One Church, Three Locations…. again!

This Sunday our church is soft launching two new campuses in cities surrounding the original location. Nicole and I are not new to the multi-location model, but so far we like the approach our church is taking. We’re part of the seed team for the campus closest to our home: Nicole is on the Welcome team, I’m directing the Tech team. The soft launch will start with just the seed teams. Both campuses ended up finding schools to meet in.
We used Church In a Box, who surveyed our locations then acquired the equipment and a trailer, and built storage so that everything rolls easily into, and out of, the trailer and can (in theory) be set-up in about 15 minutes. This Saturday the equipment arrives and we get our first training on it — they said to expect it to take 4 hours the first time we do it!
Sunday we have our first service, but it’ll just be our team. We’ll set-up the equipment, run live worship, roll last week’s recorded video, and the campus pastor will speak briefly. Over the next 4 weeks we’ll squash the bugs, get more efficient at set-up, and begin to welcome the community. The hard launch is at the end of March.
Our home church is big, established and healthy… but tucked at the back end of town: even if we had room for lots more people, its tough to draw them out from the 401 corridor that defines Southwestern Ontario into our neck of the woods. By putting campuses in areas with lots of people, but not lots of churches, we hope to be able to reach more and build a larger community. One campuses is in a affluent, growing area, the other is in an area generally populated by immigrants living at or near the poverty line. One area has material wealth, but cultural stagnation. The other has rich, global culture, without the materialism that infects North Americans so easily. The church needs to reach, partner with and serve both sets of people.
Its hard leaving our home church — even though we’re still a part of that community, its in an extended way now. But its exciting to be a part of a new work that God is doing.
And I’m doing by best to cling to that enthusiasm, and soak up the anticipation of those involved with us, so that I don’t draw unfair parallels between this operation and the last like it we were involved with that… failed to reach its promise.

Leaders: Past and Present

Last week I had the priviledge of attending a Leadership Network Global Connection Summit with my church, along side a half dozen others. This was meeting #1 of 4 over the next two years, and our group is just one of the groups going through. The idea is to collect and share ideas and learning about how Global Missions work is changing as the world shrinks, thanks to technology and globalization.
The group running the program put out the 9 Game Changers for Global Missions document that made the rounds last year, and certainly resounded with Nicole and I.
You really should read the document if you have any interest in the topic, but a common thread is that the model for missions that used to work, is becoming less effective than it used to be. There are still some fields where that old approach works, but more and more, things are beginning to change.
Actually, it astounds me that things haven’t changed yet. At work I’m on a “Global Team” and commicate and work regularly with folks in India and Europe, and the thought had never crossed my mind that missions shouldn’t work the same way…
At any rate, my thoughts on this subject are much too complex for a blog post right now. On a random note, the event happened in Dallas, Texas, and since we had a little time before flying out, we decided to visit the place where JFK was shot. There was a very educational museum there, and surprisingly little has changed since the then-President’s motorcade drove through. You couldn’t stand at the exact window where Lee Harvey Oswald drew his rifle — but you could stand at the window next to it… and I tell you, it was like staring down into history.

I don’t know much about JFK’s politics, although I know the tendencies Democrats lean toward. I know he was a deeply flawed man. But I also know, in everything I’ve read and seen about him, that he was hopeful and earnest. That he and his beautiful, graceful wife built bridges with people, stared down nuclear war and stopped it, and in his short career as President (about 1000 days) sparked the imagination and goodwill of a generation.
I read a lot about it, and I don’t believe Oswald acted alone, for the same reason I do believe in global missions: this is a fallen world, where anger and hatred and jealousy and pride corrode. That the only thing that unites people faster than a common hope is common sin. And that when one man, even a President, stands against the darkness, he will eventually fall (or falter.) But when God’s people stand together, and speak His name in love and justice and hope, there is nothing that can stop the King of Creation from re-claiming His lost children…

Firsts in Florida

A month is a long time in the life of a little person. Here are some things that happened while we were away…
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Ben learned to swim — actually swim, by himself all the way across the pool. He had been getting pretty good before our trip, but with having a pool available every day, he finally got to the point where he could come up for air and then continue on his way. By the end of the trip he was doing cannon balls and pencil dives in the deep end!
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Abi still refuses to really try swimming without her floaty on — although I did get a few paddles out of her on a couple occasions (and I have the desperate scratches on my chest to prove it!) but we did finally talk her into jumping in!
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Eli had just started crawling on Christmas Eve, but all the space in our Florida home gave her room to really improve her speed and confidence. She does it with a cute little determined stomp of each hand. In the last couple days there she started pulling herself up to standing as well! She also cut tooth number three while we were there!
There’s one more cute video on Vimeo, but you’ll have to stop by there to check it out!

Not-cation Success!

Well we’re back from a month in sunny Florida, and let me tell you, it was great!
We had 25+ degree (celsius) weather virtually every day. The pool was a nice 85ish degrees (farenheit) and we swam in it at least once a day. The house was great, and the price was reasonable. We rented bikes a couple times, a pontoon boat once, and visited the beach 4 times. We ate outside regularly, the kids played in the grass (not many snakes/alligators/etc around during dry season) and visited museums and nature spots a few times.
We had two sets of visitors, with whom we did more of the vacation-type stuff. I even got in a round of golf with my old college roommate, Brad! Keeping score creatively, we did alright!
We had pre-found a church that we made our temporary home. It had a great childcare program, which even allowed us a “date night” one Saturday evening. Mostly it was our plan to just do our normal life, just in a warmer climate. I ended up a little further behind on work and school than I had hoped — despite my best intentions to stay focused. Nic also planned to keep up with Ben’s school work, but that didn’t happen as regularly as she would have liked either.
The trip home was a grueling 27 hours, with stops only for the potty and for meals. We left around 5:45am Monday morning, missing a massive lethal pile-up on I-75 by only a day, and arrived around 8:00am Tuesday morning. The older two kids stayed exactly on schedule, and were rested and ready to play in the (rapidly melting) snow when we arrived. Eli struggled a little more with sleep on the road, waking up every 20 minutes between midnight and 2am to complain about being stuck in a car seat before nodding back off. Nic and I took turns napping and driving, and although we were very tired and took some nap time on Tuesday, had no problem with the drive. The roads were great all the way through and although we were watching the temperature drop, it never fell below zero (celsius.)
It’s back into routine now, without much adaptation time — the kids will learn to live like daddy does, and hit the ground running wherever they land. On the whole, we were very pleased with our get-away, and its timing. Besides renting the place, and excluding vacation-stuff costs, our expenses weren’t much higher than living at home. We might tweak things a little next time, but we’ll definitely look into doing it again! Traditional vacations have never really seemed to work out for us :-p
It was a challenging year for all of us, physically, intellectually and professionally, but it paid off. Having our lives structured so we can do things like this is a real blessing from God, and an affirmation of the choices and priorities we’ve pursued. Pictures coming whenever Nic gets around to it!