In the midst of significant structural change in Mennonite Church Canada, a group of Canadian Mennonite University students came together in December 2015 around the question, “Do young people care about the future of the church?” This initial gathering generated surprising energy among the participants.
The church in North America is shrinking. We see signs of it everywhere. God is pruning back his church. We have a choice to frantically hold on to all that is dying or to pay attention to what Jesus is doing and join in with his new growth initiatives.
“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 3:22).
These words of John from the Island of Patmos are as relevant for us today as they were to the seven churches in the province of Asia who were struggling to adapt to the ever-changing realities of living under the rule of Roman emperors.
‘In the last couple of years, I’ve been embarrassed to tell people that I went to church or was a Christian.’—Aaron Dawson (Photo courtesy of Angelika Dawson)
‘I have also been deeply hurt by experiences in the church and have sometimes wondered why I stay. But I have stayed because, in the end, unlike Aaron, I find that it does matter to me. This is my tribe, warts and all.’—Angelika Dawson (Photo courtesy of Angelika Dawson)
A lot has been said and written about millennials: What’s wrong with them? What’s influenced them? What does their future hold?
Never let it be said that young people don’t care about the future of the church.
Late last year, Katrina Woelk, a sociology student at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and a member of the student council, was having a conversation with some other students and members of the university administration about the challenges facing Mennonite Church Canada.
I wrote this story two years ago, and since then another suicide has occurred and been mourned, in a neighbouring community. That man I did know. To remember both of these men who left behind wives, children, even grandchildren, today I publish it. Let’s learn how to handle mental illness in the church in a way that embraces rather than isolates.
It is with a heavy heart that I write today, and even now I debated sharing this. I do so because I believe that the story I am about to share is one with a lesson that we, the Mennonite church, need to learn.
David Siebert, left; Josie Winterfeld, outreach worker at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ont.; Dylan Siebert and Annemarie Rogalsky enjoy table fellowship at 50 Kent during Awakening Hope, an evening of 'inspiring each other on the path of Christian discipleship and community living' on Feb. 20, 2014. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
Mennonite churches are afraid. In fact, Christian denominations all over Canada are afraid. We have felt this, seen it and experienced it. Sometimes this fear leads denominations to do reckless things. Sometimes it reaches the point of despair. Why so much fear?
"The Wounded Heart of God: The Asian Concept of Han and the Christian Doctrine of Sin" by Andrew Sung Park is not light bedtime reading. Yet, I think this is one of the most influential theological books that I have read. The thorough articulation of the concept of "han" fills the gap of what I have noticed in trauma studies and trauma healing resources.
This past Sunday I preached on Ephesians 4:4-16. I wanted to draw attention to two themes in the book. First is the abundance of language about abundance. Believers are filled with riches, power and wealth. Second, this is set within the context of the body of Christ which (who) fills all things. A broad theme in my recent reading is on the notion of capitalism as that body which currently (and rapidly) seeks to fill everything. From last Sunday’s sermon,
Romans 13 has long been a thorn in my Anabaptist side. John Howard Yoder of course went a long way in clarifying the distinction between being subject to those in authority and actually obeying those in authority. That reading however still left me with many unanswered questions as to what Paul is calling the church towards. In preparation for the Romans readings of this season of Advent I reread Giorgio Agamben's The Time