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June 8, 2020
ABMB AGM Update:
- Covid Budget 2.0: We have reduced our budget to reflect a potential loss of 20% support from our churches and donors for the last 3 quarters of the year. However, we were cautioned not to cutback unless absolutely required to do so. If your church is experiencing financial difficulty, please inform us so we better know how to plan. The following is impacted in this budget cutback:
- No professional development for staff
- All travel and hospitality expenses have been removed
- There is no support for “new Canadian” ministry (including part-time staff person Sam Ramirez)
- The Provincial Director is taking a cut in salary during this time
- Pastors Retreat is cancelled until further notice
- All scholarships to support pastors or churches (for conferences and training) has been removed;
- We will continue to dialogue on the meaning and practice of baptism in relationship to our Confession of Faith. The emphasis toward new believers belonging into a church family and being in a strategic and intentional path of discipleship was encouraged. The final decision on this will be made next spring at our Convention.
- We thanked our outgoing board members for their hard work and vital contribution to ABMB—Nelson Senft, Matt Dyck, and Waldie Neufeld. Coming in as new board members are Chris Gunther (College Drive, Lethbridge) and Dele Ajele (Summit Church Calgary). Nelson will continue to assist as non-member for a few months.
Special thanks to all who were part of this historic online-virtual AGM! It meant that all of us had to be a little flexible in our learning curve (especially voting), but we made it! And for all who spoke up and asked questions or voiced encouragements, thanks!
May 18, 2020
A friend of mine was an encouragement today with these words that he shared with pastors:
you’re thought of
you’re presence and voice
on this earth makes a difference
whether you feel it or not.
Be a risk-taker
Be open to a miracle
Be still and know that God’s got this.
May 11, 2020
The rage a decade ago was “Random Acts of Kindness”. It’s “best before” date quickly expired, probably because it seldom had a deeper purpose than for the kindness giver to feel better about themselves.
Let us consider a deeper purpose to kindness. God’s kindness is an invitation to a better life, to turn from “what’s wrong with the world” to align with the way God intended us to live. Everyone knows that something is seriously wrong, it is “off” and broken!
In his commentary on Revelation, Darrel W. Johnson writes about Revelation 11:1-3 and quotes C.S. Lewis. “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pain.” Johnson goes on describing how God’s call, his grace, is an invitation to turn around, “Can you hear it? It is being screamed from every corner of the globe. Something is wrong: something is off. You are ignoring me (God) and my ways. You are headed for destruction. Turn around.” (Darrel W. Johnson, Discipleship on the Edge, 2004, pg 199).
In this time of trouble, God’s people are being called to live kindly, to invite people back to the ways of God. It’s living in forgiveness ourselves and then helping others move in that direction. It’s God’s heart for a lost and broken world.
No more Random Acts of Kindness. Be intentional with kindness—it leads to a turn-around, to a new way! (Romans 2:4). Pray for kindness and live it! People do repent!
May 4, 2020
Come to the Well
I was given a verse at the start of January 2020 that for some reason I felt I needed to take hold of for this year. Isaiah 58:11, “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”
At the time, this painted a picture for me of this beautiful oasis amid a dry barren wilderness. Being that 2020 was the start of a new decade, I was reflecting on how the past 10 years for me has been a wilderness journey full of loss, disappointment, profound hurt, and broken dreams. As a Christ-follower, I gravitated to the hope this verse gave me of being in an oasis in the midst of the wilderness.
Then Covid-19 hits. Through the first few weeks of it, I have plowed through like a soldier on a mission. But lately, I have this feeling of weariness creeping upon me. Although I grab my bible and journal daily, I am getting nothing. Today I flipped through some past entries and came upon this verse that I had marked down at the beginning of the year. At first, I was cynical with thoughts of how I am certainly not feeling like a well-watered garden. In fact, my garden is once again wilted and parched – the spring has dried up.
This morning as I sat in my favorite spot, with my coffee, just trying to breathe, I heard this quiet prompting in my soul that was gently inviting me to “come to the well”. With relentless tenderness, Jesus is calling me to come to the well and be filled with the living water of God’s loving, redeeming truth – and to drink deeply.
Often as pastors and leaders, we are so concerned with bringing others to the well that we forget to come to the well and drink ourselves. We get busy trying to solve how we are going to have the most impactful Sunday service in this time of isolation. We get busy trying to solve the challenges our church communities are facing. We can even spend time in the Word and prayer and yet the noise of our world creeps in and we get back to problem-solving again and we take on the weight of more than God has asked us to. Our world is driven by outcomes; and that has not escaped us either.
However, in this wilderness season, God is lovingly calling us to the well. As he promises, let him guide us, let him satisfy us, let him strengthen us – come to the well, drink of living water and your heart will be a well-watered garden, or a spring whose waters never fails – because he never fails. Find a way to quieten the noise in your context and let go of the outcomes you think you need to attain to just sit with him at the well. Are you listening? Do you have your hands and heart open? He promises to fill you up to overflowing – which, because of his tenderness and loving mercy, will overflow into those around us.
Thinking of and praying for you all,
Ruthie Kamphuis (Ministry Resource Manager)
April 24, 2020
The Ruling Chair is Occupied!
I’m glad the ruling chair of heaven, the throne of God, has someone sitting on it! Revelation 4:2 indicates that it is Someone is sitting on it, and that Someone is Christ—which means he is ruling–the One who was, and is, and is to come.
When life feels chaotic, and it does for most of us right now, and what appears to be chaos and confusion is actually not what REALLY is. Christ is reigning supreme and we are his servants, and this is not chaos!
So, may these coming days be a reminder to you that Christ reigns over everything, including your situation and those in your churches. Be at peace and feel free to rest…even relax!
April 17, 2020
After a month of addressing crises and learning new ways of digitally communicating, it’s time to take a bit of a break…as much as you can. There is a point at which we have to “stand, look, ask, and walk.” See Jeremiah 6:16. While the context of Jeremiah is different, there are some similar components—just as they were under attack by a foreign military enemy, we are currently under attack from a viral enemy.
- Stand—take some time to stop and assess where you are at personally.
- Look—we have to observe what is going on without trying to fix the problem right now.
- Ask—the Bible will help us understand what is going on and how to respond.
- Walk—move forward only in what is becoming obvious; forget what’s not that clear.
Result: you will find rest for your souls.
That is my prayer for you all in these days…that you will find rest for your souls. It’s not easy to get if we rush around. But there is a blueprint on how to get it.
April 9, 2020
Get Ready to Run!
Before the Israelites were to run into the desert, the final plague of the death of every firstborn Egyptian brought terror. However, God promised the Israelites the Angel of Death would pass-over each of their homes, provided they had smeared the blood of a lamb over their doorposts. They were to cleanse their homes and prepare their hearts. Then on the final night, they were to eat the roasted lamb and bitter herbs in haste, ready to run at the light of dawn (Exodus 12).
Our 21st-century virus is a sort of plague that is catching the attention of the whole world. It’s a time of cleansing, a time to reset priorities, of imagining once again a Passover as an angel of death seeks to do harm. And while we wait, we prepare for the morning after the night of terror.
It’s Good Friday, Passover, and new life resurrection is coming. We are learning to die to some of the former things upon which we have relied. The cultural “leaven” of time and treasure is being cleansed from our lives and churches. Society is paying attention. It’s hard to know exactly what to do; now is the time to do the work of waiting. It’s hard, and even a bit scary, but wait we must. The “Passover” is upon us and Christ will reign in a new way in our hearts; and while we wait, we pray that Christ will reign in the hearts of millions for the first time!
Are we ready for what God is up to? Are you ready to share the “Blood of the Lamb” for those who are terrified of the Angel of Death? While we don’t waive magic wands of blood on doorposts, we are called to be ready to offer love, and presence, and care, and the Good News of Jesus Christ. God is at work, and for now, work at waiting.
Get ready to run!
APRIL 3, 2020
“Go there…stop and wait…what are you waiting for? Go!” This is what the Israelites heard from Moses when they left Egypt (Exodus 14). They followed the obvious (the cloud & pillar of fire) and then came up against the sea with the army of Egypt at their heels. Moses, presumably having heard from the LORD says, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LROD will bring you today…Only be still.”
In the very next sentence, the LORD gets specific and clear to Moses: “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on!”
What changed Moses’ perceptions? Was there new information, a clearer instruction from God that somehow, he had missed the first time? I don’t think so. I think he sensed that the best thing was to do nothing in the middle of a HUGE problem was to do nothing—so that God could make his power public!
“Wait and watch!”
Like me, I bet you are tempted not to wait, but to work. The problem with many of us as leaders in the church is that we want to solve the problems. Unfortunately, then it’s likely going to cloud the evidence of what God is doing.
Before we rush into solving every problem in the current crisis, wait! We might be in danger of not allowing God to demonstrate his power by rushing in. While still unclear, we probably all know the daily stuff we need to do. But what about three weeks/months/years from now? What we see today looks like a Red Sea mirage in front of us with a pandemic army at our heels within striking distance! However, God wants to do something, and we need to prepare for His command: “Move on!”
So, for now, be still, as still as you can, and prepare well to hear from God. Prepare God’s people to listen and to be prepared for further instructions. God is up to something and he will call us to move on! Let us make sure it’s in God’s time so that He gets the glory!
MARCH 27, 2020
When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they discovered a few foundational truths about LORD God:
His PRESENCE is with them wherever they went, whatever the circumstance. That was a radical thought…and it still seems we have to re-learn that reality.
His PROVISION was immediate in that he sent them daily food (manna). God still gives us daily bread and Jesus instructed us to pray that way.
His PROTECTION was evidenced by pillars of fire and cloud; God is still leading us with his guiding hand.
He called them to be PRACTICAL, such as their distance from one another if they were sick or diseased; we still have to be sensible
His people are called to PROCLAIM God goodness, his generosity and love; offer hope and encouragement and listen to the Holy Spirit for direction.
Encouragement from the Scriptures:
Think in Principles
With the new COVID restrictions, I want to encourage congregations to be principle-based in decision making rather than rule-based, even though we will obey the rules set forth by the government.
- If there were no rules/bylaws set out by our government on how to manage the pandemic, would we not be urging Christ-followers to live self-less lives of sacrifice and blessing to our neighbors? That could very well mean that wearing masks, finding appropriate distancing, restraining ourselves in what we say or don’t say, avoiding public singing, etc., would be our appropriate responses regardless of “rules” set out by the government.
- Principally, the government is asking us to:
- Avoid larger gatherings: Sunday morning doesn’t generally fit that principle.
- Avoid close physical contact if possible (except with immediate family and required cohorts).
- Avoid any other activities that a super-spreaders—congregational singing, funerals/weddings (hugging events).
- Spiritual and emotional well-being is a concern for our government leaders and is asking churches to continue the essential ministry of care within the required boundaries (distancing, masks, etc.).
- As a church, principally we are called to live on mission—and there are many methods to do that without a Sunday morning in-person gathering:
- Look after the sick and lonely (find safe ways to do this).
- Bless our neighbors.
- Pray for those in government (imagine what decisions they have to make).
- Disciple others (we too easily view Sunday morning, the method, as equivalent to the mission of making disciples).
- Live in hope—this too will end. Let us endure with patience.
– Paul J Loewen (ABMB Provincial Director)
To survive this crisis your church must do two things:
- Reduce expenses
- Increase income
- Mothball your facilities
- Reduce program costs
- Develop a staffing contingency plan
- Determine income thresholds
- Create a staff triage order
- Abandon tenure and hierarchy
- Prioritize tech and ability to connect
- Prepare yourself and your team for bi-vocational and volunteer options.
- Inform your people of government support options
- Do not abandon those you have to lay off!
- Make it easy to give
- Physical giving
- Sanitized drop off
- Safe pick up
- Online giving
- Is the 2.9% fee too much?
- Physical giving
- Give them a reason why
- Formulate an action plan
- For your congregation
- For you community
- Cast the vision for involvement
- By volunteering
- By giving
- Formulate an action plan
If this seems like it would be helpful for you and your church watch the video below.
Shared with permission by:
Church Effectiveness Coach
Alberta & NWT District of
The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
View resources including recordings of Town Hall meetings with discussions related to issues facing the church during COVID-19.
Do we prepare for a blizzard or a winter when spring is coming? From The Praxis Journal
“Rethinking your Calling” by our National Director of Faith and Life. How pastors can rethink what they’ve been doing to produce greater and more biblical impact.
Disruptive Church Trends Every Church Leader Should Watch by Carey Nieuwhof
Contact us if you have any questions or need any assistance.
ABMB Ministry Resource Manager