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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Three Fold Model of Dynamic Congregations

I often find myself smiling as I experience the Holy Spirit bringing people and ideas together. As one of the co-pastors of Scarborough Congregation, I’ve been trying to help give some focus or direction to our membership. To that end, I’ve spent a great deal of this church school year talking about how we can grow in comfort with the ministry of invitation. Invitation is often overlooked, but I have come to appreciate of late, just how vitally important it is, along with two other concepts.

About once every month or so, I participate in a meeting of all the pastors of the GTA. And I’ve noticed that Alfredo Zelaya, pastor of GTA West, keeps talking about communities. Church communities. Building sacred communities.

I’ve also noticed that Matthew Swain, co-pastor of Barrie, keeps talking about relationships. The importance of, and basic need to form real, meaningful relationships with people.

Now, as I heard both of them talk about these things, which occurred on different occasions, and not at the same time, I heard them, as is so often the case, in isolation.

However, one day, I was thinking about the thing I’ve been talking about in Scarborough: the ministry and blessing of invitation. And then the Holy Spirit brought it all together. I suddenly recalled what Alfredo and Matt had mentioned, often just in passing, so many times at our meetings. And I realized that the three things that we have each been talking about separately form a three fold model. They go together.

Invitation will of course result in relationships being formed. Relationships, as they develop and multiply, will ensure that community building takes place. And as the community grows, the more potential there will be to have things to invite people to.

Which means of course, that there will be opportunities for new relationships to be formed; new connections between people being forged, in common desire to understand God; which then results in the community growing even larger (or new communities forming), as we grow in our shared desire to be united together on our spiritual journeys. Which means more opportunities for invitation… which means….which means… which means.

It is my belief that if we keep this three fold model in mind, and give it some focus in our congregations, we can truly become dynamic in what we offer our members, friends, seekers, and visitors. This I hope will also enable our congregations to be more sustainable.

Posted by guest blogger David Donoghue, co-pastor, Scarborough, Ontario

Friday, February 15, 2013

Want...a Meditation on Psalm 23:1

Product Details
 (I have not yet read Gladys Nutsack's novel but the cover and title so seemed to fit the post in an antithetical kind of way that I decided to include it here.  If you are a Kobo or Kindle reader, you might want to look it up.)

Psalm 23:1  The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

I am thankful for this day and this quiet time.  It is a lovely privilege to dwell in the word of Psalm 23 and be blessed by the oil of peace, hope, love and perhaps even joy.

I look back through my journal and recognize the ever present tendency to be “self”-ish, to think that I am the centre of something, to make everything personal, and dwell on my own decisions, but the world and the universe are so much greater than that.  

I do look at the world from my little piece of consciousness, but the world is not about me, it is about the world!  The green hills of Honduras are about the green hills of Honduras and the people who live there, and that must also be true for the snow covered fields of Eastern Canada.  It is all best understood when seen from a perspective of God’s love and peace, God’s generous grace.  

 The full meaning of the universe around us is so beyond our understanding.  Holy One, help us remember to see in love and be generous, remembering Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, and believe that.

As a statement, it is difficult enough to really believe and trust, but what if that statement is understood as a promise?  What if it were my promise, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want?  Is it possible to keep such a promise?  Don’t we/I want all the time?  Even in our/my better, less selfish moments, we/I want peace, harmony, love, and security, we/I want...(selfishly), we/I want...God! 

We are so “self”-ish, self-centred...self!

What if I/we were Godly?  What if I were "other"-centred?  What if I truly trusted, not just in this moment but all day long that The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want?  What if that were my promise?  Could I keep it?  For even one day?  Would it change the world?  No, but it might change me and how I look at the world.  It might be a starting place; a beginning.

To not be selfish for even one day, to be a presence of Holiness and Generosity would be a small gift to the world and to others.  It is what Jesus did all the time.

May I/we be grace today.

Posted by Carman