segments!

What if: Church leaders were, fearless?

  • They obviously were trying to do what Jesus did
  • They were obviously trying to do what the apostles did
  • They obviously were trying to turn their world upside down like they did

 

In 2020, during this era of Covid-19. What would Jesus do? What would the apostles do? In their era, who were they trying to influence or persuade about the kingdom of God?

Were they, like most church leaders today, spending almost all of our time within the four walls of our church buildings?

When we ask questions like these, conversations turn easily into directionless debates about our culture, the times in which we live, the gifts we have or don’t have, the need for training, the lack of resources, how busy we are etc.

These “what if” questions frighten me. They always have!

It seemed so simple and straightforward at the beginning.

Go everywhere, get people from every tribe and nation, to learn my ways and follow me, just as you have learned to do. I will be right there with you – always.

The good news is that every human being can connect with God through Jesus in a way that gives them direction, hope and strength for living, along with the certainty of life forever in the kingdom of God after dying.

Read the book of Acts and you’d have to say, the disciples got it. But when you read the letters of the apostles to the people everywhere, it seems it was hard to keep them on track. Read church history and you’ll know how difficult it has been for Christians to keep focused on the main things Jesus taught.

 

I have been in full-time Christian ministry for about 50 years. Old enough to have lots of experience and old enough to be irrelevant.  

I have often/mostly, “Done it Afraid”

  • The first time I sang in public with a quartet, my mouth went completely dry. That’s all I can remember!
  • Going from door to door as a 19 year old, inviting people to our Sunday evening drive-in church services. I prayed the people I knew would not be home. He answered my prayer!
  • Going from door to door in Medellin Colombia, with a handful of badly learned Spanish phrases, to give away Bible literature, selling Bibles and other Christian books
  • Speaking to people, mostly older than me about Jesus, how to know him and walk with them – helping them with their complicated life problems. Talk about inadequate!
  • Inviting people all week long in an Ontario town to a Christian movie night. Not one person came.
  • Going to visit a man who was hiding a drinking problem. Leaving his house feeling totally defeated. Arriving home to a phone call from him with a heartfelt apology.
  • Starting Oasis, a downtown community outreach in Kitchener, believing somehow, that if churches would commit to supporting 50% of our budget on the strength of our proposal, that God would provide the rest, if we actually launched it.
  • Confronting a group of senior church leaders with their unwarranted assumptions and judgemental actions
  • Starting Vison Ministries Canada, nobody was asking for it!
  • Last week….!

“Doing it afraid” has been a way of life for me.

I want to tell you my stories and I’d love to talk with you. If we were fearless, what difference would it make?

 

I look forward to joining in community with you on this topic through the ‘Doing It Afraid Conversation’ Facebook group!

A Scary Little Church

It was May 4, 1960. I was 14 years old. I remember how startled my father was. Martin Bauman is dead?

Martin Bauman was a farmer who lived quite near to our own farm. His wife had been an invalid for years. As far as anyone knew, Martin was completely healthy. He and his wife and family were members of the Hawkesville Bible Chapel where my parents and family were also members. Suddenly at 63 years of age he was gone!

Everyone in our little church had exactly the same background. All the adults experienced a spiritual new birth in their mid to later 20’s. All of them had been raised as Old Order Mennonites. You will still see them today in our community, just north of Waterloo; horses, buggies, dark clothing and lots of rules concerning dress, lifestyle, language and business. Tragedy had marked my father’s family. Two of his older brothers died suddenly in accidents; one, when the horse and carriage on which he and his wife were riding was struck by a train. He was killed instantly. His wife who had been sitting beside him was unhurt. Another brother died when the truck he was driving lost its brakes and crashed into a tree. There were big questions about life and death in the family.

About that time my father’s younger brother John attended evangelistic meetings at a little log church in Wallenstein where a Pentecostal itinerant preacher was holding services. (photo of the actual building) He was dramatically converted! In those days, Old Order Mennonites did not believe it was possible for someone to know what would happen to them after they died. They hoped they would go to heaven but they had no real confidence. They believed in the Bible, were honest people and hard workers. But they felt that it would be boastful for anyone to say with confidence that they would go to heaven when they died. My uncle John began to explain to his brother and to the rest of the family what it meant to believe in Christ, to experience a spiritual new birth and that assurance of heaven was possible. My father and mother were married by now and had several young children. More to follow – 10 in all!

Little by little, more and more young couples began to search for this salvation. Is it possible to know that one had eternal life? How could they know? This was a question that was very much on my parent’s minds. They and others, gradually came to an understanding of what it meant to believe the Good News of Jesus Christ and receive the gift of salvation and the Holy Spirit. In 1934, fifteen of these young adults were baptized in the Conestoga River near Wallenstein Ontario. The whole idea of people being re-baptized as adults created a massive stir in the larger Mennonite community. About 1000 people spontaneously showed up to witness this startling and strange event!

These young families formed the core of what became the Hawkesville Bible Chapel and later the Wallenstein Bible Chapel – my home church.

In 1960 this congregation had been together for about 26 years. It wasn’t a large church, it would have been packed at 130 people, but it was spiritually dynamic. Since I was born in 1946 my first actual memories of the church are of the 1950s. I remember the Biblical preaching, the visiting missionaries, and most of all the participation of the men of the church in the weekly communion service. The practice in our church was that each Sunday there would be one hour dedicated to communion or the breaking of bread. At that service no one led the congregation. The intent was that the Holy Spirit would lead any of the men present to read Scripture, give out hymns, make comments and pray, prayers of worship as the Holy Spirit led them. At a given time during the service the bread and the wine would be passed and all those who were believers and in fellowship with the congregation would participate. I remember some long, seemingly endless prayers, great four-part harmony in the singing and a lot of heartfelt expression of devotion to Christ that proved to be an anchor for me in later years.

But now it was 1960. The year in which Martin Bauman died. I remember my dad saying, “What? Martin Bauman is dead?” Apart from the loss of a friend and a brother in Christ my father was gripped with a concern that they had been meeting now as a church for more than 25 years and had not accomplished what he imagined would be possible during that time.

What made this sudden death all the more startling was Martin’s dying request. He believed that he had not adequately shared the good news about Jesus with his neighbours. Would my father visit those neighbours and share the gospel with them? Over time he did visit them but the fear factor was powerfully at work. He knew those neighbours and knew that they would not welcome him with his message of good news.

I had no such concern at the time. I was interested in girls, driving, getting my drivers licence, sports and food!

But because my dad was an outgoing person he didn’t hide what he was thinking. He expressed openly and freely his joys and concerns. Although it was true that the church at Hawkesville was a lively and quite a vibrant congregation that visiting speakers love to preach to – what had we really accomplished? His concern was that we have a whole community around us who still don’t understand about the Good News! What are we doing about that?

Our church was a part of a network of churches called the Brethren assemblies[1]. They had no organized form of leadership in their churches in those days. The men would have a monthly meeting which they called a business meeting. At those meetings whatever decisions needed to be made were made by all the men who were members of the church. I don’t recall ever attending such a meeting since I wasn’t old enough at the time. My father was concerned that there needed to be more direction. There needed to be something intentionally done about reaching our community with the Gospel. There needed to be leadership in the church that took these matters seriously.

 

As I remember it, Dad began to reach out to his peers and brothers at the church. He talked with them, one by one. Over an extended period of time, a group of about six or seven of them began to believe that God was calling them to step forward to provide leadership as elders of the church. It was a foreign idea, something they had never done before. Neither were there other Brethren assemblies who had done anything like it.

I remember the morning an announcement was made at the end of the communion service. The man who normally made the announcements said that on Friday evening the following six or seven men who had been concerned for some time about the need for leadership and direction in the assembly were going to have a meeting at Mr. Onias Weber’s house. The announcement continued with this invitation. If others felt a similar calling they were welcomed to join the group on Friday evening. That’s how our church began to have leadership by elders.

One of the first things they did was to write a young couple who had previously been sent by the church to serve the Lord in Prince Edward Island as evangelists. They were invited to return and take up evangelistic ministry in our own community. Allen was not asked to be the pastor. He was not asked to have a particular role in the church. His role was to visit the community, introduce the Gospel to people and invite them to home Bible studies and to our church. He and his wife Joyce began their work in earnest. Alan was bold, persistent and not always discreet. Everybody in the whole community began to hear about what was going on. There was very little progress for the first several years. However after a few years there began to be a response, people were coming to Bible studies, people were getting baptized and they were crowding out our little church in Hawkesville. I remember that our youth group sat on the platform during the communion service because every seat, even the aisles were filled.

The church relocated to the village of Wallenstein in1968 to a new facility about four times the size of the one in Hawkesville. It was called the Wallenstein Bible Chapel. That congregation has gone on to plant five daughter churches of substantial sizes. They have sent missionaries all around the world – including me! They continue as a vibrant church today. In 2019, they again enlarged their facilities.

If your church is just maintaining the status quo, it is time for someone to ask – what have we accomplished? That can be a scary question!

 

Questions for thought and discussion:

  • What have we accomplished in terms of winning our community to become followers of Jesus? Should this be a primary concern to us?
  • What difference can leadership make in answering this question?
  • How could their solution to that question guide our thinking?

 

I look forward to joining in community with you on this topic through the ‘Doing It Afraid Conversation’ Facebook group!

 

[1]Brethren assemblies, sometimes called Brethren, Plymouth Brethren or Christian Brethren. “Plymouth Brethren. Though originating in Dublin, they were so named because their first congregation was formed in Plymouth (1831). The beginnings were essentially informal, with many showing a desire to return to the simplicity of apostolic days and worship; and to break down the walls that divided Christians. The movement was a protest against the prevailing conditions of spiritual deadness, formalism, and sectarianism marking the earlier years of the 19th century.” New International Dictionary of the Christian Church. (I plan to write a future segment on my relationship with the Brethren movement)

Intimidated by Good Examples

As a teenager I sometimes wished my parents had been better hypocrites! It would have given me a good excuse to rebel. They weren’t!

I was the oldest of “the three little ones”. There was a gap of almost 5 years between me and my next older brother Rowly. [1] On Sunday evenings the three little ones would stay home while the others went to the evening church service. My mother read Bible stories to us and would then get us all down on our knees and would pray for us by name. My mother prayed for Gordon and for Janet and Elaine. It’s quite a powerful thing to have your parent praying for you by name! I felt very self conscious as she prayed. I wanted to receive Christ as my own saviour as a young boy. I just couldn’t figure out how to do it. How does it work for him to come into my heart? How would I know if it happened? It took me quite a while to sort it all out.

Every day after breakfast our family read the Bible together. All of us kids would read one verse of the chapter we were reading and at the end, dad would have all of us kneel down and he prayed. We read every chapter as far as I know, even the parts that were embarrassing to read as kids, as well as the sections that were filled with name after name! I remember that on one occasion a neighbour came to talk with my dad while we were having our reading. Dad invited him into the house and told him that we are having our Bible reading, he was welcome to come in and to sit down and wait until we were finished. We completed the reading of the chapter and we got down on our knees to pray as was our custom. When family devotions were over, dad and our neighbour talked business.

As a young boy I loved the stories of the Old Testament. I was intrigued by the battles of Saul and David and with their generals Joab and Abner. I knew off by heart all the names of these interesting characters. Sometimes I would say to my dad, “ask me some hard questions about the Bible – from the Old Testament”. I wasn’t so in love with the Sermon on the Mount and turning the other cheek!

I started high school when I was only 12 years old. Not because I was particularly bright but because I didn’t get along at all with my teacher. Ours was a two room school. I had the same teacher for five of seven years. Gradually, I didn’t like her and she didn’t like me. She was quite happy on the day when she told me that I would be skipping grade 8 and would move on to grade 9 next year!

As a 12-year-old I was not ready emotionally or socially for high school. I tried desperately to fit in. We never had homework in elementary school and were never really taught to study. I wasn’t doing well. Even though I started off in the most academic section of grade 9, the following year I was moved into one of the least academic sections of grade 10.

When I was in grade 9 one of the teachers was filling out forms about all of the students. One of the questions to be answered in front of everybody was what denomination were we? How could I answer that? At the time our church was called the Hawkesville Gospel Hall. Even as a 12-year-old I knew that was a strange answer to give. I listened to the others say that they were Catholic, Lutheran, United etc. When he came to me I said that I was from the Hawkesville Gospel Hall. It seemed like the whole class was turning around looking at me and wondering, what is that?! I desperately wished I could’ve said I was Lutheran or anything else!

Gradually I was learning to fit in at school. I learned to swear very competently. At home I was still somewhat the same person but at school I was somebody very different. I was torn by loyalty to my family and church and to my school friends who were becoming more and more important to me every day.

Did I still believe? Not in any practical way. I attended youth camp at Joy Bible camp during those years for the last week of each summer. I continued to be torn. Towards the end of each week at camp I would feel compelled to recommit my life to Christ. Those commitments lasted perhaps half a day or one day. That was me, all the way through high school.

I had always been the youngest at everything. The youngest in my elementary school class, the youngest in my class at high school and the youngest person at my first job at McKee Brothers in Elmira. They built farm machinery. I was struggling. Were the things that I had been taught at church true? Was God really there? Was the Bible true? Were my parents right about being such faithful followers of Jesus? I found myself wrestling with these questions.  Should I forget everything that I was taught? Or were the things that my parents and church had taught me true? If the things that I had been taught were true, then I would have to live like my parents and the other Christian adults in my life! For me that was scary and I was a coward!

Around that time, a man by the name of Bob McLaren, a preacher who I had known since I was a young boy, came to our area to have a special series of services at a church in Waterloo. When I was young he stayed at our farm for a week or so. During that time I had the mumps or chickenpox and was sick. One day Bob brought home a Scotch Collie puppy for me. I was elated! His kindness and generosity was a memory that stayed with me.

When I heard that he was speaking at the nearby Bethel Chapel in Waterloo I went to hear him. I have no memory whatsoever of what he spoke about but I knew that I wanted to talk with him after the service. I told him my problem, that I was stuck. I don’t know how long he was with me that night, it seemed like a couple of hours. Maybe it was only half an hour! He was asking me to commit my life fully to Jesus. I remember sitting like a bump on a log. I didn’t know what to do, I was still torn inside. What should I do? After what seemed like a long time I prayed and committed my life to Christ, to him only, no matter what anyone else thought or said.

I remember driving home that night, all alone, singing at the top of my voice! Something had changed. Something had changed forever!

Not long after that I was baptized in the Conestoga River at Hawkesville. I began to be active in the church, teaching Sunday School, teaching kids that were only a few years younger than me. And I began to be involved in youth group and to my surprise was elected to be the president of the group! It was an exciting time! Now I had the freedom to invite speakers to our youth group who could answer all my questions.

And then it happened. Alan Weber who was the resident evangelist in the church asked me, would you come with me to go door to door inviting people to the Sunday night drive-in services? I can’t tell you how much I wanted to say no! He wanted me to do this in the very town where I’d gone to high school?! The same place I tried so hard to fit in? But how could I say no? I was the president of the youth group! I was teaching Sunday School! Alan was persistent.

And so, I said yes. I remember pleading with the Lord before going to the first door to let these people not be home! He heard my cry. The people that I hoped would not be home, were not home! Somehow we managed to get through passing out invitations to people on a number of streets.

I was beginning to share the Good News with people at work. I remember talking to one older man about the gospel and he said to me, “Young fella, I’d like to hear what you have to say five years from now”. Five years later I was living in Colombia and working as a missionary with International Teams and he was dead of alcohol poisoning.

This was a powerful turning-point in my life as an 18 year old.  Overcoming fear would be an important re-occurring challenge for the rest of my life since I was a natural coward. But a precedent had been set.

 

Questions for thought and discussion:

  1. How can we elevate the practice of family worship?
  2. How can children observe the spirituality of adults in our congregational life?
  3. How can we invite our youth to full commitment as followers of Jesus?

 

I look forward to joining in community with you on this topic through the ‘Doing It Afraid Conversation’ Facebook group!

 

[1] My parents were Noah and Emma Martin. They had 10 children: Lanson, Mary, Lawrence, Clare, Joe, Joyce, Rowly, Gordon, Janet and Elaine.

Opinionated People: Work Together?

The Mennonite countryside looks very peaceful. The farms are neatly laid out, the gardens, managed by the women of the household are flourishing and horses are grazing in the fields. But my experience is that Mennonite farmers are also quietly competitive. Who had their seeding done first? Who got their harvest finished first? Who had the best harvest? Who has the best horses?

Although I have no memory of my family being Mennonites, we were completely surrounded by Mennonites of various kinds. Why am I saying this? Because all of the men who were now elders in our little church were from the same background. They were all independent-minded people who were used to running their own affairs. They were farmers, small businessmen and some were owners and managers of larger businesses. All of them were accustomed to calling the shots and doing things the way they wanted to do them. What would it be like for a group like this to become a collegial group of leaders for the church. Could they make challenging decisions together? Could they have direction and harmony?

It’s easy to have direction and harmony as a group when you are only making small decisions. But what if you are going to make large decisions? What if you’re going to buy land, build a building – all with money that you don’t actually have?

These were the questions that faced the elders at the Hawkesville Bible Chapel. Remember, I had no personal stake in any of this. I was a nineteen to twenty year old who had relatively little concern about their issues. But I had an extrovert father who talked openly about these things. I couldn’t help but be carried along by the kinds of concerns he was talking about as he and I did farm projects together.  I am the eighth of 10 children and the youngest of six sons in our family. As such I probably spent more time with my father than any of my brothers. I was the last one! Dad included me in what he was thinking regularly. Whether it was about the farm, buying cattle, rotating crops, adding to the barn – or matters of the church. He talked quite openly about all of those things. I felt included, almost as a peer. Of course he didn’t tell me confidential matters related to the church or its meetings. But I was learning about the tone of what was happening from him.

I particularly remember him talking about the building project at Wallenstein. It would seat about 400 people and the plans for it were consuming a lot of his time since he was chairing the building committee. There were debates about the size of rooms, about the lighting fixtures and about every detail!

There was a humorous little piece that I recall. The old order Mennonites were in the habit of erecting very plain buildings for their churches. Now, this group of former old order Mennonites was associated with the Plymouth Brethren who had their own reasons for erecting plain and simple buildings. There was a lot of unease and uncertainty about erecting a building that would look “too much like a church”. That may sound strange but it was a concern to them. They tended to be frugal, they wanted it to look plain and simple but on the other hand they were building something new. What should it look like?

During those years dad would often talk about the freedom that they were discovering together; they didn’t all have to agree on everything! They were learning that they could listen to each other, debate with each other and then conclude without having to be unanimous. I remember my father saying, “well, if that’s how the other brothers feel about this, then I can be satisfied with that.” Remember, that they were all independent thinkers. None of them were well educated, but all of them were accustomed to doing things their own way. Besides, they had the Bible to consider, Biblical values to consider and they all had unique opinions about what the Bible taught on these matters as well. What I remember, is the freedom that my dad felt with respecting the opinions of the majority of the group. “I don’t have to have it my way” he would say, even though he was as opinionated as anyone in the group!

During the building process there was a lot of discussion about how large one particular room should be. It was going to cost quite a bit extra to make it a truly valuable space. Some were arguing that they needed to save the money, we can’t afford it. Another finally said if it’s just a matter of the money, he would contribute that money himself. That’s how they ended up with a full-sized and useful room!

On another occasion, they had ordered lighting for the sanctuary. I don’t think they were aware of exactly what the fixtures were going to look like. When they arrived each of the fixtures had narrow slender crosses mounted on each side. The contractor had already installed them. One of the elders arrived and saw the crosses. He wasn’t happy. He said it looked too churchy. He was registering this complaint with my father who knew that this man had no particular inclination to climb up on a tall ladder and remove these crosses. Dad said to this brother, “if you want to climb up and take them off then feel free to do that”. The crosses stayed.

Why am I sharing these stories? Because I know how important it is to have strong people on our leadership teams. I also know how important it is for them to be able to work together well, how to make decisions when they are not unanimous, how to respect each other and how to find a way to experience freedom when not everything has gone the way we hoped it would.

It’s very easy to say that the Bible describes a form of team leadership. It’s quite another matter to become an effective, focused leadership team that can together make courageous decisions of faith.

I had nothing to do whatsoever with the leadership team back in those days. I was just listening to an extroverted father who openly talked about the things that he was excited and learning about! But as I look back I’m very thankful for what I saw happening in front of my own eyes. I saw a church that was dynamic in it’s own way but was limited by the absence of leadership. But they found a way, not only to come together as leaders but to take courageous steps by mobilizing a gifted evangelist to work in their community. When the Lord blessed them, they had the courage to sell their inadequate building and move to a different community and launch a ministry that was far larger than anything any of them had ever seen. That takes faith.

I had the privilege of seeing it happen! Even though I was inexperienced at the time, I saw what could happen when people work together with courage, humility and faith.

 

Questions for thought and discussion:

  1. What is the ideal leadership team? A strong leader with a group of compliant helpers? A group of compliant people who don’t ruffle feathers? A group of strong minded, highly committed people? Other?
  2. How can such a group maintain harmony and make important, hard decisions together?
  3. Who should be the leader? The pastor? The chairman of the board? The most gifted leader? Click here to read a VMC webpage specifically for church leaders.

 

I look forward to joining in community with you on this topic through the ‘Doing It Afraid Conversation’ Facebook group!

Doubt: Is God Really There?

It’s a terrible thing to be teaching Sunday School and leading a youth group when you are having private doubts about whether God really exists.

I’d been having a great time teaching Sunday School. The students were only about three years younger than me. But I was working hard to prepare for the classes and was discovering the joy of teaching. The youth group which I had shunned during high school now was my favourite time of the week.

We had no adult sponsors. We had Saturday night youth meetings and often during the summer we’d meet to play baseball on Friday nights. Because we were a “singing church” we also frequently had special youth gatherings in homes after the Sunday evening services, just to sing! Since I had endless questions about almost everything, we invited speakers to come to speak to our group on subjects that were of particular interest to me. I discovered that some speakers ignored our request and spoke on whatever they felt like, a disappointment to me.

About that time, I was living with three other single, young men in an old farmhouse just outside of the city of Waterloo. Some were going to school and others were working. I was an apprentice tool and die maker[1]. One of my friends Brice Martin was attending the University and was studying philosophy. He would come home with the arguments of his philosophy professor saying that there was no evidence for the existence of God. We debated. He was the prof and I was the Christian trying to defend the faith. We debated all through that semester but inside something was happening. I began to wonder how can I be so sure that there is a God – after all?

I didn’t know who to talk to. I didn’t want to talk to my friend to let him know that I was in trouble because of his arguments. I couldn’t talk to my parents because they never appeared to have doubts. I didn’t think I could talk to anyone at our church because nobody there ever talked about having doubts. The preachers talked about having faith, not doubts.

I spent a lot of time alone, unsure of what to think or do. It was an empty feeling to be teaching Sunday school and leading the youth group and inside, not being sure.

In the spring of that year there was a visiting preacher who came to our church from the USA. He was speaking every night of the week and at the beginning of the week he said that he would have a question box. If anyone had a question they should put it in the question box and he would answer it on Friday night. I thought here’s my chance. I carefully wrote my question, not wanting to give myself away – “Do you ever doubt the existence of God?”

I was waiting for the end of the week to come. On Friday night, finally, my question was drawn out of the box. The preacher read my question aloud and then said, “I don’t know whether this question was written by a Christian or a non-Christian”. And he put my question aside, making no comment at all. How frustrating!

I decided that I would go to counsel at the boys camp that I had counselled at previously. I thought, perhaps something miraculous will happen during camp that will reassure me. The first week went by and now it was Tuesday and Wednesday of the second week. I was becoming desperate. Nothing had happened that I could call miraculous! I decided that I would speak to the director of the camp. I had never met him before and I thought it would be safe for me to try my question on him. I told him my problem. He probably said more, but this is what I remember. “Gord, I have been a Christian for 10 years and I’ve been in full time children’s ministry for five years, and sometimes I still have doubts”. I was so relieved!

Looking back on it, I sometimes wished it had been something more profound. But it was just such a relief for me to discover that at least one other person had doubts. I didn’t know at the time that there were a million books written on this subject! Later I would have lots of opportunity to turn to them.

I’ve never forgotten those days. Although I have preached many sermons about faith and the importance of having faith and having reasons for faith. I’ve always had a soft heart for people with doubts.

When we are preaching, we have no idea as to what is going on in the minds of those who sit in front of us. It’s important for us to remember that it’s not abnormal for people to have doubts. Most of the big names in the Bible were plagued with doubts and struggles at one time or another. Abraham the father of faith had doubts. Moses had doubts. David had doubts, Jeremiah had doubts, John the Baptist had doubts and Peter had doubts.

It’s important for us to speak and interact with people with the full knowledge that some of them will be struggling at any given time with the same issues that plagued the faith of our fathers – and me. After all, doubt is not something a follower of Jesus “gets over”. Painful and obvious questions continue to rise up and challenge us at every stage of life! A big part of Christian fellowship is talking over these challenges together.

 

Questions for thought and discussion:

  1. How can we “preach faith” and welcome doubters?
  2. How transparent should preachers, teachers and church leaders be about their own short-comings, struggles and doubts?

 

I look forward to joining in community with you on this topic through the ‘Doing It Afraid Conversation’ Facebook group!

 

[1] Tool and die makers are a class of machinists in the manufacturing industries who make jigs, fixtures, dies, molds, machine tools, cutting tools, gauges, and other tools used in manufacturing processes. I was building dies for the automotive industry.

About me: My Adult Life – So Far!

I have been married to Heather for almost 51 years. We had three sons and now have five grandchildren. Our middle son died suddenly and tragically in 2015. Heather has actively supported me in all of our ministry endeavours, through thick and thin.

Heather and I served as missionaries in Ecuador and Colombia for four years doing evangelism and church planting.

Ministry in Canada:

  • Community evangelist and ambassador for Lake shore Bible Chapel
  • Pastor of Lakeshore Bible Chapel/Lincoln Road Chapel for many years
  • Initiator of Oasis, a downtown interdenominational outreach centre
  • Initiator of Vision Ministries Canada
  • Initiator of Vision Ministries Kenya
  • Initiator of Sharing the Vision, an informal global network of Church Network Leaders
  • Coach and mentor of immigrant churches and church planters, mostly in Ontario

There is nothing that brings me more joy than serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords with whatever capacity he gives me.