These are golden days on the Prairies as summer melds into autumn. Everywhere the eye gazes, it touches on gold. Fields of grain, cut or standing, are pale gold. The dust of harvest glows rose-golden in the sun’s rays. The yellow-gold of changing leaves adds another hue. And in the ditches, yellow flowers contrast brightly with the dull gold grasses.
A young adult in her last semester of college and considering pastoral ministry takes the initiative to invite each pastor in her community for coffee so that she can learn from their wisdom and experience.
A middle-aged man, well-established in his career, volunteers in a seniors home to test a new call to ministry.
Life insurance considers their jobs more dangerous than munitions workers. Their profession has the second-highest divorce rate. Fifteen hundred of them leave their jobs each month. Their work has a negative impact on their families. If they work less than 50 hours per week, their chances of termination increase by 35 percent. And the list goes on and on. Who are they? Pastors!
For 500 years the Mennonite narrative has been dominated by stories of forced migration, escapes from persecution and the search for a place of refuge—often desperate quests for freedom to practise our faith or chosen lifestyle, and the burning desire to live and raise our children in peace. Ethno-cultural, religious and economic factors were usually fully intertwined.
I long to find pristine wilderness and be thrilled by its sheer existence. I want the wonder of the wild to flow back into my domestic life and animate me as I sit in front of a computer on a street made for cars.
Scads of cash is invested every year developing current and future pastors. This is important in so far as it shapes leaders and not managers, prophets and not puppets. Well-formed Kingdom servants rooted in an evangelical faith that cannot lie sleeping and smitten by the person of Jesus, his church, and the power of his resurrection are needed.
On a Friday afternoon in summer, chances are good you’ll find me with a few friends outside an ice cream stand, soaking in the pleasures of summer. Probably I’ll be licking a cone—something with chocolate and peanut butter if I’m lucky. The conversation will be easy: trips we’re planning or returning from; books we’re reading; light chatter about work, family and church.
On a cold, wet Sunday morning, May 5, 1935, Arthur Roth, his wife Melinda, and his mother, Mary Schrog Roth, made their way to church in East Zorra Township in southern Ontario. At the end of the lane they made an unaccustomed turn to the left, heading to the new congregation at Cassel, instead of their familiar congregation on the 16th Line: East Zorra Amish Mennonite Church.
As a fledgling whipper-snapper the great inherent threat to my young soul was said to be the subliminal messages being “backmasked” into music that would hoodwink me into becoming morally reprobate, or, worse, a Montreal Canadiens fan. Determined, and thoroughly misguided, religious groups fought to have backmasking on vinyl records banned forever.
I spend a lot of time pondering leadership these days. I see the word everywhere. I suspect I could take a course on leadership every weekend of the year in our city. Despite all this energy on building leaders, I hear more negatives than positives summed up by this recurring phrase, “We just need leadership,” as if this will solve all that’s ailing the church and the world.