A Word From Steve Jones
April 15th, 2019
Many of our Fellowship churches have been involved in supporting a special home in Honduras. Casa Hogar is a safe and loving home for street kids. Fellowship International missionary Melodie Francis has been caring for the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of these at-risk children since 2005.
This past summer, Fellowship Baptist Church in Drumheller, AB decided to work with FAIR (Fellowship Aid and International Relief, our humanitarian and social justice ministry), and involved the children in their VBS in an opportunity to bless the children at Casa Hogar.
I’ve asked Wendy Fletcher, Fellowship Baptist’s VBS Director, to share their story with you. Read on… it will encourage you.
Lace up Honduras VBS Campaign
This summer (2017) our church (Fellowship Baptist Church, Drumheller, AB) engaged our community in a “Deep Sea Discovery” through a week-long VBS. Our town, deep in the heart of dinosaur-land, has a population of approximately 8,000. Our goals were simple: prepare, in faith, to share the Gospel with children and the families that God would bring in His name. We gathered supplies, cut-out fish, marketed, decorated, trained a wonderful group of volunteers and prepared.
“An important part of that preparation was to invite the families from our community who would attend VBS to become involved monetarily in a global outreach initiative as a part of our daily “Kids Helping Kids” segment. However, first we needed a project...
“When we sat down with FAIR’s Associate Director, Norman Nielsen, to pick his “FAIR” brain for opportunities to help kids financially, the idea of raising money for Casa Hogar in Honduras (a house-home for children who are rescued from the streets) resonated with us. Our aim as a church and community would be to raise funds during VBS towards the purchase of three pairs of new shoes for 45+ children that reside there. I started to calculate the cost...approximately $1,600 for all three pairs...in one week...in our small church...in our small town. I was certain it was a match for our global outreach initiative, one that would engage the children, however, as much as I loved the idea, I wondered if we could complete our goal.
“Speaking to the VBS leaders...they were game. We started to pray. We called the project, “Lace Up Honduras!” and mounted the sign in our former sanctuary, now the deep sea! We rigged-up an old fence post in a bait bucket filled with sand to tie a shoelace around it each time $10 was given towards the cost of the shoes. We sent out letters of invitation to the parents of pre-registered children to be a part of our project and made a cool video promoting and informing the families that would come that week. We were ready and asking God to do great things!
“One big and new decision regarding involvement in the project was to invite/challenge our church body to a “Top-it-Up Sunday” on the Sunday directly following our VBS program. One observation we’ve made regarding the church’s connection with VBS is that for those who are unable to volunteer during the BIG week there is limited connection to how God has moved. We hoped the opportunity to play a part in the VBS project financially would connect the church to those who attended. So, we gave the church two weeks’ notice to plan, pray, and prepare for what they might give to this project above their own giving.
“Throughout the week of VBS... my faith grew. God gave us 50 children, some churched, others not, to love on and share the Gospel with. They came with their quarters, loonies, 20 dollar bills...each day they were given an opportunity to walk to the front and place their offering into a treasure chest.
By Wednesday our community raised $284...by Thursday they raised (wait for it...) $882 (WOW!) and by the end of Friday we had raised over $1,200!! I was breathless and so proud of the kids and their parents! It was beautiful.
“On Sunday, our “top-it-up” offering was taken in that same old treasure chest by our dear church family …. I am blessed to report that together we raised $1,900 and all the children at Casa Hogar will receive their three pairs of new and much-needed shoes.
“Our church, our team, our community who participated in this effort were all blessed and encouraged. We look forward to seeing what God will do in summer 2018!”
Thank you, Wendy, the kids, and the Fellowship Baptist Church family in Drumheller for blessing the kids of Casa Hogar. We’re so grateful that you stepped out in great faith. God loves it when you do this.
May your example inspire other Fellowship churches to get involved through our FAIR ministry and bless others through dozens of relief and development projects available online.
Click> HERE for more information.
If you’re looking for a VBS summer camp project to provide for children this summer, why not go online and check out our FAIR catalogue> HERE or
contact our FAIR Director Dan Shurr> HERE
or Associate Director, Norman Nielsen> HERE.
Have a blessed week,
I would like to introduce you to Chris and Sara Middleton. They made a big decision recently, with the Lord’s leading, and our Fellowship International ministry affirmed this decision.
After serving at the Fellowship National Ministry Centre for over 8 years, they are on the move. Until recently, Chris’ role has been with Fellowship International, mobilizing new missionaries and helping our local churches in the area of short-term mission work. Before that, Chris and Sara served with Fellowship International as missionaries in Turkey.
Lord willing, they will be moving to Québec this summer to serve in our mission field next door. Québec is the largest under-reached people group in all the Americas. Only 0.8% of Francophone Canadians self-identify as evangelical Christian. The spiritual needs are immense. I commend the Middletons for obeying the Lord in this big decision, and joyfully recommend them to you and your church for support.
I’ll let Chris briefly explain their sense of calling to Québec and how they will be serving among our Fellowship Francophone churches:
"When Sara and I came home from Turkey in 2009 we weren't sure if God might ever lead us back out to serve cross-culturally. We knew that God had brought us home for a reason and we have enjoyed these years of training and mobilizing new missionaries for the harvest. Over the 8.5 years that we have been serving in the Fellowship International office we have wondered and prayed about the Lord's leading for the future.
“Over the last year we have felt a strong burden and desire to return to the mission field. As we prayed together with a small discernment team we really sensed the Lord's leading to Quebec. Sara and I are excited and a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of packing up our family of four and moving to Quebec to serve as catalyzers of disciple-making movements (DMMs) and field leaders for Fellowship International's newest field. We are looking forward to working in partnership with our Fellowship French Region to communicate the hope of Christ to a people group that is in great need and has little access to witnesses of the Gospel in their midst. We know that this transition will not be easy. We will need to work hard to become conversant in French, to dig in and begin to understand the Francophone Quebecois culture, and to discern how to share the good news of the Gospel in ways that will be heard and understood. We also know that we don't do this alone."
You can find further information about Chris and Sara by requesting a copy of their profile HERE. Make sure to share it with your church’s mission team!
The Middletons, like any other Fellowship International missionary, must form their personal partner support team. They already have an engaged team, however, they are in need of several other supporting churches and/or individual donors before they can leave for Québec. Would you prayerfully consider how you can support the Middletons? If interested, contact Chris HERE or the Fellowship International Associate Director, Luc Tétreault HERE.
Have a blessed week,
Author, John Kotter, probably the most respected voice in the world on organizational change, says that most change efforts fail. A major reason for this is that leaders under-communicate the vision by a factor of ten!
According to Kotter:
“Employee members will not make sacrifices, even if they are unhappy with the status quo, unless they believe that useful change is possible. Without credible communication, and a lot of it, the hearts and minds of the troops are never captured.” (Kotter, 1995)
Vision is critical to mission getting done.
Vision is a painting. I’m a water colour artist. Vision is a painting of a scene that produces passion or emotion in people. It is a preferred future that inspires, brings hope and, with God’s help, comes to being.
The Apostle John on Ownership
In John 10, we listen to Jesus tell the story of the hired-hands who cared for the sheep. When a pack of wolves came looking for a rack of lamb, guess who went running for the hills — the hired-hands. The owner knew the sheep by name and would risk his life for his lambs. Owners do whatever it takes to propel the mission and vision forward. Owners are willing to die for the mission they own.
Which begs the question – do I give assent to Jesus’ mission, applaud it, or do I own His mission?
One Day on “Bloody Sunday”
Six hundred people crossed a bridge in Louisiana marching to Montgomery, Alabama in March 1965 to tell the Governor that blacks should be able to vote. On the other side of the bridge stood hundreds of hateful, racist police officers with attack dogs, clubs, and tear gas. These people stopped, looked at the police, the teeth, the clubs, and they all did a “gut check”. Do I really own this vision, because it’s likely going to mean getting in harm’s way. Today we know this event as “Bloody Sunday”. A nation realized change was coming because some people were willing to die for a vision of a preferred future. The Civil Rights movement followed this blood bath.
Vision leaks amid weak leadership
Vision leaks. This is a fact. It’s inevitable in church and any organization. Most people get their ownership cue from their leader. They are willing to take a bullet as long as the leader is willing to take the first bullet. Most won’t settle for the “hired-hand” lowball vision that costs little. This vision is birthed by leaders asking people to own what they themselves are not willing to pay for. Most want to own something that costs dearly. Jesus is one example. Salvation cost Him glory. Imagine a divine being becoming a baby unable to neither feed Himself nor hold His own bladder. It cost Him His blood at Calvary. Our people wait for a leader with a vision that is costly. Are you a hired-hand or an owner?
Create a vision that is short and clear. Then communicate it like crazy. A leader’s responsibility is to articulate the organizations mission and vision. If a church member rambles on for a few minutes trying to state the vision, then your vision statement is too long. It must be an “elevator speech” that church members can give between floors in an elevator. Tell me your vision in 30 seconds or less. Ready? Go! If you can’t do it, work on the vision. If you can, start telling the vision in every way you can!
Have a blessed week,
Church Consultant George Bullard talks about the typical life-cycle of a church in North America. He said, “The average church that makes it seven years will have a life span of 80 years.” The actual closing of churches is more common than you might think. Our own Fellowship member churches have numbered around 500 for the past two decades. Many churches have been planted during that time, but many churches have also closed, and so our net gain is minimal. This is not ideal.
For another example, the Assemblies of God (USA), had 8,443 churches in 1965. Forty-five years later there were 12,371. But during those 45 years, they closed 8,153 existing churches and planted 12,049 resulting in a net gain of 3,928 churches. The closing of churches is very common.
George Bullard identifies ten stages in the life-cycle of a church.
Needs a Mountain:
This church, as it nears “adulthood” or “maturity”, needs to climb a new mountain together. It needs some fresh vision or the church will decline over the next 3-5 years
Needs an Intervention:
This church has lots of structure but less and less movement. Its traditions can/may choke out its life and reason (mission) for being. This church needs a Church Consultation with an outside party to develop some prescriptions to help redirect it back on mission. If not, the church will die sooner than later.
SO WHAT IS MY POINT?
I recognize these are sobering words. Some declare we’re called to “faithfulness” and that’s it. I certainly cannot disagree. However, this declaration only gets it half right. The Bible calls the church to “faithfulness and fruitfulness.” Lives that are won, discipled, transformed, and multiplied in others. Our church stats indicate we are experiencing only modest outcomes. What are we to do with that knowledge? I visit global fields where church planting movements stagger the imagination. But this is Canada. So we believe it cannot happen here?
We all love the church, the very bride of Christ. It is precious.
Certainly, we want to present Christ, His Bride as a healthy, vibrant expression of what He called us to be and do. Then let’s talk about it. Be honest about the “state of the union” of our churches and know that our Region and Fellowship National exist to help our local churches keep on mission.
Local Church Consultation
Our Fellowship Regions have a ministry whereby they come alongside of a Fellowship church and consult and coach. The “Church Consultation” takes place over a weekend with key leaders and members in your church. Several “prescriptions” are identified and steps are determined for the church over the next 1-3 years. This intervention has been used by the Lord to help dozens and dozens of our churches pursue missional health.
Our FEB Central and AÉBÉQ (Quebec) Regions are currently testing a new church health tool, “Congregational Vitality Pathway” (CVP), which I believe has great potential to help revitalize many of our churches. The CVP is not a program, but helps prepare a church for intentional strategic ministry planning; helping local churches to pursue the marks of a “healthy missional” church. “Health” is defined as pursuing Christ and “missional” is defined as pursuing Christ’s priorities in the world. I look forward to seeing the fruit of this church health tool.
Global – Mission Consultation
Fellowship National has a ministry that supports Fellowship churches who desire a consultation and coaching on their global mission initiatives. Similar to “Church Consultations”, a staff member(s) from our Fellowship International department comes alongside your mission and church leaders over a prescribed period of time to help re-envision “your” specific global mission plan.
Why not have an honest conversation about the health of your church and what steps you can take to improve the “mission environment” this coming year. These two consultations are available as tools to help support you in pursuing mission health.
Have a blessed week,
I once heard that vision constantly “leaks” out of churches. Our churches are full of people with real lives and they quickly forget why the church exists. We keep thinking it’s all for “me”.
Any vision that comes quickly or unanimously through committee consensus will be a vision that may be approved, but not necessarily owned. And if it ain’t owned, brother, it ain’t gonna happen.
Because vision is the first thing to “leak” in our church. A vision of church health needs to be constantly promoted in our churches.
I shared “Vision Vignettes” from time to time in the churches I pastored. They were brief challenges, stories and parables that succinctly crystalized the vision of our church. Answering, why do we exist?”
I thought I might share one of my vision vignettes as a tool for you to use, if you wish. Trust it is helpful.
VISION VIGNETTE: The Harbour
Imagine with me the church as a safe, picturesque harbour.
We visit quaint harbours because:
The church and a coastal harbour.
They are a lot alike.
We come to church because it is a safe harbour.
Have a blessed week,