Kinderlsey Alliance Church

Just thinking about the rural church I am a part of – Kindersley Alliance Church in Kindersley, Saskatchewan, CANADA.

I was “born into” the church in 1953, my dad sold the farm in the mid 50s, I came back for four years as youth pastor (1976-1980), left for 25 years then back as Senior Pastor (2005-2015), and now I’m retired in this beautiful prairie town.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about rural churches at Ambrose University in Calgary – in the 3:30 – 4:30 time slot – admission is free.

One of the former pastor’s sons is expected to be there (Paul Warnock). Another of the former pastor’s sons lives just outside Calgary ( RobinRod House), another pastor’s son lives a bit north of Calgary (Bob Keith – son of Dennis Keith – who was himself an attender at Kindersley Alliance Church when he was a kid). There are others whose parents pastored the Kindersley Alliance Church (OK, there are a lot of “kids” out there).

And then some of those who have gone into vocational ministry – ones that I have been around over the years include (but not restricted to) – Laura Kornelson, Wayne Neumiller, Richard Reinhart, Mark Bergen, Mark Francisco and more. If you go back to the beginning of the church you find some Crockers, and Ruffs, and Grahams, and Thorntons and . . .

And then there are those that are active in their local churches – I won’t try to name them all. Some of them have been active over the years in the Kindersley Alliance church – others have moved into other places around the world.

BTW – I’m hoping to write a history on Kindersley Alliance Church in this next while – any anecdotes you can provide would be helpful.

Interesting what comes out of small town Saskatchewan.

The devil’s got all the good music?

Here are a few lines from a song written by Hoozier (2014 – From Eden).

A comment on the song from genius.com. “The point of view is of the devil looking at something innocent and seeing it as a missing part. The song tries to woo a woman while admitting that the relationship would be deeply flawed.”

Some great word pictures – maybe a little too close to how the devil pictures the world.

Idealism sits in prison,

Chivalry fell on his sword

Innocence died screaming

Honey, ask me, I should know

I slithered here from Eden

Just to sit outside your door

Moving on

The past few months have been resource filled times. I’ve read more articles and drilled into books more than I do in summer (which is to say that my summers tend not to be about research, but leisure).

Of particular interest has been the whole area of “the rural”. This includes ministry, including the stereotypes of rural people. As I have delved into the myriad of thoughts out there, I am saddened.

Put in one sentence – the rural has been left out.

I have to praise Trudeau for implementing a ministry that deals with the rural. And I praise various church denominations who are looking seriously into their own abandonment of the rural.

My question today – what are your thoughts on the rural?

Why bother?

I read a weekly email posting called “The Galli Report”. Mark Galli works with a publication called Christianity Today – begun by Billy Graham.

This past week, I have been considering things such as pluralism, apologetics, identity politics, inclusivism, rural church, and much more.

Then, as I was reading, here is this short paragraph from the most recent Galli Report email (February 22, 2019).

I’ve been involved in many interfaith dialogues over the years. And when I’m with Muslims, for example, who begin the conversation by saying that all religions are different paths to the same end, I lose interest immediately. On the other hand, the most meaningful and energetic conversations I’ve had are with Muslims who think I’m going to Jahannam, that is, hell. I mean, why bother to be a Muslim, or Christian for that matter, if it doesn’t really make any difference in the end?

Identity, Common Good, and living today

Our world today is all about self-identifying. And we fight tirelessly for that identity.

Thus, the new(er) term called “identity politics”. Communities fight for their approach to life, affirming those who agree and excoriating those who don’t. Individuals may fight to do whatever they want, feeling offended if someone disagrees with them. In the extreme, individuals isolate themselves, preferring to affirm their own identity by accepting themselves as “god”, knowing that whatever they do is the most important thing in the world.

We are left with a great amount of polarizing when we self-identify. This can be an individualistic identifying -” I am who I am. Don’t try to make me something else. Your rules are irrelevant.” This can also be a collective identifying – “We are who we are. Don’t try to make us something else. Others rules are irrelevant.”

What brings about this identity crisis?

Dare I say that a desire to be recognized, respected, and accepted fuels this trend. I remember the song of the sixties that talked about giving me a number and taking away my name. We wanted to be something, to amount to something, to make a difference. Cynically speaking, we also wanted to be left alone, to do our own thing without shame, and to be comfortable.

Again, daring myself to say this, a true identity finds solace in the faith that they are right. There is also a solace in finding a group who supports a common good that your faith agrees with. The culture (in the social science sense) is shaped by the individual – who is respected and listened to. At the same time the culture shapes an individual, as the interchange of ideas and action explore the common good.

All that to say, the common good is achieved only by finding the source of good. If you cannot say you have found that source, your identity is lacking that good. If you cannot say you have found a true faith, you are lacking a faith worth living for.

The shade of death cannot overcome the light of life

Humans desire more than small pleasures in the routines of life. We seek great challenges in the face of death.

It is not the desire to be heros that holds us back from expansive life. Rather, that we claim to be the creator’s of our our own heroic status, instead of embracing the true creator, Christ.

In light of death, we are called to come to Christ.

To die.

To live.

Mere self-effort or heroism will not overcome death.

Through Christ and in Christ, we already are conquerors, overcomers in this life.

Weather

Today began at below freezing temperature. In fact, below, below freezing.

Now, in terms of cold, I’ve seen worse.

In fact, in our neck of the woods – or more rightly, our hand of the prairies – we have been blessed this year.

Most years, I have the plugin for the car our of the engine compartment before Christmas. Yesterday was the momentous date – the cord came out and the block heater was plugged in (for those of you from other than the northern climes – a block heater keeps your engine warm so the oil can flow and the sparks can fly when you start your car).

Two of us were shoveling walks yesterday. Our conversation was short as we greeted one another. At another time, and in a warmer clime, we will rehearse not only the weather (which is a good topic this time of year), but probably the state of crops, the welfare of children, the progress on renovations, the need for rain, the . . . But not today.

And so, I’m sitting inside, writing about the outside, enjoying fossil fuels and farmer food. How good is that!!

Toxic Masculinity

There have been a number of assaults on men’s masculinity lately.

Or, perhaps, more rightly, we are trying to figure out what masculinity means. Which drives a number of questions about gender. Our society has now determined that your sex (that which distinguishes you anatomically from birth) is different than your gender (that which is fluid).

This appears to be a sign of discontent, of selfishness and disregard for a created order.

  • Why are we discontent?
  • Why do we think our way is the best way?
  • How does a creator explain the order of creation?

Questions I have been pondering.

Constant Updates

I’ve just spent time trying to figure out how to do things. On the internet. New program updates keep popping up (no, these are not pop up ads that need pop up blockers – although, that is an idea . . .).

I liked the old program – I knew where things were. Sort of like in the grocery store.

Now I understand if you need security updates. Or programming that hastens the work of the program. Or even new colors.

It’s just when I thought I had figured out where things were, they move. I guess we call that the interface. Of course, if you saw my face, you would not want to be interfacing.

And what of the new ads that keep showing up. Yes, I have a strong ability to disregard ads (in fact, in principle, I do not click on Google Ads when they appear in my search). I wonder if the program were stripped of ads, how much faster it would run.

And of course, there is the argument that you need to update and change things to keep my attention. I’m using the program because you have my attention already – you don’t need to overdo the attention thing, otherwise you will lose my attention – did that get your attention?

There, my rant hath been completed!

Misreading ministry in a rural context

My official title for a research paper I am planning for Ambrose Research Conference 2019 – March 27 at Ambrose University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

In one sense this is really about rethinking rural ministry. Here is my description I have submitted:

  • The rural has been misread over the years. A core element of Donald Trump’s victory as President of the USA in 2016 – this demographic has been characterized as simple minded, out of touch with current reality, and anathema to progress.
  • Recent books have begun to explore rural church essentials. These essentials are not what you think!
  • In a world of increasing isolation, the rural church tends to breed community. This is DNA, not introduced incentives or strategic planning initiatives. A broader definition of North American Church Growth includes the rural, sparsely populated areas of the continent – not characterized by highly attended service times but rather as closely-knit invitational discipleship communes.
  • Those approaching ministry in a rural setting need to consider this: rural ministry is not a problem area of the global church, neither is rural ministry to be considered as the ultimate and only approach to ministry, nor is this an excuse for laziness. The flourishing rural church will be strategic, purposeful, visionary – uniquely positioned and unhindered by a consumeristic approach.