Each week Fellowship President, Steve Jones, encourages and challenges those within The Fellowship through his weekly emails.
We are pleased to be able to make these available online.
We trust you, too, will be encouraged and challenged by what Steve shares.
FNC 2017 has begun! Hundreds of delegates from our churches across Canada have arrived for our Fellowship National Conference (FNC) in Toronto.
Online Live Streaming and Voting at FNC 2017
This year we are voting on the Fellowship National Council’s motion below; an issue we have been discussing and debating for three years:
“To change section 4.1(a)(ii) in the Fellowship Bylaws from “Demonstrates agreement with the Affirmation of Faith” to “Demonstrates agreement with the Affirmation of Faith. The definition of baptism as ‘the immersion of the believer’ (in the Ordinances Article) and the definition of a local church as a ‘company of immersed believers’ (in the Local Church Article) are intended to describe the normative practice of baptism and the resultant nature of the church. Notwithstanding those definitions, it is recognized that MEMBER churches may choose, in exceptional circumstances to practise believers’ baptism where an individual cannot be physically immersed or to accept into membership an individual baptized as a believer by another mode.”
In the event member churches were not able to send delegates to FNC 2017, an opportunity to register remote delegates was given to our Fellowship constituency. While it is too late to register voting delegates, please be in prayer as our Fellowship family discusses and votes in the Tuesday afternoon (November 14) business session.
The Fellowship Bible Engagement Project: #TheGreatestBook
We’re right in the middle of our Bible Engagement Project #TheGreatestBook (Nov. 5-19) and I am hoping you and your church are involved in this endeavour. For the past 18 months we have been promoting involvement in #TheGreatestBook as a way to encourage all Fellowship Baptists to be in God’s Word daily.
I have a favour to ASK:
I would love to receive some brief testimonials from those who benefited from this Fellowship Canada-wide project. I plan to share these in a future Word from Steve blog. Ways to share:
- Post on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) — use #TheGreatestBook and @FellowshipNatl to join the conversation.
- Send me your feedback — Send me a line or two about your personal or your church’s experience (click HERE). Replies that make it to me before November 30th will be considered for an upcoming Word from Steve blog post. By the way, if you missed participating in the #TheGreatestBook project in November, I encourage you to pick another two week/three Sunday period of time which fits your schedule. The study toolkit, sample sermons and promotional resources and video are all available at www.thegreatestbook.ca
Fellowship Day of Prayer
Just a quick reminder that our Fellowship Day of Prayer is coming up this Sunday, November 19. This is one Sunday where all Fellowship churches are encouraged to pray for our movement of churches — church health, church planting and leadership development — along with our Regional National ministries — international, humanitarian relief and social justice, francophone, and chaplaincy ministries. Resources and tools for the Fellowship Day of Prayer are available HERE.
We are stronger together and all success is due to our collective commitment to prayer. Thanks for praying for our amazing Fellowship family this Sunday (November 19).
Have a blessed week,
October is Pastor Appreciation Month! I hope we thank our pastors on Thanksgiving weekend! Hope all pastors got some rest on the long weekend, too. It’s so important to recharge our batteries. You can’t keep charging without recharging.
The Psalmist reminds us of God’s desire for each of us to find adequate rest, saying in Psalm 127:2 (Message): “It is useless to rise up early and go to bed late and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know that God enjoys giving rest to those He loves?”
Did you catch that? God enjoys it when we have a good rest. So do something spiritual today… have a nap this afternoon? God is very clear about our need for rest. To ignore His fourth commandment is foolish. When we function outside the way God designed us, we are headed for trouble: spiritual, emotional and physical burn-out. A Sabbath rest each week is commanded to rest the body, recharge our emotions and refocus our spirit… sounds like a three point sermon, eh?!
THE CLERGY CARE NETWORK (CCN) CALL 1-888-5-CLERGY
If you are feeling overwhelmed today, please contact someone. I know there are resources available in each of our Regions to support you.
One such support is the Clergy Care Network (CCN). Our National Fellowship pays for free phone counselling help for all personnel of The Fellowship including pastors, missionaries and chaplains, along with their spouses and children. Access is FREE to you.
The number is 1-888-5-CLERGY.
CCN is provided by Focus on the Family and developed in conjunction with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Its purpose is to provide a listening ear. Pastors, missionaries, chaplains and their families can access the CCN help line through e-mail or by using a toll-free number. Callers can remain anonymous if they choose. The staff of the Clergy Care Help Line can:
- Provide initial counseling and crisis intervention.
- If needed, provide a referral to a CCN-approved counselor in the area. However, please note that the cost of the additional counseling is the responsibility of the individual. This cost may or may not be covered by your group coverage; the Fellowship Health Plan does provide modest coverage for recognized counsellors with accepted credentials.
- Introduce the caller to a retreat facility or treatment centre in the area.
- Provide resources and advice to pastors regarding particular family counseling situations they face in their church.
- Pray with the caller.
Your call is completely confidential. No one from your church or our National/Regional offices will know that you made a call.
Need some support? Make the call!
Have a blessed week,
I was chatting with Pastor Chris Kovacs of West Highland Baptist Church, Hamilton, Ontario about a novel way to help fund the advancement of the Gospel worldwide.
I thought it deserved a broader promotion and so I asked Chris to share this opportunity with you:
“As pastor of outreach at West Highland Baptist in Hamilton I am always looking for ways to further the outreach in our city as well as to strengthen our mission’s impact around the world. Our city is becoming more religiously and ethnically diverse while at the same time becoming more secular. The world’s population is growing faster than our mission’s budget. Our goal to go to ‘all nations’ seems to be pulling away from us. Are there any resources that can help?
Last year a ministry colleague approached me with a unique opportunity to increase our impact both at home as well as abroad. On behalf of our church he applied to Google for their AdWords Grant program –which any CRA registered church is eligible for. The grant is substantial and gives free online Google advertising to one website. To ensure maximum use he developed a website for our local outreach initiatives which also had a Polish language gospel component. The Polish language portion was to support our mission work in Poland. It contains articles to help seekers understand the Gospel and answer some basic questions they might have. You can think of it like a web-based online Alpha program. With the Ad Grants program our church is able to advertise across our city any outreach event we put on as well as our regular Sunday Services. We have used these ads to promote our summer VBS, music camps, sports camps, Christmas concerts, Father’s Day car shows, Alpha programs, Easter plays. In slightly over a year we have passed out over 1,200 e-invitations to our programs in Hamilton. Since this is in the Google Ad Grant program it did not cost us anything and supplemented our regular advertising.
As good as that is, it is in the Polish component that we are seeing benefits — national in scope. Having run the Polish ads in Poland for almost five months we have spent over $50,000 (in free money) to pass out 60,000 web articles across the Polish-speaking world explaining the Gospel and answering questions. Because of Ontario’s diversity some of those were passed out in the Greater Toronto Area, but the majority of articles were read in Poland. Our next step is to see if we can develop a network of pastors across Poland who can follow up with people who write in on the site. This has the potential to not only bolster the local ministry of the missionaries we support in Poland (Fellowship International missionaries Ben and Krista Taylor) but can create a movement across the country.
Google supports over 100 languages and they developed the grant program so that charities can “share their story with audiences all over the globe”. If we as a Fellowship coordinate our efforts we could share the Gospel story in these languages and the nations they represent, increase our impact in our communities all while using a grant program that is a free service. If, as a pastor, you have the same concern for local outreach and global missions as I do, why not take a look at how we are using this grant and see if it can fit in your church’s ministry toolbox? I’d be happy to explain it further to you.”
Let me encourage you to find out more about this by contacting Chris at email@example.com.
Have a blessed week,
In this blog I wanted to comment on the current legislation (Bill C-51) being considered by our Federal Government considering religious assembly protections. The consequences could be very real in how Christians and clergy conduct themselves within the “public square”.
Freedom for Religious Assembly in Canada (Bill C-51)
On June 15, 2017, Bill C-51 was introduced to the federal government with four objectives relating to our current criminal code in Canada:
- Clarify and strengthen the laws of sexual assault.
- Remove obsolete or duplicate offences.
- Remove or amend provisions now found unconstitutional by the courts.
- Provide a statement ensuring every Government Bill describes how the Bill may impact the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The clause that the church in Canada should be concerned about is Clause 14 of Bill C-51. It eliminates a law that protects clergy and a law that protects the assembly of religious worship services.
Currently, Section 176 (1) of the criminal code protects clergy from prevention of performing religious duties including travel to perform those duties. A wedding, preaching, hospital visitation, communion?
Section, 176 (2) broadens this protection to anyone participating in the religious service by criminalizing the intentional disturbance or interruption of the religious service. Disrupting a worship service, vandalism, and public protests due to opposition to church dogma? Bill C-51 eliminates both these laws. Bill C-51 will be reviewed by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in the fall of 2017 when Parliament resumes sitting.
What’s at Stake? One could argue these two sections are outdated in the 21st Century or that other current laws will cover these concerns. However, if an individual were to silently protest, with a placard stating “politely” his concern for your church’s beliefs, he would be in his legal rights. Not charged for “uttering threats” or “forcible confinement” by stopping a pastor from going to preach at his church. There is conduct that would no longer be considered criminal if sections 176 (1) (2) were removed.
Soon the EFC will be intervening in a Supreme Court case that determines whether the courts have the right to weigh in on the disciplinary process of membership decisions of churches and other faith communities. Should our government make determinations on matters of theology and religious practice?
What’s at stake? Does a former member of a church have legal recourse for undergoing church discipline, violating religious belief and practice? Should government have jurisdiction over the internal decisions of churches and their core beliefs which are closely tied to these beliefs? What if a pastor or member declared their sexual orientation had changed since affirming their local churches statement of faith? The story continues…
Have a blessed week,
On Sunday, November 19, 2017 all churches and friends of the Fellowship are encouraged to gather for prayer. This is an opportunity for our churches to lay aside some time in their worship service (or other venue) for prayer for our Fellowship churches, Regions, missionaries, chaplains, pastors, church planters and National/Regional staff. A pastoral prayer, several folks leading in prayer, or breaking into prayer huddles are all ways you can participate.
CLICK HERE for promotional and prayer resources that can be used on the Fellowship National Day of Prayer.
I would also encourage you to watch the excellent We Are the Fellowship video (4 min) that introduces the mission and vision of our movement of churches and how our Regions and National Ministries support our local churches. Also available on the same site is a copy of our Fellowship Directional Document (FDD) which serves as our statement of faith as an entire movement. This document clearly identifies who we are and what we do as local churches.
You can find both the FDD document and video at www.wearethefellowship.ca.
I hope we will all gather together on Sunday, November 19, 2017 to PRAY together. Asking the Lord to open the windows of Heaven to bless our churches as we advance the Gospel in Canada and beyond.
Have a blessed week,