Ministry

Ways to Serve New Immigrants in Your Community

  • 13 June 2017
  • Randy Wollf

Immigrant familyNot everyone can sponsor a refugee family. However, there are many ways that we can serve new immigrants who are living in our communities. My family had the amazing privilege of living in close community with new immigrants for seven months. New Hope Community Services had purchased an apartment building in Surrey, British Columbia for housing refugees and helping them settle into life in Canada. They were looking for host families to move in and do life with these newcomers (you can read about our experiences as a host family by reading a past blog called Do Something). 

As we interacted with new immigrants, I learned new ways to serve them. Here are some ideas for how you can serve new immigrants, even if you aren’t acting as their official sponsor: 

Develop Your Cultural Skill Set

The first way of serving immigrants is to develop your own cultural skill set so that you are in a better position to serve them. How do we do this?

  • Expect cultural differences – Some cultures are task-based while others are more relational. Some are individualistic while others are collectivistic (emphasizing the significance of groups). Some cultures tend to plan their time while others view time as flexible. The first step to developing your cultural skill set is to expect these kinds of cultural differences and to recognize that one cultural perspective is not necessarily better than another. 
  • Adapt to those around you – As you encounter cultural differences, discern which of your values at play in the situation are negotiable and which are non-negotiable. Be flexible with those that are negotiable. 
  • Dialogue about cultural differences – Be open with your immigrant friends about the differences you observe. Listen to the reasons why they do what they do. Carefully and sensitively communicate the reasons for your cultural preferences. As you do so, you will build mutual understanding and respect.

Help with Practical Needs

Betrayed by Busyness

  • 4 May 2017
  • Keith Reed

Blur of busynessBusyness is the hymn of our age. Our mantra, our anthem, our expectation.  

Unless you’re Eugene Peterson. 

Peterson defines "busy" as the symptom not of commitment but of betrayal. Busy pastors are not demonstrating devotion; they are exercising defection [1]. 

Peterson first published these words in 1981, but ministry professionals have hardly heeded his counsel. As I think of the pastors I know and when I reminisce on my time in that role, I don’t believe there’s a more fitting descriptor for the state of the pastorate than busy. The demands of church ministry are rising, the focus of parishioners is dwindling, and the results of our disciple-making efforts are plateauing [2]. Is it any wonder then, that our typical response is to increase our labour and fill our calendars with more? 

Peterson reveals two causes for his own busyness and he describes each as ignoble: 

I am busy because I am vain 

Peterson draws a connecting line between busyness and the allure of success and his comparison speaks even louder today. In a recent United States study, researchers found that a busier person is thought to have higher status [3]. This may explain why free time is frantically consumed by fruitless activity—perhaps it is this perception that fuels our resistance to be still.  

I worked at a golf and country club for several years when I was a young adult. The course was only closed two days a year, so there were many poor-weather-days when I was left with almost nothing to do. But my boss loved to remind us that we weren’t being paid to do nothing, so I learned how to develop endless ways to appear busy. I once overheard my boss tell a co-worker, “You can’t just stand there even if there’s nothing to do. Do what Keith does—he always looks busy.” It didn’t take long for me to discover it was more valuable to look busy than to do something productive. If I don’t consciously fight against this false value, I fall into the trap of doing busy work instead of important work.  

I am busy because I am lazy 

Laziness breeds busyness despite masking itself as an unlikely precursor. Peterson explains that when pastors allow others to decide their schedule, they become slaves to unnecessary assignments that detract from their core responsibilities. Many pastors will accept these tasks as part of their jobs, but Peterson offers a different perspective: when pastors abdicate their essential work, it’s an indication of their propensity to cater to the desires of others and their unwillingness to stand up for the priorities of the pastorate. 

9 Ways to Strengthen Prayer in Your Church

  • 14 March 2017
  • Randy Wollf

man looking at horizonIt’s five years from now. Amazingly, your church has grown incredibly in the area of prayer. People are setting aside time each day to pray. They’re worshipping Him throughout the day. You see life groups and ministry groups making prayer a central part of their group time. You see a church where God is doing amazing things as He responds to the prayers of His people.

Sound exciting? How do we realize this kind of vision? Here are nine ways to strengthen prayer in your church:

#1 – Enlarge People’s Vision for Prayer

How do we challenge people to grow deeper in prayer? Preaching and teaching on prayer can definitely help. In addition, here is an idea that can blow away people’s conceptions about how God can respond to prayer today. Tell people about some of the spiritual revivals that have happened over the past 300 years (for starters, see The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening video or text version). Knowing how God has responded to concerted, extraordinary prayer in the recent past can inspire us to pray in focused and persistent ways today.

#2 – Equip People to Pray

Most Christians know how to ask God for stuff. Yet, do we truly practice thankfulness, confession, and adoration of God? Do we realize deep down that the goal is not just to pray for a set period each day (as good as that is), but to develop a lifestyle of prayer?

We can teach about prayer through sermons and workshops, but there is nothing quite like combining training with practice. One of the most powerful equipping times for my church leadership team was when we went on a two-day prayer retreat (see 5 Reasons to go on a Prayer Retreat for more on prayer retreats). We all read a book on prayer prior to the retreat, had some training sessions, and then spent time in prayer. It was powerful!

#3 – Build on What is Already Happening

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