What do you actually do every week?
How do I ever explain to someone what it is that I do? In a single day I can go from answering a theological question from someone in an email…to making a difficult decision with Lead Team…to lunch with another who is grieving the deteriorating health of their spouse…to a slew of logistical decisions that need to be made or emails that need to be answered about various ministries and events…to a coaching session with other pastors…to attending to team dynamics and health of staff and/or serves…and cap it off with coffee with a someone else who just needs a person to be a witness to their life with Christ. Oh yes… and then on some days, I get to read a bit and work on a sermon for Sunday.
What are some of the challenges you have had to work through these past TWO years?
There were many challenges we had to deal with, and each affected us differently. What the challenges did do was make all of us think outside-the-box searching for diverse ways to do the ‘norm’.
In the ‘Big House’ we had to go to just online services for a period of time. Then, when we were able to go back into the Sanctuary, we had very restricted numbers. Our notification for these changes often came last minute so we had to be ready to switch short notice.
Being online, restrictions and people just getting comfortable with these changes have left us with diminished numbers. Because of these diminished numbers, our giving has not been what it once was. Some people have lost jobs or income which resulted in less funds to give and still others have left CrossRoads completely. We actually don’t really even know how many still call CrossRoads home.
As a Board we made a decision to follow all AHS guidelines for our church. This was a challenge for many who disagreed with our decision. There were many phone calls, e-mails and private meetings that occurred as people voiced their opinion and the direction they each thought we should be headed. This was a very trying, difficult time for us as leaders, staff, and a church as a whole.
What are some highlights from this last year?
One of the highlights I don’t think I will ever forget was Ron Pearce’s talk explaining about how God is moving in China. How the Christians there are praying for others to hear about the Good News of Jesus Christ and how COVID has been a blessing in the spread of the gospel. It was just a different perspective from what we were hearing here.
Another highlight was Nik and Ruth Ripken. Their weekend here was so good; so refreshing. The stories and life experiences they shared, all the things they went through for the sake of the Gospel. Far too often we are focused on what is going on here at home!
Hearing both Ron Pearce and the Ripken’s helps us to lift our eyes higher. I yearn for these kinds of experiences here at home too… How do we focus outward instead of being so myopic?
Some of the other highlights during these past couple of years that are worth mentioning are:
The Weekly Highlights
Keeping the congregation informed on decisions made and how we were moving forward. The challenge to all of us with 2 Chronicles 7:14 - getting on our knees to humble ourselves and pray.
- Head Heart and Hands – the way we follow Jesus during COVID with a Clear Head, Surrendered Heart and Open Hands - caring for those around us who really need us at this time.
- Pre-recording Sundays on Thursdays, then coming with coffee and muffins to watch it with a small team to make sure it gets pushed out properly online
- The mandate to work from home – how quiet it was in the office – great time to study, listen and think
- And finally, all the funerals we have been asked to ‘host’ here at CrossRoads. We were very grateful that so many asked to hold services here. Part of it was because we had gifted people who knew how to put a decent service online, which at the time of restricted numbers for funerals, became a high demand in our community. Many lives here in Central Alberta heard the gospel message because of the funerals we were able to be a part of.
What is on your heart right now?
Our conversations over the last couple of years have been distracted and not as weighty as they could have been. I couldn’t think of anything weightier to talk to you about than two profound questions found in the story of Hagar, do you remember her? Abraham was married to Sarah, and God had made promises to them that they would have a child. But those promises hadn’t been fulfilled, and they were living in the meantime, and getting tired of being there. So they took things into their own hands; Sarah wanted Abraham to take Hagar, sleep with her and the child that she bore could be the heir. But as we could imagine, when Hagar got pregnant the relationship between her and Sarah changed. Hagar despised her mistress, so Sarah wanted her to leave.
Hagar ends up on the backside of the desert, where the angel of the Lord finds her near a spring. It is here that the angel asks Hagar, servant of Sarah, two questions:
1. Where have you come from?
2. And where are you going?
Those are weighty questions for us as a church. Let’s think about those again.
First: Where have we come from?
It’s easy to forget where we have come from. But many years ago, we went and we sought the Lord for a vision for the church. What would God have us do at CrossRoads Church? After a better part of a year of praying, worshipping and seeking God, talking together and studying the Bible, we came up with the first phase of that vision statement. And it became our call as a church, to reach people in Central Alberta for Christ, and that went deep for us. That changed our world. It changed our church; it is the lens that we began to look at everything through. And we grew - pre-COVID - on a Sunday morning, we would have literally 200 to 300 people that didn’t know Jesus sitting here in the pews amongst us. It impacted the way we did worship and taught the Bible. As we continued to grow, it got very, very exciting! We were united and rallied around that vision. We knew who we were, we knew what God’s calling us for was. It was good times! We were excited and it energized us, it was like the first love.
We were so passionate about seeing people come to Christ; we prayed for them, we saw miracles, we saw answers to prayer. And we couldn’t provide space for them. So God found this land but all we had was enough money to purchase it, nothing more. Yet within two years, we had paid off the first phase of the building. And presently, we are blessed with a clear title building. God unmistakably went ahead of us and we began to see people that we prayed for, come to Christ and baptize them.
I remember the first Easter when we took the ‘hoops down’ and opened the invitation for people to get baptized that didn’t know Jesus. They accepted Jesus into their lives; there must have been 50 to 100 of them being baptized down at the river. The first man we baptized that day, at least to my knowledge, was Dale Gardner and his shorts were a little loose; when he came up out of the water, he mooned the whole crowd. But it was a great day in the life of CrossRoads. I look back at those days, and I thank God that He doesn’t change.
Churches have a call, like people have a call. And our call is to reach others for Christ. The challenge when you’re in my chair, Jordan Polson’s chair, or the board’s chair, is to stay on track. We’re CrossRoads in Central Alberta. Our call is to reach people for Jesus Christ; we will not be moved from that. Where have we come from becomes a critical question then, especially at the stage we’re at today. Because if we lose our way, then we really lose the guidance of the Spirit of God who put us on this path in the first place.
Second: Where are we going?
Maybe we can turn that question over and raise it a bit differently. Are we still on course? I hope the answer is yes. Because when God puts His call on a person, or on a church, it’s for something. In the Bible, there are promises. Too often we focus on the promise, but we need to look deeper for the fulfillment in the Bible. Sometimes we don’t think about the fulfillment part as much. But, God has made many promises, promises to answer our prayers. We’ve been praying for our lost friends and neighbours for a long time. We’ve been praying for this city which we have been engaged with for a long time. Don’t think that God won’t honour His Word. When He promises to answer prayer, He will.
The day will come when God will fulfill His promise and God has promised in the Scriptures to pour out His Spirit. As a Board, Lead Team, and as a church, we believe that God will pour out His Spirit on Central Alberta, and I believe with all my heart, the day will come! I truly believe we’ll see it happen on this side of Heaven; when God will pour out His Spirit on Central Alberta, and more people will be swept into the Kingdom of God than you could ever imagine. And that’s why we have to stay on course, God is up to something really, really big. And it’s incredibly exciting! We need to recover our first love again for the call that God gave us, and for the God that gave us that call.
After 25 years as Senior Pastor at CrossRoads Church, I want to again say thank you for all the support, kindness and encouragement you have shown to Ginny and me.
We are humbled and grateful to have served the Lord here with you all these years.