Hope you enjoyed the first three examples of Mercy. Here's one more that should inspire us all.
Great example for us all!
Hope you enjoyed the first three examples of Mercy. Here's one more that should inspire us all.
Great example for us all!
"Don't get mad, get mercy" hit a cord with a lot of us last Sunday! Responding to people who offend us or hurt with anger seems to come so naturally to us, but it is not the Christ like response nor is it the response of those on "The Road Less Traveled". So I issued a30 day challenge to everyone of showing mercy at least once a day for the next 30 days. I also asked you to share any good "mercy" stories with me so I could share them with everyone else. Some have already done so, so here are the first three less the names of those involved.
Thanks for your words this morning and your challenge, I believe both will be part of a massive change and growth when I apply them.
At 6:00 am today, I drove our youngest daughter to hockey practice. As I pulled out of the parking lot I turned out onto the road and the vehicle I thought was turning...wasn't ! I quickly stopped and the vehicle was able to go through, the driver obviously upset at me yelling and gesturing inside his vehicle that he was 'mad' at me. As I drove away I was partly feeling guilty for my mistake but also partly mad at the other driver for his obvious upset at me. In fact I was more mad at him for his response than I was guilty for my mistake. I made an off hand comment about the other driver needing to 'get a life'.
Fast forward to the service this morning and I got reminded of the episode when I chose something other than Mercy, honest remorse for my mistake, and taking full responsibility for the event.
God is good, so on the way out of the service today I am nearly hit by another vehicle pulling out of Canadian tire...the driver is going too fast and fails to come to a stop at the stop sign. My first reaction is to glare at the person and begging to offer my 'opinion' of his driving performance, I go on the attack??? Then I am reminded about my commitment to choose 'Mercy' and catch myself in the process of my 'normal' response. So while I didn't go to Mercy immediately, the Holy Spirit was quick to help me see my fleshy response for what it was.
Fast forward to later the same day. I am going into the office in the evening to check on something (I am not really happy about this, it is cold, driving conditions are awful, etc) that needs to be finished up for tomorrows work day. On the way home, I pull out onto the highway and begin to get up to speed when another vehicle suddenly pulls out onto the highway and cuts me off...I barely get stopped in time to avoid hitting the vehicle. I slowly pull around the vehicle and proceed down the road. This time I don't feel the sting of wanting to 'punish' the other guy with a good tongue lashing. I actually was reminded how awful I felt when I knew that I had made a mistake earlier this am, I actually felt bad for the other driver in a way. The great news is that no one has been hurt, everyone is ok...just a couple of mistakes made in the process of living out our days.
I am reminded of how far I have come in my walk in the last couple of years. I recall following a vehicle that I believed had done me wrong, bellowing at the car as we drove along, mad and wanting some kind of revenge that was impossible to gain...finally turning off the 'chase' so that i could finally get on with my day. All along grumbling about the other driver and what an idiot he was and...etc etc...you get the point.
My instinct in many of life's challenging situations has been to immediately go to anger to protect myself, a good offence is the best defence!
Christ who lives in me. Living to reflect His glory.
One of those cool days when the dots connect.
Great stories! Mercy doesn't come easy to most of us but as we allow the Lord to shape and mold us, he will give us opportunities like the ones above to begin to make mercy are most natural response.
Keep the stories coming - they are so encouraging.
Some time ago one of the members of The Bridge family shared with me how they had accepted the challenge we gave in a message last fall about tithing. This person was so excited about what God had been doing for them since they started trusting him with their money and needs by giving the Lord 10% of what they made through the church that I asked if they would be willing to share their testimony with the church. They said they would and this Sunday they gave me the following testimony. I hope you enjoy it and find it encouraging!
I began attending The Bridge a few months ago. Pastor Allan did a series on tithing and I have been challenged by the Lord to give more. During the series I made the decision to tithe and give an offering as well. Prior to this, I was not tithing regularly and I saw my lack.
I had lost a few of my clients in my business - some of them shortly before Christmas. I was now over $700.00 a month short of what I needed. My first reaction was to panic, and then to pray. I realized that God can be trusted, and if I sowed into the Kingdom, I would reap the benefit. Within a week, I was taken care of. One of my weekly clients, who had cancelled, called to begin again on a bi-weekly basis. Someone else who had been a bi-weekly client, cancelled and I received a phone call from someone new needing weekly appointments. Through these clients I received two other referrals. The other day I happened to simply say “hi” to one of my clients’ neighbors and now I have another client!
In my life I have noticed that when I don’t give, I rob God and He doesn’t have the opportunity to bless me. When I give, I am taken care of. He has spoken to me personally from Malachi 3:7 – 12 and also from Luke 20: 20 – 26. I also noticed recently that servers in a restaurant are now expecting 20% tip. God is only asking 10% from me!
Pray for me that I will be a better steward over all that has been given to me.
If you have never trusted the Lord in this way, I would really encourage you to pray about it and give it a try. God will prove himself faithful to you just as he did this person.
Don’t you love what is happening at The Bridge? Doesn’t it feel good to come to church Sunday after Sunday and sense the presence of the Lord! Isn’t it exciting to see new people attending week after week? Hasn’t the fact that over 40 people, 40 people! have accepted Jesus as their personal Saviour in the past 3 months blown your mind! You talk about a good time to be part of The Bridge! This is definitely it. The temptation to not change a thing so that whatever is happening keeps on happening, is great. It’s a natural temptation – but a temptation we must not yield to. Our goal you see isn’t to build a church that we are all blessed to attend but to build irresistible bridges between Jesus & those who don’t yet have a personal relationship with him.
Our situation reminds me of the people of Capernaum. Jesus had come to their town and done some amazing things and as a result they begged him to stay in their town. We know the feeling, don’t we. But listen to what Jesus said in response “ I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.” Luke 4:43 We must take Jesus’ words to heart. We can’t stay where we are. We have to keep pushing the gospel forward because that is what Jesus has called us to do. That’s why we are actively talking about starting a third worship service, renting a gym for junior highers, expanding our building, starting an off-site congregation. It would be easier, cheaper and safer to just maintain the status quo but that isn’t what we have been called to do. We’ve been called to build irresistible bridges! So celebrate the great things God is doing among us, but keep your skates laced up, the game isn’t over yet!
This weekend we conclude our 21 Days of Fasting & Prayer and I would like to thank each of you who participated, whether you fasted one meal or several, whether you fasted TV, pop, coffee or whatever that you might spend more time drawing closer to the Lord. Your commitment to seeking God is going to make a big difference! Any time we make a deliberate effort to draw near to God, he always meets us more than half way. But don't be disappointed if you don't see any immediate results. Like me you have grown up in the instant gratification era. We have been trained to expect immediate results for anything we do. God however does not work on our timetable. Sometimes we pray and don't see results right away because we are in the growing or peculating stage. No farmer plants his seeds and expects to see an immediate harvest. That may be true in your life, in The Bridge. Through our/your fasting and prayer we/you may have planted some spiritual seeds that will require time to grow. That's hard for us to take, but it is the truth. If, as Paul says, we don't grow weary in doing good, in fasting & prayer, we will reap a harvest, if we don't quit. (Galatians 6:9) Therefore end this time of fasting with confidence and joy. God has heard our prayers! He is at work! We may see some results right away, but we may need to wait a little while before we see the greatest results of our fasting. God is at work at The Bridge, my friends, and He will respond to our faith demonstrated in prayer & fasting, so get ready, be expectant, and don't let the devil steal your joy or your sense of expectation.
Th There are many people in my life who need to know that God loves them and that Jesus Christ died for their sins. Unfortunately, it has been rare for me to be able to share that message. It is not because I am not willing, or that I don’t want to. I often sit in conversations and know that God has the answer for these lives, but my tongue freezes and my brain goes dead and I sit mutely and I don’t feel the Spirit giving me the words or the permission to speak.
Last week, a girlfriend, who like most, has her share of difficulties and grief, was visiting and telling me all kinds of depressing troubles. I know she needs to be forgiven and healed by Jesus. I know that her problems run deep and far back into her past. I know that God can break her free from all that binds and hurts her. I had been praying for her for months, and for an opportunity to share Christ with her, but so far had not been able to do so.
That morning, I had been fasting and prayed also for this woman, and asked God once again for the opportunity to bring the words of truth and life to her. I prayed that the opening would come in our conversation, that God would give me courage and boldness, and use me to bring the message of His love and forgiveness to her. And then, for some reason the words came, to pray against the spirit of depression and oppression that seems to be prohibiting me from speaking to her.
When she came to visit, during our conversation, the door opened wide for me. Scripture upon scripture flooded my mind and my tongue broke free and I shared with her my testimony of how Christ came into my heart, forgiving and paying for my sin by His death and shed blood, and that only through Him are we saved and accepted by God. I was trembling at the power and authority I felt in the words that were being given to me to speak.
After she left, it came to my mind that account in Scripture where the disciples were unable to free someone from demonic possession, and Jesus said that this kind could only be cast out by prayer and fasting. Perhaps, all this time, my tongue was being stilled, not because God wasn't willing me to speak, but because Satan was putting up a barrier, and only by fasting and prayer was it able to be torn down.
SS Submitted by Barb Ross
As we begin 2012 Harry Kingston has shared his personal testimony with me and I am sharing it with you. Thanks Harry!
I really believe God has been doing great things in my life over the past 2 months. My spiritual life needed some ‘correction’ if I was to be the husband to Teri that she deserves and a faithful Leader among men in our church family. Pastor Allan’s very strong sermon messages and careful accountability sessions will lead me to a wonderful year ahead in peace and personal fulfillment. In my faith journey over the past 13 years, I always knew that I am a constant work in progress. Some had commented…. “You’re a piece of work!” … which I first took as a compliment. But now, I realize that I was covering for past brokenness and unresolved issues. At work and in my community I could never act weak in the eyes of those I lead or encounter in our social life. Therefore, I would deflect or react in silence to possible challenges on accountability issues. But, just like metal must be worked into the shape of what it is to become, so I too needed to be bent and humbled before Him, so that he can continue his handiwork in creating a more loving husband and servant heart to serve in His great commission.
I remember that my first Mentor and ‘father-figure’ often said that just as gold is tested by fire; man is tested by adversity. God sometimes has to put us on our backs in order to make us look up. As a keen hunter, I know that you keep your focus on the horizon. You never look up unless it was to check the weather...But that is not true in Life. The first place to look is “up” towards God.
I have learned recently from my continuing journey that a bit of old fashion ‘suffering’ can help purify me as a Believer. From Allan’s strong sermon series I am more aware that testing man does not destroy his faith; testing and re-affirming causes you to stand firm. It shows the reality of your faith. (Php 1:28). I think now that God uses suffering to expose sin because suffering deters from going astray and leads to more obedience to His plan for my life. Some old fashioned suffering can lead to our living for the will of God. (1Pe 4:1). Being tested as I have been testifies to the reality of my Faith. As a husband and Elder, I am responsible to walk worthy of this high privilege.
I have been edging towards potential ‘burn-out’ mode from my career for a couple of years now due to extreme pressure of my professional assignment. These past few months has enabled me to think about re-setting some career priorities before I sail off into the sunset at retirement. Having a strong faith, a close accountability partner and my loving wife allowed me the opportunity to ‘breathe’ new life and passion. Thru all this time, God has seen to it that we have still have the truck and car, all our bills are paid monthly, we've had no disconnections, have not been hungry, still have our future home at the Lake. All our needs were met. God sent us a kind of miracle financially that gave us time to breathe again. It was totally unexpected. We just prayed for His intervention and clarity! Now we thank Him for his faithfulness, mercy, grace and love!
Several years ago, a former partner hurt me very badly. I swore that “never again” would I love. There had been very bad behaviors going on within my home when I found out about it. We fell out, separated, and divorced. I was devastated from the betrayal to the extent that I was operating in an out-of-body capacity for much of the time. I never accepted or even expected that it was God's will.
Then I met Teri…together we became closer to God. We work hard on our marriage; we put in even more effort now to communicate well. There was a lot of misunderstanding based on my mindset. But….each year got better. By the second year it was good, by the third great, by the fifth awesome and it's still growing. God brought us together, and as He promised, replaced the ashes with beauty.
In November, there were times when I wanted to disappear. It was during these times that I would ask the Lord to let me hear his voice. God’s call is always on speed dial when you pray….. I think about God's goodness and how compassionate he is; how he cares when we hurt and does all sorts of things to make us better.
I am at the stage in life now when I am basically saying, "Lord … I can do better." That was all that needed to be said. With the great support from very strong Believers at the Bridge, I have made some personal changes in long term habits and God has been faithful even beyond my expectations.
Like so many others, Christmas is my favourite time of year! I love every part of the season. I love the music - I begin playing it in October! I love the lights, I love the food, I love Santa - (my secret wish is to be a Santa in a mall when I retire), I love Christmas shopping - as long as I have a list, I love getting together with family. But by far my favourite part of Christmas is Christmas Eve. I love going to church on Christmas Eve to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. To think that 2,000 years ago some angels really did appear to some ordinary shepherds on the hillside outside of Bethlehem is amazing; that Jesus, the holy son of God, really did come into the world as a baby in a manger, is mind boggling. This season isn't simply about tradition, about a heart moving, romantic story. This season is the celebration of the most unbelievable, most amazing event in history - God himself coming into the world in the form of a man. In my devotions this morning I read in Hebrews 2:14-15 "the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying." Christmas is about freedom. It's about forgiveness. It's about power over sin and Satan. It's about the cross. It's about the gift of eternal life. When you stop and think about all of that Christmas really is, we don't make nearly a big enough deal about it. As Christians, we should have the most lights on our houses, we should sing the carols the loudest, we should have the most exciting parties, we should be the most joyous "Merry Christmas" wishers! Jesus has come and we are forgiven! Jesus has come and we're going to heaven! Jesus has come and one day every tear will be wiped away, every disappointment will be eliminated, every hurt will be healed. Jesus has come and so even in a world as uncertain and hopeless as ours, there is hope!
It's time to party folks! It's time to celebrate the greatest gift ever given - the gift of God's own son - Jesus Christ the Lord and Saviour of the world!!! Merry, Merry Christmas one and all!
WOW! The blogs on tithing have been great this week! So inspiring. Here's another great one by Michael & Jackie Duckering!
We know that the Bible is God's word, that He loves us and has promised to care for us. Therefore, we decided that it's only logical to use our finances according to biblical principles. Here are some of them (these are highlights from a Crown Financial Ministries study we did several years ago):
- Avoid debt. Car loans, lines of credit, do not pay until 2020, etc... avoid it all - the bible teaches that the borrower is the slave to the lender. A mortgage can be ok... but be careful to stay comfortably within your means. When you don't have payments to worry about, you have a lot more freedom to be generous!
- Give 10% to God. God owns it all anyway! We love being part of the great things God is doing at The Bridge!
- Give generously to causes you believe in. It's great to celebrate the awesome things God is doing through them! Jesus said, whatever you have done for the poor, you have done for me.
- The only way to be truly satisfied is to want less. We humans have an insatiable appetite for more. The more stuff we have, the more stuff we want. Better, faster, smaller, bigger, shinier...
- Choose your stuff wisely, it will affect how you spend your time. Stuff requires time. The more stuff you have, the more time you need to use it. We ask God to direct the desires of our heart. Do we REALLY need it?
God has been so faithful and generous to us. We are thankful for his blessing and the opportunity to serve him at The Bridge!
Michael and Jackie Duckering
Good morning everyone. Wasn't yesterday's tithing testimony great!! We have another exciting testimony for you to read today from Aaron & Heather Bown.
In the not so distant past, Heather and I were completely stuck in the "kiddie pool of faith". We had both accepted Christ into our lives as teenagers however our faith as adults never progressed much beyond the shallow end of the pool. We casually professed to trust Jesus Christ with our words but failed to demonstrate any such trust in the way we conducted our lives -- particularly regarding our money and our marriage. Simply put, we were saying one thing and doing another (a.k.a. "hypocrites"). Sure, we attended church regularly and even volunteered. To most observers, we looked and sounded like "good Christians". We had everyone fooled...except God of course. The truth was that our faith was stuck in "first gear" and we weren't truly trusting God with our lives -- the result of our ankle deep faith speaks for itself. Even though we were financially well-off, we lived beyond our wage and financed the difference with credit-card debt. We had zero savings, no house and we didn't tithe -- not even close. Our marriage was struggling and we were generally unhappy, unsatisfied people. Our lives were more consumed with acquiring meaningless "things" rather than a meaningful relationship with Christ. We had NOTHING to show for all of the money we had spent and debt we had acquired. We had also bought into the lie that things would eventually get better -- we would eventually start to tithe when the circumstances were right and we would eventually make our marriage more of a priority. After years of TOTAL FAILURE on both fronts, we concluded that OUR approach wasn't working and that perhaps Jesus WAS the answer to the challenges we seemed unable to overcome. We RELUCTANTLY submitted our finances to HIM and more importantly, our marriage (funny how our refusal to tithe was connected to our resistance to submit other areas of our lives to Christ). We IMMEDIATELY constructed a budget and began to give 10% of our income to our local church, The Bridge, and trusted that Christ would help us figure out the rest. We haven't looked back since. Of course, God has a wonderful sense of humour and all of this transpired at the WORST POSSIBLE TIME! Our household income decreased by 30% shortly after making the decision to tithe!! God was clearly testing us to see how serious we were in our commitment to submit EVERYTHING to Him -- we decided to continue tithing in spite of the initial challenges. The result: God has ALWAYS provided more than we have needed. In the months and years since we started tithing, we have been able to meet ALL of our financial commitments, pay off THOUSANDS of dollars of debt and give away THOUSANDS of dollars in gifts to people in need (up and above our tithe)!! Most importantly, our decision to tithe strengthened our marriage and our relationship with Jesus Christ. We put God to the test and now have a happiness and contentment that we had never experienced before surrendering EVERYTHING to Christ. God truly blesses those who fully submit to him (Proverbs 3:5-6). We are living proof.
Hope you enjoyed Paul's testimony yesterday! We've got another great story for you today. I know you will find this testimony amazingly honest and meaningful as one of our ladies shares about her commitment to trust God and tithe no matter what.
I gave my life to Christ when I was eleven years old. This wonderful new beginning came on the heels of a rather turbulent childhood where there was very little stability or means by which to live a normal life. My mother, who had battled alcohol addiction and much deeper-seeded issues for many years before I’d even come along, had given her life to Christ in the same beautiful moment and I know that we are alive today (both spiritually and physically) because of Him.
Despite the miraculous change I’d witnessed in my own life at a young age, I must admit that over the ensuing teenage years, I’d developed an attitude of complacency in my walk of faith and began to see and do things on my terms, instead of surrendering all to Him.
Fast forward a couple of decades and I’d found myself married to a man with addiction issues of his own.
In the winter of 2009/2010, exhausted and running on mere fumes, I laid down all that was left of me before God. I was broken and hurting and called on God to meet me where I was. I had made a mess of my own life and wanted Him to take my mess and make me whole again. In His mercy and grace, He restored my soul. There were, however, a few uphill battles I still needed to climb, albeit with Him right beside me, building my character and making me lean into Him more and more.
I started attending The Bridge and had learned about tithing in a Connections 4 class. Without going into too much detail, I’ll say that my uphill battles, as mentioned earlier, had impacted my financial situation to a considerable degree and there were times when I lived off the overdraft security of my chequing account to get to the next pay cheque.
God had shown me such amazing faithfulness in so many areas of my life, which convicted me to bring my tithe to Him as He requires. Much to my humanly surprise, there always seemed to be enough. The overdraft protection in my account remained untouched and all that I and my family needed was ever present.
Just as I thought I was into a really good groove, a number of “curve balls” came my way and I found myself struggling again financially. I remember it was the middle of the week and my mind turned to my upcoming Sunday tithe. I thought to myself, ‘I can’t do it this time. Maybe I’m giving too much anyway; I can’t afford it’. And as I was starting to feel overwhelmed with these thoughts, God, in that amazing way that He speaks to us, comforted me with His own words, “do what I’ve called you to do; trust in Me and I will provide”.
Long story longer, I made my tithe that Sunday as I had every other Sunday. I remember putting my envelope in the collection and saying, “Okay God, I’m trusting You like You said…I’m down to $15 in my bank account, have a few bills to pay and still have several days to go before payday, but I’m trusting You….”
The very next day, I arrived home from work and found a cheque in my mailbox for nearly $2000. It was supposedly some dividend of an RESP that had never paid anything out before or since. Completely unforeseen!! I remember dropping to my knees and just acknowledging and praising Him for His unshakable and continuous faithfulness.
As much as Jesus described how difficult it would be for a rich man to enter heaven because of his love of money, I see how the insecurity of a man (or woman, as in my case J) with much less could also prevent him/her from reaping all of the wonderful blessings (not only financial) God has in store because we feel we need to control or ration the little we have, instead of surrendering it all to Him.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies. (ps 57)
Good Monday morning everyone! This week is going to be an exciting week as I've asked 6 people to share their personal experience with tithing. These testimonies are going to bless your heart, so be sure to check in every day and read about the exciting things God is doing!
Today's testimony is by Paul Perry
When Pastor Allan asked me after church on Sunday to submit a tithing testimony, I was more than a little reluctant. I don’t have a great story, what would I say? When I got home, however, I was reminded of a recent trip to visit my parents. My mom was cleaning out some closets and started going through some of the childhood keepsakes of mine, and my brothers, that she’s kept over the years. One of the things she kept, and showed me, was an old tithe envelope I put in the church offering. I even scanned and attached it as proof. J Looking at the date, I would have just turned 8 years old and I suspect it was birthday money I was tithing. This digital version of show and tell is for two reasons. First, it hit home to me how important it is to teach your children to tithe. I can say from personal experience that it’s a lot easier to tithe as an adult when you’ve been doing it since childhood. Secondly, God says He will bless us when we tithe. While that’s true, we sometimes don’t see those blessings right away. Sometimes, we don’t see those blessings this side of eternity. Both my parents grew up in fairly poor conditions, but like me, were taught at an early age about tithing. Both sets of grandparents were faithful with the small amount God gave them, and I would say that He blessed them greatly. He didn’t bless them with material possessions or great wealth, he blessed them with children, grandchildren, and now a few great-grandchildren that followed their example and live their lives for Christ. As a Christian, what greater blessing could there be than having your family live for Jesus? Had it not been for their faithfulness to God, and their obedience to Him, I might not be here writing this really long blog. God is faithful!
"Oh you better watch out, you better not pout you better not cry I'm tellin' you why...because he's comin' to town" No not Santa - Satan - same letters different guy. But he's comin' and you better be on your guard. Know how I know he's coming? Because God has been doing some amazing things around the Bridge lately. People have been growing in their faith, prayers have been answered, new people have been attending, finances have been up, joy has been up...God has just been doing some amazing things and Satan is mad. He is just plain mad! Satan hates to lose to Jesus and he's been doing a lot of losing lately and he is not going to take it sitting down. Satan will lose no ground, no person without a fight. Every time we push forward in our faith, we can anticipate a push back from Satan. He's going to attack our joy, our faith, our families, our marriages, our relationships, our finances, our hope, our health.
Now the good news is we don't need to be afraid of him - he is a defeated enemy. John says in his first epistle chapter 4 verse 4 that the Spirit of God who is in us is greater than the spirit that is in the world - than Satan. Therefore we don't need to be cowering waiting for Satan to strike. But we do need to be on our guard. 1 Peter 5:8 -9 says "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith." Christians that fall prey to Satan's rebound attacks become another one of his victims because they became careless after a great victory in the Lord and were taken by surprise by Satan's sudden attack. It's so tragic because it could have been prevented. If these people had only be on guard, like God warned them, they would have seen Satan coming and could have stood firm in their faith as Peter said. They weren't defeated because Satan was stronger, they were defeated because they didn't see him coming.
Let's not be like these foolish people. Let's be on our guard. God is doing some amazing things among and has so many more blessings for us, but Satan is coming to take back what Jesus is taking from him. If we realize this and so are constantly on our guard, he won't take us by surprise, we will be able to stand firm, and the result, according to James, will be that Satan will flee from us. (James 4:7)
We can do better at The Bridge! That statement isn’t meant to belittle what we are doing or what the Spirit of God is doing, because the truth is some really great things have been happening at The Bridge lately! The musical worship has been phenomenal. The messages have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to change people’s lives. New people have been coming every week! God is definitely at work BUT I can’t help but believe God could do so much more if we would just improve the way we are packaging this great message he has given us. We are fortunate enough to live in the Silicon Valley of Canada. We have some of the best technical minds in our country in our backyard and yet our packaging of the gospel message Sunday mornings is really pretty basic. Our use of lighting, media and stage presentation is not all that impressive. Oh we’re better than some, but we definitely aren’t as good as we should be – could be.
When I look at the lighting/media/staging that some churches are using in Canada as well as in the States to attract the non-churched to attend their services, I ask myself why, why aren’t we doing that? Why indeed?! Some might argue “it’s because we are into worshiping God not putting on a big show” to which I would respond “really!” What is more honoring to God than bringing people who do not presently serve Christ or attend church to a “show” a church service, that will give them an opportunity to invite Jesus Christ into their life as Lord and Savior? I can’t think of a thing! Paul said in 1 Cor 9:22 “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” Shouldn’t we be willing to do the same? Transforming our worship services into exciting presentations through the use of lighting, video and staging would, in my opinion, be included in the “all possible means”. Who cares if someone accuses us of just putting on a big show or trying to do what only the Holy Spirit can do. I’m sure they accused Paul of the same thing, but he kept using every possible means available to him to bring people to faith in Christ. I want to do the same thing! I want to use every possible means, including lighting, video, staging, drama and whatever other creative means are out there to build irresistible bridges between the unsaved in Ottawa and Jesus Christ. We have the ability to do this. We have the ability to create a worship experience that causes people to say “WOW! This is definitely not what I expected! I love it! I love the energy! I’m coming back!” But in order to do it we need those of you who are gifted with creative talents and abilities to step up and use these abilities to help us design services with the WOW factor! We need you technical geeks out there to use your expertise to make all the creative ideas work. We need you who have a gift for making money to become very generous in providing the funding to make all of this happen. And we need everybody, everybody to invite your friends and neighbours to come to The Bridge.
We can do better, we really can! Will you help us?
A few years ago one of the big questions in the church growth movement was "If the doors of your church closed tomorrow, would your community miss you?" Interesting question. I fear the answer for a lot of churches would be "not at all". I don't think I am being harsh or over critical, it is just that the average church rarely ventures out into their community. They open their doors, meet with the same old group of people, and then go home. While they might pray that the people of their community come to faith in Christ, they never actually do anything to make that happen. They do nothing to show the love of Christ - no community service projects, no evangelistic campaigns, no random acts of kindness. In fact very few of the people, if any, invite their neighbours to come to church, or for that matter even talk about their church outside the walls of their church. The truth is their church has become more of a club for Christians than a church striving to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
Is that also true of The Bridge? Would the greater Kanata area really notice if we closed our doors for the last time today? Would they miss us? Would people say "it is really too bad about the Bridge, the community is never going to be the same without them." Would our community be any less loving, any less forgiving, would the quality of life go down, if The Bridge were to close today? I sure hope so! Jesus said we are to be salt and light in our community. Our vision states that we are to spiritually influence the culture of our city while our mission calls for the building of irresistible bridges between Jesus and the people of this city. If we could close without having a negative impact on our community, without being missed, then we must be doing a pretty lousy job of what Jesus called us to do and be - salt & light. We must be pretty bad bridge builders.
Fortunately, I don't think any of this is true about The Bridge! I think this community would miss us! I think the quality of life in this community would go down if the Bridge closed it's doors. But you know something, it really doesn't matter what I think or what you think, we're biased. What really matters is what my neighbour thinks? What your neighbour thinks. And what do you suppose that would be? Do you think they view The Bridge as indispensable to the health and life of the community? Would they say the community wouldn't be the same without us? Why don't you ask them? Be careful though, you might not like what you hear, especially when you stop to consider that YOU are The Bridge to your neighbours. I am the Bridge to my neighbours. If they don't think The Bridge is indispensable it's because you, because I, haven't been letting our light shine...haven't been salt, haven't been bringing adding flavour to our neighbourhood...haven't been building irresistible bridges. So you might want to think twice about asking your neighbour if they would miss the Bridge if it closed. Maybe a better question for today would be, what am I dong to take the love, grace and power of Jesus that is at work at The Bridge to my neighbours? What am I doing to shine God's light on their lives? What am I doing to add preservatives and fllavour to my community/office/school? Am I presenting the Christian life in such a way that I am building irresistible bridges between Jesus and my neighbours. These are the questions we should be asking ourselves, because our answers will ultimately determine whether our community would miss The Bridge if the doors were closed today.
It is always so much easier to say that other churches wouldn't be missed, but what about our own church?