10 things I really like about my church

November 6, 2013 | Viewpoints
By Ryan Dueck |

1. We eat together a lot

No surprise here. We are Mennonites. One of the tragedies of summer ending around here is that our summer worship schedule, which involved an earlier service followed by an hour of goodies and conversation, has come to an end. We had fresh fruit and cheese, yummy pastries and cakes, and good coffee. I think that there is something healthy and theologically significant about communities that deliberately make space for eating together and sharing their lives with one another.

2. We try to be good neighbours

We don’t do this as a means to get people to come to church, but simply because we believe Jesus has called us to love and honour those who come across our paths. We have a large motor sports dealer that just went up beside the church, so we had a beef-on-a-bun lunch for them one Thursday this summer. We didn’t do it because we wanted to preach at them or even because we wanted them to come to church. We did it because they are our neighbours and we wanted to say, “Welcome to the neighbourhood. We’re glad you’re here!”

3. We love God with our minds

Probably between a third and half of the adults who regularly attend our worship services come early for one of our two adult Sunday school forums. People feel free to ask questions in these forums, and to push, prod, doubt and disagree. I think these are experienced by many to be life-giving spaces.

4. We love kids

We are not overrun with children at our church, but we love the ones that we have. We have people volunteering to organize “parent’s night out,” so the kids are fed supper and engaged for a few hours while harried parents can have a quiet meal together or catch up on some shopping. We have wonderful people committed to teaching kids not only what to think about God, but how to think about and love God. And we have kids contributing their musical talents in our services and reading Scripture.

5. We value simplicity and creativity

There is nothing terribly flashy about how we do things at our church, and many of the “forms” we use are quite familiar. We read Scripture out loud, even the cringe-worthy parts. We pray. We listen to sermons. We sing a lot of older hymns. We study the Bible on Wednesday nights. We use PowerPoint and other technologies sparingly. We have a big old brown pulpit. We don’t have a lot of programming, but within these traditional “forms” there is always space and grace for trying new things.

6. We embrace diversity and multi-voiced worship

We are blessed by the presence of a wide range of theological perspectives and socioeconomic/cultural backgrounds. All are welcome and encouraged to participate. A number of folks from our local L’Arche community have chosen to worship with us each week; one L’Arche member gave the offering prayer a few months ago and it was wonderful.

7. We love and care for creation

We go camping together. We have a hiking group that tramps up and down the hills and mountains of Alberta weekly. We have picnics in the river valley. We go on canoe trips. We also have a settled theological conviction that we are called to be responsible stewards of God’s good earth, a conviction that is reflected in our life and worship.

8. We are not anxious

There is so much hand-wringing out there about the state of the church in postmodernity that it can be exhausting and depressing even to read about it all. But we don’t spend much time agonizing about the future, or about how to “get people to come to our church.” My sense is that there is a quiet conviction that this is God’s church, not ours, and that God has simply called us to welcome the newcomer and the stranger, to love each other well, and to preach the gospel in word and deed. The future has never been ours to control anyway.

9. Peace, justice, and generosity matter to us

Things like global awareness, political action, and work on behalf of the poor and the marginalized are important parts of how we understand and live out the good news of Christ. We are blessed to have people among us who continually prod us to be more politically active, who do not allow us to become myopic in our worship and service.

10. We love Jesus

In a world where religion in general, and Christianity in particular, tend to get a bad rap, sometimes fully deserved, we try to always remind ourselves and others that Jesus is what God looks like, and Jesus is lovely indeed. I like that. l

Ryan Dueck is pastor of Lethbridge Mennonite Church, Alta.

Share this page: Twitter Instagram



I appreciated your article in the Nov. 11 Canadian Mennonite.
First,because I wonder how many pastors can actually say in a hopeful and optimistic way, here are 10 Things I like about my church.
With church attendance on the decline, and Christian leadership also on the decline,it was refreshing to read a positive story regarding a pastor's experience in their church.

My follow up thought or question would be to ask how did you and your congregation come to this place.

I would guess from your article it has to do more with relationships and not so much church growth theories or programs. I'd love to hear more.


Add new comment

Canadian Mennonite invites comments and encourages constructive discussion about our content. Actual full names (first and last) are required. Comments are moderated and may be edited. They will not appear online until approved and will be posted during business hours. Some comments may be reproduced in print.