A Time for Renewal
I am not intimidated by new things. Give me all the new foods to try—the spicier and weirder the better. Give me a new board game, or a new city to explore—I’ll master them. Why not? Bring on these unknown joys and excitement. What can God show me through them?
It’s a different thing entirely when the new is sprung on you. As a new pastor in a new country, I expected some of these challenges, but I didn’t anticipate the scope. After living in the country for 3 weeks, the border between Canada and US was closed. Any ideas that Christy and I had about daily life as a family abruptly halted as the veil of caution and concern over COVID-19 descended upon the world.
In one sense, I’m grateful for the timing. I’m grateful we arrived in the country before the pandemic escalated, and grateful that we completed our list of immigration tasks before social distancing went into full effect. But I’m also confused, wondering what God is doing in this time and place. I was already dealing with so much “new.” Did we really need more change?
And yet, believing in God as the source of all things good means seeing that behind change is an opportunity and a gift. The last thing I want to do is to simplify or belittle the hardship that is wrecking our world. But I can speak personally to how this event has opened my eyes to my need for change. If every day is an act of worship, our daily habits are the songs and message of our witness. They form us and shape us. And if I’m honest, what I do each day does not always reflect the person I would like to become.
I see COVID-19 as a time for renewal—to pause and reflect on what has been normal, and then live into what the new “normal” might be as a husband, father and pastor. My prayer is that with these unusual days we look a little closer into our daily rhythms, seeking to order our lives around what matters most, Christ and his call, rather than be consumed by what often distracts us.
- Pastor Cris
IT’S TIME TO LOVE
COVID-19 has thrown our country and province into turmoil. Store shelves are empty of certain products. Regularly scheduled meetings are being cancelled in droves. Vulnerable people are fearful of going out of doors lest they catch the virus. Every runny nose is suspect.
It is reasonable to take proper precautions, but at a time like this it is very easy to become completely absorbed with our challenges and fears. I want to encourage us all to avoid the gravitational pull of the self-focused life and choose love instead.
The people closest to you need you. Your brothers and sisters in Christ need you. The larger community needs you. Self-preoccupation will smother our spirits. Love will come as a fresh wind into our lives.
Right now my thoughts are especially focused on the church. When challenges face us, we as a church need to pull together and care for one another.
Jesus died to make us a family, so let’s look out for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We will need people to step up for those who are suddenly hit with material and physical needs. Who are the loneliest in our church community— how can you reach out to them, if only by phone or online? If you can’t meet with your small group in person, how can you stay connected? Consider who might be lonely at Easter? How can you care for them?
I believe we are going to emerge from this crisis stronger not weaker. That will happen as we pray for one another and actively love the other members of the community. --Pastor Tom
WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE A SECOND PASTOR
It has been a long time since we have had a full time Second Pastor—a year and a half to be exact. Now Pastor Cris has arrived, and I am already sensing the big difference he is going to make.
Cris will be addressing many areas of ministry that have been neglected since Pastor Ryan’s departure. The staff have labored so successfully to fill in the ministry gaps that many people have not really noticed the void. But the gaps have been there, and the addition of Pastor Cris will be hugely positive.
Here are a few of the things he will be working on:
Young Adults: Cris and Christy are passionate about young adult ministry. The vital young adult segment of our church has had little pastoral attention directed their way in a long time. Pastor Cris will be investing in them. I believe we will see our young adults having a much richer experience at Bethel as they get better connected to one another and increasingly use their talents to help build the church.
Small Groups: Before we are anything else, our church is a community of people called to love one another in Jesus’ name; yet, only a few staff hours per week have been focused on our small group ministry. Pastor Cris has a great plan for getting to know and support small group leaders as he figures out how to deepen and expand this ministry.
Social Media: Cris has been assessing our social media presence, and hopes to pull together a team of talented people to make our communications topnotch. Our website is often the first point of contact guests have with our church. There are many social media platforms that can be used to improve our communication within and beyond the church. Cris’s goal is to make our social media presence the best it can possibly be.
Cris and Christy have been mired in the many mundane details related to moving (like getting SIN numbers and telephone plans) and there is a learning curve that comes with every new job. It will take time for Cris to settle in, but I know that good things just around the corner.—Pastor Tom
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